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Case Study Customer Experience Management

We all know about the phenomenon that is Apple. But what is their secret? Well, I am pleased to report it is what we have been preaching for ten years. Their secret is focusing on Customer Emotions and looking at the psychological aspects of a Customer Experience as revealed by Gizmodo. They obtained Apples Genius Training book and Gizmodo comments: No need to mince words: This is psychological training.

We wrote about this in our last book Customer Experience: Future trends and insight’s Palgrave McMillan, 2010. Apple is a prime example of how this trend of looking at what we call Experience Psychology which is starting to take hold.

Gizmodo observed that:

The manual could easily serve as the Humanity 101 textbook for a robot university, but at Apple, it’s an exhaustive manual to understanding customers and making them happy. Sales, it turns out, take a backseat to good vibes—almost the entire volume is dedicated to empathizing, consoling, cheering up, and correcting various Genius Bar confrontations. The assumption, it’d seem, is that a happy customer is a customer who will buy things.

Apple demonstrates how to implement a subconscious experience using gestures as part of their experience. For example; Apple train their Genius’s that stroking your chin makes you look thoughtful as if you are evaluating the situation. When you want to look like you are collaborating you unbutton your coat which shows you are getting down to work.

This is the whole area of the subconscious experience that our regular readers will know we have been discussing for years. It is highly gratifying to see that Apple is using this in the design of their Customer Experience.

The manual explains to Apple Genius’s how to evoke Customer’s emotions , empathy being one of the main ones. Apple has developed a list of specific words they are not allowed to use in order to create the right experience. Certainly nothing should be negative.

They focus on Customer emotions and train their employees on it. Apple uses “Three Fs”: Feel, Felt, and Found. Gizmono give an example of how this would work:

This works especially well when the customer is mistaken or has bad information.”

For example:

Customer: This Mac is just too expensive.

Genius: I can see how you’d feel this way. I felt the price was a little high, but I found it’s a real value because of all the built-in software and capabilities.

The manoeuvre is brilliant. The Genius has switched places with the customer. He is she and she is he, and maybe that laptop isn’t too expensive after all. He Found it wasn’t, at least.

We all know the Apple store experience is great. This now starts to reveal how it’s done. I would suggest that you check out the following blogs on this subject that may further enlighten you.

What is a subconscious experience?

How do you use Customer emotions and psychological techniques within your Journey mapping to design your Customer Experience?

Colin Shaw is founder & CEO of Beyond Philosophy, one of the world’s first organizations devoted to customer experience. Colin is an international author of four best-selling books. Beyond Philosophy provide consulting, specialised research & training from offices in Atlanta, Georgia and London, England.

Follow Colin Shaw on Twitter: @ColinShaw_CX

Colin ShawThe secret of a great Customer Experience – Apple case study

Delivering a brilliant customer experience is all about balancing genuine emotions with the right tools.

It’s not enough to use technology to deliver a personalised experience on a website, brand’s have to create and measure its emotional impact across every channel to help build relationships and stand out from the competition.

At the Festival of Marketing 2015, held over two days at the Tobacco Dock in London this November, there is an entire stage devoted to the emerging role of emotions in customer experience. 

Here speakers will discuss how to create connected journeys and marry together datasets, tech infrastructures and teams, in order to create a customer centric culture.

In the meantime, let's take a look at some other useful case studies.


In 2012 Macmillan research found that people affected by cancer were in need of additional support with everyday practical tasks such as shopping, ironing or cleaning.

It also discovered that one in four people newly diagnosed with cancer in the UK lack support from family and friends, which equates to 70,000 people every year.

The main aim for Macmillan's Team Up service was to create a region-specific, online marketplace which could help to provide practical support to people affected by cancer.

The project needed to empower cancer sufferers to seek help with day-to-day tasks from members of their local community. It was vital that the service was safe, easy to use, accessible and available across all devices.

Additionally, Macmillan needed to recruit more volunteers and appeal to a younger demographic.

One of the main challenges would be recruiting early adopters to test early iterations. Another would be differentiating Team Up from other local Macmillan services.

Team Up used a series of digital practices to deliver real-world services within its pilot site of Brighton and Hove.

Macmillan embraced new technologies, running the project mobile-first and introducing pioneering software such as Veridu to verify user’s identity at point of registration.

