Memories – which ones are you creating?

A few years ago I delivered a customer experience presentation to a large group of senior leaders within an organisation. The focus of the presentation was to enable them to focus on the significance of the things customers remember. In the hustle and bustle of the business environment, we often do not take the time to focus on what it vitally important to the customers we exist to serve. We often do not take time to think of the effect our businesses can have on their day-to-day lives. Our businesses create memories – some of these memories will live with customers for years, some of them will not make it as far as the end of the day. The question is – what memories are being created – good ones, or bad ones?

At the European Customer Experience World (ECEW) conference in May 2012 (a customer experience conference  I would strongly recommend attending –, I was fortunate to see a presentation from Royston Guest of Pti Worldwide. I have heard Royston speak on many occasions – he is a compelling speaker. Royston showed the audience a six-minute video – it was a training video created by Thomson – it is pure gold – if you do nothing else today – including not finishing reading this blog, I urge you to watch it:

I mean it – for the sake of six minutes – it will be time very well spent. The video starts with a quote from WB Yeates:

“I have spread my dreams under your feet; Tread softly because you tread on my dreams”

The video ends with another quote from whoever created the film:

“People trust us with their dreams. You can make them real”

Intended as a customer service training tool, the video will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. It hits at the very essence of what customer experience and customer service are all about. If you fail to understand that you are helping to define memories for real people, you will only end up creating the wrong kind of memories. Thank you to Royston for bringing this video to a wider audience. Thank you to Thomson for creating it.

It is videos like this that make us all think. What does it really feel like to be a customer of our organisation? Will our customers remember their experiences with us for the right or wrong reasons? If it is clear that all too often their memories will not be positive, then you need to do something about it. You might think that not being able to deliver a parcel in November is just ‘operational reality’ – but what if that parcel was a birthday present? Did you ever bother to find out? How many dreams are you breaking?

This may sound dramatic, but our lives are defined by memories – some very personal, some more mundane. For all organisations who serve customers – you will be serving memories  and fulfilling dreams on a daily basis. Do you know how good or bad they really are?

You are very welcome to comment on any of my blogs.

Customer Experience ‘what’?!

I am often asked what I do for a living. This is by no means unusual. I am sure the same happens to you on a regular basis. If I had been a doctor, or lawyer, or plumber, or electrician, or nurse, or accountant, this would be an extremely simple question to answer. In fact, I would never have given the enquiry a second thought.

Unfortunately for me, I have never been able to fire back a simple response. In my time, as well as having worked in the invoice finance industry – try explaining invoice discounting and factoring to your mother – I have spent many years in the area of process improvement. When asked the dreaded question (which is what it became for me), the look of puzzlement and surprise in people’s faces when I calmly used to say, ‘well actually I am a Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt’, always used to instantly end a conversation. Oh – was often what the person asking me the question would come back with, before swiftly moving on to the weather and other subjects. Talking of my mother – she has never understood what I do – she has been married to an accountant for over forty years – that is pretty simple. If your mother does not get it, what hope do you have with anyone else?

Today, the situation for me is not much better. I am officially a ‘Customer Experience Professional’ – an independent specialist helping, guiding, advising and consulting companies on how to improve the experience for their customers. This in turn will improve loyalty, employee engagement/advocacy, and ultimately the long-term health of the business. What is so difficult to understand about that?

Well, as with many things I have learnt over the years, what might sound obvious to me is not necessarily obvious to others. The most common response to the ‘dreaded question’ now is, ‘customer experience what?!’ ‘You must be in marketing then?’ ‘Do you work in a contact centre?’ ‘Are you in PR?’ You must be in advertising’. No, No, No and No.

I am not a marketer, yet it is vital that those working in a marketing function understand what their brand(s) stand for from the ‘customer perspective’. Marketer’s need to ensure they clearly understand their organisations ‘customer experience strategy’ – in fact, they should be involved in creating and sustaining it. Customer service functions and contact centres are a critical element of the experience any organisation delivers to the customer – but the key point is that is ‘part’ of the whole experience.

