Category Archives: Real Customer Experience

Rosa’s Thai Cafe and a 1-5 NPS scale

Yesterday my wife was craving for coconut rice, so we decided to have a late lunch at Rosa’s Thai Cafe – which many say is the best thai in London. We had been there a few times already, and as always the food was excellent, but this time there was something new.

The bill came in a tablet (see picture below). And the app, enabled by Yumpingo, not only had the detailed bill, but also a thumbs up/down against each item, as well as a final quick survey to collect our feedback.

This made our experience at Rosa’s even better. A paperless transaction is a great innovation and, in my opinion, should be mandatory (mainly for environmental reasons). And the willing to collect customer’s feedback is still something most companies, let alone restaurants, are still not keen to do.

But in the middle of all this, something made me raise the eyebrow. The first question in the short survey was “How likely are you to recommend Rosa’s Thai Cafe to a friend or relative” and the answer had a 1 to 5 scale!… When this was clearly a NPS question, which should have a scale between 0 and 10.

A few months ago, in my blog post Does changing NPS scale make sense? I raised the question around NPS, and if it would make sense to have a European variant where 6-7 were Passives (rather than standard 7-8) and 8-10 were Promoters (rather than standard 9-10).

What didn’t cross my mind was having a different scale of 1 to 5, rather than the 0 to 10, set by Fred Reichheld, Bain & Company, and Satmetrix; Accepted and adopted by the majority of CX practitioners and specialists; Ensuring that the market had a standard and consistent way of measuring NPS.

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5 takeaways from carbon copy NPS

A few days ago, when in Portugal, I took my Gramma’s car to the local Renault dealer, as it needed some servicing. The Customer Service Manager looked up the car in the system, and then wrote down, in what looked a random piece of paper, what I needed – replace a headlight and a tire valve – “the system is having a hick-up“.

No bother. Everyone was very nice and attentive. I left the car in the shop in the morning, and when I came back at the agreed time in the afternoon, it was all done. “Car is ready, you can go to the office. They have all details and will take your payment“, the Customer Service Manager said.

In the office, the Finance person struggled to find the the information about my car’s service. Somehow it didn’t surprise me, as he was looking into a big pile of papers. Decided then to call the Customer Service Manager, who came running from the service area to provide him with the piece of paper he was looking for.

Again, no bother. I happened to have plenty of time, and in between the backwards and forwards, they were actually being very nice to me. I ended up paying and given a printed detailed invoice. When I was about to leave, the Finance person asked me if I would mind providing feedback, and presented me with… a block of chemical carbon copy paper.

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I was not surprised by being asked for feedback in a piece of paper, but it was the first time I have seen it in a block of chemical carbon copy paper. I was curious. Asked if it was a dealer’s initiative, or a global one from Renault. He said it was a dealer’s initiative, across the various dealers of that dealership, and that I should receive another request from Renault via email – “but be aware that the link doesn’t say Renault, as this is outsourced to a 3rd party”.

A few points to take away from this experience…

1 – You must be able to collect, analyse, and action quickly. It is great to collect customer’s feedback, but you must be able to analyse it, and gather insights swiftly, as well as close the loop in a timely manner. Collecting feedback on a piece of paper will surely prevent you from doing that.

2 – You should make sure the collection of customer feedback is effortless. Not only for the customer, but also for the person or team gathering it for analysis. I pity the person who, at this dealership, will have the job of collecting the carbon copies, and count or add responses.

3 – You must provide option for anonymous and more insightful response. Customer feedback surveys of this kind, should always have the option to be anonymous (“I need to put your car registration number, and you to sign, otherwise it is not valid”, he told me), and it should provide the customer with an option to explain why he gave that score.

4 – You should not overload your customers with feedback surveys. Let alone about the same transaction, service or experience. If the global brand (in this case, Renault) has an automated and more modern way of collecting feedback (email invitation + feedback management system), surely the dealer can ask them to provide the data re. their dealership.

