Blogs about how to improve customer experiences

Thanks for your interest in this blog on how to improve customer experiences; how it’s done is every bit as important as what is done, often more so. I share my thoughts and observations with the aim that it’s interesting and enjoyable but also – most importantly – relevant and helpful in giving you some ideas and a different perspective on addressing your own customer experience challenges. Let me know what you think.

Many thanks,

Jerry


Jerry Angrave

When the sales experience falls into, rather than bridges, the gap

Depending on your definition of a customer, their experience starts well before they actually buy anything. It might be what they’ve heard from others or what they’ve seen in the news. But if the brand comes knocking on their door that first impression is also a critical experience. Many get it right because it’s based […]

Ten hidden benefits of customer journey mapping

The benefits of customer journey mapping are well documented; it’s an incredibly valuable exercise that gives the business a shared understanding of what it’s like to be a customer. And, therefore, a clear picture of what should be celebrated, what should be done differently and why. Journey mapping is a means to an end. It’s […]

Using journey mapping to understand and measure employee engagement

This post first appeared as a guest blog of Rant & Rave on using customer journey mapping methods to create employer brands and a great employee experience Fewer than half of employees would recommend their employer to a friend according to Glassdoor. Would you? Have you? Allegis found that 69% would not take a job […]

Why wouldn’t we make customer experiences easy?

Last week I had the pleasure of speaking at an event about how to nurture a customer-centric culture. One of the key issues I referenced is that too often we have a gap between the sky-high corporate ambition (such as “to be the world’s best customer experience company”) and the lower-altitude commitment to making that […]

Lessons in how to embed Customer Experience

At the recent CXPA networking event in London hosted by Pen CX, the world of the CX professional was thrown into the spotlight. I wanted to share thoughts from two of the presenters, who reminded us of some of the practical yet vitally important things we need to do to bring about the right change. […]

Customer Experience says mind your own business

So we now know that United breaks customers as well as guitars. Knowing how your business treats its paying customers is one thing; understanding the impact it has on them is quite another. If the organisation is focused primarily on operational logistics, load factors and revenue per mile then such practices are going to be […]

Does the PRM label restrict airports’ thinking?

Does the PRM acronym need an upgrade to ensure any disabled passenger has an empathetic experience?   (This post first appeared as a guest blog for International Airport Review in March 2017). What’s in a name? A lot, it turns out. There is, for example, no shortage of airports who create a brand based on […]

The biggest risks to our Customer Experience efforts

Ambition, commitment and perseverance. All three are critical to success but a weakness in any one of them is a huge risk to our Customer Experience plans. It will almost certainly ensure we don’t achieve what we set out to. While we focus on doing things in a new way it’s every bit as important […]

I’m frightened of Christmas

They’re not the words you want a 12-year old to howl in distress at this time of year. After all, ‘tis the season to be jolly and a magical time for kids. There’s an excited energy, we break up the routine, new sights and sounds are everywhere and there are surprises galore. What’s not to […]

Customer Journey Mapping, done. What next?

Here’s a familiar scenario in the customer journey mapping process.  Your workshops went well, everyone was engaged and the team is bursting with ideas. You added extra value by creating an environment where people from across all functions shared their behind-the-scenes stories. In doing so they learned a lot more about their own business, which […]

Keep customer journey mapping sessions on track and effective

Facilitating a customer journey mapping session for the first time can be daunting.  However, assuming you’ve invited the right people from across the business, and those who said they’d come do turn up, you should have an audience eager to get involved.  Even so, your collaborations have to work hard and show that the time […]

Customer Journey Mapping? Why not?

Customer journey mapping.  It’s probably the easiest starting point for anyone looking to improve the right customer experiences. That said, I still encounter business leaders who see customer journey mapping as a waste of time.  They don’t see it as a means to a very commercial end;  to them it’s about employees pretending to be customers […]

Disabilities teach us how to improve everyone’s experiences

It can be hard enough doing business with a company sometimes, let alone if we have some kind of physical or mental disability.  However, people who interact with the world in different ways can teach organisations a lot about creating the right customer experiences for them, other customers and – ultimately therefore – the balance […]

Do the good customer experiences obscure the bad ones for management?

