Loyalty Schemes: do they really work?

Loyalty Cards

As we near the peak of the festive season, there are a number of annual rituals that I look forward to undertaking. Once presents have been opened and copious amounts of food and drink consumed, I settle in to the relative calm of the five days that separate Christmas and New Year. I have often looked forward to these days as a way of ‘clearing the decks’ ahead of another twelve months.

One ritual I generally tend to undertake at this time is the annual clear out of my wallet. The clear out has nothing to do with hard cash I am afraid – that happens well in advance of the holiday season! The clear out has everything to do with the plethora of credit card sized plastic I collect throughout a year. The picture at the head of this post is a ‘collage’ of plastic I removed today from my wallet – you will also notice additional pieces of plastic that are also attached to my keys.

These pieces of plastic are all to do with loyalty schemes – coffee shops; retailers; hotels – and this is not all of them!!! I have a number of other cards sitting in my ‘man drawer’ and receive at least five emails a week from schemes I have supposedly signed up to in the past. We will all be in the same situation. The lovely Mrs Golding is in desperate need of a new purse this year (I hope you are reading this Santa) due to the excessive bulging being caused by cards from loyalty schemes. Our pockets are not big enough to contain our keys and the ever increasing amounts of plastic being added to them. When will it ever end?!

For a while now I have pondered over the genuine success of loyalty schemes. Do they really work? Is providing the consumer with a credit card style piece of plastic really a valid way of maintaining a relationship between company and customer?

The quick answer to the question is yes – they CAN work. The undoubted success of the Tesco Clubcard is demonstration enough to show what is possible with a loyalty scheme. However, in many cases, not only do I believe they do NOT work, but I also feel they only serve to make the customer experience worse rather than better. Let me explain what I mean.

1. What is the point?

The Golding family have had a Tesco Clubcard for many years. Initially we used the ‘rewards’ to get small sums of money off our shopping. A few years ago, we discovered that you could convert your points into vouchers to use in restaurants. If you did this, you received 4 times the value of the voucher – a real result. The fact it took a few years to realise this is one of the first issues that I have with loyalty schemes. It is not always obvious what benefits you do get from being a member. What actually is the point. I have had a nectar card in my wallet for many years. To this day, other than redeeming a few ‘money off’ vouchers in Sainsburys, I have never understood what the point of the nectar card is!

Maybe I should take the time to go online and investigate – the truth is, I cannot be bothered. That leads me nicely to my second point.

2. I cannot be bothered!

Joining loyalty schemes and then redeeming the benefits is not always that simple. Every time I book a flight I am asked to enter my loyalty scheme number – what loyalty scheme number?! It is never made obvious how I can join a scheme quickly and easily. I therefore end up ‘not being bothered’ to join. The result is that the loyalty scheme is therefore completely lost on me – and I know I am not alone.

It happens to me a lot – it is just too complicated – and I’ll only get another plastic card to add to the collection anyway!!!

3. Keep it simple

Some loyalty schemes are very simple. The Costa coffee loyalty card does what it says on the tin. Once you have the card, you scan it every time you order a coffee and the benefits rack up. The Starbucks scheme on the other hand is painfully awkward. With Starbucks you have to ‘load up the card’ with cash, so you can then order with it and start to earn benefits. I do not want to put my hard earned cash on a Starbucks card! Maybe I mis-understood when it was first given to me – whatever the case, I will now choose Costa over Starbucks any day.

Sticking with coffee shops, this particular industry does demonstrate that pieces of plastic may not be necessary at all to drive loyalty. Apart from the fact that many (such as Cafe Nero) simply stamp a small piece of card, if you are a regular and recognised customer of Pret a Manger, they will reward you ‘off the cuff’ – no need for paper or plastic of any kind!!! What could be simpler than that?

