6 Ways Brands Deliver Great Customer Experiences

What can we learn from the UK’s lead­ing CX brands?

Pat Hong By Pat Hong from Linkdex. Join the discussion » 0 comments

Cus­tomer expe­ri­ence, or CX, is increas­ing­ly being rec­og­nized as one of the main bat­tle­grounds for ambi­tious brands to com­pete, and dis­tin­guish them­selves to con­sumers. But which brands are lead­ing the way? Cus­tomer expe­ri­ence con­sul­tan­cy Nun­wood has revealed the fac­tors that define tru­ly great CX today.

A Nun­wood study, sur­vey­ing over 7,500 con­sumers and eval­u­at­ing 263 UK brands, has revealed that the top 10 UK brands deliv­er­ing excep­tion­al CX have yet again increased their lead in 2014. The study revealed how the top 10 per­form­ing brands for cus­tomer ser­vice, on aver­age achieved 10 times greater share price growth in the past year than the indus­try aver­age.

The top per­form­ing brand in the UK was online-only con­sumer bank­ing provider First Direct, which has built a great rep­u­ta­tion in recent years for deliv­er­ing fan­tas­tic cus­tomer ser­vice. Accord­ing to the study, “cus­tomers praised their per­son­able ser­vice, staff knowl­edge and abil­i­ty to answer the phone quick­ly with­out the need to nav­i­gate a tele­pho­ny rout­ing sys­tem.”

Lush, a hand­made cos­met­ics brand, came in fourth posi­tion. With an impres­sive, high­ly sen­so­ry in-store expe­ri­ence, vis­i­ble cor­po­rate ethics, and help­ful staff, the brand is a great exam­ple of well archi­tect­ed in-store CX.


(Source: Nun­wood)

Join­ing First Direct in the world of finance is build­ing soci­ety Nation­wide. The insti­tu­tion enters the CX top 10 for the first time, with the brand ben­e­fit­ing from a con­tin­ued invest­ment in its cus­tomer expe­ri­ence propo­si­tion, which has seen the intro­duc­tion of a 24/7 Twit­ter response team, a seri­ous over­haul of the mobile app, and the dig­i­tal roll out of in-branch video calls for mort­gage appli­cants, all dri­ven by pos­i­tive sup­port for CX ini­tia­tives at a board lev­el.

For the build­ing soci­ety, cus­tomer expe­ri­ence is very much a reflec­tion of the company’s inter­nal cul­ture, as Jen­ny Groves, Nation­wide direc­tor of cus­tomer expe­ri­ence, explained:

Our peo­ple and cul­ture make the dif­fer­ence: we aim to engage and enable our peo­ple to deliv­er an excep­tion­al mem­ber expe­ri­ence.”

In the retail space, John Lewis remained in their posi­tion as the top UK retail­er, con­tin­u­ing their tra­di­tion as one of the lead­ing cus­tomer expe­ri­ence brands in the UK. Sur­vey respon­dents spec­i­fied their sat­is­fac­tion with immac­u­late in-store expe­ri­ences, and con­sis­tent cross-chan­nel ser­vices from the part­ner­ship. The brand’s super­mar­ket arm, Wait­rose, scored a sev­enth-place rank­ing.

Exceptional CX Reflects Company Culture

Nation­wide and John Lewis are some­what unique among British brands in that nei­ther oper­ate as lim­it­ed com­pa­nies. Nation­wide oper­ates as a mutu­al orga­ni­za­tion, and John Lewis and Wait­rose both oper­ate under the same part­ner­ship. In both cas­es, the num­ber of inter­nal stake­hold­ers runs deep with­in the busi­ness.

As the study reveals, in the cas­es of these two brands, this dynam­ic is intrin­si­cal­ly linked to the pro­vi­sion of excel­lent CX. Specif­i­cal­ly, employ­ees at all lev­els with­in Nation­wide and the John Lewis Part­ner­ship rec­og­nize that true val­ue is cre­at­ed at the point of inter­ac­tion between employ­ees and cus­tomers, and excep­tion­al CX nat­u­ral­ly fol­lows as a result.

An overused say­ing in man­age­ment speak is that “hap­py employ­ees make hap­py cus­tomers” and in this case the adage seems to have proved true. With­out excep­tion, all of the mem­bers of in the CX Top 10 also ranked high­ly in The Sun­day Times best places to work sur­vey.

Digital Players

Ama­zon main­tained a high score in Nunwood’s cus­tomer expe­ri­ence rank­ings, although they have slipped in the rank­ings for the third year in a row, in the pres­ence of greater com­pe­ti­tion and online per­for­mance of tra­di­tion­al British brands.

AO World is the newest play­er to enter the rank­ings, in sixth place. The brand has been reward­ed for their dar­ing dig­i­tal strat­e­gy, which com­bines a clear val­ue propo­si­tion for con­sumers, along­side a excel­lent ser­vice cul­ture. The brand goes as far as dis­play­ing com­peti­tor prices and pub­lish­es third-par­ty reviews, pro­vid­ing a lev­el of authen­tic­i­ty that has real­ly spurred cus­tomer respons­es to the brand.