As consumers we know that a company is only as good as the last experience we had with them.  But it does seem that some companies assume if they are able to give a good experience once, they are doing it every time, everywhere.  It’s obviously a very dangerous assumption. I’m often asked who we should […]

Who hangs around longer: complacent employees or valuable customers?

In the world we live in it seems to be very easy to over-complicate things; to make a cottage industry out of lots of stuff.  Inside a large corporate recently I saw a project managed by several highly-paid people whose goal was to document all the organisation’s other projects. So it’s not surprising that when […]

The role and challenges of the Customer Experience Professional

The varied and vital role played by customer experience professionals was put under the spotlight last week at the CXPA’s European Insight Exchange in London. Attended by CX practitioners from Spain, Finland, France, Ireland and Zimbabwe as well as the UK the event showed that wherever we are, the expectations of what customer experience people […]

John Lewis, npower and Ford – in very different places with customer experience

  Depending on the way you look at it, complacency is either the arch-enemy of customer experience or the reason it exists.  I’ve seen many a sceptical director shrug and say “Why bother? We’re making money so we must be doing it right”. Yet while the heart of customer experience might be more a way […]

Customer experience culture: Ford’s perspective

A customer-centric culture doesn’t happen simply because it’s on a presentation slide as a strategic pillar.  It’s a topic that risks being swamped by platitudes and theory so I was curious to hear Mark Fields, President and CEO of Ford Motor Company, talk about what the transformation to a customer experience culture looks like in reality. […]

Poor emails undo all the good brand work

We talk a lot about delivering the brand promise.  It’s one of the most critical balancing acts in the business strategy.  On the one hand, a very clear proposition so that everyone understands what they need to do and how.  On the other, what it feels like as a customer to be on the receiving […]

The future of airline passenger experience

The last two years have seen big steps forward in the airline passenger experience.  Some airlines doing great things in the name of creating a sustainable business. Others appear to be wedded to a get-rich-quick strategy.  So it’s not surprising that some have customers who help spread the good word while others feel they are […]

Passenger experience: managing disruption without disrupting relationships

The delicate, reciprocal balance of any alliance between airline and passenger shifts dramatically when there’s a planned or unplanned change in schedule. One party very quickly becomes totally dependent on the other to get them through the next few hours.  It puts the relationship on a knife-edge with the stakes and expectations equally high.    Get […]

Making technology relevant to the passenger experience

(This post was created as a guest blog for Total BlueSky in August 2015) The speed and breadth of technological change not just in the aviation world presents fantastic opportunities.  The challenge however, is to take advantage of the right opportunities not just the latest opportunity. Understanding the things that passengers value most helps prioritise […]

Proof that better customer experiences mean better results

If you’re looking for more evidence to show a sceptical stakeholder that better customer experiences mean better results, the recent wave of financial reporting yields a helpful trend. Not so long ago, updates were all about how a business was coping with the headwinds of tough economic times, exposure to foreign exchange movements, provisions and restructuring […]

Interview: learning from MOO about the link between culture, customers and the certainty of growth

Whatever your definition of Customer Experience, it’s a means to a commercial end and not a platitudinous end-game in itself.  It’s a way of being better at business and that’s especially important to those holding the purse strings where having confidence about the returns is everything. But a cost-benefit analysis is only credible if the […]

How not to increase the customer experience scores

It’s “good news, bad news” time for measuring customer experience.   The good news is that some people have found really quick and easy ways to increase customer scores.  The bad news is that those creative solutions can be catastrophic for the business and ultimately the people themselves. We’ll look at the reasons why it happens and the consequences […]

Little things versus Wow customer experiences

Having real coat hangers in the wardrobe of a hotel-room might not make a Wow customer experience or a Moment of Magic.  But, it’s a great illustration of how small things can make a big impact. Stakeholders often baulk at the idea of improving customer experiences for fear that it will cost more, it will force […]

Customer experience reveals segmentation limits

By applying a little customer experience scrutiny to traditional segmentation models we see their limitations. Being more empathetic with real people rather than grouping customers with similar profiles helps turn successful short-term activity into a differentiated, more profitable and sustainable business.   When creating a segment there is by definition an assumption that we can […]

Three effective open questions to ask customers

Organisations have an insatiable appetite for customer feedback and with good reason. Asking effective open questions, however, is easier said than done.  Customers are being asked several times a day what they think and with our customer hat on we all know what that feels like.  It’s therefore commercially vital that the questions we ask […]

Gaming the customer experience measurement system: why?