5 – You must ask your 3rd party supplier to ensure feedback invitation is branded. These days everyone receives tens of fake emails per week, with phishing links, etc. Hence it is very important that your email invitation for customer feedback, as well as the link you share for the online survey, is branded and trustworthy.

Close the loop with clients, but mean it!

In the first weekend of October, me and my wife Angela decided to celebrate our 2nd anniversary with a long weekend at one of the iconic Pousadas de Portugal – Monument and Historic Hotels, part of Pestana Hotel Group, the largest and most famous Portuguese tourism and leisure group, known for its quality.

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The hotel is situated at the top of a high hill, on the back of the famous Sanctuary, with the same name – Santa Luzia. The view is breathtaking, to the sanctuary, the town, the river, the beaches, and the Atlantic ocean. It is a fantastic and beautiful place, luxurious, quiet and well decorated.

Our 3-day stay was outstanding, and I guess our mood and the celebration also helped tolerate or overcome the less great things – e.g. the hotel doesn’t have a gym, and I really like (and in this case, needed) to do some exercise. That is why, when asked at check-out, we both smiled and said “everything was great!”.

But when I received the request for feedback, via email, a few days later, I thought it would be important to flag a couple of things that, at the time, we didn’t bother mentioning, to avoid ruining our good mood – as we still had a full-day and trip back home, until the weekend was over.

My response to the feedback survey was really positive with regards to staff, service, accommodation, etc. But I pointed out that… a) in both nights we found, and had to kill, two centipedes; b) the quality of the food in the hotel restaurant wasn’t up to their standards.

The hotel’s response came into my inbox a couple of days later, which I must say, impressed me. But when I opened the email, noticed it was sent from a generic email address (even though signed by the Operations – Unit Manager) and contained a very obvious standard message.

Thank you for your preference (…) as well as the time for filling out our questionnaire (…) pleased to receive the evaluation and the comment about your stay (…) we work daily to meet the expectations (…) hence the comments of our clients are a stimulus and an opportunity for continuous improvement”.

The truth is they clearly didn’t address my comments, or even bothered apologising. So I replied again, saying that although I appreciated the prompt response I was disappointed and felt the feedback survey was just a formality, and not something they look forward to, in order to feed continuous improvement.

In less than one hour (44 minutes to be precise) Célia Marques (the Operations – Unit Manager) sent me a personalised email from her email address, assuring me that my comments and criticisms did indeed merit her attention, and apologising for the standard response.

Explaining that the centipedes situation was very hard to avoid in such a historic building with the characteristics inherent to the time it was built (wooden floor and poor insulation), and the restaurant feedback had already found its way to the chef “to jointly carry out the corrective actions to improve quality”.

I was delighted, and will certainly go back. However, the poor experience with the standard email was completely unnecessary. And it could put some people off. Or just prevent them from giving the hotel invaluable feedback next time, which would be a lost opportunity for improvement.

Bank Policies – Killers for CX and EX

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Photo: Alamy

This week I decided to close a bank account that I have in Portugal and don’t use anymore. Expecting it would be quicker, I went to a Santander Totta branch, where I was greeted by one of the employees. In order to identify the account in the system, she asked me for a card associated, and then printed a few forms for me to sign. So far, so good.

To close the account, she said it was mandatory for me to provide both the credit and the debit cards associated with the account. As I don’t use the account, the credit card is in a drawer in London, and I was in Portugal. “Can you just inactivate the card in the system?”, I asked, only to see her face frown.

She continued to click and type on the computer, and until the end of the meeting never referred the credit card again or the obligation to hand it over. What followed was a request for me to sign two forms, which I did. “Sorry sir, can you please sign as per what I have in my computer”, she said, turning the screen in my direction.

I almost didn’t recognise the signature. My wife said, “Is that your signature?”. The signature was over 20 years old. Naturally, my writing had changed since, and I wasn’t able to recreate that. Her face frown again. “Well, you can check my id card. My signature is there”. Reluctantly, she accepted, and asked to copy the id card for proof.

