Lara PlaxtonLara PlaxtonMarch 13, 2018


HR directors often cite retention as one of their top priorities, and according to Personnel Today, it’s one of the most important metrics for people analytics.

It makes sense after all the investment that goes into finding the right people at the recruitment stage and developing them once they join the organisation. However, does the focus on retention create the most value for the business?

The Oxford Dictionary describes ‘retention’ as “the continued possession, use, or control of something”. This language seems more aligned to the traditional ‘control and command’ management style which is now at odds in our more agile, innovative working environments. It also seems to conflict with what Employee Experience (EX) is, and means, to people.

EX is centred around the emotional connection between people and an organisation as they interact through an employee journey. EX models will often start at recruitment and end when an employee exits with all the transactional touchpoints inbetween, focusing on how they make people feel.

Whilst the transactional activities might diminish post-employment, the emotional connection doesn’t have to. What if, rather than prioritising retention, we prioritised employee advocacy post-employment? Does changing the mindset from ‘retaining talent’ to ‘creating advocates’ offer more value and, ultimately, increase the likelihood that your employees choose to stay with the organisation?

If we consider how organisations approach Employee Experience from when they start interacting with potential employees, through to joining and growing with the organisation, it’s usually a balanced approach of making sure it’s a positive emotional connection for both the employee and the organisation.

However, when it comes to retention, the emphasis is more often on the needs of the company and not the individual. This can sometimes create more of a negative emotional response, whether the individual stays or goes. So, whilst HR might be able to demonstrate through people analytics an improvement in retention numbers, it might not necessarily translate into higher positive emotional responses from the workforce overall.

If we change our focus to employee advocacy and improving the positive emotional connection of employees whether they stay or go, what difference does this make? Many more companies are implementing initiatives such as alumni programmes, referral schemes, post-employment communications, and events so the relationship continues far beyond the employment contract.

Not only does this increase the chances that employees may return later in their career but it also increases the likelihood they will recommend the organisation and maintain a positive connection. Therefore, should measuring employee advocacy became the new top priority for people analytics in demonstrating positive value for a business?

At FDM Group, our business model lends itself to this way of thinking. We recruit large numbers of graduates, ex-forces, and returners to work to our programmes to progress in a career in technology. After working as consultants with our clients for two years, they may choose to work directly for the client, stay on with us, or further their career outside FDM.

Whilst our top priority is to create a positive Employee Experience; we understand and appreciate the value of seeing how people’s careers develop wherever that path may take them. Of course, we hope people choose to stay but more importantly, we hope they advocate FDM as a great place to work.

We view ourselves as a touchpoint in their career journey but hope that the relationship continues throughout.

John TschohlJohn TschohlFebruary 19, 2018


“One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his great surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn’t do.” —Henry Ford

Are you afraid to fail? If so, your fear of failure is likely to limit your chances of success. If you look at really successful people, you will often find significant failures in their backgrounds.

The list is lengthy and includes college dropouts, such as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg. Why? There are a lot of reasons. Most stem from the fact that they are (1) willing to try new things, (2) not afraid to “rock the boat,” and (3) they are able to take a bad situation and turn it into a positive and learn from their mistakes.

Many people respond to a crisis by being overwhelmed by stress, which turns to fear.  It is easy to be afraid when you have a crisis situation in your business, but if you remain calm, the people around you will be too, and together a strong team will be able to turn anything around.

A good example of that was Franklin D. Roosevelt.  When World War II was looming and he was dealing with an unbelievable amount of issues, he remained calm with world leaders and the outcome was just as he had recommended.  He stood steadfast in the face of anxiety, pressure from world leaders, and insecurities of political parties.  He faced fear.

“I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.” – Rosa Parks

Accelerate your growth by: (1) Being innovative and (2) Don’t be afraid to fail. Even if your innovation does not work, you have little chance for success unless you try. If it does fail, you can learn from your mistakes, take corrective action, and try again.

