Friday Customer Experience Pack #3

Every Friday, I’m going to round up the best Customer Experience writing I have seen during the week. Subscribe below if you’d like to receive this by email each week. Previous editions are here.

  • Customer Journey mapping is so important to building an excellent experience for your most critical assets.  This article from Jeanne Bliss is taken from her CCO 2.0 book, where she outlines the process taken at the Smithsonian Institute to build a living and breathing Customer Journey to help articulate the experience across the company.
  • The inimitable Shep Hyken asks ‘are you so good that your customers would pay double?‘  It’s thought-provoking to understand what differentiates you from your competition, and how Customer Experience can play into that.
  • The team at ZenDesk are asking if it is time for you to build a Support Operations team.  Making sure that your customer-facing staff have the best in processes, content and ongoing support will ensure that they can focus on delivering the best service possible.  I’m lucky enough to have great staff surrounding my frontline, but there are always opportunities to formalise and improve.
  • Finally, over at Customer Think, they are writing about the huge opportunity there is for small business to differentiate themselves through Customer Experience.  Given that margins are being squeezed ever tighter and the price is no longer an easy way to differentiate, customers are going to make decisions about service and experience.   Just think about how you will go to the ‘expensive’ coffee shop because the coffee is a tiny bit better, and the service is great.  That decision is being played out thousands of times a day and if you aren’t maxing your experience, you are definitely losing customers.
Thousands of buying decisions are being made each day based on #CustomerExperience alone - are you thinking about maximising your profits through great CX? Click To Tweet

What did I miss? Let me know the best Customer Experience writing you’ve seen this week in the comments.

Friday Customer Experience Pack #2

Every Friday, I’m going to round up the best Customer Experience writing I have seen during the week. Subscribe below if you’d like to receive this by email each week. Previous editions are here.


I saw this post by Bob Thompson referenced a few times this week, and rightly so. According to a recent study, 93% of Customer Experience initiatives are failing, and less than a third are demonstrating positive results.  It’s important because most companies believe that CX is the battleground on which they will win, and the ones that get tangible results are going to steal a march on the competition.

This older article on Event Driven Feedback from Mopinion really interests me, many companies still rely on the campaign driven survey to get feedback from customers – but using telemetry to ask discreet questions will yield very specific actional insights. This seems like an excellent strategy.

Tnooz focuses on the travel industry, but this article on key priorities for travel brands has insight that is useful in ANY vertical.  The idea that companies to move past silo-based thinking and align with company-wide customer goals is valuable advice.   This is the cornerstone of the work that Jeanne Bliss does in building the CCO role.

Finally – not Customer Experience focused, but great thinking for industries like the one I’m involved in. The World needs more modest, linear-growth based companies , so says DHH at  Signal vs Noise. I agree, it’s really easy to spend time looking for silver bullets that create hockey stick growth, but there is as much value in getting better one percent at a time, and growing sustainably as a result.

What did I miss? Let me know the best Customer Experience writing you’ve seen this week in the comments.

Friday Customer Experience Pack

Every Friday, I’m going to round up the best Customer Experience writing I have seen during the week. Subscribe below if you’d like to receive this by email each week.

Jeanne Bliss reflected on the death of Ingvar Kamprad from Ikea with some comments on the ‘clarity of purpose’ at the company, and how that had driven success.  Lots of people have mixed feelings about the Customer Experience at Ikea, but like the McDonalds of furniture, customers always know what they are going to get and the standards I have seen in the UK are always exacting.

I loved this post from Peter Simoons about getting the right focus in order to improve CX – his example of being refused entry to an airport lounge was excellent, and the lack of focus on his experience caused him to seek another supplier for his needs.

The ever-brilliant Lolly Daskal dropped this great article about why leaders crash and burn, if you are in a Customer facing leadership role, there is some good advice for being successful here.

Finally, Shep Hyken blogged about the customer service gap, firstly between you and your competitors – and then between what you think you are doing and what your customers think you are doing.  This second gap is the reason that I subscribe to the notion of walking the customer journey regularly and frequently, so you can test that experience and learn from it.

What did I miss? Let me know the best Customer Experience writing you’ve seen this week in the comments.

Open Banking – Security & Privacy

Open Banking has the potential to deliver huge benefits for the consumer. However, from the press coverage so far this week, customers still have concerns about how their data is handled.

The idea that banks will open their precious data streams, using a standardised set of API’s has the opportunity to deliver big gains.  From new services to improved customer experience, the increased transparency will open up options that could revolutionise the way we bank.

The Open Banking changes made last week are only the beginning, over  the next two years credit cards, savings accounts and more will be added, opening up a world of opportunity for providers and customers alike.