In 2012, thousands of professionals across the globe now have ‘customer experience’ in their job titles. If you do a quick scan on LinkedIn, you will find titles including:

  • Head of Customer Experience
  • Chief Customer Officer
  • Chief Experience Officer
  • Customer Experience Director
  • Customer Experience Manager
  • Customer Champion
  • Customer Excellence Manager
  • Customer Experience Designer
  • Customer Experience Transformist
  • Customer Experience Strategy & Capability Builder
  • Customer Experience Development
  • Customer Experience Architect

I could keep going, but if you have not got bored already, you soon will! So what does this all mean? What is ‘customer experience’ and what do all of these people do? The customer experience can be defined as the following (according to Wikipedia):

‘Customer experience is the sum of all experiences a customer has with a supplier of goods or services, over the duration of their relationship with that supplier. From awareness, discovery, attraction, interaction, purchase, use, cultivation and advocacy.’

This is as good a definition as any. It is about the ‘end to end’ relationship. Not just sales and marketing, not just customer service. Customer Experience is something that every employee in your organisation can have an impact on – it is a collective responsibility for all. The ‘customer experience professional (CXP)’ (whatever fancy job title they may have) fulfils a number of very important functions including:

  1. Providing the organisation with the facts – the facts from the customer perspective. They take customer feedback/insight, and internal operational data, and inform the organisation as to how well it is doing. In doing this, the CXP is often independent from any business function. They are diplomats, and influencers – allowing process owners to understand where the organisation needs to focus improvement – not anecdotally, or using judgement – but using information provided by customers – the key drivers of dissatisfaction, or the key reasons for lack of recommendation or attrition.
  2. Clearly defining and designing the customer journey – again from the customer perspective. Organisations often misinterpret when the customer journey starts and ends – doing this can be extremely dangerous. Failure to understand the full end to end journey may mean that the facts being gathered are not the full facts. Without the full facts, a business may decide to invest in something that is not the priority. In a previous role, our ‘voice of the customer’ solution was failing to gather feedback from customers at the beginning of the journey – this is the stage where 100% of customers are active – once our feedback solution was changed, significant issues to address were identified. CXPs will also help to re-design existing customer journeys, or design new journeys.
  3. Facilitating the creation and maintenance of Customer Experience strategy – many organisations have well-defined business strategies – it is not uncommon for those strategies to almost entirely focus on revenue generation and cost control. Rarely do these business strategies state what the customer experience vision and objectives may be to enable other elements of the business strategy to be realised. CXPs help to do this – in conjunction with all relevant functions and process owners.
  4. Engaging and motivating employees to become advocates of your brand – this is not just the remit of HR and communications functions. The role of the CXP is to enable employees from all across the organisation to understand they role they play in delivering, improving and sustaining the organisation. From introducing recognition programmes such as the WOW awards – a fantastic way of motivating employees by empowering customers to nominate employees for recognition ( , to creating tools that allow employees to help improve the customer experience. In 2010, my previous company (Shop Direct Group) won a UK Customer Experience Award) for Customer 1st Aid – a tool I created to allow all 10,000 employees to help us understand the things we were doing that were detrimental to the customer. It both improved our customer facing processes and had a wonderful effect of motivating employees to make a difference. This is also about turning people into fans of your brand – along the lines of the O2 fanbook principle – O2 believe that their people need to be fans of their brand – if they are not, how can they expect their customers to be? A great point that I agree with.
The WOW Awards –
The O2 Fanbook – watch it on Vimeo –

These are just four of the areas that a genuine CXP will be involved in. They work across the entire organisation, influencing, motivating and improving. It is rewarding, but also frustrating. Many businesses do not believe they need someone to do this – it is ‘BAU’. The fact that more and more CXPs are being recruited in to organisations, with the skillsets and experiences of doing the things I have described, suggests that many think otherwise.

The ‘profession’ that is Customer Experience is still relatively new. Perhaps that explains why most people do not understand what it is. However, it will not be long before CX as a profession becomes as common as a marketer (or any other profession). To highlight this point, you only need to look at the creation and evolution of the CXPA – the Customer Experience Professionals Association (

The CXPA was founded in 2011 by two CX professionals – Bruce Temkin and Jeanne Bliss. They created it, significantly as a non-profit making organisation, to support the development of customer experience professionals. The official description of the association is as follows:

‘The Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA) is a global non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of customer experience management practices. Our members are individuals who develop, manage, optimize, and envision how organizations interact with their customers. This community includes customer experience practitioners within companies, vendors who support customer experience efforts, and other stakeholders in the industry. CXPA supports the professional development of its members and advances the field by providing research and education, developing standards, offering networking opportunities, promoting the industry, and creating a better understanding of the discipline of customer experience.’

