Phil DurandPhil DurandOctober 18, 2017


If there is one message that came across loud and clear from the 2017 Customer Experience Awards, it’s this: act on customer feedback if you want to drive culture change and impact the bottom line.

Yes, we always want to know more: what are our customers thinking? What do they want more of? What part of a transaction did they enjoy? Were they disappointed in our service? But we really must resist the temptation to use technology to push out new surveys, using all manner of channels, in order to collect more and more data.

The most mature CX programmes recognise that the answers to many questions are often right in front of you, lying in the existing data and insight you currently have in contact centre records, emails, complaints processes, and CRM databases.

More importantly, this year’s winners also demonstrated that it’s the ability to translate data into actionable insight that will provide us with a deeper understanding of the CX throughout the entire buyer journey – without wasting customers’ time and goodwill asking unnecessary questions!

The most effective surveys only ask for additional insight or to close the loop and the best CX programmes let the customer know what action was taken based on the feedback they provided.

Virgin Money is a great example of an organisation committed to not only listening to its customers but to changing its business to deliver world-class CX. It quite rightly won the ‘Best Financial Services – Banking and Investment’ Award this year for its strategic, company-wide Voice of the Customer (VoC) programme.

It stands out as an example of VoC best practice because VoC is embedded into every aspect of the business. It listens to new, existing and former customers in order to understand what it is getting right and also to find out where it can make improvements.

The feedback provided by customers has enabled Virgin Money to put in place hundreds of change activities across the company every year. The combination of actionable insight and a commitment to continuous improvement is not only enhancing the relationships that customers have with the brand, improving service delivery and developing Virgin Money’s loyalty proposition. It is also helping to increasing revenues.

It’s this ability to make a real difference to customers whilst making timely and tangible improvements to the business that enables a strategic VoC programme to deliver real value.

Using feedback to identify at-risk accounts or broken processes enables companies to address issues head on. It enables businesses to retain customers that might otherwise have been lost if they had not acted on the crucial information that was placed in its hands and thereby protect revenue streams.

Unfortunately, it is still the case that companies don’t always act on customer problems or complaints until it’s too late. Clearly, putting in place an action management process that enables you to analyse customer feedback as soon as it’s received and set alerts to immediately respond to issues and problems, provides the opportunity to proactively close the loop and positively influence customer retention.

All too often, companies focus too much attention on chasing metrics – whichever one they use – and trying to figure out how to move the number rather than finding out what the number is trying to tell them.

So it’s essential that as CX professionals we translate the numbers that have been collected into real words so that the business can dive deeper into the insight and ensure that actions are the output.

So what’s the biggest lesson from the 2017 UK Customer Experience Awards?

Designing a CX programme is never ‘one size fits all’ – what makes sense for one organisation might not make sense for the next. What is important for all CX programmes is making sure you’re truly listening to the voice of the customer – listening to it and then acting upon it.

Don’t just send out another survey because you have the technology to do so; award-winning CX programmes squeeze every bit of insight out of the feedback from customers and then do something about it!

Phil DurandPhil DurandSeptember 26, 2017


There’s a good reason why the old adage ‘change is good’ still rings true. It keeps us on our toes, enables us to re-invent ourselves, and keeps us competitive.

In the corporate world, many suggest that the only real constant in business is change, but Phil Durand at Confirmit asks, how do you make it work for you and not against you?

Whether you are reacting to enforced change because of new entrants into the market or endeavouring to improve business processes to increase revenue, one thing is clear: listening to your most important asset – your customers – is the most effective way to manage or control the rate of change and to ensure that any adjustments to products, services, or the organisation itself will deliver positive results for the business.

Customers provide invaluable reviews and recommendations but they are also often the first to identify a problem with a new piece of kit or a problem with billing, calling into the contact centre, or posting a comment on Twitter.

It’s no surprise then that Customer Experience (CX) is regarded as central to reputation, sales, and business success overall.

It also explains why organisations are increasingly taking a ‘customer first’ attitude to every facet of their business in order to take a proactive approach in evolving customer requirements and preferences to retain their business and goodwill.

Making CX a board-level issue – and establishing customer metrics as strategic KPIs alongside sales and profit targets – is bringing CX into the heart of the business.

There are some great examples of Voice of the Customer (VoC) programmes that are helping businesses identify what they need to do to improve Customer Experience and thereby increase customer retention, identify the most profitable products or customers, and reduce the cost of dissatisfaction and complaints.

One company that’s doing an excellent job of using customer feedback to change the way they operate is Virgin Money.

They’re a finalist in several categories of the UK CX Awards this year, and it’s not hard to see why. Their highly structured VoC programme focuses on new, existing, and former customers, as well as directly helping to increase revenues and customer satisfaction. It’s also driving culture change – something that underpins everything else.

There is also growing recognition that Voice of the Employee (VoE) programmes can help to drive employee engagement at the frontline, empowering employees to recommend enhancements to business processes that will improve customer satisfaction whilst ensuring they have the skills, motivation, and permission to use their initiative ‘on the spot’.

