Archive for the ‘Customer Experience Management’ Category

Santa’s Little Helper – Is he here yet?

December 8, 2014

Lack of Courtesy and Convenience in Home Delivery and Home Services causes huge consumer anxiety, costs £Bns and is entirely avoidable

Waiting in causes anxiety and wastes valuable time

santas little helperAs a consumer, waiting in for something or someone important can be extremely anxious, let alone inconvenient and a massive waste of time. And at Xmas, that anxiety only gets bigger. You’ve got a time slot but have no idea whether they are really going to turn up within this time or at all. It’s your mobile phone, the present for your son, its the man to fix the boiler or even your health worker.

missed orderYou get to the point where you wonder whether or not you should risk going to the toilet or even putting the washing out in the back garden, or popping out for 5 mins to get the milk you’ve just run out of? Only to frustratingly to find that card on the doormat. Arrgh!!!

You’re being processed, not cared for

What’s worse is when you realise that a friend just wouldn’t do that to you. They might tell you they’ll come in the afternoon, but they’d have the courtesy to text or call on the way and tell you if they were running late, or “I’ll be with you in 10mins”.

And you’d have the confidence to text back and say “just popping out back in 5”. And if something unexpected happens they wouldn’t just leave you there waiting, they’d let you know. If they can do it why can’t large organisations?

And this drives consumer contact

Anxious consumers want help and reassurance that you’re coming. If you can find a number they will call and these ratios range from as little as 1 in 20 to 1 to 1 Contacts/Order. (Source: H2X Client experience). Obviously in a range from £1-2/contact that’s a significant additional burden. The ratio is highly dependent upon the quality of the communication process, the reliability of the delivery service and whether a number is available. At Carpeo, where we help organisations improve this contact process, we know, the call peak that comes around 5 and 6pm (called WISMO or WISME in the industry – Where is my Order/Engineer) from anxious consumers calling to ask if (s)he’s still coming is significant. I’ve seen many customers call in 6 times in the same day to be absolutely sure the item really was coming.

Hiding behind poor self-serve solutions doesn’t cut it

consumer rageMany default to automated IVR and online tracking solutions, which can be helpful and convenient. However, often these don’t give the real-time information or communication options required to give the reassurance consumers are looking for. Often only confirming information already provided, even when it’s patently obvious at 1pm that the thing isn’t coming between 10am and 12pm!

Where possible, Consumers vote with their feet

This drives further frustration and when it gets too much consumers choose to buy elsewhere. In a recent study, 50% of consumers admitted to abandoning shopping carts because of the lack of convenient delivery options. (E-Consultancy)In all research I’ve ever seen tighter time slots are attractive to consumers, so long as it doesn’t come at a cost. And if it’s important, some consumers are willing to pay extra. Across all categories, the Grocery Retailers, led by Ocado, with one hour time slots and good real-time communications are leading the way and setting consumer expectations.

Its costing businesses £Bn’s

value of failed deliveryThis is costing a fortune. A 2010 IMRG Study showed the overall cost for E-Commerce alone was over £1Bn and the average cost to a business is £1.45/transaction.

Organisations are Responding

Delivery Convenience is a key battleground for E-Commerce providers. More convenient delivery solutions are being provided. The popularity and increasing provision of click and collect services from the likes of John Lewis or Collect+ are examples. Another response is the provision of evening and Weekend delivery options. Other providers in larger items like and ArrowXL are offering next day delivery.

Couldn’t Care less?

Few delivery companies offer real-time communication updates and solutions. Some home service businesses do call ahead to say “I’m coming”. But what the consumer really wants is a half-hour time slot and real-time updates. Conventional wisdom from operators would be to say that this is impossible. But with modern mobile technology, capable of providing real-time updates of field progress, such solutions can be provided simply and cost-effectively without breaking the operation. And generally, it can be bolted onto existing systems, so a huge IT project is not required. tPoint’s, Smart Contact Platform is one such solution. Its Ding, Ding, Dong solution can provide real-time communication updates to and from consumers, contact centres and engineers/drivers seamlessly via an app, a mobile website, e-mail or text to suit the consumer’s preference, without additional time and effort. Brands using it show they care.

Customer Care Pays Off

Those that adopt this technology and become more convenient and courteous are highly likely to win and retain business, reduce failure rates and cancellations and improve profitability. These days technology and operations aren’t the barrier. Don’t all of us prefer to interact with people that care rather than those that couldn’t care less?

