Engagement lessons from Orlando, the world’s entertainment capital

Engagement lessons from Orlando, the world’s entertainment capital

This article was originally published on the CX Network, a leading platform for senior CX and Marketing leaders.

Back in 2016, I wrote an article sharing that the biggest misconception around customer experience back then was that marketing would fully own the customer journey design.

This is quite simply couldn’t be further from the truth for most businesses. Remember how that crying baby spoilt your last flight? Remember these insane people on boxing day sales?

Your experience likely suffered tremendously because of factors externals to whomever orchestrated your experience – it’s unavoidable. Businesses need to take the environment into account when designing experiences.

Most recently, I witnessed a masterclass in engaging those who aren’t on the payroll and having them buy into being a part of delivering great experiences.

Let’s take a trip in Orlando, Florida.

Enter the Tourism industry

Tourism falls victim like no other to this inability of owning one’s customer experience: the local population is part and parcel to a tourist’s experience.

As a city, region or country, you rely on the locals (thousands or even millions of them!) to make a good impression and you rely on the local businesses to deliver amazing experiences, so travellers return and tell their friends.

Tourism associations such as Visit Orlando have to ask themselves a question: how do they ensure local residents recognise the part they had to play in this tourism experience and committed, as a community, to deliver the best experience they could?

After all, places gain reputations because of their people and these are incredibly hard to lose.

Take Paris, as an example.

The capital of love for many is also the rudest place on earth for tourists and fellow French citizens rank Parisians as the biggest moaners in the country.

Such a reputation does not play in their favour when people decide where to spend their honeymoon or their next family holiday, all that because of the locals: that’s how important a role they play in the success and prosperity of cities as touristic destinations.

Back to Orlando.

Numerous families travel to Orlando because of the theme parks in the surroundings: Disney and Universal being the big two to come to mind.

And I do empathise with the residents. Imagine how trying it must be for the locals to see hordes of small children in princess dresses or superhero outfits taking over their city over the peak months when the weather is at it’s best. If anything, it’s particularly challenging in Orlando because the theme parks never really stop, so the crowd may shrink but it remains a big crowd in absolute numbers.

It is therefore critical to ensure the locals support tourism and play their critical part, in keeping the magic alive throughout the year and save their town from becoming ‘The Paris of the Americas’.

Now, I’ll confess, I wasn’t able to locate any clip online, so I am trying to recall what I saw when I went there myself earlier in 2018. Other useful disclaimer: I’m sharing first-hand experience without any evidence of a broader strategy even being in existing – this may be nothing more than my own musing.


Getting the local on your side: What’s in it for them?

Imagine a popular hangout for locals who swear by the Orlando Magic and the Orlando Solar Bears (basketball and ice hockey respectively). This is their home turf, this is where they go every weekend or so.  What a better place to have an intimate heart-to-heart communication with the area’s residents, right? Very few tourists and many people priding themselves on their great city – the perfect brand ambassadors.

As we waited for the hockey game to start at such a hangout (which the Polar Bear won in the extra time, GO BEARS!), a Visit Orlando video was played. In this video, they were talking tourism: how Orlando is the most visited city in the United States, how colossal the number of visitors is and how magical the theme park experience is for these tourists.

Up to that point, one could think it was an ad geared at tourists, which could warrant others taking the mickey (see what I did there?) out of them for promoting Orlando as a tourist destination to both locals and tourists who already ‘bought’. Not great targeting…

However, what came next was the real stroke of genius: it transitioned to a What’s In It For Us narrative, showing how much tourism actually brought (and still brings) to the city, from financing their state-of-the-art sports venue, to the jobs it creates locally as well as the infrastructure it helped financing such as highways (or motorways, depending on which side of the pond you’re on).

It became a showreel of how beneficial tourism was for the local population (all thanks to tourism taxes) and why great tourist experiences represent a win-win situation for everyone.

