Archive for the ‘benchmarking’ Category

Happy New Year? Key Customer Themes for 2013

December 31, 2012

As we leave 2012 and enter 2013 I wanted to write a quick note to thank all our clients and friends for entrusting us with some fantastic challenges in 2012 and to look forward to what 2013 might hold in store.

In Summary, we believe 2013 will be characterised by Smarter Professional Contact Value with ‘MMFF. Let me explain…

Smarter Technology leading to breakthrough consumer and business applications

Pervasive Internet, wealth of Smart Devices with standardised protocols, intuitive applications and cheap sensor technology are leading to many disruptive business models and propositions. In particular, we enjoyed seeing the launch of the Smart Homes propositions, as featured in British Gas’ TV brand re-launch. We were fortunate to help Dan Taylor, Gayle Terry and teams with Customer Experience Design, Operating Model definition and go to market planning.

Customer Value vital for brands and their customers

A key theme for 2012 was and will continue in 2013 to be Customer Value. What will differentiate brands in the long run will be whether they choose to get it FROM or create it WITH customers. (See Show Me the Money article). This was best exemplified in our work with Moneycorp’s Corporate Business team (thanks to Mark Horgan and team, who have a compelling FX proposition for consumers, SME’s & Corporates). Everyone should have a customer value waterfall. No matter how well managed, there’s always opportunity by focusing on the drivers of customer value exchange and how brands find, keep, grow and manage their customers. This theme was continued at ECEW, where we facilitated the Financial Benefits Workstream. Notable was Peter Sinden’s LV= presentation. It reminded us that significant value can be attained if you focus on service delivery and fix the people side of the business.  Thank you Maggie Wheeler for putting together a great conference, we look forward to ECEW 2013!

Customers getting Smarter than organisations

We wrote our key white paper of 2012 on this theme, it has significant implications for organisations. Our paper set out 16 key CEM disciplines required for the Smart Organisation to systematically deliver customer value. We set up a benchmarking capability to help organisations understand their capability, gaps against the 16 disciplines and systematically improve. If you missed it see our CE benchmarking Guide for sources of CE benchmarks.

I’ve challenged a number of executives in 2012 to think what they would do if their customer service policy manuals were published (as it won’t be long before consumers do!). This was no better brought to life at ECEW than by Dave Carroll, with his “United Breaks Guitars” story. Much froth has been written about social media in 2012. 2013 will see organsations start to embrace it and embed it proactively throughout the customer lifecycle. Consumer power was seen towards the end of 2012 in the boycott of Starbucks regarding fair tax. Brand Trust and Reputation are everything in this connected world and we’ll continue to see major brands re-habilitate themselves with extensive corporate and social responsibility programmes in 2013.

Multi-channel Contact drives change

Contact channels, useage and attitudes are shifting significantly. Be in no doubt, the multi-channel world is here. Customers will demand joined up treatments or take advantage of arbitrage opportunities. That combined with pressures to reduce costs will put organisation structures under pressure and demand joined up treatments and understanding. Continued focus on effective automation for transactions will be combined with the contrasting need to manage increased complexity and added value contact. On a personal note, it was gratifying to rapidly set up and deliver new contact channels in 2012 for a number of clients including Yodel, our thanks to Nicola Collister and team for their support. We utilised the highly agile multi-channel tPoint platform and the Contact Innovation Delivery facility in Swindon with Carpeo to set these up in weeks. There is enormous value to be delivered from adjusting and delivering revised contact strategies. 2013 will be the year to improve this and we hope our end to end incubation service will play a key part in enabling more new ideas to be tested.

Customer Experience gets Professional

In 2012, the CXPA was established to give Customer Experience Professionals a home. As Customer Experience moves through the hype curve from early adoption to mainstream, more and more organisations are establishing programmes and teams to get it done. Customer Experience has moved from being something everyone talks about to a discipline many are trying to embed.

In 2012, we established the HOWTOEXPERIENCE Academy. Set up to deliver CEM Training and tools around the 16 disciplines smart organisation framework. Its for CE professionals and provides recognition through accreditation for Customer Journey Mapping. I didn’t quite manage to publish the book (again!) but we did embed the leading edge methodologies and know how into our licensable CE Toolkit, X-ccelerator.  It’s the most comprehensive online CE toolkit that accelerates customer experience improvement. It offers everything from Benchmarking, Customer Journey Mapping to CE Dashboards and Programme Mgt to assure improvement delivery. All backed by an extensive CE knowledge base. It reinforces our commitment to work WITH organisations, up-skill individuals and deliver sustainable improvement in CEM capability. It will be our major focus in 2013.

