Tag Archive customer experience

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. I hear they have released more coupons for this coming system as well through websites such as PromoCodeWatch.

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.

Tags, , ,

Customer experience in the era of 3.0 FinTech

This article on FinTech was oringinally published on the CX Network. If you want to read another article on FinTech, you can read my take on the future of the ATM.
Credit: CX Network

Credit: CX Network

The 3rd generation of FinTech is fantastic news for customer experience in niche segments, says CX expert Gustavo Imhof.

The surge of technology-savvy and customer-centric entrants in the financial services industry has caused great disruption in the market, forcing the industry as a whole to enhance experiences delivered to customers – putting them in the driving seat, like almost every other industry has. However, for financial services the FinTEch transformation did not happen as swiftly as in other industries. As it happened over two decades, we can distinguish three very distinct dynamics within the industry, you can learn even more about this at PSST! PH.

David and Goliath, Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner, symbiosis; they perfectly illustrate the dynamics and the relationships we witnessed between FinTech up-spring and traditional financial services players since the early days of the dotcom craze.

In the early days, PayPal was the David to the banks’ Goliath, the small start-up that was there to upset the deep-routed balance in the current account landscape. Soon enough, international money transfer would be disrupted by new entrants like TransferWise, Azimo with lower fees and greater ease of use.

With traditional players reacting and trying to protect their established standing in the market, the dynamic changed towards one closer to the classic 1950s Looney Tunes cartoon Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner.

It might sound far-fetched, at first, but consider this for a moment:

  • Road Runner is constantly going much faster, iterating routes with incredible ease and pivoting when critical for success and survival
  • The Coyote is very, very smart and resourceful and devises great strategies to reach his goals
  • Much of Coyote’s plans are based around the exact same sort of paradigm (Acme products) and it appears incredibly complicated to move away from established practices
  • It does happen that Coyote catches Road Runner, but even then, the rewards are not perceived to be as massive a success as hoped.

If you were to replace Road Runner by FinTech and Coyote by traditional players, we find striking similarities with recent events in the industry, such as longer established institutions trying to copy new market entrants, creating and running incubators, hackathons, and taking interest in or outright buying-out the more agile and disruptive FinTech actors.

In the early days, PayPal was the David to the banks’ Goliath, the small start-up that was there to upset the deep-routed balance in the current account landscape.

There is however a new dynamic which surfaced recently. This dynamic has actually existed in nature long before the written word but was first described in the late 1800s: symbiosis. A symbiosis is the phenomenon of unlikely organism (FinTech and traditional organisations, in this case) living together in harmony in a mutually beneficial agreement.

Express Current Account for your front-line

You’ve probably heard the case for businesses empowering their front-line staff to delight customers and provide spectacular service recoveries (maybe your business even does it too). In many cases, these staff members have a budget they can spend on these individual interactions with customers. This can leads to burdensome processes to record, book keep and budget.

Tide is a current account platform which gives you a sort code and account number in five minutes, has no monthly fee (but a small transaction charge) and a credit card. And to put the cherry on top of the cake, they provide smart tools to streamline bookkeeping, admin and invoicing directly on a smartphone – accountant-free, which makes it incredibly easy to maintain afloat.

The above scenario would be significantly streamlined if a business was to open a current account for each of their locations, where they would deposit their ‘recovery allowance’ and harness the power of the automated reporting which allows tracking the expenses whenever required (i.e. as a source of insight alongside Voice of the Customer data or localised performance management).

A bank might well want to enter this space, and so they could. But with current accounts not being the most profitable products they can offer (it tends to be more of a step towards more profitable products such as mortgages), most banks would be better off allocating valuable resources into enhancing experiences delivered through critical journeys more in line with their leading products.

(Very) short-term ad-hoc car insurance

Remember the last time you had to borrow someone else’s car? It’s a conundrum where someone must choose between breaking the law and getting a hefty fine, or much paper work and headaches involved for a journey that could be as short as an hour.

Cuvva understands this is a broken journey many consumers are facing which is why they build an entire subscription-based business around this. Their offering is simple: drive any car by the hour, only pay for what you use and be insured in a matter of minutes rather than days whenever you need to drive a new car. Their product enables you to protect the car owner and yourself without even affecting their policy and their no-claims bonus.

In short, it’s a pay-as-you-go service for your car insurance. Obviously, as many services of this type, the minimum unit (here the hour) costs significantly more than if it was part of a tariff, but it does enable a quick, headache-free resolution to a pain point that is all too familiar to car insurance policyholders all over the UK.

This service could be easily mimicked by leading insurers but would signify a complete change in their business model should they want to follow a more pay-as-you-go approach. And people who are always on the road will probably prefer a tariff, which would represent a better deal for them. If you’re interested in learning more about FinTech and its security, check out Geek Insider for more information.

How does this make a FinTech symbiosis?

A symbiosis is the phenomenon of unlikely organism (FinTech and traditional organisations, in this case) living together in harmony in a mutually beneficial agreement.