The credibility of customer experience is at risk from employees who game the measurement system.  They are motivated to play the system because their performance management reviews depend on it. We can dismiss it as a by-product of the organisation’s ‘culture’ but cultures are made up of people and people allow it to happen – […]

British Gas and United: learnings from their customers with special needs

Companies who treat Special Needs customers with genuine empathy, supported by internal engagement and education, not only do the right thing but see benefits for all their other customer segments too.  There are two contrasting stories here about how companies deal with the same type of customer in completely different ways; the differences being understanding and […]

Voting for customer experience, one small step at a time

The build-up to this week’s election in the UK has been rooted in uncertainty. If the media reports are to be believed, no single party has been persuasive enough to win over the backing of a majority for the changes they believe in. Time will tell.  It also provides topical food for thought about the role […]

There’s no need to measure customer effort

Do we need to measure customer effort? The presence of any effort should be enough to set alarm bells ringing.  Knowing a score out of 10 or tracking a percentage may give KPI-focused colleagues a degree of comfort but that can also be an excuse to defer remedial action on the basis that “It’s not […]

The power of unexpected customer experiences

The environment in which we go about about our daily lives tends to be a familiar one.  For better or worse, we generally know what to expect.  We have in-built mechanisms to signal the presence of the unexpected and the absence of the expected.   It’s the same for our experiences as customers.  I want […]

Customer Experience – what’s your problem?

What’s your problem with customer experience? Or, to put it another way, what is it that gets in the way of designing and implementing an effective customer experience strategy?   Such customer experience problems were the source of much debate recently when I had the pleasure of hosting the Empathyce TakeAway event in London. There were […]

Customer experience research; turning brands into favourite brands

This research post is about which companies have used customer experience to turn their brands into favourite brands, and how that happens.  I am delighted to have co-authored it with Ian Golding, hugely renowned and respected customer experience specialist.    The piece here is therefore also at his blog ijgolding.com where he has built a rich […]

Passenger experiences and what they say to each other

Airports and the people who use them want different versions of the same thing from the passenger experience.  Whether we’re transiting through one or managing one, the common need is for it to be efficient.  But this research report into what passengers tell each other about good and bad experiences shows that the way customers […]

The job of the customer experience manager

The need to improve customer experiences has been around since cavemen traded rocks for fish.  And as our understanding of complex customer experience issues has grown, so too have the opportunities for those moving into leadership and management roles. Having credibility to influence change is at the heart of the job.  But in reality, it can […]

Customer experience without trust is costly

The new challengers in the energy market must be thanking the so-called “Big 6” for making their job easier.  A report just out by Which? shows the polar extremes of customer satisfaction, much of it driven by trust. On the satisfaction scores, the smaller companies such as Ecotricity, Ovo and Good Energy are over 80%.  With […]

Customer experience and lawyers

United Airlines threw a new perspective into the debate about where responsibility for customer experience sits when it handed accountability to its General Counsel.   In an unusual move, United has brought customer experience and lawyers together by putting its General Counsel in charge (reported by Gary Leff).   The airline has a habit of being in the media […]

Did City Link’s customer reviews predict failure?

Customer experience reviews are a rich source of information for companies wanting to improve.  They also contain vital signals for companies needing to survive. On Christmas Eve, the UK parcel courier City Link delivered itself into administration.  A few days later on New Year’s Eve, the absence of anyone wishing to pay the right price to […]

Assessing the shape of customer experiences

To assess customer experiences is to embark on a complex but profitable journey.  The desire to make improvements is compelling and yet the starting point and finish line are not always obvious.  The Customer Experience Triangle concept has been designed to help shape the thinking that makes planning easier and direction clearer.   Is your Customer Experience […]

Customer experience in the boardroom

Corporate change leads investors to rethink the potential for future income streams.  But, by putting customer experience in the boardroom, can it improve that decision-making process?   This week has seen some significant corporate activity in the UK.  BT is making a play for the mobile market by talking to O2 about a return to its […]

Improving customer experiences: when WOW! stands for Waste Of Work

In seeking a point of differentiation, the creation of a Wow! moment in the customer experience is an admirable strategy.  But whatever makes us say “Wow!”, what is more likely to be the differentiator is all the basics being done well and consistently.   The reasons why we as consumers switch between companies is rarely […]

Are we talking the right language of customer experience?

