CX Breakfast – The growing expectations Gap in Ireland

Left to right- Jonathan Stanley CEO Homestore + More, Lisa Browne Head of marketing, Electric Ireland and Aidan Power Head of marketing, KBC

Meeting a customer’s expectations has become one of the biggest issues for businesses in Ireland and our speakers shared with us how they tackle this issue.

Michael Killeen, Founder and Chairman of The CX Company, opened the session by sharing that Expectations is the worst performing pillar in Ireland.img_4658 Ireland are about 2 and 2 ½ years behind the UK and US respectfully.
But in 2016, Ireland Scored 12.8% lower than the UK and 15.7% lower than the US in Expectations – suggesting that we are nearly 5 years behind them in this particular pillar.
The sectors that are performing the worst in managing expectations include Telecoms, Utilities and insurance, all sectors focussed on switching with little effort on retention. At the top of the pile we have Supermarkets Retail and restaurants, which focus heavily on CRM and loyalty programmes.
The top three are weekly and daily face to face interactions, whereas the bottom would be annual, over the phone or on screen grudge purchases.
On a positive note, our public sector is scoring on par with the UK and US for expectations – these include The Ambulance services, The Garda, the Passport office and the revenue office.
The Major issue for the Irish market is that consumer expectations are constantly on the rise and it is becoming an on-going arms race to keep up with them.
A recent Kinsey study revealed that 80% of brands believe they are delivering an excellent experience to their customers. But just 8% of customers believe they receive a good experience which is a shocking gap.

Michael finished off by covering the golden rules that we must follow to bridge this gap.
•    Set my expectations accurately
•    respond quicker than I expect
•    Make clear promises
•    Over deliver when you can’t meet a promise
•    Guide me through the process


Michael introduced our first speaker of the morning – Aidan Power, Director of Customer, Brand & Marketing at KBC Bank Ireland.  img_4667Aidan spoke about busting through barriers in banking with ‘extreme customer experience’. He gave us a brief background of where KBC has come from and how it has grown over the last four years, from people calling it ‘KFC’ to now being one of the main players in the financial sector. KBC’s brand promise of putting the customers at the heart of their business was, he said, a tough one to sell to the board. But it has stood strong and they haven’t looked back since.
KBC’s mantra of stop talking, acting and walking like a traditional bank would suggest this.
Aidan explained that, to deliver an ‘extreme customer experience’ you need to be customer centric.
“How do we do this?” KBC invest in the right technology and recruit the right people – looking outside of their industry. They were targeted in their approach and disrupted and challenged the norm.
KBC created a customer board, hired dedicated customer experience roles and put a strong focus on communication and awareness and now consider themselves to be centricity champions.
KBC have created a seamless integration between all channels by allowing their customer to decide how to interact with them. Be it online & mobile, a customer contact centre or a retail centre.
KBC are breaking free of the expectations set by Irish banks by offering a different experience. They have looked outside of their industry and learned from the champions in customer centricity.
What is next for KBC and extreme customer experience? Aidan explained that extreme CX is not a once off.  ‘The most extreme customer experience is simply to get it right consistently.
Aidan closed with the key leanings.
•    Look outside your sector for the best experiences
•    Think and act differently
•    Be the customer of your own experience
•    Challenge the rules and the norms
•    Be the pirate inside – build a challenger culture within.

Next up, Lisa Browne, Head of Marketing, Electric Ireland, spoke to us about preparing for a different future.img_4657She opened with a brief backround of Electric Ireland’s growth. From ESB’s nationwide Monopoly to having to change their approach in dealing with competitors and the ever evolving energy market driven by 4G energy. Lisa shared how Electric Ireland recruited a large team of nationwide customers to Test innovative new products and services. They use this strategy to walk in their customers shoes and use the insights gathered to deliver the best possible experience.

Our final speaker of the morning was Jonathan Stanley, CEO of Homestore + More.
Jonathan told us that indifference in the retail sector is a slow killer of businesses.
From the top down their philosophy of ‘Give customers a +1 shopping experience’ is followed religiously.
He told us that their bonus schemes aren’t based on sales or profit, things that are out of staff’s control, Homestore+More reward Customer Experience excellence.img_4677
The 4 foundations of HSM are to:
•    Keep product price and promotion exciting
•    Achieve a high standard look and feel across all stores
•    Give all customers a +1 shopping experience
•    Consistently follow management philosophy

He shared that if sales consultants treat customers like a friend or family member they will come back- simple as that
Jonathan said that satisfied customers are fickle in that they will likely purchase a product or service from a competitor without thinking. Convenience will trump preference for them.
A delighted customer is a customer who will come back and remain loyal.
A delighted customer is a satisfied customer +1
What is +1 service? It refers to human interactions, not price and value but a genuine smile and personal contact.
This is taught and trained to all staff and expected to be delivered at all times.

We would like to thank our three speakers for their brilliant insight into their business and we hope all that attended enjoyed the morning.


CX Excellence – Southwest Airlines, Delta, Jet Blue, British Airway and Virgin

After all the negative publicity the Airline sector has received lately, we have decided to put together a collection of some of the great airline experiences. These should get you smiling like a doctor with a new set of front teeth.


Cpt. Brandner to the rescue

When a plane was left stranded in its holding bay for several hours due to thunderstorms, the pilot, Captain Brandner could have stayed quiet and left his passengers to sit tight. Instead he picked up his phone and ordered 50 pizzas with his own card. When he made the announcement that the pizzas were coming, the whole plane applauded (The only time it should be acceptable to applaud on a plane!).

When asked why he decided to do all this, he says he felt it was his duty.
“If the need arises you need to take care of your family; you need to take care of your passengers. They are my responsibility the moment they step on the aircraft until they get off the aircraft,” Captain Brandner said.