Despite a few hurdles, all items in the close-bank-account list seemed to be ticked. But I had €2.19 in the account. She put the options to me: a) I could deposit €7.81, go to the cash machine (ATM) and withdraw €10. Or b) I could go to the teller and pay €5 to withdraw the €2.19. Needless to say, it was my turn to frown. I don’t usually like to be treated like a fool.

In any case, I didn’t want the €2.19 but could not contain myself and said the second option was non-sense. She responded “It is just the way it is. Rules are rules”. Again, I could not stay quiet, and told her it didn’t need to be that way, and it shouldn’t be that way. And that certain rules are just idiotic. She didn’t empathise with me.

I decided to try and explain. Put a smile on my face, and said “You know, it is not your fault. You’re just following orders. But the person that is comfortably sitting at a desk, on the 30th floor of the bank’s HQ, very well paid to come up with these rules, would probably need to come down, and visit the gemba”. Finally, she got me!

Sir, if you don’t do anything, when the account is closed, they will send you a letter asking you to come in and get the €2.19. Then, you don’t have to pay or deposit anything to get the money”. She thought I would be happy with this hidden option c) and was disappointed when I frown again. “Really, and you think that makes sense?”, I asked.

At this point she was confused and probably thinking that I was one of those who is never happy. I tried to explain again. “You see, the bank will spend around €5 (paper, printer, post) to send me a letter, so I come and withdraw €2.19. Isn’t this non-sense?” Again, she got me, and nodded.

This is a very good and real example of where a bank is making up rules and policies that serve no real purpose, and sometimes make absolutely no sense. Killing the customer and employee experiences.

Rules and policies that will only increase customer effort, distrust, irritation and disloyalty. Also creating friction between customers and employees, who then get increasingly frustrated and feeling powerless.

We bump into similar things in retailers, telecom providers, hospitals, public services, etc. CX and EX killers which make no sense but amazingly aren’t eliminated, simply because there isn’t a process in place, to actually find them and measure their impact.

The first step to o find these CX and EX killers is definitely to put in place Voice-of-Customer (VoC) and Voice-of-Employee (VoE) initiatives. Without feedback, how will the policy makers understand the impact of their ideas? And how will the Experience Managers improve CX and EX?

High street retail done right, by John Lewis

1 night in hotel, 4 simple CX lessons

Last week I travelled to Dublin, in Ireland, and stayed in a so-called 4 star hotel, the Talbot Hotel Stillorgan.

Arrived and went to reception. Only one customer was waiting, whilst the person behind the counter tried to answer the phone (which didn’t stop ringing), deal with couriers dropping parcels, and assist customers. 15 mins had gone by when my turn came up “I didn’t do anything for a couple of hours, and now everything seems be coming at the same time”, the guy said. First, a greeting would be nice, and second it’s not really my fault that Armageddon arrived at 7:00 PM on a Thursday.

Went up, unpacked and came down for dinner at the bar. There was no customer waiting, only a few sitting at tables already served. Two waitresses ran around, in and out of the kitchen. What appeared to be a manager was checking receipts behind the counter. No one bothered to even acknowledge my presence. 5 mins later, the manager asked “can I help you sir?”. Well, first a greeting would be nice, second I’m standing here not because I need help but because when I have nothing to do, I sit in bars staring at people.

In the morning, no hot water was running in the shower. Eventually I called reception to explain the situation. “It’s cold outside sir, so it might take a while”. I left it running for 10 mins whilst I shaved, and eventually decided to take a cold shower, as I had a plane to catch and a long journey to the airport. Again, first a greeting would be nice, and second Ireland with 7 degrees centigrade, is not really the north pole, is it?

Came down to check-out and, at reception, the same person who had answered the phone 30 mins earlier didn’t even bother asking if eventually the hot water had come. “Check-out sir?”. I have a feeling that I’m repeating myself… first a greeting would be nice, second I’m standing in reception, with my luggage, at 6:30 AM. Would it be because I want to ask where the gym is, or because I want to check-out? Leave it for you to guess.

