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 – 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.



Six Short Examples Of CX Excellence


The Six CX Pillars are a must for any business who wish to take Customer Experience Seriously.

In this video, Michael Killeen speaks about the importance of all six CX pillars, along with a short example for each one.

For more info visit:
or email Michael on:


Will rolling the red carpet transform UPC?

Last week UPC/Virgin Media opened up its Facebook page to get feedback from Irish consumers.

The response was quite damming.



















The Virgin brand has been a leader in the delivery of amazing Customer Experiences. They were one of the first customer champions on the planet. ‘Making Red Magic’ is a requirement of every staff member.

Virgin go to great efforts to make sure customers are clear on exactly what to expect and consistently deliver it. They under promise and over deliver. In the first report, a key insight was that Irish companies have been caught out over promising and under delivering across all sectors. Given time, we expect that Virgin Media will help transform UPC’s expectations pillar. While it won’t happen overnight, we expect to see a significant rise up the Customer Experience table for next year’s report.

The New Six Pillar Approach To Marketing

Dialogue’s CX planning unit,, launched Ireland’s first Customer Experience (CX) league table to tremendous applause this week.

Ireland has had its say by ranking national brands across six emotional pillars that matter most to Irish Consumers; Personalisation, Integrity, Empathy, Time and Effort, Expectations and Resolution.

Dialogue reengineered its creative offering to help accelerate Client growth across these six pillars. Dialogue staff undertook a series of pillar training workshops to help raise Customer Experience excellence with strategic and tactical communication solutions.

Getting customers to sell on your companies behalf is the ultimate marketing goal. Unfortunately today’s consumers don’t trust marketing messages as they once used to. Dialogue helps clients rebalance their acquisition budgets in favour of retention efforts.  Not only do client’s customers stay longer but the retention work is fast becoming the most effective form of acquisition. By giving them amazing customer experiences across the six pillars they become an invisible sales force for your brand. Dialogue develops unique amplifiers to encourage delighted customers to share these experiences with friends and colleagues.

Download Irelands Customer Experience league table report here