Insight: Captain Brandner is the pilot everybody wishes they had on their flight. He has proven that he takes an empathetic approach to dealing with his passengers and has even referred to them as ‘Family’. Empathy is more than just seeing the world from the customers’ perspective. It is having the emotional intelligence to choose the right emotional response from a range of potential emotions to improve things for the customer.



Delta CEO steps out of his comfort zone for a customer

Jesse Frank was the eighth passenger on a standby list for a delayed flight, showing zero seats available. She was desperate to get home to see her daughter. After 7 names were called, Jesse’s was finally announced. She was greeted by a ‘familiar faced’ man in collared shirt and tie, who placed her carry-on luggage in an overhead compartment and pointed her in the direction of her seat; she didn’t give it a second thought. She assumed he must have been an off-duty pilot she had flown with before. Little did she know, that man was the CEO of delta Airlines who had just given up his seat for a customer. 

She didn’t realise this until an air hostess announced that “a ‘special guest’ was sitting in the jump seat of the cockpit – the CEO of Delta Airlines”. Jesse was so amazed by the kind act that she left an open letter to him on the Delta Facebook page.

Insight: Delta’s CEO was putting himself in his customer’s shoes by flying on a standard flight and even experienced a delay that wouldn’t normally come his way, had he been flying on a private jet.
The fact that he gave up the comfort of his seat to sit in a cramped cockpit shows how much he truly cares about his customers.



How to get passengers to greet a crying baby with a smile

What’s worse than sitting next to a crying baby on a long flight? Being the parent holding the crying
baby! You know you’re responsible for everyone else’s misery, and there’s often very little you can
do to fix it. For Mother’s Day, JetBlue decided to turn this frequent frustration on its head by actually
rewarding passengers when babies cry. JetBlue offered a 25% discount to passengers on a flight from JFK to Long Beach each time a baby started crying. That meant if four babies cried, all
passengers would get a free round-trip ticket for their next JetBlue flight.

Insight: This is a brilliant resolution to an unavoidable hindrance for passengers. And shows great empathy towards the dreading mothers, who are stresses about being in a small space surrounded by angry people.



British Airways pilot turns a bad experience into a great one

A BA pilot stepped out of his comfort zone (Cockpit) to face a cabin full of restless passengers who had faced lengthy delays due to fog. The announcement was that the passengers would have to disembark because of a flat tyre on the plane. This could have been made over the intercom, but the pilot felt it would be a much more humane way to break the bad news while standing front and centre at the top of the cabin. He was honest, and let his passengers know exactly what was to happen and how long it would take. And because of this, there was a much warmer response than usual from his passengers.

Insight: One of the biggest issues customers have with airlines is the lack of clear communication with them. Be it T’s & C’s for an overbooked flight or reasons for delayed or cancelled flights. Customers always seem to get the bare minimum of information required. When things are out of an airlines control the best thing to do is to explain exactly what is happening and manage the customers’ expectations by telling them what is going to happen as a result.



Richard Branson chimes in on the airlines controversy

Virgin Group CEO and founder, Richard Branson recently gave his thoughts on the recent airline controversy. In his article he writes “customers deserve innovation, they deserve respect, and they deserve an amazing experience. They do not deserve to be treated like numbers on a balance sheet, and cattle in a cabin.”

If this is the mentality coming from the very top of the company then you can guarantee it will be followed throughout all of Virgin Group’s products. We wrote in an article last month that the Airline industry needs to learn from its leaders. And Virgin is definitely setting the standard at the top.

It’s quite clear that the customer’s tolerance levels have reached breaking point with the airline industry. And it’s time the brands with the spotlight shone on them prove they care, or face losing their loyal customers.


We are always looking for examples of CX Excellence. If you have any yourself please send them on to us and we will feature it in our blog.

If you would like to explore how your company can activate CX excellence, e-mail Michael Killeen to discuss further.

Airlines should put more muscle into their empathy, rather than their resolution

When was the last time you attended a match or a concert and were asked to give up your seat? United Airlines have made one customer’s on-the-ground travel experience more stressful than flying upside down in a hurricane.  And United’s response has got to be the worst form of resolution we have ever witnessed. Giving an insight into how much they and their sector truly care about their customers.

With the average number of people flying each year increasing, airlines are continuing to reduce the space afforded to passengers as they aim to increase the amount of people on their flights. Unlike the grocery retail sector, where we’ve seen discount brands like Aldi and Lidl disrupt the mainstream grocers with their simple ‘low price, quick service’ model, the Airline industry has been critically damaged by layered pricing strategies, overbooked flights and their reluctance to take their customers’ comfort and travel experience seriously.

If the Airline industry wants to buck this trend then it needs to look at its leading brands and learn from them. Southwest Airlines have ranked 9th in the USA Customer Experience Excellence Report, the US’s highest ranking airline. Southwest are an organisation that cares passionately about its customers; it empathises with the unfairness of hidden fees that other companies work into their price plans, and it wants the customer to receive the best deal possible. It calls its own approach ‘transfarency’, which means it doesn’t include extra charges for bags, additional luggage, or last minute flight changes or cancellations. As such, Southwest has performed strongly across The Six Pillars, particularly in Empathy, Expectations and Integrity, where its scores are 12 per cent higher than the US average.

Zappos in the USA and First Direct in the UK are two of the world’s leading CX companies. Both hire employees exclusively from the caring sector. They know that the best way to differentiate their businesses is via CX excellence. They also know that the best way to do this is via a hiring policy of caring and empathetic staff and training them across the key emotions of CX excellence.

Airlines have gone down the route of the Insurance and Telecoms sector where churn is regular and customers are viewed as numbers on a spreadsheet. Gone are the days when flying was an amazing experience, it has now been replaced with stress and inconvenience. But the outrage towards United Airlines last week shows that the customer’s patience with airlines has reached breaking point and the industry now need to put their hand up and accepted that it’s time for a change.