4. It is not all bad

I do not want you to think that I am anti loyalty scheme – quite the contrary. I am a committed member of the IHG (International Hotels Group) loyalty scheme and will do everything I can to stay in a Holiday Inn or Holiday Inn Express so I can see my reward status continually improve. The scheme is easy to join and easy to maintain. They did not need to send me a bit of plastic though (in my opinion!!). I also loved the simplicity of the Morrisons fuel voucher – earn a £5 voucher for collecting points filling up on their fuel. They have changed the scheme recently to include store purchases – as long as it remains as simple, I will remain a fan.

So in conclusion, I do think that loyalty schemes can work. However…… and it is a big however……. they must be made simpler in my opinion to keep consumers linked in with them. Why weigh us down in plastic when it is not necessary any more? Make registration as simple as any other transaction. Make it completely obvious and complex free for customers to understand the point of being a member.

It all links nicely to the three components that make any experience:

FUNCTIONAL – does the loyalty scheme work?

ACCESSIBLE – is the loyalty scheme easy to join, use and redeem?

EMOTIONAL – does the loyalty scheme leave us feeling as though we want to keep transacting with the company?

I will not be putting some of the plastic cards back in my wallet this year. I urge you to do the same. The organisations that make the loyalty scheme experience as simple as possible in 2015 are the ones who are likely to win me over as a fan.


May I take this opportunity to wish all readers of ijgolding.com a very happy holiday!

What happens if your company overreacts? Your customers exert unnecessary effort!


Last week I had the pleasure of writing a Customer Experience Review on low cost airline Norwegian. I intentionally say ‘the pleasure’ as I was pleasantly surprised by the experience – not a common feeling I have in my experiences with airlines.

I wrote the review after my outbound flight with them to Oslo. If I had written the review after my return flight to London Gatwick, the result may have been very different. Whilst the Norwegian ‘everything is working as it should do’ experience was surprisingly good, the ‘what do we do if something goes wrong’ experience was far less acceptable.

What happened to me and my fellow passengers on the afternoon of the 12th December 2014 serves as a brilliant example of how NOT to deal with an exceptional event – when something goes wrong. I would like to share the story with you.

I was due to fly from Oslo to Gatwick on the last Norwwegian flight of the day – the 18:10. I arrived at the airport in plenty of time and settled myself in a cafe near to the departure gate. I opened my laptop in anticipation of catching up on emails. I often have a quick check of the news – on this particular occasion it proved to be a useful move. I discovered at around 16:30 that there was a problem with the air traffic control systems in and around London.

My instant reaction was to check the departure boards in the terminal building. I wanted to know if London bound flights were going to be affected. The BA flight bound for London Heathrow was already showing a delay. My Gatwick flight was still unaffected. That was about to change…..

Flight cancelled

Just past 17:00, the departure screens showed that the London Gatwick flight with Norwegian had been cancelled! Cancelled! I was slightly shocked. No other London bound flight had been cancelled, but within thirty minutes of the problem being announced, Norwegian decided the flight could not depart. Now I must clarify some things here. The air traffic control issue was in no way connected to any airline. It was therefore not Norwegian’s fault. However, how Norwegian dealt with the issue is very much in their control and what happened next did not get anywhere near meeting my expectation.

Having seen the cancellation on the screen, I hunted out a Norwegian member of staff. I found a lady at a departure gate. She was not able to give me any information other than to ‘hang around and listen to the announcements’. At this stage I had no idea if I would be getting home for the weekend. As other confused passengers started to arrive at the gate, a different member of staff arrived and announced something in Norwegian. She had to be asked to repeat what she said in English.

We were told that due to the issues in London, the flight had been cancelled. We would need to return to arrivals, find the ticket desk and they would ‘sort things out for us’. That was it – no more, no less. So 15 minutes later, we were escorted back to the corridor leading back to passport control for arriving passengers. The airport in Oslo is extremely long – we had to traipse the entire length of it. Having got through passport control, the absence of any Norwegian members of staff was notable. Where were we supposed to go?

With no assistance at all, the group of passengers I was huddled with eventually found the ticket desk – already besieged by concerned passengers. Fortunately everyone was extremely calm – and patient. The fact that Norwegian had a ticketing system in place helped matters. I prepared myself for a long wait. Whilst waiting, no member of Norwegian staff came to speak to us. There is no seating anywhere near the ticket desk – it is really not a pleasant experience.

Another fifteen minutes later and the situation took yet another turn. A senior member of staff arrived behind the ticket desk and gestured to all waiting passengers. We moved in as close to the desks as possible. The lady made an announcement in Norwegian this was met by audible sighs and cheers from 50% of the passengers. The other 50% had to demand that she repeat her announcement in English.

Norwegian had decided to ‘un-cancel’ the flight – it would be leaving after all – at 19:30!! I have never heard of a flight being cancelled and then un-cancelled. My relief (at knowing I would get home) was replaced with intense frustration. This meant that all passengers would have to completely repeat the airport departure process – starting with airport security all over again. We burned a few calories on Friday night I can tell you.

The moral of this story is as per the title of this blog post. If a company overreacts to a problem, it is very likely to cause its customers unnecessary customer effort. When Norwegian cancelled the Gatwick flight on Friday afternoon, it did so far to quickly and readily. It was the last flight of the day – it would have done no harm delaying it until they were certain that the problems in London were going to be prolonged. In acting too soon, they created a bigger problem than was necessary.

Aside from the unnecessary physical effort exerted by passengers, we must not ignore the psychological effect the Norwegian overreaction had. Many of the passengers were returning home to friends and family. Cancelled flights do not just inconvenience, they also cause distress. Cancellations are an event that drive an emotional reaction in customers – it is therefore critical that the event is dealt with clearly and empathetically – in my opinion, Norwegian failed on both fronts.

If something goes wrong in your customer experience (which it inevitably will on occasion), it is vital to consider the following steps:

  1. Are you in possession of the full facts? Do not make any decisions until you are certain of the situation
  2. Keep your customers informed at all times – customers will understandably be anxious. To assure them that you are in control of the situation, provide them with information on a regular basis
  3. Cancel the product or service as a LAST RESORT – if at all possible, delay making the decision until there is no other option
  4. Provide customers with face to face support throughout the experience – have members of staff in situ to talk, reassure and help customers. If customers need to move to a different location, ensure that you have sufficient members of staff in place to clearly direct them
  5. Demonstrate to customers that you empathise with them – things will go wrong most humans acknowledge that, but if staff act as though it is just ‘part of the job’, it will only serve to irritate and frustrate

Norwegian failed to follow these steps. As a result, their overreaction to a problem and lack of support throughout the experience left a sour taste in the mouths of most customers concerned. Fortunately this type of thing does not happen on a regular basis – it is therefore unlikely to have a detrimental effect on customer loyalty toward the airline.

However, I very much hope that Norwegian (and other airlines for that matter) read this post – and the review I wrote the day before this event occurred. In that review I make it clear that whilst they are doing well in the delivering the experience they do, they must as a business be conscious of the complete ‘end to end customer journey’ – failures like this, whilst an exception, are part of that end to end journey.

It will not take much for them to improve the experience for the next set of passengers that find themselves on the receiving end of a cancelled flight. I only hope they can acknowledge that the way they approached the problem on Friday 12th December is requires improvement!

Norwegian – Customer Experience Review

CX Reviews - Norwegian

Airlines of Europe beware!! There is  a ‘new kid on the block’ – one that could potentially change the face of air travel. If you have not heard of Norwegian, it will not be long before the name of the Nordic airline is as common in ‘budget’ air travel as Ryanair or Easyjet. I flew with Norwegian for the first time this week. I have heard many things about them from friends and colleagues and was keen to test the experience for myself.

Over the last few weeks I have done more European travel than usual. Having flown with a variety of airlines, I wanted to know if Norwegian ‘felt’ like any other airline or if it really did deliver an experience that I would actually remember for positive reasons – how would it compare with others? Let the review commence!

Date Review Conducted 11th December 2014
Flights Experienced London Gatwick to Oslo
CX Review Total Score 41/50
Stars Awarded 4/5

Norwegian is an airline that has been in existence since 1993. It was not until 2008 that is started to make waves in the airline industry with the delivery of a new fleet of aircraft. By 2013 Norwegian had started to receive awards for the best European low-cost carrier – a trend that has continued into 2014. So are the plaudits that Norwegian is receiving reflective of the experience?

Norwegian’s website offers a wealth of insight into the strategy and culture of the business. They publicly share their vision:

Norwegian’s vision is “Everyone should afford to fly”.  The business idea of Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA is to give everybody the opportunity to travel by air, attracting customers by offering competitive, low fares and a high-quality travel experience based on operational excellence and helpful, friendly service.

You can see how this links to their values and business strategy here. As I always remind readers of my reviews, a public statement like this constitutes a promise or promises to customers. If you are telling us that you are offering low fares with a high-quality travel experience, you have set my expectation as such. The question is – did Norwegian meet the expectation?

Accessibility – CX Review Score 7/10

In my review process, the definition of accessibility is ‘how easy was it for me to do what I wanted to do’ with the organisation I am transacting with. Norwegian score 7 out of 10 for this category.

Let me start with the online experience. Norwegian’s website is ok – not great, but ok. It does what it needs to do, but does not offer the most intuitive of online user experiences. For example, online check in is not that easy to figure out. It took me a while to realise that I had to hunt for online check in through the ‘my reservations’ link at the top of the home page. Even then, it was not obvious what I had to do to actually check in and receive my boarding pass. There are definitely improvements Norwegian need to make before this part of the customer journey can be considered a ‘high-quality’ travel experience.

Checking in at London Gatwick was also an interesting experience. If you want to check in from scratch or simply drop a bag, it is all done via self service terminals. In principle I have no problem with this, if the process is simple for the passenger to conduct by themselves. It was not obvious to me what I had to do as a customer conducting a ‘bag drop’. I ended up having a member of staff do everything for me – from entering the details on screen, to attaching my baggage label. It made me wonder why the process is self service – it would have been so much easier and quicker if I could have walked up to a desk and have a member of staff do it the ‘old fashioned way’!! I am all for innovation, but if the innovation does not make the experience better, then why do it?!

It is for both of these reasons that Norwegian only scores 7 out of 10 for accessibility. This is a shame, because there are other things that Norwegian really do excel at. Offering free WiFi on most flights is one of them. I had great fun ‘tweeting’ from 30 thousand feet – it really did add to the experience. Jerry Angrave, a good friend of mine pointed out:

“rail operators should not be surprised that their customers’ expectations are not met when they can’t get reliable w-fi, or even some wi-fi, at just 3 feet in the air”

Experiencing free Wi-Fi on Norwegian makes you question why no-one else does it and why it is so difficult for other industries to do it – especially rail operators! Maybe it is only a matter of time before they do, but until then, Norwegian have a serious differentiator. Norwegian also offer in flight TV rental on its Wi-Fi enabled aircraft – very cool.

Tweeting at 30 thousand feet!
Tweeting at 30 thousand feet!

It is important that Norwegian recognise the importance of the ‘end to end customer journey’ – only when everything we experience can be considered high quality will Norwegian be meeting the expectations set out in their vision.

Range/Choice – CX Review Score 8/10

Norwegian is the second largest airline in Scandinavia and the third largest low-cost airline in Europe.Norwegian operates 416 routes to 126 destinations in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, Thailand and the US.

Choice of flights and their prices is very good and clearly displayed online. You can also select three different fare types according to your requirements:

Norwegian fare types

Despite this, I personally was not able to get flights that met my needs. Living in the North West of England, I would have ideally been able to get a flight from Liverpool or Manchester. I could have flown from Manchester, but the limited choice of flights offered by Norwegian did not work for me. I therefore had to drive to London Gatwick instead.

Norwegian may not quite have the reach or frequency of its better known competitors, but I suspect it will not be long before it is able to offer as many routes and options as any other airline in Europe.

People – CX Review Score 9/10

Norwegian score 9 out of 10 for the people category. I was very impressed with the crew on my flight. I would describe them as relaxed, friendly and polite. They were not too formal or stuffy, but were very attentive to the needs of all passengers.

What I found interesting about them is that even though they were performing the same tasks as millions of cabin crew on airlines around the world, they did not seem to do so in the ‘stiff’ or ‘forced’ way that many make it feel. It is almost as though they have been trained to ‘chill out’ and have fun. It was nice. I would also say that they were the least ‘pushy’ cabin crew I have experienced in recent times. They did not try and SELL SELL SELL at every opportunity. They quietly and unobtrusively glided through the cabin with food, drink and gifts.

From my recent experiences, Ryanair could learn a lot from the crew of Norwegian!

Value – CX Review Score 8/10

Whilst the cost of flights is generally good, I do not think that they can be considered as ‘low cost’ as their better known competitors at the moment. My flights were not that cheap (£300) although this price was competitive with other carriers – this therefore does meet the expectation set out in their vision.

However, despite this, I do feel that Norwegian offer good value for money. It is amazing what good service and free Wi-Fi can do! The funny thing is, I was not bothered about not having a free cup of tea or a dry sandwich – what some airlines consider to be ‘added value’ does not have much effect on me. I would much prefer the service to be high quality with a few unexpected moments where my expectations are exceeded – such as free Wi-Fi.

I have therefore awarded Norwegian a score of 8 out of 10 for Value – not as high as I awarded Ryanair, but not far off.

How did it make me feel? CX Review Score 9/10

My first ever flight with Norwegian left me feeling pleasantly surprised. Having flown a lot recently, I have become used to feeling ambivalent and uninspired by my airline experiences. If flying with airlines were to be compared with a blind food taste test, I would say that they all taste exactly the same!!

Flying with Norwegian did feel different though. The modern planes are very light and airy – the decor is excellent and lighting very good. When I compare the Norwegian cabin with the oppressive yellow and blue of Ryanair, it does make me realise how important the environment we travel in actually is.

The friendly, relaxed crew made me feel as though I was on my way to a fortnight in the Canaries, rather than a couple of working days in Norway. Then I come back again to the free Wi-Fi. It is often the simple things that make experiences better…..different. I felt like a little kid being able to tweet and post pictures on Facebook whilst flying overhead. I guess the excitement will wear off eventually, but for now, this element of the Norwegian experience is incredibly memorable.

All in all, I would say that Norwegian are creating positive, memorable experiences – something their competitors are finding difficult to do. For this reason, I have scored Norwegian 9 out of 10 for how they made me feel.

Would I use them again? Yes

An easy question to answer – a big fat YES! I was impressed with Norwegian – I have not been impressed with a short haul airline for many years. In fact, Norwegians total score for this review – 41 – is the same I awarded to Etihad. This score is higher than I awarded to Emirates, British Airways and Ryanair. If you have not flown with them, you must give Norwegian a go. I think that their competitors should be very afraid of what they are offering.

There are still improvements that they need to make to the experience for it to genuinely be ‘high quality’ throughout. However right now, Norwegian are offering something slightly different in an industry where differentiation is not very common. I will be flying Norwegian again – very soon!

My reviews are based on a format I created to assess experiences I have with a variety organisations. They are intended to act as a demonstration of how Customer Experiences affect the customer in a number of ways. The reviews are based on my opinion as a Customer Experience Specialist – an opinion that readers are perfectly welcome to disagree with!! I always welcome others perspectives and would love to know what you think of the companies I do review.

You can read all of my reviews here.


‘Happy Birthday Mr Glodnig’!! How NOT to create a good impression with customers!

Mr Glodnig

In life there are a number of certainties. The annual celebration of our birth is one of them. For me, the 6th December each and every year marks my birthday. When it comes to the world of Customer Experience, there are also a number of certainties that can be counted on. John Lewis being recognised as one of the UKs most trusted brands is one. Ryanair sounding their bugle when arriving at a destination on time is another. Virgin trains WiFi failing to work is also an annoying certainty!

A few years ago (I think it was 2010), I purchased a pair of Converse trainers from online retailer JD Williams. The purchase (actually conducted as a mystery shopping exercise whilst in my role as Head of Group Customer Experience at Shop Direct) has led to me experiencing another certainty in my life – my annual ‘Happy Birthday’ email from JD Williams.

We are all used to receiving random emails from organisations we interact with for both business and as consumers. Sometimes the emails are welcomed – if they hit our ‘in boxes’ at the right time, they may just catch our eye and lead to us investigating the subject in more detail. Enticing discounts in the subject line can prove too good to ignore. Often emails are unwelcome – a little like inbox ‘vomit’ which we are very happy to consign to the trash as quickly as possible!

Marketing emails have actually become as big a certainty as anything else in the continuously connected world we now live in – and that brings me nicely back to the subject of this blog post. Some businesses are very good at linking key events in a customer’s life to their strategic marketing campaigns. As consumers demand more and more personalisation in the experiences they have, this seems like a perfectly sensible strategy. The most significant event that a company can connect with is the certainty that is a birthday.

Every 6th December, I receive an increase in email traffic. Some of the emails are from my wonderful friends and family wishing me ‘many happy returns’. However many of the emails are from companies eager to show me how important I am as a customer. One example is the email I received from NH Hotels this year – it has been a while since I stayed in one, but in my opinion, their email was good and welcome. It was clear, simple and to the point:

NH Hotels

I do not have a problem with companies I have interacted with contacting me on a special occasion to make me feel as though I should interact with them again. It is all part of developing ongoing relationships with customers. The key is to get the timing, tone and content of the email right.

NH Hotels demonstrated how to get it RIGHT and create a good impression with the customer. Sadly, JD Williams did not. You will have noticed that the title of this blog post is ‘Happy Birthday Mr Glodnig’. I have been called many things in my 42 years. It is only JD Williams who decided that my real name is not suitable. When I placed my one and only order with JD Williams – online – they decided to change my name (fortunately not by deed poll!).

I know that I entered my details correctly as I personally entered them. I also entered my credit card details using my real name (obviously) – my payment would not have gone through otherwise. This was clearly not noticed by JD Williams computer systems. Ever since I placed my one and only order with them, JD Williams have been communicating with Mr Glodnig. Every 6th December, Mr Glodnig receives a special birthday email from JD Williams. Interestingly, JD Williams offer Mr Glodnig the same ‘gift’ that NH Hotels offered Mr Golding (that’s me!).

JD Williams are not the only company to get a customers name wrong. A name like Golding is easy to ‘mis-hear’ over the phone – in the past I have received correspondence for Mr Goulding and Mr Goldring. However since the ‘digital revolution’, it has become very rare for my name to be misspelt – almost certainly because it is me, the consumer, entering my name for myself online. What is certain though is that I do NOT appreciate receiving communication from a company that cannot even spell my name correctly – especially on my birthday!!!

If a business wants to create the right impression with a customer they must be able to get the BASICS right. I consider the correct spelling of a customers name to be a pretty fundamental basic. If a business wants to create the right impression, it can also consider trying to EXCEED customer expectations. Sending a ‘special’ email on a customers birthday with a ‘gift’ can be considered a good example of this. HOWEVER, if you try to ‘sprinkle fairy dust’ on something that is very badly broken, the effect could be fatal.

I do not know who Mr Glodnig is. Hence, every time I receive an email for him in my inbox it will be instantly DELETED. I would prefer JD Williams not to ‘vomit’ things addressed to him into my inbox – especially on my birthday. If JD Williams want to communicate with Mr Golding, I MAY consider having a look at what they have on offer. Until that time, I do NOT consider myself as a customer who has a relationship with them – and that is the point. Create the WRONG impression and you may end up with no customers at all.