Good advice from the Wall Street Journal

There are two posters published by the Wall Street Journal that I’d like to share with you:

Don’t be afraid to fail

  • You’ve failed many times, although you may not remember.
  • You fell down the first time you tried to walk.
  • You almost drowned the first time you tried to swim.
  • Did you hit the ball the first time you swung a bat? Heavy hitters, the ones who hit the most home runs, also strike out a lot.
  • Were you able to skate or jump rope the first time you tried?
  • H. Macy failed seven times before his store in New York caught on.
  • 3M Corporation, one of the most successful companies in the world, was a dismal failure during its first 10 years.
  • English novelist John Creasey got 753 rejection slips before he published 564 books.
  • Babe Ruth struck out 1,330 times, but he also hit 714 home runs.
  • Worry about the chances you miss when you don’t even try.

Aim high enough so you will never be bored

  • The greatest waste of our natural resources is the number of people who never achieve their potential.
  • Get out of that slow lane.
  • If you think you can’t, you won’t.
  • If you think you can, there’s a good chance you will.
  • Even making the effort is likely to make you feel like a new person.
  • Reputations are made by searching for things that can’t be done and doing them.

Many of the companies that were once great are now gone or are on their way out largely because they became too afraid to fail. According to a post in Forbes, in the 1920’s, the average lifespan of a successful S&P 500 Company was 67 years. It is now 15 years.

To have a bright future you have to try new things. You have to risk failure to achieve great success. You need to listen to your customers and implement a customer service strategy. And remember, employees are proud to work for an organization that is committed to excellence in service to people.

“Money is important but not the key to success.  A clear and obvious commitment to quality service and a broad-based training and development program is key to building your future.” – John Tschohl

Lara PlaxtonLara PlaxtonFebruary 13, 2018


Employer branding and employee value proposition are familiar terminologies in our business environments, so do we really need Employee Experience to add to the mix?

Often new terms can just seem like another word for a similar concept, however Employee Experience is holistic. It incorporates all previous concepts, bringing them together in a seamless vision. Employer branding is concerned with how potential and current employees see their organisation in terms of what it’s like to work for.

The employee value proposition, while similar, focuses more on the value an organisation has to offer potential and current employees, rather than the perception through a brand. Employee Experience can be best described as the emotional connection between an individual and an organisation, from the first interaction with the company, right through to post-employment.

At its heart is how a company’s brand and values connect emotionally with an individual, from an employee perspective. This shouldn’t be seen as separate to how an organisation’s customers emotionally connect with the brand and values, and ultimately we should be centred on how humans interact and how it makes them feel.

Employer branding and employee value proposition are therefore integral to Employee Experience, but are not seen as separate strategies – rather a critical component of building an effective Employee Experience. The benefit of viewing it this way is that it ensures it’s aligned throughout the whole experience right through to the relationship a company has with its alumni, incorporating all the interactions.

Considering the emotional connection of an employee during recruitment, onboarding, performance management, learning and development, promotion, reward and benefits, change management, through to off-boarding, should all be interconnected and not stand-alone strategies; they all impact that emotional connection. The employee doesn’t separate out their experience so why do we?

With that in mind, one of the most important interactions between an employee and the organisation is actually the very first time an individual hears about a company. This is often not when they are job searching and come across your advert for a role, but actually what they might hear from someone they know, what they see in the media, or what they find when they are researching companies that align with their purpose and values.

At FDM Group, we are very proud of our recent award as Employer of the Year at the Information Age Women in IT awards. Of course, it’s always nice to be recognised with an award but what makes this special is that it’s so meaningful to the work we do. We are passionate about creating an inclusive and diverse workforce which allows opportunities for everyone.

The challenges within the technology industry to attract talented women is well documented. We have worked hard to ensure women are attracted to our workplace. We collaborate with schools and universities to raise awareness of the breadth of roles in technology so girls and women understand the opportunities in
this field which they might not have considered before.