This is true excellence in facing the truth that a tourism board or a city cannot control the residents who have a starring role in the experience tourists have in Orlando. It not only shows how important tourists are for the local economy, but it also demonstrates in very practical terms what the residents get in exchange for sharing their home county with tourists.

Offering resident-only perks

And if this wasn’t enough, a few days later, with my attention turned to finding out other clues of this Resident Experience Strategy I came across another facet of the Visit Orlando strategy.

While listening to the radio, I picked up that many advertisements were geared towards locals specifically with very attractive offers. When I say geared to them, I’m talking discounted yearly pass for theme parks or cheaper services or discounts for those who could produce proof of residency in Florida. This preferential treatment is just another way of getting the local population on their side and engage them in this mission of providing a magical experience to tourists.

This gesture could be compared (albeit loosely) to employee benefits: ‘because you live here, you are part and parcel of delivering an experience to our tourists, and we want to thank you for it, with these discounted venues’.

Orlando demonstrates it understands one of the key tenets in customer experience: you can’t fully own your end-to-end customer journey design, so you might as well create partnerships that will enhance this experience so that everyone, from the city to the locals to the customer (i.e. tourist) benefit.

This strategy is so powerful, I can comfortably claim that Orlando is very unlikely to become The Paris of the Americas – mission accomplished!

Time for reflection: how will you deal with those people who influence your experience but aren’t on your payroll? Expanding your employee engagement to those not working for you may well be the differentiator you’re needing.


Is Having a Horde of Promoters REALLY the Key to Your Customer Experience Strategy?

This article was originally published on the Worthix blog, a cutting-edge AI-based voice of the customer software.

If there is one thing that truly scares me when I talk with senior leaders at conferences, it’s the lack of forethought many have in choosing a metric for their business.

These same executives spend weeks upon weeks reviewing the right Management Information tool, reviewing the right training partner, Workforce Management provider, or staffing agency for their contact center. So, why not give CX the same importance?


“Why is [fill in the blank with your metric of choice] your KPI?” I ask them.



At this point, they realize that no one ever told them why this or that metric was the right one. Or worse, they were following orders without ever understanding the reasoning behind this decision.

Don’t feel bad if you recognize yourself in this scenario. It’s more common than we’d like to believe. There are very few people that can really tell me why their business uses a specific metric, or whether they even took the nature of their business/industries into account when deciding which measure to use.


The pitfalls of poor metric planning


Here are a couple examples of tragically poor metric planning:

  • An online retailer asking about NPS before the customer even receives their purchase.
  • A hospital asking if you’re satisfied with your medical treatment (I mean, if it was successful, yes?)
  • An amusement park asking about customer effort.
  • NPS as the key measure of a government agency, such as the IRS, DMV, or Social Security Administration.

But stop and think about it. Who in their right mind would recommend the taxman? And how reliable can the analytics be on a survey answered before the product in question has even been used?

I argue that many customer experience programs fail because they are not chasing the right number. And they’re not chasing it because they never tried to understand which is the best way of driving their business forward.

Could it be satisfied customers? Or a horde of promoters saying it’s as easy as 1-2-3 to deal with them? Whichever answer it is, you need to understand which behaviors best relate to business performance and therefore growth.

Failing to plan is planning to fail, especially in consumer research.

Are the established metrics a fit for your purpose?


Sadly, many companies have defaulted to traditional metrics, such as NPS because “executive boards like it” or “everyone uses it, so it must be good”.

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against NPS–as long as it is used properly in the correct settings. Customer Satisfaction, Effort, and Net Promoter are all very valid metrics and I have used them in the past with a number of businesses, on their own or combined. They all do a great job when chosen for the right reason.

What else is out there?

Look Ahead

I want to challenge you to think beyond the beaten tracks.

I want to share with you other, less established, measures that may be more appropriate for your business reality. I don’t claim any of these measures to be superior to the established ones, just keen to bring another perspective.

The following measures are the result of conversations I’ve had with peers in the industry, senior leaders outside of CX and, I’ll admit, some of my own musing.