Field of Omni-Channel Dreams or Catch-22?

October 15, 2013

Field of Omni-Channel Dreams or Catch-22?

What Film does your Omni-Channel Customer Journey resemble? Is it beautifully consistent with seamless scene changes or flawed, clunky and badly cut? And is the editing process and your improvement journey going as fast as your consumers want and your business needs?

field of dreams

If you build it he will come” – was the calling in the famous Kevin Coster Film, Field of Dreams, where he built the Baseball field and against all odds… he and they all came. The same calling is true for enlightened professionals for omni-channel. Unfortunately organisations just don’t work that way. Although every marketer and service person knows that delivering an omni-channel sales and service facility will increase engagement, reduce customer effort and increase sales, exactly how and where is difficult to put your finger on.

Catch 22: What came first the Chicken or the Egg?

The Omni-channel business case or the capability?

The Omni-channel business case or the capability?

In our 15 year experience of building more relevant contact strategies that have delivered £10Ms of value for our blue-chip clients, we’ve constantly come up against the Chicken and Egg conundrum.

It took two years for one client to roll-out a change to their SME contact strategy that uplifted revenue by 35%. Why?

When IT roadmaps are already full you get the run around. Prove the business case, tell us exactly what components you need that we don’t already have on our plan and then we’ll build it. At best, good discipline that ensures you don’t build a Single View of the Customer £Multi-M White Elephant. At worst, delaying tactics, because its too difficult and we’ve already got more than enough to do. Even if you can point to others that are benefitting, will we get that benefit? How can you be sure?

Until you build it you don’t know and until you can prove its worth it you can’t build it! Aarghhhh!

Assuming you could get a “skunk works” project up and running to prove the case, you’ll then run into the secnd barrier, which is people. We’re too busy doing what we’re currently doing (chasing existing targets) to disrupt that and try something new. Catch 22.

Moving On…

As I said on a Directors Club Omin-channel Webinar when interviewed by Jon Snow the other day, one of the ways to break this is to incubate these new strategies. Either in-house, with a separate team, or outside the corporate barriers entirely.

To do this, you need three things:
– Be clear where the value lies
– Have an ability to create a virtual single view and add in channels
– Incubate it with people and technology where you can control, test and learn

Show me the Money

At HOWTOEXPERIENCE we have a rapid approach that looks at the maturity or sophistication of contact across the customer lifecycle (from Finding, Getting, Joining, Using, Leaving, & Managing Events). We look at it entirely or focus on a specific part where you believe there’s pain and opportunity. Identifying your Omni-channel opportunity. Delivering three quick things that will make a difference immediately and three medium term areas where

with new capability you’ll make a step change. We put numbers on this backed up by external benchmarks to show the scale of the return. You use this to get everyone excited and signed up to the plan.

Mary Poppins had a Magic Carpet Bag…

Mary Poppins Magic Carpet Bag

Mary Poppins Magic Carpet Bag

We’ve got a Contact Innovation Centre in Swindon ( full of talented bright people, backed by a highly agile multi-channel real-time contact engine that can be set up very quickly ( It’s a way to isolate your omni-channel opportunities, test them and evaluate the returns, without disrupting business as usual. We think that’s unique.

Once you know what works and by how much you can take the real results into your business and accelerate those items that make the biggest difference. Gaining traction and pull. Confidently scaling and rolling out, whilst working on the next set of ideas.

The Journey to Omni-channel reality

It’s rare that you’ll make this omni-channel dream a reality overnight. It needs significant IT, data and organisational change, which will be the subject of a later article. On the webinar, I explained that it’s a journey to omni-channel. You just need to start taking the first few steps in the right direction. Joining the key channels together at the key moments, rather than trying to do it all at once. Building confidence from small but sure and rewarding first steps.

You can undoubtedly find many significant opportunities by looking at your customer journey maps. That said there are few areas where we always look first and more often than not, find opportunity.

Finding – The consumer and client buying journey is much more complicated with ¾ of customers using at least 2 or more channels. In a mobile phones company, when we looked at the purchase journey we found a 30:1 ROI in capturing leads better and integrating follow up across face to face, web and mobile channels.

