Ian GoldingIan GoldingMay 13, 2019
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5min415

Customer Experience specialist Ian Golding, author of Customer What: The Honest and Practical Guide to Customer Experience, writes for Customer Experience Magazine offering 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 CX Professional Masterclass. Click here for details of upcoming Masterclass dates.

I believe my business is running smoothly, and I have had no complaints so far, but how can I test my touchpoints to identify potential problems before a customer does? 

This is a great question!

The only way to determine if your perception of your business is a reflection of reality is to ‘put yourself in your customers shoes’!

Whilst it is perfectly feasible that you are delivering a consistently good experience that is meeting the needs and expectations of customers, it is important to understand that very often, when things are going wrong, customers will not tell you about it! The only time you will realise there is a problem, is when it is too late.

So to ‘test’ the touchpoints in the customer journey, you must experience them for yourself in exactly the same way the customer does. This is an activity/exercise that should be done on a regular basis – and not just by you!

Everyone in your organisation should be experiencing the customer journey on a regular basis and reporting back observations (both positive and negative). Even if you are in a ‘business-to-business’ relationship, it is still vital to see what your customer sees’.

Too many organisations are not genuinely putting themselves in their customers shoes on a continuous basis. Doing so will enable the proactive management of the customer journey.


Harald FanderlHarald FanderlMay 1, 2019
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6min615

“What do my customers want?”

The savviest executives are asking this question more frequently than ever, and rightly so. Leading companies understand that they are in the Customer Experience business, and they understand that how an organisation delivers for customers is as important as what it delivers.

Armed with advanced analytics, Customer Experience leaders gain rapid insights to build customer loyalty, make employees happier, achieve revenue gains of five-to-10 percent, and reduce costs by 15-to-25 percent within two or three years. But it takes patience and guts to train an organisation to see the world through the customer’s eyes and to redesign functions to create value in a customer-centric way.

There are three key management tasks to undertake in order to achieve this shift: Observe, Shape, and Perform.

Observe: Understand the interaction through the customer’s eyes

Technology has handed customers unprecedented power to dictate the rules in purchasing goods and services. Three-quarters of them, research finds, expect ‘now’ service within five minutes of making contact online. A similar number want a simple experience, use comparison apps when they shop, and put as much trust in online reviews as in personal recommendations. Increasingly, customers expect from all players the same kind of immediacy, personalisation, and convenience that they receive from leading practitioners such as Google and Amazon.

Central to connecting better with customers is putting in place several building blocks of a comprehensive improvement in customer experience.

  • Identify and understand the customer’s journey
  • Quantify what matters to your customers
  • Define a clear customer-experience aspiration and common purpose

Customer journeys are the framework that allows a company to organise itself and mobilise employees to deliver value to customers consistently, in line with its purpose. The journey construct can help align employees around customer needs, despite functional boundaries.

Shape: Redesign the business from the customer back

Customer Experience leaders start with a differentiating purpose and focus on improving the most important customer journey first – whether it be opening a bank account, returning a pair of shoes, installing cable television, or even updating address and account information.

Then they improve the steps that make up that journey. To manage expectations, they design supporting processes with customer psychology in mind. They transform their digital profile to remove pain points in interactions, and to set in motion the culture of continuous innovation needed to make more fundamental organisational transformations.

Customer Experience leaders can become even better by digitising the processes behind the most important customer journeys. In these quick efforts, multidisciplinary teams jointly design, test, and iterate high-impact processes and journeys in the field, continually refining and rereleasing them after input from customers. Such methods help high-performing incumbents to release and scale major, customer-vetted process improvements in less than 20 weeks.

Perform: Align the organisation to deliver against tangible outcomes

As Customer Experience becomes a bigger focus of corporate strategy, more and more executives will face the decision to commit their organisations to a broad CX transformation. The immediate challenge will be how to structure the organisation and roll-out, as well as figuring out where and how to get started. Applying sophisticated measurement to what your customers are saying, empowering frontline employees to deliver against your customer vision, and a customer-centric governance structure form the foundation.

