Do we want a consistent customer experience?

Do we want a consistent customer experience?

A consistent customer experience for whom? And for what purpose?

Which elements of the experience can be constant across products, service and geographical boundaries?

What is the motivation for consistency?   Easy to manage, cost control, efficiency or improvement in outcomes?

Delivering a consistent experience is often seen as a major objective, but what do we actually mean? Alignment of cross channel information, delivering to brand promise, service recovery or complaint resolution? Should we be looking at tone of voice or meeting emotional needs of the customer? Perhaps the desire for consistency
is actually a strategy to help us understand complex situations and issues.

Some key questions

  • What would our customers see as consistent? How can we identify and articulate it?
  • Has the desire for consistency increased the net effort as we try to be consistent rather than agile?
  • Shouldn’t we be striving to meet individual needs? If so, are there consistent elements or themes?
  • Consistency does not always mean repeatability. Can we generate a consistently surprising experience?

Ultimately, consistency and simplicity would seem to go hand in hand.



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Developing the confidence to deliver trustworthy CX

Developing the confidence to deliver trustworthy CX

Few things are as compelling as confidence to inspire engagement, trust, decision making and  to drive actions. A weak or overly defensive proposition is easily recognised and challenged.  The implications for the development of customer experience are hugely significant and seem  to fall into the following categories:


  • Brand / product and service propositions
  • Customer service interaction
  • Complaint resolution
  • Measurement and insight


  • Board and shareholder support
  • Leadership
  • Cross function engagement
  • The ability to drive action
  • The performance of customer facing staff

Perhaps unusually for customer experience development, the internally focused issues are more important than the external. On too many occasions CX practitioners adopt, or are forced into, a defensive position that quickly infiltrates relationships at all levels, and then  on to customers.

What is the root cause?

  • Has the strategic or tactical ROI yet to be proven?
  • Is the proposition too simple or too complex?
  • Are the rewards perceived to be too distant from expenditure and or/effort?
  • Is the emotional element too difficult for organisations to understand and accept?

Should we include – or return to – the moral, values and professional standards approach?
Trust is built on exposing vulnerability. Perhaps organisations and us as individuals have become too risk adverse, or selfish. It is also possible that over-reliance on tangible measures and targets is the problem.

Evidence from recent school and hospital problems would support this view. It may be as simple as the desire to remove cost and drive profit has gone too far. Everyone will have their views and, in sharing their experiences, will draw their own conclusions and come to their own solutions.



Getting the best from Net Promoter Score

Getting the best from Net Promoter Score

All the evidence would seem to indicate NPS is too volatile to be used as central ROI for customer experience ‐ links to retention, growth and profit are more appropriate and compelling.

Human behaviour dictates that if something is difficult, people will find an alternative route or a workaround.

NPS reflects the symptom – effort closer to the cause. The consensus of opinion is that effort should be part of the customer experience narrative rather than adopted as a measure.

  • Temperature gauge is a good analogy, problem when too hot or cold
  • Use with a mix  of complementary measures
  • Better at judging effect on specific touch points
  • Users are conscious that it is historical by nature, for example it would be difficult for NPS to guide Blockbuster to an online model
  • Do we always want recommendation? Some customers cost us money or are prone to take advantage
  • Attention is needed on emphasis of survey, many Costa customers use the service as somewhere to meet, the coffee may be irrelevant
  • Factor normalisation (see below)


  • Human relationships cannot continuously improve
  • National cultures will guide a set of normal emotional responses
  • UK culture may well provide a negative NPS as normal response
  • We should expect a customer relationship to do the same
  • Over time a positive and negative reaction will normalise and be reflected in the score
  • NormalisaIon is often seen as fluctuaIon in the NPS score
  • Is the new norm the key indicator?  If so, how can we measure it?


Continually rising scores

Continuous improvement in NPS can be achieved from:

  • A low starting point
  • Scores being manipulated by rewarding customers for high score
  • Customers only being surveyed at wow or good complaint resolution point

None of these scenarios are an indication that a new and improved normal reaction has been established.

NPS is better if…

  • NPS starting point is low, is less effective at guiding change with higher scores
  • Survey is close to customer interaction
  • A survey is also sent after customer emotion has been rationalised
  • Used in conjunction with partners and others in customer federation (reference reflections on federation 2009)
  • Perhaps best as a guide to the effectiveness of current actions and as a guide for front line staff
  • Scale is good and bad: More replies = less direct linkage;  Less replies = more easily linked
  • Not as effective in guiding strategy as driven by a view of historical data
  • It is recognised that NPS will – and should always be  -­  a moving figure, a good indicator of movement
  • Each product and service will have a natural ceiling

Common issues with Net Promoter Score

Common issues with Net Promoter Score

It’s well know that NPS is problematic in terms of its ability to measure customer experience. But  why? Here are some common issues:

  • Variability and fluctuation are difficult to interpret into direct actions
  • Organisations who use it on a tactical level find the link to action easier to find
  • Often held as responsible for driving the wrong behaviours
  • Constantly challenged by statisicians and intuitive thinkers, undermining its authority
  • Probably the most controversial subject in customer experience development
  • In too many cases it’s a hypothetical question
  • The drive for a continuous upward trend can result in considerable manipulation that is often recognised by customers
  • Some question the need to translate emotions into a tangible


So why is NPS challenged so regularly?



  • Statistical viability – the 1 to 10 scale and variability in the point of engagement
  • Manipulation is rife, you get what you tolerate not what you hope for
  • Free or anecdotal comment is vital, but available from many other sources
  • Every time you think you have it straight in your head something changes
  • How often is 9/10 score a reasonable expectation? Is anything 100 recommended?
  • Customer experience should remain an emotionally based discipline
  • Difficulty in demonstrating insight, action and reward
  • Fluctuating scores
  • Scores inevitably plateau

Beware the dangers of personality profiling

Beware the dangers of personality profiling

Personality profiling is undoubtedly one of customer experience’s most commonly used tools ‐ however recent evidence shows that it should come with a warning.

The good side of profiling is undoubtedly its ability to raise awareness of the differences, strengths and weaknesses that helps the majority to be more understanding of others’ needs and improves influencing skills.

The not so good is the potential for some of the more dominant and single minded amongst us to use this as further evidence that ‘this is the way they are’ and they cannot change. Even more worrying is that this is often accepted.

Another area where science is at odds with common practise is leadership, management and team building.  All three desperately need to be reviewed and brought up‐to‐date in many of our leading organisations.

Our present day understanding of motivations, behaviours and leadership highlights some  current prac6ses as having their roots in the industrial revolution. A good read on viral change is The Alternative to Slow, Painful and Unsuccessful Management of Change in Organisations by Leandro Herrero.

Science also gives us the ability to understand one of the fundamental debates in experience management. Do we use hard evidence or gut reaction to guide our thoughts and decision? The answer would appear to be gut reaction (intuitive thinking) but only when we have been exposed to sufficient experiences and evidence.

Blink by Malcolm Gladwell is a good source of knowledge on this subject.

The challenge for customer experience practitioners is that we may have  the ability to make intuitive decisions where others don’t.

Strategies that may help in this regard are increasing the exposure of others to experiences and evidence, but also by building trust and alliances through inclusive pilots and trials.


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