A helpful piece of information to enhance your driving experience…..

When I was working with Mazda out in Orange County California a couple of years back I found out a piece of information that was one of those “REALLY” moments, maybe you already know this but I didn’t and actually some of the Mazda team didn’t either!

In the picture below you will see the fuel gauge from my car and an icon with a petrol pump …on the side of the pump icon you will see an arrowhead…guess what… that is pointing out to you which side of the car your fuel filler cap is.  So no more driving onto the garage forecourt and trying to remember which side to go just look at the pump icon and it will tell you.

This is great example of attention to detail in design terms that is not then followed through in terms of communicating this to the customer – it is one of those things that is useful to have and even more useful to know that you have!!!

Businesses need to think about what they actually want and need to tell their customers.

What have you most likely even invested in and then not told your customers about?  

British Airways customer experience will be worse than Ryanair as early as next year….the end of an iconic British brand?

Following on from my earlier post on October 4th 2016 highlighting how British Airways is sinking into the customer experience mire by taking the opportunity to move from an easily distinguished full service carrier to a hybrid low cost/premium player it now transpires that in a few short months it is potentially  going to be a worse experience than Ryanair (long seen as the price champion that ignored experience a model that the travelling public both understood and bought into) but at a higher price, the story continues….to get worse….read on!

The appointment last year of Alex Cruz as Chairman and CEO of British Airways and previously the founder of low cost carrier Clickair was I guess the inevitable death knell for the BA brand and customer experience as we know it. Someone with a background of success in low cost carriers is put in charge of the crown jewel in the airline brand world.  It didn’t take long for the free food to go, for routes to be franchised out under the BA brand (but to not even necessarily using BA branded aircraft), paying for specific seats is rife and now the latest and biggest change.  BA has announced it is now going to be adding 12 extra seats to its short-haul Airbus A320 fleet from Heathrow, my understanding is that this that this will mean leg room of 29 inches as opposed to the 30 inches offered by Ryanair.

This is described using a term new to me they want to ‘densify’ their aircraft –  lovely way of saying cram more people into the same space this was described by Willie Walsh, chief executive of BA’s parent company IAG as “responding to a market opportunity” clearly not for the travelling passenger!!

Not only that but if you want to use them for international travel, whilst the Business and First won’t change, if like the majority of passengers you travel economy, then they are set to increase passenger numbers per flight by adding an extra seat to every row.  Their business plan obviously assumes that will be BA money in the bank but that assumes that we are happy to still fly with them given they are now going to be competing with both budget airlines and the likes of the mighty Emirates.  Yes Emirates have the 10 seat configuration on Boeing 777’s BUT  it has newer aircraft, better service and more regular flights whereas BA is going’ in many cases’ to be retro fitting to older planes by adding an extra seat to every row on its Boeing 777 fleet adding an extra 52 seats to the aircraft from 2018.  Travelling passengers will notice this!

When we buy today it is a value based decision and that is a combination of availability, price, service, brand and of course how we feel about a particular supplier.  Just as Ryanair has woken up the the power of offering its customers more in terms of an experience BA is heading in the opposite direction.  Why does that matter?  Is this just not a levelling of the playing field (a market opportunity to quote Willie Walsh).  Well I would argue that BA customers have to an extent been loyal because of those little differences – the free food, the better leg room, the brand BUT those customers are going to see a downgrading of their experience and an opportunity to no longer be loyal.  As an example the Ryanair customers are seeing the opposite an improvement in service and a feeling of better value for money – I know who I see as the big winners and it is not BA.  You have one opportunity to trash the brand (sometimes called moving with the times!!) for a perceived short term gain and the world is littered with the relics of companies that have and never recovered.

As a BA loyalty card member of decades standing I am truly sad that the management are going down this road and my loyalty that was already fading is now almost gone 🙁

 

 

Vodafone blatant attempt to access my data – exposed in pictures!

If you have seen my previous blog (if not I have added it to the bottom of this post) about the damage done to the Vodafone brand by their attempt to access my personal data then these pictures will make sense.  They are the evidence of how a major brand is attempting to access personal data and will block future access to their core App if you fail to agree  – whilst you can then go through the effort of refusing access using your phone settings if you know how (they are of course banking on you not doing this) this is a perfect example of hiding commercial aims behind a facade of ‘improving the customer experience”.

