Manuela PifaniManuela PifaniAugust 20, 2018
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9min98

In the midst of the ‘Experience Economy’, where Customer Experience is the key driver of lasting customer relationships and loyalty, many organisations still leave things to chance. Instead, a clear customer strategy is essential to design and deliver coherent, meaningful and differentiated CX, says expert consultant Manuela Pifani, who is heading an exclusive upcoming Customer Strategy and Design Thinking Masterclass

Summer is still shining  – for now – encouraging us to orchestrate a fanfare of holiday escapes, weekend breaks, and social gatherings in outdoor terraces and backyards.

However, these days people seem to be dealing with these coveted moments in a very different way. They increasingly seek the enjoyment of carefully designed surroundings, the adventure of exploring more exotic destinations, or the thrill of adrenaline-rushing activities.

Indeed, all of this is reflected also in my own choice of holiday destinations, from tours of faraway countries, trekking through local villages and unspoilt landscapes, to the all-immersive relaxation of sunny seaside resorts, dwelling in lush surrounds and the bliss of crystal clear waters, or to the exciting rush of skiing down snow-white mountains away from it all.

Even in the comfort of our own home, we enjoy the great weather by increasingly delving into sophisticatedly spiced meats or delicate fish barbecues; colourful tropical cocktails and perfectly chilled prosecco; trays of Mediterranean delicacies and general MasterChef-style cuisine; to indulge ourselves and our loved ones and impress our guests.

The humble BBQ of hotdogs with ketchup and hamburgers in a bap we grew up with, is no longer good enough for many of us. It no longer offers the type of social and culinary experience we all have come to enjoy and expect.

Whether pretentious or self-gratifying, our intentions are always about achieving and delivering a memorable and immersive social experience. They are about fully enjoying those precious personal moments with all our senses, wrapped up in the warmth of this prolonged and satisfying sunshine.

In the era of the Experience Economy, simple events and humble interactions no longer tick our boxes or tickle our palate. Whether driven by this trend or healthy lifestyles, even McDonalds has progressively moved towards more refined and fresher food and created better experiences, such as introducing queue-busting digital order devices, comfortable table service, and more engaging kids toys and activities.

But more importantly, sub-optimal service and broken processes are no longer tolerated. Customers want more than just products at good prices, but expect everything to be wrapped up in a perfectly packaged experience, in a carefully designed way.

However, many organisations still leave this to chance!

They open up shop and expect customers to flow in and raid their shelves…just because!

They get set up online in a clunky way and expect customers to go through lengthy processes and slow steps to purchase their services…just because.

But reality is different. Even for long-established brands, accidental experiences that happen by chance are no longer good enough. It suffices to take a look at the UK retail sector, which only in the last few months has seen many big brands wobbling, when once upon a time they were leading: House of Fraser, Marks & Spencer, Toys ’r’ Us, Maplin, Homebase, Poundworld…

The list goes on.

From the higher end to the more price-driven side, they have all been struggling, because in my view they all failed to truly understand their customers and therefore design a value proposition and a Customer Experience to meet their needs.

I think it’s paradoxical that, reinforcing this glorious UK summer, the Greek islands’ sunshine has been the theme of the last few months, through the tunes of the Mamma Mia, Here we go again film, which has left most of us walking away from cinemas humming the notes of the memorable Take a Chance on Me song.

While we would all be happy to ‘take a chance’ on the dream of long-lost love or on the certainty of Greek summer sunshine, we are definitely no longer willing to unnecessarily chance a repeat bad shopping or service experience, or indeed even an average one.

Why should we? After all, there are plenty of other options out there, and many are accessible from the comfort of our sun-lounger, using our mobile devices without even having to interrupt the sunbathing.

No strategy, no design

Let’s be honest: how many organisations have a clearly defined customer strategy? They may have business ambitions, brand communications, and operational standards, but how many have defined what type of experience they want to deliver to their customers, in order to fully meet their needs?

Yet if they do not have a clear customer strategy, how could they possibly deliver a coherent, meaningful, and differentiated Customer Experience? If they don’t know what the deepest needs of their customers are, how could they possibly meet them? If things are left to chance, how do they expect to be able to build lasting customer relationships and the loyalty required to survive in our current hot climate?

“Take a chance on me?”

“Mamma mia! No!”

So join me at a forthcoming Customer Strategy & Design Thinking course to broaden your skills, learn new methodologies, and hear about how other organisations have successfully designed their Customer Experience.


Ian GoldingIan GoldingAugust 13, 2018
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5min281

Customer Experience specialist Ian Golding, author of new book Customer What: The Honest and Practical Guide to Customer Experience, writes for Customer Experience Magazine, offering his expert insight to help businesses improve their CX offering. 

