The book comes out on Monday 29th August…

Cover third proof (1) copy

Here it is available now on Amazon and other good bookstores, everything you need to know about Customer Experience packed with information and examples from a world we all experience and can understand….

Here is what some of the pre-publication Reviewers thought…..

  • “A terrific book that brings to all organizations which care about customer experience pragmatic and valuable solutions to become customer intelligent.” Eric Chang, President, ICBC-AXA Life Assurance China
  • ‘An excellent guide to the why, what and how to implement great customer experience. It approaches the subject from both the organisation’s and the channel’s perspective, providing plenty of useful examples of what to do and what to avoid. A must read for anyone in business looking to improve their situation.’ Jerry Smith, President & CEO, OgilvyOne Worldwide, Asia Pacific
  • “Intelligent, practical and entertaining – The Customer Experience Book should be required reading for every pensions professional concerned about member experience and communications” Jane Newell DBE, Chair, John Lewis Partnership Pensions Trust
  • ‘Pennington has accomplished something important and noteworthy – making “customer experience” something companies can methodically do, manage, and improve. This is an insightful and practical book by a leading authority on the subject. ‘ Martha Rogers, Ph.D., Trustability Metrix and Peppers & Rogers Group, Co-author of Extreme Trust and Managing Customer Experience and Relationships 
  • ‘’A great read. Packed full of practical and insightful ways to transform your customer’s experience.” Mike Westcott, Group HR Director, National Grid
  • ‘A comprehensive and modern approach to tackling Customer Experience – the best guide I have read.’ Diana Cawley, CEO, Asia Pacific, Geometry Global 
  • ‘The Customer Experience Book is a brilliant consolidation of the key steps you need to collect and utilize customer intelligence for competitive advantage. It speaks to the how, what, when where and why of putting the most critical part of your organization – your customer – in the center of your Culture and then allowing that knowledge to drive your Strategy through Execution. Alan takes the critical steps and makes them clear and concise so that you can apply them to your particular organization regardless of industry or size. Well done!’ Valerie Peck, CEO, SuiteCX and East Bay Services Group Consulting 
  • “As customers we have all been let down.  As business leaders this book shows us the true value of what companies are losing by those let downs.  Luckily it also provides a clear road map to avoid the same mistakes in the future.  As a customer and a marketer, I can’t wait to benefit!” Richard Pinder.  CEO International, Crispin Porter and Bogusky.

If you like it please give it that 5 star rating and write a short review on the Amazon site :)))


People make the difference in experiences…..Watergate Bay…

Despite all the investments in technology and data that bedevil the Customer Experience world and much as they are useful to provide the props and critical data to support the delivery of some experiences in the end it is all about people that make that real difference.

Investing in finding the right people, training supporting and motivating the people in your business and equipping them with the right props down to how they look on occasion will make you stand out.

To illustrate what I mean, on a recent visit to Cornwall we went and stayed with some friends in the stunningly beautiful Watergate Bay – probably one of the best places on the planet where you can see a whole range of weather in just one day.  Right on the seafront is the Watergate Bay Hotel which we decided to explore – now to put this in perspective this place costs £100’s per night in high season so expectations were high.

The brochures for the place are also very slick and present an image of relaxed but attentive high quality service – so how did they do and what can we learn?

The staff are indeed very relaxed we wandered into the Restaurant to have a look at the view and were greeted by what we assume is the Restaurant Manager he greets us with a smile, we say we just want to have a look around around “feel free to join us and if you need anything just ask” ..nice, he was also dressed like ‘surfer style’, trendy hairstyle and the rest (we guess he was the Restaurant Manager), the Reception staff similarly casually dressed in what was clearly ‘uniform’ but it looked very in keeping clearly this had been carefully thought about.  In the Foyer there was a huge chalk board that gave all the essential details of the day from the temperature to tides and beach status…given this was the stormiest weekend of the summer the status was Red Flag all day – as we discussed this and with a note of disappointment as the kids wanted to go surfing one of the Hotel team stepped in “couldn’t help but overhear your conversation, there is another beach 15 minutes away where you could go surfing, it’s not red flagged because it is not as exposed as Watergate Bay”.  Clearly we did not ask for the intervention but it was really helpful  -people make the difference, this was very much in line with our expectations of the (let’s not deny it) expensive Hotel and maybe even exceeded it.  So combining two of the attributes I look for in terms of positive experiences – attention to detail (providing all the information on the Board) and positive smiling people who are ready to help even without being asked and have been recruited/trained/dressed and supported in doing so :))