In just over twelve months, the CXPA has grown to over 1,600 members from across the globe. The membership is growing fast. It is very likely that I am not the only one who is asked ‘customer experience ‘what’’?!

A customer experience professional is someone who all consumers should be delighted to know are becoming more and more common in businesses everywhere. Organisations are realising the importance of doing what is right for their customers, rather than solely what is right for them. Doing what is right for your customers, should mean that your business has a long and happy future. They are not marketers, or customer service managers, they are customer experience professionals.

Recently, as some of you will know, I featured (with my family) in a BBC TV programme. In the first episode, the voiceover described me as a ‘customer service manager’ – wrong. The second programme promoted me to a ‘customer service consultant’ – wrong. The series producer asked me what my job actually was – she thought I was an HR consultant!!!!!! When I told her what I really was, she said…… can guess what she said.

I will make her read this blog – maybe she will understand the next time she comes across one of us. If you have read this blog, the next time someone says they are a Customer Experience Something; you’ll also know exactly what they mean.

You are very welcome to comment on any of my blogs. If you want to know more about the CXPA, please visit the website – or let me know.

Who asked us? Is it right to suspend Sunday trading laws for the Olympics?

It was my good lady wife that drew my attention to the subject of this latest blog. ‘Did you know that from this Sunday the usual trading laws have been temporarily suspended for the Olympics?’ I truthfully had no idea. In fact, almost everyone I spoke to this weekend did not know either – was it supposed to be a secret?

For those of you who also missed it, here are the links to some of the reports in the press

The Daily Mail writes:

The Government has lifted the Sunday trading laws for shops in England and Wales with a floor area of more than 280 square metres(3000 sq.ft) from this Sunday to the end of the Paralympics. The longer hours have been welcomed by retailers but are ‘vehemently opposed’ by the shopworkers’ union Usdaw who said that there is no evidence it will aid the economy. Chancellor George Osborne however, maintained it was a benefit to the UK and warned against Britain ‘hanging up a Closed for Business sign’ in a bid to encourage traders to seize the opportunity to boost the economy.

What interests me in this subject, is that it does not appear that all ‘stakeholders’ in this rather important decision have been consulted effectively. One group in particular – the good old British consumer – seem to have been ignored…….or if not ignored, their views on the situation have just been assumed.

In my opinion, when any organisation makes a decision that will effect a number of stakeholders in a process, they should consider the affect of the decision on all of them. In this case, the decision is not just one of commercial gain. I do agree that retailers have struggled in the toughest of economic climates, but their struggles are down to many factors – and not being able to open for extended hours is not likely to be the greatest. Not meeting customer expectation consistently is of far greater significance.

This decision has far greater impact on people – and as stated in the Daily Mail, in this instance I tend to agree with Usdaw. We live in the most convenient world ever known. If you want something, you are very likely to be able to get it – whatever the day, whatever the time. The current restrictions on shop opening have little effect on that fact. This also means that the hardworking employee, even one working within retail, is able to benefit from a few more hours rest at the weekend. Is that such a bad thing? Do we really need the shops to be open longer on Sundays?

But this decision also goes further than the workers. As I have already said, what about us? What about the consumer? What do we think of this decision? Did anyone ever ask us? It does not appear to be the case, although I am happy to be proven wrong on this. Yesterday we decided that we needed a number of things (food etc) late the day – it was after 5pm. Our local supermarket has not yet taken advantage of the relaxation in the Sunday trading law. Was it the end of the world? Of course not. There are thousands of smaller shops all around the country who already more flexible opening hours on Sundays. I went to a small local store and got everything we needed. If our local Morrison’s had been open, this smaller store would have lost out. Has anyone thought about what might happen to the smaller retailer?

When investigating comments online about this government decision, it does appear that views are mixed. Some thing the decision is abhorrent, others believe that it is the right thing to do in our modern 24 hour economy. It would just have been nice if the biggest group of stakeholders had been asked first. The next time your organisation makes a decision, just question whether every stakeholders (both internal and external) viewpoint has been considered.