Securing early economic wins will deliver value and momentum for continuous innovation.

Delighting customers by mastering the concept and execution of an exceptionally good Customer Experience is a challenge. However, it is an essential requirement for leading in an environment where customers wield growing power, and crucially without it, you lose your ability to meet their needs. And as we all know, in today’s market dissatisfied customers quickly move elsewhere.

The author would like to thank Kevin Neher and Ewan Duncan for their contributions to this article.


Brendan DykesBrendan DykesApril 24, 2019
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7min425

Everyone is someone’s customer, and every single one of us knows how we want to be treated.

Yet we’ve all had experiences that have influenced our opinion of a brand, but actually little or nothing to do with the product or service itself. It is why the quality of service and experience provided by contact centres is critical to the well-being of any organisation that prides itself on the quality of its CX.

As the late Maya Angelou said: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Intensifying competition and the growing power of consumers have together made customer experience the only means by which you can achieve truly durable competitive advantage in retail today. 

It is not possible, however, to provide a joined-up customer journey if the tools you have to manage it are incomplete. Simply throwing cash at CX technology will not lead to success. Here then is a seven-step plan to guide your contact centre transformation.   

1. You must acknowledge the need for change.

The first step towards the recovery of your CX is admitting you have a problem and having a genuine and consistent commitment to solving it. Don’t focus your energies entirely on customer complaints as a guide to your transformation. These are negative emotions. Look at positive feedback as well, to identify what your organisation is getting right so you can start replicating it. 

2. Be clear about the Customer Experience you are trying to deliver

Unfortunately, many organisations still have an incomplete definition of CX. Either that or their division into functional silos means that CX has become the proverbial elephant being examined by three blind men. In other words, everyone comes up with their own idea based purely on knowledge of their own silo, mistaking or misconceiving the true nature of CX and what it should deliver for the organisation.

3. Ensure you have executive buy-in

It is vital your CEO or CFO is on board to sponsor any contact centre transformation initiative and lead from the top down. But also consider whether you need a dedicated position such as a Chief Customer Officer. Whoever fulfils this role owns the Customer Experience and has the authority to ensure the requisite focus.

4. Work hard to ensure your organisation is fully on-board and aligned

Remember that people are capable of being very parochial, which is often caused by anxiety  about what change will mean to their own work and targets. To counter that, consider establishing a ‘CX Council’ to bring together all departments that have any role in the Customer Experience and empower them to work as a team with a unified vision of putting the customer first, no matter what.   

5. Get on your benchmarks

After mapping the customer journey, your next step should be to assess the current state of your strategy, people, processes, and tech. Come to a decision about how you are going to measure the delta of change in terms of positive customer emotion, not just reduced holding times or other operational metrics.

6. Collaborate to differentiate

This is an important one, because by working with a true solution partner, rather than simply a software vendor, you can set yourself on the right path to true omnichannel engagement and avoid the all-too-common operational pitfalls. Use the expertise of your partner to identify opportunities for business alignment along with ways of applying technology to speed up your transformation journey.

7. Build your business case

Providing good Customer Experience will have a positive impact on your organisation’s bottom line, which is certainly a legitimate justification for any CX initiative, but you still need a solid business case based on logic and metrics rather than intuition. If you have the right partner, they should be able to direct and inform this process.

These are seven great steps to set any organisation on the path towards recovering its CX and providing great customer service again. We cannot pretend it is always easy. Such a journey does inevitably involve a substantial measure of cultural upheaval. Customer experience needs to become a collective obsession within the enterprise.

CX culture and practices have to evolve every day and encompass what is always a changing technology landscape. But once this mindset is firmly embedded right across the organisation and all those internal barriers and silos are banished, at least as far as CX is concerned, the tangible bottom line benefits will flow in. You will also have a much happier and more fulfilled workforce.


Ben QuigleyBen QuigleyApril 23, 2019
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7min497

Forecasts of a downturn in the travel market following the referendum vote to leave the EU in June 2016 have largely been defied.