So you click on the App it delivers the message headed “improve your customer experience”..oh really!! If you press cancel then it gives you the third screen that says you can’t use the App unless you press “OK” so why even bother giving me a cancel button!  Of course the answer is because when I hit cancel and get the message I delete the App 🙂

As you can see they are even making this access part of the terms and conditions of usage of the App an interesting issue for data protection I suspect and if nothing else it is incredibly sharp practice and clearly designed for a purpose.

Whilst they may claim you may get an improved experience and that is highly questionable, that assumes that you want Vodafone to make money out of selling for example your location to commercial partners who may want to advertise to you using your real time data using near field and similar potentially invasive technologies – do you really want a company to be able to rack your movement and monetise them for themselves.  Yes at the heart of this is making money out of data… your data and my data as they seek to diversify and develop revenue outside of their core business of providing access to calls and broadband – in the final analysis whilst their business models aspire to be multi purpose providers all telcos are just utilities like water and electricity and would you want your water company using your data.

The reality is that we will in future become more not less sensitive to companies trying to access our data and only those with the highest trust ratings are going to be given that privilege …I don’t see telco’s in that bracket today and this type of activity just underlines that view in heavy black marker pen.

The original post……

Love the strap-line “power to you” if only it was true – maybe it should read “Vodafone we abuse the power we think we have over you” not quite as catchy but at least it is true.

It seems that mobile companies cannot help themselves when it comes to killing their customer experience in pursuit of their own objectives. What do I mean, well I am sure we could all think of occasions where this has happened to us and this was my latest experience. As a customer I was encouraged to download the Vodafone app a potentially useful little tool for checking usage of my monthly allowances – that was the driver for me. I used it only occasionally but it was helpful particularly when travelling overseas.

So I switch on my phone last week to find the app image with “2” next to it indicating that Vodafone were communicating with me. The message basically said we want to a access your personal data “to improve the service” oh of course I thought – well in this age of data security no one gets access to any of my data unless I see real value in sharing it. So I declined the option thinking that was it!!! But no I then get a message saying that if I decline this then I won’t be able to use the app! WHAT!!!! Now that is firstly supreme arrogance that they believe this crappy little app is so significant to my life that I would immediately say “ok have my data” and secondly has completely ignored how I might react to this and feel about this…frankly I feel like cancelling my and my families contract….not rational I know, but when people make you angry you cease to be rational and that is a key point that businesses fail to comprehend.

Reading on I find that I can accept the request and then I can go into my phone and deny the requests through my settings – so let me see how that lands in terms of their customer effort score (bearing in kind that the lower the client effort the greater the propensity to be loyal)..and the answer is very very badly. Clearly the ‘design assumption’ is that people will agree and then forget to or not understand how to stop Vodafone from then accessing the data.

Trust is going to be an increasingly key element of our relationships with suppliers and there will be a few winners and lots of losers, Vodafone could have been one of the chosen few but with this approach have thrown away all trust they had built – with me at least, all for what? Access to some personal data that they hope to make money out of having access to ….dream on!

Vodafone continue to undermine their customer experience….read my rant!

Love the strap-line “power to you” if only it was true – maybe it should read “Vodafone we abuse the power we think we have over you” not quite as catchy but at least it is true.

It seems that mobile companies cannot help themselves when it comes to killing their customer experience in pursuit of their own objectives. What do I mean, well I am sure we could all think of occasions where this has happened to us and this was my latest experience. As a customer I was encouraged to download the Vodafone app a potentially useful little tool for checking usage of my monthly allowances – that was the driver for me. I used it only occasionally but it was helpful particularly when travelling overseas.

So I switch on my phone last week to find the app image with “2” next to it indicating that Vodafone were communicating with me. The message basically said we want to a access your personal data “to improve the service” oh of course I thought – well in this age of data security no one gets access to any of my data unless I see real value in sharing it. So I declined the option thinking that was it!!! But no I then get a message saying that if I decline this then I won’t be able to use the app! WHAT!!!! Now that is firstly supreme arrogance that they believe this crappy little app is so significant to my life that I would immediately say “ok have my data” and secondly has completely ignored how I might react to this and feel about this…frankly I feel like cancelling my and my families contract….not rational I know, but when people make you angry you cease to be rational and that is a key point that businesses fail to comprehend.

