In 2017, the UK recorded its lowest ever Customer Experience Excellence score since the study began. In 2018, this result improved, and now in 2019 the average score has progressed once again. An increasing number of organizations are embracing the commercial advantages of operating in line with The Six Pillars, which are shown through research to be linked to customer loyalty and advocacy.
However, the way in which companies are tackling CX has shifted slightly. In the UK there’s a growing recognition of the power of the employee experience, and businesses are looking at ways to honor and understand their workforces for the betterment of the consumer. Much of this is to do with trust; several businesses are asking, “If our employees don’t trust us, how will the customer?” Therefore some renewed effort has been put into fostering dynamic working environments, where open dialogues are encouraged between employees and their managers.
Connected with this is the concept of the Human Value Chain, which successful organizations are utilizing – together with The Six Pillars as a framework – to create a seamlessly connected CX. In a sense, it’s like a line of dominoes: the company culture impacts the colleague experience, which in turn impacts the colleague behaviors. This then impacts the CX, which impacts the customer behaviors, which impacts the business outcomes.
As such, the implementation of this understanding is at the heart of CX design for many of the UK’s strongest organizations.
In the latest study, the cosmetics retailer Lush is the third highestranking brand for 2019. It promotes itself as an ethical company, highlighting the fact that it’s against animal testing and that its products are vegetarian. Respondents to the research cite these endeavors as contributing factors to the brand’s high score in the pillar of Integrity.
"This year we see an increasing number of brands getting real returns from their hard work to improve their customers’ experiences. However, keeping pace with rising customer expectations continues to be extremely tough. The latest research shows that it’s those brands with the most motivated employees that are best reacting to change, whilst also generating the best returns for shareholders."
Head of Customer Consulting,
KPMG in the UK
Whilst all of Lush’s employees are given rigorous training to aid product knowledge, they’re also given autonomy – an example of how the company culture can impact the colleague experience in the Human Value Chain. For instance, each Lush shop has the option of opting out of a window campaign if they have objections to it. And in reaching this decision, shop managers take into account the opinions of all their staff members, coming to a collective and democratic decision.
As one employee stated: “I was treated amazingly and all staff were so helpful and lovely. I was given so much experience in working with customers, and gaining confidence to talk about products that will benefit them.”
A similar sense of democracy can be seen with the digital-only bank Monzo, which ranks in second place. Although it’s a company made up of individual teams, they are nonhierarchical, and often comprised of the best analysts from elsewhere in banking. The company pays close attention to customer analytics, and all employees – including the CEO – receive insights on live dashboards, meaning that everyone is aware of how their decisions are impacting the consumer.
Furthermore, employees are encouraged to contribute to matters of strategic significance. For Monzo, the company culture is not just about engendering trust; it’s also about helping workers to feel enabled and empowered.
The highest-ranking organization in the UK 2019 research is the bank first direct – a company which has taken the top spot four times in the last 10 years. It describes its purpose as being to “deliver pioneering service” and it puts the customer at the heart of its operations. This means being ready to react to the ever-changing needs of the customer. “Customer expectations change, technologies change,” says Head of first direct Joe Gordon. “In 1989 we set up to pioneer amazing service and the how of today then was telephony. Then it changed and we changed to online banking, then it changed to app banking and then today to Open Banking. Our ability to cope with that change and understand that change in today’s environment, as well as being consistent with our focus, is key.”62
In achieving this vision, first direct cites its employees as one of its most important assets. According to Helen Priestley, Head of Brand, the company acknowledges that whilst certain processes can always be replicated and automated, human beings cannot. To first direct, they are “much more valuable,” with Priestley adding, “that’s why people will always be at the heart of the business.”63
It’s the motivation and attitude of these employees that impacts the CX – and the future loyalty of those being served. For Lush, it might manifest in the individualized care and attention given to shoppers. For first direct, it might be in showing Empathy to those customers with a pressing issue. There’s no single action to optimize a CX; it’s a holistic discipline, working towards the creation of a harmonious value chain.
*62 KPMG Nunwood UK 2019 Customer Experience Excellence report
John Lewis Finance
Nationwide Building Society