Posts Tagged ‘customerservice’

The top 100 UK brands for customer experience

November 15, 2013 7 comments

Corporate reputation is a key component of the customer experience. That’s one of the key findings of the latest Nunwood research into the experience and service offered by UK businesses. The study, which is based on ratings by 7,500 customers on over 250 brands, aims to record customer satisfaction and its influence on future behaviour, such as loyalty and advocacy.

English: John Lewis at Night, near to Leiceste...

Businesses that have suffered reputational issues over the course of the year, such as Amazon and Starbucks (who faced questions over their tax arrangements) and Co-operative Bank, which had to be refinanced after finding a £1.5bn hole in its balance sheet, all dropped in the rankings compared to 2012. Indeed Amazon fell to fourth place, following three years as number one, and neither Starbucks and Co-operative Bank made the top 100.

The study rated John Lewis as Britain’s top brand, with QVC, First Direct, Amazon and Virgin Atlantic completing the top five. The overall mean score across all brands stayed constant, showing that while many organisations have improved, others have slipped back.

So how can brands look at improving their customer experience? Nunwood believe it revolves around six, interconnected pillars:

1.    Personalisation
Top brands use individualised attention to drive an emotional connection with customers. This doesn’t have to involve face to face or telephone service. Amazon receives the highest ranking for personalisation as it uses knowledge of its customers to create an automated, but individual, relationship that is based on making the consumer feel valued and special.

2.    Resolution
Most consumers understand that things can go wrong – it is how a brand deals with a problem that defines their relationship. Turning a poor experience into a great one actually creates loyalty and a willingness to recommend. John Lewis has put in place a policy called ‘Heroic Recovery’, which rewards staff that come up with new and innovative ways to help solve customer problems.

3.    Integrity
Being trustworthy is something that has a direct impact on willingness to buy. It has to be present throughout the organisation and part of culture if customers are to see a brand as one with integrity. And it covers small and large matters – if you are told you’ll be put on hold for a minute and in fact it is ten, this erodes trust in a brand.

4.    Valuing customers time and effort
Consumers are increasingly time poor and therefore demand a seamless, fast process when dealing with a brand. Removing unnecessary obstacles that take up customer time or force them to change channels are all part of this. For example, First Direct customers ringing the bank overwhelmingly get through to an agent straight away, without needing to wait or queue.

5.    Managing, meeting and exceeding customer expectations
It is vital that brands set clear expectations – and then achieve (or over achieve) on them. A brand can give good service and still not meet customer expectations if they were expecting more. So make sure you are not claiming more than you can provide if you want to delight and retain customers.

6.    Empathy
People buy from like-minded people, rather than organisations. So brands need to demonstrate that they understand the customer’s circumstances if they are to drive deep rapport. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes and treat them as you’d expect to be treated in the circumstances. Creating this genuine empathy is at the heart of turning customers into advocates.

You can download the full Nunwood report here – there’s plenty of useful advice for all brands as they look to continually improve the customer experience. 

Ryanair and the customer experience

November 1, 2013 3 comments

Boeing 737-800 shortly after takeoff

Poor customer service from airlines is frequently in the press. Take the infamous ‘United breaks guitars’ incident back in 2008 or the more recent case when Hasan Syed, a BA passenger, invested in sponsored tweets to show his anger at his father having his luggage lost. EasyJet also fell foul of the Twittersphere earlier this year when it initially refused to allow a passenger who’d sent a critical tweet onto his plane.

All of these tend to be single incidents where things have gone wrong and the airline concerned hasn’t dealt with the problem satisfactorily. One of the reasons they get so much publicity is that they are out of the ordinary.

In contrast, low cost airline Ryanair has often seemed to set out to deliver a basic customer experience and has consequently become synonymous with unfriendly, inflexible service in many people’s minds. In a recent Which? customer service survey the airline performed the worst out of the UK’s 100 biggest brands, scoring just 54%, well below its peers.

However this looks set to change as the airline has launched a charm offensive, aimed at winning over passengers. Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary has joined Twitter, appearing in a number of online chats and has pledged to improve the airline’s website, customer service and social media channels. Additionally, a number of unpopular regulations, such as limiting cabin luggage to a single bag, have been removed, and charges for reissuing boarding cards reduced. And things aren’t ending there – it is actively seeking customer feedback (both on social media and via the web) using the #TellMOL campaign.