CX Excellence – Hailo/My Taxi, LetsJetpack, Virgin Trains, Dominos Pizza

One of the best ways of explaining how CX works is by giving real life examples of Customer Experience Excellence. We have found genuine customer stories and shared insights into how these bring to life the Six Pillars in our CX framework.

The Six Pillars are based on creating emotional connections with customers and include Personalisation, Integrity, Empathy, Time & Effort, Expectations and Resolution.


Ireland waves goodbye to Hailo

Albert Einstein remarked that “a thing should be made as simple as it can be but not simpler.”

The handover from Hailo to MyTaxi has been one of the smoothest and most straightforward I’ve experienced with a mobile app. As soon as I downloaded the app and opened it, it immediately gave me the option to merge all my details with my Hailo app.  No inputting data, no redoing my credit card details. Simple

What is the least number of steps required for the customer to achieve their objective? A recent much publicised advert from Lidl dramatized how much easier they are to do business with than Morrisons. The ad listed the 44 steps you needed to undertake to achieve lower prices via rival supermarket Morrison’s loyalty card, or the ad said “you could just go to Lidl”. Our research shows that any more than three steps begin to irritate or confuse. NPS scores tend to fall at step 4. I counted a total of 3 steps from downloading the new MyTaxi app to actually ordering a taxi, which exceeded my expectations having been worried about making the switch initially.



Emergency necessities in a flash

For a price of between one and five dollars, students on Stanford University’s campus can now order an emergency delivery of essentials. Based on the idea that many of the items that people need while out and about are already at home, Letsjetpack provides travel sizes of 15 different products. Delivery is by fellow students, known as ‘Jetpackers’.

Rather than having to make an extra trip to the store, students download the app, select the products that are needed and within minutes, receive their delivery. From deodorant and energy drinks to painkillers and Kleenex, LetsJetpack covers most daily remedy needs. The founder of the company is planning to expand soon and bringing in the idea of selling themed kits, such as hangover cures or cold remedies.

Letsjetpack have built their business with the pillars of Time&Effort and Empathy in mind. Being students themselves, they understand the nightmare that can come from forgetting essential toiletries or cosmetics and are prepared to get them to whoever needs them, whenever or wherever.



The case of the missing textbooks

Is there anything better than a good mystery? This particular case involved a schoolbag full of GCSE textbooks being left aboard a train. As far as excuses go, it’s not quite ‘the dog ate my homework’, but it’s close. Harriet, a member of staff, could have handed in the bag to lost property. But instead, she imagined what a nightmare losing all of your GCSE work must be, and put on her detective hat. Unfortunately, there weren’t too many clues in the bag, so Harriet followed her detective’s instinct and took a look at the textbooks. She discovered the name of the student’s school, and then gave them a call. Then, with a little help from teachers, she tracked down the lucky student, and reunited them with their work. Case closed!

Resolution is an important aspect of The Six Pillars. Indeed, every brand should prepare for such an eventuality in their customer experience strategy as, even with the most refined processes, there is a high likelihood of something going wrong. For organisations, the art lies in being able to deal with problems swiftly and efficiently. And if a member of staff is willing to go ‘above and beyond’ to resolve a customer’s problem, the customer may end up with a better opinion of the brand than they had before the problem.

Story courtesy of Virgin Trains –to read more Virgin customer stories visit their site here




Pizza on command

Anyone can now place an order for Dominos with the Google Assistant on Google Home by saying, “OK Google, order Dominos.” At that point the customer is seamlessly handed off to Dom, Dominos home-grown voice-activated virtual ordering assistant. Dom guides the customer through the ordering process using natural-language ordering technology. And if a customer doesn’t have ‘Google home’ they can do the same with the app on their phone.

Key parts of the customer experience (often because they happen first) are the time we spend waiting and the effort we have to expend to achieve our objectives.

Managing waiting time and effort is therefore critical to positive memories of the experience. Now that customers don’t need to expend any effort other than saying a command to their phone or ‘Google home’, all that stands in the way of them eating their pizza is the delivery time, which can be monitored on the app.  Dominos Pizza is covering every aspect of the customer journey brilliantly.


Staff hold the key to remarkable experiences

A bank customer needed to withdraw cash from his account late on a Friday. Luckily for him the teller in the bank was willing to go out of her way to help a customer in need. Read the story below.

My wife and I had been in Florida when late on a Friday afternoon I got a call from my brother telling me that my mother had passed away. I started making arrangements to fly up to NY to take care of everything, and realizing that I needed a lot of cash, I quickly asked my wife to call the bank and see what time they closed at.”

“I got to the bank, and found it was locked, but knocked on the door, hoping someone would still be there. A woman came to the door, unlocked it and let me in, telling me that she spoke to my wife. She said she was sorry about my mother and that the vault was locked so she couldn’t get any cash. But she told me to sit down, and said “Make yourself comfortable. I’ll be right back.” She went back to the front door, went out, and locked me in the bank. There I was, locked inside a bank branch by myself on a late Friday afternoon. A few minutes later she came back to the front door, unlocked it, and came back in. She then gave me four $100 bills and said “I know this isn’t as much as you wanted, but I hope it can tide you over until you can get more.” I asked her where she got the money from, and she said “I went out to the ATM and took it out of my account. You can pay me back when you get back from NY.”

Some things can’t be taught to staff. This is definitely an experience that falls under this bracket. It just goes to show the importance of hiring the right people. Staff who are willing to go out of their way for your customer are your most important asset. They are the face of your business and have the power to make your customer’s experience with it a remarkable one, or a poor one.


We are always looking for examples of CX Excellence. If you have any yourself please send it on to us and we will feature it in our blog.

