STRATEGY – MEASUREMENT – PEOPLE: a simple framework for managing customer experience


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Understanding, managing and improving the customer experience is a skill set that has led to the formation of a new profession. The proliferation of customer experience professionals has led to the creation and adoption of a variety of methods, techniques and approaches to putting the customer at the heart of the organisation.

Many ‘customer experience frameworks’ have been formed to help and guide businesses to understand what and how to achieve a customer focussed culture. This post explores how simple a framework for customer experience management can be, and looks at some of the varieties of framework on offer.

Firstly, I must point out that there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to choosing to adopt a ‘framework’. Depending on the ‘state’ of your business, it may not be appropriate to adopt a framework at all. For example, organisations that have very well established customer experience ‘cultures’, may find the structure of a specific framework unnecessary – businesses that are starting their evolution are far more likely to need the formality that a framework provides.

So what exactly do I mean by a customer experience framework? To explain, let me talk you through the framework that I use – and that is embodied by the image at the beginning of this post. In my opinion, all organisations that are looking to be truly and genuinely customer centric, can do so by embedding three core elements of a customer experience framework. The elements of STRATEGY, MEASUREMENT and PEOPLE will together ensure that the organisation is ultimately aligned to understand how well it is able to consistently meet customer expectation with a fully engaged and motivated workforce. I will walk you through the elements, one by one:

STRATEGY

The starting point for any business is to determine its ‘customer experience strategy’. This is a concept that is unfortunately lacking in many organisations today. The strategy will incorporate questions such as ‘what is our proposition?’; ‘why do customers transact with us?’; ‘why do customers come back (or not)?’; ‘what do we want our business to be for customers?’.

Defining the CX strategy is not that simple, but it is imperative. If you do not know what your strategy is, your employees will not know – and your customers will certainly not know. Not knowing your strategy means that employees do not know what direction they are going in, and customers are unlikely to know what to expect. The result is that you will fail to meet customer expectation more than you will meet it.

Businesses that have very well-defined CX strategies are not always the ones you expect. I always argue that Ryanair…..yes Ryanair…..have a very well-defined strategy. It is very well-defined because it is so clear and evident to the consumer and employee. We all know who Ryanair are, what they offer (or not!), and how they work. If you do not buy in to the Ryanair proposition, like me, you will not transact with them. However, millions of consumers do, because they are prepared to accept the proposition for the price that is offered. Ryanair meet customer expectation far more consistently than other, more ‘up-market’ airlines.

MEASUREMENT

Once your business has a defined strategy, then next element of my suggested framework must be assessed. I call this element MEASUREMENT. If you know what your proposition is, you should then be able to continuously MEASURE how capable you are of delivering it. Measurement is the part of the framework where you complete the ‘customer’ piece of the jigsaw. It is where a business must consider what insight or fact is necessary to help understand whether or not you are capable of giving customers what they want and need.

I split measurement into four bits. To measure how good you are at doing something, it is first necessary to determine what that ‘something’ is. It is this stage of the framework where it is necessary to have a clear understanding of the ‘customer journey’. Customer journey mapping is a topic that could form a blog post in its own right. It can be as simple or complicated as you need it to be. The key is that you are able to identify the customer touch points, or ‘Moments of Truth’, in the end to end customer journey. These are all the points in your customer journey where a customer directly interacts with you. Once you know this, you are then able to identify what I call ‘internal capability’ – how good do you think you are at delivering the ‘Moments of Truth’?

Measuring customer facing processes is sadly all too uncommon in businesses. Organisations that have not thought about what they do as a ‘customer journey’, are most likely to measure internally focussed processes that are more likely to benefit the internal stakeholder, more than the customer. Creating a transparent view of how capable your customer facing processes are is critical.

Once you have measured the internal view, it should then be possible to correlate it with the external view – what does the customer think. This is where all forms of ‘voice of the customer’ measurement come in to play. Whether you choose CSat, NPS or Customer Effort Score, what is important in this stage of the framework is to be able to capture the true effect of what your journey delivers – customer perception. Granular customer feedback mechanisms will enable you to determine where in the journey the customer thinks your problems are. being able to align this to your internal measurement is the key to determining ‘priorities for improvement’.