Many customer experiences simply happen because when it comes to the attitude and processes, we hear people say “We’ve always done it this way”.  And if it works today, why not?  Well, for a start things could be so much better.  Maybe – and I’ve often seen – things aren’t actually working in the way […]

Will thinking like a retailer improve customer experiences?

“We need to think like a retailer”.   Really? In listening to those who are looking to improve customer experiences, I’ve heard two very different opinions from the aviation industry this year on where the aspirations lie.   The airline: “We should think like a retailer who happens to run a fleet of aircraft”.   The […]

Stress-testing customer experiences reveals flaws elsewhere

Customer experience at the board table – a voice a vote or a veto

The most recent survey by Which? of the best and worst brands for customer service in the UK highlights two critical issues for those involved in improving customer experiences.  One, is where squeezing every last penny out of a customer costs so much more in the long-term and two, how the sources of dissatisfaction are […]

Customer Experience: blink and it’s there.

First impressions.  The subtle, vital but often over-looked human gateway to achieving corporate objectives such as long-term customer relationships and profitable lifetime value. For many, the starting point for mapping customer journeys conveniently begins at the first ‘touchpoint’;  the call centre or website visit where funnily enough, processes also start.  The very language suggests a physical […]

The regional airline challenge

Commercial pressure on margins despite a heavy reliance on price to retain passengers. My response: Understand how relatively important price is for returning customers;  analyse what passengers are saying and what they value. Generate usable insights and present the story. The results: Clear evidence shows that friendly staff attitude and clean cabins are reasons why […]

The retail bank challenges

Cost-saving activities leave no room for differentiation;  functional divisions have disparate objectives. My response: Embed consistent customer-based outcomes in all scorecards. Win-over sceptical stakeholders with proof of concept.  Establish cross-functional, accountable forums. The result: Increased customer scores; reduced failure demand.  Less duplication of effort.  Better and more consistent cross-channel experiences. The reaction: They said:  “Jerry […]

Differentiated customer experiences require differentiated thinking

Organisations waste time, money and effort if their approach to creating differentiated experiences is based on the very undifferentiated “Let’s walk a mile in our customers’ shoes”.   Inspiration for better and more valuable experiences comes from those who experience things differently.   When teams set out to map customer journeys there’s often a familiar reminder […]

Creating the right customer experience is all about leading by example

To have any credibility when talking with others about how “customer experience” can improve a business, it’s an obvious understatement to say that leading by example – understanding their issues and what they value – is imperative. And so hosting an event on the subject, quite rightly, sets the bar of expectations very high. That’s […]

For improving customer experiences I’d rather have Right Data than Big Data

On my first day of my first proper job in the UK they called me “New York”.  Not because I was energetic, intriguing or that I never slept but because, when it took me a while to understand what was apparently an hilarious corporate joke, I was – in their words – “five hours behind”. And many […]

Would changing the name from Customer Experience to Customer Memories make us better prepared?

We have Customer Service;  it’s what companies do to or for their customers.  We have Customer Experience;  you could say it’s what it’s really like to be on the receiving end of the service.  Done the right way though, understanding all that gives us powerful information. Yet there is also a risk that our focus […]

Whose role is it anyway? The organisational side of Customer Experience

The philosophy behind customer experience has been around since cavemen first traded a club for a spear.  It was simple then, as it is now.  If you didn’t like who you were buying from or you felt they were getting more out of it than you, you’d probably get your own back by inventing the […]

B2B or B2C, it’s all P2P to me

In an age of big data and a seemingly endless capacity to produce and absorb information, one could be forgiven for believing that the end of the TLA, the three-letter acronym, is nigh.  It should be, particularly for the subject of this piece, but for different reasons. Popping up everywhere in emails and presentations, these […]

Customer experiences highlight the danger of businesses taking relationships for granted

The sage advice “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you” needs no introduction but it clearly infers that one party is more needy than the other. It’s a sentiment that’s always been true in a commercial context since the earliest days of trading.  In today’s world though, while the business side is becoming increasingly reliant, the experience they […]

Luxury or productivity? The question of value for Business Aviation’s customer experience.