I will only get to stay there if my book that both guides and challenges you in this wonderful world of Customer Experience sells so get on Amazon today it available from Monday 29th August ‘The Customer Experience Book’.  If you like it please give it that 5 star rating and write a short review on the Amazon site :)))





The good and bad in the Hotel Bonsol…

One of my recurring themes is that consistency is king in the world of customer experience it is the ability to connect experiences that really makes you stand out.

So I was staying with the family in the Hotel Bonsol in Ilyetas just outside Palma in Majorca – an amazing hotel family run, quite large and spread over three levels reaching from the top of some cliffs to the sea via tunnels through the rock.

First night at dinner the owner Martin (a gentleman of more advanced years who has clearly been in charge for a long time) introduced himself to us and made himself available if we had any issues call his private number,he also described his philosophy on managing staff – he recognised that sometimes he needed to get tough with individuals inside what on the surface would appear to be a happy set of employees – he said ‘most of the time I am like honey but occasionally a teaspoon of vinegar is needed where an individual lets down the team’ an interesting analogy.

He was then visible throughout our stay taking breakfast with guests and dinner in the dining room and generally being around the Hotel during the day.

So how did it play out in experience terms,,,first the bad,,,let’s get it out of the way,,,half-way through the stay the air conditioning unit began to drip in the middle of the night – ever been there? it is torture waiting for the next drip, the towel on the floor soon gets wet so then you think turn off the air con and suffer but the accumulated water means it carries on dripping anyway arghhh!! So we call Reception and an engineer arrives, he starts by switching it off, we say in awful Spanish we have tried that and leave him to it, sure enough that night all was well clearly he had done his job…or so we thought.  Next night it begins again so we call again and again the engineer arrives but the next night more dripping.  Taking matters into our own hands a middle of the night investigation of the air con hatch (by lifting it) reveals that the engineer ‘fix’ was to put a small towel in the roof space that was now soaking and dripping!!!  So we put a fresh towel in and tell Reception again and in more detail what is happening…no response so we ended up giving up and going through a nightly ritual of putting a towel in the roof space.  That was annoying and before you ask no I didn’t call Martin you somehow feel you are dumping someone in it if you do that which is an interesting psychology – I wonder how many calls he actually gets and in their absence does he feel everything is ok??

Now the good – it was my birthday on the next to last night and as we entered the Restaurant my wife said she had not organised anything like a cake as she knows I get a little embarrassed when  fuss is made.  However the Maitre D immediately showed us to a  table complete with flowers and personalised dinner menus for my family.  Then Martin came over and offered his congratulations closely followed by his son – one of the Managers at the Hotel – then the champagne on the house and finally the birthday cake.  When I asked why they did this the son said it was at his mothers insistence that guests are made to feel special!  This was a wow moment for all of us.

Let’s just take a moment to look at how it was achieved – they took copies of passports on arrival and instead of just using it for administrative purposes they looked at the piece of data called date of birth and established that mine was going to happen whilst at the Hotel; second piece of data was my name which was used to personalise the menus; and finally my picture was the third piece of data given to the Maitre D so I could be spotted and led to my table on arrival in a busy restaurant.

Would we go back, we all agreed we would the quirky nature of the Hotel the general warmth of the staff and owners and an amazing setting make it a memorable place and if you recall customer experience is about creating positive memories – just sort out the engineering team maybe a “teaspoon of vinegar” is needed!!