1-Buyer’s Remorse

Buyer's Remorse

This is a great measure for products and services that are either impulse purchases, have a price tag above the competition (with limited functionaldifferentiation) or that are purely hedonic in nature (i.e. just for fun and enjoyment).

If your product is 25% more expensive than the next best competitor for little reason other than the brand, or the appeal of it is much greater than the actual use (something people call ‘gadgets’), then it’s one you want to watch closely.

A few days after the purchase, you do want to know whether the person regrets buying from you. You do want to understand how to prevent potential returns, and how you may need to adapt your delivery or communication to reduce this risk.

2-Is it ‘Worth it’?

Worth it

This is the question that my friends at Worthix swear by, and it makes a lot of sense. One could argue it’s a better way of asking about remorse, but it’s so much broader than that!

It really encompasses the entirety of decision making process and value perception by starting with just one question: “Is it worth it?”.

It helps you capture whether the value was truly there (worth what you traded in) in the eyes of your customer, and how to increase the perceived value from their interaction with you (through follow-up questions).

If you are wondering which companies are using this approach… you’re on the right website – just look at Worthix’s client list!

3-Would I gift this to a loved one?


This one is something I haven’t seen yet, but I mused around years ago at the beginning of my career when I started to see the limitations of NPS.

As a young and foolish graduate, I set myself on a task of thinking of alternative metrics to NPS and CSAT. Fortunately, this journey didn’t consume me for long as I rapidly understood that the problem wasn’t the metric but how it was used. I eventually parked it… until I was invited to write on the Worthix blog!

Here’s the rationale: people praise the power of NPS due to the social element involved (would you put your reputation on the line for this business), and through that word of mouth, the impact it may have on building up a brand and their business. So far so good.

But then it got me thinking… why stop at recommending? Although it will cover far fewer situations that NPS could legitimately claim, why not go one step further from recommending?

What is that step further? Actually gifting it to someone you care about!

Can you imagine a stronger endorsement than actually spending your own money to buy someone a gift? For instance:

  • Would you recommend this restaurant? Yep! I just got my co-worker a gift card to eat there!
  • Would you recommend this cruise? You bet! I just bought my parents a trip for their 50th anniversary!
  • Would you recommend this phone? Absolutely – I got it for my kid for his birthday!

See where I am getting with this? If someone is willing to buy the service or product and use it as a gift to someone, it means they truly believe it is of exceptional quality and will make its recipient happy.

You can hardly hope for a stronger statement of loyalty and delight than that…except maybe tattooing a brand logo on your body, or calling your kid “Chanel“– both true stories).

Yes, your Gift score might be lower than your Recommend, but a shift upwards would certainly have a much bigger impact on your bottom line, as it is associated with an actual purchase decision.

Finally, onto the real question…

How likely are you to share this article with your friends or colleagues?

Because it’s free, there really is no reason for you not to go ahead and score up by sharing this article on LinkedIn or commenting below!

The future of banking is about enabling and delivering transformative customer experience

To truly thrive, banks need to provide value beyond handling money, delivering a transformational customer experience.

Joe Pine and James Gilmore pioneered customer experience with The Experience Economy. In this book, they share four stages to economy value: commodities, products, services and experiences.

Banks are on the verge of the highest level of economic value: staging experiences.

Today, the great majority of businesses are about better delivering their services and experiences. This is particularly noticeable in a highly regulated environment such as financial services, where complaints handling hasn’t historically met customers’ standards (the Nordics have a few tricks to teach us on that front).

Fortunately, technology is advancing fast and businesses are maturing. Thanks to these trends, banks are now on the verge of the highest level of economic value: staging experiences. These experiences are transformative and offer a differentiated position, which delivers lasting customer value in a very personal way.

Customer experience goes beyond the core service

For most customers, using banks is only about storing and moving money around, but this is ‘just’ a service. Such a service can’t be genuinely different. Therefore, financial services brands can only achieve true differentiation by going beyond the core offering. And they have started doing just that.

