The best ways to make your customer experience shine this holiday season 

A gloomy economic outlook has left many with a distinct lack of holiday cheer. However, now is the time for businesses to pull on their jolly pants and deliver a more joyful customer experience.  

Squeezed incomes mean shoppers will rein in their spending, and consumers will look for better service deals. Don’t let margins be the Grinch that steals your Christmas.  

The customer experience is fast becoming the main reason people choose to buy from a business. Yet, research shows that 80% of companies say they deliver a ‘superior’ customer service, while only 8% of customers thought the same about those companies. 

We believe the customer experience is everything. How you make people feel will be this season’s smartest strategy to win and keep customers. Christmas isn’t a season, it’s a feeling.  

At insight6, we partner with hundreds of happy clients to improve the customer experience and transform businesses. Here, we share tips to make your customer experience shine this holiday season. 

Six simple ways to sprinkle some customer experience magic

1. Engage and empower your team 

Your employees play a pivotal role in service delivery. Have a clear service plan and communicate it regularly to your team. 

The festive period can be a stressful and busy time. Understand the work pressure that squeezed deadlines, increased footfall and sales can bring on service delivery. Regularly check in on staff wellbeing.

80% of the UK’s workforce work in customer-facing roles. Sadly, research shows that more than half of customer-facing staff have faced abuse from customers since the start of the pandemic. 

Consider what to do when things go wrong. Empower your staff to act and fix problems and handle complaints cheerfully.  

Disengaged staff do not go the extra mile for your customers. Think about the best ways to recognise and reward great service.  

2. Manage customer expectations  

Christmas is a busy time of year for everyone. Encourage frontline staff to be honest to avoid over promising and under delivering.  

Handling new enquiries effectively can make or break a sale. Understanding your customer journey will help you to engage staff, prepare for the unexpected and polish your frontline service. 

Customers may look for alternative ways to get in touch or complain, such as webchats, email and social media during busy periods. Make sure your staff and outsourced service providers are ready.  

Delays can't be helped but you can turn a potentially frustrating experience into a pleasant one. Make hanging on the telephone joyful, switch traditional hold music to upbeat festive favourites.  

After a busy year, everyone looks forward to a break. Be clear about your opening hours, ability to deliver and shipping deadlines. Don’t forget to put your out-of-office on and include a seasonal sentiment. 

 3. Create WOW moments 

WOW moments are memorable experiences that you create for your customers by exceeding their expectations. Delighting your customers will help turn them into loyal fans and keep them coming back. 

First, do what you say you are going to do. If your service delivery falls short, you can still WOW customers when they complain. Empower staff to tackle issues, say sorry and offer suitable compensation. 

Christmas is the season of giving. Offer something your customers didn’t know they needed. Look for ways to WOW with an upsell or make small gestures that show you pay attention.
 

Examples: 

  • Send handwritten Christmas cards. 
  • Carry their shopping bags to the car. 
  • Remember names of spouses and kids. 
  • Donate to a cause close to their heart. 
  • Offer discounts or free delivery. 
  • Send a bottle of their favourite tipple. 

 

4. Draw on past experiences 

An effective way to prepare for the holiday season is to draw on past trends. Review data and customer feedback from past seasons. 

Look at enquiries, sales, returns, complaints, reviews. Spot when you first saw an uplift and when things started to return to normal. Demand data such as this can help you prepare and plan for what might come. 

The more data you have, the better prepared and more strategic you will be. Don’t just consider quantitative data. To improve the customer experience and create WOW moments you need qualitative data. 

Mystery shopping is a wonderful way to see the business through the eyes of the customer. Repeatedly asking for feedback will enable you to understand what you are doing well and show what can be improved. 

Remember, if you’ve invested in data and customer feedback, be sure to use it. Many businesses collect valuable information but many more fail to act on it. 

5. Optimise self-service for higher satisfaction 

Self-service is about enabling customers to answer their own questions whenever possible.  

One of the easiest ways you can do this is through the content on your website. Make sure your content is correct and easily accessible. Spread some holiday cheer by adding festive imagery. 

Create seasonal FAQs which can be added to your homepage to quickly answer specific Christmas related questions. 

Another fantastic way to help with customer self-service is a conversational virtual agent. Live chat and outsourced telephone answering services can support you to meet increased demand. 

 6. Commit to service excellence 

Engaging your employees is critical to business success. Training and developing your staff on the customer experience process is essential so that they can see things from the customer’s perspective. 

A word of caution, having an ill-thought-out customer experience strategy can be more damaging than not having one at all. Managing and implementing feedback is a crucial part of the process, therefore working with the right customer experience partner is imperative. 

At insight6 we understand that feedback is data, not judgement. We use feedback and the experience of our local customer experience specialists to deliver workshops that inspire and motivate teams. 

Are you ready to transform your business? 

Giving an exceptional customer experience can be challenging during the peak periods like Christmas. 

Unfortunately, customer demands and expectations don’t decrease during this busy time. In fact, they are far more likely to skyrocket! 

With the tips shared in this article, you can take essential steps to make your customer experience shine this holiday season. 

But the customer experience is for life (if done right), not just for Christmas. Repeatedly asking your customers or clients, and staff for feedback is critical to building loyalty and driving profitability. 

And that’s where insight6 comes in. 

Our total feedback tool, instant insight, along with our team of local experts, will transform your customer experience. 

By analysing feedback from your team and customers in real-time, instant insight will provide you with actionable comments. You will also be able to generate positive customer online reviews. 

In addition, instant insight enables you to benchmark your business against others within your sector.  

The more feedback you receive, the more confident you will be in making great decisions for your business. 

So, what are you waiting for? Book your instant insight demo with us today and take the first step to delivering a world-class customer experience.  

How to build loyalty and drive profitability with regular customer reviews (aka mystery shopping)

Customers or clients are the people who decide whether a business will succeed or not. Meeting these stakeholders’ needs is critical to building loyalty and driving profitability but to achieve this you must investigate the customer experience.  