However, the challenge going forward is how to improve our ability to look ahead, to predict the next big thing, and knowing what is at risk.

Our ability to collect and harness customer insight – whether it be from an online survey or via social media, direct from the customer, or via the contact centre – is going to become increasingly important if we are to devise strategies in favour of the customer.

So, whilst metrics such as Net Promoter Score or repurchase propensity have served the CX community well – and will continue to do so – there needs to be much greater focus on the future, not the past.

Putting the emphasis on ‘how customer behaviour and demand will shift over the next six months’ will increase our ability to achieve the continuous improvement in performance and productivity needed to reduce churn and protect the bottom line.

In order to respond to the customer in a more agile manner, we need to replace hard-to-digest and often lengthy reports that lead to ‘analysis paralysis’ with actionable insight and alerts that draw upon customer data from multiple touchpoints and multiple channels in real-time.

Harnessing the power of text analytics will ensure we are listening to the customers’ true opinions across all manner of structured and unstructured feedback channels; making greater use of predictive analytics will undoubtedly increase our ability to analyse customer behaviour and previous purchasing patterns to predict future outcomes.

The board must be able to strategise on leading indicators from all stakeholders and to integrate all their ‘voices’ with other business insights – such as CRM, financial, and operational data – via a single dashboard if they are to truly understand the impact of changing customer preferences and priorities across the entire business.

But it’s also important that these same dashboards can be accessed by employees and managers alike so they can take a deep dive into the data to better understand specific customer profiles, for example, and see the direct impact of good CX on customer satisfaction and on their scorecards for themselves.

CX clearly has the potential to be the ultimate differentiator for businesses striving to acquire new customers and secure repeat business, but it’s evident that organisations that can establish a mature CX and employee engagement strategy – capable of adapting to constantly evolving customer and market requirements – will be best placed to offer real value and keep customers on board for the long haul.

Phil DurandPhil DurandJuly 24, 2017

Written by: Phil Durand, Director Customer Experience Management, Confirmit

Wembley. It’s always just a little further away than I remember. However the journey was well worth it when I joined Awards International at its annual UK Financial Services Experience Awards as a judge searching for the ‘Most customer centric organisation’.

What I always love about these events is the chance to listen to people as they tell their stories. And in that respect there is often a pattern. A business need comes to the fore, senior management and leadership gather around saying things like ‘things must change’. Enter stage left a plucky, idea-filled optimist with the beginnings of a plan and a battle cry of ‘who’s with me?’ A team of multi-skilled believers are drawn to the cause and the plan gradually becomes a reality. Results are seen, good ones too. People sit up and take note. Customers start saying nice things. The business need is addressed. And all is well with the world.

Continuing on this theme, one of the key drivers for the winning entrant for customer centricity – Intelenet – was the need develop a seamless experience for the customer despite the inevitable complexity of the business.
Intelenet is based in India, providing off-shore support for a number of brands. Listening to their story, it quickly became obvious that they secured their win because of the sheer lengths they went to in order to solve the problems that had grown and evolved within the disparate systems of one of their key corporate customers. Of course, the customer in question had the foresight to realise there was a problem, the humility to ask for help and the budget to pay for a solution. But it’s worth noting that their problems were solved outside of their corporate machinery – by someone else. Indeed Intelenet built them a map that has made a real difference to their business.

The best way to explain what they did is to ask if you’ve ever phoned a bank and got the feeling you’re being passed from one team to another until, either by design or chance, you find yourself speaking to someone who can actually help? This is the problem Intelenet solved by going to extraordinary lengths.

They developed a way to join together all the disparate systems within the client, creating a single front end that drew information from the right bits of the right systems when needed. In essence, the agents on the phone went from having to contend with many multiples of systems, naturally each with its own login and password, to a single interface that contained all they might ever need.

Overcoming the evolved complexity of their client’s systems, and building a simpler experience for the agent, introduced instant benefits for the customer. Issues were resolved on first calls more often; calls didn’t need to last as long (this is a point about real efficiency of process, not to be confused with the arcane drive to keep average call handling times down); agents had the correct information at their fingertips, quickly. And guess what? Customers noticed.
I’ve described Intelenet’s approach to solving its client’s business need in less than 100 words – which doesn’t do justice to the sheer effort and intelligence of what they developed as a solution. However, huge congratulations must go to them – and to all the other entrants – for their near-intoxicating dedication to doing the right thing for the customer.

Each of the nominees demonstrated that there is a very real need to build, deliver and maintain a customer centric approach to business in the financial services sector. Consumers increasingly rate the customer experience, along with the financial stability of their institution, as the most important factor in determining their degree of trust in and loyalty to their provider.

When FS customers call the contact centre they now expect a higher level of expertise and personalisation, and they expect their prior digital interactions – on the corporate website, mobile applications etc – to be tracked. Agents are expected to understand the context and reasons for each contact. Those interacting at the coal face must be able to apply their knowledge, account history, and best practices to resolve customer issues, and help them achieve their financial goals. And they can only do this if they are work as a team, with the customer at the heart of every process and at the centre of everything they do.

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