Macmillan’s local development team worked in fortnightly agile sprints, raising and prioritising tickets before deploying changes.

A unique brand identity was developed to ensure Team Up had a distinct visual appearance, differentiating it from other Macmillan services in Brighton and Hove.

A dedicated Community Manager spent time working with local groups to sign people up pre-launch. Macmillan ran bi-weekly user testing sessions, to ensure members of the community fed into the project, to help build trust and loyalty in the service.

Team Up complemented the existing support offering in Brighton and Hove by sharing resources while offering something new.


Team Up has seen steady growth and by June 2014 had exceeded its registration KPIs (key performance indicators) by 40%. 

In the offline world, tasks are on average connected to a volunteer in less than two hours. The initial target was a turnaround time of under three days. Tasks are carried out, on average, within two days.

And as of June 2014:

  • Team Up has had an average conversion rate of 8.4%
  • 67% of people who click ‘get started’ carry on to become a Team Upper
  • From step two of registration, 93% continue to complete their registration.

Vodafone UK

Vodafone UK developed a graphical and interactive representation of its network performance, which is a first for the UK telecoms market and meant that a heavily technical subject was made simpler for customers.

The main objective was to reduce network related queries into call centre via a self-serve tool and create a system for communicating planned outages to those customers affected. 

The tool had to be easy to maintain and hold the ability to update in real time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It should also improve network specific T-NPS scores.

Vodafone kicked off a substantial cross-channel working group, touching areas of the business such as online, network operations, service operations, public relations, technology, security and a third party supplier (Aricent). 

Initially, the project was led by a technology team and involved translating network information into online messages. UX designers soon joined the project to ensure the customer was at its heart. 

Vodafone carried out extensive usability studies with the public to validate graphic design and user experience before implementing, analysing and ultimately improving it.

The team built a system where information could be updated on-the-fly by field engineers via a network operation centre, linked to an email notification centre. 

Affected users can now register their email address with the system, which then sends an email to those registered as soon as the issue is reported as closed with the network operations centre.


  • 40% increase in visitor traffic since launch 
  • 25% reduction in network-related topics posted on the forum 
  • 66% reduction in views of network-related forum topics 
  • Since launch, it has been able to decommission the forum for communicating network issues, reducing manual intervention from our social operations team 
  • 9% reduction in network related complaints 
  • 54% reduction in escalated queries requiring a customer call back 
  • 13% improvement in network related T-NPS 
  • 90% improvement in time to load faults online for customer viewing

Thomas Cook

Thomas Cook wanted to establish direct relationships with its target audience, and particularly non-existing Thomas Cook customers.

The travel operator was also keen to have more influence in its customers’ online journeys and obtain a better understanding of their purchase lifecycle.

Thomas Cook launched a highly targeted lead generation campaign and travel survey to capture information on future buying intentions and specific customer requirements, which have a bearing on their decision to buy.

A nurture programme was also implemented to deliver individualised messaging and increase user engagement. Once the survey was completed, consumers were immediately presented with a choice of headline offers or redirected to the website.

Display retargeting tags were embedded into the campaign to enable Thomas Cook to deliver personalised display banners to respondents.

Once the nurture campaign had ended, the customer data, including all click affinity, response and survey data, was immediately fed into the Thomas Cook newsletter programme to become part of the overall new CRM strategy.


During the most recent campaign, more than 15,000 leads were collected.

Email engagement rates increased by more than 30% and open rates were twice the national benchmark average. Click rates averaged in double digits, more than three times higher than the national average, and far in excess of the standard newsletter program.

The results achieved just as much success from an ROI perspective, achieving an ROI of 7.5:1 in a three-month period post registration.

RS Components

Despite search engine marketing delivering 10m visits to the RS Components websites each month, customer feedback and analytics showed that its user experience was not conducive to a quick and efficient process, with 70m customers leaving the site at search stage over the last year.

With conversion being central to the business, RS Components knew it needed to improve its online experience. A huge task involving changes to 60 websites, mostly in local language.

Customer feedback from online surveys and real-time customer lab testing identified the following key priorities:

  • Speed: due to the accelerating pace of technology many engineers are under immense pressure to be first to market with their innovations
  • Ease of identifying products: not being able to find a product or confirm users have found the right products was causing significant levels of frustration and dissatisfaction
  • Range reliability: 47% of customers come to the site knowing the exact product they wanted. In such cases they simply wanted to be able to input the manufacturer’s part number and find it in stock.

