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"An insightful and refreshing look at the way consumers and retailers interact in this modern age.”

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Chairman of Marks & Spencer plc

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Customer Experience with Wings

It was so delightful to see Ryanair’s previous “hard man” chief executive Michael O’Leary unveiling their “Always Get Better” programme this week whilst cuddling a puppy. Not noted for his previous reticence or indeed tolerance on the subject of customer experience, Mr O’ Leary would have us believe that he is the latest convert to improving the lot of the customer. After two profit warnings in 2013 Ryanair have made determined efforts to improve their reputation with customers with allocated seating, a free second carry-on bag and much more to come.

 

And are we surprised at the outcome? Passenger numbers are up, occupancy is up, which means that the airline can invest in additional routes and in turn are now looking at further improvements in the customer journey in anticipation of even greater beneficial effects on the airline’s results.

 

Perhaps Ryanair’s conversion to the virtues of Customer Experience Management marks a milestone in the maturing industry’s history; if the last bastions of no frills, price based offers are submitting to the siren call of customer complaints on social media then maybe we have reached a watershed beyond which there is a common belief that investing in superior customer experience delivers an economic return.

 

I, for one, will be grateful, if that’s the case. I seem to have spent much of the last twenty years berating senior bankers and retailers to do just that, with frankly, mixed results. But if even Mr O’Leary is convinced then there must be hope for us all.

 

But there is still work to do. Even amongst the leading lights of this omni-channel, customer experience savvy world in which we all trade I see this simplest avoidable mistakes being made. 

 

Andy Street continues to make a fantastic job of leading the John Lewis team in delivering in the High Street but do we really believe that, in this day and age, the best way to allocate service to time poor shoppers in a busy electricals department on a Saturday afternoon is to have someone stand there with a clipboard and take the names of customers? No estimated wait times to manage customer expectations, no algorithms matching up best available product knowledge with customer questions? The scope of putting in a solution here would be endless. Not only could more efficient use be made of available partners in this store but waiting customers could be assisted by partners in another store who just happened to be free.  Andy, I will happily talk you through how it can be done.

 

Senior management in any and every organisation that serves customers in digital and face to face space cannot afford to let their attention wander for a minute. They need to review every opportunity to raise their team’s game.

 

The convergence of face to face with mobile is the next big battle ground for delivering great customer experiences. Never let your attention wander.