This is the final bit of the MEASUREMENT stage of the framework. Measuring is important – but it is a means to find out what it is you must IMPROVE. Continuous improvement of the customer journey is what this stage focusses on. It will show you where you are today, and how far away from achieving your strategic goals you are. A continuous improvement plan will then plot you on the course to closing the gap.

PEOPLE

The third stage of my proposed framework is what I will always describe as ‘the most important, but most difficult’. It is very difficult to achieve strategic goals, and/or improve a business, unless or until that business has fully engaged people. Engagement is important to any organisation, but in the terms of a customer experience framework, just being engaged with your job is not enough. A few years ago, O2 – a business that many forget used to be BT Cellnet – invented the principle of the O2 Fanbook. They believed that for their customers to become fans of O2, their employees must become fans first. It is a simple concept that resonates so well. For a business to be truly customer centric, it must have people who care. It must have employees who are passionate advocates of that business. They have become advocates because they believe in he product; the strategy; the customer. They know that the organisation cares for them, and in turn they care for the organisation.

Richard Branson tweeted recently that ‘your employees will treat your customers in the way you treat them’ – wise words from a business legend. Ask yourself the question – are you a fan of the business you work for? People engagement and advocacy is all about the CULTURE that underpins the organisation. This is why it is often so difficult. Changing an organisational culture is not a quick fix. It can take years, and it requires strong and committed leadership.

This customer experience framework works. I can say this as I have deployed it in a variety of businesses – B2C and B2B. But as I said at the beginning of this post, it is just one way of approaching the issue of customer experience management. Below are a variety of other frameworks that are equally as applicable. It all depends on your preference. The web link for all of the featured frameworks is featured below each image:

http://www.customerinput.com/customerexperience/framework/

http://www.foviance.com/what-we-do/our-approach/customer-experience-framework/

http://howtoexperience.wordpress.com/tag/cem-framework/

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http://www.nunwood.com/services/customer-experience-management/

http://www.xperience-associates.com/

If you are interested in the topic of Customer Experience, and would like to find out more, please do not hesitate to contact me at ijgolding@hotmail.com As always, your comments on this or any of my blog posts are very welcome.

Stop talking and act NOW!! Is it too late for our high streets?


The demise of the British high street has been in the news recently almost as often as reports on the state of the economy as a whole. Fuelled by a continuous procession of failing retailers, journalists and broadcasters are fortunate to be in one industry that is greatly benefitting from the deluge of news stories available.

The causes of high street strife have as a result been discussed in-depth and at great length. Exorbitant business rates, parking charges, lack of collaboration, changing consumer behaviours and online shopping are amongst the major causes of decline. A few months ago I wrote a blog post on the very subject –  http://ijgolding.com/2012/10/18/im-not-paying-to-park-why-the-british-high-street-might-be-struggling/

There are many retail experts who are concerned that whilst a lot of ‘talking’ has and continues to be heard (or not as the case may be!), very little much-needed ACTION is being taken to address the actual causes of the problems. Just yesterday it was reported that the ‘High Street Retail Fund’, created last year to help bring new business back to the high streets, has been ‘barely touched’. We know this because Paul Turner-Mitchell, a passionate and committed independent retailer, is not prepared to stand by and watch the environment that he relies on continue to ebb away. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-21775773

Paul is not alone. There are a number of well-known and vocal independent retailers who are perfectly placed to advise and assist in the regeneration of our high streets. Among them is Clare Rayner, one of the best known retail ‘gurus’ in the UK – here is a recent article that surmises some of her thoughts. http://www.theinformationdaily.com/2013/03/08/town-team-volunteers-not-enough-skills-for-high-street-rescue.

Whilst the debate continues, the biggest concern has to be that the high street will continue to fall further behind in the economic race for share of the ‘consumer wallet’. One very clear way of attracting consumers to a high street is through a compelling ‘end to end customer experience’. From the ease of access, to free parking, to choice of products, to entertainment, to food available. The ‘whole’ experience is one of the things lacking in the high street.