We are proud of a median gender pay gap of  zero percent of the UK average of 18.4 percent. Our commitment to improving gender diversity in technology
can be felt throughout all our interactions with our people and so winning this recent award has real value and meaning to us. Ultimately, it’s a core part of our Employee Experience and we hope it translates in the first interaction anyone has with FDM.

We are also proud to be partnering with the UK Employee Experience Awards this year. Winning an award that is meaningful to your organisation can truly benefit your Employee Experience.

Lara PlaxtonLara PlaxtonFebruary 5, 2018


Feedback tools are part of a growing industry within the HR technology world that is enabling the possibility of real-time feedback.

Gone are the days of the annual engagement survey which often took several months to return any results or planned actions, by which time they may well be outdated.

Part of what’s driving this new approach is the change in the way companies gain feedback from their customers, usually at the point of a transaction or engagement on a website or digital tool. This allows companies to understand how their customers are thinking and feeling at a critical moment in their journey, and it is this key point that is often missing from the way employee feedback tools are implemented and used.

Real-time surveys tend to be pulse surveys either done on a daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis depending on how frequently companies want to get responses.

This approach means that it can become a habitual process which loses its value and doesn’t address the issue that choosing a particular day to ask all employees certain questions can skew the data.

Another important consideration is what questions are you asking and how are the answers structured? Asking someone to score how they feel on a numerical scale has its limitations as does applying more modern capabilities such as sentiment analytics to qualitative data. Accounting for these limitations is also important.

At FDM Group, we have realised the value in mapping out our Employee Experience in order to better understand the critical points an employee will face, when they occur, and how they feel at that moment in their journey.

With around 1,800 consultants in the UK working directly with our clients to deliver IT services, we want to compare the experience as each individual approaches the same junctures. This cannot be done with a pulse survey, which measures a moment in time, as everyone is at a different point in their career.

It also means we benefit from receiving data on a daily basis due to the size of our workforce. We have learned to listen differently in order to hear a different message. This approach is more aligned to the way Customer Experience is delivered.

We have also used this as an opportunity to gain client feedback at the same moments so we can understand the relationship between our clients and employees who are working directly with each other, outside of our FDM office environment.

This has expanded the HR team’s focus on ‘people’ to mean both employees and customers. If the Employee Experience is considered in isolation, we are missing its context by not incorporating it into our business as a whole. Therefore, HR is involved in analysing the data from all our people and also interacting face-to-face with our employees and our clients within the client environment. This gives us a unique perspective that is core to our business.

Our approach to Employee Experience is also not limited to the HR function. We share the data analysis and findings around the business so all areas can benefit from the insight. Each department will have a perception of the findings and in making Employee Experience a key component in our business, we are able to increase the value of that insight by incorporating various interpretations of the data to create a more authentic output upon which recommendations can be based.

If Employee Experience is defined as the emotional connection between an individual and an organisation from the first interaction with the company, right through to post-employment, then the moments in a journey need to be more significant than a calendar day when analysing the experience.

In order to benefit from listening differently, we have had to think differently, not just in HR but across the business. Thinking differently should be the first step in embracing Employee Experience before you start doing anything differently.

John TschohlJohn TschohlJanuary 17, 2018


To reach success, we have to strive for the best we can be in every aspect of our lives, including how we feel about ourselves, and how we treat others.

One of the great things about America is that many of us get second and third chances (if we’re willing to try). And if things go well and we take advantage of opportunities, those bad moments can be nothing but a footnote in our success story.

Famous people who have overcome difficult odds to become real success stories:

Samuel Walton (1918 – 1992) Growing up in the Great Depression of the 1930s, Walton had to do numerous odd jobs to help his family survive. After the war, he took out a loan to buy a small grocery store. He went on to build this into the giant Walmart supermarket chain, amassing a fortune of over $23 billion (1992).

