For those who have read my last couple blogs you will know that this Friday we launch BAT17 the conference in your pocket. (BAT17 is short for Behaviour & Technology in Customer Experience by the way.) You will also know that I recently had a terrible experience in Boots the Chemist in Camden Town. So today I thought I would update you on both.

I have arrived in Singapore for the launch of BAT17 and to chair the Digital Customer Experience Management Summit organised by Flemings and it’s about 3:30 am UK time. But for me it’s 10:30am, I have had my breakfast and started my working day. I mention the breakfast because everybody here smiles in the restaurant and I don’t just mean the hotel staff. I mean everyone – well most people. In part, it’s because it’s a nice hotel, so thanks Marriott Tang Plaza for doing a good job, for creating a good atmosphere and for giving good service – but when people smile at you, you tend to smile back…..and that’s a good thing!

Smiling releases certain chemicals in your body that make you feel better.

Anyway, back to Boots in Camden. It was really horrible the last time I was there (see “In a medical emergency go to M&S not Boots the Chemist”) but I was off to Singapore this week and I needed a few supplies. It’s my local and a very busy shop. I am certain that no-one recognised me from the incident 2 weeks ago. They tend not to look you in the eyes in the store and I am a regular but infrequent user. My point is that I don’t think anyone really recognised me and thought that’s the bloke who wrote the horrible blog. As far as I know Boots ignored it (Unlike M&S who did read it and sent me a nice note – thanks J).

In Boots NO ONE SMILED. I don’t mean at me, I mean AT ALL, in the store in the 10 minutes I was there. My dear old dad used to say “an ounce of kindness can move a mountain of pain”. (For you young people an ounce is an old form of measurement so think of grams instead.) But I heard no kindness in any voices or signs of secret jokes going on among the staff.

Customers certainly didn’t smile because it felt so unwelcoming. At one stage there were 3 young girls exploring the different shades of lip gloss or nail varnish (I’m not sure which) who started to smile & enjoy themselves but as a member of staff walked by oblivious of them, they exchanged a look that almost could be translated into “shhhhh…..quiet in the library” and they went back to monochrome expressions again. I did see the grumpy employee who had helped me 2 weeks ago and she looked as miserable as she had the last time I was there. Everyone was rushed, harassed on edge and that’s probably something that a Pharmacy should recognise as bad for you!

But as I was in the queue at the checkout, a miracle occurred. In a pushchair with the woman in front of me was a small baby, and it giggled.

There is something about the giggling of babies that’s infectious. We are genetically programmed to respond. And the checkout operator (a young woman) smiled as well. So, when it was my turn at the till I told the girl what I had seen and she said how sorry she was that I had had the same experience. “Things are difficult here now – there are a lot of changes going on” she explained. I thanked her and smiled at her and wished her a nice day. She smiled back saying: “You are right we must do better in future” so I hope she gets a promotion.

There are many things that have the same effect. Things like birdsong, silly cat pictures, comedians and funny stories. These things that change how we feel, change how we deliver customer experience.

For instance, in a recent study in Edinburgh a test proved that if you have a baby picture in your wallet you are much more likely to get your wallet returned if you lose it, or that listening to birdsong (for some people) improved their mood.

Some people feel better when they look at pictures of birds or cats or dogs or smiley faces and that people commit less crimes if there are pictures of eyes at potential crime hot spots; or people cheat less if you remind them of good behaviour at the appropriate time. Or patients that have better clinical outcomes where experience has been improved.

Or just people smiling!

These things have been proven again and again through academic studies by reputable institutions. But as an expert in CX let me put it in a way that will resonate with you hardened business folks:

  1. Happy customers spend more money!
  2. Happy staff improves customer experience and good experience impacts the bottom line.
  3. Business transformation should not be a war with staff but a chance to get them to engage.

Good transformation programmes will be led by input from staff in line with Dan Pinks excellent work on Autonomy Mastery & Purpose, which should be basic training for anyone involved in business transformation.

Hopefully (this time) someone at Boots will pick up on this, before they join Blockbuster Video and Woolworths in the history books. More importantly I hope that the UK Department of Health will start thinking more about how positive behaviour will impact improved patient outcomes and therefore costs. This might have a much bigger impact on the already stretched NHS because behaviour is easier to change at a lower cost than most of the IT and organisational programmes currently going on – which mostly are overpriced and will deliver too little too late (allegedly)!

Behaviour change isn’t sexy in business culture. People feel more comfortable walking into a meeting to say we are going to spend “x” on a new system that will do “y” but right now behaviour change is still like talking about feelings….in organisational terms we are just not very good at it.

At a time when we are looking to drive more patients to pharmacy based services instead of to A&E and our local doctor practices maybe a little better training on atmosphere might be a good thing. Want some proof look at your LinkedIn Picture – are you smiling?

BAT17 Episode 1

OK, so on to BAT17……. Friday 7th April sees the launch of the first part of Behaviour & Technology in Customer Experience. This is a free digital conference in your pocket covering the best and the latest innovations in Customer Experience. We are also going to give you a few experiences that will change what you think about and how to improve CX.

You can get a ticket here and explore some amazing content on any device at your own pace. We ended up with so much good stuff we are releasing it as a series of episodes because there is just too much to get through without some kind of guide. Each week it will build into a sort of digital library but will act as a sort of training course that will give you practical things you can use.

In Episode 1 we are looking at a few key elements of measuring CX and engineering behaviour as well as some clever tech that is going to change your thinking about both.

We are going to introduce you to Professor Roz Pickard of MIT a pioneer in Affective Computing whose amazing work includes the detection of some of the physical signs of emotional change. (Actually, she invented the Science and has too many accolades and titles to mention). With so much of CX Metrics based on subjective questions like “Would you recommend?” in NPS (Net Promotor Score) or on a scale of ….etc think what you could do with empirical data.


You will also meet her friend and colleague Maja Pantic of Imperial College London and how her work on recognising emotional experience through video which as most of you know will be one of the next important channels in CX. Again this is about scientific measurement of experience. Asking questions is good and the Voice of the customer is important but there is no single perfect way to solve the riddle of the customer. How questions are asked and at what stage impacts the results and as the many of our experts in behaviour will tell you even when we say what we think we are not really telling you the truth. We can’t help it as its part of the human condition.



We are then going up to look at the work from Loughborough University’s Liz Stokoe & Rein Sikveland and their pioneering work on “Talk” a revolution in the understanding of speech. Adding this to your thinking about speech analytics is the equivalent of moving from Black & White to Colour TV.




We are then going to explore the Science of “Tripping Points” with Tim Routledge of Experience Insights. Tim is one of the leading behavioural Engineering partners to the Foundation and the “Tripping Point System” is an important step in the continuous improvement of CX.



Our next star is Marcus Collins Head of Social Engagement | Professor | TEDx Speaker – and his work on social media may make you reconsider how well you are really doing in your social media strategy.

He is a pioneer in in a new kind of science that has such an impact on your bottom line. At the Foundation we call it Applied Customer Work where your customer is really engaged with you but this goes much further.



Our final guest in Episode 1 is Simon Neve who created the Wizu platform that CXFO uses (and you can use too) for the collection of customer insight. It’s a rather innovative chat bot but I am not going to spoil the surprise.

Simon is a pioneer in how to collect insight.

Simon is another CXFO partner changing best Practice in CX.

Of course, there will also be something from me from this week in Singapore as we launch from one of the most remarkable venues in the world – the Marina Bay Sands Hotel.

As well as all this there are a links to a series of other lectures from some of the greats. There are experiments and experiences for you to try that have practical use in your organisation.

It’s free and it’s just a click away!

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