What do you think about this decision? Do you agree? You are very welcome to comment on any of my blogs.

CX Humility – recovering a bad situation well is as important as getting it right first time

Unless you have been living in a cave, you will be aware of the significant issues experienced by Nat West Bank recently. Significant is definitely the word. Thousands of customers were unable to access their funds, causing untold number of problems.

I heard stories on the radio of customers’ house deals falling through because they could not transfer the funds to complete the purchase. Customers were unable to pay for their hotels on departure. Monthly pay checks were not paid in – the tales of woe go on and on.

It is a fact of life that no organisation will get it right 100% of the time – however much boards of directors would like that to be the case. As a Six Sigma professional, I am all too aware of the continuing pursuit for perfection – the enigma that is ‘6 sigma’ means that for a process to be 99.9997% perfect, it would only fail 3.4 times out of every million opportunities. Nat West is a little way away from this statistic at the moment – that is for sure!!

Knowing that your business processes are unlikely to be perfect, it is imperative that every organisation is very good at dealing with the instances when something does not go to plan. This is often dealt with by the thousands of contact centres up and down the country and in far off lands around the world. However, how much attention is really paid by every function in the organisation to the importance of recovering failure? Recovering bad situations should not just be the responsibility of the customer service team. They may well be the experienced professionals who are able to effectively interact with the consumer, but recovery strategies should be a collective effort, involving marketing, operational, customer service and support functions.

When was the last time you questioned how effective your recovery strategies are? What would you have done if you had an ‘Armageddon scenario’ that was faced by Nat West? Yesterday, I received an email from Nat West, it said the following:


I have to say – I was impressed with this. It may seem like a lot of ‘marketing spin’, but I feel that it is an honest, open, humble response, to a situation that they were responsible for. The key now is that they are able to quickly and efficiently deal with all customers who were seriously affected by the problems. But the fact that they have been so honest about the issues, and are pro-actively keeping customers informed of their actions, is impressive.

When I was Group head of CX at Shop Direct Group, we had to deal with extreme weather conditions during the peak Christmas period in 2010. Whilst many retailers literally struggled in the snow, Shop Direct had extremely robust recovery plans in place. Containers were put in the supermarkets of care parks so that customers could still get their presents. Every customer was pro-actively kept up to date with the delivery progress of their parcel. A homeworking solution was put in place (with Arise Virtual Solutions), ensuring that calls would be answered, even if contact centre agents could not get in to work. That Christmas, whilst many retailers unfortunately failed their customers, Shop Direct saw a significant increase in customer satisfaction.

I implore you to ask the following questions this week – what would your company have done? What will your company do when something goes seriously wrong? It will happen – no organisation is infallible. Prevention of serious failures is very important, but do not forget to have a robust recovery plan in place for the rare occasions that it something does go badly wrong.

You are very welcome to comment on any of my blogs.

Customer Feedback – Ten Tips to help you get it right


In May 2012, I was fortunate enough to be able to present at the inaugural Customer Experience Strategy Summit in London. I was asked to speak on the subject of the customer experience (CX) measurement – a subject that is very close to my heart.

On Sunday, Business Reporter produced a special report on the state of CX from the learning’s at that conference. The report was produced for the Sunday Telegraph. Within the report, I highlight my ‘top tips’ for measuring the customer experience. This blog highlights what my tips are.

As the report rightly states, ‘organisations are pumping money into keeping the customer happy, but how do they know if they’ve got it right?’ Here are my top ten tips:

1.       Know what you’re trying to achieve

It sounds obvious but the key thing is to understand exactly what you’re trying to find out from your customers so you can you pick the appropriate method and metric(s). What is it that you are trying to achieve? Different organisations have different objectives and there are different ways of measuring customer experience in order to achieve them. For some it’s Net Promoter Score, for others it’s CSAT surveys. If you don’t know what you want to measure, then gathering feedback from customers is obsolete as you won’t be able to appropriately use the data. It’s a waste of time and resources for you and your customer.

2.       Work out what numbers you want

Once you’ve chosen a metric(s) to be the key driver for change, communicate the magic number to all staff and help put strategies in place to help them improve it. Communication is the key. The score should become a company Talisman of sorts. Everyone needs to know the number – although not necessarily the ins and outs of why it’s that number – and the detail behind that score will help govern and stimulate change across the board.