Reading on I find that I can accept the request and then I can go into my phone and deny the requests through my settings – so let me see how that lands in terms of their customer effort score (bearing in kind that the lower the client effort the greater the propensity to be loyal)..and the answer is very very badly. Clearly the ‘design assumption’ is that people will agree and then forget to or not understand how to stop Vodafone from then accessing the data.

Trust is going to be an increasingly key element of our relationships with suppliers and there will be a few winners and lots of losers, Vodafone could have been one of the chosen few but with this approach have thrown away all trust they had built – with me at least, all for what? Access to some personal data that they hope to make money out of having access to ….dream on!

Clocks change an opportunity to deliver an experience…..

I had the pleasure of being in the village of Topsham in the South West of England for a birthday party – my wife and I were staying at The Salutation a pub, come gastro come B&B in the village.  This was last weekend and the evening that the clocks changed out of British Summer Time, something that it is easy to forget not least ahead of and after a big party night!

salutation-clocks-change-copy

So what lovely surprise to find the note pictured here on the pillow –  simple reminder but if you read the word an opportunity to highlight one of the key experiential parts of at the Bed & Breakfast establishment …yep how comfortable was the bed…and I can assure you it was and so we would highly recommend the beds at the Salutation!  It takes a bit of thought to take these opportunities to create the experience but it is these little things that really do count and what did it cost, yep NOTHING!  Will we now recommend this place to friends and even return ourselves yes we will 🙂

#thinkdifferently

It is the little things….

Found this throw back to my childhood in a local bar/restaurant

milk-bopttle

– it reminded me how memories can be keyed and recalled with all of the senses, in this case it was a visual cue the old fashioned milk bottle that I used to collect off the doorstep for my mum.  Of course in this case the team have taken the time and used some thought to not only use the iconic glass bottle in miniature BUT also to personalise that with a hand written message.  If could have been delivered in a simple jug but would not have had a tenth of the impact….you guessed it ..it passed my “it made me smile” test

#thinkdifferently

Updated post..BA take my “Expectation versus Customer Experience reality” test and score 2/10…

ba_2543182b

This article generated a lot of interest when I published it here. It plays to the heart of the issue with Customer Experience which, in the end, is about delivering on the customer expectation that brands have actively created. Since the original post British Airways have announced formally that they will be charging for food on short haul flights – so I was on the money and have now updated this post to reflect this new information!

It is no longer acceptable to mislead and compromise that experience, hoping that, firstly, no-one will notice and, secondly, they will not call you out on social media or old-fashioned word of mouth for ‘cheating’ on the expectation.

Over the coming months, I shall be producing a series of brand experience ‘road tests’ to challenge and reward, hopefully in equal measure!

Since I penned the original review in September, it was interesting to see it being reported in the press that British Airways will in future charge for food on short-haul flights, via a commercial tie-up with the upmarket retailer Marks & Spencer, unlikely then, one would expect, to be cheap food to buy and now confirmed as being charged at a premium to the Marks and Spencer in-store prices..

Now if you have an ex-budget airline CEO running the ship – as BA does – you will be taking your leadership from someone who could think this is ‘evolving the brand’ (to a model he is more familiar with?). When the food story first broke I thought the idea was that you charge for food, which allows you to lower your flight price to compete with the real low-cost carriers of the world. The reality of this is simple: prices may initially drop a little but then they will creep back up because BA will always feel it is a cut above the ‘bucket airlines’ and deserves a premium. My assumption in September was, as it turns out, too generous in reality now that the Marks and Spencer tie up has been confirmed I understand from Press reports that fare prices will not be reduced to reflect this as clearly they believe the BA value proposition can stand the increase in cost and reduced service experience that we passengers will be treated to in future and BA will see a little bit more (bad) profit!!

What will be interesting is to see if the BA marketing and advertising teams recognise this degrading of the brand position and proactively provide an adjusted expectation for customers… or will they just hope we don’t notice.

OK, the background to ‘my experience’ is a trip to Edinburgh to play an annual golf event that has been running for some 27 years now.

I booked the flight some time ago through Expedia (£215.17), choosing to fly BA as it is a full service carrier, which I prefer to the low-cost alternatives. My expectation, based on hundreds of flights with BA over the years, was that it would be better from a safety point of view i.e. a relatively new and well maintained aircraft; sensible seating with a bit of leg room; plus, perhaps, some food and a luggage allowance. My expectation was based not only on previous experience but the company’s own advertising.

So, how did BA do?

