TALKING is easy. STARTING is harder….. but SUSTAINING is the hardest Customer Experience challenge of all!


CX Challenge

Do you work for an organisation that aspires to ‘put the customer first’? Have you listened to senior leaders in your business talk about the importance of ‘being customer centric?’ Does your company have a ‘value’, or ‘vision’ or ‘mission’ that makes reference to ‘focusing on the customer’? How many of you work for companies that have actually STARTED to DO any of those things? How many of you work for businesses that have SUSTAINED those things over a long period of time? How many of you are confident that your organisation will be able to SUSTAIN the approach indefinitely in the future?

This may not sound like the most positive of starts to a blog post, yet the sentiment is likely to resonate with many. Over the last twenty years, I have worked in a variety of organisations across multiple industries who have all TALKED a very good game when it comes to being customer focused. If I had a Pound or Euro or Dollar for every senior leader who has uttered the words – ‘we want to put the customer at the heart of everything we do’ – I would have a nice little pile of cash! However, of all the businesses I have worked for, the overwhelming minority have been able to get to the ultimate state when it comes to actually being customer focused – the ultimate state that enables that organisation to SUSTAIN a continuous approach to actually being customer centric. Achieving a sustained approach to Customer Experience is without question (in my opinion), the greatest Customer Experience challenge of them all.

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Talking about Customer Experience is EASY. Literally anyone can do it. In a world where a significant number of working people still state that Customer Experience is a little ‘soft and fluffy’, those same people will still stand up and state how important it is for their business to put the customer at the centre of decision making. However, the startling reality is that there is still an overwhelming number of examples of organisations who are absolutely NOT putting the customer at the centre of everything they do – these tend to be businesses who are either very product centric, or shareholder centric or both.

I have worked with companies like this – I am sure you have (or do) too. It is so frustrating to walk into an overtly ‘non’ customer focused business who have banners or posters prominently TALKING about how  the customer is at the centre of their universe. TALKING about Customer Experience is EASY – but just TALKING about it means nothing if you do not actually do anything about it.

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Many business who talk about Customer Experience have not even STARTED to do anything about it. If this sounds like a strange statement to make, you would not be wrong. Although ALL businesses are delivering customer experiences today (whether they are conscious of it or not), a huge number of them have very little idea of how capable they are of delivering an experience that meets and potentially exceeds the expectations of their customers. Some of these organisations do not even have clarity of understanding who their customers are in the first place. What makes this even more remarkable is that a large number of these companies are the ones who are TALKING about the importance of being customer focused!!

STARTING to introduce and embed a customer focused culture into a business, whatever size that business may be, is HARD. The reality is that to START actually being customer centric, an organisation must acknowledge that it may not actually be customer centric in the first place. That is why the transition from TALKING to STARTING is HARD. Acknowledging the need to be more customer centric is an incrediblly positive thing – it opens up a wealth of opportunity. However, acknowledging the need for improvement is sadly seen by many business leaders as an acknowledgement of failure – which may explain why these leaders may not think they have a problem in the first place.

Businesses that TALK about being customer focused but who do not know what their customers actually think of them must stop TALKING about it and START to understand how to actually do it – it is a big step, which is why STARTING is often a HARD thing to do.

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Yet like most things in life, STARTING something is not nearly as HARD as finishing the thing you have started. In fact STARTING something that should in theory have no end to it is even HARDER. When it comes to Customer Experience, an organisation’s ability to SUSTAIN its approach to Customer Experience INDEFINITELY is without question the HARDEST challenge of them all.

I consider myself very fortunate to be working in a rapidly growing profession.  The fact that more and more businesses all over the world are not just TALKING about Customer Experience, but are now wanting to know how to START doing something about it is a hugely positive thing. However, the sad reality is that there are still painfully few examples of businesses who are seen as guiding lights – organisations who have so successfully embedded a customer centric culture that they have continuously SUSTAINED an approach to customer centricity over many years. That is why we often hear the same companies cited over and over again in benchmarking studies and Customer Experience Research as being true leaders in the field.