Steve Jobs (1955 – 2011) Steve Jobs struggled with formal education, dropping out of college. He went on to be the co-founder of Apple Computers, and a leading exponent of the personal computer revolution. His net wealth in 2010 was estimated to be $8.2 billion.

J.K.Rowling (1965 –) For many years she struggled as a single mother living on benefits. After writing the first draft of Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone she was rejected by many leading publishers. But, once published, Harry Potter soon became one of the best-selling books on record making J.K.Rowling one of the best paid modern writers.

Howard Schultz. (1953 –) Born to poor Jewish parents in Brooklyn, New York. Schultz was the first member of his family to attend college. Working his way up from a salesperson for Xerox, he became CEO of Starbucks, and oversaw its rapid growth, leaving him a net worth of $1.6 billion by 2013.

Oprah Winfrey (1954 – ) Oprah Winfrey was born in rural Mississippi and brought up in inner-city Milwaukee, despite her difficult upbringing, she became one of the best-known American TV personalities and the founder of the highly successful Oprah brand.

A Few Common Sense Secrets to Success:

Regular exercise. When asked the secret of his success, Richard Branson replied: “exercise”. We are talking about physical activity that keeps our bodies fit and strong. The benefits are a sense of health and youthfulness, increased physical and mental energy, wellbeing, productivity… and success.

Out-learn the competition. Successful people out-learn everyone around them. They’re obsessed with learning. They’re voracious readers.

 Make time for family. You don’t necessarily have to give up your personal life and enjoyment completely. Draw up a schedule that includes time for work and also allocates time for weekends away, hobbies and family life. Too much of anything isn’t a good thing.

Go to Bed Early and Wake up Early.   Getting a good night’s sleep and also waking up early gives you the opportunity to reflect on the day ahead. With a clear head you will arrive at work, ready for anything that comes your way. The saying “the early bird catches the worm” is definitely true. Habits of successful people should include an early start and will also allow you to get more done.

Understand what you can control.  Focus your energy on situations that you have control over at work and don’t waste your time with concerns where you have no influence.

Plan your day ahead.  This will allow you to deal with daily tasks effectively and will make you a more efficient individual and will help you to stay focused and be prepared for what lies ahead.

Ask, Ask, Ask. There are always people that we can learn from and there is no shame in asking people that are more specialized in a particular field. A part of successful people’s habits… is to ask when unsure about anything. Everyone has a mentor that helps them on their path to success.

Walt Disney always asked people to give him their “best”.  We too should expect that from employees and especially ourselves.

“Take responsibility for your life. If you are accountable, you are in control”. — John Tschohl

CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamJanuary 4, 2018


Awards International Chairman Don Hales returns for more biting observations on Customer Experience. 

In the Don’s sights this week is a heroic cabbie, and a sceptical train ticket inspector. To nominate who YOU want to see as future Heroes & Villains, get in touch at


This is an unusual story but nonetheless worthy for that.

Oxfordshire taxi driver Satbir Arora grew suspicious when his 13-year-old, female passenger, dressed in school uniform, asked him to take her on a 56-mile journey.

She said she was being met by a friend’s father for a surprise birthday party. When they arrived there was no-one to meet her and the girl was reluctant to answer any further questions.

Satbir telephoned the man who had pre-booked the taxi and was told that he was stuck in traffic.

At this point, Satbir called his wife, and business partner for advice. Mrs Arora spoke to the girl on the phone and quickly established that the girl’s mother did not know where she was and that she was supposed to be at school.

Suspecting that things were wrong and being parents of a 13-year-old daughter themselves, they decided to call the police. As a result, it was discovered that the girl was being picked up by a known pervert who was subsequently sentenced to five years in prison.

It would have been easy for Mr and Mrs Arora to have collected the not inconsiderable fare and leave things at that. In this case the young customer may not have fully appreciated the service rendered by Satbir but he has been praised by both the police and the local council and he has provided a great service to a much wider customer base – the general public.