To ask Ian a question on how to boost the Customer Experience provided by YOUR business, please email your question to editor@cxm.world. The best questions will be featured in future instalments…

‘I’m a business owner and unfortunately a customer has had a negative experience with me and is telling others about it online. Is there anything I can do to rectify this situation and prevent my brand being damaged further?’

One of the wonderful things about the world we live in today is the fact that everything and anything is so accessible.

From products and services, information and knowledge, to entertainment – we can do almost everything at the click of a button. From a consumer perspective, this accessibility has made it ever easier for us to be able to both get and give ‘feedback’ about all of these ‘things’ (products, services, information, knowledge, and entertainment).

To a supplier of ‘things’ – whether it be online or offline – the customers’ ability to share their thoughts with a global audience can be hugely positive. However, the opposite is also true. Unwittingly, Google, Amazon, Facebook et al, have turned consumers into ‘content marketers’.

It only takes one positive review or placement of feedback for a brand, product, or service to receive significant commercial benefit. That being said, one irritated customer – even if their irritation is unfounded – can have a hugely detrimental effect on commercial performance and brand perception as a whole.

Even the most customer-centric of organisations will get things wrong – they are not immune to customers leaving negative feedback in a public environment. What defines these organisations is how they respond to negative feedback, even if it is not warranted.

The key to dealing with negative feedback is your ability to leave your customer remembering the way you dealt with the recovery, rather than the thing that went wrong in the first place.

To rectify a situation where negative feedback has been given, it is essential to be open, transparent, and honest.

Think about doing the following:

  1. Acknowledge their feedback and THANK them for taking the time to give it
  2. Reassure them that you will work hard to address their concerns – you always do
  3. Encourage them to continue the conversation ‘offline’. Ask them to email you, suggesting that if they leave their contact details, you will get back to them
  4. Close the loop by adding further comment to their original online feedback confirming that the matter has been addressed – in other words, close the loop
  5. NEVER try to suggest the customer is wrong – even if they are!
  6. NEVER try to delete negative customer feedback

The more you engage with both positive and negative feedback, the more consumers will believe that you are sincere about wanting to act on it.


Enghouse InteractiveEnghouse InteractiveAugust 6, 2018
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7min890

In a recent Enghouse webinar we were privileged to be joined by Kim Bright from LEGO Education who discussed the relationship between their brand and Customer Experience, and how it is interwoven with everything they do.

Listening to LEGO and the way the power of brand shines through every aspect of their Customer Experience was certainly refreshing. Their approach of F.R.K.E, (Fun, Reliable, Knowledgeable, Engaging) is used in every interaction with builders (customers), adding a consistent community feel to the relationship between customer and brand.

Achieving this requires the development of customer journeys that meet and match the builder’s requirements, demonstrate the brand’s strong ethnics, and emphasise the lifetime value of builders to the brand. With an NPS (Net Promoter Score) of over 90 percent, LEGO’s approach appears to be working rather well and they have certainly embraced the concept of ‘Customer Experience is the brand’.

Thinking about the brand value approach, enhancements in contact centre and UC technology have made it even easier to connect customers with the right people in your organisation. They have also made it easier to monitor brand consistency and the service customers receive.

Here are some key points to consider for shaping the relationship between brand and Customer Experience:

Use technology to speak to the right individual in the organisation

Review your customer journeys dependent on personas, and utilise your database or third party systems to understand the customer history, predict future enquiries, and route them to the right channels or person based on previous interactions.

Define your channels and overlay your contact centre to your unified communications strategy. This will enable seamless transfer to any expert across the business, seamlessly building empathy and rapport for a personalised service, resolving customer issues first time.

Use tools to evaluate for a consistent service

Use your technology to ensure the service delivered is consistent and follows your brand ethnics, or F.R.K.E in LEGO’s case. This can be achieved through self-evaluation solutions such as quality management, vocal coach, or speech analytics to monitor in real time and inform a consistent future approach. In addition, use simple post-interaction surveys to continuously review and evaluate service.

Ensure messaging is as consistent as your service across channels

Businesses wrangling with the channel approach must ensure they are offering consistency across all channels including web chat, social media, and voice and that customers can switch seamlessly from one to another. This can be achieved by setting SLAs for each channel and monitoring activity so that tweaks can be made to the customer journey.

Kim Bright gave some great insight into LEGO’s approach to Customer Experience and how it has helped to propel them to their status as the most significant toy makers in the world. But what did everyone else think?

