Meet the experts
Whether you're looking for specific help on customer experience strategy and implementation; translating customer insight into experience design; getting your people to deliver your experience, or whether your need is more focused around brand strategy - we always draw on the best experts to support you.
Over the last 15 years, Shaun has defined much of the thinking and methodology around customer experience. He continues to speak, write, consult and provoke heated debate on the topic. His latest book ‘BOLD’ (co-authored with Andy Milligan) challenges the tyranny of the rule book and salutes the mavericks who create stand-out experiences by daring to think and do things differently.
- Founded Smith+Co in 2002
- One of the early pioneers of customer experience practice
- Books include Managing the Customer Experience, still regarded by many as the definitive text book on CEM
- Began his career with British Airways as Head of Customer Service, Sales and Marketing Training Worldwide
- Based in Hong Kong for 11 years consulting to organisations throughout Asia on customer service strategy.
- Fellow of the Professional Speaking Association and rated one of the top customer experience speakers worldwide
- Customer insight
- Executive engagement
- Brand promise and customer experience design
- Organisational alignment
- Customer experience measurement
1. Be clear about what you stand for and stick to it - you cannot be all things to all people; that way lies mediocrity. So be clear about what you promise and stick to it.
2. Take a holistic view of the business - what you stand for, the operational choices you make, the culture you foster, the experience you deliver, and how you deliver it through your people and processes have to work in harmony to mutually support and reinforce the brand. Each element must work with every other in order for the strategy to work. This means that customer experience needs to be viewed holistically.
3. Don’t gold plate your customer experience - customer experience is a neutral term and does not imply gold-plated service. Ritz-Carlton offers a great customer experience but so too does Premier Inn. Yet their business models and price points are very different and delivered in distinctive ways. Be careful not to upgrade your customer experience beyond the point that target customers want and are willing to pay for.
4. Treat your customer experience and employee experience as one and the same - it follows then that if your strategy is to be low-cost, innovative and simple, your culture and values must reflect that. If your strategy is to offer premium service then you need the very best people who are highly trained and who want to stay with you long-term
Take a look at our Knowledge Bank to see more on customer experience strategy
Tim’s the expert in differentiating brands across multiple-channels. Prior to joining Smith+co as Managing Partner, he was Director of Marketing & Ecommerce for Best Western, the largest group of independent hotels in the world. Fed up with boring, formulaic hotel chains, he completely repositioned the Best Western brand in the UK. ‘Hotels with Personality’ became the purpose and brand strategy and Tim drove this through a complete transformation of eCRM and multichannel customer journeys (including new digital, mobile and social platforms); plus a major culture change throughout the group.
- Significant success in leading brands in hospitality, financial services, retail and telecoms
- International speaker on brands, customer experience and marketing strategy
- Previous roles include Alliance & Leicester, DFS and Phones 4U
- Specific expertise in utilising data-led strategies across multichannel
- Obsessed with creatively simple propositions
- Regular speaker on customer experience, the multichannel customer journey, and creating emotion through storytelling
- Brand strategy
- Customer experience
- Multichannel strategy
- Personalisation &
- data led approach
- Marketing strategy
The multichannel world is without doubt making the customer journey more and more complex. The danger, however, is that we focus on the complexity and the technology and forget the need for a well defined purpose and the basis of human decision making – the emotional brain. Here’s a few things to think about:
1. Be clear about your brand purpose and positioning - define who you are, what you stand for, what you want to be known for and how this is distinctly different – and different in a way that customers will care about. This drives the promise you make to customers and creates a very strong tone of voice that connects with customers across whichever channel and platform they happen to use. But don’t just have a purpose for the sake of it, have a purpose which inspires everybody in the organisation into action – for this you must drive for simplicity and clarity.
2. Be infectious in your communication - purpose doesn’t work if it’s only understood by the CEO and the Marketing Department. Delivering a seamless experience across all channels requires a seamless connection between sales, operations, IT and Marketing. You can redesign your organisation, you can redesign your processes, but unless everybody is infected by the same sense of purpose and truly ‘gets it’, it just won’t work. And that requires aligned leadership.
