How customer experience is building brands and businesses

Marketing

How people perceive your brand and whether or not they want to spend money with you more than once – or even at all – ultimately comes down to their customer experience (CX).

Consistent and innovative CX has an undoubted impact on a business’s bottom line, as customers keep coming back for more.

With this in mind, Marketing Week has partnered for a second consecutive year with Zone and Cognizant to compile the CX50 – our list of the most influential CX professionals working in brands in the UK today.

READ MORE: The CX50 2019 revealed: The top 50 customer experience professionals

These individuals have demonstrated time and again that when CX is a core part of an organisation’s strategy, it brings tangible benefits. We asked just a few of the CX50 2019 inductees to explain how CX drives their businesses.

At building society Nationwide, chief products and propositions officer Chris Rhodes says: “Our entire ethos is built on the principle of putting our members first and delivering the best possible customer experience is a fundamental part of that.”

It is not just a nice-to-have, but is what gives members the trust and confidence that Nationwide will support their financial wellbeing, thus encouraging them to remain customers. What’s more, CX is a collaborative effort from the whole business, not just one team.

“It’s everyone’s responsibility to think about customer experience,” Rhodes continues. “Our marketing and delivery teams work closely and effectively to deliver a great customer experience. Insight really helps us understand how our members are interacting with us, other brands and the wider world.”

Align the business with the customer

BA customer experience
British Airways is investing in new technology at airports

Carolina Martinoli, director of brand and customer experience at British Airways (BA), agrees CX must be a corporate mindset rather than being viewed purely as a marketing or customer function. There needs to be an understanding and an appreciation at the very top level that without great CX it is hard to develop and grow a business over the long term.

She says customer expectations and brand delivery must be aligned. At BA, this includes everything from booking a flight and the experience of the airport lounges to how someone is looked after on the aircraft. “What matters is the overall feeling people are left with after their journey and how they respond when someone asks them whether they enjoyed the experience.”

All the professionals on the CX50 list have played an influential part in ensuring their particular brand promise is authentic and real.

“Brands don’t communicate in one direction these days; it is a two-way conversation in real time with savvy and discerning customers,” says Martinoli.

“Positives and negatives are exposed and amplified, especially with the acceleration of social media, which gives brands the opportunity to be more human and vulnerable. When we fail to deliver, we have to acknowledge our mistakes, be transparent, apologise and make things better for our customers.”

It’s everyone’s responsibility to think about customer experience.

Chris Rhodes, Nationwide

Judging and assessing whether a brand has got its CX right will usually come down to feedback. Like many brands, BA uses a set of metrics including net promoter score (NPS) and the CSAT customer satisfaction tool to analyse every aspect of a customer’s journey.

“I am currently working with my team to include metrics that measure emotion,” says Martinoli. “We already measure sentiment through text analytics, but I want to include some direct questions that will enable us to drive clear action. There is a lot of emotion involved in an air travel journey.”

Innovation, too, is crucial to keep CX relevant and fresh. BA is using biometrics to deliver a faster and more convenient experience. Facial recognition technology is being tested on domestic flights from Heathrow Terminal 5 and on international flights to London from New York JFK, Miami, Orlando and Los Angeles.

Experiment and innovate

Technology and innovation go hand in hand these days, and both play a crucial role in boosting CX at beauty and skincare retailer Lush Cosmetics.

Its chief digital officer Jack Constantine points to new initiatives in the UK and also in Japan. Last November the company opened the Lush Labs concept shop in Harajuku, while the brand’s Asia flagship shop in Shinjuku is billed as the world’s first digital shopping experience.

READ MORE: Download the profiles of the CX50 inductees here

“We are experimenting in Shinjuku with icons instead of words. It is language-free and this helps people find what they need. We encourage customers to download and use an app as part of the in-store experience,” says Constantine.  “We have also launched our first shoppable window in Shinjuku where customers can scan products in the window and add them to their online basket day or night.”

CX technology needs to support retail sales assistants too, so that they have the right tools to make our shopping experience easier and more enjoyable. “The technology shouldn’t even feel like it’s there, it shouldn’t feel like customers are bombarded by tech – it should feel seamless and aid you in your journey. It shouldn’t be demanding or self-service.”

Newer brands often have to work harder to build a reputation and brand loyalty, so it is vital they can demonstrate the impact that good CX will have on the bottom line.

Deliver on expectations

Deliveroo’s chief marketing officer Inés Ures says CX must be taken seriously at every point in the purchase funnel – from the very first marketing message that someone receives to setting up an online account and then making and receiving an order.

“One of the most interesting things about customer experience is around expectation – generally the perception of a ‘good’ customer experience will depend on setting expectations rather than a defined standard of what ‘good’ is,” she says.

“Delivery times are a suitable example of this. If you pay for next-day delivery and it doesn’t arrive, that is a terrible experience. If you agree to standard delivery of three to five days and your item arrives in three days this feels really positive.”

customer experience deliveroo
Deliveroo relies heavily on word-of-mouth recommendations

She adds that brands have to meet expectations around price, selection and service. Deliveroo has a sophisticated CRM system that means CX can have a demonstrable impact on financial figures.

“Obviously it’s impossible to get it right every time but, for us, customer experience is ensuring we focus on every consumer touchpoint.”

Deliveroo will track metrics such as ‘trustworthy’, ‘reliability’ and ‘innovation’ and its NPS is important because it relies heavily on word-of-mouth recommendation.

Of course, without technology Deliveroo would not exist, so its app must be first class when it comes to delivering great CX. This includes enabling customers to track their orders.

“The huge next step will be around personalisation and automation so we really understand the consumer’s needs at different moments and occasions,” says Ures. “This could include more personalised restaurant recommendations at different times of day, and understanding the cuisine gaps in neighbourhoods and helping our restaurant partners fill these, which we are already starting to do.”

If customers have a positive experience of a brand’s people and products, they will be happy and spend money. The best and most influential CX professionals know that their brand must meet customer expectations time and again, and they achieve this through innovative ideas that have a positive financial impact.

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