Take for example SoFi, which specialises in loan refinancing and mortgages. They stand out by offering side services like career coaches and counsellors. They even hosted 400 events for their customers to meet and discuss common interests. What do they stand to gain from these events? They use the learnings from these meetings to inform future product builds.

If we look at brokers, we can discuss TD Ameritrade. The broker built a Twitter chatbot, which, as you would expect, helps customers find their local brand and process deposits. Where it truly shines, though, is by sharing relevant news and educating on investing through videos.

The bot, more than just a channel, adds genuine value to customers and enable them to make more informed decisions.

Financial services brands can only achieve true differentiation by going beyond the core offering.

Making customer experience frictionless

Banks can reduce the time it takes to withdraw cash (to less than 10 seconds) by using a customer’s smartphone. This approach removes friction for customers by relying on existing habits. And customers love it, considering they always spend a lot of time on their devices anyway. It’s a true example of businesses meeting customers on their terms.

As a matter of fact, some banks are even going one step further. They are enabling their customers to use voice through their mobile app for transactions as a new feature.

We’re not talking about giving an easy link to call or video chat customer services, we’re talking about letting Apple’s Siri handle banking transactions like Singapore’s OCBC is now doing.

That being said, those who will truly stand out take it even further. Indeed, CapitalOne and U.S.Bank are letting you use Amazon Alexa to transact with them. Pay your bills, check your balance and get insights on spend by chatting to your digital assistant.

Can it ever become more frictionless than this?!

The examples discussed above will require a significant investment, which is challenging to unlock. Complex or legacy systems might even prevent you from doing it altogether. If that’s the case, not all hope is lost, as there is still a middle-ground solution. This middle-ground gets businesses closer to delivering differentiated experiences: partnerships.

Some banks are even going one step further. They are enabling their customers to use voice through their mobile app for transactions as a new feature.

If you can’t build it: open up

Truth is, it is time for banks and FinTechs to collaborate. More and more FinTech businesses are arriving in the market, which means there are now many examples of potential partners. The real challenge is about finding the right partnership for your bank, rather than finding a potential partner. The right partners will enable you to augment and complement your brand and your customer experience.

Let’s take Toshl Finance a personal budgeting app as an example. They help customers keep track of their spend. To do this, they enable customers to connect their bank accounts into a single view, across providers. This creates true transparency and enables customers to make the most out of their financial lives thanks to a comprehensive view of their finances. (Caution: some banks will reserve the right not to provide fraud reimbursement should customers connect their accounts to third-party apps.)

Alternatively, customers can use investing start-up Moneybox to expand the value they get in financial services. Once the customer connects their app to their card, all future expenses are rounded up (to the next pound). This is then used to invest in the stock market through tracker funds.

By doing this, Moneybox enables customers to get closer to their life goals by making the most of their finances. This service is powerful because customers do not need to make any conscious effort. Without thinking about it, customers will get higher value out of their banking, transforming their lives.

However, there is a key consideration should you want to partner with the above examples or any other FinTech. Your business will need to open up, for which tight regulations come as a key obstacle. But if you want to become a true vanguard, it is a necessary step.

The right partners will enable you to augment and complement your brand and your customer experience.

Getting ready to implement

Even if you do not have resources in-house, you can still design a great customer experience. Simply look at ways you can integrate and partner with third parties. These integrations will you’re your business a better shot at standing out in the market. You know the saying: alone you may go fast, but together, you’ll go far.

If, on the other hand, you are lucky enough to have available resources, there are 3 success factors you need to make this project a success.

Either way, financial services are entering a new stage of economic value. Question is, will you be part of shaping up next practice in the making?

Nintendo: The tech company with CX at its gaming core

This article was originally published on the CX Network, a leading platform for senior CX and Marketing leaders.

From the first portable controller to a touchscreen before the iPhone, what you can learn from Nintendo’s experience design.