This case actually features one of the UK’s true Customer and Employee Experience heroes, James Timpson, head of the Timpson chain of shops, which are legendary for their service and quality.

James’ involvement here is purely because his 15-year-old daughter was the immediate victim of appalling Customer Experience.

The teenager, Niamh, was not allowed to board a train when returning home to Cheshire after a day out with friends in London. The ticket inspector at Euston refused to let her on the train as he accused her (wrongly) of being too old for her child’s ticket. He even scribbled “not a child” across the ticket.

It was 7 pm and Niamh had very little money left, so she could not buy another ticket and she was not carrying ID.

Of course, some children do look older than they are and some may even stretch the truth but how can the rail operator, Virgin Trains, justify stranding a young girl in London, without any attempt at providing a solution?

As it happens, thanks to smart use of social media and the kind help of strangers, the situation was resolved safely. Also, Virgin have since apologised. Hopefully they have reviewed their policy to ensure this does not happen to other kids.

John TschohlJohn TschohlDecember 27, 2017


One of the major weaknesses of most organisations is the top management’s lack of a service strategy.

They fail to realise the strategic opportunity of how to use superior service as a vehicle to build market share and dominance.

Sam Walton, the founder of Wal-Mart, one of the most powerful retailers in the world, built a service role model. Sam built Walmart on Customer Service.  They are now known for price only, and the value of their company as a service leader has dropped dramatically – they have lost their focus on customer Experience.

When organisations know what is important to their customers and when they realise the shortcomings of their current service, then they are ready to write a Service Plan.

Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO, is officially the world’s richest person as of November 2017.  He built his company to become far and away the most trusted and well-liked brand, more so than its current smart home rivals Apple and Google (this is according to a survey conducted by The Verge in partnership with consulting firm Reticle Research).

Consumers trust Amazon and freely give them personal details on what they purchase and data about their interests. The one thing that is claimed by most customers is that Amazon has the best customer service of any company they have ever dealt with.

Mr Bezos has been responsible for creating over 100,000 new full -time jobs over the past year for the American economy and is on schedule to create more with the new ventures he is working on. Jeff Bezos definitely has a working service plan.

Use these guidelines in making decisions about the features of your own service plan:

1. Under-promise and over-deliver

Set customer expectations at the right level.  As defined by McGraw-Hill, “under promise and over deliver” is a service strategy in which providers strive for excellent customer service and satisfaction by doing more than they say they will for the customer or exceeding customer expectations. Deliver on your promises – don’t make a promise you can’t keep and keep the ones you make.

2. Only the customer knows what he or she wants

  1. Make it easy to do business with your company
  2. Customers want speed of service
  3. Customers want to talk to a real live person
  4. Return phone calls immediately
  5. Always deliver on your promises

3. Communicate, communicate, communicate

Not all customers who buy the same service or product have the same service needs. Be like Amazon and have a relentless focus on customer service through regular communication, and make sure you can deliver on their individual needs.

4. Continue to drive the plan strategically

Jeff Bezos would say: “Focus on the things that don’t change”. Bezos built Amazon around things he knew would be stable over time, investing heavily in ensuring that Amazon would provide those things and improve its delivery.

Management must drive a customer service program with continuous training for all employees with reinforcement by means of rewards for high-performing service employees, and with management standards that are regularly reinforced.

When management is committed to customer service by daily word and deed, the result is a well-established infrastructure that facilitates free communication interchange internally, and that yields organizational culture.

In my book, Achieving Excellence Through Customer Service, I state that long-term strategy must be developed and then implemented by hardheaded analysis, talented management of people, intense concentration, commitment…and serious spending.

As essential as strategy, objectives, and support systems (infrastructure) are a foundation for a service plan. The entire program probably would wilt like an un-watered lily without (1) a corporate culture to sustain it, and (2) a chief executive who is just as committed to customer satisfaction as he is to stockholder satisfaction.