And what can you expect from HOWTOEXPERIENCE?

We’ll be continuing to “Give it ‘MMFF” (Meaningful, Memorable, Financial and Fun)

This defines the experience we try to deliver at HOWTOEXPERIENCE. Nowhere better exemplified than the work we did throughout 2012 with the Vodafone Top 250 Leaders. We delivered a series of Customer Experience Safari’s that helped them ground the Vodafone Way and define their version of an unbeatable customer experience. Our thanks to Julia Jack and Emmanuel Gobillot. We’ll introduce an open Safari programme for others in 2013.

We’ll also re-establish the HOWTOEXPERIENCE Networking Events. I’m interested in clients who are willing to host, so we add more value to them. First one will be 13th Feb focussed on Customer Experience Improvement. Please get in touch if you’re interested. We’ll be doing our upmost to maintain our own 100% Client Net Promoter Score!

All in all, 2013 the year for Smarter Professional Contact Value with ‘MMFF!

Look forward to engaging with you during 2013. We hope that’s it’s a happy and prosperous New Year for you, your customers and shareholders.

David Williams

PS If you need some suggested New Year’s Resolutions – you’ll find them here!

Are you a Top Gun Customer Experience Organisation?

October 1, 2012

The 16 CEM Disciplines.

Top Gun Movie Poster

Hopefully you’re old enough like me to remember Kelly McGillis and Tom Cruise in the great 1986 film, Top Gun. If you think your organisation might have “lost that loving feeling” with its customers, this article should help. It sets out the 16 Customer Experience Management (CEM) disciplines that Top Gun Organisations master. I like to call them Smart Organisations.

At the beginning of the Vietnam war, despite superior aircraft and weaponry the Americans were losing the aerial battle. Their pilots had become too reliant on the capability and had lost their dog-fighting edge. They needed to do something about it fast. The Miramar Top Gun academy, featured in the film is based on US Navy’s Strike Fighter Tactics Program (SFTI). The result was a move over a couple of years from a 3.7:1 kill ratio to 13:1.

Top Gun teaches quicker and better decision making

Imagine for a moment, you are in a cockpit flying at 600km/hr. You see a blip on your radar 10 miles away. Is it friendly or foe? What are you going to do? The next few seconds determines whether you live to fight another day or not.

At Mirarmar, they obviously taught a lot of advanced flying tactics, but the core of what they sought to improve is the pilot’s decision-making process, which when you think about it is quite simple:

Fighter Pilot Decision Process

The quicker and better pilots can go through this process, the more effective and successful they become. The same is true for your organisation’s customer experience management process. Fortunately, the decision making process is not seconds, its more like weeks and months. But, for those that can speed up and improve their core customer experience management (CEM) process, the improvement in fortunes can be equally significant.

Systems or Skills & Process?

Interestingly, there was a vigorous debate within US forces about whether improved pilot skills or hardware was the fix for the problem. Similar to the debates you might be having about how best to improve customer experience in your organisation? Of course, systems can be important enablers of better customer experience management but there is much that can be done to improve, whilst waiting for your IT roadmap to deliver. This process and model should give you some pointers.

CEM Four Stage Process

Understand – you systematically take in observations from the market place, your organization and customers
Design – Then you need to decide what you are going to do about it and design improvements/adjustments
Deliver – You need to deliver the core or revised experience effectively
Manage – And listen, capture and review results and make adjustments based on feedback

Think about how you go about this process in your organization.

Do you have a 360 degree view out of your business cockpit or are you missing some instruments? And how regularly are you checking them?
When you get the readings in, how do you ensure that the right people see them and make decisions? How effectively are they making them? And how quickly do they get implemented?

Chances are it will be the first time you’ve really thought about how effective this vital but cross-functional process is. And what difference could it make to your customer engagement and the new products and services you are currently developing?

A rapid review might help you pin-point answers and vital improvements.

Top Gun Customer Experience Management

And what of the key tactics? What is it that Top Gun organisations do? Over the last 15 years working with large blue-chips and innovative start-ups, at HOWTOEXPERIENCE, we’ve distilled the disciplines that the best deploy. Through this four- stage customer experience management process there are 16 Disciplines that the smart organisations master.