Sometimes it really isn’t worth it….;)

This is a short post about a short flower….snapped this picture in a restaurant where this was the ‘table decoration’ and if you look really hard you might just see a tiny fragment of green ….sometimes you really should think what value add this brings to the table (literally), I think perhaps this particular addition to the dining experience should have been left to grow in a greenhouse for another few months before making its grand entrance!!

Mini Flower


BA we have a problem….a big problem…..

There I was with the family looking forward to going through the flagship British Airways terminal 5 at London Heathrow, it is usually pretty slick.  So on arrival at around 5.15am I was surprised to find that every check in area had a queue snaking back and forth and eventually ending up outside the building.  What is going on we thought mmmm guess what there was no one from BA to ask the only people visible were increasingly stressed and annoyed would be passengers.

BA Queue

As the time went by those stress levels continued to rise …would we miss our flight that was at 8am, why wasn’t the queue moving.  We queue for around one and a half hours still no BA people on show, eventually we got to the Tensa barrier snake queue and could see that there was initially two and then just one bag drop check-in open to deal with this by now enormous queue.  There was one person by the check-in desk shouting out for people with less than hour to go to show themselves but the person was barely audible beyond the first few rows of the queue.

Empty BA desks

As we neared the Check-In we came across this ridiculous notice and the source of the problem became clear the new computer system introduced just before the summer rush was to blame, so upgrading the system and downgrading the experience while you do it as one fellow passenger noted.

BA Upgrading sign

Once we got to the Check-In this was confirmed by our Check-In lady who said it was chaos and she was hoping they would revert to the old system soon!!

So if we break this down:

  • A known problem with a computer system that has been dragging on for several weeks
  • Knowledge that this will be one of the busiest days of the year first weekend after schools broke up

Faced with these pre-known facts how could BA have dealt with this better….what passengers need is reassurance that they are not going to miss their flight because of a BA you know it is going to be busy and communication is everything flood the Terminal with BA staff that are well informed and able to pass on everything from information to bottles of water, who can smile and soothe stressed passengers…ensure that every available Check-In desk is manned ….I could go on.

The point is that ignoring the problem and avoiding the passengers was entirely the wrong response and hugely damaging to the BA brand as a result of a dreadful experience.  Come on BA face up and deliver when it matter most which is when the ‘system’ is letting you down.  Remember it’s the little things that count.


BA basic error in customer experience….

I have just returned from lovely holiday in the Greek islands and the company we used had BA as their carrier.  On the return flight we were offered a lunchtime snack on the 4 hour journey, nicely presented in a colourful and clearly designed box.

The sandwich was good quality and I was looking forward to the cheese and crackers to follow.

Now from a commercial perspective I know what a big deal it is for suppliers to have their brand selected for use on board giving not only sales to the airline but a free tasting opportunity to this captive audience too.

I unpacked the plastic cutlery and oops couldn’t find a knife so I looked again and still no sign, I was left with a choice of a plastic spoon or a plastic tea stirrer to try and do the job that was not going to work. Thinking this was a ‘rogue box’ I asked my fellow passengers if I could borrow theirs….but they didn’t have a knife either and you will see from the picture below that this was a block that needed cutting.  Now what to do so I considered gnawing off pieces so that I could put some lumps onto the cracker, maybe take a bite of cracker then a bite of cheese…

So instead of these I asked the Stewardess what I was supposed to do – she looked a little bemused and didn’t really know.  As she moved off she had a brain wave and returned from the galley with a set of cutlery that did have a knife  – so I was ok, I then noted that no one else was made the offer even though the issue was now in the BA staff domain..maybe she didn’t have enough sets??

Anyway the point is that it is the detail that counts and so the lovely cheese company (it was great cheese when I eventually got to eat it!!) is missing out and passengers are left slightly ‘bemused’ …why put cheese that needs cutting up into a box that does not contain knife!!!

BA food no knife