Customer experiences: Lessons from top brands

Survey of 2015 customer experiences shows that better information, combined with personalisation, create happy customers who are more in control.

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Researchers explored how over 10,000 consumers interacted with UK brands over six months and analysed how the brands rated on advocacy, loyalty and how they make customers feel using six core measures (empathy, expectations, integrity, personalisation, resolution, time and effort.

The top three brands (Lush, First Direct and John Lewis) have something in common – they trade on the fact they can offer specialist information and understand individual needs.

Top brands emphasise training and development

Lush considers staff development a vital element of its business strategy.  Staff can talk knowledgably about individual products, company ethos and provide personalised, one-to-one consultations.  The focus is on increasing customer engagement with the brand.

Similarly John Lewis staff are valued for providing product knowledge without hard sales tactics.  Instead “they use knowledge to empower the customer”.

Personalisation and contextualisation

It is the combination of product and market knowledge combined with one-to-one engagement that creates a special experience for consumers.  Richer Sounds, an electronics retailer, has moved up 18 places in this year’s survey.  Customers spoke about going into the shop with one product in mind, but choosing a less expensive item after consulting with staff.

Employing the right people

Richer Sounds focuses on ‘naturally friendly’ people with a genuine interest in music and film.  They are looking for people who can establish rapport with customers.  First Direct also recruits for personality.  Unlike other call centres, no scripts are used – employees are simply encouraged to listen and respond in a natural, conversational manner. The bank also encourages call centre staff to suggest improvements via its online community site.

Forget advertising!

Another trend emerging in this year’s research is that high-performing brands are advertising less (if at all) and focusing on ‘experience marketing’ – letting their actions and word of mouth do the marketing for them.  Lush does not use advertising at all but focuses on the emotional engagement of its customers.

Brands that fail to evolve with consumers’ changing demands will get left behind.

The research conducted by Nunwood is featured here on Marketing Week (free but registration required).