In his own inimitable style O’Leary commented, “We should try to eliminate things that unnecessarily piss people off. A lot of those customer services elements don’t cost a lot of money.” The announcement followed the company’s first ever profit warning after passenger numbers fell, perhaps focusing management on the importance of customer service.

From a customer service point of view it is positive to see that Ryanair seems keen to change its reputation. And as O’Leary says good customer service doesn’t necessarily cost huge amounts of money, and the loyalty it induces leads to repeat business from happier customers. Forrester research has found that a ten point improvement in a company’s customer experience score can translate into more than $1 billion of additional sales.

So, while the jury is still out on whether the planned modifications will transform the experience for Ryanair passengers, it is good to see that it seems willing to listen to customers and the CEO is not just backing but leading the changes. And at the very least, it has dropped plans to charge passengers for using the inflight toilets…………

Customer service? There’s an app for that

July 25, 2011 1 comment
Image representing iPad as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

Last week Apple announced record quarterly results, with revenues of nearly $30 billion. The figures include sales of 9.2 million iPads, triple the number sold a year ago. Apple also revealed that 47% of Global Fortune 500 companies were testing the tablet ahead of potential adoption.

Clearly, the iPad in particular and tablet computers in general are here to stay. So what does this mean for customer service? Just like the growth of smartphones it creates a new channel for customers to interact with organisations. However due to the larger screens and better usability of tablets, consumers are likely to want to use them for more complicated and in-depth activities than smaller smartphones.

So organisations need to make sure that their customer service strategy can cope – while websites don’t need to be optimised for tablets it makes sense to evaluate whether you need to develop a distinct iPad (or Android) app to deliver value to customers. A number of UK banks, including Royal Bank of Scotland and NatWest have already launched iPad apps as part of their customer service push, allowing users to check balances, move money and top up mobile phones.

If you do build an iPad app there are two key things to bear in mind. Firstly, you are essentially creating a new customer service channel. Ensure that it is integrated with your overall customer service infrastructure, sharing a single knowledgebase with existing channels such as web, phone and email. Make customer query information accessible by agents across all channels to prevent expensive and frustrating silo working springing up.

Secondly, use the power of the iPad. Given the size of the high resolution screen and built in connectivity, apps need to be graphical and use technology such as video to inform and engage customers.

With tablets expected to continue to take market share from traditional PCs now is the time to investigate adding applications to your customer service strategy.



Coping with snail mail

May 6, 2011 1 comment

In the move to a digital world it is easy to overlook that a huge percentage of customer communication is still through traditional mail and fax – so called white mail. This is particularly true in industries such as banking and insurance where legal requirements mean documents need to be signed and returned. And in many cases customers feel more secure having signed and posted a document rather than sending an email.

This means that once these documents reach the contact centre they have to be automatically scanned, stored and made available to agents answering phone and email queries.  This integration can be a major headache for organisations, who need to put in place an overall strategy that incorporates these channels into customer service, ensuring it doesn’t become an expensive, standalone silo for information.

What is needed is a multi-channel strategy that has advanced workflow at its core. This means that whatever channel the customer uses to communicate with you the query is automatically added to the system, forwarded to the right agent or department and answered using the best channel for that enquiry.

A great example of where this works well is Eptica client Ageas Insurance Solutions, who currently insure more than 1 million UK customers. AIS’s award-winning eStream project has transformed customer service for the company, reducing calls by 23 per cent and achieving Return on Investment (ROI) within 6 months.

A key part of eStream focuses on white mail. Letters and faxes are now digitally integrated with all web-based enquiries and managed through Eptica’s multichannel workflow with automatic distribution of correspondence and tasks to the appropriate administration area.

As Ray Westwick, Head of Call Centre, Ageas Insurance Solutions UK points out, “By digitally managing correspondence we’ve been able to minimise processing time and costs, and ensured that every communication is automatically recorded and tracked. Eptica’s technology has helped us to improve efficiency, enhance the experience for our customers and differentiate on price and service in today’s hyper competitive climate.”

Digitising white mail is just a part of what Ageas has achieved with eStream – you can download the full Ageas case study here to read the full story.


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