We asked our delegates what they felt was the most important part of Customer Experience and thought we would share a few of them with you in this blog.

“The need for personalisation and consistent messaging across channels”: Train operator

“We want to help the customer live better in their home, and support them in any aspect of their life that ensures this outcome”: Housing association

“Creating a hospitality culture so guests come back again and again”: International fast food chain

“Initial first call/contact with us as this sets the potential client’s expectations of how their case will be dealt with by the firm as a whole”: Legal firm

LEGO is of course a unique brand, but from questioning our audience on the webinar, it is clear that every business is different and the customer service approach must be aligned to the business strategy.

The relationship between the brand and the customer experience is vital. Everyone within the organisation needs to be responsible for customer service and the continuous monitoring and evolution of customer journeys based on personas, channel approach, and the right people within the organisation dealing with a case that fits into their area of expertise.

These are the building blocks to world class customer service.

Click here to watch the webinar on demand with LEGO. 

See more quotes from the webinar here.


Ian GoldingIan GoldingJuly 4, 2018
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6min899

Customer Experience specialist Ian Golding, author of new book Customer What: The Honest and Practical Guide to Customer Experience, writes for Customer Experience Magazine, offering his expert insight to help businesses improve their CX offering. 

To ask Ian a question on how to boost the Customer Experience provided by YOUR business, please email your question to editor@cxm.world. The best questions will be featured in future instalments.

Ian also leads the Customer Experience Masterclass and the CCXP Exam Preparation Workshop, both of which can be booked now for dates in October.

‘As a small business owner, time is limited for me, but I am very interested in charting out a customer journey map. How can I identify all my touchpoints and create an effective map on a tight schedule?’

What a lovely question! Lovely, because Customer Experience principles, methodologies, tools, and techniques, are as applicable to a small business as they are to a large corporation.

Creating a visualisation of the customer journey in the form of a map is one of the most important ‘tools’ of all. However, it is very important to recognise that creating the journey itself is only one component part of a bigger purpose – that purpose being to embed a culture of customer journey management (a continuous, never-ending cycle of activity).

Creating a customer journey map is not an exact science – there is no ‘standard’ or ‘right’ way of doing it. It is also not something that needs to be complex or difficult to do. In fact, I always argue that the ‘secret’ (if I can call it that) to effective journey mapping is to keep it simple.

As a small business owner, I would suggest the simplest way to do it is to quite literally to ‘put yourself in your customers shoes’. Spend a day doing exactly what your customer does throughout their experience with you.

Try and phone your company. Go on to your website to find the information you need. Do what your customer does. Instead of creating a ‘map’, you may want to ‘draw’ a typical day in the life of your customer. Understanding everything a typical customer does (not just when they interact with you) – from the minute they wake up, to the minute they go to bed, will enable you to understand how well (or not) you are fitting into their lives.

If you can, run your ‘day in the life of a customer’ past a real customer of yours – validate that what you think they go through is correct. Validate that you clearly understand their ‘pain points’ so you can identify the small number of opportunities that will have the greatest effect on their perception of your business and as a result, the greatest effect on your commercial performance.

Remember at all times to keep it simple. The key is to act on the priorities for improvement and to revisit the journey so you are able to manage its continuous improvement over time.


Lisa Garthside Lisa Garthside June 28, 2018
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8min694

As we approach the finals of the 2018 UK Digital Experience Awards, it’s worth asking what organisations can do to achieve Digital Customer Experience excellence.

Already, ‘digital’ permeates virtually every aspect of our personal lives, from social media interactions and online shopping to banking, entertainment, and travel. Now, digital interactions are becoming embedded in more and more organisational and customer facing processes too, so creating good Digital Experience is becoming increasingly important.

In order to do this, we need to understand just how blurred the line between physical and digital interactions is becoming. In the infancy of digital technology, it was easy to separate a digital interaction from a physical one. Someone sitting in front of their computer was, of course, purely digital. Conversely, visiting a store to make a purchase was strictly physical.

It’s not so straightforward now, with digital interactions either supplementing or replacing physical actions. And the blurred lines are even apparent in more traditionally manual or face-to-face industries that you might have thought would still favour the physical.

Clearly, this means that organisations across all industry sectors must make a far greater effort to ensure that customer interactions across all touchpoints are delivered with the same level of quality, the same branding and the same opportunities to delight customers along every step of their journey. And it’s essential that organisations that want to capture and create an end-to-end Customer Experience put in place a Digital Experience strategy that is embedded into wider CX programmes.