3.       Get your facts right

Track the CX from start to finish so you can back up what colleagues believe, or assume, with concrete evidence. It’s important to determine what’s driving customer behaviour so you also know where to make changes. NPS alone won’t tell you this. For example, a negative score will only tell you something needs fixing – it doesn’t tell you what or where the “key moments of truth” are for your customer. Be prepared to bring in an additional metrics such as customer satisfaction (CSAT) surveys to help you drill down into the data. Also ensure that you are able to link what your customers think, with your own internal view of operational performance. Getting your facts right will ensure that you identify the right priorities for improvement.

4.       Consider outsourcing your research

Think very carefully about the pros and cons of both outsourcing and using in-house services. In-house can be cheap, quick and simple to implement, but the down side is that it’s not independent. Outsourced agencies are more expensive, but will provide you with unbiased figures from experts in the field of customer research. Many are accredited by the Market Research Society, which may also give you more kudos with customers and directors alike.

5.       Think like a customer

From a customer’s perspective, feedback forms can be complex, tedious and irrelevant, especially when they have no idea how you will use the information. But customer feedback is a crucial trigger for product and process improvements – so make this clear to customers and thank them for taking the time to tell you what they think.

6.       Listen to what the customer is saying

Forms can be long and complicated and customers are often not told why they are being asked for their opinion or how the information will subsequently be used. How often do you go back and thank them or tell them how the information was used? Feedback is vital for improvements, and customers won’t realise this if you don’t tell them.

7.       Stick to your guns

Choose the right metric for your organisation and stick to it until you have a body of data to work with. This doesn’t mean you can’t run measurements in parallel with one another – it will soon become clear which measurements are providing you with relevant and useful data that drives performance improvements.

8.       Understand the numbers

Whatever the metric, you need to make certain that you understand the maths behind it, especially if you’ve outsourced to an agency. If you can’t explain it to your bosses, the data (and you) will lose credibility.

9.       Don’t rest on your laurels

Customer expectations are changing all the time, so no matter how high your feedback ratings, be prepared to re-evaluate what you are doing for your customers. Question whether or not you’re making a difference and is that difference the right one for your customer.

10.   Make customer service a priority for the whole company

CX metrics are now sophisticated enough to enable firms to report customer ratings to teams, process owners, and individuals. However, the metrics may not be relevant to everyone – especially support functions such as finance and HR. If you want your customer data to drive tangible improvements in CX, then that data has to be relevant to every single member of staff. If staff do not own or contribute to a process, they can certainly walk in the customers shoes and feel what it is like to be one.

You can access the full report via this link –

You can watch the recording of my presentation via this link –

You are very welcome to comment on any of my blogs.

It’s just not cricket! The importance of understanding the ‘end to end’ customer journey

This is Edgbaston. To those of you who are not aware, Edgbaston is the home of Warwickshire County Cricket Club in Birmingham, central England. Edgbaston is also an international cricket ground, and regularly hosts England matches against other cricketing nations.

Now this blog is not about specifically about the game of cricket – I would never do that to you! You do not need to know anything about cricket to read on. However, it is the game of cricket, and a game that did not happen today, that has inspired me to write this particular blog.

When talking about the subject of ‘customer experience’ we often talk about our experiences of interacting with organisations in the retail sector, or airlines, or dare I say it b..ks! But the customer experience spans our interactions with any organisation, whether it is a public authority, an educational establishment (especially in the advent of student fees) or even a sporting event.

Today, the 4th July, my father-in-law and I were excited at the prospect of attending a sporting event – a one day cricket international between England and Australia at Edgbaston. What we experienced was in my opinion, nothing short of a shambles – and as a customer experience – extremely poor.

Now this is not intended to be a rant – even though it may seem to be. It is intended to bring a very important concept to the attention of any administrative body responsible for the welfare of their paying customer. That concept is the ‘END TO END CUSTOMER JOURNEY’.

In our case, and that of the majority of the thousands of paying customers/spectators/crowd members at Edgbaston today, the CUSTOMER JOURNEY started months ago. The journey started when we decided to buy tickets for the game. That stage worked well – no hiccups.