Guy ChiswickGuy ChiswickDecember 18, 2017


Today’s consumers are increasingly complex; motivated by a number of different and often competing drivers.

They move seamlessly between instore and online, and their purchasing decisions can often be unpredictable, making it difficult for retailers to fully understand the journey they take before making a purchase.

Understanding these factors is therefore a never-ending task for brands, and it’s crucial that they understand what motivates their shoppers to buy – and, crucially, keep buying.

Introducing the 5Ps

This is why we conducted global research with over 5,000 consumers across 13 countries to gain a better understanding into the factors that are most likely to influence purchasing decisions. From this, we identified five shopper profiles: Peer, Price, Practicality, Personalisation, and Perk Motivated Shoppers.

Unsurprisingly, the biggest group in our 5Ps of Shopper Motivation report was those motivated by price; 51 percent of people fell into this category globally, and accounted for 52 percent of UK respondents. But away from price, a small – but very important – group also emerged: Peer Motivated Shoppers.

Defined by their influence on where their friends and families shop, as well as what they read about products and brands on social media or review sites, peer-motivated shoppers like to take inspiration from others before making purchasing decisions.

From a global perspective, peer motivated shoppers are most likely to be found in the US and Turkey. So why are they important, and what can retailers do to harness their influence?

Nurturing Peer Motivated Shoppers

They matter because they’re among the most loyal of shoppers, being three times more likely to shop daily (16 percent), compared to, for example, six percent of Price Motivated Shoppers. This group represents just five percent of UK shoppers, but if retailers can win the heart of this category, they are likely to become the most ardent supporters and continue buying products again and again.

Back in the days before online shopping, our network of influence tended to be smaller, with opinions shared via word-of-mouth rather than listed on brands’ websites or mentioned in tweets. However, in a world where we’re now bombarded with marketing messages every day, it’s natural that we’re turning to our trusted peers for advice and recommendations.

The proliferation of review sites, and visibility of reviews on brands’ websites themselves, means we have quick and easy access to see how other shoppers have rated products.

Amazon, Boohoo, Topshop, and Boots – to name but a few – all have reviews integrated in their e-commerce sites, so shoppers can see at a glance whether products have a one-star or five-star rating and can make their choice based on this.

This is a trend with millennials in particular, who are more influenced by their peers than older consumers. Considering this group has been raised in tandem with the growth of social media, it’s understandable they’re more socially minded.

This is backed up by a study by Barclay Consulting Group, which found 68 percent of millennials won’t make a major decision until they have discussed it with a few people whom they trust, compared to around half of all non-millennials.

Similarly, 70 per cent of millennials are “more excited about a decision they’ve made when their friends agree with them, compared to 48 per cent of non-millennials”. This propensity to engage with their peers makes shopping a much more communal experience and brands that piggyback on to and encourage this will reap the rewards.

How can their needs be met?

Many brands, particularly those which are focused on millennials, are all too aware of the power of peer-motivated shoppers and are working hard to meet their needs. Here are some examples…

  • As usual, ASOS is a brand leading the way in understanding how consumers live their lives and chat with their friends, and is adapting its mobile platform to meet these needs. Earlier this year, the e-commerce giant launched a ‘screenshot and share’ function to motivate customers to share its products via social media, WhatsApp, or any platform they choose.
  • As a platform, Instagram is offering brands the opportunity to directly reach consumers and capitalise on their engagement through its Stories function.  250 million people around the world watch and create Instagram Stories every day, and this platform is becoming an increasingly powerful way for brands to stand out and inspire action. In August, the “swipe up” function was introduced, allowing people to access the products their favourite influencers and brands are endorsing. Fashion brands in particular have been quick to adopt this function, and although conversion numbers are limited, no doubt Instagram has more plans in the works for enabling brands to further commercialise this.
  • In September, fashion brand Pink Boutique launched a range of t-shirts with the slogan “U ok hun” printed across them, as the expression took off in popularity on social media memes. Although it’s unlikely people will still be wearing one of these tops in 10 years’ time, this is good example of how a brand has reacted quickly to a social media trend and brought a new product to market

Today’s consumers are increasingly complex and motivated by a number of different and often competing drivers.