People tend to forget it, but customer experience (CX) is not a trend, a nice to have or doing the right thing. It is a business strategy. One that drives revenue through a focus on customer value, enriching relationships and reducing price sensitivity and churn rates.

Jeanne Bliss, a CX thought leader, puts forward three fundamental truths on CX strategy:

  1. Customers are assets, not costs
  2. Customer experience professionals need to earn the right to do the work (i.e. deliver results and demonstrate the value they bring)
  3. Most importantly, it unlocks customer-driven growth

The financial returns of customer experience have been quantified by Forrester and the internet is full of other statistics on the benefits earned from truly great experiences.

I, however, cannot help but feel that our industry has kept confidential one of the greatest success story of this strategy.

Great fun meets excellent experience design

Home devices are where Nintendo’s forward-thinking shines.

Nintendo, the Japanese video games giant, is among the greatest in customer-centric business strategies.

They launched the Game Boy in 1989, the first genuine portable console, long before mobile phones were a thing. They understood there was a desire for consumers not to be house-bound to play games. Identifying this as a significant customer pain point, they filled the gap and went on to sell more than 100 million devices.

The Nintendo DS launched in 2004 as a device with two complementary screens, one of which is a touchscreen (three years before the iPhone). It stood out thanks to a more immersive and involving experience, harnessing the possibilities brought by the dual screen technology. It is the genesis of second screen in TV: accessing related content on a different screen for a more holistic experience.

This device sold 154 million units. It is the world’s bestselling handheld device and Nintendo’s bestselling product.

But home devices are where Nintendo’s forward-thinking shines. While the market consistently works towards making more powerful devices and better looking games, Nintendo reinvents its approach to experience: each new home device brought meaningful change from its predecessor.

Let’s analyse how Nintendo masterfully harnessed customer-centric strategies and design through the examples of the Wii and the Switch.

Nintendo Wii: Immersive gaming made real

Launched in 2006, the Wii aimed to expand the gaming market to a larger and more mainstream audience while catering to its historic customer base. Centring the gaming experience around a motion-sensitive remote, the Wii brought a unique touch to entertainment , which pleased both new and existing customers.

Here’s where Nintendo got design right: they put the gaming experience ahead of product specifications and performance.

A player could physically swing the baseball bat, throw the bowling ball and shoot at enemies. I recall playing a survival-horror game when younger, lights off (fully immersed) and reaching an apex of tension… and be terrified. So terrified, I cowardly stopped playing and did not resume for months – something I never experienced before with the competition.

Here’s where Nintendo got design right: they put the gaming experience ahead of product specifications and performance. A cross-platform game was less pretty on the Wii, but the experience was superior. The trade-off was a no-brainer for customers: they’d rather be immersed in the experience, shooting enemies, slashing monsters or driving their kart, than sitting in front of a slightly better-looking game.

The strategy clearly paid-off, as the Wii sold more than 100 million consoles worldwide, 20 million more than its two competitors – all thanks to a differentiated experience.

However impressive the Wii was from a design standpoint, the Switch is Nintendo’s true masterpiece.

The Nintendo Switch: The ultimate CX console?

The Switch, brought gaming to a new standard at its launch in 2017, like the Wii did a decade before (2006).

Meeting customers on their own terms is also key to the experience design.

Nintendo took one of the business’ greatest challenge – providing a truly omni-channel experience – and made it core to the design of the Switch. It is a console that can be played connected to your living room’s TV, on a table on its own or anywhere else, on the go.

Meeting customers on their own terms is also key to the experience design. A remote can be used in multiple ways: by one or two players, joined up, separated or attached to the screen, or even as a more traditional and mainstream remote. Motion sensors embedded on the screen enrich the gaming experience further through puzzles and in-game features.

Most important of all is the Switch’s unique ability to fit around the customer’s life, without compromising on the gameplay or the experience, regardless of playing mode – more than ‘omni-channel’, it manages to go beyond the concept of channels, very much like customers do when they think of a business.