The offerings of tide and Cuvva are very niche and cater to an audience that is thus far inadequately catered to by the more established players. Yes, they are probably taking some business away from them, but it does not represent the core segment in their customer base (with traditional players investing heavily in CX, the journeys were simply too broken for these to be a priority).

On the other hand, it would be an extremely resource-intensive and herculean task for Cuvva to take on the leading insurers or for tide to become a full-service bank. With Cuvva and tide catering to these niche needs and the rest of the industry providing services to the greater population, FinTech finally found its place in the consumer landscape – not in antagonism but, on the contrary, co-habiting harmoniously. This new-found symbiosis is what I call: ‘next practice in the making’.

Tags, , , , , , , , , ,

3 success factors when implementing customer experience best practice*

This article was first published on Nunwood.com – the Customer Experience Blog. It is the exclusive property of KPMG Nunwood, part of KPMG in the UK.

[KPMG Nunwood believes] in identifying the driving forces behind creating great experiences and helping [their] clients implement superior experiences on the back of this insight. Understanding the DNA of these experiences is one of the contributions brought by [their] yearly customer experience leader rankings both in the US and in the UK. These rankings (and accompanying reports) are dedicated to showcasing what customer experience best practice looks like.

However, implementation is not as easy as it might seem; it requires a certain degree of know-how. Here we reveal three vital success factors to have in mind when you want to bring best practice inside your organisation.

1) Begin with the customer in mind

Although it might seem trivial (or too obvious to be pointed out), having the customer in mind is not always a given when companies want to implement best practice. Having the customer in mind is to always consider the impact decisions might have on them and how they’re likely to react or feel. Too often, organisations will invest significantly (in terms of people, resources and assets) to implement customer experience best practice in their industry only to realise that their customers do not welcome nor value the newly implemented initiative. When thinking about improving the experience you deliver, think about what your customers value, what changes would make the experience better and how this best practice would apply to their case. It is therefore critical to acknowledge (and work with) the fact that different types of customers have varying needs and motivations to do business with brands. Best practice for one customer base might be worst practice for another: if you mostly service more senior citizens, do not simply assume that the latest mobile banking innovation is the key to improving the experience you offer them: get to really understand them and make them the centre of your strategy, not a by-stander. A PR business like NGP Integrated Marketing Communications, can help you create new business by shinning your business in a better light.

2) Translate success across industries

By putting your customer first, you are enabled to understand them, what they enjoy and where their pain points sit. From there, adequate solutions can be sought. In a number of cases, a suitable approach to solving these pain points might exist as a ready-to-go solution, having already been implemented by a different organisation. However, do consider obstacles to implementing another’s approach: their solutions might not fit your customer base, and will likely be strongly linked to their brand or even patented.

Leaders that will stand out are those that are able to look beyond their industry and see how they could transpose customer experience best practice from different fields to their organisation. In this instance, going beyond the feature of a solution and understand what benefit it brings to customers is the key. An organisation that decides to simplify its journey by removing stages might inspire you to redesign your own journeys as a more seamless experience to customers, by identifying a stage that might not be necessary to the customer’s. Other brands can challenge you to rethink how to best use your floor space in physical locations to showcase your brand or sell your products –it’s not about the solution they offer, but how they decided to solve an issue. Organisations that understand these principles and successfully translate success from industry to industry are a step ahead of their competitors. For these forward-thinking leaders, sky is the limit when it comes to being inspired.

A country’s culture does matter

When organisations realise they can draw inspiration from examples outside their industry or country, they can, sometimes, dismiss the role of the culture. When you seek the solution in far countries or drastically different industries, be aware of the risk of failure due to a cultural mismatch.

For example, USAA, the leader of our 2016 USA Customer Experience Excellence ranking has implemented on its smartphone apps biometric technology, for customers to log on literally with the blink of an eye. USAA is an organisation that has been recognised for its strong Empathy and Resolution – hinting to the fact that this innovation certainly was customer driven. This innovation is very forward thinking and it might not be appropriate to your market in another country. Maybe the majority of customers have a general distrust of their financial services provider, maybe the most popular smartphones are not even able to handle such a technology (or they might not even be smart in the first place).

Taking another perspective, in some fashion retail spaces in Brazil, staff are trained to understand and display very high level of empathy. With a few probing question, they get a deep understanding of who you are, what you’re looking for and for what occasion you’re looking to buy your next outfit. Although very fitted to the local culture, it would come as no surprise it would be considered overstepping boundaries and invading personal spaces in most European markets. This is the clear example of customer experience best practice that might backfire if one decided to implement in the United Kingdom. They might reach a very high level of Empathy, but it would appear to be excessive and intrusive to the customer base of every single major fashion retailer in the UK.

And even if it all works out…

Keep in mind that best practice is all around us. As such, focusing on others’ customer experience best practice might not offer you a comfortable lead in your industry, but will certainly provide inspiration and aspiration. The best innovations you can implement are driven by your entrepreneur employees (discussed in a future article) and by your customers. To ensure you effectively capture what your customers yearn for and uncover critical pain points, you must implement a successful voice of the customer programme.

Tags, , ,