FBOs and charter airlines are in a strong position to capitalise on the belt-tightening consequences of recent economic conditions.  That’s providing they are able to articulate their value in a meaningful way.  Value, to paraphrase, is in the eye of the beholder. Understanding what that means in reality and then being organised to do something […]

Customer Experience at the Board table: a voice, a vote or a veto?

Everyone seems agreed that, like the complaints department, in theory the real aim of an in-house customer experience team should be to do itself out of a role. I say that because if every decision made by an organisation strikes the right balance between what its customers value and what drives the corporate value, then […]

The Omni-Channel Experience, shaken or stirred: right concept, wrong name?

Any time, any place anywhere – it’s the right one.  Who knew that the now decades-old yet iconic Martini ad campaign was forming the basis of what is now tagged as the Omni-channel experience. The concept is exercising many brains right now.  We know that in an ideal world we need to give an easy, […]

The Customer Experience message; a victim of its own success?

Over 23 million variations on a theme.  At least, that’s how many links you’ve access to if you put “Definition of customer experience” into Google.   There are only 3 million more links to “Definition of humanity”. So it’s not surprising that to engage the corporate leadership team or those of a sceptical, short-term disposition in […]

The Circular Economy and the Customer Experience

The world is full of great ideas the size of a planet but unfortunately, that’s how most of them stay – just ideas. For some time now though the Circular Economy has been proving itself as an exception to the rule.  This inspirational initiative is changing the future of the way manufacturers make and service companies sell.  […]

Customer Experience surveys, metrics and a question of confidence

Far too often we see that organisations have a heavy, sometimes over-reliance on metric-based surveys.  In a way it’s understandable;  partly it’s about feeding the target-driven performance culture and partly it’s to have as much information as we can at our fingertips because that, in theory, makes strategic decision-making more robust. So it was intriguing to […]

Do we, and banks themselves, have the appetite to change current accounts?

The Post Office announced today that it is to launch a current account into the UK market, supplied by Bank of Ireland.  It will therefore go some way to allaying the Office of Fair Trading’s fears that because 75% of the market is sewn up by just four banks – Lloyds, RBS, Barclays and HSBC – the restricted […]

Remove unintended barriers to the intended email Customer Experience.

It’s an inconvenient truth that in promoting the use of email as a contact method, it is surprisingly easy to leave the wrong message. I’m not talking about the content here, there’s plenty of focus on that.  The issue is about the realities of the customer experience when there has been a lack of thought given to the […]

The feedback on Customer Experience feedback

The process of gathering the right, usable customer feedback needs to be treated every bit as much as any other key touchpoint in the Customer Experience journey. At a time where barely a day goes by without our customers being asked to give comments about at least one brand or another, it’s more important than […]

Customers et al. It’s their experience too…

More often than not the Customer Experience spotlight lands directly on the person who is buying, the patient who is being treated or the customer who is complaining. It means that the experience is designed around that person, the feedback requests reach out to that person and changes are made based on what that person […]

The (not-so subtle) differences between Customer Experience and Customer Service

You can see it in job titles, department names and in strategic planning sessions;  the terms Customer Experience and Customer Service are used liberally and are freely interchangeable.  Not surprising then, why I’m often asked “What’s the difference?  Same thing isn’t it?  Does it matter?”. There’s a big difference.  And, if the future strength of the business is […]

We’re only human; the Social Care experience should acknowledge that.

The Children and Families Bill:  will it be enough of the right help, or just ‘help’ ? If you were the CEO of an organisation whose latest customer research showed that 62% do not get the help they need, 60% describe their interactions as “a battle” and 40% said their needs are not understood, I’d […]

What happened to our Brand? It dropped through the gap between Customer Service and Customer Experience…

Which has the bigger impact on the bottom-line:  ticking the boxes for slick customer service or having customers feel and behave as you intended? There’s nothing new in saying Customer Service isn’t the same as Customer Experience but I’m often asked if it matters that much.   It should matter, very much.  Fortunately (or rather, unfortunately) there’s no shortage […]

The emotive price of “Wow!!” vs “What??”