No matter the sector, keeping clients is crucial to improving the bottom line, especially in such a competitive market. Therefore, delivering a positive customer experience (CX) should be every business’s top priority.  

Positive customer experiences not only make your customers or clients happy but also increase the likelihood they will return, leave a positive online review, or recommend you to others. However, you would be surprised how many firms do not ask for feedback, or worse still, fail to act upon it.  

Businesses looking to grow must focus on understanding the experience they provide through the eyes of their customers or clients. 

 

“Businesses looking to grow must focus on Tweet: “Businesses looking to grow must focus on understanding the experience they provide through the eyes of their customers or clients,” says @GrahamHillCX of #CX Specialists @insight6cx understanding the experience they provide through the eyes of their customers or clients,” says @GrahamHillCX of #CX Specialists @insight6CX 

Historical research shows that 80% of companies say they deliver ‘superior’ customer service. Yet only 8% of customers of those companies thought the same. Moreover, people that have had a bad customer service experience do not complain, they simply walk away. 

The value of existing customers to profits cannot be overestimated. The cost of gaining a new customer is five times the cost of retaining an existing one! ​​Repeat customers deliver more top-line revenue, they cost nothing more to acquire and so a greater proportion of that revenue finds its way to the bottom line. 

Consequently, knowing how your customers or clients feel about your company, the products, or services you provide, as well as the experience they receive is essential if you are looking to build loyalty and drive profitability. 

Customer Experience Reviews (CX Reviews), more commonly known as Mystery Shopping, is one of the best ways to test the service a company provides through the eyes of its customers or clients. 

What are Customer Experience Reviews?

Customer Experience Reviews, aka Mystery Shopping, enables you to collect valuable information about a service delivered. When conducting a review, a mystery shopper or researcher will record their experience while pretending to be a customer or client, during interactions with your staff or online. 

Although Mystery Shopping is often associated with the type of CX research employed by businesses in the retail, leisure, and hospitality sectors, it is a valuable exercise for firms in any industry keen to up their game and profits. 

Poor customer service received at a key touch point of the customer journey can easily throw away sales opportunities. Our market study of how the professional services sector handles new enquiries, revealed many areas where accountancy, financial service, property, and legal firms are losing potential revenue. 

Why undertake Customer Experience Reviews?

Customer Experience Reviews supply an exact view of your business from your customers' or clients’ perspectives because they are carried out by a third party. Getting an independent assessment of the ‘real experience’ is critical to understand what you are getting right and find areas for improvement. 

You can use Customer Experience Reviews to evaluate the quality of your service or robustness of your processes and even obtain a benchmark against your competitors. As a result, you will be better equipped to find opportunities for improvement to increase customer loyalty and drive profitability. 

Engaging your employees is also critical to business success. Happy and engaged staff will always go the extra mile for your customers or clients, thereby delivering superior customer service. The one simple (but essential) thing leaders can do to improve employee engagement is regularly check in on staff wellbeing. 

How to conduct Customer Experience Reviews?

Customer Experience Reviews are a great starting point in your customer experience improvement process. But it can be a complex and emotive process for everyone involved. Having an ill-thought-out customer experience strategy can be more damaging than not doing Customer Experience Reviews at all. 

Managing and implementing feedback is a crucial part of the process, therefore employing the right Customer Experience partner is imperative. The entire process must be carefully considered, ensuring that goals are set from the outset and reviews and feedback are managed by a skilled team. 

At insight6 we understand that feedback is data, not judgement. We design and deliver some of the most advanced feedback programs and are the only CX specialist consultancy in the UK with local experts on the ground. 

 “Feedback is data, not judgement,” says @GrahamHill of #CX STweet: “Feedback is data, not judgement,” says @GrahamHill of #CX Specialists @insight6CX when talking about #CustomerExperience Reviews (aka mystery shopping)pecialists @insight6CX when talking about #CustomerExperience Reviews (aka mystery shopping) 

A one-off Customer Experience Review program supplies a snapshot of your business and the experience you provide at a particular point in time. To embed change in your company, build loyalty and drive profitability you must conduct reviews regularly, consistently asking for feedback and acting upon it. 

How can insight6 help with Customer Experience Reviews?

At insight6, we have transformed hundreds of businesses, helping them to implement a robust customer experience strategy and deliver a superior customer experience. 

With a team of professional researchers trained explicitly for each sector, and our sophisticated feedback system, we conduct complex and detailed enquiries to simulate and evaluate real customer or client experiences. 

Our six-stage model is designed to find issues, challenges, and opportunities, help you to gain buy-in from key decision-makers and your employees, and to develop new strategies, and analyse progress. 

Below is an overview of our six-stage model to build loyalty and drive profitability with regular customer reviews. 

1. Set up for success 

The first step is always to understand your desired outcome and agree on the objectives. Doing so allows us to explain how we plan to measure and report against these goals. Then, we create a communications plan and share it with your management team and staff to get their buy-in, helping them understand the aims behind the customer reviews research and inspire them to take part in the process. It is vital that from the beginning, your employees are onboard to ensure their voices are heard. 

2. Build a recognition plan 

The feedback you receive will highlight how your firm and staff are performing, finding areas of excellence and those where improvements can be made. Many firms find it challenging to communicate this type of feedback internally. Therefore, using an external, no-bias company like insight6 is a wonderful way to manage feedback to keep teams engaged and motivated.  

 3. Prepare for launch 

For staff, a Customer Experience Review or Mystery Shopping exercise may seem overwhelming. Nobody likes thinking they are being checked up on! That is why we always carefully plan for the emotive side of the process to take employees on the journey with us to protect their mental wellbeing and productivity. 

 4. Briefing & reporting 

Each business industry has different demands and challenges. Our researchers aka mystery shoppers are professionally trained, so they have the ability and resources to test even the most complicated scenarios. We work with you to build a bespoke reporting process, ensuring questions are weighted to support specific aims or feed into balance scorecards. 