Joining – One of the most formative and yet complicated times in the life of a customer with you, where customers experience up to 70% of all the interactions they might have with you. At American Express, when we streamlined this it uplifted revenue 19%. They won CRM strategy of the Year.

Servicing – With ArrowXL, the UK’s largest 2-man multi-brand delivery business, integrating channels and shifting focus from reactive service to proactive service is reducing cost to serve by 50% and leading to improved customer satisfaction. We wish them luck – they are a finalists in the multi-channel category in this week’s customer experience awards.

Retaining – Picking up Defection Triggers in Social, Operational and feedback channels and then acting upon them can have a significant impact on reputation, prevent escalation and improve retention. We’ve seen multi-point improvements in retention rate.

Turn your Field of Dreams into a Reality by identifying and incubating your Omni-Channel Eggs!

If you’d like more on how to do this, please contact David Williams –

If you’re a pioneer – where have you found most benefit and what other hints can you give others on barriers and how to overcome them? We welcome your contribution to the conversation.

About the Author

David Williams built the world’s largest customer Management benchmarking database and sold it to the WPP Group. Since then he continues his practical customer focussed consulting work at HOWTOEXPERIENCE and also sits on board of Carpeo an outsourced contact innovation centre that focussed on delivering added value customer contact and tPoint Solutions – a leading cloud-based Smart Contact Platform.

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.

Show me the Money: Jerry Maguire on how to build Customer Experience Business Cases

September 24, 2012

Getting Financial Benefits from your customer experience efforts is essential in today’s economy for both personal and corporate survival. CEO’s and CFO’s want you to “Show me the Money”. Just like the film Jerry Macguire.

One client discovered 7 relatively easy steps to increase profitability by 50%

Click here to see Jerry Maguire in action

Earlier in the year, I was fortunate enough to facilitate the Financial Benefits Workstream of the annual ECEW conference, one of the best Customer Experience Conferences you can attend. This article summarises the main discussions.

Create Value WITH customers

Its easy to take Value FROM customers and hope they don’t notice. Increase prices, reduce pack size, dilute the product, reduce the service. But with consumers increasing getting smarter than organisations (see recent blog) that’s a risk. Head the lessons from Verizon and Bank of America’s fee increases of last year and the associated consumer backlash. At ECEW Dave Carroll’s “United Break Guitars” was a powerful reminder of individual consumer power and brand damage that can result. So, create value WITH Customers, remove the things they don’t value, give them more of the things they do. Eliminate cost to serve by getting it right first time, was one of the recommendations from Richard Watmough of BSI.

Often the WITH or FROM tension isn’t explicit but it is deeply entrenched, especially when the P&L’s under pressure.

Don’t change beliefs, appeal to desires

It’s an old advertising mantra that Google knows well. Google could have tried to convince everyone in the advertising industry that TV advertising doesn’t work and that online advertising is more effective, but they didn’t. They simply said, we’ve got some potential customers here – would you like them? And the same approach is required for Customer Experience Benefits.

A solid business benefits case created with and signed off by finance is the Customer Experience Professionals best friend. Don’t try to convince everyone that Customer Experience is a philosophy that will revolutionise the company, just show a compelling business benefits case. That’s what all businesses desire. So how do you go about it?

There are four steps to achieve this.

  1. Understanding what Customers Value
  2. Understanding Customer Value
  3. Touchpoint Opportunities
  4. Business Case model

Understanding what customers value

This starts with classic needs research and understanding the relative importance of the various elements of the proposition. Developing impact curves for levels of service delivery through conjoint research is really important. I remember a discussion with one organisation who had made huge efforts (and invested a lot of money) to move speed of telephone answer from average of 60s to 50s but with no impact on customer.  It’s vital to understand how important individual components are and at what level the customer begins to notice. Using simple pair-wise research can also determine the role the component plays in the experience.

GGRS – Understanding Customer Value

There are four drivers of customer value: Gain, Grow, Retain, Serve. If you think about it, you’ll soon realise that these are the only four ways you can make (or lose money) with customers. Unless you understand these drivers across the customer base you won’t be able to systematically enhance customer value.

Isolating the costs and value associated with these activities across the customer base is always revealing. Allied with a review of touchpoints and sales, service and marketing approaches always leads to opportunities. In a recent client, we were able to show how a 50% increase in profitability could be achieved in a year through seven relatively straightforward steps. That got the Board’s attention!