I recently published my own research into ‘what makes the worlds #1 CX brands‘ – brands such as Disney, John Lewis, Amazon, First Direct and Apple – were all in the top ten of companies considered as the #1 when it comes to delivering consistently good Customer Experiences. This was not a surprise to anyone – these companies are regularly named in similar studies. My research also highlighted WHY these companies are people’s #1:

  • Corporate attitude
  • They’re easy to do business with
  • They’re helpful when I have a problem
  • The attitude of their people
  • Personalisation
  • The product or service
  • They’re consistent
  • The way it makes me feel
  • The way they treat me
  • They’re reliable
  • They do what they promise
  • They’re quick
  • The technical knowledge of their people

The common characteristics of these organisations are characteristics required by companies who will have an ability to SUSTAIN a focus on the customer. Led by the attitude of the business, corporate culture is absolutely critical in SUSTAINING the TALK. Yet all of the characteristics highlighted in my research need to be SUSTAINED for a business to remain truly customer centric indefinitely.

SUSTAINING an approach to Customer Experience is without question the hardest challenge of them all. I am aware of a number of companies who STARTED to focus on it, but have since changed their focus. I have said many times in the past that Customer Experience is for life, not just for Christmas – our businesses exist to serve our customers – without them, we do not have a business. Whilst this is one of the most obvious statements of all time, why is it that too many businesses fail to recognise the significance of the statement?  The absolute key to SUSTAINABILITY is to embed Customer Experience so deeply in the culture of a company that it is not reliant on any one individual or group of people to SUSTAIN itself.

Customer Experience is the responsibility of everyone in an organisation. Everyone needs to TALK about it, START doing it and KEEP doing it to SUSTAIN it for evermore. Sounds so EASY – but in reality, it is so HARD to do!

Transforming the B2B Supply Chain – a Whitepaper by Coreen Head


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I have written many times in the past about the need for organisations who desire to become more Customer Centric to acknowledge the need for TRANSFORMATION. Transforming a business culturally, behaviorally and systemically is an enormous, long term challenge for the majority of companies all around the world. To truly transform, individuals and companies need to constantly learn from others – others who are further ahead on the journey as well as external partners who have the skills and capability to help them achieve their goals.

The whitepaper you are about to read is an excellent example of the expert capability that exists. Customer Experiences are delivered ‘end to end customer journeys’ – cross functional teams within organisations along with external partners combine to deliver the journey that brings the proposition of the business to life. The supply chain is a core part of the end to end journey – transforming it is just as great a challenge as any other. Fortunately, experts like OmPrompt exist to help improve the supply chain experience by taking cost out whilst at the same time putting the experience back in.

I hope you enjoy reading this excellent document of three parts crafted by OmPrompt’s Coreen Head….


 

PART 1: The rules of competition are changing. Are you ready?

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, or the most intelligent. But the one most responsive to change, Charles Darwin

These Days, it’s All About Competitive Advantage. Success in the marketplace today requires much more than innovative products and a strong brand identity. Customers are more demanding, products are often cloned or imitated and markets have become “commoditised.” To really stand out from the crowd and succeed, companies need a unique competitive advantage – one that can only be gained through the strength of the relationships forged in their key accounts.

70% of consumers are willing to spend an average of 13% more with companies providing excellent customer service

The Balance of Power is Shifting. Historically, typical supplier/ customer relationships were “at arm’s length.” There was usually very limited connectivity between the two parties, other than those activities necessary to complete a transaction, e.g., the placing of orders, the generation of invoices and so on. The commonly-held view was that information is power; and therefore information was kept within the business and certainly not shared with suppliers or customers. Brand owners held the power. They were the ones who decided what processes their customers had to follow. As such, power in the distribution channel was often held by the supplier, rather than the customer base. In many markets, where the client base was fragmented, the purchasing power of any one single customer was generally very low. Today, however, that power has shifted down the channel to the retailer, and increasingly even beyond, to the end shopper/consumer.

So, Why the Change? This fundamental shift is partly a result of a general decline in brand loyalty and the commoditisation of markets. This, in turn, is leading to a growing recognition that in order to remain competitive, companies have to evolve to embrace a much more customer-centric approach. Ideally this approach should be considered at every stage: from designing the supply chain, all the way though to delivery, invoicing and repeat business. The implication is that companies have to move away from the ‘one-size-fits all’ mind-set when it comes to supply chain design and, instead, recognise that valuable accounts will require customised solutions that meet their specific needs.

Redesigning Your Supply Chain with Customers in Mind. One significant outcome of this tailored approach to supply chain design is that stronger customer relationships can be forged – precisely because by redesigning the customer supply chain with your customers in mind, value can be added and enhanced at every stage of the process. This approach also allows both parties to reduce transaction costs ( Transaction costs, such as the costs of placing orders, and all the myriad of activities that are involved when companies do business with each other, are often hidden and not easily quantifiable) through the adoption of modern B2B solutions such as Customer Automation Management. Today’s technology has made it possible to connect supply chains end-to-end. The availability of Softwareas-a-Service (SaaS) over the web also means that the costs of communication across networks are relatively low.