John Roberts, AO World founder and CEO, also likened the pro­vi­sion of excep­tion­al CX to the inter­nal cul­ture which defines a brand:

If I look at the top three impor­tant things in the busi­ness, num­ber one would be cul­ture, num­ber two would be cul­ture and num­ber three would be cul­ture. It’s the one thing we obsess about at ao.com because it dri­ves every­thing else.”

6 Pillars Of Great Customer Experiences

Nunwood’s study defined six pil­lars that unite the top per­form­ing brands. Brands can accel­er­ate deliv­ery of great cus­tomer expe­ri­ences in these six ways:

  1. Per­son­al­iza­tion: As a brand, you must demon­strate that you under­stand the customer’s spe­cif­ic needs and cir­cum­stances. There won’t always be a one-size-fits-all strat­e­gy for all con­sumers, and brands will need to devel­op sophis­ti­cat­ed mod­els and analy­sis that are capa­ble of deliv­er­ing per­son­al­ized cus­tomer expe­ri­ences.
  2. Expec­ta­tion: Increas­ing­ly, cus­tomers have expec­ta­tions about how their needs should be pro­vid­ed for, and these are being dri­ven raised by lead­ing brands. For brands, under­stand­ing, deliv­er­ing, and exceed­ing expec­ta­tions to delight cus­tomers is what sep­a­rates the top 10 from the rest.
  3. Time & Effort: The effi­cien­cy of ser­vice deliv­ery is con­stant­ly being improved by lead­ing brands. Cus­tomers will set a bench­mark based on their speed­i­est, most con­ve­nient expe­ri­ence, and this sets a lev­el which all brands then have to aspire to and meet. Excelling in ser­vice effi­cien­cy is becom­ing a key char­ac­ter­is­tic of lead­ing brands.
  4. Integri­ty: Integri­ty is won by con­sis­tent orga­ni­za­tion­al behav­ior that engen­ders trust among con­sumers. This can be the cul­mi­na­tion of thou­sands of trust build­ing moments built by indi­vid­ual mem­bers of staff, that cre­ates an greater sense of trust for the orga­ni­za­tion as a whole. For con­sumers, the lev­el which the orga­ni­za­tion is able to deliv­er trust remains top of mind, which builds integri­ty.
  5. Res­o­lu­tion: Res­o­lu­tion comes into play when things, inevitably, go wrong. Hav­ing a pro­vi­sion and process that can win over cus­tomers who have had bad expe­ri­ences, and mit­i­gate any col­lat­er­al neg­a­tiv­i­ty. For retail­ers, there are two cru­cial ele­ments of suc­cess­ful res­o­lu­tion: a sin­cere apol­o­gy and address­ing dis­putes with urgency.
  6. Empa­thy: Empa­thy plays a cru­cial role in CX pro­vi­sion, as it means being able to under­stand and express a con­sumer’s expe­ri­ence with the brand. Empa­thy helps builds strong rela­tion­ships with con­sumers and con­tributes to the way con­sumers feel, and ulti­mate­ly con­sid­er a brand.

Final Thoughts For Brands

Nunwood’s study pro­pos­es that brands that per­form well on all six pil­lars are the ones cre­at­ing the best cus­tomer expe­ri­ences – and achiev­ing the strongest com­mer­cial returns and poten­tial as a result.

We’re now see­ing the link between cus­tomer expe­ri­ence and busi­ness growth gain­ing wide­spread accep­tance across indus­tries. It has, as the study states, “moved from being a mar­ket­ing the­o­ry to a fun­da­men­tal prin­ci­ple of man­age­ment.”

With the lead­ing play­ers set­ting the CX bar high­er and high­er, remain­ing brands will have to meet ris­ing con­sumer expec­ta­tions. This response may start slow (across all 263 brands analysed, the over­all improve­ment in per­for­mance was less than 1 per­cent), but is begin­ning to gain momen­tum — with the finan­cial ser­vices sec­tor being a notable mover in improved CX, and brands seek to repair dam­aged rep­u­ta­tions as a result of the finan­cial cri­sis.

Ulti­mate­ly, pro­vid­ing excel­lent CX is a long-term com­mit­ment that must be imbued with­in the cul­ture of an orga­ni­za­tion, built on the six pil­lars defined above.

You can read Nun­wood’s full study here.

Do you agree with the find­ings of the study? What do you think are the pil­lars that define excep­tion­al CX?

Pat Hong

Written by Pat Hong

Editor at Linkdex/Inked, Linkdex

Pat covers the SEO industry, digital marketing trends, and anything and everything around Linkdex. He also authors Linkdex's data analysis and reports, analysing the state of search in various industries.

Inked is published by Linkdex, the SEO platform of choice for professional marketers.

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