Asked about the bus to the airport, and was told I should leave the hotel, turn right and it was a short walk to the bus stop. After 10 mins walking on the dark, cold and rain I could not find it and, to avoid losing my flight, decided to call a Uber – which cost me 3,5 times more than the bus. Turns out that the bus stop wasn’t to the right, rather I should have turned left coming out of the hotel. Reception gave me the wrong direction.

This hotel clearly has very little regard for its customers and their experience. I won’t bother returning, but I did take the time to leave a review on TripAdvisor, and a bit of advice in here….

1. Smile and greet. Little things and small gestures matter more than one may think. A greeting and a smile not only starts the engagement on the right foot, but also makes up a lot on the overall experience.

2. Plan and prepare. It is obvious that one person in a hotel reception will struggle to take calls, deal with couriers and assist customers simultaneously. A plan helps being one step ahead and avoid caos.

3. Empathise and take ownership. If things go wrong don’t make excuses or try to deflect responsibility. Actively listen, acknowledge and concur, apologise, provide a solution and fulfil your promise.

4. Turn disappointment into delight. What could be a (sometimes unavoidable) negative moment is an opportunity to show the customer how much you care. Act fast and go the extra mile to win he customer back.

M&S and CX consequence of data-driven strategy

For those who don’t know Marks & Spencer (M&S) it is one of the leading retailers, with 1,300+ stores in the UK and overseas. M&S sells clothing, home products and food, online and in store.

M&S has been recognised for great Customer Service and overall Customer Experience, always featuring amongst the leaders of the CX rankings in the UK. And indeed they are also recognised by the quality of their products.

I have been a customer of M&S for some years now, and frequently have lunch at the M&S Food closest to our office. I’ve been a great fan of their stores and advocate of the quality of their products, and customer service.

Back in Jan 2017, UK’s most famous airline, British Airways (BA), announced they were going to stop offering free snacks and drinks in the short haul flights within Europe, and were introducing a “M&S on board” menu.

I’m also a great fan and advocate of BA, and a Bronze level member of their Executive Club. A few weeks ago, was flying to Porto (Portugal) and decided to buy a coke and a packet of my favourite nuts: cashews.

Surprisingly, the cashews were awful. They were stale and really tasted bad. Such that I could actually not finish the small packet. After touch-down in Porto, I decided to let M&S know, via Twitter.

It only took 1 hour for M&S to come back, and do the right thing – as I expected from a company that really goes the extra mile when it comes to Customer Service and Customer Experience.

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M&S apologised, publicly, and asked if I could get in touch, and provide my details. I’ve sent my address and email by DM. To which they responded “Thanks Luis, we’ve passed this onto our Food Team and they’ll be in touch with you directly“.

This was a Thursday, and I came back to London on Sunday. To my surprise, a letter from M&S was already waiting for me in the mailbox, with not only a follow up, but also a £5 gift card – notice that the packet of cashews cost £1.60

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What is impressive is not only the M&S speed, transparency and openness but also the evident link that must exist between the different teams (e.g. customer service, food) and channels (e.g. social, mail). I’m sure this is not by chance.

I must associate this with the M&S strategy since a few years. M&S boss, Steve Rowe, said last year that he wanted to turn the retailer into a “data-driven business” and that customer data should be shared “as far and wide as possible” within the business.

Nathan Ansell, Global Director of Loyalty, Customer Insight and Analytics at M&S, also said that it was “hugely important to show [to employees] there is a direct link between a brilliant customer experience and delivery of results”. And that part of his job was “to make sure everyone has the right access to customer data, so people can make the best possible choices“.

I think the experience that I share above is a good example of what the M&S leaders were saying, and a proof that they are actually implementing it. And that indeed, having the right access to customer data, helps everyone make better, and informed, decisions. And ultimately deliver an outstanding customer experience.