The True Barriers to Change. Be warned though, the barriers to improving supply chain collaboration and reducing transaction costs are not actually to do with technology itself – but rather to do with the “mindsets” of people who are opposed to change…

By redesigning the customer supply chain with your customers in mind, value can be added and enhanced at every stage of the process.


 

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PART 2: What’s Your Competitive Advantage?

If you don’t have a competitive advantage, don’t compete, Jack Welch

What’s YOUR Competitive Advantage? Question: Is it even possible to gain, and then maintain, a competitive advantage in B2B supply chains today? Surely the market is so mature and saturated that there is very little left to differentiate your offering over another’s? Answer: YES, it is possible! But first it’s important to understand how the industry is changing. As fortune 500 companies around the world continue to get bigger through acquisitions, mergers and international expansion, their requirements to continually grow revenue and improve efficiency have become more imperative than ever before. Even amidst the downturn, these companies have continued to aggressively pursue supply chain optimisation in order to maximise the performance per-head and improve customer service.

Benefits of redesigning your supply chain with customers in mind:

  • Stronger customer relationships
  • Reduced transaction costs
  • Sustainable competitive advantage

Retailers are Benefiting from Technology. But are Suppliers? Many of the leading global companies have already embraced advanced supply chain processes such as vendor managed inventory and are also starting to benefit from new technologies to improve performance such as electronic product codes, e-invoicing and XML messaging. But for the suppliers that ‘sell-to’ and ‘sell-through’ these large organisations, the result has been anything but beneficial… In fact, these suppliers are now being faced with more customisation and diversity, and they are struggling to comply with the unique support services requested by their largest accounts. Ultimately, no two customers approach supply chain optimisation in the same way, and consequently, suppliers are forced to support a wide variety of different order, forecasting, fulfilment and logistics processes with an even wider array of technology standards for visibility, collaboration and security.

Suppliers – faced with more customisation and diversity – are struggling to comply with the unique requests from their largest accounts

How to Use Technology to Your Advantage. The good news is that there is a better way to give your customers what they want, without taking on more nonvalue added activities in the order to cash supply chain, freeing up your people to do what they are best at… serving your customers! An increasing number of suppliers are enlisting the help of specialised managed service providers and new cloudbased technology platforms, to wage war against complexity. Typically they look at several attributes to help them gain a competitive advantage.

But there’s good news… A way to free up your people to do what they’re best at: Serving your customers!

The 3 Core Attributes of a Competitive Supply Chain Network.

  • Agility
  • Accuracy
  • Responsiveness

Agility, accuracy and responsiveness have become the core attributes of a competitive supply chain network. A high performing, responsive supply chain that focuses on continuous improvement leads directly to competitive advantage. Suppliers, who are engaged in developing these core supply chain competencies, consistently outperform their competitors, and provide a solid foundation for customer relationship development, trust and growth – at least in my experience. What enables this competitive advantage. is typically the supplier’s ability to focus on their customers’ demand for more personalisation by embracing the most robust and adaptable B2B supply chain solutions possible. However, this requires suppliers to embrace diversity and complexity!

Suppliers, who develop these competencies, consistently outperform their competitors, and provide a solid foundation for customer relationship development, trust and growth.

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Delighting Customers: A Dramatic Shift. Re-designing your business around your customers’ requirements represents a dramatic shift in the design of supply chains worldwide. Suppliers are now moving away from a ‘’push’’ supply chain, built around the needs of the assembly line, to a new “customer-centric, demanddriven model” that interlinks cross-departmental lifecycles, and manages demand proactively, rather than merely reactively responding to it. Creating global supply chain networks that embrace operational innovation is the way forward. ONLY those suppliers who can utilise technologies to overcome the challenges of customisation will be able to delight customers by servicing their unique needs in a consistent manner. These leaders will not only enhance customer satisfaction, but also differentiate themselves in the marketplace and continue to grow revenue.

ONLY those suppliers who can utilise technologies to overcome the challenges of customisation will be able to delight customers.


 

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PART 3: Tips to improve your order-to-cash Supply Chain

To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often, Winston Churchill

15 Tips for Improving Your Order-to-Cash Supply Chain. When pursuing order-to-cash improvements, many companies try to focus on the speed at which they are reimbursed (receivables). Instead, they should focus on setting long-term goals and improving customer relationships across the various departmental lifecycles. Here are 15 tips explain how companies can transform the B2B supply chain using non-traditional tactics.