3. Become a story teller - one of the best ways of bringing purpose to life is to create a great brand story, which can be shared by people across many different channels. The best stories have great characters, they take you on a journey through a multitude of emotions along a story arc that rises and falls. Yet most brands don’t do it, or do it badly. The key is to base your story on the truth about who you are and what you stand for – you simply must be authentic otherwise the crowd will find you out
4. Be human - the key to significant profit growth is not loyalty but advocacy. Advocacy is driven by emotion and therefore can’t be built with cold rational propositions. With so much focus now on digital and technology, it’s all too easy to forget the most important element in customer experience – great people who, in turn, make customers feel great. This is what builds real emotional connection. Technology can help, but you shouldn’t let it be the primary driver. Let your purpose, your brand strategy and your people drive your experience and utilise the technology to enable it
5. Be bold - delivering a seamless experience across multiple channels is probably one of the biggest headaches for today’s marketers. Merely keeping up with the latest platforms is difficult enough. Using them to convey a clear sense of what your brand stands for is even harder. Keeping a sense of purpose helps keep you grounded, and most importantly opens up the opportunity for fun, creativity and the enjoyment needed to sustain you on your journey. You can’t do it all so select a few things that you can be bold about and make them unique to your brand.
Flora heads up our Employee Experience and Learning Design. Before joining Smith+co she led L&D teams in a wide variety of sectors from hospitality and retail to digital media. One of Flora’s training programs for a major international retail brand achieved a 300% return on investment, and won the UK’s main training award. She has also driven cultural and behavioural change wherever she has worked, through quietly inspiring and bringing together employees and managers at all levels. As a Smith+co consultant she is known for her ability to rapidly ‘get’ a company’s culture and go all out to ensure that she designs unique learning solutions that completely fit that organisation.
- 19 years experience in learning and development
- Operations line management background in early career
- Award winning designer of learning solutions that change businesses
- Held senior L&D roles in retail, hospitality and start up digital media sectors
- Senior lecturer for 4 years at Bath Spa University on Leadership and HR
- Learning design and employee development at all levels
- Aligning workplace culture with branded customer experience and business purpose
- Measurement and evaluation of learning and training
- L&D and HR strategy including performance management
- Speaker on social media and learning
- Use of digital tools to aid learning: blogs, wikis, screencasts, podcasts
- Leadership and team development
- Contact centre learning strategy
To create an outstanding customer experience, you have to inspire and support your people to deliver it. Here are a few proven ways to help:
1. Get super clear about your desired customer experience. If it’s vague, then how can employees know what to do to deliver the customer experience?
2. Spread the word via all your communications. It’s vital that people understand WHY customer experience is important and why EVERYONE should care about it. You need to do this BEFORE you go on to train the desired skills and behaviours. Give people a reason to learn.
3. Don’t leave it to the L&D/HR team to design and roll out a ‘customer service training programme’. Involve the people who’ll be on the receiving end of the training, to provide input. You’ll get buy-in as well as valuable feedback.
4. Keep it simple and stick to your purpose – it’s all too easy to throw the kitchen sink into a new learning programme. You always have lots of requests from diverse parts of the business: ‘Oh, whilst you are running these workshops, can you cover…..xyz?’ Keep asking: ‘If I include this piece of content, will it really help us to improve our customer experience?’
5. Keep it ‘loose-tight’. That means being ‘tight’ (ie fixed) about your purpose and desired experience, but then being ‘loose’ about HOW that experience is delivered. So ditch the scripts and trust your people to deliver the experience in the best way possible.
6. Make the learning stick. We wouldn’t teach someone to drive a car in a classroom, but in business we often try to teach people practical things in an abstract way. Have people analyse and learn from their own job performances, not from a wacky case study. Encourage those delivering learning programmes to use real stories from within your business. Stories resonate with people and are memorable long after the ‘4 point method of xyz…’ has faded from people’s minds.
7. Get your managers to train their own teams. You’ll be amazed at the results. The managers gain credibility and confidence - and make it much more real for their people. The key is to take the time to help managers learn and practise before they go live.