5. Carry out the reviews  

Depending on your business, your Customer Experience Reviews can be performed online, over the phone, or in person. Once completed, we will provide you with a detailed report on the feedback received. 

 6. Make a plan 

Based on the findings, we will give you our recommendations and help you create a plan to implement any changes needed to improve the customer experience. Working with you we will embed a regular review process, consistently reviewing and reporting on feedback to ensure your business delivers the best possible customer experience. 

Remember, a one-off Customer Experience Review program supplies a snapshot of the experience you provide at a particular point in time. To embed change in your company, build loyalty and drive profitability you must conduct reviews regularly, consistently asking for feedback and acting upon it. 

 At insight6, our unique and tailored solutions allow businesses to transform their customer experience cost-effectively, from end to end, with the dedicated support of a local expert. Get in touch today to find out more or to discover how insight6 can help transform your customer experience.  

 Like what you have read? Sign up to the insight6 newsletter to keep up to date with everything you need to know to improve your customer experience. 

Have you ever thought about being a Mystery Shopper?

We are always on the hunt for researchers aka Mystery Shoppers to add to the insight6 team. If you like the idea of helping businesses improve their customer experience, we would like to hear from you. Apply today to join our Researcher and Mystery Shopper team. 

 

Graham Hill

Find me on LinkedIn 

 

How car dealerships can damage CX in the pursuit of feedback.

Measuring Customer Feedback 

Many dealerships are aligned with the notion that customer feedback is an essential way of measuring success, but it isn’t always a true reflection of the customer experience (CX).  

Customer feedback can be obtained by telemarketers – usually, an outsourced personal calling on behalf of the dealership, face-to-face surveys, or via online review tools such as instant insight. In each scenario, the customer is asked a series of set questions about a recent experience with the company. 

Generally, dealerships will want to determine what their Net Promotor Score (NPS) is based on rolling customer feedback. This score is then often used to demonstrate how well they are performing to those higher up the chain of command – and is often linked to bonus schemes.   

There is nothing wrong with taking this approach, and it can be a valuable tool to motivate staff and improve CX. However, we are seeing instances where the pursuit of a positive NPS is having a detrimental effect on their customer’s experience – and the business has no idea that it is happening.  

Victoria from Surrey said: 

“Every time I take my car into the local dealership I go through the same feedback process – the service representative informs me that I will receive a feedback call and asks me to rate them a 9 or 10, unless I have been unhappy with the service. 

“The next day when I receive the call, I am again asked to rate the service I have received – scoring the dealership a 9 or 10 if I was happy and only and 8 or below if I was dissatisfied.  

“The way in which these requests and questions are posed to me feels very pushy. I’m never unhappy with the service but I wouldn’t say I am blown away by a distinctly higher level of service than you would expect at any other dealership. However, I feel pushed into giving them a 9 or 10 when I feel they only really deserved a 7 or 8 and always come away irritated and annoyed by the whole process. If I had a choice of dealerships locally, I would certainly switch.”  

This example shows how the customer had a perfectly OK experience in the dealership, but the overall experience ended negatively because of a pushy feedback process that is designed to chase a score and not seek ways to provide an even greater service.  

What’s more worrying is that the dealership is probably unaware of the negative impact their feedback process is having on the overall customer experience, and at some point, their score-chasing strategy may backfire.  

By really understanding your customer's journey and managing their experience, you can achieve a high NPS organically, without the pushy tactics that then leave your customers with a sour taste.  

 

What is NPS? 

NPSis one of the most tried and tested methods of measuring a customer’s experience. Through NPS you can understand the likelihood that a customer will recommend your product and service to someone in their community.  

The question usually states, ‘on a scale of one to ten, how likely are you to recommend the business to a friend?’ 

NPS is calculated by subtracting the percentage of customers who scored a 6 or lower (known as detractors) from the percentage of customers who scored a 9 or 10 (known as promoters).  

So you can see why it is in the dealership's interest to receive as many 9’s and 10’s as possible – 7’s and 8’s don’t influence their score.  

 

Great CX drives a higher NPS 

To be consistently achieving nine and ten’s on NPS trackers, dealerships need to take a step back and look at what small extra details or changes would make their customers think ‘wow’.  

Autotrader’s Car Buyer of the Future Study found that if the buying process was improved, 72% of consumers stated they would visit dealerships more often. 66% said that they would be much more likely to buy from a dealership that offers their preferred experience, and 53% stated they would buy a vehicle more often. 

We work with a number of dealerships and online retailers in a variety of ways to achieve ‘front end’ insight, before working with teams to implement strategic plans which deliver what the customer is asking for and ultimately those essential NPS figures.  

 

How can customer journey mapping improve CX? 

By mapping the customer journey from the very start of the process, a phone enquiry, or web browsing, to the very last point, picking up a new car or serviced vehicle – you get crucial insight and understand how your customer thinks and feels at every step.  

Our process helps you to identify any kinks in the process, potential frustrations, things that really add value, or major pitfalls in service or consistency. Once you have a true understanding of what you are working with, it becomes a much easier process to streamline the process, iron out any issues and look for opportunities to add an even better experience.  

Research by Economist Intelligence Unitrevealed that the top five areas consumers identified as leading to a positive experience included: 

  1. 47% – Fast response to inquiries or complaints 
  2. 46% – Simple purchasing process 
  3. 34% – Ability to track orders in real time 
  4. 25% – Clarity and simplicity of product information across channels 
  5. 22% – Ability to interact with the company over multiple channels 

But to really offer the best CX you must go beyond ‘functional’ and look to evoke an emotional connection.  

Dealerships have started to work on this with the addition of new car owner ‘reveals’ and gifts but there are many much simpler and free ways to connect with your customers. Reserving parking spaces with names for when your customer is booked in for a service, or training the reception team to note the reg of vehicles coming in so that they can have names to hand – these small but very personal touches can turn an OK seven or eight into a nine or ten on the NPS scale.  

