Do you have the best customer experience?

What is Customer Experience?

Whatever you think or say about your brand is academic, if when a customer engages with it, their experience doesn’t match their perception. Your brand is what your customers feel about you, not what you say, and those feelings are shaped every time they see, touch or buy from you. In a hyper-connected world, your brand is your reputation, and your reputation is your most important business asset. And as we all know, reputations can take years to build and seconds to shatter.

It follows then, that ensuring that at each and every point of your potential customers journey the core values of your brand are consistently represented. Buying an electrical appliance that promotes simplicity of use only to be presented with a 250-page instruction manual dilutes the whole essence of the brand and poisons the customer experience.

Today, technology enables so many ways for us to delight customers and deliver exciting experiences. But are you doing it?

You can now order your morning coffee through Facebook Messenger and be messaged when it’s ready to collect. The same messenger bot can also play Spotify songs based on your mood. These touch points and data deliver insights about our customers and their interests that can help us understand how we can better serve them in the future.

Brand relationships are certainly evolving and expectations have never been greater, people have now become programmed to want more and do less. Convenience is king and attention is the new currency. Technology can enable convenience and deliver extended choice, but it’s your brand experience that determines whether people buy into you as well as buy from you. As ever, brand and technology is not a binary choice.

Considering every stage of the journey from the outset and delivering a consistent brand experience is paramount:

  1. Initial consideration: The customer considers a number of brands based on perception, word of mouth and exposure to brand messages (understanding customer motivations and communicating benefits across relevant channels widens the consideration set)
  2. Active evaluation: At this research stage customers may add or subtract brands based on available information (a well thought out, mobile enabled, website is critical) and peer reviews (building a community of advocates and an integrated social strategy helps)
  3. Conversion/purchase: Opportunities exist at the point of purchase to consistently reinforce benefits and make the path to purchase as simple as possible (behavioural insights and choice architecture are important)
  4. Post-purchase/loyalty: Experience that matches perception of the product or service leads to repeat purchase and advocacy (helping with the active evaluation stage). Aftersales service and complaints handling should also be treated with the same brand consistency with feedback loops back to product and brand teams.

Key Parker works with clients to map customer touch points and design compelling, consistent and relevant experiences. We ensure those experiences are insight led and seamlessly delivered to build an engaged and loyal customer base.

If you think we could help you, then please get in touch.

The 5 Email stages every ecommerce journey needs.

“You have to entertain before you can educate, because it doesn’t work the other way around” – Walt Disney

When you create a website and in particular an ecommerce site the fun doesn’t stop there.

In order for people to buy from you, you need to create a relevant and engaging experience. An experience that resonates and makes your customer feel they are getting the same personal experience they would get if they were in a physical shop.

A successful ecommerce email strategy requires work and thought. The automation rules need to be carefully considered.

Customers don’t mind an email regarding products or services that genuinely interest them. What they do mind is blanket emails indiscriminately offering them everything. Doing this only leads to one thing, unsubscribing and the loss of the customer.

You need to intimately understand your customer and when you have that understanding (yep, you have to look at the data to work that out) you’ll have a fantastic opportunity to develop a personal one to one relationship. If you can segment based on previous interests and actions, you will be able to deliver the exact information they need, and more importantly, when they need it.

Offer email and also a re-engagement email from Dennys. Simple and clear and showing they understand that I like their Slam breakfasts, based on previous visits.

When it comes to ecommerce you need to know how to communicate with your customers from pre-purchase through to post-purchase and every stage is crucial. Below are the 5 key stages of customer communication that every ecommerce operation needs to get right.