Interestingly though, the ‘end to end experience’ is often lacking in alternative experiences provided by the high streets competition. Whilst big out of town shopping centres (such as the Trafford Centre in Manchester, or the Westfield shopping centres in London) offer everything the consumer could possibly need, out-of-town supermarkets often do not. Using Tesco as an example – whilst they have very successfully combined the food and non food shopping experience, their stores are not as attractive a destination for a ‘day out’.

It was therefore not a surprise to me that Tesco announced yesterday the purchase of Giraffe – a fantastic family restaurant chain http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2013/mar/13/tesco-giraffe-food-children-restaurants. I have visited Giraffe on many occasions (mainly in and around London). It is an incredibly family friendly restaurant that serves up great quality food – certainly a significantly superior dining experience to the Cafes that exist in Tesco stores at the moment. In making this move, Tesco will be generating yet further reason to visit their store. They are adding more ‘collateral’ to their customer experience.

I think this is a very clever move. It is important that they maintain the quality of experience that Giraffe currently delivers, but I strongly believe that more consumers will experience Giraffe alongside their weekly shop going forward. Tesco is a ‘mega’ brand that is regularly accused of ‘damaging’ the high street. I do not completely agree with this view. If Tesco are guilty of anything, it is of giving the consumer what the consumer demands – if this were not the case, they would not have been able to achieve the success they have.

The move to incorporate a ‘first rate’ child friendly dining offer into their customer experience, in my opinion demonstrates their willingness to develop and innovate. They are not prepared to stand still and just ‘talk’ about issues and problems. Central and Local government MUST take note of this. Whilst Tesco takes another step forward, the high street takes one step back. The inclusion of Giraffe will be yet another reason to take consumers away from the high street.

Instead of continuing to talk, why not listen to the people best placed to help take the high street in the right direction. Why not take note of the expertise that expert retailers such as Paul and Clare can provide. Unless we do, the high street will continue to struggle. Let’s not see that happen.

You can follow Paul and Clare on twitter @Paul25Ten @clarerayner

What do you think of the Giraffe acquisition? What can be done to save our high streets? Your views are very welcome as always.

‘I just want to know how many calories!’ – the need for honesty, transparency and clarity in the customer experience


Unless you have been living in a cave, you could not have avoided the recent horse meat scandal. The scandal is still raging in fact, with the focus most recently shifting to the meat that is really in our curries. One of the key words that underpins any customer experience is TRUST – something the consumer has precious little of in Britain at the moment. In the last few years we have learned how not to trust our banks. Now it seems that we find it hard to trust our favourite supermarkets.

Now more than ever, it is vital for organisations that play such a significant part in our lives, to work to put the trust back. To give us faith that as a customer, the businesses we transact with wants to do best by us. We want organisations to be seen to be putting their customers first, rather than the balance sheet.

Sticking with the supermarkets, you would have thought that the recent ‘crisis’ would have meant that they would question everything they do. Yes, it is now critical to ensure that the food they are selling is what it says on the tin. But what about other important information that forms part of the customer journey decision-making process?

In an ever more health conscious society, the nutritional content of the food we buy has become part of the customer journey when we conduct the weekly shop. As a man deep in the middle of my ‘mid life crisis’, wanting to know the amount of calories and saturated fat in the food I buy is now very important to me. Sadly, rather than being an area that the supermarkets are excelling at, I fear that they are failing to meet three important principles – HONESTY, TRANSPARENCY & CLARITY.

To explain what I mean, let me use an example. Over the weekend, I dragged my poor children to five supermarkets. In each, I purchased the same product – a tub of Beetroot salad. I wanted to see how simple it is to find out how many calories are in each. What did I find?

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Well I would sum it up as confusion. I like to think that I am a fairly well-educated man, but I find it really hard to understand why and how the supermarkets publish the information on products in the way they do. It almost makes me think that they want customers to be confused. As a customer experience, I just find it irritating. Let’s have a look at each one in turn.

Firstly, where you find the information on the product is not that simple. Morrisons seem to be pretty good at doing this, most of the time publishing the information on the top. Looks pretty transparent to me……until you look closely, and realise that the information is for a third of a pack. Why? It might just be me, but what is the likelihood that anyone buying the product is going to eat a third of it? Surely it would make sense to tell me the information for the whole pack? My maths is not brilliant, but I am now being forced to exert some mental effort to figure out how many calories are in the whole pack. I just find it odd and unclear. So Morrisons – 10 out of 10 for visibility, 3.33 (roughly a third) out of ten for clarity.

