Corephone: a great example of the service ethos, customer experience and customer centricity! (Part I)

If your smartphone or iPad needs fixing then contact Spencer at corePhone

It is rare that I come across a person, a company, a business that has cracked the customer-centricity code.  It looks like Spencer and corePhone have done just that.  All you have to do is to take a look at the website (the entire design of it) and read the testimonials to get that Spencer / corePhone is a world apart when it comes to the customer experience they generate and the delight they engender in customers.  So if you have a broken smartphone or iPad then you should contact Spencer at corePhone (www.corephone.co.uk).

Have you noticed that smartphones have a design flaw?

Smartphones are easy to use & useful so they are heavily used.  In the process of using them we drop them and that is when we find out that smartphones have a serious design flaw: they are fragile, they don’t bounce.   Have you dropped your smartphone?  What thoughts/feelings did you experience?   I dropped my iPhone 4 and was shocked to find that the expensive case ‘fell apart’.  Yet, thankfully, it did that when it hit the ground and so my iPhone was ok.  I let out a sigh of relief as I was not looking forward to paying £400+ to get a new one.  Some of us are not that lucky.   Recently one of my colleagues dropped his iPhone, allow me to tell you his story using his words:

“We’ve all either seen it happen or had it happen to us…shiny iPhone one minute, a moment of clumsiness / butter fingers and the next minute it looks like this…

This is what happened to me today. I have no idea how it happened but I saw it all take place in slow motion and I was left cursing …. To make matters worse, my iPhone did have a bumper on it but as happens when you drop a piece of buttered toast on the floor, my iPhone landed face down……. I couldn’t even answer the phone when it rang as the cracked screen had affected it ‘touch screen ability’!….

Luckily sense prevailed and I left the screw drivers and claw hammer in the draw and Googled ‘iphone 4 cracked screen and Portsmouth’…..and bingo!! I came across a helpful chap called Spencer.

A quick phone call later he gave me his address and instructions to be there at 6:30pm (no earlier please as he has his tea at 6pm !). By 6:45pm I skipped out his front door £60 lighter but with what was effectively a new looking iPhone. All fixed, cleaned and shiny !

…… If you find yourself in a similar situation I cannot recommend Spencer enough. Whilst he’s an air traffic controller by day, he’s running a handy side line fixing iPads, Blackberrys, Nintendo’s, Camera’s, laptop screens etc.. by night.   A link to his site is below…probably worth book marking!  As I live local to him I’d be happy to hand deliver your broken item to him should you want me too!     Core Phone

Let’s take a closer look at Spencer / Corephone: testimonials to die for!

It is not often that I read that kind of review, that kind of delight, that kind of enthusiasm, that kind of advocacy.  So I took a look at the CorePhone website to see if my colleague’s experience was exceptional.  It is not.  I was totally blown away by the testimonials – specifically the way that Spencer  is treating his customers, how he is making them feel and the impact he is having on their lives.  Here are a selection of testimonials (I have highlighted what speaks to me by ‘bolding’):

I cannot start without saying how amazing this company is! My iPhone was smashed front and back and my home button was faulty after dropping the phone. Spencer replied quickly to my request of a repair and he offered me a next day service. In addition, he offered an amazing price for all jobs. When the repair was conducted, it was an amazing job, the phone looked brand new and Spencer even cleaned my earpiece and other ports out of courtesy. And even more amazing, it was fixed in 20 minutes! I would definitely use this service again and would recommend all to use corePhone for any iPhone repairs as the service you will receive is first class.     Gary Coldwell, Hampshire, March 2012

“Many thanks Spencer. It is nice to find such a genuine guy who could repair my iPhone. I texted Spencer to see if he could repair my iPhone. He texted me back and booked for the repair to be done Monday night. I waited for the repair to be done and could not believe how fiddly it was, but it was soon all put back together and looks like a new phone. Phone this guy; you cannot go wrong.    John Tucker, Titchfield, September 2011

“I would like everyone to know what a fantastic service spencer(corePhone) extended to me. I texted spencer at 7:40 am on Saturday and he replied straight away. I asked if he would take a look at my I phone 3G home button as it hadn’t worked properly for a while. He allowed me to come to his home at 8am and had my phone all fixed and ready to go by 8:15am !! Nice, friendly, quick & professional service is worth every penny,especially at Spencer’s fair rates. I recommend this service 100 %.    Jim, Pickfords Segensworth, January 2011

What can we learn from Spencer / corePhone?