Linda led the Event Services team at the London Olympic Games where 17,000 volunteer Games Makers hosted 9 million spectators and shattered the belief that British people don’t do service. They became one of the most iconic and memorable symbols of the games. Linda developed her expertise at Virgin Atlantic where she was responsible for the airline’s award winning service, relentlessly driving the service promise of ‘Brilliant Basics, Magic Touches’
- Led frontline Event Service team at the London Olympic and Paralympic Games
- Director of In-flight Services for Virgin Atlantic
- HR Director for National Air Traffic Services
- Started her career at British Airways
- Regular speaker in the public and private sectors
- Customer experience strategy development
- Employee engagement
- Leadership engagement
- Business speaker
We didn’t call them Games Makers for nothing. Our vision was always that the Games would never be just about sport, or about London, but would be the people’s Olympics. It would be the chance for EVERYONE to be part of the greatest show on earth - the athletes, the spectators and the volunteers themselves. The Games Makers were absolutely key to achieving this.
I firmly believe that any organisation can aspire to get their people to do the same. Given the right motivation, training and support – all kinds of ‘ordinary’ people can do the most extraordinary things and really bring an organisation’s purpose and vision to life.
For the Olympics, 3 things were key to success:
1. An absolutely clear sense of purpose - Games Makers weren’t just trained to do specific tasks and make things run smoothly; the focus was on giving them a real sense of purpose. They knew they were a vital part of something important - so that they had a real emotional connection to the games
2. Personality above script - specific training was important, but it wasn’t about scripts and prescribing exact behaviours. It was more about ensuring they understood their role in making the games happen in a fun and caring way. We wanted above all to allow their personality to shine through and let them to be spontaneous in creating those little moments of magic that turned the spectator experience into a memorable one.
3. Their role was elevated - this is really important. They were never treated just as functional deliverers, or as ‘temporary staff’ - their role was respected as much as that of the athletes. Everyone was give the title ‘Games Maker’ and it immediately gave the whole team a sense of what their role was and what they were there to achieve.
There is no doubt that the Games Makers grabbed the hearts and minds of our nation and the world.
Just imagine if you could harness that spirit for your organisation.
Brownell is the expert in creating contact centres that deliver a differentiated and branded customer experience. As part of the Smith+Co team, he plays an integral role in aligning the contact experience with a brand’s customer experience strategy. Clients include multinational banks, travel & hospitality, FMCG, telecoms and retail. Most recently, he developed customer experience standards for the Dubai Government’s ‘BRAND DUBAI’. Previously, Brownell held senior roles at a number of international contact centre companies, including PeopleSupport who were the first provider of eCustomer Care in The USA.
- Track record in delivering ROI from contact centre experience optimisation
- Global experience in virtually every industry sector, including outsourced contact centre operations and virtual contact centres
- International speaker on customer experience management and contact centre excellence
- Expertise in customer lifetime value management (CLV), customer interaction quality assurance and resource planning
- Remote customer interaction (contact centre)
- Customer interaction data analytics & business drivers’ quantification
- Contact centre staffing strategies, empowerment & motivation
- Value-based budgeting and P&L optimisation
I’ve heard it said that the contact centre is the ‘heart’ of a business. However it is more than just the heart - it’s the eyes, ears and mouth. It reflects the brand’s personality and either builds value for the brand or destroys it.
Despite this, many companies still treat and measure their contact centres purely with data and numbers, desperate to achieve ‘best practice standards’. This often leads to an obsessive focus on statistical results such as service levels, problem resolution and average handle time.
But, if running a successful contact centre is as simple as ‘doing it by numbers’ and following guidelines and standards, why is it that so many customers DREAD contacting them?
Companies need to stop viewing the contact centre as a machine that does a job and instead see it as a vital tool for creating emotional engagement with their customers. Efficiency and minimising customer effort are all well and good but they ignore the important fact that contact-centres are hubs for human interaction. And if business leaders only use mechanical processes to treat the problems that surface within this human hub, they will neglect the most important question; why do their customers choose that brand in the first place? Without that level of customer insight, you can throw all the processes in the world at your contact centre, and you’ll still fail to achieve advocacy.
If you really want to create a great experience, rather than trying to copy or ‘better’ the SLAs that every other contact centre is implementing, you need to identify key components of the contact centre interaction (whether it is a telephone call, an email or a chat session) that provide an opportunity to really differentiate the brand, and bring to life the brand’s purpose and customer promise. Only then will you move from being a contact centre to an EXPERIENCE centre.