The second stage of our journey was all to do with logistics – the planning of travel and accommodation to get to the game. Like many England fans, we travelled a long way for the game. We had to book a hotel, arrange transport, and incur costs that we were unlikely to ever recoup, whatever the circumstances. Again, this stage of our journey worked well, the hotel was successfully booked, our travel arrangements were agreed – we were good to go.

The third stage is where things start to go awry. The third stage is the day of the game itself. We all know that the great British weather is infamously unreliable. Today was no exception. In fact for the last two weeks, this part of the country has been quite literally drenched. It was so bad last week, the playing surface at Edgbaston was apparently completely underwater! Cricket is very much like tennis – you cannot play the game if it is raining – or if the playing surface is too wet – slightly concerning. Well it should have been slightly concerning for the cricketing authorities. They surely would not let thousands of paying customers/spectators/crowd members travel to Birmingham for a game that might not be playable? They would surely take into account the costs and effort these thousands of LOYAL followers of the game would have to expend and not recoup if they travelled to a game that did not go ahead? And surely if the weather forecast was due to be poor on the day, that would confirm what the right decision should be?

Well I do not blame anyone for the complete inadequacy of our British weather. That would be very unfair. I do not blame the staff at Edgbaston who did a great impression of the ‘hokey cokey’ taking the covers on and off the pitch continuously for over five hours (whilst we were there). But what I do believe is that the cricketing authorities paid very little, if any thought, to the plight of the poor paying customer with the decisions they made today. They made no effort to consider this critical stage of the customer experience.

The game was due to commence at 2pm. However, heavy overnight rain, followed by more rain in the morning, added to the deluge the week before, meant that quite frankly, the pitch was not playable. Now the decision as to whether or not to play is that of the impartial, international umpires. If the customer journey was being considered, these men could have inspected the pitch yesterday and deemed the pitch unplayable. Unfortunately, the umpires only arrived last night. They could not inspect the pitch until this morning – too late – the poor customer was already heavily through stage 2 of the customer journey.

When they did inspect the pitch, they identified that one end of the ground, notoriously susceptible to rain, was too dangerous to be considered playable. We ‘the paying customer’ were not told this until 5pm. We ‘the paying customer’ were led through a series of ‘pitch inspections’ every hour. We ‘the paying customer’ were told each time that another inspection would happen an hour later. The communication was woeful. The frustration was significant. In between the inspections, and the ground staff hokey cokey, we were treated to tannoy music, and quite possibly the dullest ‘film’ on the ‘big screen’ – how to make a cricket pitch – honestly!!. Quite frankly, the experience was simply shocking.

I was starting to find out more on Twitter, than we were being told in the ground. At this point, my cynicism started to grow. Whilst we were being essentially told to ‘hang on’, the thousands of ‘paying customers’ in the ground were doing just that – paying – for food, drink, merchandise etc. The longer we were kept in the ground, the more money was going through the tills. Was the game ever likely to go ahead? Derek Pringle, former England cricketer sums up the situation perfectly in the Daily Telegraph:

“Heavy rain at Edgbaston last week and more over the past few days meant that play was always likely to be a notional concept on Wednesday. Indeed, after a hiatus in the weather, a 28 overs a side game was scheduled to start at 6pm, though further rain forced the umpires to call everything off at 6.20pm. Warwickshire, who lost money last month when the third Test against the West Indies was blighted by the weather, will have to refund ticket money to the 21,000 crowd, though they will have been insured for that. In the Test they mostly lost out on their food and bar outlets but this time they appeared to do a thriving business until the match was abandoned. Edgbaston has been desperately unlucky since their £40 million refurbishment last year. With no Test match until 2015, they needed to maximise their profit from the opportunities they do have, which has not happened this season.”

One ‘silver lining’ to this story is that the paying customer can now get their money back for ‘the face value of their ticket’. To do so, you have to send your ticket (at your cost) back to the ECB clearing office. If you do not, you will not get your money back!

Whatever the reasons really were for keeping ‘the paying customer’ in the ground, or even allowing them there in the first place, what is clear is that the administrators of this particular organisation have not considered the full ‘end to end journey’ of their customer base. They have not considered that they have not just suffered the disappointment of not seeing the game they love, but have also lost money into the bargain. They have sat through hours of boredom, believing the game may start, when it looks as though it never would have done.