 

Test your customer experience with CX Reviews 

CX reviews – also known as mystery shops – are another way of testing your customer journey in real time and analysing how your business, and team perform against your ‘ideal’ on a given day. Many dealerships use mystery shops as a vehicle to test their FCA compliance, however our team of over 1,000 highly trained researchers can delve into many different scenarios which can provide detailed feedback for every point of your customer journey.  

 

Training & development for your team is key to great CX 

Following our in-depth CX review process and customer journey mapping, its crucial to not let plans go to waste. It’s the team on the frontline that must deliver the experience you have designed and tested, day-in, day-out. You must make sure that you take your team on the journey with you and that they are bought into the customer experience strategy. We can help train staff so that certain elements come more easily to them through the use of role play and workshops, but what is also really helpful is to get feedback from your staff in the same way you request it from your customers.  

A team that has free flowing communication and an outlet to feedback is a more engaged team which in turn leads to better CX. 

 

To find out more about how we work with dealerships or the wider auto-motive industry, please get in touch with your local CX Director. All of our CX Directors are based locally, out in the field, so that they can be on the ground to best benefit the clients in their area – find your local contact here 

6 things every Law firm can implement to improve their CX and increase their bottom line…

Customer experience (CX) is the new business battleground for the Legal sector, yet our recent research study, The Professional Services Customer Journey Report, showed that many legal firms are failing to get the basics consistently right – and this could be affecting their bottom line. 

In fact, out of all the professions analysed, the legal sector was found to be performing worst when comparing NPS (Net Promotor Score), with a sobering -54, a sharp decline from its score of -15 in 2019. 

By surveying over 250 professional services firms in the UK, our research analysed the full customer journey when making a new enquiry. The findings, although harrowing, now provide a benchmark for improving CX and offer an immediate checklist for every Law firm.

  1. Offer a human touch. Make sure that all employees offer their names to callers when they answer the phone. It sounds so basic, but our research revealed that 22% of reception staff did not answer initial calls with their name, and when put through to a law expert, an astonishing 60% of these people did not offer their name. 
  2. Regularly test your messaging services to ensure they are working correctly. Technology is great, until it fails! Our research found that 43% of messages left (including personal voicemails) did not get a response. 
  3. Develop your team’s emotional intelligence. When clients or potential clients are facing stressful situations, it is critical to establish a positive connection with understanding and compassion for their situation. 
  4. Check website contact forms and web-chat services work correctly and that they are treated in the same way as phone or email enquiries. Implementing new technology is a great way to improve CX – but only if it is done with care and consideration. Our research found that over a third of web enquiries were left completely unanswered. 
  5. Follow up! We were astounded to find that only 8% of companies bothered to follow up a potential new client lead, and where more information had been requested, 38% of the time it never arrived. 
  6. Make it personal! People want a personal service more than ever, but our researchers found that only 53% of email exchanges were personalised and more worryingly, 57% were poorly written with grammatical errors. 

Research by the London School of Economics shows that for every 7% increase in a brand’s NPS, their revenue will grow by 1% as a direct result – that’s a whole lot of untapped revenue to gain from some basic day-to-day improvements. 

“It is clear that legal firms, along with the whole professional services industry, have a huge opportunity to improve CX, deliver a superior experience to both new and existing clients, and reap significant business benefits in doing so,”says Jonathan Winchester, insight6 CEO.

Behind poor CX you can find underlying problems in a firm’s culture

Overall, insight6 researchers were underwhelmed by how the firms handled their enquiries. Just 23% felt the team member attempted to add value or go further to help them, and only 43% said that they would recommend the business to others. 

What we do know to be true, is that underlying problems within a firm’s culture can often be found behind poor CX. Issues such as short-term targets, disengaged teams or siloed working - effective CX is often about empowering staff and providing them with the skills, tools, and authority they need.  

One organisation that absolutely have got it right and understand the benefits of delivering great customer experience is LawNet. In next month’s blog you can read more about how LawNet has partnered with insight6 to help its members put CX at the heart of their businesses. 

2022: The Year of Customer Experience (CX)

As we start the year with a cautious, but more positive outlook on the pandemic than in January 2021, businesses can start to contemplate a world beyond mass restrictions, lockdowns, and purely virtual interactions. But what will this look like? Will we slot back into pre-pandemic ways? Or has the landscape changed forever? 

One thing for certain is that customer expectations have changed. The trend for a more personalised and meaningful experience started pre-pandemic, but what Covid has done is supercharge the acceleration across mass industries. People will increasingly be inclined to seek out brands that make them feel special or provide added emotional connections.  

In a similar vein, businesses can no longer hide poor service behind Covid. Consumers have seen many businesses adapt and flourish through Covid driven alterations - proving it not only possible to deliver the same standard, but in many circumstances, improved services during Covid times.  

Employee experience will also be more influential than ever this year. It’s likely going to be tough with higher levels of staff absence due to isolation periods and your team could feel overwhelmed. As their experience directly translates to your customer experience, treating your team well is vital, including asking regularly how they are doing and then acting on the feedback. 

By putting CX at the top of your Boardroom agenda, you can give your business the best chance of succeeding, and growing, in what we hope will be the year of post-pandemic.  

22 things to consider in 2022… 

1. Numerous studies globally and our own research confirms that those with above average customer experiences outperform others financially.

2. It is time to stop using Covid as an excuse for poor service. It is time to review your customer journey through the customers eyes and deliver a service that represents your business in a way you can be proud of.

3. Understand your customers 'WHY’, this will help drive greater loyalty, lower churn rates and increase revenues, because you’ve provided your customers with what they want, when they need it, and how they expect it.

4. If you don't measure it, you can't improve it.

5. Gathering immediate feedback enables you to be quicker to adjust to your customers’ needs and wants – making informed choices rather than guessing will increase retention.

6. If you don't take care of your customers, someone else will.

7. The deepest principle of human nature is the craving to feel appreciated. Never underestimate how important it is to communicate positively and regularly to your team members and your customers and show your appreciation.

8. Gaining employee feedback is crucial to making sure that your most important customer is listened to, as they are every business’ most valuable asset for creating and delivering the best CX.