In 2017, UK residents took 72.8 million trips abroad, up three percent from 2016. The number of UK consumers travelling long-haul has similarly increased by 50 percent. Recent research in the travel market, Starting the Journey: How optimised comms can benefit the travel industry, unveiled an industry that has remained robust despite economic uncertainty.

While demand for travel is increasing, consumer trust is dwindling. With 80 percent of consumers surveyed saying their holiday was nothing like it was advertised, the travel sector needs to address the issue of trust and reassess messaging at large. Focusing on the consumer to better understand their needs and meet their expectations is pivotal.

However, travel brands have greater challenges to tackle: creating a frictionless experience throughout the customer journey, both pre and post-travel; making greater use of the innovative technological tools at their disposal; and balancing tactical and brand communications. These must be at the top of their agenda if they’re to weather the storm.

Optimise comms to meet consumer expectations

Insights from our research show that people are generally happy with travel comms. We surveyed consumers across different life stages: students, home movers, first-time parents, empty nesters, and retirees. The results unveiled inconsistencies in how travel brands communicate with different consumer groups. But with people across all five life stages saying that keeping to their budget is a priority, brands need to ensure cost is not their main differentiator. Offers, discounts, and any comms focusing on financial incentives need to be balanced with brand comms to ensure consumers build an affinity with the brand and ultimately develop an emotional connection to it.

A balance between tactical and brand comms can ensure travel brands can avoid becoming diluted and devolved to relentless price slashing.

As audiences are bound to comprise a range of different groups, a one-size-fits-all approach will not work. The more insight you have, the better you can tailor messaging. Our own research unveiled inconsistencies in how brands communicate with different age groups.

For example, 67.2 percent of students surveyed feel unhappy with comms they receive, despite being the most targeted group. Home movers, on the other hand, feel the sector meets their needs, but want travel comes to be entertaining. New parents highlight the need for travel brands to use consumer insights to target their comms more effectively to their audience, while retirees said the holidays they were interested in were not on offer at all.

Tap into tech

Thankfully there are plenty of tools, as well as an abundance of data, available that enable brands to analyse consumer behaviours and identify common motivations and preferences, all of which can help create personas. Personas offer great insight and can assist in creating comms based on the audiences’ varied needs, behaviours and expectations.

Tools such as social listening offer great insights into brand awareness and how consumers feel about your brand, as well as the overall booking experience. Internal CRM systems, meanwhile, provide information on the typical booking cycle and past booking habits. Data from these sources can help brands become savvier in how they target consumers, ensuring the right message reaches them at the right time, something all age groups said they want.

Emphasise CX both pre and post-sale

It isn’t just about timing; the channel through which the message is delivered is just as important. Reaching consumers via a full channel mix is important, but brands need to have a clear idea of every channel’s purpose. In other words, every channel needs to play a part in the overall customer journey. From digital and social media ads, to TV and email advertising, brands need to reassess the entire customer journey, and as consumers now make use of desktops, phones, and tablets on their journey, comms need to be adapted for a multi-screen variant.

Audience splits, thanks to personas, allow for very targeted messaging. Personalisation further allows for hyper-relevant messaging to be deployed. In this vein, comms should be easy to share, to capitalise on consumers’ excitement of posting about researching, planning, and ultimately experiencing their holiday. Everything from video to gif content can serve further boost brand awareness.

As trust is an issue for the sector, each touchpoint across the journey needs to be dealt with transparency, with content personalised for multiple personas to ensure a much more sharable experience. Travel brands ultimately need to increase their understanding of customers’ needs. Reassessing the customer journey end-to-end to provide a frictionless experience should be a priority. Not only will this allow for a more streamlined offering across all channels, it will ensure easier routes to purchase and impact repeat business.


Merje ShawMerje ShawMarch 13, 2019
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11min1055

Over the last few years, we have seen a shift to more conscious consumerism that values experiences over things.

This can be attributed back to several trends, such as the rise of mindfulness, the minimalist trend in homeware, as well as the tidying trends like KonMari and Swedish Death cleaning. These, combined with the very real effects of climate change, are changing the way consumers think about their purchases. This was spotted as a trend back in 2017 by Euromonitor and does not seem to be reversing any time soon.