In a world where the consumer is losing TRUST in so many industries; where the consumer is continually being TAKEN FOR GRANTED; it would be fantastic to be able to rely on the wonderful world of sport to keep us smiling. For us today, the consumer is seen as an afterthought.

What the administrators of the sports world need to remember is that their sports rely on the paying customer; the fans; the crowds; to exist as they do. Without the crowds, there is no sport. Without the customer, there is no business. Think about us as customers. Think about our full end to end journey. Have a genuine customer experience strategy to engage with us throughout, transparently and honestly.

Will I be coming to Edgbaston again – absolutely not. Will I still support England – always.

You are very welcome to comment on any of my blogs.

Customer Feedback – Why Bother?

This weekend I received an email from Starbucks. The title of the email was ‘My Starbucks Idea’. I was made aware of this initiative a couple of years ago – a genuine proactive initiative to involve customers in a discussion to essentially make Starbucks better. A tool to ensure that customer feedback is used positively and transparently so that customers could see the tangible effects of their feedback.

The feedback that this tool encourages is categorised into Product ideas, Experience ideas, and Involvement ideas. At the time of writing this blog, Starbucks have received almost 400,000 ideas from customers, many of which have become reality, and even if they do not, Starbucks take the time to explain why.

If you have not seen ‘My Starbucks Ideas’ you must take a few minutes to have a look – it is very impressive and a huge commitment from Starbucks to engage in a continuous conversation with their customer base –

‘My Starbucks Idea’ got me thinking – why do Starbucks customers bother sending in their ideas? Why does any customer bother giving feedback?

To answer these questions, let us consider customer feedback tools in general. The majority of organisations around the world use surveys to elicit feedback from their customers. Whether they be online surveys through ‘web pop up tools’, email surveys, telephone surveys, surveys at the beginning and end of telephone calls through IVR systems, or even postal questionnaires, businesses around the world have gone survey crazy, wanting to know what customers think.

Additionally, companies conduct focus groups, interactive research sessions with customers, and even qualitative research where you watch customers behind one way mirrors! BUT the key question with all of these methods is ‘why do customers bother’?

In most cases, customers are giving us their feedback ‘out of the kindness of their hearts’. On many occasions, customers are so irritated or annoyed, it is their negative emotion that leads them to ‘download’ their feelings. In other cases, advocates or supporters of your brand are usually willing to say lovely things about you at every opportunity. But 99% of the time, the customer will receive NOTHING for the feedback they are giving.

Many consumers believe that by telling an organisation what they thought of an experience, the organisation will use that feedback to make the experience better – to act on the things that the customer does not think is very good – to improve what needs to be improved. BUT – is this really the case?

If you think long and hard about your own experiences of giving feedback – how many times can you say that a company has ever done anything with it – that you are aware of? Has a company you have ever given feedback to changed an element of the customer experience to the extent that you noticed? Has a company you have ever given feedback to told you what they did with the feedback?

Unfortunately, in the desperate rush to find out what customers think, I fear that we have perhaps forgotten to consider what the experience might be like of giving that feedback in the first place. The well over used phrase of ‘feedback is a gift’, leads me to think that it is the only gift we never say ‘thank you’ for.

What Starbucks have created with ‘My Starbucks Idea’ is a very different way of getting feedback. A collaborative way of getting feedback. A way of ensuring that customers know what is being done with the things they provide as a ‘gift’. It is clever. That is why Starbucks customers bother. That is why Starbucks customers care.

Why do customers bother to complete surveys for other companies? Your guess is as good as mine – maybe they are either deliriously happy, or at the depths of despair. But maybe it explains why the MAJORITY of customers who are asked do not bother. This ‘silent majority’ is the group of customers who will provide the tangible answers to what your organisation needs to do to improve, or stay ahead.

So the next time you look at your company CSat scores, or the monthly NPS results, just have a think about the difference the feedback that comprises the scores will actually make on the people who provided it. Ask yourself the question – why do our customers bother?

Starbucks are not the only company who proactively tell customers what they do with feedback – can you provide further examples by commenting on this blog?

You can see me talking about the importance of customer experience measurement at the Customer Experience Strategy Summit in London (May 2012) via this link –