If you would like to explore how your company can activate CX excellence, e-mail Michael Killeen to discuss further.

CX Excellence – Credit Union, Crown Plaza Hotel, Kimpton Hotel and Tesco

One of the best ways of explaining how CX works is by giving real life examples of Customer Experience Excellence. We have found genuine customer stories and shared insights into how these bring to life the Six Pillars in our CX framework.

The Six Pillars are based on creating emotional connections with customers and include Personalisation, Integrity, Empathy, Time & Effort, Expectations and Resolution.

Credit Unions give you a hug, while banks give you an interview

Saragh, received a call last week from John – her Credit Union branch manager. John informed Saragh that a loan payment was overdue and they might have to put a black mark beside her name – effecting her credit score and ability to get future loans or a mortgage. Saragh apologised and told John that she was due to be paid at the end of the month and will be able to pay off the outstanding amount. She also promised to set up a standing order. John very kindly told Saragh not to worry and that all she needs to do is pop a cheque through their letter box or come in on a Saturday as they are open.

Saragh told us that the phone call felt like a chat with a friend and at no point did she ever feel stressed. John has managed Saragh’s account since day one and has built a strong relationship with her. John knows that Saragh can be relied upon to keep her promise. He also knew that Saragh is in her mid-20s and a black mark beside her name could lead to all sorts of trouble when she may need a mortgage or future loan.

For the second year in a row The Credit Union were the highest scoring brand in our Customer Experience report. This is due to their remarkable scores in both Empathy and Personalisation. The way John handled the above experience shows us exactly why the Credit Union is excelling in these pillars.

CX isn’t just for big businesses

Chris Portfolio
Chris is an abstract artist with a passion for ‘wowing’ his customers.

Using handmade, curved canvasses and frames he paints to the music his customers request. Much like the image on a tattoo, Chris’ artwork will always have a personal attachment to the customer and he has found himself bonding emotionally with each customer while working with them.

One of Chris’ customers recently lost her brother in a terrible car accident. She asked Chris if he could design a butterfly canvass and if she recorded a song for him to paint to. Chris obliged and ended up visiting a recording studio to watch Denise and her husband record their own version of “Dancing in the Sky”. They took the recording back to Chris’ studio and created a living memory of Denise’s brother in this unique painting.

Over the course of the project, Denise and Chris had four face to face meetings and over 1,000 Facebook messages regarding the project. Chris put several projects on hold to see this one out as it had such importance to Denise and he felt it required his full attention.

A few weeks after completing the painting, Chris received the most wonderful thank you card saying: “You will never know how you helped through the darkest time of my life and now I have a smile and most prized possession in my Kitchen”

On a KPMGNunwood questionnaire on Empathy, respondents talk about staff members showing they care in three different ways:

  • Pays ‘special’ attention to me
  • Goes out of his/her way
  • Gave me something extra that I might not expect but will appreciate

Empathy is a way of addressing other people’s feelings in a way that helps them feel good about themselves – and feel good about you.

Chris is able to tick each of the above boxes in what he does with his customers and his business has boomed because of it.

Chris’ profession may allow him to spend more time on each of his customers, but there is still a lesson to be learned for small businesses. SMEs have a significant advantage over larger businesses when it comes to delivering CX Excellence. large businesses have to pass decisions through silos and board members, potentially taking months. Small businesses can be agile and make decisions based on the customers best interest, instantly.

If you would like to learn more about Chris’ work you can visit his page here

Driving the extra mile for a guest

Hotel Concierge
Von works as a Concierge Officer for Crown Plaza Hotel and prides himself in going above and beyond for his customers

Last month, Von was approached by a customer with a question about the nearest petrol station. He was low on fuel and didn’t think he would make it. Read his story below.

“I arrived at the hotel last week with my petrol tank on red due to missing the previous petrol station. As I had an early morning meeting, I had hoped that I would have passed a petrol station on the way to the hotel. After speaking to the concierge, I discovered that the nearest place for fuel was some distance away, and I certainly did not have enough fuel to get there. When I explained my challenge to him, he immediately took control, and organized for a driver to go and get me petrol. When the petrol arrived they dealt with filling my car. This was all done as I was in my room relaxing. Crown Plaza Concierge Von, thank you for going to the extra mile; very much appreciated. I am not sure how many hotels would have helped as much as you did. Thank you.”

The pillar of ‘Time and Effort’ is often one of the highest-scoring for some of Ireland’s most successful brands. Similarly, it is one that customers attach a particularly high value to. Time is regarded as a precious asset, and one that many people wish to protect at all costs.  Removing unnecessary obstacles, impediments and bureaucracy to enable the customer to achieve their objectives quickly and easily have been shown to increase loyalty.

Exceeding expectations is a proven way to increase loyalty

Bedside frame  kimpton

Mark recently tweeted Kimpton Hotel to thank them for the wonderful experience they gave him and his wife.

Mark landed a role in a new company, having left his previous job due to restructuring. The only downside meant having to commute to Chicago, 2,000 miles away from his home in Los Angeles.

Mark is a member of the Kimpton Hotel Karma club and went online to book a stay at the local hotel with his wife, not too far from his home in California.

After making the initial reservation, he received a letter from a member of staff at the hotel. The letter asked about his reason for staying (business or pleasure) and if he had any requirements from the hotel. Mark wrote back to let the hotel know that he would be visiting with his wife for a weekend getaway. He also shared an image of himself and his wife from the last time they visited their hotel.

Upon arriving, they were told that their room had been upgraded. They were given a beautiful room with a view of the Hollywood hills. And to their delight, the image Mark sent was sitting on their bedside table, framed beside a personalised welcoming note. His wife was almost in tears at the gesture! Having been through a difficult few weeks with all the moving around, she could finally relax and put her worries to the side.