Of course, capturing more and more digital feedback from websites, customer service helplines, call centres, online chat functions, and social media – alongside customer satisfaction surveys – will place more customer data at their fingertips of organisations. It will also put CX teams under greater pressure to understand what data they are collecting, measuring and analysing in order to make better business decisions.

It is entirely logical therefore that organisations that want to understand and deliver an excellent Digital Experience should turn to developments in technology to help them optimise, prioritise, and support the entire process. We’ve highlighted the three most significant developments that we consider to be key:

Artificial Intelligence

There is a lot of noise about the rise of Artificial Intelligence, capturing the imagination of industry commentators, technologists and CX professionals alike. AI undoubtedly presents organisations with a great opportunity to capture more personal, immediate and detailed feedback and to crunch large volumes of data much faster than ever before.

However, there is still a long way to go before AI is perfected, moving beyond clever indexing and good search functionality to offer conversational interfaces capable of interpreting contextually-heavy problems. While AI can certainly help to streamline data collection and analysis, facilitating prediction and trend analysis, CX professionals will need to supervise and train the technology for some time yet.

Beacon and geolocation technology

Consumers increasingly expect to receive not only a personalised customer experience but a ‘frictionless’ one. They expect companies they do business with to know who they are, what they’ve bought and to work hard to retain their brand loyalty.

They also expect companies to think about what they might do and want in the future. Beacon and geolocation technology can trigger and track traffic to a store in response to online and offline ads, or send push notifications about special offers when customers are approaching a store or department. Seeking ‘in the moment’ feedback can also help brands to understand what customers are thinking, how their attitude in a given situation might affect their behaviour and ultimately the choices they make.

Facial recognition and emotion detection technology

The ability to capture even fleeting emotions through minute facial expression changes can be incredibly powerful for CX professionals. Emotions can not only reveal a person’s beliefs or attitude toward a brand but their propensity to act or buy.

Understanding and acting on emotion at the point of experience can therefore help organisations to inform and create tailored advertising, customer loyalty and other programmes. Combined with other data, such as past purchase history or survey feedback, emotion recognition can deliver an unprecedented level of insight into what impacts customer emotions. This can help organisations to better understand behaviour patterns and predict future consumer decision making and actions, driving improvements in products and services, processes and experiences, overall.

Of course, creating an excellent Digital Experience should not be about using technology for its own sake. It should be an enabler, helping organisations to focus on the customer as a human and individual by providing a more personal and interactive experience.

The success of a Digital Experience programme should therefore not be measured by how many tools and gadgets are being employed in the name of CX, but instead be measured by the ability to maximise the wealth of customer data that is already available, combined with new and evolving sources of digital insight, that allow organisations to ask less and act more.


Ben WhitterBen WhitterJune 19, 2018
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13min580

Ben Whitter is known as Mr Employee Experience in business circles, and his role as a global Employee Experience (EX) leader brings him into contact with many companies keen to improve how they accommodate their most important resource – their staff.
He is also the CEO and Founder of the World Employee Experience Institute, which partnered the 2018 Employee Experience Awards. As part of his blog series for Customer Experience Magazine, Ben is touring the headquarters of awards finalists to uncover and highlight what makes them EX pioneers…

The quality of the Employee Experience is fundamental to the client experience.

It is a distinct competitive advantage that provides a massive opportunity in business, and no-one knows this more than the Group CEO of DRP Group, Dale Parmenter.

DRP, a creative agency with 250 employees and a turnover of £27.5 million, is light years ahead of where the company found itself a few years ago. Imagine having 60 percent of your business wiped out almost overnight. Well, that’s exactly what happened to DRP Group following 9/11.

That moment changed everything and the company was on the brink. This was a crisis on a scale that the management team had never faced before. The response was not too dissimilar to any other company in this position – they had to cut costs and find ways to remain in business.

One cost was an employee base that had grown significantly. The proposal that was taken to staff was to scale back employee numbers by nearly half and let people go.

However, at the get together, one employee presented a different idea. They were determined to move ahead and grow the business together. There was clearly a real and deep connection to the company.

This alternative idea was a collective pay cut across the business that would save jobs and ensure the firm weathered this storm. It was a profound moment for the CEO and proved to be a major catalyst that provided the foundation for the multi-award-winning company we see today.

During this crisis, the CEO directly experienced the full power of leading in a human-centred way, and the huge benefits that this unlocks for everyone. Employees became the solution and the business took this to heart. The business made transparency and trust the central pillars of a now award-winning approach that ensures people feel a part of something special every day.

The group, bonded by a renewed sense of togetherness, drew on their collective experiences to create new revenue streams which would bring them back stronger than ever before. Inevitably, with employees now at the centre of the business, morale and business results went through the roof.

