It never ceases to amaze me the number of ‘social media gurus’ who think they’re making a startling revelation when they announce that it’s all about having a good ‘product’ or customer experience and then you can get people to share and talk about it.
Excuse me chaps and chapesses, but that’s not new. Professional public relations people have always known that you can’t ‘polish a turd’. Back in the early 90s BT’s dubious reputation wasn’t just going to be fixed by a new name, logo and bit of spin. It was more important to make sure the phone boxes worked (back then most folk didn’t have mobiles) and it fixed your landline quickly.
That’s why I’m fascinated by the new Customer Experience League by research firm Nunwood which identifies the UK brands that offer the best customer experience. At the top of the table are Amazon and First Direct (a Wolfstar Consultancy client). If you visit First Direct’s head office and see some of the team working in one of its call centres it’s not hard to see why First Direct should rank so highly. I’ve also had personal experience of Amazon’s customer service as a few years ago I worked Gem, an eCRM outsourcing company in Belfast that handled customer service emails for Amazon.
It’s also noteworthy to see which industry sectors feature and which don’t. As the Marketing Week article highlights, ‘virtual’ companies that only operate online and telephone do well, despite their lack of a high street presence.
And note the absence of any mobile operators in the top 30 (apart from intriguingly Tesco Mobile) â€“ that’s right no T-mobile, Orange, O2, Vodafone or 3 until you get much further down the league table (watch the video or read the PDF to see where). Financial services also fare badly with only First Direct and Smile (the Co-op owned bank) featuring in the top 30. Supermarkets do really well with all of the big players featured, although perhaps not in the order that you’d expect (Waitrose third and Asda in the top ten you’d perhaps guess, but Morrisons above Sainsbury’s?)
The other interesting aspect for me from a personal point of view is defining what the ‘product’ is. For example several chain restaurants do well despite serving (IMHO) terrible food at expensive prices. It’s always puzzled me what the business strategy behind serving bad food is. Chain restaurants like Pizza Express and Cafe Rouge provide a consistent environment coupled with good food. They compete well with the local independent operators. Yet then you get chains like TGI Friday and Domino’s who succeed despite offering a very weak core product. Any local takeaway pizza shop offers far tastier pizza than dominos and nearly always at a fraction of the price. Yet Domino’s continues its relentless dominance of the market, despite the only good thing it does appearing (from my perspective) to be that it delivers quickly and in the time it says.
But they do so in a consistent environment where you know what you’ll get.
The top 30 Customer Experience League is:
2 First Direct
4 Marks & Spencer (food)
5 John Lewis
6 Virgin Atlantic
7 Marks & Spencer (retail)
10 TGI Friday’s
11 JD Wetherspoon
14 CafÃ© Rouge
20 Pizza Express
21 Frankie & Benny’s
23 Las Iguanas
26 Tesco Mobile
30 First Choice