Customer Experience Management Model

16 Disciplines CEM Framework


Discipline 1 – Insight – Turning the right market and customer analysis and research reliably into insight
Discipline 2Customer Journeys – Understanding the end to end experience and pinpointing opportunities
Discipline 3 – Key Factors – Understanding the proposition elements and touchpoints where maximum value can be leveraged
Discipline 4Value – Quantifying the financial gain and prioritizing investments


Discipline 5 – Strategy – Being clear on how experience supports the business strategy
Discipline 6 – Brand – Amplifying the brand through the experience
Discipline 7 – Design – Utilising experience tactics to maximize customer impact
Discipline 8 – Proposition – Developing and communicating compelling customer offers


Discipline 9 – Culture – Working together to deliver results
Discipline 10 – People – Motivating and enabling staff to deliver
Discipline 11 – Capability – Enabling the business to deliver seamless experiences
Discipline 12 – Improvement – Ensuring improvements are identified and delivered systematically


Discipline 13 – Programme Mgt – Driving Changes through effectively
Discipline 14 – Measurement – Bringing the Voice of the Customer into the organisations
Discipline 15 – Mgt Process – Ensuring that the CEM process works effectively
Discipline 16 – Strategic Alignment – Embedding CE initiatives within the business plan

Our experience shows that organisations that reliably execute on these disciplines will rapidly improve their customer experiences and see sustainable improvement in results. And like the US Navy, superior weaponry is always desired, but you’ll be surprised what improvements can be made with the right CEM Disciplines in place.

If you want to see what it takes to be a Top Gun Customer Experience Management Organisation, please get in touch: Mail: . Also watch this blog as we’ll be publishing more on each of the specific disciplines.

HOWTOEXPERIENCE is a leading customer experience consulting business that offers benchmarking, practical tools and consulting services across all CEM disciplines. We also offer bespoke and packaged CEM training for leaders, practitioners and frontline staff through our Academy. Follow on Linked in Twitter

About the Author: David Williams has been working across the globe with big blue-chips and innovative start-ups on customer-based transformations for the last 15 years. He’s helped many customer practitioners and executive teams shape and realise their customer and business goals. A key note speaker and regular publisher of articles, including chapters on customer experience within the IDM Guide.

Acknowledgements: My thanks to Neil Woodcock, my ex-business partner at QCi, for providing the inspiration behind the Observe – Orient – Decide – Act example.

Gone Fishing for Customer Experience Benchmarking? Or Salmon Fishing in the Yemen?

September 25, 2012

A Guide to Customer Experience Benchmarking

You’re preparing for the next Board session on “Customer”. Your CEO wants more context. Competition? Best-in-class? What is it these people are doing? Where do we need to focus? How can we do better? It’s a key moment. You need some benchmarks and quick but what type and how? The wrong type and you’re sunk. The right type and you’ll have everyone on-board and sailing off into the Horizon on the Good Ship Customer.

In the film, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, a fisheries expert is approached by a consultant to help realize a sheik’s vision of bringing the sport of fly-fishing to the desert and embarks on an upstream journey of faith and fish to prove the impossible possible. Its quite a lot like the journey a CX professional goes on to convince an organization to invest in Customer Experience.

Done right, benchmarking can create a compelling need for change, stretch thinking and help everyone to understand where and how to improve.

Done wrong and the critics will be proved right. “It’s not relevant to us, it stiffles creativity and innovation. Or its only skin deep. Sure it tells us we’ve got a problem but not what we need to do.”

So as you go fishing for customer experience benchmarks, the first thing you’ve got to be aware of are there are three specific types of benchmark that help you answer very different questions. In reality you’ll need all three to answer the CEO’s exam question in full.

  1. How well are you fishing?
    Normally answered in the context of the competitive set and best-in-class. Strategic outcome measures of both Customer Perception and Customer Financial Performance are used to determine the answer. Normally plugging into one of three industry wide measurement standards or extending your own surveys to non-customers will provide this answer.
  2. Selling you fish – where are there more fish?
    Getting into the delivery specifics of touchpoints & channels.  Here you are answering the questions: Is it our specification (service standards), is it the sophistication of delivery (bells and whistles) or the effectiveness of delivery (how well you do it)?
  3. Teaching you to fish – how can we improve our fishing?
    Improving your organisational fishing technique requires reviewing and  comparing management practises at a deep level. Are the best companies using different approaches? If so are they relevant to us and can we adopt them. Normally applied at the four stages of understanding, designing, delivering and managing the customer experience. See Smart Organisation CE Model.