  1. Differentiate your organisation. Not on price, but on the quality and reliability of the service you provide, and the actionable data you can bring to the table.
  2. Take away the “noise”. Remove the manual, repetitive tasks by automating the non-value-added processes across your supply chain, and release your staff to do what they are best at… serving your customers!
  3. Focus on long-term customer relationships. In a world with diverse and interconnected supply chains, a short-term focus on collections can inhibit quality customer relationships that will be important in the years to come. Focus on understanding your customers and your strategy will be well-aligned with a long-term view of success.
  4. Reduce error rates. Find ways of improving accuracy by automating parts/all of every element of in your order-tocash supply chain. Fewer errors will result in happier customers and less frustrated staff.
  5. Make it easy to do business with you. For all types of customers, large and small, allow them to place orders through the various channels that suit their business, around the clock, and provide a consistent experience in all channels.
  6. Make it easy for customers to pay you. Paper invoices can be difficult to process and pay within 30-day payment terms. A well-oiled supply chain machine – where order errors are eliminated, and deliveries are always on-timeand-in-full – will aid customer satisfaction, and help reduce payment discrepancies.
  7. Provide incentives for on-time payment. Discounts—whether fixed or dynamic—provide incentives to speed up payment for those customers efficient enough to choose their payment date. Some customers may offer shorter payment terms in exchange for more efficient payment methods.
  8. Tailor collections activities for individual customers. Some customers are at the mercy of the consumer market, while others must account for project timelines or seasonal variations. Some are behind because of lost invoices, and others are challenged by cash flow. For strategic or high-value customers, knowing the source of their difficulties can help tailor collections activities and address delinquencies without jeopardizing the relationship.
  9. Encourage communication. Collections and dispute resolution may involve multiple documents and conversations to exchange information. A centralised system that is accessible both to you and your customers can help promote information sharing.
  10. Do more to help your customers! You may not want to go quite as far as offering refunds to customers, but even the most dissatisfied customers respond well to helpful suggestions for improvement. Take the next step to offer value by meeting with customers and using the actionable data that exists in your business today – leverage this use of technology, to become partners in the continuous improvement war.
  11. Improve your product availability and provide rapid delivery. Invest in your distribution network and service capabilities to support the local needs. Utilise the new trends in load sharing, backhaul utilisation and online transportation auctions.
  12. Standardise collections and dispute resolution. Many parties may be involved in collections and dispute resolution, and varied processes or approaches among employees can create repetition, confusion, and poor customer service. If you can institutionalise the knowledge and processes for each customer, you can build a streamlined process focused on normalising the diverse data streams that exist in isolation today.
  13. Stay ahead of the game with pre-sales credit analysis. Identify potential problems early so you can either turn away the business or adjust your terms accordingly.
  14. Avoid delays with accurate billing and documentation. Discrepancies between invoiced prices and purchase orders require reconciliation, and customers look to you for resolution. Avoid these delays by ensuring accuracy before distributing invoices.
  15. Regain control of the end-to-end customer experience. All of these tips are a means to an end. Having complete visibility and control of the process will allow your employees to get a sense of the bigger picture which, in turn, enables them to find ways of improving the individual customer experience process – one customer at a time.

Implementing these types of customer-driven initiatives will enable end users to maintain high confidence levels in the authenticity of the technology they are utilising.

Overcoming Barriers to Change. Once you have decided that customer experience is a priority, automating your back office processes can improve the whole order to cash supply chain, and start enabling positive change. Overcoming resistance to change is another challenge in and of itself. However, choosing the right technology partner can help your business embrace, rather than dread, change. If done correctly, there is potential to strike the right balance between what customers want and what businesses need, in order to stay profitable.


About OmPrompt

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As the pioneer of customer automation management, OmPrompt helps a growing number of the world’s leading brands eliminate gaps in the order-to-cash process that have traditionally required manual workarounds. OmPrompt has innovative ways of automating repetitive manual work in the customer management cycle, enabling clients to free resource, manage by exception, remove restrictions, and eliminate risks to their businesses. Our intelligent, cloud-based solutions are delivered as a service, co-exist with EDI-based solutions, are quick to deploy, easy to extend, and offer an exceptionally fast ROI.

