Ian Golding is judge at the UK Digital Experience awards which takes place on the 9th July this year. He kindly agreed to answer a few questions for us and insists on continual improvement as the key to excellent customer experience.
Having spent over twenty years in customer experience and business improvement, Ian has always worked hard to ensure that the businesses he works for are as customer focussed as possible. Ian is Director and customer experience specialist at Custerian, delivering projects in the automotive, financial services, logistics and utilities industries among others. An internationally renowned speaker and blogger on the subject of customer experience, Ian served on the inaugural board of Directors of the CXPA, and is now one of their UK Board Ambassadors.
This year, you are a judge for the UK Digital Experience Awards. What do you believe is the biggest online customer service challenge which companies face this year?
This is an easy question to answer – the ability to keep pace with the ever increasing demands of today’s consumer! The problem that all organisations have is that our demands as consumers are becoming ever more challenging – until or unless organisations are able to continually improve and adapt BOTH the customer experience AND business operating models that deliver the experience, they will struggle to keep consumers happy.
Research by Zendesk in 2013 came to the conclusion that UK shoppers expect the highest level of customer service across Europe and that they have the most “impatient nature”. Why do you think this is and how can companies meet these high expectations online?
Regional cultures do definitely play a part in the delivery of customer experience all over the world. Whilst the UK consumer is demanding, I think UK companies need to embrace their needs/wants/feedback to influence the continual improvement of the customer experience. I think it is a positive thing that UK consumers ‘say it as it is’ – that allows us to understand what needs to be improved. If customers simply voted with their feet without saying anything, understanding what needs to be improved becomes more difficult. What this all means for the UK is that you can never stand still – you have never made it. All UK businesses will need to continually measure and improve the customer experience FOR EVER!!
Do you believe that the definition of excellent customer service is universal or that it is varies depending on the country?
I think there is still confusion globally with regards the difference between customer service and customer experience. Whilst there will be many definitions of customer service, the definition of customer experience is far more universal. I deliver workshops and attend conferences all over the world – I can confirm that the meaning of customer experience and the focus of organisations in trying to improve it is the same all over the globe – some countries are further ahead than others though.
What was your best online customer service experience and what made it stand out?
I am a huge fan of photobox – a brilliant brand with a clear proposition. They also deal with issues brilliantly, treating all customers with care, rather than seeing us as guilty before proven innocent! However, the masters of the online experience have to be Amazon – the simplicity of the experience is what makes it sing. I also think that their ability to switch between channels is brilliant. My kindle recently stopped working. One simple click online led to a customer service agent calling me back – within 24 hours a new kindle arrived on my doormat – fabulous.
What advice would you give small to medium-sized businesses wishing to improve the online experience of their customers?
Keep it simple. Bruce Temkin’s view of the three components of Customer Experience sums it up perfectly – ensure that your experience is FUNCTIONAL (it does what customers need it to do); ACCESSIBLE (it is easy for them to do it); and EMOTIONAL (it leaves them feeling good) – if you can create an online experience that ticks these three boxes, you will be in good shape.
You can find out more about Ian Golding and his work on his blog ijgolding.com.
Follow all the updates of UK Digital Experience Awards here: d-x-a.co.uk