"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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When it comes to getting people served, has business lost its way?


The customer experience industry has evolved over the last few years as a timely reminder to all of us that customers are important. In our heart of hearts we all know that without them we don’t have a business but sometimes when you are up to your nether regions in the swamp of management minutiae its easy to forget that customers aren’t the ones doing the snapping; they are people with whom we want to have a great ongoing relationship. You know, where they keep buying things.


So, in this era of customer experience enlightenment you would think that by now we would have cracked the basics wouldn’t you? And you’d be wrong.  


So, how many of you out there, reading this, are shoppers?  Most of you, right? Unless you are lucky enough to have a partner who does it all for you and even then what about their Christmas present? Or that personal little treat you promised yourself? Go on admit it, you are a secret shopper aren’t you?


And how many of you buy everything you ever shop for on line? No-one. Yes, that’s right, not one of you. It’s still the case that more than four fifths of everything we ever buy completes in face to face space. Of course, we do our research on line, check reviews, social media, compare prices but mostly we pick it up in store or talk about that new mortgage in the bank. Don’t believe me? Reflect, think about your own shopping habits. You’d download music from iTunes, you would almost certainly buy a book on line from Amazon but would you buy a house or a second hand car without viewing it in person? Would you marry someone without ever meeting them? Those are the extremes, each end of the range. Somewhere in the middle is reality – the space where we all live and where there’s a selection of comfort levels, based on how cautious we are, how much time we have available and how important to us the purchase is.


Our perception of our customer journey through Face to Face space has the most influence in our relationships with the brands we buy from. It is Daniel Kahneman’s “end state”, the one that we remember and that colours our judgement when making future purchasing decisions.


And the thing is, one factor consistently comes out “top” of the NPS “pops” when looking at customer feedback about face to face space and that’s good old queueing. These days I would rather describe it as the process of matching the supply of service with instantaneous demand. It requires careful orchestration to ensure that it is achieved both efficiently and in a way that customers obtain maximum utility from. Smartphones, solutions in the cloud, remote experts and a host of other new solutions, stacked on top of best practice, offer a wealth of opportunities to deliver better, more cost effective experiences. Real time appointments or future appointments, moments of commitment which match seller and buyer and deliver the light and confidence of knowledge, at the critical moment of purchase, change everything and bring customers back for more.


I welcome the opportunity to have dialogue with any organisation who wants to commit to making the difference and seeing a consequent uplift in their NPS scores.