Organisations today talk a lot about delivering great customer experiences. How do you begin to measure that and know that you’re doing it well?
Shaun Smith: It’s becoming increasingly easy, because with some of the latest technology, things like text analytics for examples, ways of actually looking at data feeds from social media and using smart software, you can actually analyse all of that and get a very good impression of what customers are saying about you, what the trends are, so it’s becoming increasingly easy.
We all remember the days of those long, boring questionnaires that we used to, and still, complete to some extent, which are fine, but the trouble with those is they are … Usually the drop off rate is quite high, so you’re not really getting the voice of all of your customers. You’re getting the voice of your customers that choose to respond, and that may or may not be representative of the whole, but also they’re responding to predetermined questions that you have asked, whereas using pure voice of the customer techniques like text analytics and so on, customers are saying whatever they want to say, and what you’re then doing is determining from that what are the key issues that you need to pay attention to.
One of the things we do is customer experience measurement, and we use a sophisticated analysis we call our ECG curve. An ECG curve is like a heart line, and it’s a bit like a heart line because a flat line is bad, right? It means you’re dead if you’re on a heart monitor, and that’s true for customer experience, too, because on a rating scale, let’s say from 1 to 5, if you’re flat at the bottom, you’re dead because you’re poor. If you’re flat in the middle, you’re dead because you’re mediocre.
What’s wrong if you’re flat at the top, if you’re getting 5 out of 5 for all of those aspects? Surely it must be a good thing? Actually no, it’s not, for there’s always plain, and if you are 5 out of 5 on everything, the pain comes when the customer comes to pay, because it would be incredibly expensive, because organisations just can’t afford to be 5 out of 5 on every single dimension, so they have to make choices, and so what we do is we map these curves, and we identify the touch points where you can over index, where the organisation should spend more in order to create a memorable experience for the customer, and where it’s okay just to be okay.
We talked about the Premiere Inn example, and we said that their purpose was to make guests feel brilliant through a great night’s sleep. So the bedroom experience, the bed experience is the hallmark for Premiere Inn, and they have invested in top of the line Hypnos beds, which are very expensive, which you wouldn’t normally expect to find in a budget hotel, but they put them in because they recognise that that is a hallmark. Where they take money away is in check in, so they have kiosks for you to check in. They don’t have staff there. It’s self check in, which reduces the costs.
If you were to look at the Premiere Inn curve, you’ve got a medium satisfaction here in terms of check in, and it goes to a high point around the room and bed comfort, because that’s what makes the brand the brand. Experience measurement can be very, very important, and it has to be thoughtful and strategic in that way. It isn’t just about trying to delight the customer in every single area, because you just won’t achieve it.
Grant Leboff: I like that idea. I think is very important for viewers to take that away, that actually in any given business, there will be the bits that really matter and the bits that don’t matter so much, and if you can get the bits that matter absolutely right, people will walk away having had a great experience, so to a large extent, that means that a company really has to have a clinical understanding of their value proposition …
Shaun Smith: Exactly.
Grant Leboff: … in order to achieve that, and then it’s about mapping the value proposition against that experience. How does a company go about making that happen in real terms?
Shaun Smith: If you’re clear about your strategy, then that leads you towards where you invest. Let’s take an example, the airline industry. If we take Singapore Airlines, for example, Singapore Airlines has had a reputation for many years of having the best product. It’s usually the lead operator for introducing new aircraft, so when the Airbus 380 doubledecker came out, Singapore Airlines was the first airline to take delivery, and that has been their value proposition for many years. If you want the best airplanes, the best product, fly Singapore Airlines.
If you take Virgin Atlantic, we said earlier Virgin is very much about innovation and fun and doing some quirky things for the customers. It isn’t necessarily about having the latest airplanes. In fact, they don’t have the latest airplanes. They’re fine, but they’re not the sort of latest generation. Where Virgin spends its money is on things like, for example, the clubhouse in the airport, where you go in there and it’s a kind of a fun environment, and you can relax and have a few drinks and so and so forth before you get aboard the airplane.
If you take Ryanair, Ryanair’s proposition is all about being as cheap as chips. It’s about being the lowest cost operator, and so what they’ve done is to strip as many costs out of the equation as possible in terms of people, so a lot of it’s about procedure, self help and all of that, because that’s their strategy. Once you’re clear about your purpose, you’re clear about your strategy, that then lends you to making decisions about… so therefore which parts of the customer journey, which parts of the experience, do we need to invest more or less in.
Grant Leboff: Then, in terms of measuring that you’re getting those absolutely right…
Shaun Smith: Yep. Those are the ones you really want to measure, and if you’ve got a brand promise, if you know what you stand for, for example, and you’re saying, “We are this kind of organisation,” what you’d want to do is to measure your customers’ perceptions about the extent to which they agree with that. Taking the Virgin Atlantic example, if it’s about fun and entertainment and innovation, then you’d want to survey your customers to say, “To what extent would you feel this brand is fun and innovative and entertaining?”
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