A new era of experience branding: The KPMG Nunwood Customer Experience Excellence Centre 2015 UK Analysis


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For the last six years, Nunwood (now a part of the KPMG family) have been assessing how customer centric well known brands are across three continents. During these years of producing their Customer Experience Excellence Analysis, they have conducted over 1 million customer evaluations of more than 900 brands (across all sectors) – these facts alone suggest that the annual release of their research findings is essential reading for anyone with an interest in Customer Experience.

Last year, Nunwood’s UK analysis concluded that  ‘Customer Excellence is here: it’s just not evenly distributed yet’. It was a sentiment I very much agreed with – you can read more about the 2014 results here. The 2015 results appear to go a step further. The opening paragraph of the 2015 analysis written by Tim Knight and David Conway states:

It is a universal truth, increasingly understood, that a brand is not what a company says it is, but what its customers feel it is. A brand is no longer a marketing confection, sustained by persuasive advertising. Rather, a brand is what a brand does. It is what customers experience. This 2015 analysis of the UK shows we are moving rapidly into the second great age of branding: the era of experience branding.

Powerful stuff. However…. there is usually one of those….. it is not all good news. Despite the bold statement describing a ‘second age of branding’, the conclusion on the developing state of Customer Experience as a whole is far less positive. Knight and Conway go on to say that many are failing to live up to ‘promises and hyperbole’. Those that are succeeding (bucking the trend) are the organisations that are not just getting the branding right, but they are doing so by delivering the basic fundamentals of business at the same time.

Nunwood 2015 CEE analysis

KPMG Nunwood conduct their analysis using their ‘6 Pillars of Customer Experience Excellence’. They believe businesses that understand and deliver against these Six Pillars have been proven to deliver enhanced commercial outcomes and deliver greater shareholder value. Their assessment has been validated in the UK, USA and Australia, across sectors and customer types.

The 6 pillars are as follows:

  1. Personalisation – Using individualised attention to drive an emotional connection
  2. Integrity – Being trustworthy and engendering trust
  3. Expectations – Managing, meeting and exceeding customer expectations
  4. Resolution – Turning a poor experience into a great one
  5. Time & Effort – Minimising customer effort and creating frictionless processes
  6. Empathy – Achieving an understanding of the customer’s circumstances to drive deep rapport.

In the 2015 release fof the analysis, KPMG Nunwood confirm that the ability to master these competencies DOES & WILL create financial value for an organisation. Customer Experience Professionals are in constant need of evidence of the ROI of Customer Experience – it is fantastic that KPMG Nunwood are adding even more fuel to the fire!

Over the last five years, the top 100 brands in Nunwood’s Customer Experience Excellence (CEE) Analysis have achieved:

  • Double the revenue growth of the FTSE 100 – an average of 11%, rather than 5.5%.
  • Significant insulation from recessionary downturns in profitability
  • Non Grocery Retailers in the CEE have delivered 15.8% greater revenue growth than the FTSE 100; Financial Services companies, 14.2%; Grocery Retailers, 5.7%; and Hotels & Travel Companies, 5.1%

Nunwood Customer Champions

This year’s CEE Top 10 contains some familiar names – the top five contains four of the top 5 from 2015. Most of the names are not a surprise, although it is interesting to see three financial services companies in the top pack.  The most significant point about the 2015 CEE is the hard fact that according to KPMG Nunwood, the UK Customer Experience overall has NOT IMPROVED on 2014 – there is no measurable change on last years scores.

Despite this, there is still much to learn by the top ten – the companies who according to KPMG Nunwood, are ‘united by a common thread’. The report states:

‘…the experience they deliver is their brand. They may or may not choose to advertise – however when they do it is the experience itself that that they are communicating. What is crucial to them is not what they say they do but how they do it – how they make people feel.’

‘Amen’ to that. For years, I and many others have been fighting the cause for organisations becoming more emotionally connected with their customers – the better able you are to empathise with the way your customers feel, the better your ability will be to deliver continually improving experiences. It is refreshing to see this stance bourne out by the 2015 results.

You will need to get hold of the full report to find out exactly what these brands have been doing to merit both this praise and their position in the top ten – to ‘whet your appetite’, here are the one line summaries for each of them:

  1. Lush – ‘enaging & inspiring its fans’
  2. First Direct – ‘a different type of bank’
  3. John Lewis – ‘delivering heroic customer service’
  4. Richer Sounds – ‘passionate staff gain customer trust’
  5. QVC – ‘creating empathy in a unique way’
  6. Amazon – ‘customer experience revolutionaries’
  7. Skipton – ‘making customers feel personally valued’
  8. American Express – ‘customer driven focus’
  9. Ocado – ‘staff empowerment builds customer relationships’
  10. com – ‘a brand promise that captures customers hearts’

This years analysis is bigger and better than ever before. I was particularly interested in the sector analysis – some highlights are as follows:

  • The utilities sector is the only one to see marked improvement in 2015 – despite this, the overall rankings for the sector is still lower than all apart from the Public Sector
  • The Travel & Hotels sector has seen a 1% decline since 2014 – travel brands struggle most with problem resolution (I would agree with that!!)
  • The third lowest ranked sector is now Telecomms – not a surprise to me either. Most brands are in decline as their investments are not creating consistent value

Whilst everything in the analysis is relevant and useful, I find the summary of themes from 2015 perhaps the most fascinating:

  1. Customer experience is the new branding – We enter a new era of business
  2. Omni-channel is everything – Digital must be integrated, not isolated
  3. Experiences must be re-humanised – Emotionally engaging with customers
  4. Knowledge management ensures success – Superior insights distributed to many
  5. UK Plc is being outperformed globally – Many programmes fail to deliver value

The Nunwood CEE is an essential resource for anyone with an interest in Customer Experience. If you want to read the report in detail, or find out more about it, please have a look at Nunwood’s Customer Experience Excellence Centre.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Ian Golding, CCXP
A highly influential freelance CX consultant, Ian advises leading companies on CX strategy, measurement, improvement and employee advocacy techniques and solutions. Ian has worked globally across multiple industries including retail, financial services, logistics, manufacturing, telecoms and pharmaceuticals deploying CX tools and methodologies. An internationally renowned speaker and blogger on the subject of CX, Ian was also the first to become a CCXP (Certified Customer Experience Professional) Authorised Resource & Training Provider.


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