One of the leaders of the Burberry transformation, Francesca helped spearhead the creation of innovative multi-channel experiences that turned Burberry into one of the world’s most admired luxury brands.
Specific accomplishments include the development and deployment of Customer One-to-One, a pioneer digital ‘clienteling’ platform that puts the power of data in the hands of customer-facing staff. She also launched the Burberry Beauty Box store, a new retail concept, bringing together Burberry’s fashion and beauty offering. Beauty Box merges physical and digital experiences, enabling customers to seamlessly explore and combine Burberry make-up, fragrance and accessories in innovative ways.
- 6 years at Burberry, driving luxury services, customer loyalty and retail transformation in fashion and beauty
- Educated in the power of the Brand and branded service at Chanel
- 4 years marketing and integrated communications agency side, managing and developing international accounts
- Connects the dots between customer insight, retail and marketing
- Engaging speaker and trainer
- Customer engagement and retention
- Customer experience strategy
- Multi-channel retail
Customer loyalty is traditionally pursued through loyalty marketing, which focuses on growing and retaining existing customers through incentives. It is based on the principle that loyalty needs to be won or captured from consumers. Is this still the case? Can loyalty be ‘gained’ through marketing activities?
In a highly competitive, fast-paced digital world, customers are in control, expecting experiences targeted to their needs and wants. The idea of loyalty and commitment seems very old fashion all of a sudden. But is it?
Here are a few considerations:
1. We can still use the term ‘loyalty’ but we need to think about its meaning of a feeling or attitude of devoted attachment and affection on both sides of the relationship. It is not something that a marketing team can gain alone because it is about demonstrating knowledge and care of every individual customer at every touchpoint. It involves the entire company and requires an intentional customer experience strategy.
2. A shared view of the customer and clienteling digital platforms are key instruments to build one to one relationships. Employees need to be digitally empowered and able to access real time information about their customers and products whenever they need it, so they can really offer personalised experiences. Loyalty begins with a new level of seamless and informed customer experience.
3. More than loyalty programmes in the traditional way, brands should focus on building customer value management programmes, aiming at building and retaining long lasting, authentic relationships. The pillars of this type of programmes should be data driven customer segmentation, value proposition based on what customers want and desire, clear engagement strategy across channels and consistent retail execution.
Claudio is our Associate Director for customer and employee insight. He has worked with Smith+Co for almost ten years and has over 20 years international experience in research, digital communication and CEM strategy. Not only a great insight specialist, he’s also a highly effective leadership coach and an official TED Fellows coach (TED Talks). Currently based in the US, Claudio will soon be heading off to Brazil where he’ll be leading our smith+co operations in Latin America.
- Founder and Chief Change facilitator at Solsten Group, a US leadership and Innovation consultancy
- 20 years experience in market research and strategy
- 7 years experience in coaching
- Lived and worked in five different countries in 4 continents
- Customer and employee insight
- Leadership coaching
- Company culture
- Change facilitation
Many companies are great at gathering customer data; and some are good at turning data into insight. Where many fail is turning insight into competitive advantage. They’re either paralysed by too much data, with no framework for prioritising it, or unwilling to risk the big decisions, endlessly seeking more data to point the way.
Yet some of the most powerful customer experiences are those based on insights that go against perceived wisdom, and are seemingly based more on instinct than data. So how do you balance the two?
There are 3 things insight-led brands do well:
1. They have a CEM framework which aligns everything they do across multiple channels. Critically, this includes how they listen to, integrate, analyse and act on the voice of the customer. Whether it’s through contact centre CRM technology, social media, research or simple feedback, once you have this framework in place, it helps you focus on the insights that will achieve greatest impact.
2. They seek to personally engage with customers. Clichéd advice, yes, but rarely followed. When you’re on the top of an ivory tower too long, you lose your instinct for what drives your customers – and your business.
3. They get absolute clarity on purpose, vision and what their brand stands for. This makes it easier to be more intuitive about the right thing to do for the brand, and the risks worth taking to achieve the vision.