What funny names have you been called in communications from companies? If you are happy to share, I am sure readers will be very happy to read and enjoy!

Customer experience does not apply to us – ‘we’re different’! Is it possible to be a genuinely ‘customer centric’ law firm?

0 law

Let me set a couple of things straight before I even start this blog post. Whilst the title suggests that I am focussing on one particular industry, the essence of what you are about to read can apply to many industries and professions all over the world. I must also make it clear that I am neither a lawyer nor someone who has extensive knowledge of the legal profession!

So that being said, why am I writing about an industry I know nothing about? Over the last few months, I have had a number of conversations with people in my networks about the challenges being faced by the traditional professions – predominantly law and accountancy. I have also conducted some work with one of the professional bodies that is responsible for developing the competencies of professionals working in these fields. During these conversations, it has become abundantly clear that those who know a lot about Legal and Accounting firms are concerned that they are amongst the most ‘un-customer centric’ organisations on the planet.

They are not alone. Despite the ever-growing Customer Experience ‘tidal wave’ there are still many untouched industries that are yet to acknowledge the need for change – the need to re-think the way they interact with customers and clients. These industries are often populated by businesses who THINK they are already customer focussed. They do not THINK there is any need to do anything differently. They THINK that Customer Experience does not apply to them.

I have worked recently with a company who did not think that Customer Experience applied to them – ‘we are different’ the senior managers in the business said. They may THINK they are different…..but they are no different to any business that relies on the successful interaction with a customer to drive the commercial goals of the organisation.

Businesses that THINK there is no need to change are usually ones who are focussed on one primary measure of success – SALES. If the ‘top line’ is doing well, why do we need to change? If we consider the way the legal profession has worked traditionally, it is one that is as SALES focussed as any other. I have been told by many people that legal firms will ‘not work for nothing’. Every minute of every day is an opportunity to generate sales….or in other words ‘bill the client’. As long as employees of the firm are generating ‘billable hours’ all is good with the world. This is what I am being told – and it does not sound very customer centric to me!

I was told today that law firms are incredibly ‘short term’ focussed businesses. It is all about the weekly sales figures. If the figures are not going in the right direction, find more clients to bill. This is NOT a strategy that will lead to long term sustainability of an organisation – however long it might have existed up to now. I was also told that firms tend not to care too much about ‘non fee generating staff’ – that is not the kind of business I would want to work for.

The industry insiders I have been interacting with are in complete agreement that the profession needs to change. The problem is that as yet, there is little evidence that firms are prepared to take the step to change the status quo. It is almost as though the industry is caught in a vacuum of past glories and no-one is willing to disrupt what they perceive to have ‘always worked’.

0 disruption

So is it possible to create a genuinely customer centric law firm that puts the needs of its ‘customers’ in equal balance with the commercial goals of the partners? You can guess what my answer is going to be…… of course it is! What the legal profession desperately needs is DISRUPTION! The legal profession needs someone – an individual, or a firm, or multiple firms – to disrupt the status quo. It needs someone to show the rest of the profession that it is possible to change the way things work – the way they have worked in the PAST.  Like other industries before it, the people who run law firms need to understand that becoming more customer centric will not only deliver financial benefits in the LONG TERM, it will also enable their businesses to become more efficient and effective at doing the things they do – or in other words improve their profitability.

To DISRUPT an industry takes ‘balls’! It requires forward thinking innovators to recognise that change realises opportunities. I strongly believe that the implementation of a Customer Experience Framework can help law firms to be the best they can be – for their partners, employees and customers. At conferences, workshops and seminars that I have the honour of delivering all over the world, I always remind people that at the end of the day, we are all customers in our own right. Even a lawyer is a customer him or herself – the key is to remind the lawyer that the things he/she considers to be important as a customer are exactly the same as the things his/her own customers consider important as well.

If you are a genuinely customer centric law firm, I would love to know about it – what are you doing to disrupt your industry? It would be great for others to hear your story.

As always, your thoughts on anything I write are very warmly welcomed – whether you agree with my point of view or not!