The testimonials show that Spencer / corePhone create superior value for people who have damaged their smartphones.  Let’s take a closer look at this superior value.

Customer Insight

The central insight that corePhone is built upon is the understanding that customers are attached to their smartphones.  Smartphones break – especially the screens.  Getting these screens replaced through the high street retailers is both time consuming (long delays) and expensive.  Customers want a fast turnaround and more affordable repairs.

Value Proposition

The value proposition is what converts people with a problem into customers who reach out to you and buy from you.  So what is corePhone’s value proposition?  According to the website, “affordable iPhone repairs”.  Read through the testimonials and you will find that this is a compelling value proposition.  Customer after customers speaks about the fairness, the reasonableness, the affordability of the repairs when compared to Apple and other high street retailers.

The Customer Experience

It is the Customer Experience that generates delight, indifference, disappointment and/or anger.  It is the Customer Experience that generates advocacy, word our mouth recommendations, customer loyalty and repeat business. Why?  Because this is where you keep or break the bargain that you struck with the customer through your value proposition. This is the area that Spencer / corePhone excel in.

If you reach out to Spencer / corePhone then Spencer responds quickly even on a Saturday morning at 7:40am or Sunday when he is out shopping.  And Spencer fixes your iPhone quickly – one customer rang at 7:40 am Saturday, was at Spencer’s workshop at 8am (that day) and left delighted at 8:15.  That is the next clue:  Spencer fixes your iPhone quickly – seems to be between 15 minutes and a half-hour.  Furthermore, by the time the iPhone is handed to you it looks new, perfect.  Finally, it looks like Spencer does more than he has to (‘”cleaning out ear pieces and ports..”) and treats his customers well – his customers like him as a person not just as a professional.

In short, the Customer Experience exceeds the value proposition.  The value proposition only talks about affordability and sets that expectation.  The Customer Experience delivers that extra: responsiveness, speed of turnaround, the intimate contact – being with /watching Spencer fix your iPhone in front of your eyes!  What must it be like to see a master craftsmen open up your iPhone before your eyes and convert it from a wreck to a work of beauty?  And how many of us want to take a look inside our iPhone and see how it is put together?  This is all included in the Customer Experience!

Have you noticed that corePhone doesn’t have a loyalty or social media program to generate advocacy?

At a recent CMO dinner I asserted that companies that create superior value for customers through compelling value proposition/s and delightful customer experience do not have to pay the tax of customer loyalty.  Show me a company that has a loyalty program and I will show you a company that is selling ‘me too’ products, services, solutions.  Please notice that corePhone is not having to go out and bribe customers with customer loyalty and social gimmicks.  Why?  Because it is a strong value proposition and it delivers an amazing (wow!!) customer experience.

Part II coming next

Enough for today, in the next post I will take a look at the corePhone website, extract and share with you the lessons for building a website that works for customers.  Very few websites do that especially if they belong to a big company!


Everything I have learned about business, customer-centricity, customer experience and life

Whenever I struggled with a Physics problem my professor (a wise man) instructed me to go back to the fundamentals: the fundamental principles of Physics.  This post is written in that spirit.

A little about the value and limits of frameworks

So you want to lead your organisation to competitive success.  Great.  Without a framework – a point of view that you CREATE and IMPOSE on the messiness of reality – how are you going to get there?