It was a very special time at DRP and the CEO determined that they could never go back to the way it was. They absolutely needed to build an employee-centric company to lead, not just for the turnaround, but the future growth of the company.

Fast forward a few years, and I find myself standing in DRP’s reception surrounded by a gazillion industry awards.

The firm recently won Silver in the Learning and Development category of the UK Employee Experience Awards, and it’s easy to see why they have been successful.

What stands out from my visit and several hours talking with Dale is the journey the company went through and how that experience created a successful people-centric organisation.

Experience is woven into everything at DRP, and connecting this is the company’s mantra ‘Anything’s Possible’. This is the way people experience the business every day and through this lens experiences are crafted, created, and delivered for clients.

So much so that just a taste of the Employee Experience and the way this business operates is enough to convert 85 percent of the prospective clients that are invited to tour the company and ask questions directly to employees.

The company is now doing the same within the candidate experience and people who are interested in working for DRP can spend time at the HQ in the Midlands. This type of approach requires a significant level of trust and at DRP it is incredibly high – this may partially explain why there is a 92 percent staff retention rate.

The team is involved in every aspect of the business and this is a genuine example of growth by design. It is conscious, intentional, and aligned to drive business performance.

The sense that the founder sincerely cares about the people within the business is palpable. My high-energy conversation with Dale spilled out of the meeting room and we explored the company in-depth, from values to systems to people. As we walked around the offices and the storage and creation facilities, what became evident was that the CEO was in amongst the detail of the employee and client experience, and I mean details: the history, the background, the changes, the people, the stories, the anecdotes, the developments, and the achievements.

What also became clear was how little HR was involved in this. It may come as a surprise to learn, given the level of employee-centricity, that HR was resisted at every turn. Resisted by the CEO and for a very long-time.

He resisted the need to even form a function around human resources; it just did not sync well with the way they progress the company and community. What’s the point? Aside from compliance, administration, and regulation, why did he need the function? What value did it add?

These are big questions coming from the CEO of a successful company and should serve as a wake-up call to professionals busying themselves with low-value work. But if that is the case, how do they lead EX projects and deliver the work?

Well, that’s simple- as a team and based on an internal client brief. For example, for a senior project, if the CEO is the client then everything within the business is mobilised to deliver it. It is treated like a client engagement, which also serves to sharpen skills, process, and the overall experience, but the high standards delivered on the outside must also be evident on the inside of the business. This, I believe, sets EX organisations apart from the rest.

While others are squabbling over internal agendas and resources, organisations like DRP are delivering based on a strong and accountable mandate from the top. I have talked about the CEO as the ‘Chief Experience Officer’ many times before.

In these scenarios, colleagues from the Board are matched with key talent from marketing, internal communications, and other functions to develop, prototype, and bring into operation experiences that add significant value to client and Employee Experience.

Examples of this include the ‘build your own’ performance review experience, HERO awards, and internally designed and produced apps to connect colleagues.

It also includes the drip-feed on TV displays around the firm highlighting key news, progress, and other key experiences; one such experience is the annual Christmas party for employees and families. Harry Potter took over DRP last year in a themed winter wonderland. This £100,000 experience will live long in the memory and affects not just employees, but also families and clients.

This is a team that is together and they are often found working on charity projects and experiences that impact society at large, which is another theme within EX organisations, as companies seek to become more sustainable and environmentally-friendly.

Investment is strong in career development and in the all-staff meetings to maintain and deepen to connection within the company. All staff can attend a two-day event and experience to take a pause in the year.

One evening is a meeting for the leadership community and deals with themes specific for that audience. The main elements of the overall experience include speed-dating with the board, client panels – where staff can ask candid questions to existing clients – four development workshops, and sessions where every board member can be asked any questions about the business…and then it’s party time!

It’s not all work – EX organisations are never afraid to treat people as adults and have fun, so a key element of the event is a staff party.

There is a lot more I could say about my visit to this company, about the specifics within the Employee Experience, and I may follow-up in the future on this, but I think the point of this story has been well and truly made already.

The role of the CEO and top team in creating progressive and employee/client-centric workplaces is critical because the quality of your Employee Experience is a direct reflection of your CEO and, quite frankly, I believe that ‘Anything’s Possible’ with a people-centric CEO.


Ian GoldingIan GoldingJune 8, 2018
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4min717

Customer Experience specialist Ian Golding, author of new book Customer What: The Honest and Practical Guide to Customer Experience, writes for Customer Experience Magazine, offering his expert insight to help businesses improve their CX offering. 

