As I was watching Graham Norton the other day, Gwyneth Paltrow was advising a young Tom Holland that the more famous you become the more ‘the entourage’ will try and make your life frictionless. Getting the best table in a restaurant, not having to queue to get into a club or not buying a pint of milk all become the norm. She reminisced about her father telling her to be more grounded and that friction is good to help you grow. In an era of marketing where customer experience appears to be the panacea for all marketing, the field can often become very quickly confusing. Reducing friction so that people can buy or use new stuff is a hot topic (but is that a good thing?), with owning the customer and their journey, communication at every touchpoint and removing barriers being just some of the latest buzzwords to hit our inboxes.

At Flock, we are acutely aware of the need for transforming the customer experience, which is why we ran a customer experience lunch to openly discuss the topic and see what was really happening at the coalface. Joined by senior leaders from Shell, EMMA, Walgreen Boots Alliance, Expedia, MoneyPenny and Argos here is a snapshot of what we heard:

  • Competition is tough – we need to do everything we can to attract new customers
  • We need to fundamentally need to change the way we recruit customers
  • We can’t do everything, so we need to focus on customers that need the most support
  • We recognise that one size doesn’t fit all
  • We need to focus on our top three pain points, whilst remaining aware that others are likely to come up
  • We are striving towards personalisation at scale
  • We run customer engagement sessions to get closer to our customer needs
  • Personas help us identify commonalities between people
  • There is no such thing as the perfect customer
  • Customer experience is not cheap or quick – it requires the right talent and the right investment

The implications of these challenges are no different to some of the questions we are frequently asked to tackle for our clients. Whilst there is no one size fits all for delivering a strong customer experience, the following are some suggestions on what to do:

  1. Create a clear customer experience vision and strategy – what are you aiming for? Be clear on what this is and then it will become easier to identify what’s needed to get there. Remember that 100% satisfaction will be challenging to deliver by any brand.
  2. Customer Clarity – be clear on who your customers are. This needs to be broad enough to offer up a consistent experience but focused enough to speak directly. Don’t forget that broad demographics such as gender and age rarely provide enough detail to adapt a brand experience.
  3. Live Learning – where possible try and get your measurement as real-time as possible. Don’t just be seduced by a digital dashboard – it could be as simple as instore monitoring or exit surveys.
  4. Team Development – ensure that the people behind your drive for a great customer experience are on the same page. It’s fruitless using it as a marketing technique if the call centre or CEO isn’t aligned. Be prepared for having to educate people along the way.
  5. Be Action Orientated – customer centric marketing is not a passive exercise. You need to make sure you have the ability to act and potentially change what you are doing when you see the effects of your changes.
  6. Measure the ROI – is it working? Stay focused on what you are trying to fix and ensure that this is connected to your ability to grow the brand. This ‘simple equation’ provides you the evidence to release more funding and talent.

Doing even some of the above is by no means easy. It requires co-ordination and clarity of vision, and Flock would be happy to discuss any one of them with you.

Flock run lunch forums on a regular basis, so if you are interested in a topic or being a guest then get in touch with If nothing else, you will make some great connections within the industry.