Mark said: “Kimpton never ceases to impress me. From goldfish you can “adopt” during your stay, to yoga mats in the closet and a fitness channel on the television. Nearly every property has a signature amenity and you can bet that I will take advantage of every one.”

It is widely accepted that exceeding customer expectations is key to customer satisfaction, delight, and loyalty. Accordingly, it is critical for organisations to try to find out in advance what their customers’ expectations are, because a failure to meet or exceed those expectations could lead to dissatisfaction and defection.

Being a Karma Club member at Kimpton, Mark had his expectations for how his experience would play out. Kimpton didn’t just meet these expectations, they exceeded them.

This experience lead to mark writing a note thanking Kimpton on Twitter, to be seen by a number of his large following.


An unexpected delivery


Upon the recommendation of a colleague I decided to give Tesco online shopping a go. I hadn’t given it much thought before and I felt that maybe it was for people who were doing giant amounts of shopping.

After I registered which was simple enough (I couldn’t find my address, but after a two minute phone call it was easily sorted), I started my first online shopping experience. It was so easy to navigate and for me I loved that you can see a picture of the product so you’re sure that’s what you’re getting. The system really works hard to bring it to your attention if you’ve missed an offer e.g. two for one. I thought that was really nice, and you still see very clearly highlighted all the offers that you would see when in-store. With my feet up and a cup of tea in hand, I did my weekly shop. I just wish I’d done it sooner!

While the experience was a really good one, the biggest highlight for me was the delivery men. They arrived within the delivery slot I’d booked and they carried the two crates of shopping into our home and unpacked the shopping before taking the crates away. While doing that, they were full of enthusiasm, giving us a few tips on how this all works, and their energy and helpfulness really impressed us.

I thought this might have been a once-off but every time since, the delivery men have been exactly the same in terms of energy and helpfulness. The odd time when something goes wrong, they’ve bent over backwards to help me. I’ve never had the same drivers but the type of people have been consistent every time.

Expectations is by far the lowest pillar score in the 2015 and 2016 Ireland Customer Experience Report. In Ireland we are terrible at managing and exceeding expectations. We tend to over promise and under deliver.  Brands leap ahead with messages that don’t quite match the experience, leading to expectations not being met. HR plays an integral role in customer experience excellence. Hiring the right staff is key – after all, they are the ones who interact with your customers the most, which means they have a direct impact on the brand’s customer experience. Tesco’s approach to hiring a certain type of driver allows them to exceed customer expectations. I would never have expected the delivery men to be more than just men who deliver.

Expectations are always changing and can be difficult to excel in. The Tesco delivery men gave me a far better experience than the regular in-store staff! The in-store staff are very good, but that’s the challenge of expectations and perhaps why Irish brands struggle to achieve good results. I would expect the in-store staff to be good as they are trained regularly and it’s therefore difficult to exceed them. With the delivery staff, my expectations were much lower and were far exceeded.

Hats off to Tesco!

We are always looking for examples of CX Excellence. If you have any yourself please send it on to us and we will feature it in our blog.

If you would like to explore how your company can activate CX excellence, e-mail Michael Killeen to discuss further.

CX Excellence – Aviva, Feeleys Chipper, Jack Threads and

One of the best ways of explaining how CX works is by giving real life examples of customer experience excellence. We have found genuine customer stories and shared insights into how these bring to life the Six Pillars in our CX framework.

The Six Pillars are based on creating emotional connections with customers and include Personalisation, Integrity, Empathy, Time & Effort, Expectations and Resolution.

An insurance renewal to remember



Renewing car insurance can be extremely frustrating with customers feeling duty bound to shop around to get a better deal. ‘Muireann’, an Aviva customer, had been calling around to compare prices. When she called Aviva to discuss her renewal, the customer service agent blew her away.

The Aviva agent noticed Muireann’s name and began speaking to her in Irish. Thinking it was just a little small talk, she threw out a few Irish phrases but the agent continued talking about her car insurance. She was a little embarrassed at first, not having spoken Irish regularly since school and was worried it wouldn’t be good enough to continue an insurance renewal call ‘As Gaeilge’.  The agent was extremely patient and more than willing to prompt her with any words she didn’t know and eventually they were able to complete the call speaking Irish.

The feeling of joy and pride when she completed the call hit the roof. This was a task that Muireann never expected to enjoy and it left her with a big smile on her face. Muireann has since gone out of her way to talk to friends and family about the experience and is writing to Aviva to thank the amazing customer service agent for the experience he gave her.

Insight: The insurance sector remained at the bottom of the rankings in this year’s CXi report. This sector’s continued focus on acquisition at the peril of retention gives it one of the highest churn rates. Stories like this however, show that Aviva are genuinely investing in the right staff and are focussed on bucking the trend. What a great example of combining Personalisation and Empathy.

Belfast Chipper comes to sick customers aid


Feeleys Chippy

We’ve all seen the comments field when ordering food online. Usually it’s to tell the restaurant to add extra ketchup, or to let the delivery person know to phone on arrival as the doorbell is broken. One customer of Belfast fish and chip shop ‘Feeley’s’ had a very unusual request on her online order.

The chipper on the Shaws Road in West Belfast was surprised when an order marked ASAP came in on December 30 – complete with a request to pick up some flu medicine en route and send it along with the food.

In fact it seems the customer wasn’t even hungry. All she wanted was a box of cold and flu medicine and was too sick to go to her local pharmacy to pick it up.

Along with her order, she had added: “Will you please stop in Spar on the way and pick up some cold and flu tablets and I’ll give you the money, only ordering food so I can get the tablets. I’m dying sick xx”

The Feeley’s deliveryman kindly obliged and picked up the medicine.

The customer then commented on Feeley’s Facebook and thanked them for helping her out in her hour of need.