To ask Ian a question on how to boost the Customer Experience provided by YOUR business, please email your question to editor@cxm.world. The best questions will be featured in future instalments…

‘What are some simple techniques for brands to engage with customers that makes the interaction feel personal and not ‘cookie cutter?’

What a great question. Personalisation has been a hot topic for a number of years now – both in terms of digital and human interaction. Whilst it is possible for extremely clever techno genii to make it feel that apps, websites, and other digital gadgetry actually know who we are and what we want, it is far more difficult to enable consistently personal and personable human interactions.

The fundamental reason for this is that for an interaction to ‘feel personal’, then it is essential to enable the human on either side of the interaction to behave in a manner appropriate for the interaction. Every exchange with a customer is different. If we ‘tell’ employees to conduct these exchanges in a specific, scripted, cookie cutter manner, then the exchange will not feel personal. We would never dream of ordering customers to speak back to us in a scripted manner, so why should we expect the same from employees.

As a result, if brands want to engage with customers to make interactions feel personal, they MUST allow their employees to THINK and ACT in the interests of the customer – every time! Just this morning, I bought my breakfast at a Pret a Manger in London. I was greeted with a pretty standard “good morning” – I would not have expected more.

However, the server calculated my bill incorrectly, and undercharged me. When he realised his mistake, I offered to pay the balance with cash.

“No problem sir – it was my mistake, have that on us,” he said.

That made the entire exchange feel very personal. This is what Pret a Manger empower their people to do. This is what so many brands do not trust their people to do.

To make CX personal, brands must trust their employees to do the right thing for the customer.


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4min859

Customer Experience specialist Ian Golding, author of new book Customer What: The Honest and Practical Guide to Customer Experience, today begins a new feature in Customer Experience Magazine, in which he offers his expert insight to help businesses improve their CX offering.

To ask Ian a question on how to boost the Customer Experience provided by YOUR business, please email your question to editor@cxm.world. The best questions will be featured in future instalments…

“As the owner of an SME with limited resources, how can I keep up with the level of CX that today’s customers expect? What are some simple and cheap methods of providing it?”

Every organisation has a Customer Experience, and always has had. Size and scale of the company is irrelevant – it is as important to understand the basic fundamentals as a company of two people, as it is in a corporation of thirty thousand.

In principle, the smaller the company, the ‘easier’ it should be to have everyone in it working towards delivering an experience that meets (and sometimes exceeds) customer expectation. The key is to ensure you have absolute clarity and focus. Large organisations struggle with both of these things – yet so do smaller ones. To ensure that you have the clarity and focus needed, you should make certain you are able to answer the following questions at a minimum:

Do I know who my customers are?

Not just as an account number, but as real people. To do this, everyone in my company must understand what customers want from us, what their challenges are, and what they value most.

Do I know what my company should be doing for my customers?

What experience do you want them to have? The best way for a small company to answer this question is with three more questions! Inspired by the Golden Circle methodology created by Simon Sinek:

a) why does my company exist in the first place – what is its purpose?

b) how can I make the purpose a reality?

c) what products/services do my clients actually need?

Every employee MUST know the answers to these questions and be continually focused on delivering the experience you want your customers to have.

Does every employee know the role they play in delivering the experience you want your customers to have?

Ensuring they have clarity on this, coupled with giving them the ability to think and act in the interests of the customer, should enable your purpose to live and breathe.

Ensuring that your whole organisation understands these questions and knows the role they play, is not expensive to do. The secret is to keep it simple. Simplicity of the message combined with a never-ending commitment to delivering it, will be the difference between a truly customer-centric organisation and one that is not.

Start every day reminding your people of it – a five minute meeting is not difficult to do, but will suffice to make sure that your purpose is at the front and centre of everyone’s minds – every single working day.


Ben WhitterBen WhitterMay 14, 2018
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7min675

Ben Whitter is known as Mr Employee Experience in business circles, and his role as a global Employee Experience (EX) leader brings him into contact with many companies keen to improve how they accommodate their most important resource – their staff.
He is also the CEO and Founder of the World Employee Experience Institute, which is partnering the 2018 Employee Experience Awards. As part of an exciting new blog series exclusive to Customer Experience Magazine, Ben is touring the headquarters of awards finalists to uncover and highlight what makes them EX pioneers…

 

The weekend before I visited the IGNIS HQ in Fulham, the whole team were in New York for a team experience – a great example to begin with when describing the exceptional Employee Experience on offer within this ambitious marketing agency.

On arrival, I was offered a personalised welcome, a Virtual Reality presentation of IGNIS staff members’ award-winning work with clients, and popcorn!