9. How your team treat your customers, reflects how you treat your team.

10. It isn't what you say, or often what you do; it is how you make someone feel that they will never forget.

11. How do you keep doing the things that customers love if you don't know what those things are, and how do you fix the things that don't work if you don't know they’re not working? Measuring CX helps shine a light on these blind-spots.

12. All marketplaces are crowded and very few businesses sell anything that is truly unique. Do you know why your customers choose you? Do you know why some of your competitors customers chose them over you? Benchmarking your CX against your competition will answer these questions for you and provide valuable insights into how you can grow your business.

13. Before pouring more water into your bucket, it makes sense to fix any holes at the bottom! What causes your customers to leave you and try your competitors? How many new customers does your business have to get to replace the ones you've lost? Having a great customer retention strategy supports your bottom line and delivers the maximum amount of return on any marketing strategy, adding genuine customer growth and not just customer replacement.

14. Delivering an amazing CX, in 3 words: Product, Process & People. Focus energy, investment & time on each, and you will be a leading player in your sector.

15. Every customer interaction with your business is crucial. When answering a call, replying to an email, or speaking to a customer face to face. If you want to deliver fantastic CX, it's vital the team believe in the business, the leaders, value each other and the customers they deal with each day.

16. It's the simplest of things, like using your manners and having a smile on your face, that make the biggest difference.

17. Does your out of office message represent you well? Always check your spelling, the dates you are away and ensure it has the right tone - as importantly, check it is turned on and off at the right time as that first impression counts!

18. A great customer experience is when it is easy, personalised, memorable and they never have to ask you for anything.

19. Don't invest in a great external marketing campaign that will bring more customers to you, until you have invested in a joined-up customer experience strategy that enables your team to meet and exceed your customers’ expectations.

20. Put simply: Your customers may not remember what you said or indeed what you did, but they will remember how you made them feel.

21. You cannot not communicate! Whether you are in regular contact with your customers or rarely interact with them, a message is being sent, loud and clear! Take time to review your communications.

22. Ask for feedback.*77% of customers favour businesses that request feedback (*Microsoft Global State of Customer Service 2015) 

Connect with Michelle on LinkedIn

Customers Value Great CX More Than Discounts

Sale signs on a black background

Be Brave: Boycott Black Friday

The traditional ‘Boxing Day’ sales that once dominated the high street have well and truly been outshone by Black Friday in recent years, but has it now had its day?

The key difference that sets Black Friday apart from other discounting windows is that it seems to have breached the confines of retail, and brought everything from the service industry to hospitality along for the ride – a phenomenon that could do more damage than good for these businesses.

Sure, everyone enjoys getting a good deal on a purchase, but not at the expense of customer experience (CX). 52% of 1,000 people surveyed recently said they would happily pay more for better service – in fact, one in four customers said they would pay 10% more across all industries if they knew they would receive excellent service. 

Discounting makes sense when there is a genuine reason – end of line, or out of season stock, last minute holidays that need to be sold etc. But blanket discounting, especially on services or experiences, in a short window, could lead to a CX disaster and reputational damage for your business. 

So here are my 6 reasons to boycott Black Friday and instead focus on great CX:

  1. Sales psychology – ‘buy this amazing product at a discounted price for today only’. Customers are becoming wary of businesses that discount in this way. Research by Which? showed an astonishing 99.5% of products to be the same price or cheaper than Black Friday at other points in the year. If customers no longer trust what a company is telling them, it’s a sure-fire way to lose their loyalty.

  2. Timing – Customers value doing things on their terms more than ever. In the 24/7 world that we now live in, funneling customers into making purchases at times dictated by businesses is not providing good CX. A competitor offering excellent year-round CX may have secured all your potential sales before Black Friday even arrives.

  3. Disruption and delays – an influx of business is what all business owners dream of, but if you’re not prepared for it, it can be a poisoned chalice. Slow websites, longer dispatch or delivery times, a less personalised service and poor execution can all result in bad experience.

  4. Stressed staff – employees across retail and other industries describe the Black Friday period as ‘hell’, with reports of abuse by shoppers and ‘vile’ working conditions. It goes without saying that the experience of your staff should be as important as that of your customers as stressed staff can’t deliver great CX.

  5. De-valuing the brand – consumers assume that even at discounted prices, the business is still making a profit, therefore believing your regular price is stretching the true value and may not purchase at full price in the future.

  6. Reputational damage – it only takes one small thing to go wrong during a busy period (point 3) - when your staff aren’t able to perform at their best (point 4), or your customers are not enjoying a good experience (points 1 & 2) - to cause a huge reputational impact and lose a customer forever. When, if the same issue happened during a ‘normal business’ day, the handling and outcome would likely be very different. 

So, my parting words of wisdom; think before you discount. Will your customers actually value it? Can you maintain great CX? Will it detract from your brand? And finally, is it worth it? 

In my experience, the best way to improve your bottom line consistently is to carefully map your customer journey and deliver the best CX day in, day out.

Jonathan Winchester is a customer experience entrepreneur, speaker and business leader. He is the Founder and Chief Executive of insight6. For more information on how to improve your customer experience, visit www.insight6.com. Request to connect with Jonathan on LinkedIn.

Why Customer Experience Is Everything: Your Ultimate Guide to CX

Customer experience (CX) is the new battleground for business. The value of service and the importance of making a human connection with customers has rarely been starker.  

If you want to survive and thrive in a competitive market, then focusing on your CX is essential. But, to do that, you need to understand exactly what CX is.  

We believe CX is everything. So, we have put together your ultimate guide to CX to give you the information and tools you need to delight customers and boost profits.  

What is customer experience? 

Customer experience can be defined as the impression and overall experience a customer goes through when presented and experiencing your service. Essentially, CX is a customer’s perception of your organisation based on their exposure to it. 

We can all think of positive and negative experiences we have had as customers. Good or bad, these interactions shape our opinions of brands, products, and services we interact with.  