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Sainsburys have always been very good at displaying their traffic light system on packets. It was pretty easy to find this on the side of the tub. I now know why I should have concentrated more at school when being taught fractions! Sainsburys seem to think it is better to display the information in quarters – not thirds!! Why? They may think the information is clear, but I would like to bet that many consumers do not see the little white strip that states the information is only for a quarter of the pack. So Sainsburys – 10 out of 10 for visibility, 2.5 (a quarter) out of ten for clarity!

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What about Marks & Spencer – surely they must be good at doing this! Wrong! M&S actually make it quite hard to find the information – in this case, it could be found in small print on a label on the bottom of the product. They are not even bothered with fractions. M&S would rather leave you to figure it out for yourself, quoting ‘typical values per 100g’. You have to go back to the top of the pack to determine that it is 250g, and then try to figure out what the total calorie content is. Complicated – you bet it is. Why can we not just have some clarity and transparency as a consumer? M&S – 3 out of 10 for visibility, 2 out of ten for clarity.

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Next up was Tesco – a brand that has committed publicly to improving customer service. Like Sainsburys and Morrisons, the nutritional information was clearly visible on the side of the pot. However, Tesco, like M&S do not go for fractions. Tesco prefer to go for ‘heaped teaspoon’ as their measure – heaped teaspoon!! How am I supposed to know how many heaped teaspoons are in one pot. Whoever decided on the words to be used on the pot was not thinking about the customer experience – that is for sure! Tesco – 10 out of 10 for visibility, 1 out of 10 for clarity.

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Last up on my mini test was Asda. Not as visible as Sainsburys, Morrisons or Tesco, they displayed the information on the back of the pot. They, like M&S, opted for the ‘typical values per 100g’ method, displayed next to a clearly visible 300g in three times the font! Why could they just not give me the values for 300g then?! Asda – 7 out of 10 for visibility, 3 out of ten for clarity.

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I recognise that this is a pretty unsophisticated study. It is also not representative at all of the full range of products sold by these brands. However, as a mini test of the honesty, transparency and clarity of providing essential information to customers, it highlights some serious flaws. I find it very hard to believe that these labels are printed by someone who is THINKING in the same way a customer does. What the motivation of the labelling is, I can only speculate. It does appear as though the customer is still NOT front and centre of the decision-making process.

If we can learn anything from the horse meat scandal, is that organisations can ill afford to be untruthful to their customers. To restore consumer confidence in the brands we all use and love, we just need a little bit of common sense to prevail. Do not pull the wool over our eyes, just say it as it is – and let us make a decision as to whether to buy something or not.

Food labelling will continue to get ever more important in the food buying customer journey. I can only hope that the big supermarkets can continue to improve the visibility and clarity of the information – quickly!

What do you think of food labelling? Please feel free to comment on this, or any of my blog posts. I’m just off to eat some beetroot salad – I have plenty of it to get through!!

Next up

‘Are you sure you want a big pizza?’ – How children can be a significant part of your CX strategy


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This is a picture of a bunny shaped pizza. Now that is surely the most original start to any of my blog posts! How can anyone that writes about the subject of customer experience be able to use a picture of a pizza shaped like a rabbit as a source for a post? Well please allow me just a little time to tell you!

I have always believed that children are an extremely important segment of society for many businesses when determining their customer experience strategy. Some industries are more aligned to this than others. Obviously companies like Disney have made an art form out of delivering exceptional customer experiences that align to the minds of children (young and old!). But it is not just the obvious that can benefit from thinking of our little people.

The restaurant industry was one of the first to recognise the importance of children. Ignore the ethical issues for a moment, but let us just consider McDonalds as an example. The ‘Happy Meal’ was invented by a McDonalds marketer called Dick Brams in 1977. Dick’s idea was to create a meal just for children. At the time this seemed an incredibly novel thing to do – but what a creation it turned out to be. By making children a distinct part of the ‘customer journey’ Dick had now given an even greater reason for parents to visit a McDonalds restaurant. Not only that, but by making the Happy meal such a memorable part of the experience, many of those children have grown into adults who also let their own children indulge in one from time to time. I found a great article in the US version of Time magazine on the history of the Happy meal if you are interested – http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1986073,00.html.