Low headline prices.  It’s a familiar scenario in many industries, forced on companies trying to prise open the gap between revenue and costs by generating greater volume and more loyalty than their competitive peers.  At the same time, there is a relentless pursuit of bringing innovative products, differentiated propositions and “Wow!” moments to market. But looking at the reasons […]

Q: The difference between Customer Service and Customer Experience? A: Emotion-driven behaviour.

We’ve all seen “Customer Service” and “Customer Experience” labels freely interchangeable in role descriptions, job titles and team functions.  They are seen as one and the same thing. Does it matter? After all, it’s about “putting the customer at the heart of everything we do” (whatever that means in practice).  I’d argue it matters a lot;  they […]

Four (and a half) rules to measure Customer and Client Experiences

The good news is, there’s not much we can’t measure these days, whether it’s the mood of the nation or how fast the Universe is expanding.  And so when it comes to measuring Customer and Client experiences we’ve never had it so good.  So much information, right at our fingertips. But the bad news is that it […]

How sport shows us to be better at customer journey mapping

Ok, where do we start?  There’s no doubt that done properly, customer journey mapping provides rich insights into what it’s really like to have a customer or client experience and what we should do to make it better.  In the right hands, it’s an effective tool that’s being used more and more.  Personally, I’ve lost count of […]

Customer Experience needs to ask: “What’s the real impact of this change on our customers, now and long-term?”

The headline says “United Drops Early Boarding For Families”. I’m happy to be corrected but, as Vivian, Julia Roberts’ character in Pretty Woman said: “Big mistake.  BIG.  HUGE!  I have to go…”. Who wins as a result of this change?  United say it’s to reduce the number of boarding phases.  In theory that should cut […]

Customer Experience says: If I leave, don’t slam the door. Leave it open so I can come back.

Funny things, relationships. For most organisations, that “relationship” has the same attributes, strengths and challenges as our own personal liaisons.   There is of course a mutual benefit, but put a customer’s hat on and while the basic requirements of trust, respect, empathy and support are still there, the relationship becomes more of a convenient association. Customer Experience Management […]

Customer Experience: in-house teams must lead by example

The first rule of Customer Experience?  Understand what it’s really like to be a customer. Really understand. Not just “What is your score for customer satisfaction?” but more along the lines of “How did what we do make you feel and how will that affect what you do next time?” or “What will you say about […]

Oh No! What have we done? The unintentional barriers to building great Customer Experiences

Another episode this week from the soap-opera that could go by the title of “Customer Service – Yes;  Customer Experience – umm….”. Think of the time and effort that companies invest in workshops, ‘ideation’ sessions and away-days to see how they can improve customer service.  “We want to build great Customer Experiences!” is the rallying […]

Customer Experience: listen to the silence of the customer

If ever there was a statistic to make us sit up and take notice, for me this is that stat:  “96% of customers who are unhappy don’t complain“.  96%! Frightening.  And it gets worse.  “Of those, 90% will just walk away and not come back”. When businesses set out to build a branded, differentiated customer […]

Customer Experience: differentiate, yes, but don’t ignore the undifferentiated basics either

Epic voyages start with a small step, so they say.  Not, as some believe, a giant leap for glory.  They also say that the best things in life are free and that from little acorns grow majestic oak trees. Such maxims are true not only for life’s challenges but they apply just as much when it comes […]

Customer Experience: plan for failure

Some people are in the wrong job. If you get into conversation with an airline pilot, you might ask such searching questions as:  “What’s it like to be entrusted with hundreds of lives but remain anonymous?”, “Who was your worst passenger?” and “Do windscreen wipers work at 600mph?”.  One question you won’t ask, and I’m fairly […]

Customer Experience: expectation vs examination

There’s a sign on the door of my local pharmacist that catches my eye every time I go past.  It reads: “In here, customers come first”. And why wouldn’t it?  The manager or head office has given the store a boost with a simple 5-word promise.  It deliberately raises the expectation of a great customer experience and […]