Delivering a positive customer experience will make your customer(s) happy but also increases the likelihood they will return, remain loyal or recommend you to others. Crucially for businesses, this positively impacts the bottom-line. 

Customer experience versus customer service 

Customer experience and customer service are not the same thing, although they are inextricably linked. 

Customer experience encapsulates the customer’s entire buying journey, which includes customer service. CX is not a ‘one-time’ interaction, it covers all the touchpoints through a customer’s journey not just at the point of sale. 

Customer service is a branch of the overall customer experience. Simply, put customer service can be defined as the assistance and advice provided by the representative of the company to the consumer. 

Why does customer experience matter? 

Winning over customers is about more than clinching a one-off sale. It is about winning their loyalty and their trust for a lifetime.  

Providing a great CX is key to making your business different and gaining an edge over the competition.

The client journey is the path to sales, which is why CX is essential. 

 How can customer experience create a differentiation for a brand? 

CX is fast becoming the main reason a potential customer chooses your business, yet our research shows 80% of companies say they deliver ‘superior’ customer service while only 8% of customers thought the same about those companies – how would your customers rate your brand? 

A positive CX is critical to the three brand success factors: 

  • Brand trust - confidently knowing what you can expect. 
  • Brand value – the brand’s value exceeds the cost. 
  • Brand loyalty - strongly associating the brand as part of your identity.  

Improving your customer experience is the surest way to retain loyalty, reduce cost and increase profits.  

How does customer experience drive business growth? 

The cost of gaining a new customer is five times the cost of retaining an existing one and the value of existing customers to profits cannot be overestimated. 

The holy grail is to create an experience that makes your customers want to return. 

Not only do repeat customers deliver more top-line revenue, they cost nothing to acquire so a greater proportion of that revenue finds its way to the bottom-line. Typically, a 5% improvement in customer retention typically leads to a 25% increase in profits. 

Here are five benefits of improving CX: 

  • Drive revenue and customer lifetime value 
  • Increase brand value 
  • Boost customer loyalty and advocacy 
  • Keep close to customers and changing behaviours 
  • Reduce costs and invest in the right things 

How can customer experience be improved? 

The first step to improving CX is to know where you are starting from otherwise you are never going to know if you have made progress or not. 

At insight6, we provide six services to encapsulate the best possible CX: 

  1. Customer experience reviews
  2. Training and development
  3. Customer journey mapping
  4. Online feedback
  5. Focus and listening groups
  6. Mentoring and coaching 

The core focus of all leaders is to protect your business by strengthening the relationship with your customers and looking after your accounts. 

Read our six CX tips that we know will protect your business. 

How do you measure or track customer experience? 

The success of your business is reflected in the satisfaction of your customers. 

One headline metric for CX measurement is the Net Promoter Score (NPS). This well-established and widely used system is a customer loyalty measurement taken by asking customers how likely they are to recommend your business to others. 

The problem with NPS can be about timing - questions like these are not always applicable to the customer at the point in their journey that they receive them. 

You cannot manage what you cannot measure. Here are some other metrics you can use to measure customer experience: 

  • Average resolution time 
  • Customer churn 
  • Exceptional moments 
  • Customer effort score (CES) 

Some firms are tempted to believe they assess and improve their CX all by themselves, but an accurate view can only be achieved by third party independent assessment. 

Insight6 provides a six-stage model that brings a focus on your firm’s CX strategy, identifying issues, challenges, and opportunities, working with your firm to develop new strategies and, of course, analysing progress, this all leads to a better CX. 

What is a customer journey map? 

Your customer’s journey, from the starting point when they make the decision to reach out to your business right up to the resolution of the matter, is trackable. 

Through ‘journey mapping’ you can create a visual representation of your average customer’s interaction with your business, and pinpoint the various trials, delights, and frustrations they face. 

A good customer journey map is a true reflection of the customer, not a painting of the ideal one.  

Who owns the customer experience? 

The CX is not “owned” by one person or a single department, it should be an organisation-wide effort. 

Behind poor CX there can lie underlying problems in a firm’s culture, such as short-term targets, or staff who are incentivised to make quick sales without regard for long-term sustainability of the business. This may create a vicious circle because the customer journey can have an impact on employees’ job satisfaction. 

CX is not the responsibility of a few, it needs to be embedded throughout your organisation.  

How do employees impact the customer experience? 

Your employees play a pivotal role in delivering your product or service. Disengaged staff do not go the extra mile for your customers. 

Creating a great working culture within your business ensures your team can provide the best experience for your customers and clients. The one simple (but essential) thing leaders can do to improve employee engagement is regularly check in on staff wellbeing. 

A total feedback solution like instant insight can analyse the feedback from your team and customers. A good leader is prepared to ask questions they may not like the answers to 

Our dedicated team of CX Directors have a wealth of business experience, as well as an understanding of CX which is second to none. Partnering with us will ensure that your CX strategy will align with your vision for the business. Get in touch today with any enquiries or to discover how insight6 can help transform your CX. 

Joe Betts is a customer experience partner at insight6, supporting the brand’s local Customer Experience Directors to enable them to deliver more profit to business owners through better customer experiences. Connect on LinkedIn or follow @insight6 on Twitter. 

A good leader is prepared to ask questions they may not like the answers to

To truly improve employee engagement and wellbeing, every leader must do three basic things: ask, accept, action. 

Ask 

You'd be amazed at the number of leaders I have worked with over the years who come to me with an employee engagement problem, only to find they haven't asked their staff how they are feeling or if there is anything that they need to improve their ability to do their job. 

More worryingly, some come to me to solve a problem, utterly oblivious that they have an employee engagement issue fuelling that very problem. It's not that they don't care, quite the opposite, but it demonstrates a disconnect between management and employees.

The one simple (but essential) thing leaders can do to improve employee engagement is regularly check in on staff wellbeing. Allowing employees to have their voice heard in a regular, official capacity can instantly enhance engagement; there are, of course, caveats!  