Understanding these factors is a never-ending task for brands, and what motivates one shopper may be completely different for another. However, it’s clear that peer-motivated shoppers should be engaged with, nurtured, and incentivised as they may well become what every retailer is seeking: a loyal customer.

Oisin LunnyOisin LunnyDecember 7, 2017


Empathetic interactions are all about seizing the countless invisible opportunities to surprise and delight customers by giving them information, engagements ,and experiences they will value at precise moments in exact places.

Mobile messaging is brilliant at that. With an unrivalled reach and ubiquitous appeal, it gives brands from all industries the opportunity to connect with their customers in the personal way they’ve come to expect. Today, we’re seeing businesses of all types, with a variety of objectives, empathetically engage with their customers and receive intense loyalty as a result.

So far in our blog series, we’ve looked at the customer journey through an empathetic lens to define and welcome the ‘Age of Empathy.’ We’ve looked at ‘Closing the Brand-to-Customer Empathy Gap.’ But, how do you put it into practice? Here’s three real-life examples from three different industries.

SMS and empathy is a winning combination

Virgin Trains had a huge problem. Overcrowding at Euston Station in London was making their customers stressed-out and unhappy. The solution? A bit of empathy teamed up with SMS.

Virgin Trains used the power of E2P (enterprise to person) SMS messaging to turn their big problem into a much bigger Customer Experience win.

Euston is one of the UK’s busiest rail stations. It’s got a yearly footfall comparable to Heathrow (about 72 million) and the number of trains arriving there increases every year.

For the individual passenger, it can be a difficult experience. The size of the crowds means that the chance of bumping into other passengers, or getting stuck in people-jams, is high. Long lines at busy ticket barriers can be stressful, as can the 1/3 mile dash from the concourse to some carriages.

Either way, people are battling through a crowded environment at the same time as worrying they’ll miss their train.

That’s why Virgin Trains implemented Project Surge, a simple and effective mobile messaging program to ease passenger flows. They send the train platform and seat number to every passenger who booked their ticket online, and to those who need a bit more time to board.

This happens over a minute before the train platform comes up on the main departure board, and because SMS messages are typically read within seconds, this lead group gets a head start. The remaining passengers also benefit from the fact that there are fewer people boarding simultaneously, so there are no queues, no crush, no stress, and everyone boards quicker.

It’s a huge Customer Experience upgrade thanks to its empathetic design, and it comes with the added perk of positively affecting the bottom line. Online ticket sales have increased, and Virgin Trains had a 28 percent Net Promoter Score increase six months after the program started. Win win.

RCS to revolutionise the Customer Experience

RCS (Rich Communication Services), aka upgraded SMS, is text messaging for the smartphone age. It gives businesses even more options to interact with customers when using mobile messaging.

While it’s useful across many verticals and horizontals, retail Customer Experience professionals in particular will be excited by RCS’s rich media properties such as pictures, video, loyalty cards, coupons, and carousel-like browsing and electing options. RCS also comes with “action buttons” which allow a customer to confirm a purchase, or track a package, directly from their messaging inbox.

The best way to appreciate the potential of RCS is to imagine the rich functionality of a communication app such as WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger, but all taking place in the most used feature of any mobile smartphone, the SMS inbox.

RCS is also custom built for business to consumer interactions. Brands will have a “trustmark” in partnership with the mobile phone networks This will close down any opportunity for spammers to masquerade as brands, as is too often the case on OTT apps and email.

RCS gives customers what they need, when they need it, without having to download an app for each of the brands they want to interact with on their mobile devices.

While RCS is still in its early phases, as more carriers get onboard and offer its empathetic solutions, we’ll see more customer-obsessed brands promoting its rich capabilities.

Chatbots add a personal touch. It’s true!