You can think of these three questions as the What, Where and How of benchmarking. An alternative way of viewing these is the 3 P’s – Performance, Practice and Process. The Table below gives an overview of the different benchmark types and the pro’s and con’s of each type.

What, Where and How of CE Benchmarks


There are main standards in strategic perception measures that can be benchmarked. All three types claim a direct link with business performance. Organisations normally have their own customer metrics and can tie into the industry wide standards to benchmark performance.

Customer Satisfaction – Satisfaction generally has a low correlation with behaviour. However, the American Customer Satisfaction Index has shown a causal relationship with GDP Growth. The latest report showed Amazon has just regained its top spot from NetFlix with a score of 87%.

Experience Studies – Other studies that look at consumer perception of experience (functional emotional and accessibility).  Sam’s Club and Publix earned the top two spots in the 2012 Temkin Experience Rankings. Forrester’s study of 7,700 US consumers using their CxPi methodology shows retailers and hotels score highest.

Net Promoter Score – The “One number” that takes detractors away from promoters made famous by Reicheld that has claimed a direct correlation to growth in every sector. Though I know many clients that have struggled in practice, there is no doubt that its simplicity can be compelling. The European Studies show Apple leading the way.

Commitment – The concept developed by Jan Hofmeyer explains how deeply committed customers are to brands and how suseptible to conversion. It too has a high correlation to consumer behaviour and results.


This is generally more difficult to benchmark as the information is less widely available.

Standards – A key question if you’re not doing very well, is whether its your promise that isn’t up to scratch or the delivery. Desk research will reveal what service standards are prevalent in the market place. Understanding delivery against these standards required deeper competitive research (see delivery below)

Touchpoint Sophistication – At HOWTOEXPERIENCE, we use best practice maturity models to look at the sophistication of treatment by or across touchpoints. Organisations like Shopworks will conduct bespoke benchmarking of retail experiences, with broader retail studies available from ICE. The CXM Maturity Model developed by Henley Mgt Centre, Cranfield and Chordiant is a capability based model that looks at the degree to which real time, multi-channel, data-driven marketing is seamlessly in place.

Delivery – Mystery Shopping and Touchpoint specific satisfaction comparisons is a common way to achieve this and compare against competitors. Many providers will provide multi-channel “Voice of the Customer” solutions here, including Carpeo. Omnibus studies can also be useful, one example is Global Reviews.


Leading organisations know that asking themselves the tough questions of why and how, is essential to improve.

A number of survey-based studies are available. These ask respondents to self-score on importance. Recent studies by CIM show 69% of CMO’s believe that investing in Customer Experience is the best way to build their brand but only 31% believe their leaders understand what that means and only 22% of staff understand their role in delivering this. Other studies show that the biggest gaps in how Organisations are approaching CE is in CE strategy, having a disciplined approach, and articulating the business case.  These give useful guides to priorities but don’t get deep into the reality of an organisations own practices and what needs to be done.

The HOWTOEXPERIENCE model is a disciplined approach to CEM that gets right into the specifics. Derived from the best practices we’ve observed over the last 10 years, you can benchmark yourself against the very best and a broad spectrum of others. It builds in the 16 CEM disciplines that Smart Organisations exhibit and helps people answer the key questions:

What do the best do? How do I compare? Where are my priorities? What do I need to work on specifically?

Just like the film, whether its fishing or Customer experience, if you use the rights tools and find the right expert to help, you’ll be amazed at the hurdles that can be overcome and the amazing visions realised.

For more information on Customer Experience Benchmarking please click here… or contact us on:

CE Benchmarking Pro’s and Con’s

About HOWTOEXPERIENCE: We consult to the world’s leading organisations on customer experience. We have a toolkit of licensable methodologies to help practitioners make real progress quickly.

About the Author: David Williams has been working across the globe with big blue-chips and innovative start-ups on customer-based transformations for the last 15 years. He’s helped many customer practitioners and executive teams shape and realise their customer and business goals. A key note speaker and regular publisher of articles, including chapters on customer experience within the IDM Guide.

%d bloggers like this: