Thursday, April 2, 2015

The DNA of a Successful Customer Experience

Image courtesy of Hindrik S
What are the Six Pillars that Nunwood has dubbed "the DNA of a successful customer experience?"

I was recently sent an advance copy of the 2015 Nunwood US Customer Experience Excellence Report. The report focuses on best practices in the US market, investigating which businesses excel, why, and how UK brands can learn from US customer experience leaders. (Nunwood is based in London.)

The part of the report that intrigued me was the Six Pillars that form the basis of their assessment; the Pillars are: personalization, integrity, time and effort, expectations, resolutions, and empathy. (The Pillars are coupled with advocacy - likelihood to recommend - and loyalty to generate a customer experience score, which they use to rank the brands evaluated in this study.) They were derived from years of research and driven by the need to define what a good experience looks like.

From Nunwood's website...

The Six Pillars are the universal characteristics of all brilliant customer experiences. Strong performance across all six is shown to:
  • Increase acquisition, via advocacy
  • Create long-term shareholder value
  • Guarantee a market leading customer experience ranking
The report states that the top 10 brands (based on customer experience) achieve an almost 10 times greater increase in share price growth than the norm.

Nunwood refers to the Six Pillars as the "DNA of successful experiences," "the definition of customer experience excellence," and "pivotal to top 10 performance." So let's look at the Six.

1. Personalization
Defined as: Using individualized attention to drive an emotional connection. Demonstrating that you know the customer and his specific needs or circumstances and adapting the experience to what you know is key.

2. Expectations
Defined as: Managing, meeting, and exceeding customer expectations. Expectations are pre-experience beliefs about how a product or service will be delivered. These serve as a reference point against which the performance of an organization will be judged. Expectations are set through the brand promise, as well as through consistent delivery of the experience. Obviously, knowing customer expectations is the only way to meet or exceed them.

3. Empathy
Defined as: Achieving an understanding of the customer’s circumstances to drive rapport. Empathy is the emotional capacity to show you understand someone else’s experience. Empathy can be taught. The report gives examples from customers about how employees show they care: (1) they pay attention, listen, and show they understand; (2) they go out of their way for the customer; and (3) they do a little something extra or unexpected.

4. Time and Effort
Defined as: Minimizing customer effort and creating frictionless processes. This is huge. If companies focus more on being easy to do business with, imagine the delight customers would feel, in general! Talk about expectations; I think this is an expectation we all have when we interact with a company. Why does it have to be so painful?

5. Integrity
Defined as: Being trustworthy and engendering trust. Integrity is an outcome of consistent organizational behavior that demonstrates trustworthiness. The top 10 brands demonstrate that they are not in it purely for the profit; they put the customer before profits and do right by the customer.

6. Resolution
Defined as: Minimizing customer effort and creating frictionless processes. While the definition makes it feel like this is redundant with Time and Effort, digging deeper into this Pillar reveals that it's more about service recovery. Their statement that "a sincere apology and acting with urgency are two crucial elements of successful resolution" makes for a better explanation of this Pillar.

Nunwood believes that the best brands will achieve success when they focus training, processes, technology, and culture on these Six Pillars. Personally, I can't argue with any of the Six.

In the old world, you devoted 30% of your time to building a great service and 70% of your time to shouting about it. In the new world, that inverts. -Jeff Bezos


  1. I like the Jeff Bezos quote, I think it highlights that building a great experience is not an easy thing to do. It takes a a certain level of obsession that few have.

    1. Thanks, James. Great point about obsession... Jeff Bezos definitely has that.

  2. Hi Annette,
    Great summary of the post. Look out for an upcoming interview on my blog with David Conway of Nunwood on the report and additional insights.


    1. Thanks! Here's the link to your interview in case any readers are interested:

  3. Yes, You said totally right, Above Six Pillars are the universal characteristics of all brilliant customer experiences. As a business owner I think we all the business owner should have to follow these six pillars for great customer services. Thanks

  4. Actually that's true. I think knowing the DNA of successful customers is a sales strategy that I forget to mention in my article. Will need to update it.

  5. This post better explains the 6 pillars of customer services. Weather its live chat operators or sales executive they must keep in mind those 6 pillars and by the way Jeff Bezos example was great.