Take a look at our Knowledge Bank to see some examples of great insight-lead brands and a model of the CEM framework.
Alison is a regular social media speaker and has delivered talks at Facebook HQ in the UK, Apple’s Covent Garden Store, London College of Communication, and City University. She has also spoken internationally in at ecomTEAM 2014 in Romania, an annual eCommerce conference, and was on a panel with Google. This year Alison has also delivered a Social Media Workshop at the European Food Service Summit 2014 in Zurich.
- 6 years of experience in social media for brands including Nokia, Pringles, and BRITA Water.
- Helped to launch Tesco’s first official UK Facebook Page.
- Enjoys offering a ‘no nonsense’ approach, with no industry jargon.
- Regular speaker in social media, both in the UK and internationally.
- Strong journalism background.
- Social Media Strategy
- Social Media Training
- Social Media Speaker
With six years of experience specialising in the field of social media, Alison has been involved in some groundbreaking projects for brands including Nokia, BRITA Water and Pringles. She was part of the team that launched Tesco’s first ever Facebook Page in 2009.
Alison strongly believes that a well-defined social media strategy is vital a part of customer experience success. More recently she has consulted brands including Space NK and Upper Crust on their social media strategies.
“Social media has become a key customer touch point and should be at the forefront of your brand’s experience,” says Alison.
“Many leading brands have not properly planned their approach and the result can be messy, unstructured and can actually destroy brand value rather than build it.”
“Whether you are setting up social media communities for your company for the first time or are realigning your social media activity with your brand promise and customer experience, a strategy will help you to establish the right goals goals and enable you to measure the return on investment.”
As former journalist, Alex excels in capturing and communicating the authentic stories that help bring a brand to life. A relative newcomer to Smith+Co, he brings a new talent and an exciting addition to our team, helping clients create inspiring communication to engage both employees and customers around the experience. Previously, Alex led communication campaigns for a number of brands including Hermes, Renault and most recently, Best Western where he supported the launch of their ‘Hotels with Personality’ experience.
- The launch of internal LinkedIN platforms for Best Western staff nationwide.
- The creation and hosting of internal podcasts for hoteliers and front-line staff
- The creation of social media tools and training for hoteliers
- Creation of a national internal e-shot to capture and share inspirational stories.
- Directed official social media re-branding for Hermes Delivery whilst delivering successful PR campaigns for the leading logistics company.
- Senior lead for the Renault partnership and coordinator for the national advertising campaign for electric delivery vehicles, including the launch of a story-based national content marketing campaign to capture positive online reviews.
- Creating and delivering branded communication across multiple platforms
- Creating emotional impact through story-telling and developing a distinctive on-brand tone of voice
- Training and supporting in-house people to communicate more effectively
“Just be yourself” they tell you, seconds before you address a room with hundreds of business leaders, from a stage that’s lit up like the last scene in Independence Day. The truth is, if I were to be myself, I’d take an armchair on the stage, kick my shoes off, grab a can of Heineken and watch the football on my iPad.
“It’s just acting” I hear, from the seasoned public speaker who delivers speeches with a half-British, half-American drawl to his voice. Everything he says sounds like an advert. The reality is that if I got up there and become just another ‘voiceover’ man, churning out PR soundbites, I’d get it wrong. People would see through me.
This tension between the ‘professional’ and the ‘human’ is one that we’ve often seen played out across the media. Commentators attack politicians or business leaders for sounding too clipped or polished; whilst others criticise different leaders for appearing too laid back.
Is there a balanced approach? Can a leader become professionally human? To have any chance, we have to accept some universal communication truths:-
1. Passion can’t be manufactured - If you don’t really believe in what you’re saying publicly, don’t bother. Scepticism is wired into the modern human. Your fake passion will become ammunition to those waiting for you to fall.
2. Vulnerability is as powerful as vision - Leaders often believe there can’t be any chinks in their armour. The reality is, you’re not wearing any armour. Publicly admitting that something has been testing, can galvanise a team.
3. Blow out storms quickly - A good leader knows the fears and rumours surfacing amongst the workforce. Extinguishing unhelpful sparks early on shows conviction and unites the team.