I was thankful I checked in online as immediately I had a rather nasty surprise. When I clicked two bags to check in, I was informed that my ticket was hand baggage only. Even though the Expedia confirmation had a footnote that “The airline may charge additional fees for checked baggage”, my simple assumption, born of all previous experiences, was that as BA is full service I would get my two bags to check in. Apparently BA had introduced three new levels of charging including a basic service that was hand luggage only – that message never reached this loyal passenger with over 4500 tier points accumulated.

When I clicked to check in my ‘extra baggage’, I discovered that BA wanted to charge me another £170. If I had done this at the airport, the price would have been £260!!!! So, the cost of taking two bags, weighing less than 40kg, was more than my entire journey as a fully-grown adult weighing somewhat more than that. Unbelievable and totally unjustified, yet I had no choice, so did the deed.

Now on to the seating. Online, BA offered me a middle seat at the back of the plane: not ideal, so I moved my seat, only to discover that to do that they wanted to charge me another £11 for one option or £9 for another. What? I am now getting more than disappointed with my experience. I decide that the middle seat would do – they were all reasonable legroom, it was only a short flight, etc, etc. How wrong I was!!

I got to the airport, where check-in – unlike my previous experience a month earlier (see my earlier blog post) – was smooth and I was airside in under 20 minutes. Now on to the plane and… what’s this? BA has contracted the flight out to a Danish low-cost airline – Jettime – complete with Danish crew. The plane was old, the seating was so cramped that I had to adopt a very awkward elbows-tucked-in position for the entire flight to avoid pummelling my fellow passengers.

So now I am paying a premium price and flying on a low-cost carrier. I think that has to be close to illegal and, certainly, an awful brand experience. Rather bizarrely, amidst the Danish airline-branded crew and aircraft, the BA High Life magazine was in the seat pocket – attempting to suggest that this was a BA flight but, truthfully, only serving to emphasise what you were missing. To reinforce the ‘this is not BA’ point, the crew constantly referred to our destination as EdinBERG. Hmm :((

Now on to the return leg, which was delayed by over an hour but was a big BA jet, with seven seats across, so a busy flight for a short journey.

About 20 minutes before landing, the crew read out a long list of flight numbers, adding that the passengers on those inter-connecting flights should go to the International Transfer Desk as they had all been booked on later flights. Arghh! Poor people.

As the plane approached our gate, the captain came on the intercom to explain that our initial delay had been caused by having to take the bags of passengers who had not turned up to the flight off the aircraft. This, as we all know, can happen but he then blithely trotted out the script he has been given for just such occasions: “Sorry, I hope you have not been inconvenienced by the delay.”

Now hold on! He knows that a significant number of passengers have just been hugely inconvenienced and faced I don’t know how many hours’ delay connecting and probably other impacts at their destinations!!

Post-flight, I pick up the ‘how was everything for you?’ survey and provide honest feedback, ticking the box giving them my consent to contact me to discuss my answers.

I hold out no hope that BA will contact me (it is now October and of course they have not contacted me) or that they will even consider compensating me for my sub-standard experience. Of course, the impact in the mid-term for them is less business from me and the knock-on impact of me relaying this story, therefore undermining the tens of millions the company spends on brand advertising.

So what can be learned from this experience?

Firstly, someone in BA – no doubt distant for the actual flying experience – took a commercial decision to outsource the BA brand to a low-cost Danish provider. It makes you wonder if they have ever actually sat on the plane that is supposed to represent BA and justify its premium price position. I would think not because if the answer was yes they would have thought it acceptable – which is even worse. Outsourcing is a huge risk for businesses because, in reality, you outsource the experience – and in this case it palpably did not work. As I noted, there must also be a case for fraud through misrepresenting the experience/cost equation.

Second, if BA wants to maintain a premium brand position, it needs to reconsider adopting the commercial practices of low-cost carriers. I don’t mind that Ryanair charges for hold luggage or assigned seating; you are paying a very low base fare and then choosing to bolt on costs. You are in control and you know what you are getting. BA, however, should not expect passengers to pay for moving seat, for putting some bags in the hold. It is a full service airline, with high entry cost of a ticket, that now wants the pricing structures of a low-cost provider. That is a commercial decision and while it might generate a few more pounds, it is BAD PROFIT and will cost the business in the long run.

