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

Sir Stuart Rose,
Chairman of Marks & Spencer plc

All royalties to The Princes' Trust

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“So, to summarise the current situation Santa, the elves have staged a walk out and present production has come to a complete halt. Orders are still flooding in and at this rate nothing will get done in time. Let’s face it, we are just going to have to cancel Christmas!”

The Chief Elf wasn’t mincing his words.

“But we can’t do that, think of all of those little children with no presents on Christmas day!!”

Santa stared pensively out of the window, watching the Elves march up and down waving their placards as they picketed The Grotto.

“And think of all of the damage to the “Santa” brand. This could sink us once and for all”, added the Chief Elf gloomily.

“How did we get ourselves into this mess?” exclaimed Santa,” And more importantly, how do we get out of it again?”

Santa shook his head slowly and let out a deep sigh.

“What will it take to get the Elves back to work? Has Rudolf been able to get anywhere in the negotiations?”

Sitting across the desk from him, the Chief Elf formed his fingers into a tent and looked Santa squarely in the eye.

“Well Santa, it seems that the Elves are demanding that we pay The Living Wage and that we backdate it to April 1st

“Well, I suppose they have us over a barrel,” said Santa reluctantly.

“Yes Santa, I agree but the next bit’s more complicated. After Rudolf met with the Elves it seems that he and the other Reindeer held a Skype conference with the father of Net Promoter Score, Fred Reichheld. Mr Reichheld told them that there is one person who can fire anyone in the organisation and that’s the customer. No one is safe apparently, from the Chairman, that’s you Santa, down to the lowest paid worker.”

“Interesting. Who is the lowest paid worker in our organisation?”

“That would be Dancer Sir. He joined us last year under the Reindeer Apprentice Scheme. May I continue Sir?”

“Of course, please carry on.”

“Well, it seems that on this call the Reindeer set out the issues as they saw them and Mr Reichheld asked that the Elves join the conversation.”

“But haven’t we always tried to keep them apart? You know, in those big containers?”

“Yes Sir, you mean the Functional Silos Sir. We’ve always felt it was better for each employee to just focus on the task in hand and not worry about what everyone else was up to.”

“So what happened when the Elves joined the call?”

“Well it seems that Mr Reichheld had them describe the current customer journey and he was not impressed.”

“What do you mean?”

“He says that he is surprised that we can operate at all in this “Age of the Customer”. That nothing about our journey is joined up. We over promise and under deliver.  Apparently, we should focus on the customer experience and get all of our processes to hook seamlessly together so that we can delight the customer and get them to recommend us to others.”

“Hmm, well. That all sounds pretty clichéd to me. Did he say anything we could actually use?”

“He said that the way we receive orders on badly addressed letters to “Santa, Lapland” is chaotic. We even end up paying for the postage in most cases. He believes that we need something called a mobile app.”

“What on earth is a mobile ape, Chief Elf?”

“A mobile app, Sir, not a mobile ape. I understand that it will allow people to use their smart phones to place orders with us digitally. It makes the whole process much easier for us to manage. We capture all of the information we need and once we have designed and built the app we won’t ever have to pay postage again.”

“That sounds good, what else did he suggest?”

“We need to plan out our deliveries in a better way. By offering to ship to everyone, everywhere in a single night we have set ourselves up to fail.”

“He suggests that we create alternative fulfilment options. There can be a “drop down menu” offering “drop down chimney” or “leave with the Elf next door”. We also have the opportunity to formalise our delivery charging arrangements by putting our terms and conditions up front.”

“So do we standardise on a mince pie, a glass of sherry and a carrot for the reindeer?”

“Absolutely Sir. But he says that the really big win would be to re-task all of those franchised Santas we have in the High Street into a Click & Collect operation. That way people can pick up their presents when it suits them and we can expect to increase our basket size by as much as 30%.”

“Don’t you mean sack size?”

“Apparently the retail industry call it basket size Sir,” said the Chief Elf primly.

“But what will happen when everyone tries to come in at the same time to collect their presents?  It will be chaos with huge, long queues!”

“I’ve been doing some research Sir and I’ve found a company called Qmatic who come highly recommended. They can help us organise our mobile ape.”

“You mean mobile app!”

“Yes Sir, sorry Sir.  Apparently, like us, they are a global organisation and can support us all over the world with their proven Orchestra software. Customers will be able to book an appointment on line for a collection slot which will make sure that in store waiting times don’t get out of hand. Orchestra will manage the whole process for them even if they need to change their delivery slot or location. As our customers arrive in store they simply use the mobile app to inform the local Santa and whilst the Elves put everything together they can do a little last minute shopping. With all of the data that this will generate around the customer journey we can make sure that we deliver a great customer experience every time.”

Santa let out a huge “Ho, Ho, Ho.”

“That sounds marvellous and so much better than getting that chap to shout “Customer number three to Santa number six please! He does have a nice voice though, I wonder who he is?”

“Indeed Sir. And the last thing that Mr Reichheld suggested was that we implement NPS.”

“Ah, you mean Net Promoter Score,” said Santa triumphantly.

“Urrmm, not exactly Sir,” said the Chief Elf,” This is a special version designed exclusively for us, called “No Pandemonium Santa!””

“That sounds brilliant,” said Santa, “Call Mrs Claus and tell her to hire this Mr Reichheld. He’s clearly a genius. This is going to be the best Christmas ever!”


With apologies to Fred Reichheld and Merry Christmas Everybody!