Ashton Media
Marketing & Customer Experience Hub

Customer experience means much more than customer service

Mark Abay interviewing Tim Wade

In April, 2014, more than 150 customer experience, data, marketing and business leaders participated in the first Customer 360 Symposium run by Ashton Media.

Many companies around the globe are on the journey towards customer centricity. This shift is giving rise to many ‘new’ disciplines emerging within organisations large and small. Dedicated customer experience teams focussing on tactical as well as strategic challenges, and the adoption of design thinking as a business competency are relevant examples. We rarely discuss what this shift is actually going to require of us personally.

Today’s post is the adaptation transcript of a question and answer session where Mark Abay of Ashton Media interviews Tim Wade, Partner at Smith+Co Consultancy.

Creating theatre around customer experience


Tim welcome to the Customer 360 Symposium; thanks for joining us. Tim, what does customer experience mean to you?


To me customer experience is that all  encompassing  story in theatre that a brand creates and it’s created for the customer so  it’s a lot more than customer service. It’s about really creating that theatre around the whole experience for the customer and I think it’s moved on from customer service significantly.


You spend a lot of time at Best Western where customer experience is in many ways the product itself, so when you’re an organisation like that, how do you go about innovating and making sure you stay ahead of the pack?


I think first and foremost it’s about having that brand framework, so the brand purpose and creating that framework from which to innovate in.

We set our brand purpose about making guests’ life more enjoyable which then gave us a framework to work in all the things we could do to make our guests’ life more enjoyable.

Then it was about working in small groups, setting individual tasks and really getting the culture of the organisation around creating new ideas and fresh thinking around it, all within that same framework.

It was definitely designed together so it’s not just ideas that come sporadically; it was actually about creating them from within a framework.

Where does customer experience sit within an organisation?


Tim, you’re a marketer by background, but here at the Symposium we’ve got a mix of delegates.  Some with a customer service background, some with operations, some are senior marketers. Where do you believe customer experience should sit within an organisation?


I think first and foremost, it has to sit with the Chief Exec, because if the Chief Exec doesn’t buy into the customer experience, the chances of it living and breathing throughout the organisation are zero.

It has to start and live with the Chief Executive and then, it has to live with everybody within the organisation. The marketing team have got to lead it from a brand perspective because one of the key things that I believe in for customer experience is that it has to come from the brand.

The brand gives you that personality and then the customer experience has to live within that brand purpose. So you’ve got to have that with the marketing team, but you’ve also got to have the delivery, you’ve got to have the customer service people, so everybody’s got to buy into customer experience.

It’s got to be holistic and company wide as a strategy but if you don’t get the Chief Exec involved and owning it, you don’t stand a chance.

How do you measure customer experience?


And of course, delivering great customer experience is just part of the challenge. How did you go about measuring customer experience?


We’ve got a scorecard approach within Best Western so it’s looking at different measures along the service profit chain which says, let’s look at the employee experience, let’s look at the product experience, and let’s look at the customer experience.

And that’s using measures from employee service, from customer service and that  leads down through to the net promoter score. We use NPS a lot and then that ultimately leads down into revenue.

So we’ve got a scorecard based on the experience, but fundamentally, I like things simple. Net promoter score is an absolute truth in our organisation that we use to measure what customers are saying about us as the core measure of advocacy.

The net promoter score is the key, but at the end of the day it comes down to revenue when you’re trying to drive revenue and profit for your business. You’ve got to measure it all the way through to that.

Which organisations are getting customer experience right?


Tim, in your opinion, who’s getting it right around the world?  Which brands are leading the way in terms of customer experience?


Well I think interestingly I was reading some research by Forrester and while it’s big on everyone’s agenda, I think 75% of the world’s executives are looking at customer experience. Their research shows that only 3% are doing a good job of this.

And the thing you’ve got to look at, the organisations, Amazon are doing well,  Nordstrom  are doing well in America, in Great Britain we’ve got John Lewis are doing very well, and you’ve got to look at these and ask yourself why they’re doing well.

I think fundamentally it’s a core value of their business and the purpose of their business  which means that they can get it right. The Chief Exec is leading it and has bought into it. And that’s what makes it work throughout the organisation.

It’s when you get organisations that come to it late and try to use it as a tactic that I don’t think it’s going to deliver. There are some great examples around the world, but I think most people are not getting it right.

Mark Abay - Content Director, Ashton Media About Mark Abay - Content Director, Ashton Media
Mark is Content Director at Ashton Media. It's his job to create interesting and engaging conference programs that stretch the thinking of our attendees. Mark works closely with our industry advisors to ensure the conference content is aligned with the needs and interests of our audiences.