Q&A with Louise Moghaddam, Head of Customer Service at New Look. Louise explains to Contact Centre NEWS how they are using their Customer Experience (CX) programme, with InMoment’s support and insight, to redefine value…
How is your CX programme delivering change/ what does the programme involve?
In September 2015, we launched an initiative called ‘Service Basics’. We wanted to transform the experience of our customers from one historically centred on value retailing, to one where our customers are welcomed as co-creators, and therefore at the very heart of our business. Essentially, we wanted to redefine how they, and we viewed ‘value’, shifting the emphasis from value products, to a more holistic view of how the customer can feel valued and empowered by their relationship with New Look.
As you might expect, we turned to our customers to help us understand how and where we needed to improve and what they care about most.
Our chosen partner for feedback, analysis and insights were customer experience (CX) experts, InMoment. We worked with InMoment from the outset to collect and analyse customer feedback through our contact centre and retail locations – key touchpoints for the New Look customer. We also brought in data from the Institute of Customer Service, taking the view that the more feedback we could amass, the holistic the insights would become. Any changes we made had to both data and customer driven if our culture shift was going to be genuine, meaningful and enhance our business.
Once InMoment had helped us source and interpret the data through a variety of customer touchpoints, the insights clearly showed that customer expectations were rising faster than the changes we were already making as a business. In short, we were innovating, but not fast enough.
In order to address this challenge, we identified three areas, based on the insight, that were having a disproportionately negative impact on our customers’ experiences. These included our Approach to Refunds; Staff Attitudes; and Staff behaviours.
• The refund policy, although generous, was seen as restrictive by some customers who fell outside of the parameters of this quite rigid policy. Customers wanted New Look to take a more flexible approach to this process treating them as individuals.
• Staff were seen as efficient, however, their attitudes lacked a personal, human approach.
• And finally, customers reported that staff weren’t focussed on them, because they were often busy undertaking a series of different tasks at a given time. It was clear that the business was missing opportunities to further engage with customers and make them feel like they were valued by New Look.
From this, we embarked on a company-wide initiative to improve these three areas and create a culture focused wholly on our customers.
What inspired the change in your CX programme?
Despite improvements in Customer Satisfaction from our New Look Listens programme, our data highlighted that customer expectations were changing ever faster. This was due to the evolving nature and expectations of modern customers, as well as the ease with which customers could share their experience with their peers. Social media in particular made it easier than ever for customers to engage with each other and with New Look itself. We were finding that customers often voiced their concerns in these open forums, magnifying the negative impact on customer perceptions and our brand. It wasn’t enough to fix problems; we needed to pre-empt and solve them.
We also knew that our customers were directly comparing our service with that of our competitors. Equally interestingly, they were also comparing us to other service leaders like online and food retailers, where customer expectations had already been raised.
As such, we needed to flip our view of customers on its head. Instead of reacting to demand, we sought to develop a proactive culture that genuinely viewed the customer as the number one priority. This mentality fed into the creation of Service Basics, our initiative launched in September 2015 and rolled out to the entire New Look organisation.
Furthermore, we knew our programme needed staff who interact with customers on a daily basis to be active participants in both creating and delivering a great experience. Ultimately they are our day to day ambassadors for the brand.
How do you get all New Look employees – from those in the Call Centre through to Board members – excited and passionate about the programme and improving the customer experience?
Our Service Basics initiative, in conjunction with our New Look Listens programme, has managed to ensure the entire business is involved in improving customer experience. Not only are our frontline staff engaged with the programme, but so is our senior management. That set the tone for the prominence of the programme within New Look.
New Look’s Chief Executive shares monthly updates with the entire Executive Team about the progress of the customer experience programme. He also emails the Customer Experience team directly with sample complaints received and asks the team how each have been resolved – this active participation from our Chief Executive is pivotal in instilling motivation and reinforcing how central this customer-first focus is for our business.
We hold regular customer experience insight meetings throughout the year where every head of department and head of region are required to attend. In these sessions, InMoment – who manage our insight and feedback programme – present customer insights, and then highlight how this data could inform our approach. At the end of each session, every New Look employee in attendance is asked how they will be improving their area of the business, and asked to provide specific practical and actionable examples. In this way, we are ensuring the customer experience is at the centre of business activity and personally owned by each member of staff.
How have you used technology to help improve the customer experience?
Technology is a key component of our customer experience programme, enabling us to offer a variety of ways for customers to engage in feedback with us in real time.
The technology also helps us to keep colleagues at every level of the company informed and supported by providing them with insights directly relevant to their role and tailored to their responsibilities.
For example, we have a target demographic of 18-27 year olds who prefer to engage with brands online. As such, we chose to collect customer feedback from this target group online with the help of InMoment. We used posters in changing rooms and near the till, along with trained employees, to encourage customers to provide feedback in an online survey. InMoment incorporates the look, feel and voice of the New Look brand into the platform to ensure a consistent experience for customers. We evaluate the feedback questions with InMoment every quarter and adjust them to address evolving needs.
Each New Look customer receives a one-time use code on their receipt. The customer logs onto the site and answers a set of questions about their experience. Thanks to best practices and engaged colleagues, response rates have been healthy, and reflective of overall store footfall.
We’ve also used Twitter as a way to engage our employees in a way to improve the customer experience. We use our protected New Look Twitter account with which only our employees can follow and interact. We use it as a way to encourage friendly competition, recognise exceptional customer experience and raise awareness for the value of our employees in the customer experience. These small moments of recognition go a long way in keeping our staff excited about their role in making customers enjoy their interaction with New Look.
What improvements have you seen since implementing the programme?
We are listening to our customers at a higher rate than ever, with a jump of 42,000 reviews. Our customers are applauding the changes we have made, which is reflected in an 11% increase in New Look’s satisfaction metric. We have also seen a massive rise on the UK Customer Satisfaction Index of 56 places – we are now placed 7th. Furthermore, 80% of customers report being ‘very satisfied’ with 70% singling out a staff member for praise. It is clear the approach to engage all our employees in developing a customer-centric culture is creating a different and positive relationship with our customers.