IGNIS is an organisation that shares my own philosophy: experience is everything! This shines a bright light through their entire business strategy – from the way they work with clients to the way they intentionally develop the experience of work for their own staff.

Valuing values

As a growing company, the team recognised that a major factor to enable continued success was to double-down on the core values of the business whilst developing aligned experiences for their new and existing staff. It was this fusion of values and experiences that had a profound impact on the business.

Two measures that matter most to companies are profit and earnings. The EX at IGNIS has been cited as the key factor in a 17 percent rise in gross profit in 2017. The organisation has also won a number of prestigious creative and financial awards. EX has delivered incredible results, no question, but what were these experiences and how did IGNIS deliver what I’m calling ‘Growth by Design’?

The ‘IGN-itiative’ platform was developed to enhance and elevate the experience of work at the firm. The kick-off was the ‘Iglympics’, an unashamed “school sports day meets Bake-Off”, which was further developed to include their Ugandan charity partner, EaC, with the ‘Ign-athon’, a 10k annual fundraising run held alongside other cultural events.

The culmination is their bi-annual trip to Uganda to build a cattle-shed and teach in schools. I also enjoyed hearing about their ‘Virtual Fridays’ concept, which actually takes place on Thursday! This is a global digital meeting for colleagues around the world to share, create, and interact. Another example of this bond-building (and one that actually does take place on a Thursday) is their legendary ‘Thirsty Thursdays’ – a regular get-together of the team to have fun in different ways.

These events are consciously and thoughtfully designed to connect people with purpose, and to unlock the power of this community of colleagues and friends. They bring people together to work and learn together in an environment that cultivates trust and positive behaviours whilst amplifying and ensuring values are genuinely lived and breathed within the business.

Investing in ideas

The organisation also invests in ideas and has demonstrated some great examples of things they are taking a punt on by backing staff to create a new product or something of real value to their client base. This is powerful – not just listening to staff, but backing them with funds to get something off the ground. True EX organisations are not walking blindly into the future; they are constantly evolving, innovating, and co-creating with their staff.

A big buzzword within Employee Experience these days is alignment. This is something that stood out from the visit. IGNIS work very hard to ensure their experiences, on both the client and employee side, are connected and strongly aligned. This is a critical factor in EX approaches.

IGNIS has consciously cultivated a multi-disciplinary approach to work and a flat structure, which proactively stops a silo mentality from emerging. It is this that enables them to continue to operate with an entrepreneurial and creative flair.

Work hard – play hard

Work hard – play hard is mantra that often presents itself within successful teams, and IGNIS is proud to have built a company based on challenging work while having fun at the same time. In the very fabric of the organisation is a can-do attitude, both in the individual and the organisational sense. This is a team that overcomes challenges together and actively designs experiences to strengthen their bonds.

The company actively encourages a deep connection with the world around each person and encourages colleagues to ‘get out more’. The team is clear that seeing, experiencing, and expanding interactions with the world delivers great work and greater people.

Part of the EX is about reflecting and building on experiences, which is a compelling practice in and of itself, but connecting this to business and individual outcomes is often the part that organisations don’t do. Not IGNIS however – they get that the world, the business, and the employee are connected.


Ian GoldingIan GoldingMay 14, 2018
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12min610

Customer Experience professional consultant Ian Golding is well known to CXM readers thanks to his role as a Non-Executive Editor and a CX Masterclass leader, but his influence is expanding dramatically with the recent publication of his first book, Customer What? The Honest and Practical Guide to Customer Experience.

Now available to purchase from Amazon, this new work is set to become the bible for businesses keen to improve their CX offering, and the first port of call for Customer Experience professionals seeking to fine-tune their skills.

Customer Experience Magazine is proud to be publishing exclusive excerpts from the tome, beginning with an insight into why modern retailers are at a disadvantage to their historical counterparts when it comes to being able to provide a memorable experience for shoppers…

 

I have observed, and been part of, a tidal wave of focus on customer experience. It has always existed (although few realised it), and customers have always been willing to give feedback. But businesses have only recently started to recognise that doing the right thing by their customers, and actively managing the experience, might make sense.

A few years back, my family and I were honoured to take part in a BBC1 ‘living history’ programme called Turn Back Time: The Family. It was an experience like no other, and we were transported back in time to the turn of the 20th century to experience life as our ancestors lived it and understand how life for the family unit has changed over time.

Our experience started in 1914. Life in pre-war Britain felt much simpler than it is today. Although shopping by mail order had been invented, most shopping happened in person, in a physical shop, with real things in it! The overwhelming majority of people didn’t own a car, so most customers would shop locally with independent traders in the high street (remember them?). Payment was also pretty simple – cash or cheque, with no plastic in sight.