  1. Pre-Purchase welcome emails – This is where your relationship starts and your opportunity to educate your customers on what you do and nudge them toward what you want them to do next. Be clear and give them a call to action.
  2. Abandoned Cart Emails – I bet the last time you added something to your shopping cart on a site you had the intention of buying it. You were interested. Reigniting that intent after the customer has abandoned for whatever reason is vital and could just be the little push they need. It shows your customer you care about them and don’t want them to miss out. Shopping carts are abandoned nearly 70% of the time. Don’t lose that customer forever.
  3. Promotional Emails – that showcase relevant products enhance relationships and are an important part of any marketing automation process. As mentioned earlier, it’s important to not blanket email everybody, segment the lists and tailor the content. Your goal is to re-engage your customers and interest them in making another purchase.
  4. Post Purchase Emails – It’s a misconception to think that when the first purchase is made you have won that customer forever. In actual fact it’s just the start of a relationship, it’s only the first date. You need to keep looking after them, keep showing them attention and make sure that attention makes them feel special and unique.
  5. Customer re-engagement Emails – It’s very common that even after customers have made a purchase, you will have to continue to nurture them. You shouldn’t give up, you need to try and win them back. This could be in the form of an incentive to woo them back or it could be advice about a particular subject matter that is of interest to them. What you need to remember is that they have bought from you before and as long as the experience was a good one, there is a good chance they will buy from you again once they are reminded how good your products are.

Each of these different email stages presents opportunities to try different techniques and ways of communicating your message. If you are interested in talking more to us about how we could help you with your ecommerce and email strategy then please get in touch by emailing


Don’t confuse promotion with persuasion

In 2012 a Government promotion offered financial aid for consumers to insulate their homes.

You insulate your loft, the Government heavily subsidises the cost, and you make your initial outlay back in less than twelve months through reduced energy bills.

Clearly it was a no brainer. Except it wasn’t. Take up was nowhere near expectation.

Research was undertaken to establish why people were not persuaded by a seemingly simple and so obviously beneficial promotion.

The answer, people’s lofts are full of clutter and so loft insulation is just too hard to do.

So as a trial, the Government introduced a loft clearing service. A team would come to your house and empty the contents of your loft, sorting it out into things to tip, things to sell and things to put back.

And whilst the cost of the insulation and subsidised clearance service was more than twice the cost of insulation alone, the service was over three times more popular.

Proving that what people should do and what they actually do are two different things.

Turns out most people love easy more than they love cheap.

The lesson is this, if you want to influence decisions, you first have to understand what drives them.

It’s this understanding of how humans work, not just how marketing works, that can insulate promotions from ineffectiveness.

Do you suffer from mob mentality?

In 1895, Gustave Le Bon published a book titled Psychologie des Foules (literally “The Psychology of Crowds”).

In it, he claimed that characteristics of crowds included:  impulsiveness, irritability, incapacity to reason, the absence of judgement of the critical spirit, the exaggeration of sentiments, and others…

Le Bon believed that once in a crowd, humans lost the ability to behave independently and became irrational, unthinking and often prone to violence.

A crowd, he thought, was essentially a homogenous collection of oafs with rather bad manners.

Yet, his writing was widely influential and even military dictators such as the delightful Benito Mussolini were said to be inspired by the book’s ideas. They became a handy aide-memoire for fascist ideology and shaping popular opinion with prejudice.

Over the years however, Le Bon’s ideas have been shown to be nonsense or at least questionable.

Far from being unthinking and irrational, crowds are made up of individuals whose behaviour and allegiances will very much depend on context.

A recent campus experiment (Levine et al, 2005) with small groups of football fans from famously rival clubs (in this case Manchester United and Liverpool) asked volunteers to take a short walk to another building in order to continue the experiment.  

Of course this was just a ruse. 

On the way, volunteers would encounter an actor pretending to fall and hurt themselves. In some cases the actor would be wearing a shirt from the ‘opposing’ team and in others they’d be in the same colours.

In a third scenario, the ‘fan’ wore a plain red t-shirt.

Predictably, fans would tend to help their ‘own’ and be less likely to help a seemingly rival fan. However, the most fascinating behaviour was toward the plain red t-shirt wearer.  

