Customer experience transformation is underpinned by considerable knowledge, careful, expert data analysis and – most importantly – getting to know your customer. It’s impossible for any B2C company to serve customers well if it doesn’t know who they are, or if its people have become so immersed in the corporate world that they have failed to consider the most basic needs of service users.
Premier Inn climbed 15 places in the KPMG Nunwood Customer Experience Excellence rankings between 2013 and 2015. One of the primary pillars of its transformation was the development of a Premier Inn app. As indicated in a recent study, 61% of customers think better of a brand when it provides a good mobile experience. The Premier Inn app allows guests to check in, order breakfast and even adjust the temperature and lighting in their rooms. It also gives them information about places to eat, drink and explore around the hotel.
In addition to tech innovation, way back in 2010 Premier Inn achieved a customer experience masterstroke the likes of which hasn’t been seen since Santa realised that children were quite fond of toys.
It changed the beds.
A small change yet a big transformation – Premier Inn made it more comfortable to sleep in its hotels. It also started offering a Good Night Guarantee; unless there’s an earthquake in your hotel, the company will take full responsibility for your night’s sleep. If you don’t sleep well, Premier Inn will give you a refund. In one move, this hotel brand made great strides in terms of both empathy and accountability and started a meteoric rise up the customer excellence charts.
This kind of basic, fundamental change is key to customer experience, and yet many companies overlook opportunities like this because they can’t see the woods for the trees. Dedicated analysis and opportunity scoping, particularly when conducted as part of a wider business process outsourcing endeavour, can remove the blinkers from yours and your Board’s eyes.
Another company that has climbed drastically in the KPMG rankings is Richer Sounds. After a difficult couple of years post-recession, the company climbed 18 places in the Customer Experience Excellence Rankings between 2014 and 2015, landing in 4th place.
The Richer Sounds transformation fell back on the basics: revamping the business’ approach to the Six Pillars of customer experience. Already known for a superior in-store service in terms of technical knowledge, Richer Sounds developed its customer experience further by prioritising how it handled expectations.
By identifying the need to increase meeting and managing of expectations, Richer Sounds was able to increase advocacy and brand loyalty, leading to a better reputation and more word-of-mouth recommendations. A bigger focus on training – staff at Richer Sounds spend three hours per day learning about new products – and improved service that includes home installations greatly improved customer perceptions of the brand.
Richer Sounds rolled out another substantial change – a loyalty card that grants members access to extended opening hours, six-year guarantees on equipment and 10% discount on clearance items. Richer Sounds committed to examining the problems with existing retail loyalty cards and took an innovative approach that has clearly paid off.
Planning for transformation
Initiating transformation means dedicating specialist resources to finding the areas that need improvement and working to engineer solutions. This can be done via projects that target a single area, projects that change entire end-to-end processes or multi-year programmes of change. Regardless of the scale you are working to, it’s vital to focus on two elements: boosting loyalty (at the expense of your competition) and creating financial gain, either through revenue increase, cost reduction or both.
The first step in any transformation process is identifying opportunities for change; the easiest and most effective way of doing this is via your customers and advisor frontline. The people who handle your customer interaction are the ones with a direct line to what they want, and that is your most valuable transformation asset. Webhelp’s Discovery labs, for example, utilise grassroots feedback from frontline staff to identify problems and test solutions with limited, closely monitored initial rollouts.
Data-driven analysis by experts is also key to scoping out opportunities for change; for broader scale transformation, effective analytics is paramount. Once actionable intelligence has been generated, solution architects need to step in and start creating the roadmap for change.
Whether transformation has taken place across an entire company or just one campaign, it is vital that no one rests on their laurels. Both Premier Inn and Richer Sounds used ongoing feedback and consultation to ensure that their strategies were consistently evaluated. Transformation isn’t something that occurs once – it has to happen continuously if your business is to thrive and respond effectively to customer needs.
In a world where customer desires change, adapt and increase in response to everything from technological innovations to online reviews, transformation has never been more vital. The ideal customer experience is not something that will be engineered overnight, or even over the course of a year – it is something that will develop and entirely change over a company’s lifecycle. Transformation appears to be a mammoth and long-term task, but it is one that is easily achievable with the right resources, knowledge and level of commitment.
By Helen Murray, Chief Customer Solutions Officer, Webhelp UK