The tension between the ‘professional’ and the ‘human’ can also be seen as an issue between style and content. As a journalist I was taught that a good measure of content is whether or not you’d share it with your mates down the pub. Here are some tips:
- Don’t say something in three sentences that you can say in one.
- Ask yourself if you would enjoy listening to yourself. It’s weird, but it helps.
- Before any talk or announcement, map out where you’ll be going right at the start.
- Get a reality check. Pick two excellent thinkers and ask to them to audit your communication.
- Avoid intensity. Passion is great, intensity is obsessive and nobody likes it.
Andy has worked in the world of branding for over 20 years. And in amongst its growing craziness and complexity, it’s good to have an expert who can create real clarity. His book ‘Don’t Mess with the Logo’ cuts through the slosh of branding nonsense out there, and has been acclaimed as: ‘‘doing for brand management what the Haynes workshop manuals do for cars.” Simple, easy to understand and enjoyable.
- Co-founder of the Caffeine Partnership, which helps management in a hurry to grow their business and brand
- Headed up the Interbrand Group’s South East Asia operations consulting to organisations throughout Asia
- Books includes Brand it like Beckham, conveying the essence of modern brand management in a totally unique way
- Regular speaker and media commentator on all things connected with branding
- Brand strategy and alignment
- Brand positioning
- Brand propositions
- Narrative and tone of voice
- Internal culture
1. Developing a differentiated point of view that is credible and relevant to customers - understanding the mindset of your customers and how to appeal to them begins with an understanding of what makes you different.
2. Creating a differentiated visual identity consistently applied across every aspect of the brand - great brands do not just think differently, they look different.
3. Communicating powerfully, consistently and empathetically with EXTERNAL stakeholders - great brands develop communication that is not only creative in style and content but also in the choice of media and tone of voice.
4. Communicating powerfully consistently and empathetically with all INTERNAL stakeholders - brands that earn their customers’ loyalty are characterised by employees who understand and identify with the brand.
5. Aligning processes, training development and management structures and style with the brand promise - this is where the difference between great authentic brands and the great creative advertiser is seen. Great brands put their promise to the customer at the heart of their operations.
6. Measuring what contributes to brand value, not short-term sales - businesses that care about their brands, take into account not only the lagging indicators (historical performance) but also the leading indicators which predict market behaviour - such as customer satisfaction, brand equity and brand value.
See our Knowledge Bank for articles and ‘how to’ guides
Lynn specialises in the delivery of brand champion training and is one of our most highly rated facilitators for team and store manager training. She also works closely with Vanessa’s team in learning design. Having worked internationally as part of our team for many years, she knows exactly how to connect people with the customer experience.
- Sales Trainer at Canon for six years
- Sixteen years training and coaching consultant
- Expert facilitator
- Customer experience training
- Brand champion training
- Sales training
Many companies spend a great deal of time carefully selecting external consultants to train their employees. Whilst this approach is successful to a point, often it can lead to disappointment that the learning is not sustainable once the happy sheets have been completed.
Our approach is different. We recognise that for employees to be engaged and committed advocates for their brand in the long term, they don’t need yet another training course. They need on-the-job reinforcement from managers who demonstrate their own commitment by delivering training themselves. There are three main benefits to this approach:
1. The relevant stories, insightful questions and examples managers use, bring the learning to life and ensure key messages are communicated and translated into everyday behaviours.
2. Managers who know exactly what their employees learn and experience are able to hold meaningful coaching and feedback discussions with their employees, before, during and after the training so the learning is sustained over time.
3. Managers develop their own skills and competencies as they consciously teach and apply what they know. This enables them to be superb role models for their teams. We really do believe that given the right skills and encouragement, managers have the innate ability to facilitate the training for their own people and even have the edge over external consultants.
This approach may be daunting for non-training experts. However through robust practice sessions and in-depth and balanced feedback from their peers and ourselves, managers build their confidence and competence to deliver the training to their teams. Many find this one of the most rewarding, exciting and inspiring parts of their role.