Fans would be overwhelmingly more inclined to help opposing ‘fans’ in preference to the red t-shirt wearer i.e. a non-football fan.  

The experimenters realised that the crowds in this case had conditional responses to the context.  When making a decision to help, they favoured those who seemed to share a passion, overcoming any inter-club enmity that had existed only moments before.

In other words, their helping behaviour depended upon shared identity.

It’s striking then, how often marketing communications use the assumption that ‘audiences’ are simply defined by tired socio-economic and demographic profiles. The worst offender being the appalling shorthand “millennials”.

This has nothing to do with shared identity.  Millennials, it’s assumed, will respond favourably because they’re under 37 and can use the internet.

Belvita’s Good Mornings campaign is a great example of a brand that has cleverly used shared identity.  The brand’s agency employed a comic actor to be a substitute train guard on so called ‘Blue Monday’ – officially the most depressing day of the year.  

His job was to gradually win over passengers.  Passengers were at first almost silent on their miserable morning commute but one by one were united in sharing a welcome laugh.

The ad went on to be voted the most emotionally engaging ad of 2017:

Most who try to sell the benefits of a sugary cereal biscuit will default to some kind of sunny, breakfast room cliche few identify with.  Thankfully, this creative approach showed a tough crowd having their mood lifted instead.

They were all very different people yet had one thing in common: commuting by train in the UK is miserable.

Football fans may hate each other’s clubs but their love of football unites them.

Parents may have very different approaches to parenting but they all understand the horror of sleep deprivation.

Don’t treat buyers as a homogenous mob.

Or else they may end up united in ways you don’t want.

Why Data is Dumb

It’s no secret that the First World War had almost unimaginable casualty rates amongst both combatants and civilians.

This was mainly due to major advances in weapon technology, especially artillery.

Science had got much better at killing people.

However in 1914, at the beginning of the war, not one army equipped its infantry with steel helmets.

Soldiers stood in trenches wearing cloth or leather caps to cover their heads from exploding shells.

The British War Office were concerned by the high level of head injuries being recorded.

Finally, in 1915, they commissioned a design for a steel infantry helmet .

The now familiar round ‘Brodie helmet’ made an immediate impact on head injury figures.

They went up considerably.

By a factor of 5.

British commanders were horrified and some considered a return to ‘safer’ cloth caps.

The data was clear.

The metal Brodie helmet was causing more soldiers to suffer head injuries.

Except of course it wasn’t.

The problem was with the way the data was recorded and interpreted.

What the data showed was head injuries not fatalities.

Before the Brodie helmet, most head injuries resulted in death.

Deaths were recorded as a separate category.

Those who were lucky enough to survive, were recorded as head injuries.

With the Brodie helmet the survival rates soared and therefore so did the head injury figures.

Fortunately, the true reason for the increase was realised and the helmet remained in service for many years.

It’s all too easy to rely on data to inform strategy.

But unless you look beyond the data, you’re not getting the full story.

On it’s own, data is simply raw indication seeking context.

Correlation is not the same as causality.

Context is everything.

Don’t let dumb data drive decisions.

Inside Amazon’s surveillance-powered, no-checkout convenience store

By now many have heard of Amazon’s most audacious attempt to shake up the retail world, the cashless, cashierless Go store. Walk in, grab what you want, and walk out. I got a chance to do just that recently, as well as pick the brain of one of its chief architects. (The store, in downtown Seattle, is now open to the public.)

My intention going in was to try to shoplift something and catch these complacent Amazon types napping. But it became clear when I went in that this wasn’t going to be an option. I was never more than a foot or two from an Amazon PR rep, and as Dilip Kumar, the projects VP of Technology, convinced me, they’d already provided against such crude attacks on their system.

Read the full article here…

Have Smart Assistants made things more complicated?

What are you assuming people already know?