Keep wellbeing surveys quick, simple, and convenient – pick a day and time you know employees are more likely to fill it in. Importantly, employees must feel 'safe' to respond openly and honestly to avoid false and potentially misleading results. 

Accept 

Wellbeing in the workplace is a serious matter, and staff need to know that your business and its management genuinely care; this is not a tick-box exercise but something you should embed. Implement a regular feedback solution that analyses responses from your team and provides you with actionable comments to help transform your business.

Understandably, you might be nervous about responses. However, without unequivocally honest insight, you can't acknowledge, accept, or crucially take action to rectify or improve potential issues. Rebuffing or counterarguing responses sends a message that you are not listening, and a 'what's the point' attitude will develop.

Set a monthly employee engagement KPI to track over time to quickly spot and react to trends – not only by the positive or negative scores but also by the response rate. If only a tiny percentage of people even answer the questions, it indicates a disengaged team. 

Action 

You must act on feedback! 

I am not saying give employees everything they request or suggest you make massive business changes to make a few people happier but prove you have listened, probe further and ask 'why'. 

Mapping out the employee response journey is critical. If a response is positive, the action can be an automated yet personal email thanking them for participating. If a negative response is received, there should be an appropriate action plan that follows.  

Depending on the level of question and how potentially harmful the response is, this could be a red flag to a line manager to check in with this person or to follow up and dig deeper into any issues raised. Never follow up in an accusatory way; the aim here is to understand and work out a way to improve. Many negative scores have 'quick win' solutions, such as frustrations with technology or access to information. However, it can be trickier to identify the root cause of a personal grievance or behaviour issue.

My parting words of wisdom? Always follow up.  

Did offering the chance to be heard make a positive change? Have the plans put in place resolved problems? You won't always solve every niggle or concern. Still, by asking questions, actively listening, accepting feedback, and acting accordingly, you will find that employee engagement increases, and wellbeing scores improve.

Jonathan Winchester is a customer experience entrepreneur, speaker and business leader. He is the Founder and Chief Executive of insight6. For more information on how to improve your customer experience, visit www.insight6.com. Request to connect with Jonathan on LinkedIn.

One Simple (But Essential) Thing Leaders Can Do To Improve Employee Engagement

Source: Brooke Cagle via Unsplash

Your people are your company’s most important asset. Cheerful employees are likely to be more productive, but employee engagement is complex - where do you start?

Engaging your team is critical to business success. The holy grail is to have employees who are excited to come to work each day. To achieve this, they need to do what they do best, feel connected to their coworkers, and be motivated by their organisation’s purpose.

Creating a great working culture within your business ensures your team can provide the best experience for your customers and clients. Easier said than done, right?

Workplace culture is part of everything an organisation says and does, making it difficult to transform even when necessary. 

The one simple (but essential) thing leaders can do to improve employee engagement is regularly check in on staff wellbeing

Here we look at employee engagement in more detail and share our insights to help you measure the wellbeing of your staff.

What is employee engagement?

There’s no common understanding of employee engagement. Academic literature describes it as a psychological state experienced by employees. 

Work engagement is a ‘state of mind’, suggests a group of occupational psychologists at Utrecht University. Rather than being burnt out, employees show: 

  • Vigour (energy, resilience and effort).
  • Dedication (enthusiasm, creativity and pride).
  • Absorption (concentration, engrossment in one’s work).

The CIPD says it is separate from job quality, employee behaviour or management action.

How is employee engagement different from employee satisfaction?

Engaged employees are stimulated to show up to work every day and do their best. Whereas satisfied employees may enjoy their job, but it does not necessarily mean they are engaged.

Why is employee engagement critical?

The Covid-19 pandemic brought about a considerable shift in the way we work. More team members than ever are working remotely. Worry, stress, anger and sadness increased for employees, according to Gallup

You must know how your team feels, whether at home or in the office, to address any issues before they start costing your business.


Foresight and agility are even more business-critical in a post-pandemic recovery. Almost 18 months later, Covid-19 cannot be an excuse for poor service.

What are the drivers of employee engagement?

Research shows that committed employees perform better. 

The most vital driver of all is a sense of feeling valued and involved. The Institute for Employment Studies highlights several critical components for achieving this:

  • Involvement in decision-making
  • The extent to which employees feel able to voice their ideas, and managers listen to these views and value employees’ contributions.
  • The opportunities employees have to develop their jobs.
  • The extent to which the organisation is concerned for employees’ health and wellbeing. 

How do better-engaged employees drive business performance?

Worryingly, Gallup states 80% of the global workforce disengaged at work. It estimates that the cost of disengagement to the worldwide economy is US$8.1 trillion!

Highly engaged employees are more present and productive. Gallup’s most recent meta-analysis backs this up -- a study of many studies -- on team engagement and performance, the benefits of employee engagement were clear:

  • 81% lower absenteeism
  • 23% higher profitability
  • 18% higher productivity (sales)
  • 28% less shrinkage (theft)
  • 64% fewer safety incidents 
  • 58% fewer patient safety incidents
  • 18% less turnover (in high-turnover organisations)
  • 43% less turnover (in low-turnover organisations)
  • 41% fewer quality defects
  • 10% higher customer loyalty/engagement

Why should companies invest in employee engagement?

The Harvard Business Review reports that companies that invest in employee experience outperform those that don’t.

According to research from PWC, 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience. Plus, the more expensive the item, the more they are willing to pay!

Investing in employee engagement shouldn’t be seen as a time or cost investment, but rather a saving, as evidence by the benefits of employee engagement previously.

As a customer experience business, we have seen first-hand how employee engagement affects interaction with customers and how that impacts the brand for better or worse. Improving your customer experience is the surest way to retain loyalty, reduce cost and increase profits. 

How do employees impact the customer experience?

Your employees play a pivotal role in delivering your product or service.

Historical research shows that 80% of companies say they deliver ‘superior’ customer service. Yet, only 8% of customers of those companies thought the same.

Disengaged staff do not go the extra mile for your customers.