At ECEW, Peter Sinden from leading Insurer LV= presented on how he and team had focused on the “Serve” component. One question he asked himself and the audience was what‘s the true cost of hiring and training each new staff member. (Ans: significantly more than the recruitment fee!). He showed that by focusing on employee attrition he had both saved significant amounts of money but also improved service levels significantly. Investing part of the savings made, enabled him to start to create a virtuous circle of improvement. At LV=, they have truly proved the employee-service-profit chain.

Touchpoint Opportunities

Mapping touchpoints, understanding volumetrics, costs, value and error rates and their effect on the GGRS drivers enables value opportunities to be determined. One of our client’s, Gayle Terry of British Gas, talked about how British Gas used these techniques for their connected home products, including the revolutionary Remote Heating Control (as seen in recent adverts). This, combined with customer research, helped prioritise experience investments.  Specifying consistent cost effective delivery, whilst investing in a number of ground-breaking experiences. It’s a key proof point in British Gas’ brand re-positioning.

Business Case Model

At HOWTOEXPERIENCE, what we do is model the fixed and variable costs in the P&L and apply the customer value dynamics. By that we mean the GGRS dynamics by type and value customer. We then model these dynamics  over 3-5 years to baseline the as-is situation. You can then run various improvement tactics through the same model to see relative effects. It’s simpler than it sounds and can be completed in weeks. We get the FD to sign it off and then the only debate you’ll have is about the size of the prize not whether the numbers are right. It enables a value bridge to be formed and management to be galvanised. Everyone should have one.

One step further for the more sophisticated, is to model the link between Experience Drivers and Financials, enabling a resilient return on investment to be achieved.  The first step involves modelling operational service delivery (and failures) to individual customer satisfaction/commitment research. This requires tagging of customer research to the database and combining individual customer interactions.

The second step is to tag this to the financial performance of customers (repeat purchase, retention, average order value). Obviously this works best when there are reasonably high sample sizes to work with, within a large customer base.

Its easy to convince Executives to prioritise CE investments if you appeal to their desires and offer a compelling value proposition. Just “Show them the money”.

ValueCEM Discipline 4 of 16 that smart organisations use to systematically drive value from customer experience management. See Smart Organisation CE Framework.

Smart and Stupid Companies

March 23, 2010

I spoke late last year at the Smart Utility Conference on developing and delivering compelling experiences. Being slightly mischevious I took the “Smart” theme and asked the audience whether they worked for Smart or Stupid companies and put up the following exhibit.



Inflated Expectations and broken promises Provide continuity and ownership
Sell, Sell, Sell Show Respect and Honesty
Sneaky and dishonest Give the Personal Touch
Impersonal and robotic Reward existing customers
Incompetent and ineffectual Provide aftercare

A National Consumer Council Survey of 2000 consumers over 18 months defined five attributes of both the “Smart” company and the “Stupid” company. They set out how British businesses throw away money by alienating consumers. They may resonate with your experience.


Attributes of Smart and Stupid

Of course, I agonised over which real examples to use and as luck would have it, the night before, my speech, BMI, the airline, proved to my wife that they truly were a “Stupid” Company. The outcome of the experience – she said, “I will NEVER use that company again” – reinforces what the Consumer Council found. Smart Companies have customers that come back more often and buy more when they do. I used a great personal story of a Smart Company, Apple to set the two apart. More on the detail below.

I told the stories to the audience of 150 senior managers starting with:

“It used to be true that if you had a bad experience you’d tell 20 other people about it, but in the digital age it’s more likely that you’ll tell over 1000. That speech and this blog is further proof that this truly is true.”

But if the economics are so clear, why are so many companies Stupid?

Executives obviously don’t consciously set about not delivering for customers. And none that I know would want to be characterised as working for a stupid company. However, short term profit focus leads to results that are just that – short term. And that’s because it’s often the primary driver from shareholders. Smart businesses understand that profit is an outcome. And that long term growth comes from not only acquiring customers and managing them cost effectively, but keeping and growing them over the long term. Often that requires making investments in policies and experiences that don’t have an immediate payback. It’s this approach to profit creation and mindset shift at the top that can be so difficult to attain. Helping businesses to do this is what HOWTOEXPERIENCE does.

What do Smart Companies do differently that sets them apart from Stupid ones?