Here is the framework that I use based on everything I have learned about business and customer-centricty – looking through the lens of the strategist rather than an expert in operational effectiveness/efficiency.  Before you read what I write, I am compelled to point out that everything that I share with you is NOT the truth.  It can NEVER be the TRUTH.  Why?  When you dive into it, really dive into depths, you will see for yourself that ultimately life is a mystery.

Frameworks are simply models.  Models are not an accurate depiction/representation of reality (what is so).  Models are useful because they simplify reality and thus allow us to act on it.  Frameworks are filters – they filter out that which is unnecessary.  The issue is that we can never know what is unnecessary.  The hidden manifests that which is visible.  If that is too esoteric, too zen for you then think about the fundamental finding of chaos theory: a infinitesimal change somewhere in the system (far far away in space-time) can have catastrophic impact over here now.  The popular version for this is the “butterfly flapping its wings in South America yesterday can change the weather over here in the USA/Europe today”. OK, with the context set let me share with you that which I promised to share with you.

This is everything that I have learned about business, customer-centricity and customer experience – as a strategist

–  He who does the best job of creating AND communicating the most value for the customer (through the customer’s eyes) wins;

–  A distinctive Value Proposition (that speaks to the target market) is at the heart of creating value for the customer – notice I used the term DISTINCTIVE, not better and not simply different;

–  That distinctive Value Proposition allows you to offer and get away with a ‘not so great customer experience’.  Yes it does!  Think about IKEA.  Think about Ryanair/Easyjet.  Think about early adopters of any new technology who put up with all kinds of ‘hassle’ simply to access and benefit from the Value Proposition.

–  If you do NOT have a distinctive Value Proposition you can focus on excelling at the Customer Experience and that excellence can become your Value Proposition.

–  Even if you have a distinctive Value Proposition you must continually improve the Customer Experience such that it AMPLIFIES your Value Proposition.

–  A distinctive Value Proposition and the appropriate Customer Experience – both pinned by the Value Chain and a continuous improvement culture – will allow you to dominate your industry and make bumper profits.

To create and deliver that Value Proposition and the associated Customer Experience you have to get your hands dirty designing, monitoring, changing, tuning the Value Chain – what you do not do (e.g. Zappos does not outsource Customer Service) matters as much as what you do. 

Create a context where you and your people are open to generating and using insights (wherever they arise) to improve your Value Chain, the Customer Experience – think twice before you make any significant change to the Value Proposition. 

Communication (listening, talking, discussing, imagining, sharing, debating) matters profoundly so communicate, communicate, communicate – if a tree falls down in the forest and there is no-one to record and share that falling then that tree did not fall, in fact it never existed!

One day a butterfly will flap its wings, change the ‘environment and the rules of the game’ rendering your Value Proposition irrelevant.  When that happens your customer-centricity, your Customer Experience – no matter how great – will not save you.   If you are ‘lucky’ you may end up reinventing yourself – like Apple, like IBM, like Starbucks did.  The more likely scenario is that you will die a slow death like Kodak.  No need to despair, the game goes on, just the player/s at the centre of the stage change.  Comfort yourself, know that we are all like guests in hotel rooms – temporary occupants in the game of business and life, the game goes on with and without us.  Ultimately it is all about the game itself – we come on the stage, play our part and then leave.  That applies to all of us – no exceptions.  That is our shared humanity.

Final Words

I thank you for listening, it is your listening that makes my speaking possible.  I wish you the very best in the game of business and in the game of life.  It’s just a game – don’t take yourself so damn seriously AND play the game full out.  Do not be like the old lady who died ‘clutching’ a note that read:

Never fulfilled my potential

NEVER fulfilled my potential

Make your life count, make your role count, make your team count, make your organisation count.  Make an awesome contribution – at least play the game of making an awesome contribution full out.  It is when you are standing in the clearing called ‘up for / committed to making an awesome contribution’ that you are most likely to come up with the Value Proposition (that makes a contribution to the lives of our fellow human beings) and the associated organisation that creates and delivers that Value Proposition.