About the Author

coreen head

Coreen Head is the Client Development Director at OmPrompt, who believes that great customer experience is the most important competitive advantage that companies can maintain today. As such, she dedicates her time to educating brands on ways to embrace personalisation and ultimately create world-class order-to-cash (O2C) supply chains. Click here to connect with Coreen on LinkedIn.

You can read the OmPromt blog here.

You can download the full whitepaper here.

 

The customer feedback experience – an experience not to be taken for granted!


taking customer feedback for granted

Last week I made a telephone call to my bank. A routine query, I chose to pick up the phone and call with my question, rather than use any other channel open to me. Having gone through the usual number selection process (or IVR as it is known technically), I was connected to a human. The chap I spoke to was very nice – he answered my question in less than thirty seconds. The entire experience lasted no more than 90 seconds ‘end to end’. All pretty simple. I disconnected the call without another thought.

Now you may be wondering what this rather banal story has to do with the subject of customer feedback. Let me explain. Approximately five minutes after I had concluded the telephone call with my bank my telephone rang. I was greeted by an automated message from the very bank I had just been conversing with. The message asked if I would be happy to participate in a short survey regarding my ‘recent’ experience. I was slightly taken aback. I had not given anyone permission to call my home telephone number to ask for my feedback on the call I had just made. The nice man I had spoken to did not say anything about it either. Rather than providing feedback, I disconnected the call with a sense of annoyance at what had just occurred – and that is why I am writing about the customer feedback experience.

For many years I have been troubled by one of the key pieces of the Customer Experience jigsaw puzzle – VOC (Voice of the Customer). I have not been troubled by the need for it – quite the contrary. VOC is one of three essential, obligatory elements of any Customer Experience measurement programme (VOP – voice of the process and VOE – voice of the employee being the other two).What has troubled me is the way organisations go about getting it – or in other words, the suitability and appropriateness of the very experience we put our customers through in order for us to find out what they think.

When was the last time you provided feedback to an organisation? Whilst we are able to deliver feedback without any prompting from the companies we interact with, the same companies are constantly trying to get us to tell them what we think via a variety of surveying methods. The same channels we use to conduct our transactions are also used to solicit our thoughts – both in words and numbers. Most of the methodologies used are the same today as they were many years ago – not a great deal seems to have changed. Doing what I do for a living, I often provide feedback when asked – I feel it is critical to allow companies to understand how I feel about my experience with them whilst I am always interested to understand what they want to know.

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So let me ask again – when did you last provide feedback to an organisation that asked you for it? What did you think of the experience of actually doing it? Did you even consider the act of giving feedback to be an experience in itself? Too often the experience of giving feedback is not a great one. Regularly faced with lengthy online surveys, many consumers become disengaged very quickly. That is why methodologies such as NPS (Net Promoter Score) and Customer Effort have been so successful – radically simplifying the capturing of information can make it a better experience for the customer in providing it.

The challenge for customer focused organisations today is that they need to be able to design the customer feedback experience in the same way they design their customer journeys. As with the customer journey, capturing customer feedback should have a clear business need as well as defining some form of clear purpose for the customer to align to. It is very common for me to come across customer feedback mechanisms that have defined neither. I therefore urge all those responsible for customer feedback in their organisations to consider the following:

Business Need

  • Do you have a ‘customer feedback strategy’ in place?
  • Have you mapped/designed the customer feedback experience?
  • Is your customer feedback mechanism(s) actionable?
  • Is your customer feedback mechanism linked to employee performance and incentives?

Customer Purpose

  • Do you know how your customers want to provide feedback?
  • Do you know what customers think about the experience of giving feedback?
  • Do you have any defined way of keeping customers informed of actions you take as a result of their feedback?
  • Do you have a defined strategy to maintain customer engagement in continuously providing feedback?

Businesses will always need measurable and actionable customer feedback to continuously improve the experience they have with their organisation. Unless companies get better at designing the experience of providing feedback, there is a risk that too many customers will just not bother to give it any more. The extremes of customer perception will always make their voice heard – the unsolicited voice of the very happy or very angry – via a variety of social media channels. However, if we want the silent majority to keep helping us make our businesses better at giving them what they want and need, we must ensure that we make the experience of giving feedback one that the silent majority can more comfortably engage with.

Businesses will always need measurable and actionable customer feedback – without it, sustaining a focus on customer experience in an organisation is made very difficult We must therefore NEVER take for granted that customers will carry on giving us the feedback that we so urgently need. Go and review your customer feedback mechanism today – walk the experience for yourself and ensure that you are able to maintain your approach to customer feedback in the future.