Apart from the mindset barrier, what we’ve found though our work over the years is that the best companies have a systematic approach to driving sustainable and profitable relationships with their customers. (Often called Customer Experience Management). They understand what drives value for customers AND their businesses through a set of customer journeys. From Searching and Buying to Leaving, and every customer interaction inbetween. They design intentional, branded experiences that ensure the right investments are made through these journeys. They then set themselves up to deliver. Ensuring that plans to improve are embedded within business-wide strategies, plans and objectives and that these are cascaded through the organisation. They deliver these through strong cross-functional working and people with the right skills, supported by appropriate tools and capabilities. They manage through internal and external measures, a closed corporate feedback loop into management reviews. This ensures the finger is kept on the pulse and that day to day the intended experience is being delivered.

We’ve distilled the detailed practises Smart organisations adopt into a healthcheck so any organisation can compare their current practises and ensure they are systematically set up to deliver their commercial objectives.

Customer Experience Management Model


After Easter we’ll be launching our HOWTOEXPERIENCE Academy to help organisations upskill their customer experience professionals and licence them the tools to be able to accelerate programmes and deliver faster experience and commercial improvements.   Everyone can be a Smart Company if they put their minds to it!

We’ve distilled the detailed practises Smart organisations adopt into a healthcheck so any organisation can compare their current practises and ensure they are systematically set up to deliver their commercial objectives.  

After Easter we’ll be launching our HOWTOEXPERIENCE Academy to help organisations upskill their customer experience professionals and licence them the tools to be able to accelerate programmes and deliver faster experience and commercial improvements.   Everyone can be a Smart Company if they put their minds to it!

What made my wife so mad at BMI and me so happy I’m an Apple advocate?

So back to BMI and Apple.  We’d booked a long weekend away with the family, 8 months ahead of the trip, this involved flying up to Scotland.  Four months before the trip we were informed that due to “operational reasons” our flights had been cancelled. Alternatives to go out a day before and come back a day after were offered. For many reasons this wasn’t convenient – the main one being that all our arrangements around the original dates were already locked in. BMI didn’t offer us a refund or apologise for the inconvenience, which would have been disappointing but not fatal in terms of the Williams’ Relationship with BMI.  Instead, they tried every wriggle in the book, and a few that weren’t, to assert that we couldn’t have our money back. Of course, booked through the internet, the first few attempts at resolving were through on-line self-service that kept us going round a loop for a week or two. Eventually we got a customer service number and my wife spent half an hour on the phone arguing with them, eventually getting sense by escalating to a supervisor who grudgingly gave the refund.  The whole experience left her exasperated and me inspired for my speech the next day! Since this story we have had exactly the same thing happen with Easy-Jet! We’re hoping for third time lucky with re-booked flights with British Airways – although with the imminent strike…I’m fully expecting it could be a long drive to Scotland!!! Clearly the airline industry is under enormous pressure. And the pressure for short-term profit is driving all the wrong customer outcomes and I might add significant additional customer service costs.

My Smart company example is with Apple. By the way, you can find many other good positive experience stories in the Experience Zone on our website. You might even want to add your own!

“You’ve just bought a new Apple product and you’re telling me that within a week, it’s not working. That’s not what you’d expect from Apple. We’d better take this back and get it sent off to the lab to see what’s wrong with it. Here’s a replacement.”

A year or so ago we were over in the States on holiday and my 8-year old son, with birthday money burning a hole in his pocket was desperate to buy his first ipod. So we went into an Apple store and found the perfect one. Oh, it was a thing of beauty that never left his side for the next week. Unfortunately, this included when he decided to take a dip in the Pacific Ocean in Malibu with the obvious result. He was distraught. We went back to the store out of hope more than anything. I explained to them exactly what had happened, the fact that it was his first ipod and asked whether there was anything at all that they could do – fully expecting the answer to be no but you could buy another one! The Apple Guy looked me straight in the eye and said:

“You’ve just bought a new Apple product and you’re telling me that within a week, it’s not working. That’s not what you’d expect from Apple. We’d better take this back and get it sent off to the lab to see what’s wrong with it. Here’s a replacement.”

He didn’t need to do it, I didn’t expect him to do it, I hadn’t even mentioned my conference speech tour on customer experience, but he was empowered and understood the importance and impact on me and my son. We’re advocates and I can asssure you that there are many more Apple products in our household as a result of this fantastic piece of smart service.   It pays to be Smart!

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