Tablets Feeleys Chippy

This is a remarkable example of a business going above and beyond to exceed their customer’s Expectations.

Insight: Customers have needs and they also have expectations about how these needs will be delivered. Customer satisfaction is the difference between Expectation and actual delivery. Understanding, delivering and, if possible, exceeding expectations is a key skill of great organisations.

How Bob the waiter got a 200,000% tip


Restaurant check

“John” was looking forward to celebrating being able to chew again after a root canal treatment by visiting a local restaurant with his wife. Things didn’t turn out quite as they expected!.They had a long wait after arriving and were eventually seated at the bar beside a noisy blender used for crushing ice – not the best start. Their waiter Bob then hurriedly took their drink orders without asking if they wanted food, which they did. Eventually they did get their food orders taken but the sides ended up being brought out before the meal and one of their orders was wrong. Bob the waiter admitted he was in the wrong and apologised.

The rest of their meal arrived shortly after and it was an otherwise pleasant experience… until the bill arrived. The couple noticed that the price for their full meal and drinks came to one cent. Assuming this was another mistake they showed Bob the bill and asked him how much they needed to pay. But Bob told them there was no mistake and instead apologised for the poor experience they received, Delighted, the couple tipped Bob $20.00 and then spent the trip home trying to figure out what % tip they gave him, realising it was 200,000%!

Insight: Discounts are so often used as last-ditch attempts to salvage a terrible experience that we sometimes forget how powerful they can be in turning a poor experience into a great one.

Restaurateur Danny Meyer, whose restaurants have consistently beaten the odds in a very rough industry, talks about hospitality in terms of good vs. great. With a ‘good’ experience things may go fine. You may get everything you wanted precisely the way you ordered it. But it’s rare for an employee to make you feel special, like they’re on your side. That’s what Bob did here by recognising that his customer’s weren’t having their expected experience and gave them a powerful dollop of Resolution delivered brilliantly.

Jack Threads & Jill

A customer service agent named Jill worked for an online clothes retailer called ‘Jack Threads’. Jill managed to turn a regular online customer service interaction into a ‘Remark-able’ customer experience and turned the customer into an advocate in the process.

Here is a screen grab of the experience in question

Jack Threads customer service conversation
Insight: Jack Threads empower their staff to resolve issues by making their own decisions. With this freedom Jill was able to resolve her customers issue quickly and hassle free. She was also able to create a personal connection with the customer which isn’t always easy to do, particularly online. Being able to do this is a proven way to create loyal customers who wouldn’t hesitate to sell on your businesses behalf. Adding an authentic personality is a great empowerment strategy and pays off in spades.


The aloha bear



It’s always nice to see ‘Remark-able’ experience recognised by a happy customer. In this heart-warming story, a service agent, ‘Jessica’, helped the query of an older customer, ‘Sharon’. Sharon called in because her laptop wasn’t working. Having recently suffered two strokes, Sharon explained that she was struggling with writing, and was forced to call in.

Jessica initially explained to Sharon that customers normally send in faulty items for inspection and repairs. Sharon grew teary over the news, explaining that she was dependent on the laptop to communicate with her daughter who lived miles away in Hawaii.

Knowing that red tape shouldn’t stop her from taking care of a customer in need, Jessica quickly exchanged the laptop for her (sending her a new one), and even spent the extra time helping her set up the old passwords and account names, in addition to re-downloading Skype so she could talk with her family.

What really makes this a great story, however, is the follow-up. Out of the blue a few months later, our heroic service agent was called down to reception. To her surprise, waiting there was Sharon, holding a card and a teddy bear with a hula skirt.

Jessica was overjoyed saying: “Sharon told me that what I did meant so much to her and her family that she called our corporate office and told them what I did. Her daughter even sent up a thank you card and bear from Hawaii and Sharon insisted on hand delivering it”.

Insight: The Empathy Pillar is measured by a business’s understanding of their customer’s needs. Delivering on this pillar is key to establishing strong relationships with your customers. In this case the Time & Effort pillar was also employed by removing unnecessary hurdles in doing business with the company.

We are always looking for examples of CX Excellence. If you have any yourself please send it on to us and we will feature it in our blog.

If you would like to explore how your company can activate CX excellence, e-mail Michael Killeen to discuss further.

CX Excellence – GAP, Jet Blue, Spirit Motors and McDonalds,

When your business offers world-class CX, customers come back for more. But more importantly, they tell others about you. They tell their family. They tell their friends. And – thanks to digital – they tell the world.

Below are real life examples of Customer Experience excellence, told by the customers themselves.

A shopping trip with an enormous ‘Wow’!

 Gap yoke

Susannah, a customer in Dundrum shopping centre recently went into a Gap store while on a mission to buy a winter coat. Here is her account of a remarkable experience she had.

“I’d looked in many shops and suddenly there it was, ‘the one’. It was perfect. I did have to consider it for a moment as the cost was slightly higher than I’d planned to pay, but it was ‘the one’. So off I went to the till to seal the deal.

The lady serving asked me “Did you receive your pick a prize card yet” and when I told her I had not, she fanned out lots of little cards and encouraged me to choose one.  I chose one, tore it open and it revealed a snowflake symbol, so I handed it back to the cashier. “Oh wow, you’ve won 50% off!” she told me very excitedly. BOOM! I couldn’t believe it. I was so surprised. There was no hidden twist, no requirement for me to give my data or a kidney in return. It was an unconditional gift to me from Gap, and it was a ‘remark-able’ Customer Experience. I was literally beaming as I walked out of the store.

I told anyone who would listen about my experience with Gap. That’s how powerful brilliant customer experience can be. Bravo Gap and thank you for my unexpected half price coat!”