With this new technology comes uncertainty that banks will need to help customers overcome if they are to build trust in new services.

What’s an API?

Open Banking is delivered through the implementation of API’s (Application Programming Interfaces) – which are an intelligent connection between systems that allow for a flow of data.

API’s are not new. They’ve been around for many years and allow us to connect our desktop and mobile banking applications to our accounts, facilitating the secure and private transfer of transactions to where we need them to be.

What Open Banking has done, is standardise the presentation of these API’s so that  (when we allow them to) bank systems can talk to other systems.

So, is my account now open for everyone to see?

Banks traditionally have been responsible for making sure your account stays secure and private, and fundamentally nothing has changed here.   In fact, it’s largely within the banks’ interest to keep that data to themselves, that’s why it has traditionally been tricky to change bank accounts.

Under Open Banking, whilst the method of moving data is standardised this DOES NOT mean there is a free-for-all with information.  Any institutions that require access to your data to deliver a service, will still require YOUR permission for that to happen.

The rules are fairly clear:

  • Any new bank or payment provider that uses Open Banking will be regulated by the financial services regulator in their country of origin,/

Financial Conduct Authority - Open Banking

  • Customers in the UK will be able to find out if organisations are regulated on the FCA website, so any provider of Open Banking services will need to be enrolled with the FCA and have that logo displayed on their site.
  • Open Banking providers are not permitted to take any action on any account with the explicit consent of the account holder.

You can search the Financial Conduct Authority register here. I did a quick search for the app-based Monzo bank that I use, and this is what the register displays:

FCA Register - Monzo - Open Banking

So, its clear from my search that Monzo is authorised – ‘a firm that is given permission to provide regulated products and services’.

However, because I Monzo never connects to my main bank account, I’ve never had to explicitly give permission. If I wanted that to happen (for instance, if Monza introduced a service to display my Santander balance or transactions and I wanted to use that), I would need to explicitly give permission. At that point, I’d recheck that both providers were FCA registered. 

So, Open Banking is safe?

As with any online service, some basic common sense is recommended to ensure your security and privacy, here are some simple rules to remember:

  1. Never give out your online banking password or access codes over the phone or in an email. No bank will ever ask you for a password or PIN number.
  2. Keep your anti-virus and malware software up to date.
  3. Avoid shared computers and networks for online banking.
  4. Protect your password and make them strong.
  5. Know what you are downloading – if it’s a new app that claims to help you save money with your bank account – check on the FCA website and be satisfied that the provider is authorised.

Overall, Open Banking presents no further risks than online banking did until now.

If you don’t give permission, then your banking data stays as secure as it was before the legislation was introduced.   You might miss out on some of the benefits, but you should stay safe in the knowledge that your information is secure.



Open Banking : Whats in it for customers?

The way that we bank will change radically this weekend, but few consumers in the UK understand the impact of Open Banking, and how it will transform their personal finances.

From today (13th Jan),  banks will be able (with permission) to open up their archives of spending data to licensed financial services providers.  From technology providers to retailers, a whole new set of data will provide information on how & where we spend our money.

The new rules aim to bring more competition into the banking marketplace, and we have already seen the emergence of new players who are radically changing how we bank.

But what is really in Open Banking for us?

At the very least, customers should expect easier access to their information.  Using one banking app to see information from accounts at multiple banks is one opportunity, assuming you’ve opted in to share that data.

Yolt - Open BankingI expect to see a raft of apps that will tap into that freedom of information, like Yolt, Plum and Bean – these platforms will allow you to aggregate your balances from multiple accounts (Current, Savings and Credit Cards) into one screen.

The promise is that these apps will help you save money, with providers using the data you share to offer you the best services and the lowest cost.

In the last few years, we have seen new banks emerging, ready to tackle the technology and societal needs of customers more seriously.  These new providers have been agile enough to steal a march, particularly with younger customers.

Monzo Logo - Open BankingA new breed of banks that run as apps on your phone e.g. Monzo, Revolut and Starling,  offer new features in packages that suit a mobile-first world.   These modern banks will be the first to offer revolutionary services in the banking field.  For example, Revolut already offers the ability to buy and sell Cryptocurrencies directly from the app, next to a current account.

These new providers will be different to traditional banks, offering advice and guidance on the most suitable products, and we should expect to see technology take a lead here with machine learning and AI providing new insights and methods for managing money.

Financial Services Authority - Open BankingAll of these apps will need to be licensed by the Financial Services Authority, meaning that consumers can feel safe knowing that their data is handled appropriately.

Open Banking should also allow for easier switching of accounts, meaning consumers can hunt around for the best deals without the challenges of moving an account from one provider to another.

