Who are the UK’s 2012 Customer Experience Leaders and What Can We Learn From Them?

Why have I been making such a big fuss of leadership, management and employee engagement? 

Some of you – especially those of you that focus on strategy, process or technology – might have noticed that I have increasingly made a big thing of leadership, management, employee engagement and organisational effectiveness.  Why?

This is the third year of the Nunwood Customer Experience Excellence Index in the UK and here is what the 2012 report says:

“For many of the Top 10 it is their focus on employee engagement, training, development and motivation even for seemingly mundane jobs that differentiates the service experience.”

“There is generally a movement to empower front line staff to step outside procedure and make sensible decisions in favour of the customer.”

“The role of the retail in-store employee is moving from transactional to information, education and building a relationship.”

What else does the  Nunwood CX 2012 report tell us?

Aside from the critical importance of employees and employee engagement engendered through the right leadership and management practices, the following four points caught my attention:

1. In a price dominated shopping context, many companies are looking to non price based factors to compete;

2. Companies have focussed on making it easier for customers to do business with them by “removing time and effort from business processes as firms seek to get the basics right”;

3. Increasingly attention is shifting to the human/emotional factors that “make a deeper connection with consumers”; and

4. “The leaders achieve consistently excellent delivery of the basics but also deal with the unusual – unusually well.”

Who are Nunwood’s UK Customer Experience Excellence leaders?

Amazon stays in top place followed by John Lewis (multichannel retailer) and First Direct (non branch bank).  Green Flag (car breakdown service) and The Co-operative Bank are the two brands making the biggest improvement since 2011. Here are the Top 10:

nunwood_CX202_Top10

What can we learn from these CX leaders?

I have gone through the Nunwood report to figure out what made each of these companies/brands stand out.  And to list the key characteristics that contribute to them being CX leaders. Here is the table – please click on it to see it more clearly:

Nunwoods CX2012 Top 10 MastersAnd finally

In the top 10 there is only one company/brand where marketing as in ‘promotion’ (which sadly is what marketing has become in too many organisations) has contributed significantly to the customer’s experience. And as such is mentioned by the Nunwood report.  If you read the table above you will find that it is the the £10 dine for two promotion from M&S Food that spoke to / found favour with customers.

Have you noticed something deeply significant?  These companies are actually operating from a powerful context (‘do right by the customer’) and thus putting in place the people, the cultural norms, the processes, the metrics and the technology that enables them to do ‘right by the customer’.  I am clear that requires leadership from the top (walking the talk).  And the right management practices: recruiting the right people; encouraging them to delight customers by rewarding them for building relationships/delighting customers; listening to customers as people of integrity; allowing employees the space to bypass policies, processes and procedures when it is necessary to do so; encouraging employees to own the resolution of customer problems; and putting in place the process and technology that enables customer facing people to quickly/easily deal with and resolve stuff that matters to customers.

If you still don’t get it then I will spell it out.  I say a genuine commitment to service in the broadest sense of service is what drives customer experience excellence and generates customer advocacy/loyalty. And marketing can contribute provided marketing shifts its focus from ‘spin’ to genuine service to customers through information, education and seduction – seduction that is based on the ability of the organisation to deliver the promise that is used to seduce the customer.   If this speaks to you then I recommend that you read a post I wrote a little time ago:  Transforming Service through the radical reconceptualisation of Service

Transforming Service through the radical reconceptualisation of Service

We are trapped in out-of-date limiting unhelpful concepts

In my last post I asserted that dead concepts are limiting how customer service, customer experience, customer-centricity show up.  My point was that what we see, how we see it, what we focus on, what we do and the results that show up cannot be ‘greater than’ the concept we live/act from.  I say that service sucks because our concept of service sucks.  Put differently given the existing concept of service that holds us prisoner it is enviable that service sucks.

In this post I want to put forth into the world radically new conceptualisations of service.  My intention is that these reconceptualisations will jolt you out of being prisoner to the existing conceptualisation of service that his holding your prisoner – even if you do not know that you are being held prisoner.

My intention is not only to shock you, it is also to give you openings to transform your relationship to service and thus transform the way that you and your organisation think about and act when it comes to service.  If you do that then there will be a transformation in the way that your service shows up for your customers.  Are your ready for this jolt?

Radical reconceptualisation 1: Maz Iqbal on Service

Service is a gift that one human being bestows on a fellow human being.  The fundamental basis and the desired outcome of Service is human dignity itself: honouring our shared humanity – the best of our shared humanity as in when we move-touch-inspire and elevate one another. The kind of humanity that can move us to tears of joy.

Service requires the calling forth of my humanity and putting it into the world.  And as such Service is founded on vulnerability.  My vulnerability in the sense of putting myself at risk for the sake/benefit of my fellow human being – I may be ignored as if I am an object and not  human being, I may be misinterpreted, I may be criticised, I may be rejected…  And my recognition of the vulnerability of the person I am serving: he could be out of his depth, place his trust in me to do the right thing by him; he could be in a bind and expose his vulnerability by asking me to bend the rules, to make an exception; he could be in a bind that he needs the job done and I know he will pay any sum I demand; he could be and often is vulnerable in so many ways.

Service necessitates that I be totally present in the present and to the presence of the person I am serving.  Only when such presence is present is it possible for me to be responsive to the need of the person I am serving – modulating my being, my actions, my speaking and my listening such that I show up as ‘caring’ and ‘trustworthy’ in the world of the person I am serving.

Service comes forth most easily from those of us who get joy, fulfilment, satisfaction out of reaching out and touching the lives of our fellow human beings, for the better.

It is critical to get that Service is a mode of being in the world, a certain state of consciousness, it cannot be faked: if I am in this state of being then the majority of techniques and tricks that are usually imparted through training are unnecessary; if I am not in this state of being then all the techniques and tricks will not make enough of a difference for me to show up as being caring in the world of the person I am serving.”

Radical reconceptualisation 2: Werner Erhard on Service

“My notion about service is that service is actually that kind of relationship in which you have a commitment to the person. What I mean, in fact, is that for me what service is about is being committed to the other being. To who the other person is.

To the degree that you are, in fact, committed to the other person, you are only as valuable as you can deal with the other person’s stuff, their evidence, their manifestation, and that’s what’s service is about. Service is about knowing who the other person is and being able to tolerate giving space to their garbage. What most people do is is to give space to people’s quality and deal with their garbage. Actually, you should do it the other way around. Deal with who they are and give space to their garbage.

Keep interacting with them as if they were God. And every time you get garbage from them, give space to garbage and go back and interact with them as if they were God.”

My question of you

Are you up for transforming service?  Are you up for being a leader when in the area of service and through service generating the kind of loyalty you crave?  If you are then I have provided you with two openings.  I can hear you thinking that it is not easy, it is a BIG ask.  Yes it is.

Let me share a secret with you: one of the keys to Jobs success was the ‘reality distortion field’ – not being bound by people’s existing concepts of ‘reality’ and ‘what is possibility’.  Jobs was a master of inventing, projecting, living into and from the possibilities that he created in the face of no agreement from just about everyone around him.  Do you have that kind of passion, that kind of courage?  Leadership requires both the ability to invent radical-inspiring possibilities and the passion-courage to act, to make them real.