Gap managed to address ‘Expectations’ in such a powerful way. We all have expectations of brands and a very common mistake brands make is over promising and under delivering e.g. the advertising promise not matching the customer experience, so naturally customer’s expectations are not met. Brands should focus their efforts on delivering ‘remark-able’ customer experiences before they tell us how great they are. I think Gap’s customer experience certainly matches their brand promise which you can view here.

Chief people officer prevents the blues with Jet Blue


Jet Blue Chief people office

This story was shared by the Consumerist blog. Below is a Jet Blue customer’s account of a brilliant resolution to an unavoidable issue.

“I got an e-mail from JetBlue saying I should get to the airport two hours early on my return flight because they are overhauling their computer system and staff will need time to adjust to the changes. I got to the airport (Orlando International) two hours early and stood in line. Predictably, it was moving slowly. It was made a little better by the rep handing out free water bottles to people in line. That was a nice touch. But then this happened…

A Jet Blue staff member came over and made an announcement to the people in line. He was giving away free tickets to anywhere JetBlue flies. The first free tickets would go to anyone who had their birthday on that day. Then he moved on to trivia – free tickets for anyone who knows JetBlue’s original destinations. I didn’t hear the answer, because at this point I made it through the line and was headed towards the gate, but I heard applause as I walked away. This was applause from people who had to get to the airport two hours early on a Sunday morning because of airline adjustments.

It turned out that the same JetBlue guy was on my flight to JFK. He stood up midway through the flight and announced that he had more free tickets to give away. He asked a bunch of standard trivia questions (“Name all seven dwarfs”) and some were pretty much guessing games (“How old would you guess your flight attendant Juan is?”). I’d say he gave out about a dozen free flights in total! He seemed to really enjoy it.

I spoke with him afterwards, as he walked down the aisle asking if people had any comments about JetBlue. I learned that his name is Dave Clark, and he’s JetBlue’s Chief People Officer.”

This is another example of why Jet Blue is a world leader in resolution. They plan out their customers’ journey from beginning to end and when something unavoidable like a system upgrade can potentially cause long delays, they make sure their customers are informed and there are measures in place to make up for the delays.

Spirit Motors; leading by example with heroic Resolution.

spirit motors

John, a customer of Spirit Motor Group, one of Ireland’s top auto brands, recently brought his car in for repair. Below he shares a great example of how a poor experience was turned into a ‘remark-able’ one.

“Last week I dropped my car off in Sandyford and returned later that day to find that the car hadn’t been touched. I sought an explanation and they sincerely apologised and we agreed that I would come back the following day, which I did.

When I arrived the next day I was told they had to order in a new part and it would arrive later that day. I again left the car with the service team and returned later that day. This time I was told that they were sent the wrong part and would have to return the following day once more. At this point I was fed up and took the car home to deal with the issue myself.”

For many businesses, an experience like this would be the end of a relationship. But Spirit didn’t let that happen. They recognised John as an important customer and not only resolved the issue, but actually turned him into a powerful advocate.

“The following day a serviceman took the Luas to my office in Dublin City Centre (with the elusive part in hand). He apologised on behalf of everybody in Spirit and told me the replacement would cost me nothing. He replaced the part in my office car park. I was blown away, and hugely relieved at not having to replace the part myself. This is how you resolve a problem brilliantly!”

Businesses should accept that they are going to make a mistake sometimes. Customers expect it from time to time as well. It’s what they do to resolve the issue that stays with the customer for ever. Great job Spirit Motors!


An incredible act of kindness from a McDonald’s cashier.

Palermo, Buenos Aires

This story was shared by Destiny Carreno, who observed something remarkable in her local McDonalds restaurant. This is her account of what happened after she watched an elderly man in a wheelchair approach a cashier during a busy hour.

“The man politely tried to ask the cashier something and it took him a few tries before he could understand what he was saying “Help me please”. The cashier didn’t seem to know what help he needed, and suggested a few things before he finally figured out the gentleman was asking for help eating his meal.

To be honest, I thought the cashier wasn’t going to help, especially during rush hour in downtown Chicago, but to my shock, he shut down his register and disappeared from view…

This wasn’t to get away from helping him, but to wash his hands and put gloves on! The cashier came out from the kitchen, wheeled the gentleman to a table, sat down opposite him, and began cutting the man’s meal.

This employee, who put everything on hold for this man, went above and beyond his responsibilities to help this customer in need. That was the kindest and most humble thing I had ever seen.”


We are always looking for real world examples of CX Excellence. If you have any yourself please send them on to us and we will feature it in our blog.

If you would like to explore how your company can activate CX excellence, e-mail Michael Killeen to discuss further.



Our 2016 Customer Experience report is here!

Our report contains findings from our CX practitioner’s survey, CX lessons for 2017 and showcases the top CX performers in Ireland and of course, includes the much awaited 2016 CX league table. We’re incredibly proud and we’ve had a fantastic response to the report launch today. CX is clearly here to stay!

The Credit Union has once again emerged as the big winner in 2016 and we’re not a bit surprised. They have the most powerful bond with their customers, built completely on trust, while the products they offered were designed to meet real customer needs, rather than being based on the idea of backroom executives.

A new entry and in second place is Lush, famous for scented ‘bath bombs’ detectable to the nostrils of passers-by from literally miles away! Lush invest in CX rather than advertising and lead the way in turning customers into passionate, enthusiastic fans, and it works.

An Post climbed five places since last year’s survey to take third place. An Post had high personalisation scores as a result of strong relationships with postmen/women who deliver to your door every day. This human contact is particularly valued in rural areas.

CXi has a unique data set of 72,000 consumer brand evaluations across 170 brands, and is now based on two years of ongoing research.

Click here for a link to the report


Who does the best CX in Ireland? Find out soon!


We are publishing the 2016 Customer Experience report on Tuesday the 27th September.