Take a look at our Knowledge Bank for more on this
Tim’s the expert in connecting with customers through digital. As former Board director at O2, he threw away the rule book long ago, helping to transform the company, from a ‘ME TOO!’ mobile phone operator to one of the UK’s most innovative, customer-centric digital brands. He drove the development of O2’s customer experience strategy and the creation of the ‘Customer Plan’ (widely recognised as being key to O2’s turnaround and eventual overtaking of Orange and Vodafone to become market leader) before going on to launch and nurture a range of new concepts including the innovative community-led MVNO GiffGaff – the mobile network, run by its customers.
- Customer experience strategy
- Mobile and digital experience
- Customer insight
1. Leadership - the leadership team has to believe that customer centricity is core to driving outperformance. They must be prepared to ‘walk the talk,’ as all the company’s employees will observe their actions, not their words, for proof of consistency, day in and day out. For this belief to be created, there must be a business case which is founded on strategic customer insight, demonstrating the link between delivering improved customer experience and improved rates of acquisition of high value customers and/or improved levels of loyalty.
2. Purpose - employees need to be driven by a clear sense of purpose or brand promise which goes beyond the company’s own immediate financial self interest. It’s all about ‘working for the mission not the salary’ and it’s this type of discretionary effort which underpins sustainable outperformance on the dimension of customer experience.
3. Customer Promise - there has to be a way of translating a high-level purpose into specific direction for those running operations. One way a customer-centric business does this is with a customer promise. Based on great insight about what really matters in winning and retaining customers, this defines what customers should experience at all the brand’s most important touch-points.
4. KPIs - what gets measured is what gets done. In order to ensure the wish to be ‘more customer-centric’ is executed, the company’s KPIs must be focused on the ‘inputs’ - those aspects of the customer experience that can be managed and improved and not, as with most businesses, the ‘outputs’ of the end result ie the financials. This approach must start with the scorecard of the executive team.
5. Quick wins & momentum - inevitably, big organisations need time to fully implement significant changes in approach and so it’s essential that any form of turnaround is fuelled by early evidence that both the leadership is serious (eg symbolic changes in the way the company is run internally) and that new initiatives are being quickly taken to market, achieving great results.
See our Knowledge Bank for articles and ‘how-to’ guides
Chris makes it effortless for people to interact with businesses by ensuring all touch points are emotionally engaging, simplifying customer journeys and building the customer-led culture that is critical for continuous improvement. He has a strategic marketing orientation, the commercial sense that comes from leading complex service businesses through rapidly changing market conditions; has lived and breathed the Walt Disney Company’s proven methodology for sustaining world-renowned customer excellence.
- Leadership success at global brands and major advertising and research agencies.
- Headed-up marketing strategy and customer experience for Disney Destinations in the UK.
- Represented Disney Institute in Europe and trained in the company’s proven and transferable approach to business excellence.
- Speaker on customer excellence, including at Cranfield School of Management and Henley Business School.
- Customer excellence in complex multi-channel service environments.
- Branding and marketing strategy.
- Marketing management and advertising.
- Voice-of-the customer and insights.
- Strategic and tactical pricing.
Intentionality, not mass improvisation - Customer excellence is critical because we have ever-busier lives, and although behaviours are adapting, our fundamental needs, wants and emotions are the same. We demand ever more value from products and services, seamless interactions across multiple channels, and importantly want to feel good about the experience. So, behind the scenes the best companies have always been highly intentional about architecting, orchestrating and integrating their strategic capability, operational delivery and customer-led culture across the entire organisation.
Purpose, not rules - When a clearly articulated purpose is firmly rooted in customer expectations at an emotional level and backed by concrete behavioural standards it can empower one of the best-loved and most successful companys on the planet. A purpose that is actionable across the entire operation is the invisible manager that is proven over many decades to sustain consistency in customer excellence, continuous improvement and commercial success.
Culture, not compliance - Many organisations struggle with the same complexities that impact their customers, and forget that customer excellence is the external manifestation of a customer-led culture, which can be architected with the same intentionality as the external customer experience. All too often companies build elaborate voice of the customer programmes, diligently map their customer journeys and design elaborate multi-channel brand experiences, but neglect to integrate leadership and HR processes into a customer excellence strategy that motivates people to go that extra mile through personal commitment, not passive compliance.
Their ability to draw on a broad range of perspectives from within and outside our sector helped us raise the bar on what to deliver and consider new ways to make it happenPeter Gowers