It’s the very beginning of CES 2018, and the first trickles of gadget news are starting to come out. The flood begins tomorrow as the show floor opens and keynotes and press conferences begin in earnest. It’s easy to see the broad themes of the show and the tech industry at large already forming: smart assistants everywhere, sensors and radios in every device you can think of, and an eternal hope that something, anything, will be the reason people will finally upgrade their TVs.

All of that is exciting — I love gadgets and am one of the few crazy people that think CES is incredibly fun! — but I want to take a half-step back before it all begins and point out something obvious: most people have no idea how any of these things work, and are already hopelessly confused by the tech they have.

Read the full article here…

The rise of the superstar company

There’s never been a better time to be exceptional and a worse time to be average.

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It seems inevitable that Oprah Winfrey, America’s empathiser-in-chief, would emerge as the Democratic dream of a candidate to beat Donald Trump in 2020. As an African-American woman, she speaks to any number of interest groups and political issues around identity, from #MeToo to Black Lives Matter.  But as the most popular all-round female media star in the US over the past several decades, with a television, movie and magazine empire, she also talks to the middle. Oprah is, like our current president, a global brand, which is telling. We are living in a superstar economy in which the top individuals, companies and even geographic regions command hugely disproportionate power, wealth and attention.

Read the full article here…

The 5 P’s of Artificial Intelligence

Some predict that Artificial Intelligence will drive the next industrial revolution. What is certain is that over the next few years AI will become more important to marketers.

But to unlock AI’s huge potential you need an AI strategy. Here are five Ps to help you develop yours.


AI for what? How can AI help your organisation? What business problem are you trying to solve?

Read the full article here…

Why criminals make terrible brand ambassadors

This year heralds a dubious centenary – the invention of the notorious M1 Thompson sub-machine gun or ‘Tommy gun’ as it became known.

If you picture a 1920s gangster like Al Capone then he’s probably holding one.

However, its origin was rather different to the now infamous association.

During WW1, infantry soldiers of both sides were extremely vulnerable to heavy, fixed machine guns.

They’d try and take some territory and get mown down very quickly, often within a few yards of their own trenches.

They only had slow firing rifles and pistols and even if they made it into an enemy trench,  they’d often be overwhelmed in seconds.

The big machine guns were far too heavy and impractical carry with them so were only really used for defence.

This resulted in a long drawn out stalemate and massive casualties.

General John T. Thompson of the United States Army realised that to help break the stalemate, infantry soldiers needed a devastating, rapid firing weapon they could easily carry.

So he left the army, took a job at Remington and set about designing one in his spare time.

The M1 Thompson sub-machine gun was portable and killed very effectively, very quickly.

The only problem was, the war ended just as the weapon was perfected.

So it had nowhere to fight.

Thompson’s new manufacturing business, the Auto Ordnance Company (AOC) still tried to sell the M1 to the army

Unfortunately, they thought it was far too expensive and ironically, used too many bullets.

AOC managed to sell a few to the US postal service(!) to protect lone delivery men from violent robbers but overall, it was a bit of a sales flop.

It had no relevance in the eyes of the authorities and armed forces.

AOC hadn’t grasped the importance of being strategically interesting.

Coincidentally, the following decade in the USA saw the introduction of Prohibition.

Of course, whenever something really popular and addictive is outlawed, there’s a huge amount of money to be made by criminal gangs filling the vacuum.

Successful criminal gangs are notoriously ingenious, finding clever ways to circumvent the law and steal from each other.

Unfortunately for AOC, they had quite a bit of stock lying around and so became increasingly desperate to sell it.

The M1 Thompson was (amazingly) made available via mail order to the general public.

The relatively high cost didn’t matter since 1920s gangsters had plenty of money.

They’d also understood the M1’s strategic interest to their business – the ability to intimidate and when necessary, kill rivals very quickly and easily.

The most well-known example being the Valentine’s Day Massacre in 1929 when seven members of the same gang were murdered in a few seconds.

The M1 Thompson sub-machine gun suddenly became relevant again.