Chatbots are a prime Customer Experience initiative that are still catching on with brands and CX professionals to offer the kind of personal B2C interactions that today’s consumers are looking for. On top of providing quick and efficient service, chatbots are also capable of adding personality to the mobile messaging conversation.

A recent OpenMarket survey on chatbots revealed that out of a list of key verticals engaging with customers via SMS, the majority of customers (63 percent) want chatbot technology to be implemented into their bank or financial institution.

This is attributable to a few things, but most notably customers’ needs for real time updates. Chatbots and mobile messaging solutions can extend the relationship between bank and customer way beyond their traditional opening hours, and fixed geographic locations.

It’s important to remember that while empathy is an inherent human quality, businesses need to act with empathy as well. If you put empathetic interactions at the forefront of your customer experience model, you will build meaningful relationships that survive and thrive.

John TschohlJohn TschohlDecember 6, 2017


“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.”  —Ralph Waldo Emerson

I have trained trainers and employees all over the world and have taught them to believe in themselves and their abilities.  I have written several books to spread the word about service strategies and the effect it has on your company, your employees, your customers, and your bottom line and one of my favorite sayings is by the late Zig Ziglar: “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.”

The biggest difference I’ve noticed between successful people and unsuccessful people isn’t intelligence or opportunity or resources – it’s the belief that they can make their goals happen.

What you believe influences the way you interpret events, how you feel, and how you behave. And much of the time, those beliefs turn into self-fulfilling prophecies.

You weren’t an accident.  You weren’t mass produced.  You aren’t an assembly-line product.  You were deliberately planned, specifically gifted, and lovingly positioned on the Earth by the Master Craftsman.” – Max Lucado, best selling author

Use a skill called ‘acting as if’

According to Jack Canfield, co-creator of Chicken Soup for the Soul and author of The Success Principles, by acting ‘as if’, you will become the kind of person who is capable of creating the kind of success you want – and this will trigger your subconscious mind to find creative ways to achieve your goals. You will start noticing anything that will help you succeed. Best of all, you will start acting on these opportunities, because you will have the confidence that your efforts will yield great results.

You are a ‘Brand’

Write down all your positive attributes.  Ask parents, ask siblings, ask friends what they like most about you.  That’s you, that’s “Brand You”.  Now, just act like it and dress like it. Be confident and behave as if you are a savvy person. That doesn’t mean you need to be a phony; instead, behave in a way that follows these simple concepts:


Believing in yourself is all about being sure that you are going to do what you want even if others stand against you. Remember, it’s your goal, not your brother’s, not your best friend’s, not your parent’s.  Don’t waste time focusing on what others think, it’s what you believe so take control and use positive thinking daily and watch yourself becoming more successful and getting closer to the prize.

Dedication – it’s part of your make-up

It’s part of the way you do things.  Remember that all successful people have been dedicated to what they are doing.  So should you.  Write it down and look at it every day.

Focus – it’s a focal point that you aim for

For example, the object in target shooting is to aim for the centre. The same standard applies for success. Successful people call these centres their goals.

Skill – it’s the right combination of skill sets in order to be great

This is in order to be successful in whatever you have chosen as your path to make a difference in the world.  If you are going to be the best on the rodeo circuit, you will have to have mastered the skills necessary to stay on that horse, get back up without fear, and get back in the saddle.

I constantly remind employees and clients that it’s about your life, it’s about succeeding in whatever you choose to do. It can be anything you can dream of. It’s about taking chances, being proactive and ready.

Great things are not going to happen for you unless you believe it, see it in your mind, and focus on that goal. Keep your eye on your goal…your prize.

The success you will enjoy will be because you have helped other people get what they want.  Plus you will recommit to the people and passions important in your life.

Repeat after me….

“I believe in myself. This confidence has made the difference for me again and again. I didn’t need intelligence or opportunity or resources. Just a simple belief in myself.” – John Tschohl

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