What this change means for businesses

Remarkably, few large companies are truly adapting to this change in mindset. Even then, a lot of it is paying lip service to the consumer experience rather than embedding Customer Experience at the core of the organisation.

Persil’s “Dirt is good” campaign is a great example of how messaging has moved away from the product to focus on the experience the product enables. In fact, Unilever seems to be one of the few large organisations truly keeping in touch with the zeitgeist as their recent Sustainable Living Plan has shown. And it’s working – their sustainable living brands grew 46 percent faster than the rest of the business and delivered 70 percent of its turnover growth.

Even with these great examples, and the rise of the B Corporations with ethics at the core, traditional industries are constantly being disrupted by more nimble startups that put Customer Experience at their core. This is a bit of a no-brainer, really. Traditional companies can float happily on repeat customers whilst startups literally live or die on the experiences they provide. I recently wrote about this at length, but I very much doubt that this illusion some companies have that technology will save them is anything more than that.

How AI can increase productivity

First, it’s important to realise that what we term ‘AI’ is a bit of a red herring. True AI, in the science fiction, self-aware state, is yet to emerge. What we are using quite effectively in business settings are things like machine learning, natural language processing, and speech recognition systems. I talk about this at length here.

The best thing organisations can do to improve productivity is to take a long hard look at internal systems that enable staff to work more efficiently. What is the use of enabling chat function on your website if your customer support person still needs to log into three different systems to get a simple answer?

With machine learning, we have the option to automate a lot of the menial tasks that create busy work and detract attention from what should really matter to a company – providing the best customer service you can, ideally a human one.

The importance of visibility for improving the customer journey

We recently worked with a FTSE100 company to try and marry up quantitative data from their online real estate with qualitative data from the hundreds of research sessions that have been carried out over the years. Sadly this iteration didn’t work, but it is important to keep striving to solve this, as only by combining the information on “what is happening” from quantitative data with the “why is it happening” from qualitative data do we get a true picture that enables informed decision-making.

With this in mind, I would caution against solely relying on analytics as quantitative data tends to say a lot more about the biases and existing knowledge of those who form the questions and therefore only works when you already know the parameters that you are looking to confirm or validate.

We find that the best tools for truly forming a picture of the end-to-end Customer Experience is by mapping it with contextual research. Further value can then be added by overlaying this with the Employee Experience as well as mapping the third parties involved. This is known as service blueprinting. These maps can be used very effectively to set up analytics journeys and provide further validation for the issues arising in the customer journey.

Why businesses should strive for the perfect mix of automation and human contact

Over the last 10 plus years, we have been dedicated to letting customers self-serve. In fact, I have helped create a multitude of self-service help sites. They can be very useful. What has now started emerging in research sessions is that people really hate them…and chat bots (more on this in a minute).

One of the interesting things we found back in 2012 when running usability tests on the newest iteration of BT Business Self Service (which has since been updated several times) was that participants were far more likely to try using the self-service flows when they could clearly see the contact number.

This has stood the test of time. When you allow people to try but also provide an intervention point that enables them to talk to a real person, they are more likely to have a go first. eBay, with their impenetrable help flows, could do with taking this lesson on board, but they are by far not the only offenders in this category.  Royal Mail’s business help doesn’t look too great either for allowing human contact.

People have also started bring up chat bots as these often mis-interpret the text and provide rubbish answers whilst masquerading as real people. There was a fascinating article on this fairly recently, but in essence, what we keep seeing is that when people know they are chatting to a bot, they tend to be far more forgiving than when they feel another human is treating them like a fool.

I firmly believe we have reached peak Customer Experience automation and to further automate customers out of direct contact with the company is foolish. I recently wrote about this in a housing association context but it is very applicable to all other industries – have you ever been to a Tesco Express to be faced with a row of self-checkouts and no till staff? This happens to me all the time and I believe it’s not a great experience. There is merit in mixing the automation whilst still always providing human contact.




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