Despite government regulations put in place, it became the vicious gangster’s weapon of choice, which limited legitimate sales somewhat.

You could say that AOC’s brand management was a bit lacking.

If it hadn’t been for WW2 coming along, AOC would have gone out of business, such was the downturn in orders.

So if there’s a lesson here, it’s that if you don’t fully understand the relevance of your brand then someone else may find it for you.

To be relevant, you need to be interesting.


More evidence of the online retail dominance from Amazon

Amazon won Thanksgiving and Black Friday as retail strategy varied.

Amazon’s dominance of online retail in the U.S. was on fully display this Thanksgiving and on Black Friday according to data collected by Hitwise.

According to the competitive intelligence and consumer insights firm, Amazon processed 5.6m transactions on Thanksgiving Day and 7.1m transactions on Black Friday.

All told, of the top 50 retailers in the U.S., Amazon captured nearly half (45.1%) of all transactions on Thanksgiving Day and over half (54.9%) of transactions on Black Friday.

These figures far eclipsed the second and third most prolific online sellers, Walmart and Best Buy, which accounted for 13.9% and 8.3% of all transactions on Thanksgiving Day and 8.8% and 5% of all transactions on Black Friday, respectively, demonstrating just how well Amazon’s formidability extends to the holiday shopping season despite significant efforts by the competition.

But that doesn’t mean that other retailers weren’t able to find success. While Amazon led top 50 retailers in transactions processed on both Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday, Shutterfly managed to top Amazon’s conversion rate by 1.4% (8% to 6.6%) on Thanksgiving Day.

Read the full article here…

It’s not about being right, it’s about not being wrong

The Budweiser principle.

On Madison Avenue, one of the theories I was taught was the Budweiser principle.

How Budweiser got to be the biggest-selling beer in the world.

The secret was: it was everyone’s second choice.

Nobody loved Budweiser, but nobody hated it.

It worked like this.

Supposing I was going to the store to get a case of beer for the weekend.

My favourite beer might be Pabst, but that tastes too hoppy for some people.

So I get a case of Pabst but I also get a case of Bud in case any visitors come round, because no-one objects to Bud.

Read the full article here…

Expectations have changed. Six trends for 2018

Technology is changing the way people interact with brands and the expectations they hold.  We’re demanding more with each turn of the wheel of progress, every time one brand launches a new trick to make a transaction smoother or communication more intimate the bar is raised for all the others. Conversely every time a brand drops a ball by leaking data or failing ethically, the fear is struck into all the others in the category.

To help you navigate these shifting sands of expectations here are six demands consumers will be making of brands in 2018 and the technologies that help you get there.

Read the full article here…

Your mind is like a parachute. It functions better when it’s open

In an ever-polarized world, it’s important to consider points of view other than your own. But truly being open-minded involves some tricky mental work.

The idea that opposites attract isn’t entirely true. People prefer to hang out with people who are like-minded, according to research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. While this makes for easy-going relationships and conversations, it doesn’t help to broaden your perspective or open your mind. To do those things, you have to purposefully take other actions.

“Becoming more open-minded is actually a counterintuitive mental task,” says John Brown, psychologist and organizational development consultant for EPIC Insurance Brokers & Consultants. “Our brains think in whole ideas, the famous cognitive psychologist Jean Piaget taught us. These whole ideas are called ‘schema.’”

Read the full article here…

The new brain drain is an algorithm

IN AN ORDINARY hospital room in Los Angeles, a young woman named Lauren Dickerson waits for her chance to make history.

She’s 25 years old, a teacher’s assistant in a middle school, with warm eyes and computer cables emerging like futuristic dreadlocks from the bandages wrapped around her head. Three days earlier, a neurosurgeon drilled 11 holes through her skull, slid 11 wires the size of spaghetti into her brain, and connected the wires to a bank of computers. Now she’s caged in by bed rails, with plastic tubes snaking up her arm and medical monitors tracking her vital signs. She tries not to move.

Read the full article here…