With this in mind, any improvements to the user experience needed to drive a 0.5% increase in overall conversion and make a contribution towards RS Component’s financial targets.

Data showed that 20% of searches returned zero results, causing low customer satisfaction.

So RS Components introduced the following measures to improve the customer experience:

  • Search term correction
  • Improvements to search result categorisation and presentation
  • Improvements to facetted search, enabling customers to filter results and see faster results in real time
  • Search that recognises double byte characters for China and Japan
  • Mobile search

And within purchasing and tracking:

  • Shared order history: engineers could now track the history of orders placed by anyone in the company, using any online or offline channel from trade counters to mobile
  • Guest checkout: with 57% of purchases being unplanned, customers could now purchase with only an email and delivery address
  • Express checkout: buyers could go straight from their shopping basket to order confirmation in one click


Kitchen garden hotel THE PIG was keen to improve its online customer experience. Additionally it wanted to get to grips with its customer needs, and build an online strategy around them which would ultimately lead to fewer clicks to purchase.

Improving the online booking process was of primary importance, and was a core objective for the project.

THE PIG enlisted the help of Etch, and initially spent time analysing the hotel's customer journey, and most specifically the path to purchase, to understand the time it was taking to book a stay. 

This research provided the intelligence needed to map out a new online strategy, which placed the customer at the centre.

Central to the project was the need to improve the customer experience of the onsite booking journey. Etch worked with Micros, utilising its Opera Reservation System (ORS), to create a customised booking system which had the capacity to manage the five hotel locations. 

The team was given direct access to the application-programming interface so that it could design a customer experience which met the needs of THE PIG hotel's customers.

A further part of the customer engagement programme was to ensure that the right messaging was being communicated to potential and existing customers throughout the path to purchase. THE PIG worked with Etch to ensure this was carried across all of its display advertising, email, social media, search and referral traffic.


As a direct result of the project, and particularly the new booking engine, THE PIG hotel has seen a 250% growth in online revenues over a two-year period.

Additionally, over the last 12 months, THE PIG has achieved a 319% ROI on managed PPC activities, a 965% ROI on non-branded organic search terms, and a 1,943% ROI on email marketing activities, which were all carried out as part of the new customer engagement strategy.

When set out to expand its offer with a move into the AV category, it acknowledged the need to put the user experience at the heart of the new offer and set itself the objective of breaking new ground in the way brown goods are retailed online.

The starting point for this was to understand the customer journey, with insights demonstrating that AV consumers want to be able to view a product on a site across every device. As far as users are concerned, the internet is the internet and they expect a retailer’s site to perform equally as well across all devices. 

The AV market was reviewed and concluded that was tired, static and really not meeting the needs of the consumer. The online offers were overcomplicated, too jargon heavy and populated with huge ranges that were hard to distinguish.

The brand demystified the jargon, provided greater explanation of the technologies, provided a reasonable sized range of quality brands with no own label product, and provided the opportunity to have products installed at point of delivery.

TV video reviews by’s own experts deliver informative content that sits on the product page, interactive 360 degree images recreate a showroom experience online and additional presenter-led videos explain features by individual manufacturer, providing detail on what the key features are and how to use them. 

The brand also supported the consumer journey with a series of curated collections to help them buy the right TV for their individual viewing needs. So those in the market for TVs for sport, movies or all-round family use will be guided to the right product through dedicated ‘collections’ pages.

Video is also used to sell sound and educate the consumer on how different sound products work and the benefits and restrictions of the products has on offer.

On top of the segmented product offer and rich media content, the brand also offered two types of installation (stand mounted or wall mounted) with its with its same day and free next day delivery offer. 

The service again differentiates from its competition, as many of the retailers currently offering this service don’t do so at point of delivery, often using a third party service to carry out the installation days later.


  • Average order value is consistently at £50 higher than the market average 
  • Both orders and visits are on the increase, growing daily
  • The brand is trading customers up, over-indexing on large screen sizes and Smart TVs
  • Attachment rate is higher than the market average, meaning people are buying more than one AV product from

You can learn even more about customer experience at our two day Festival of Marketing event in November. Book your ticket today and see how you can create a customer-focused culture.

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