Open Banking improves Customer Experience

Ultimately, the consumer stands to gain from Open Banking.  The build of new apps and services will open up new choices for customers.  Increased transparency and competition will create a new standard for customer experience.

Provided consumers exercise some due diligence in ensuring that services are covered by the FSA, then there is only upside.

Productivity in Customer Success

If you are in a Customer Success or Service role, you’ve probably struggled with productivity.  Your calendar and inbox are at the mercy of your customers, and careful planning can disappear with a single customer interaction.

I’ve spent thirty years in customer-facing roles, and have encountered every type of interruption, derailing my plans frequently.

When you need to achieve some deep work, some interruption-free time is needed, where you can maximise your productivity. This sometimes feels at odds with any role where you are customer facing and need to be responsive.

However, I’ve developed some tactics that I have found helpful to keep my days on track, even when I’ve needed to be driven by customer needs and their schedules:


Firstly – embrace the chaos.  Detaching yourself from the emotions of a plan being derailed ensures you stay insulated from any impact.  If you become upset by broken plans, it’ll make it harder to get back on track.

Reactive vs Proactive

A key skill is knowing exactly what mode you need to be in at any time.  Having the right level of information or alerts set up so that you can switch to a reactive mode when you need to, allows you to focus fully on being proactive.   When you need to focus on customers either through planned (ideal) or unplanned interactions, knowing that you are in a reactive mode helps you stay focused.

Find a friend

Work to find people on your team who can help you when you need to protect your time. Either through delegation or peer to peer support, find people who can support you when deadlines approach and you need to commit to something away from your front line customer commitments.

Knowing that you have someone to hand-off a critical issue to, or to have your back when you need to take yourself away from the front-line to complete a task, is essential.

Protect some time

Isolate slices of time when you can work ‘offline’, either a day a week or a couple of hours a day that allows you get on with the things that are not customer facing.   I often use an hour at start and end of each day to get on with my to-do list. The first hour sets the tone for productivity over the day, and I find that if I tick off a key item when I am at my most productive, I can finish other smaller items in between reactive work later in the day.

Over the years I have been able to build in a working from home day, where I don’t plan any meetings and focus on my 3P’s – planning, preparation and projects.  Even if you have a culture where working from home is not allowed, you could introduce a ‘no customer meetings’ day where you focus on offline tasks.

Protect more time

Use your calendar to protect the things that get ‘bumped’ really easily, learning time, meetings, 1:1’s are all important and mustn’t be left to chance.

Your calendar is your friend here, defining regular timeslots, colour coding and scheduling the important things means that you know exactly how much time you have to be reactive.

One amazing piece of advice I picked up from an old boss was to review my time and divide into key categories.  xx% on customer-facing activities, xx% on 1:1’s and team development etc.

The key here is funding your rules, and protecting your time.

Optimise the systems

Try and remove the things that slow you down, one specific area is multiple systems.  Moving between workflows and systems creates friction that eats away at your time and limits your availability. Look carefully at your workflow and see if you can eliminate the time wasters.

A key productivity decision for me was to remove all the folders in my email.  For many years, I carefully filed things into folders, sub-folders and sub-sub-folders.  I soon realised I was spending 3/4 seconds figuring out a home for each message, and STILL searching for things.

I moved to a single archive solution, and learned how to search properly – and saved myself the time and effort of filing all those emails!

Reduce decisions

Try and break down decisions to be handled by data and heuristics.  I like to use simple processes to help me make decisions which can then be delegated or made into processes.

In my first role as a team leader, I quickly became sucked into schedule and rota discussions. I quickly laid out a set of rules and a simple spreadsheet and eliminated the discussions, to give me back more time.

I also believe that checklists are a great way to take decision making away from your brain, and just ensure that things get done quickly and accurately.  Nearly every team leadership role I have held has had some kind of daily or weekly checklist to ensure that I don’t have to process reminders.

Final Words

In any customer-facing role that is primarily reactive, it’s easy to get sucked into calls and meetings and to see your day disappear. With some light planning and a flexible and agile approach to your time management, you can make and find time to be proactive as well.

Walk the journey

It’s not difficult. Stop making it look difficult. You are kidding no-one.

Delivering good customer experience is not hard. Just put yourself in the shoes of your customer, and live the experience they get.

Examine every step. Forensically. Do it multiple times, and make mistakes on purpose. By experiencing your customers’ journey, you can see the challenges and make the adjustments you need to drive improvements.

When you’ve done that, do it again. It’s not difficult. Keep on doing it.

Rinse and repeat until you have ironed out all the creases. Until you have cracked the code. Until you have found ways to make your customer happy.

Not just satisfied. Happy. 

You can invest in all the tools and studies that you want, but nothing will replace walking in your shoes of your customer.

Once you have done that.  You can move to the next step.