Customer Contact

The UK’s customer experience leaders are a varied bunch. In 2015, the number one position was taken by a retail brand, closely followed by a financial organisation. Other retailers and grocery brands peppered the top 10, whilst the top-performing Travel company closely followed at number 11. However, the important thing to note is that, in their own way, each company epitomised customer experience best practice, and set a high standard for other organisations to follow.

One brand that performed particularly well was the hotel chain Premier Inn, which took 11th place in 2015 with a CEE score of 7.84. It’s a company takes its commitment to guests seriously; it makes a Good Night Guarantee to reassure customers that, if they don’t have a great night’s sleep, then they’ll get their money back. Moreover, guests can make contact with a member of staff at any time of the day or night, as Premier Inn operates a 24/7 service in its establishments.

The retailer Richer Sounds is also good at adapting to the lifestyle needs of its customers. Whilst its stores may not operate 24 hours a day, the brand has been known to open its doors exclusively to certain members of its VIP Club, if they’ve needed access to a shop outside of normal operating hours. This is an extension of the company’s overall flexibility when it comes to the customer experience. Richer Sounds employees work hard to engage with the shopper, and to find out which products will be best suited to their needs, rather than trying to ‘up-sell’ less appropriate items. For this reason, the organisation experienced something of a transformation in 2015, rising 18 places to land at an excellent number four.

We now take a closer look at the UK’s leading financial brand first direct, which took second position in the 2015 rankings. The self-styled “unexpected bank” has been a CX leader for many years, and in 2014 it came at the very top of the UK CEE.

One of first direct’s greatest strengths is in the way in which it handles its employees. They are often highly-motivated and well ‘looked-after,’ and care passionately about the company they represent, and this in turn, makes them more passionate about customers’ needs. In addition, they are given thorough and in-depth training, equipped with such a high degree of knowledge that they are usually empowered to help the individual at the first point of contact, without having to pass them backwards and forwards through various departments.

One brand that truly epitomises customer experience best practice, though, is the company that took top place in 2015. The soap and cosmetics retailer Lush achieved a first-class score of 8.32, performing consistently well across The Six Pillars with notable strengths in the areas of Personalisation and Time and Effort. Like Richer Sounds, Lush is most concerned with helping the individual to find exactly the right product. Employees take the time to interact with customers, listening to their stories and then making suggestions based on the information they impart. As such, a visit to a Lush outlet is more like an ‘experience’ than a shopping trip. Visitors invariably enjoy the social interaction with the team members on the shop floor, increasing their likelihood of making a return visit, and speaking positively about it amongst their friends.

Lush also takes a strong ethical standpoint in the creation of its cosmetics. Its products are “100 per cent vegetarian” and it fights against animal testing. Furthermore, the brand opts for “naked packaging.” Lush uses as little as possible, and approximately half of the items it sells can be taken home without any packaging at all. Apparently, when the use of packing material is unavoidable, Lush tries to use only materials that can be reused, recycled or composted at the end of their lives. For this reason, it could be argued that Lush’s care for the planet is as strong as its care for its customers, something which is reflected in its Six Pillar performance, where Lush achieves 8.46 for Integrity.

Companies such as Lush, first direct, Richer Sounds and Premier Inn also raised the bar, with an attention to detail and a dedication to the individual that truly made them stand out in the UK CEE. Other organisations will have a lot to live up to as we start to compile the 2016 rankings – all will be revealed on Thursday 22nd September.

For more customer experience insight visit the KPMG Nunwood CEM blog.

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