As a father in 1914, I learned how important etiquette was. Manners and politeness were evident in all interactions – at home, at work, and as a customer.

Shops were very orderly places, staffed by smartly dressed shopkeepers standing behind tall counters. They knew most of their customers by name, and would pick, and wrap, products by hand while chatting to customers. Most of the Time the shopkeepers did not even have to ask what their customers wanted to buy – they knew already. There was not a great deal of variety in terms of the products on offer, but the shopkeeper knew each customer’s preferences, their family’s preferences, and their budget, and customers trusted them to help find just the right thing, just as they would trust their children’s head teacher or the family doctor.

Fast-forward 100 or so years. Today, customers do not just have two purchase channels to choose from. We have ten that I can think of – physical stores; the telephone; the web; mobile; live chat;SMS; mail order; TV; social; AI-assisted. I am sure I have forgotten one or two! Local availability is not a consideration either – we can buy anything and everything we want, in any way we want, from anywhere in the world. We can, in theory, live our lives without ever talking to anyone or setting foot outside our front door.

It is not at all uncommon to conduct an entire transaction without a human being involved, and even if one is, they are often just reading back a pre-written script. In shops, it is unlikely that anyone will know you personally. Trust isn’t the currency it used to be – it’s likely you are so well informed by technology that the people working in the shop won’t need to help you make your purchase. In fact, if you need help you are likely to turn to Google – you trust the wisdom of the crowd to tell you what others think about an item before you commit to buying it.

So, when was the best time to be a customer? The personal, simple experience of 1914 or the global, convenience-led experience of today?

I am not advocating that we literally turn back time – far from it. It is impossible to deny the remarkable ease and convenience afforded today’s consumer by the amazing connected world we are part of. However, the experience is less fulfilling somehow. It does not always feel good being a customer of the global corporations that distribute the products and services we buy. We create and share stories of organisations that fail to connect emotionally with us. Not only do they not know our names, but very few seem to understand us. Ironically, we’re looking for something we’ve lost: trust. And feeling known and understood and valued, a little like we used to feel in the food old days in 1914.

Is the customer always right?

Many will argue that today’s experience looks the way it does because consumers have demanded it, and will continue to demand more and more. Is that really true, though? The power consumers have today has definitely changed the relationship between business and customer.

“In the rush to chase convenience, efficiency, and lower costs, many businesses have unknowingly and gradually broken the bond of trust that existed between them and their customers.”

But some businesses have adapted to change better than others. These are the customer experience leaders. They offer all the benefits of today’s experience – choice, convenience, and speedy access at affordable prices – but they have done it without ever losing trust. They have consistently made it their mission to extend the personal, empathetic, emotional flavour of the sopping experience of 1914 to our modern day, connected experience.

Today, business leaders who have taken customers for granted in the past are reconsidering their strategy. Even Ryanair CEO, Michael O’Leary – infamous for his very public disdain for customers – claims to have had an epiphany, saying:

“If I had known being nicer to our customers was going to work so well I would have done it years ago.

A whole consulting industry has grown up around creating wonderful-looking customer journey maps. New roles are emerging with ‘customer experience’ in their job titles. Ten years ago, the CCO (or chief customer officer) did not exist. Today, increasing numbers of CCOs are appearing on the scene, alongside customer experience directors; heads of customer experience; customer experience transformists; customer experience futurologists; and VPs of customer success.

Now, more than ever, should be a wonderful time to be a customer

So why do I continue to be on the receiving end of inconsistent, uninspiring, and often substandard customer experiences? Why do I encounter more people who have no idea what customer experience is, than those who do?

Because organisational understanding of customer experience as a discipline is still in its fledgling state. Differentiating on customer experience requires you to embed customer in the psyche of your organisation and every individual who works within it. It is a long-term business strategy, not a quick fix. It requires strategic thinking, scientific measurement, and emotional intelligence. It is an organisation-wide collaborative effort, needing committed leadership and hardcore change management.

This is why group like the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA), founded by Bruce Temkin and Jeanne Bliss, are so vital to the development of our industry. And why a new professional qualification has been created to recognise our complex and ever-evolving skill set.

At times, being a customer experience professional can be lonely and frustrating. Putting the needs of customers and employees at the forefront of everyone’s thinking requires a bucketload of inspiration, dedication, and perspiration. I have seen and heard it all, and believe me I have developed a very thick skin!

No matter what role you play in your organisation (regardless of whether you have customer experience in your job title or not!) you can drive this change. Never give up. Remind yourself every day that our businesses exist to serve customers, and without them we would not exist.

 




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