Almost every restaurant in the world now has a ‘kids menu’. It just makes sense. Adults with children (parents that is) are more likely to embark on a customer journey that involves ‘eating out’ if the establishment they happen to visit accommodates and understands children. Some restaurants choose not to have ‘kids menus’. Maybe they do not want children to visit. Maybe they much prefer their bigger spending adult only customers. Whatever the reason, leaving children out of your customer experience strategy is a risky business.

A long time ago I worked for Brakes – Brakes is one of the UKs largest food service providers – supplying many restaurants, hotels, schools and more with fresh and frozen food. I remember visiting a customer with a member of the sales team. The sales person was trying to convince the restaurant owners to launch a children’s menu. ‘This is not a kid friendly restaurant’, the owner replied. ‘How is your business doing?’, the sales person asked. ‘Not very well – lunchtimes are too quiet at the weekend’ – I wonder why!

Children are the PRESENT and FUTURE of customer experience. What they experience now will undoubtedly drive what they want their own children to experience in the future. Companies that understand, promote and look after their younger customers will live in the memory of young children. This is where the rabbit shaped pizza comes in.

This is L’Artista – an Italian restaurant in the centre of Playa Blanca, Lanzarote. For those of you who hail from London, the restaurant is owned by the brother-in-law of the chap who owns restaurants of the same name in England’s capital. During our week-long half term break in February, we visited L’Artista for an evening meal. One thing that we should point out here is that like many businesses, L’Artista is in a very competitive market. Sitting up some steps from the promenade, the restaurant competes with at least 100 others for passing trade. It is therefore essential that it has something to make it stand out – to enable customers to remember it.

The first thing you notice is the rather charismatic owner. Very loud and very friendly, he speaks to everyone that walks past – if they allow him to. He is very engaging and very memorable – not annoying as it may sound. On our visit, Ciara, Caitie and Jack had pre decided that they were going to have pizza for dinner. After a week of tapas, they wanted a night off.

Being 8 and 9, our daughters have now got to the stage where they do not always want the ‘kids menu’ – they are far too grown up for that. ‘What would you like’ the owner asked? ‘A Fiorentina pizza por favor’ (we were in Spain) was Ciara’s response. ‘Do you want a big one or a kids one?’ the owner asked. ‘A big one’ Ciara immediately shot back. ‘Are you sure?’ the owner asked. He then made a big song and dance to convince Ciara not to have a big pizza.

I was intrigued. It is not often you see the owner of an establishment trying to sell something that was cheaper than the thing the customer was asking for. None of us could quite understand why, but he was convincing enough to change Ciara’s mind. When a little under ten minutes later three rabbit shaped pizzas arrived, we understood. Ciara’s face was a picture. Jack and Caitie were equally delighted with their bunny shaped efforts. It was a very simple, yet very clever touch.

The restaurant does not advertise the fact that the pizza chef does this. You would not guess from walking past that it was a particularly child friendly restaurant. What the owner of this pizzeria has managed to do without spending a penny on marketing, is create a wonderful experience that his customers will then market for him. We told everyone about our experience. Our three little people thought it was the best meal of the holiday. They have told their friends about it. The owner of L’Artista has either intentionally or inherently understood how to appeal to the younger generation. In a society where the vast majority of parents want happy and excited children – especially on holiday, he is on to a winner.

L’Artista has been in Lanzarote for years – I remember passing it on previous visits to the island ‘pre-children’. I guarantee that if it is still there in a few years time, Ciara, Caitie and Jack will pay a visit when they bring their own children to Lanzarote. They will never forget their bunny shaped pizzas – it is that simple.

We were all born children (that is a fact that some ‘anti children’ adults should remember). Children have surprisingly good memories. Most parents want to have experiences with organisations that make life easier for them – and experiences that are memorable for them and their children. Designing experiences with children in mind is a very sensible thing for organisations to do. It is becoming more commonplace. If your organisation has not, it may be worth thinking about it right now.

What organisations do you think have designed brilliant customer experiences with children in mind? I would love to know. Please feel free to comment on this post as always.