Founder The Academy of Service Excellence
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What are EPIC experiences and which brands deliver them?

8th May 2019
Founder The Academy of Service Excellence
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Great customer experiences

What are the components of a truly worthwhile customer experience? In this extract from his new book, Creating Customer Loyalty, Chris Daffy shares his thoughts and looks at some businesses that achieve it. 

A UK business that has built an incredible reputation for customer service, which is always delivering Wow customer experiences, is a company based in the North West of England called Travel Counsellors.

They have a Net Promoter Score in the mid to high 90s, which is so unusually high it caused Fred Reichheld of Bain & Co, the creator of the Net Promoter Score, to visit them to investigate what was behind it. After visiting and discovering the reasons for their amazing success, he was so impressed with what he found that he produced a video with David Speakman, the Travel Counsellors founder.

In this video you will learn many excellent ideas and messages. It will also give you an insight into the mind of a person who can create a fast growing, profitable international business, in a highly competitive market, through a firm commitment to delivering the best customer service possible, and an absolute conviction that if it becomes the overriding focus, for all activities, then everything else in the business will fall into place.

One of the many things I like about this business is their strap line, which is:

Travel Counsellors – With us… it’s personal

I think that says it all. They take personally the task of ensuring that their customers have great holidays, packed full of terrific, personal Wow experiences.

Making Wow experiences EPIC

This leads me to a simple but important thought about Wow experiences. I like to use the word EPIC to describe the kind of experiences that make a worthwhile difference. EPIC stands for:

E – Emotional. The best customer experiences trigger positive emotions. Emotions that create positive relation-building feelings for the customer, that bond them to your people and, through them, your brand, products and/or services.

P – Personal. Personal means person to person. It means that you and your colleagues take personally the responsibility of making sure that every customer gets the best products and services, wrapped in the best possible experiences. (The Travel Counsellors’ strap line is a great example of this.)

I – Important. This means treating customers and their needs and wants as of paramount importance. Done well, customers will feel, through the way you behave and speak, that you view them and their needs as important to you and are prepared to do whatever you can to deliver what they want.

C – Considerate. This means that in all things, you consider the impact that what you decide or do will have on customers. For example, one of my customers insists that at every board meeting there is one chair at the boardroom table that has a large card, with the word ‘Customer’ in bold letters printed on it, clipped to the front of it, so that her fellow directors remember to consider the impact on, and possible reaction from, customers of every decision they take.

In my experience, if you can ensure that everyone in the organisation does whatever they can to deliver EPIC experiences to customers (and colleagues), that will focus all their decisions and activities on always doing the right things.

Creating terrific retail experiences

Another great example comes from Tesco. Terry Leahy was the CEO who transformed its fortunes and turned it into the third-largest retailer in the world. In the late 1990s he realised that with the arrival into the UK of new low-cost competitors from Europe (ALDI, Liddle and Netto), they had to move the business off its old low-cost focus, which was based on the founder’s motto, ‘Stack it High and Sell it Cheap’, and focus it on a different, more upmarket, sector.

In his book, Management in 10 Words, he explained what he did as follows:

"We focused relentlessly on delivering for customers. We set ourselves some simple aims and some basic values to live by. And we then created a process to achieve them, making sure that everyone knew what they were responsible for."

Customer experience was to be a key factor in this new focus, and to ensure that everyone in the business knew this, they created small cards for everyone upon which was written the ‘Core Purpose’ of the business, which was:

To create value for customers to earn their lifetime loyalty.

It’s very simple message that explains it was all about creating customer loyalty. On the back of this card the values were printed. They were:

No one tries harder for customers:

  • Understand customers better than anyone
  • Be energetic, be innovative and be first for customers
  • Use our strengths to deliver unbeatable value to our customers
  • Look after our people so they can look after our customers

Treat people how we like to be treated:

  • All retailers, there’s one team… The Tesco team
  • Trust and respect each other
  • Strive to do our very best
  • Give support to each other and praise more than criticise
  • Ask more than tell and share knowledge so that it can be used
  • Enjoy work, celebrate success and learn from experience

I look at that and think it’s no wonder they achieved the success they did. It’s a bit more detailed than EPIC experiences, but it’s expressing the same ideas, simply written with no management speak. Just the everyday language that I like.

This abridged extract from Creating Customer Loyalty by Chris Daffy is ©2019 and reproduced with permission from Kogan Page Ltd.

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