CX 2015: Where Does The UK Stand In Relation To The USA?

Some folks at Nunwood (CX research and consulting company) have been kind enough to email over their latest report: Have A Nicer Day, Learning From the USA’s Customer Experience Leaders.  I found it to make interesting reading. In this conversation, I wish to focus on where the UK stands in relation to the USA – as set out in this report. Let’s begin with a quote that kind of sums the report up:

On average, US enjoy significantly better experiences than their UK counterparts. This is more consistent across the sectors….

Let’s look into why this is the case.

CX: What Are The Big Difference Between The USA And The UK?

At the last UK survey conducted and published in Q4, 2014 the average CX score was 7.25 (out of 10). The USA score as at Q1 2015 stands at 7.6. This looks like such a small difference: only 5%.  What do the authors of the Nunwood report say?

– Every US sector with the exception of telecoms, outperforms its UK counterpart.…Sectors that are weak in the UK, notably utilities and logistics, are significantly stronger in the USA, despite challenging geographic and environmental circumstances.

– The top 6 US brands (USAA, Publix, Amazon.com, Chick-fil-A, Disney Parks, Edward Jones) are stronger performers than the UK’s number one brand (First Direct).

– With the UK’s CX currently improving by less than 1% per annum, the current trend puts the USA five years ahead of the UK.

CX: What Accounts For This Difference?

What factors, taken together, account for the difference between the quality of CX in the USA and that provided by the UK?  Here is my take on the matter based on the Nunwood report.

1. CEOs and Culture That Places The Customer At The Heart Of All Decisions

This is how the authors of the report put it (bolding mine):

Few UK companies have a culture where the customer is at the heart of all decisions, few make strenuous efforts to ‘bring the customer into the organisation’ to improve collective understanding of the customers needs and wants. Fewer still have behavioural standards engrained across the organisation that drive behaviours to continuously improve the value created for customers.  

At the heart of the difference lies a fundamental belief that what is good for the customer is good for the business. As some £166n fines and provisions across UK banking shows, that is not always the case in Britain.

 2. Customer Driven Innovation Is A Way Of Life In CX Leaders

Let’s listen to the authors (bolding mine):

The top 10 get so close to their customers that customer driven innovation is a way of life, not an aspiration. These brands follow the Steve Jobs edict that firms should “get closer than ever to their customers. So close that you tell them what they need before they realise it themselves.” For the US leaders, technology does not define the customer experience, rather the customer’s needs define the technology.

3. Effective Use Of Technology To Deliver Omnichannel Experiences

How do the authors see/express this?

SMACIT. It stands for social, mobile, analytics, cloud, and internet of things…. For leading US companies, success is not merely mastering these fast moving technologies in isolation, but rather integrating them – often with offline components – around gaps in the customer experience. 

In the UK, ‘digital’ is more often a way of reducing costs to serve, making life easier for the company. Increasing it’s a department or a directorate, By contrast, in the USA, digital is one of range of tools for solving customer problems. The message from the USA is use these technologies as mechanisms to deliver against customer needs.

4. USA Is Back To Doing What It Does Best: Service

Let’s listen to the authors once again:

In the 70s and 80s, .. British holidaymakers were bowled over by the high quality of service delivered by US employees…. in the 90’s and 00’s … US service seemed no better, and often worse, than service at home. The ‘have a nice day’ culture was no longer associated with caring employees but with faked smiles…..

tough economic times have a way of returning companies to fundamental business principles – and one of the most basis is customer service.…. All indicators now show that that not only has the US rediscovered its service ethic….

CX: Summing Up The Difference Between The USA And The UK

If we look behind all of this can we discern a ‘structure’ – a way of being and doing – that gives rise to the USA being some five years ahead of the UK in terms of customer experience?  I think we can. It occurs to me that the authors have identified and expressed it in these words:

Customer experience management in the US is a more mature discipline, with every successful organisation focusing its marketing, operations, leadership, HR and systems investments on these goals. There is greater innate understanding and coherency than in the UK, with customer experience defining the change agenda for many firms, rather than simply being a part of it. 

Put differently. It would appear that folks working within the US CX leaders show up and operate from the context of ‘unity of purpose’ – the unity of purpose being creating superior value for customers. And all change that occurs in these organisations arises from and supports this unity of purpose. Whereas CX in the UK, for the most part, is another item on the management/change agenda.

Enough for today. Next time, lets dive a little deeper into the Nunwood report and see what we can learn from the US CX leaders. Until then I wish you the very best and thank your for listening.  Oh, and my thanks for the folks at Nunwood for emailing me their latest report.

 

Author: Maz Iqbal

Experienced management consultant working at the intersection of strategy, customer, and technology. Combine a tendency to think strategically with a penchant for getting my hands dirty at the coalface of implementation.

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