Who Are the UK’s 2013 Customer Experience Leaders And What Can We Learn From Them? (Part 1)

I have been studying the 2013 UK report by Nunwood’s Customer Experience Centre and in this post I share with you what shows up for me.

Which are the UK’s Top 10 Customer Experience brands and why?

CEE Top10 2013

Comparing to last year I notice that:

1. Amazon has dropped to fourth place. Why? The report suggests that this is due to two factors: reputation damage related to tax avoidance and performance of delivery companies.

2. QVC (TV centred shopping channel) comes in at no 2. It appears that in previous years the responses failed to meet the minimum required and so QVC was excluded.

3. The Co-operative Bank has not just fallen out of the Top 10, it has fallen out of the Top 100. Given it’s much publicised troubles centred on its finances this does not come as a surprise. Above all, it occurs to me, that a bank has to have a reputation for being financially sound.

4. M&S, one of the UK’s traditional and loved brands, has moved into the Top 10. 

5. Four out of the Top 10 positions are held by two organisations – The John Lewis Partnership and M&S: organisations that have a reputation for caring about their people, caring about their customers and showing this through the quality-range- vfm of their products, and the quality of their service.

Which industries dominate the Top 100 Customer Experience brands?

Given that Nunwood has not done an analysis by industry, it occurred to me that it would be useful to do one. Here is what shows up:

CEE Top100 by Industry

The retail industry leads in the sense that 44 out of the Top 100 places are filled by retail brands. And 10 of the Top 22 customer experience brands are in retail (as classified by Nunwood).  Please note I have not listed all of the retail brands in the Top 100 – too many brands.

The supermarkets take 3 out of the Top 10 places, 7 out of the Top 20 places, and 11 out of the Top 100 places. That is quite some domination given the relatively small number of players in this category.  It’s interesting that all of the big names are in the Top 20 except for Tesco (47), Morrisons (29) and Lidl (53).

The food & eatery industry takes 14 out of the Top 100 places. None of the brands in this category is in the Top 50. It is interesting to note that Starbucks is missing from the Top 100. Could this be due to the brand damage that Starbucks has suffered due to the tax avoidance issue that has hit Starbucks much harder than say Amazon? Who says life is fair?

The travel & tourism industry takes 16  out of the Top 100 places. There is only one brand in the Top 10 (Virgin Atlantic) and three in the Top 20 (Virgin Atlantic, Butlins, Emirates).  Looks like airline travel experience is not that hard to get right if you are committed to getting it right like Virgin Atlantic and Emirates.  The surprise appearance (for me) is Butlins. It looks like Butlins have invested in their staff and their hotels and this is paying off.

The telecoms & media industry only takes 3 out of the Top 100 places.  Do you notice who is missing? All the big brands like Vodafone, Sky, EE, BT, O2, TalkTalk, Virgin Media …… yet these are the very brands that do much talking about customer service, customer experience, customer-centricity. Seems to me that all this customer talk could just be ‘marketing talk’.

The financial services industry takes 12 out of the Top 100 places. And like the telecoms industry none of the big brands – Barclays, RBS, Lloyds, Santander – are present.  It will be interesting to see how much headway the supermarket brands  – M&S Bank (23), Sainsburys Bank (83) – can make in this industry.  Given the shift to digital-mobile banking, it would be interesting to see what will happen when the likes of Amazon decide to go into that market.

The energy & utilities industry. Have you noticed that not one of the energy and utility players is in the Top 100?  No British Gas, no EDF, no Npower, no E.on, no Thames Water, no Severn Trent ….. If the energy industry proves anything it proves this, you don’t need to pay attention to customers when you have structured the industry into an oligopoly and customers have to come to you to buy an essential product.

What does it take to be a Customer Experience leader? 

If there is one thing I am clear on it is this, one cannot become a customer experience leader by bolting on customer experience trinkets to the existing way of being-doing.  This is about as effective as taking a  frigate, adding bits and piece of a fighter plane (say wings), and expecting the frigate to be a great fighter plane. That is just stupid. Most of us can see this stupidity when it comes to warships and fighter places. When it comes to organisations, it is amazing how few see the stupidity of taking this route. What does the Nunwood report say?

Culture and climate are the foundation stone of great experiences. Experiences are delivered through people, the above companies are focusing on creating a culture and climate that starts with meeting all of the customer’s needs, emotional, rational and transactional and then replicating across channels.

Customer experience has many moving parts the key is an integrated approach across a business. It demands an intense focus over the long term. It has to be kept on everyone’s daily agenda. 

This requires customer experience to be woven into the fabric of the company, reward, performance management and planning.

Coming next

Enough for today. In the next post, I will take a more detailed look at some of the more interesting brands in the Top 100.  Until then I wish you the very best.

Posted on November 16, 2013, in Brand, Case Studies, Customer Experience, Customer Service and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Maz, I have a degree in Genetics, which means that rightly or wrongly I am a strong believer in evolution. Or to put it another way that form follows function.

    Bolting wings on a frigate is not a strong evolutionary strategy, the frigate won’t fly and the wings are worse than wasted, they will just make the frigate slower.

    Which makes me think that if you are going to to play the customer game than play it, otherwise go and worry about something else.

    Probably a couple of metaphors too many in that comment, but no doubt you will understand my point.

    James

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    • James,
      Once again I find myself in perfect agreement with you. It occurs to me that you speak sense. It also occurs to me that you have ruled yourself out of any powerful positions in institutions – companies or government.

      At your service / with my love
      maz

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  2. Hi Maz,
    Your post made me wonder two things:
    1. Does position in the table have anything to do with frequency of contact ie. retailers are more likely to feature more prominently as we deal with them more often? and
    2. Has the Co-Op’s customer experience really changed or does the survey results show that what we think about a company or what is happening with a company affect our own perception of the experience or service they deliver?

    Adrian

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    • Hello Adrian,
      It is great to wonder, to question as opposed to mindlessly accepting all that is pushed forward as news and insight.

      Regarding the Co-op, of course the customer experience has changed! Customer experience is not just how good the interactions are! Common mistake. Customer Experience is how the customer experiences the organisation. How would you experience a bank that is financially unstable and under the risk of going under?

      All the best
      Maz

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