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Q&A with James Scutt, CX director, Post Office

25th Aug 2020
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For the world’s biggest brands, experience management (XM) can be an essential tool for driving loyalty, improving employee morale and building the best possible customer experience. As one of Qualtric’s #XMVisionaries, James Scutt, CX Director at the Post Office understands the power of a strategic XM approach. We caught up with James to understand how he’s using Qualtrics’ XM technology to enhance the brand’s reputation and secure a better experience for Post Office customers.

Why is customer experience so important to the Post Office?

JS. For me, it’s about perceptions. The Post Office has a strong heritage in the UK, but being seen as an ‘institution’ does have its downsides. When you think of innovative brands, your mind doesn’t immediately jump to the Post Office. And that needs to change.

The reality is that most people only know about our branch network. They still see the Post Office as something physical, traditional and largely ‘offline’. But that’s not really the case. More and more of our services are going digital and, with significant investment being made to revolutionise essential services across the UK.  

That’s the message we want to get across to customers, but if the customer experience isn’t right, then why bother? There’s no point investing in the backend if the customer’s experience with the brand doesn’t change. That’s where our investment in Experience Management (XM) has come in.

How are you using data to inform your approach?

JS. I’m a big believer in the whole experience management process. Bringing everything together in one place — from the customer experience, to the employee experience to individual products and your overall brand. If you’re going to build an effective approach, you’ve got to tie those factors together and get rid of any silos. That takes a lot of high quality, actionable data.

Since working with Qualtrics we’ve had access to this data. Data that not only gives us hard facts but also lets us consider how customers feel about the Post Office. This is unprecedented. To be able to talk about customer experience in human terms, and to plan based on customer emotions rather than just numbers and percentages. That’s something we’ve never been able to do before.

Best of all, we can now segment people based on emotional factors, and share the actual comments they’ve provided with our senior team. In the past, the big problem was always getting people to fix customer experience issues. Sure, we could see a problem, but when it was nothing more than numbers on a chart people didn’t feel the urgent need to fix it.

Now, we can see and share feedback from real customers. You can feel the emotions behind the comments that customers make and — for a customer-centric business — that’s an incredibly powerful motivator for change.

Where has Experience Management benefited your customers?

JS. It’s about joining up the dots. Traditionally, branch-level activities were always the hardest to monitor and manage.

If a customer makes a complaint, or has a bad experience in a local branch, it’s so hard to guarantee that their feedback gets acted upon. That’s where XM has proved so effective. By involving staff in the CX process, we’ve been able to take real customer feedback, and put it into the hands of the people at branch level who can make actual, immediate change happen. This type of local-level activation is not only great for customers – who can see their change being implemented, it’s also great for staff morale, giving employees the autonomy to improve their own branches.

People don’t leave feedback for fun. They want you to take action. Sending their feedback to HQ, putting a plan together and then saying, “ok, we’ll retrain some people in a couple of months” isn’t good enough. You need to take action quickly and robustly, and then go back to customers and show them what changes you’ve made. That’s what XM allows you to do: identify the changes that need to be made, identify the people who are best suited to make them, and then act quickly to get them done.

What advice would you give to somebody putting together an XM strategy?

JS. Get your embedding strategy right before you launch into an XM strategy. You’ve got to spend time laying the groundwork and building a solid foundation upon which to build your XM approach.

A lot of the time, that simply means raising awareness among your organisation, your employees and your team. To build a great XM approach you’ve got to understand the drivers that make your customers tick. Most importantly, you need your teams to understand those drivers as well. Then they can start to build them into their own departmental processes. At the Post Office I spent two years just raising awareness for the drivers behind customer decisions. Now that we understand them, we’re slowly building them into every customer touchpoint and every bit of communication we devise. Our key drivers show through in everything from our annual awards, to our onboarding strategy, our learning and development tools and our in-branch marketing. And the result is a consistent, high quality experience.

What’s next for the Post Office’s CX approach?

JS. We just want to keep learning and improving. It’s a slow burn, but you’ve got to keep drip feeding improvements throughout the company. The progress we’ve made in the last two years has been staggering, but there’s always plenty more to do. The next big step for us will be to become even more proactive in our approach. Rather than just telling staff where to improve, we want to start providing them with practical tools that can allow them to improve things on their own terms. I expect Qualtrics to be an instrumental part of that future.

 

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