Our report will feature expert analysis and insight into Ireland’s highest and lowest scoring brands and will also include the 2016 CX league table.

It will be interesting to see who made the top 100, who’s number one and what brands have focused their efforts on CX and moved up  the table from last year.

If you haven’t already, make sure to sign up to our newsletter in the link to the right of this page and we will email you a download link upon release next Tuesday.

CX Excellence – Zappos, LUSH, CVS Pharmacy and Credit Union

Five more examples of CX Excellence

When your business offers world-class CX, customers come back for more. But more importantly, they tell others about you. They tell their family. They tell their friends. And – thanks to digital – they tell the world.

Below are real life examples of customer experience excellence, told by the customers themselves.


A remarkable gesture from Zappos

Dialogue have been tracking Zappos’ CX Excellence for many years. Here is another classic!

A Zappos customer meant to return shoes she had bought for her mom before she had passed away and naturally didn’t have time. Below is the customers take on how the situation was dealt with by Zappos.

“When I came home, I had an email from Zappos asking about the shoes, since they hadn’t received them. I was just back and not ready to deal with that, so I replied that my mom had died but that I’d send the shoes as soon as I could. They emailed back that they had arranged with UPS to pick up the shoes, so I wouldn’t have to take the time to do it myself. I was so touched. That’s going against corporate policy.

Yesterday, when I came home from town, a florist delivery man was just leaving. It was a beautiful arrangement in a basket with white lilies and roses and carnations. I opened the card, and it was from Zappos. I burst into tears. I’m a sucker for kindness, and if that isn’t one of the nicest things I’ve ever had happen to me, I don’t know what is.”

The world’s top performers in CX score very highly on empathy with their customers, which is something you can’t buy or recreate through advertising. Zappos clearly get this with this amazing gesture of kindness. And have kept a customer for life as a result



lush example

Sometimes all your customer needs is a cup of tea and a chat

Lush’s workforce are trained to deliver great customer service, the company empowers its employees to go the extra mile for customers.

LUSH gives employees the freedom to make decisions in the spur of the moment, go off script and do what they feel is the right thing for the customer. As a result, empowered employees take pride and ownership of their jobs when they know they can exercise independent judgement.

“We recently had a customer who had just lost their job and visited LUSH to be cheered up. Our team approached her, sat her down in the store and offered her tea. We then started looking for products that would uplift the customer’s spirit, while listening to her story.” – LUSH team

Lush may be one of the bigger brands in the UK and Ireland, but they started off as a single shop and had to work their way to the top. And without CX in their philosophy they would be nowhere near where they are now.



CVS Samaritans save the day

Customers are time poor and increasingly are looking for instant gratification. Removing unnecessary obstacles, impediments and bureaucracy to enable the customer to achieve their objectives quickly and easily have been shown to increase loyalty. CVS pharmacy has been running a ‘good Samaritan’ programme for over 30 years! Here is a customer’s take on an unexpected experience with them.

“On Friday night around 5:30 I got a flat tire on a very busy Washington DC area highway. I know I should know how to change a flat tire, but I have roadside assistance through my insurance and warranty so I never worried about it. I called my husband who works on the other side of town and he said he’d try to come over instead of having to use roadside assistance, which would probably take even longer.

I waited for about 5 minutes when a CVS Good Samaritan van pulled up. The gentleman, Ernie introduced himself and got right down to business to put on my spare. He even apologized for being tied up with another driver farther back. He told me I could call my husband and tell him not to worry. 5 minutes later my tire was fixed and I was on my way. CVS only asks that you fill out a postage paid comment card. Because of this service I will definitely be shopping at CVS more often. Thanks to CVS and to Ernie, who helped me out of a jam on Southbound 395.”

shutterstock_356694092 tie

Target employee gives interview advice

KPMG Nunwood say that “Empathy is the art of letting the customer know that you can genuinely understand what it is like to be in their shoes.” We couldn’t find a better example of this than a target Employee helping a nervous customer prepare for a job interview.

“In Target at Triangle Town Center. A kid came in looking for a clip-on tie for a job interview this afternoon. The store only had regular ties, so this awesome Target team member took the time to help the nervous teen put on his new tie, tuck in his shirt and then showed him how to give a proper handshake and tackle a few tough interview questions! As the kid exited the store, a bunch of supportive Target team members cheered him on! THIS is true Customer Experience – Right on the mark, Target!!”

South america example

An Irish financial institution that treats you like a family member.

Consumers crave a more personalised experience from their bank. Banks are fixated about advanced capabilities in e-mail and digital personalisation today. While they have buckets of customer data, they continue to struggle to stitch basic customer data together. First you have to know your customer before you can customise something for them. Making life simple for customers should be a priority for all banks. Forget about in-house cafes, free Wi-Fi and nappy changing berths.  Banks need to get engaged and treat their customers like a member of their family.

Below is a father’s take on co-signing a loan with his daughter in their local Credit Union. Proving why they are Ireland’s leading financial institution and overall brand in Ireland’s 2015 Customer Experience report

 “I was asked to co-sign a loan on behalf of my daughter who was taking a trip of a life time across South America. Upon arriving at Ranelagh Credit Union, I was greeted by the Manager. ‘’You must be Saragh’s father. She just called me to tell me she is running 3 minutes late. Would you like a coffee and I’ll get you started on the papers ‘’. When Saragh arrived, the paperwork was completed in minutes. Before I left, another member of staff greeted Saragh like a friend and handed her a list of great attractions she had visited on a similar trip before. It felt like I had walked into a family gathering. Everyone was excited for her and seemed to genuinely care about her safety.”

Dialogue is delivering Ireland’s first Customer Experience Masterclass in Trinity college on the 7th September.

Our readers can avail of a €20 discount by entering the discount code EARLY16 on the CX Masterclass page.

We would love to see you there