How are your staff performing in a world where the customer experience is fast becoming the main reason a potential customer chooses your business?

How can I improve employee engagement? 

It’s clear that employee engagement is not a “nice to have”—it’s a serious competitive differentiator. What’s more - all employers have a duty of care to their employees to ask and understand how they’re truly feeling and why.

In the current climate, the working environment is constantly changing and challenging to predict. It’s essential to know the impact it’s having on your staff. 

You need access to fast, actionable feedback from your team that makes them feel highly motivated, engaged and respected. 

How do you measure or track employee engagement?

The most common way to measure engagement is using surveys, but once a year is not enough. Ideally, it would help if you had a constant pulse on how your team is feeling.


A total feedback solution like instant insight can analyse the feedback from your team and customers. What’s more, the system will enable you to benchmark your business against others within your sector, helping you to achieve a world-class customer AND employee experience.

But obtaining feedback is only the first step. 

You need to know how to interpret the data and, most importantly, take steps to up your game and profits. If you would like to hear more, we are here for you. We’re the only CX specialists in the UK and Ireland, with 25 experts across the country.  

Three employee engagement questions companies should ask.

At insight6, we have transformed hundreds of businesses, helping to improve their customer experience. We know that leaders can do one simple (but essential) thing to enhance employee engagement: regularly check in on staff wellbeing. 

Below we share three of the six survey questions 1000s of companies are asking their employees.

1) On a scale of 1 to 10, how motivated do you feel?

Remember to always follow up with “why”. It’s a simple but vital question to ask regularly, especially to teams working from home, to gauge their motivation levels.

2) How are you feeling right now?

It’s a powerful, easy-to-answer question you should be asking your team every day. Respondents click one of the three emoticon faces to answer. These faces represent whether they’re feeling happy, content or sad. Don’t forget to follow this question up with “why”?

3) How confident do you feel about the future?

Send this sentiment survey fortnightly or monthly to promote honesty and transparency in the workplace and quash any nasty rumours early. It is a crucial tracking measurement for long term strategic planning. Set targets and work towards them.

Mel Evans

Mel Evans is a customer experience specialist at insight6, delivering more profit to business owners through better customer experiences. Connect on LinkedIn or follow @insight6CX on Twitter.

Image Source: Brooke Cagle via Unsplash

Is Covid still an excuse for a poor customer experience?

In March last year when the pandemic hit it was quite understandable that service levels would fall while businesses re-adjusted and managed to establish teams working from remote locations. Naturally wait times may be longer, processes a little unclear and general sharpness of business becomes a little blurred. In fact, three quarters of customers expected it.

However, many major brands are still using Covid as their reasons for service not being what it was.  Can this be justified when their income may well be the same or, in some cases, even higher than pre-pandemic?

Let’s take Sky. Subscriptions would have only gone up, production costs down and, yet, you try speaking to one of their team…without screaming at the phone. You are hit with wave after wave of automated messaging directing you to the website. Their webchat is not much better and finding the answer to a question on their website is agony in itself.

Why are we so forgiving? I still pay my subscription.

All of the evidence, from our own feedback and measurement, indicates that the three biggest customer frustrations have been:

1. Poor response times, both over the phone and via digital channels
2. Unavailability of stock
3. Delays to delivery times

Let’s take each point in turn…

Poor response times….

In a poll of 2,000 consumers by Consumer Intelligence it was revealed that broadband providers are delivering the worst in response times:

  • 7% said they had to wait more than an hour to get through by phone
  • 40% said they were put on hold for more than 20 minutes
  • Average wait time to speak with mortgage providers is 18 minutes
  • 1 in 5 Britons says accessing their bank has been hard during lockdown

In an attempt to shorten the response time, customers are pushed to the website, which many find patronising.

Poor response times with pickups have also been common. Ikea delivered a bed to a customer that showed up damaged. When the customer contacted IKEA for a refund they were told that due to Covid IKEA would not be able to pick it up for one month. They would also not be able to provide a refund for that customer until the bed had been collected. So they were quick to deliver and take the money but slow at handing it back.

Another example was Currys. In June, a Customer ordered and paid for a new fridge. After paying, Currys then called to tell the customer that the fridge would not be in stock until September. The customer could not wait this long and so asked for the order to be cancelled. Currys agreed but a refund still had not come through a few weeks later.

The customer tried calling Currys several times but could not get through, waiting more than 40 minutes on hold on several occasions. The customer then tried emailing but received an auto-response stating that Currys are not accepting emails due to Covid.

Such examples are easy to find but surely now firms need to:

Change the messaging. If they have not sorted out their customer journey maps over 12 months then do they deserve loyalty?  Just be honest, as the Covid excuse is wearing a little thin.

Respect the fact some customers may want to talk. Loyalty is created through relationships, not necessarily “clicks in a jungle”; or in other words, being sent to the corporate website. Unless of course you make it so very simple and user friendly.  The continual cutting of people out of a business diminishes their USP and with terrific remote technology that is very affordable and a lot of people looking for work, I would have thought the two could make some big brands flourish again.

Take a leaf out of the books of those that do it well. Amazon’s ease of use is astonishing. Two clicks and it’s being delivered. Now I am sure they have had issues too, but if that is now the norm (and judging by their share price it probably is) that’s the benchmark all firms need to aspire to. Jeff Bezos was speaking about astonishing customer service 25 years ago. The key is to make it seamless and with as little effort as possible on the part of the customer.

Gather better feedback data that really reflects the experience. As customers, we only ever get asked how our experience was after the transaction has finished. Of course, in the majority of cases, the customer has had any issue they had resolved. But what about the customers who can’t get through, or can’t find what they want on the website or are on hold for hours? How are firms focussing on how those customers might feel? How are they going to reward them for their time and patience? More importantly, how are they then communicating back when messages are left?

As we move out of our current state let us see which major brands move with the times and offer a very different experience, rather than leaning on the excuses of the past.

If you need some help, we are here for you. Please contact us here for a discussion with your local Customer Experience Specialist.