UK Scores Fall Whilst U.S. Rise – What’s The Problem?

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Every time I go back to the UK I feel like I took a step back in time. The Customer Experiences I have in the UK are not as good as I have in the USA, now there is evidence to back this up. Per the 8th annual “Customer Experience Excellence Study”published by KPMG Nunwood, shows that Customer Experience in the UK is lagging.

Ten-thousand respondents ranked brands’ Customer Experience based on six categories. These six areas drive brand advocacy and loyalty, the gold-standard for any company measuring CX performance.

They include:

  • Personalization
  • Time and Effort
  • Resolution
  • Integrity
  • Expectations
  • Empathy

Per the report, brands in the U.K. dropped to the lowest in nearly a decade. Just 12 months ago in 2015, they scored 7.33; in 2017, just 7.08. Brands in the U.S., however, rose from 7.42 in 2016 to 7.75 in 2017.

To download the full report, please click here.

Per the online marketing intelligence service WARC, QVC took the top spot in the survey, jumping nearly 20 places over its positions last year.  However, it doesn’t surprise me; QVC addresses the psychology of the customer in their experience. It is the essential concept we tout at our global Customer Experience consultancy. How we think influences how we behave, especially as customers. The fact that QVC understands this and incorporates the concept throughout their organization makes it a natural leader in Customer Experience. Other brands in the top three spots are perennial performers like John Lewis and last year’s top performer, First Direct, an online and over-the-phone bank. Amazon, Lush, Marks & Spencer and American Express are some other big names at the top of the list.

The Bad News

Let me say that I am British but now live most of my life in the USA, but still come back to the UK 3 or 4 times a year. So I believe I have a unique perspective on what is happening.

I have a lot of questions after reading these results. What is going on in the UK for starters? What have the other brands been doing for the last 15 years? Do these scores mean that the Customer Experience teams organizations invested in there are ineffective or have they just given people a new title and carried on doing the same stuff?  Is it that Customer Experience teams in the UK (and the senior management who support them) don’t care about Customer Experience other than talking about it?

I founded Beyond Philosophy in the UK back in 2002. My first work as a customer experience consultant was there. However, we have since moved the company operations to the U.S and now get 75% of our business stateside. Why is this happening and how does this apply to the state of CX in the UK? Here is my honest assessment of what is happening.

In my experience British companies like to do things by themselves rather that invest in bringing in consultants like ours. It as seen as a failure if they need to seek outside help. American companies look at this the opposite way. They know they don’t have the expert skills a consultant has.. But they invest (being the key word) in bringing in talent for a limited period to educate them, explain the latest thinking and ensure success as consultants have done this many times and know the problems and pitfalls.

Secondly, the UK are not as customer-centric as U.S companies. Furthermore, I worry that with Brexit, organizations in the UK will take their eye off the Customer Experience ball even more than they have already and customer-centricity there will decline further.

I see these two things being major contributory factors to the lack of success of UK companies, and it hurts me to say that, being a proud  British person working in this field since 2002.

The Good News

On the other hand, the upshot is that there is vast opportunity for Customer Experience improvement in the UK. This is especially good news for my company as we still work in the UK. Maybe I can leverage this into business development efforts there!

All joking aside (or am I?), it’s clear that the opportunity to convert non-believers to customer-centricity still exists. Putting customers at the center of everything you do is essential to providing the Customer Experience that fosters brand advocacy and loyalty.

So, what do I mean by that? It means looking at an experience with an outside-in approach moment-by-moment to see what emotions it evokes, when and why. It means choosing to do what’s right for the customer even if it isn’t ideal for operations. It means investing the resources needed to effect actual change in the culture from the people that talk to the customers directly to those that earn millions of pounds of bonuses based on the activities of those customers. In other words, it means doing what it takes to provide an outstanding Customer Experience that appeals to the emotions a person feels when interacting with an organization—and not just talking about it.

It’s Not Too Late to Turn Around CX…I’m Talking to You UK Brands!

It’s not too late. Brands in the UK can turn it around. They can adopt a customer-centric culture. They can approach Customer Experience just as well as the Yankees across the pond. There’s no better time than the present, either. Fifteen years is long enough to ignore the truth.

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