Finally, it is good to give your crew, particularly captains and flight crew, the words to use when things go wrong, but they also need to be smart enough to adapt what they say when they know that passengers are going to suffer major consequences as a result of a delay. Platitudes/insincerity only serve to inflame the situation and it was interesting to see that our captain failed to stand by the door saying goodbye to the unhappy passengers, choosing instead to remain locked away in his cockpit!

The British Airway Expectation versus actual Customer Experience score 2/10

#thinkdifferently

The ‘big data’ con in customer experience….

The big data con in customer experience: What is important is the right data, usable data at the right time. When it comes to measuring what customers really think about your business, it’s actually small data that really counts’.

 If you want to understand what makes customer experiences special just think about why you remember particular experiences in a positive light, sometimes it is because it just did what you expected but there will usually be some small detail or details that made the difference. The phrase “it is the little things that count” are at the heart of most great experiences. Contrast that with the image conjured up by the phrase ‘big data’, that we now hear everyday that is held up by many (usually with a vested interest) as the answer to defining customer experiences. I seem to remember that a few years ago CRM systems were going to perform the same miracle – help you to understand, manage and even predict what your customer s needs, desires and behaviour would be.

The issue here is not the value of big data, in the right context what can be achieved can be truly amazing – crunching immense quantities of information to unravel science, to produce cures for diseases – the question is where is the value in terms of customer experience design and delivery.

Customer experience is a practical deliverable ‘thing’ it is not a theory that requires a proof, therefore ‘data’ is only valuable if it can be used to either to reinforce the value of an existing customer experience or if it can be used to underpin change that can be connected to an improvement in the value to the end customer and the company.

When I talk to businesses about what can be seen as a highly complex area that requires a high degree of technical expertise and insight to engage with I ask some simple questions. In effect a mini sense check that any Executive could understand the answers to: how much do you spend on collecting customer data…on storing customer data…on analyzing customer data? How do you create value from your customer data?

Occasionally there is a high level of understanding in terms of the answers but in most there is a knowledge gap and if you don’t know the answers how can you begin to understand the return on investment of your own ‘engagement with the great big data race?’

In my book on the customer experience I am challenging companies to think about these fundamentals, it is too easy to invest just to be part of the game.

Over the years I have not come across many companies of any scale that have a shortage of data about their customers and knowledge about what happens inside their business – indeed more than enough to be able to act and improve their existing experience with no further investment.

To illustrate this just consider how a short analysis of the data around customer complaints usually reveals themes and repeated issues. I have seen first hand how when a Bank opens a new customer account, history (data) tells them where the potential new customer will have problems, how that will prompt some degree of customer distress, in-bound calls and therefore cost – yet this is not acted upon and instead the response is to react when the problem – that is entirely predictable – manifests itself! There is no logic to this behavior using prior knowledge to make tiny changes to the experience makes both experiential and commercial sense, after all it is the little things that count!

So why do these changes not happen? It is not about the absence of big data it is in most cases about the disconnects inside the company, in effect the business logic is broken and that means a lack of a clear view on the ownership of the design and management of key customer experience.

You can have all the customer data in the world at your fingertips but if the customer experience does not have a strong voice in the Executive you will deliver nothing of consequence.

The Customer Experience Book explores this and many more key issues in detail to provide practical guidance and helps to engage with improving experiences and commercial results.

Experience the new world (wooden) bicycle….it made me smile….hic!

I spotted this whilst in Majorca earlier in the summer, it stood out immediately because of the colour but on closer inspection you realise that this is actually a wooden bike fro an adult, the first one I have ever seen!  So I did a little investigation and was amazed to find that there is a whole industry out there producing all manner of amazing bikes made out of wood.  Yes you can buy a carbon fibre bike today (if you have enough money and don’t get me wrong some of the wooden bikes can cost thousands if you have the cash) but you can get one that weighs less than 10KG made of ash wood!!  Environmental as bicycles are when made out of metal they still have that carbon footprint and frankly the visual experience of these wooden bikes is amazing and fun – it makes you smile and as in some of the other posts in my blog that counts for a lot when I rank the “emotional experience” of a product – in this case I am sure it makes you smile as the rider and it makes passers by smile too –  a real double win!

Wooden Bike

Of course the picture below courtesy of ‘Woodbikes’ was almost enough to have me go out and buy one (….not that I would drink and ride of course) – it is a new take on the ‘water bottle’ holder on those boring old metal bikes….cheers :))

wooden-bike-and-wine

#thinkdifferently