Customers + Employees = People. People = Business. Why Business is all about People


customers + employees = people

If you have ever heard me speak in public, it is very likely you will have endured hearing me recount my favourite quote of all time. I know that ‘quotes of the day’ are not everyone’s bag, but sometimes you hear someone say something or are referred to something someone in authority has said and their words touch you. A while ago, I had the pleasure of coming across these wonderful few words uttered by inspirational business author, Simon Sinek:

100% of customers are people. 100% of employees are people. If you don’t understand people, you don’t understand business

This quote is the inspiration behind the image at the head of this post and epitomises the essence of what you are about to read. As I continue my personal journey of learning as a Customer Experience Professional, I am ever increasingly satisfied to discover that the thing that makes businesses successful; the thing that business is all about; is that thing we call PEOPLE.

Sounds obvious right? Maybe…. but ask yourself this. How many PEOPLE do you know work in an organisation that does not feel as though it is all about people? How many work in businesses that feel as though they are more about spreadsheets, or numbers, or tasks, or processes? In a world where there seem to be as many ‘shareholder centric’ organisations as there are ‘customer centric’, it is refreshing to come across businesses who genuinely do put PEOPLE at the very heart of everything they do.

Last week I found myself being fortunate (as I often am) to act as a judge at the first UK Employee Experience Awards.  The awards recognise and celebrate best practice in the delivery and improvement of outstanding employee experience – it is no coincidence that the awards have been created by the excellent Awards International who are also behind the UK Customer Experience Awards.  To deliver consistently good and great Customer Experiences, it is essential to also deliver as good and great employee experiences. To be a brilliant business, you must nurture and cherish all the PEOPLE who interact with you – that means customers and employees.

In London last week, I witnessed shining examples of role models – role models of leaders who were teaching, caring for, guiding, coaching, mentoring, empowering and generally inspiring the people they work with to do the very best for their customers, themselves and their business.  The people I saw were of all shapes and sizes – metaphorically speaking! From front line staff to team managers to CEOs – from financial services to utilities to retail. The thing these PEOPLE all had in common was remarkably easy for me to fathom – they all understand the importance of PEOPLE.

It was when one of the finalists said that his most important business principle was ‘adult to adult communication’ that I realised why the recognition that these awards purvey is so very important. Treating PEOPLE like adults in business sounds so startlingly simple, yet in my experience it is so utterly rare. Remember that I am talking about both customers and employees here. So often businesses talk to their customers as though they are still at school – the parent child relationship is  even more common for the poor employee.

The finalist who talked about ‘adult to adult communication’ was one of the very few CEOs present at the awards ceremony. As far as I am aware, he may have been the only CEO at the ceremony! Is it any surprise that he is the CEO of the company who only last year won an amazing 6 (six) UK Customer Experience Awards! Mark Horsley is the CEO of Northern Gas Networks – a business that the consumer on the street knows very little about, but a business that as a result of Mark’s humbling approach to empowering people is resulting in them becoming one of the most significant role models for any business in the world.

Mark and his people do not sell cutting edge, fashionable technology. Mark and his people do not have a compelling and seamless omni channel offering.  Mark and his people do not spend millions on adverting and big data. Mark and his people are responsible for putting pipes in the ground – pipes that enable energy suppliers to put gas into houses, offices and factories. They do it by a relentless focus on doing what is right for PEOPLE – customers and employees. The results speak for themselves – commercially and through the ever improving perception of customers and employees – PEOPLE!

Mark Horsley, CEO, Northern Gas Networks
Mark Horsley, CEO, Northern Gas Networks

Mark was as deserving a recipient of the award as any I have ever judged. Mark is a role model to anyone who ever aspires to lead a business. Mark accepted the award on behalf of his people (customers and employees) – I would have expected nothing less. This is not the first time I have written about Northern Gas Networks – it is unlikely to be the last. Who would have thought a company that puts pipes in the ground would have been a text book example to others as to how to deliver world class customer and employee experiences? The reality is that I am now teaching Customer Experience Professionals all over the world about this company – the company that as much as any I have ever seen bring Simon Sinek’s inspirational quote to life.

Northern Gas Networks understand that business is all about PEOPLE. The vast majority of PEOPLE present at the awards last week do too. This can only be an encouraging sign as the Customer Experience continues to work its way ever more into the business dictionary. We will never do away with spreadsheets and numbers and tasks and processes completely – nor can we – yet the shift towards a ‘PEOPLE FIRST’ culture in business does seem to be closer to reality than it ever has been.