This customer-centric design is critical as it enables the Switch to deliver more value and go beyond experience.

Nintedo: The CX transformation game-changer

Joe Pine and James Gilmore identified back in 1999 in their seminal book “The Experience Economy” that businesses move from commodities, to goods, to services, to experiences to  transformation. Transformation is the ultimate stage of evolution, where customers benefit personally and grow thanks to the experiences with the console – this is the standard achieved with the Switch.

Nintendo’s customer-centric strategy earned them their most profitable quarter in the decade.

Taking a personal example once again, the Switch enabled me to increase my attendance at the gym and workout far longer, more frequently and consistently than ever before. It provides me with engaging, entertaining and flexible entertainment in a way that no other console ever could (most of handheld consoles requiring the two hands to be joined up in holding the console in order to play comfortably).

I went from dreading exercising to not minding it and, surprisingly, wanting to stay longer than planned (to finish that one level of that great game).

With the Switch, Nintendo reached the last stage of the experience economy, enabling a healthier routine, fitting around, enhancing and transforming lives – a claim that currently no competitor could credibly substantiate.

Nintendo’s customer-centric strategy earned them their most profitable quarter in the decade; raising their profit forecast by a third.

The gaming company has reached the exclusive milestone of selling more than 100 million units (therefore earning more than £10 billion in revenue) for three of its products, which also happen to be three of the five bestselling consoles of all times). Hopes are high for the Switch to join this very select club.

Nintendo’s success demonstrates that leading product and experience design with the customer in mind will ultimately pay off and unlock customer-driven growth. The company has been able to prove time and time again, across the decades, that making next practice a reality is not only a profitable strategy, it’s the most profitable strategy of all.

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2018: The year of a more leveled CX playing field

This article was originally published on the CX Network, a leading platform for senior CX and Marketing leaders.

This isn’t the year of futuristic innovations and a complete industry overhaul, 2018 is about customer experience maturity across the board.

Year after year, we see people talking about the next 12 months as announcing a fantastic revolution, with innovation transforming life as we know it and redefining the standard in customer experience.

There is no denying that computing power has been increasing at an insane pace and that the gap between great innovations has been reduced time and time again, but computing power is not the only ingredient to enhanced customer experience.

Call me cynical, but after years of exploring the latest innovation in customer experience (tech-enabled or otherwise), my personal prognostic is that we won’t see a massive leap in customer experience in 2018 – beyond extremely niche offerings or PR stunts.

Over the past few years, we’ve been promised a completely changed playing field through augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR, chatbots/artificial intelligence (AI) and smartwatches. Very few situations have been able to become more than simple gimmicks; good for PR or for die-hard fans.

Maybe 2018 is the year it happens, but I doubt it.

On the contrary, I believe that the excitement this year should be around a more leveled playing field. It’s about those businesses who are newer to the CX-mindset. They are the businesses that have been getting their house in order, dealing with legacy systems and inside-out strategies to truly focus on their most important stakeholder: the customer.

I believe 2018 will be the year where more and more businesses become mature enough to demonstrate their own take on customer experience and how they use technology to enable their unique proposition to shine through and scale.

We won’t see a massive leap in customer experience in 2018 – beyond extremely niche offerings or PR stunts.

I’m genuinely excited to see how two, three or four businesses will be competing with each other using strong customer experience as a major vector.

Gartner predicted it a few years ago, and all points towards it are finally materialising itself: 2018 will be the year of diversity. So open your eyes and witness how the same technology and capabilities can offer vastly different solutions to customers based on an organisations’ DNA.

This is just the biggest trend I see happening.

However, I’ll still be looking out for (and reporting back on) the cutting-edge examples. Fear not, Customer Experience Next Practice is definitively part of the agenda for 2018.

This prediction is an excerpt from CX Network’s Customer Experience Predictions for 2018 report. 


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