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Delivering an exceptional experience


COMPANIES IN THIS ISSUE Jurys Inn YHA Winterbotham Darby Ultralase Plus... Latest Thinking Opinion Dashboard Online Panels Book Review

Listen to your customers / target groups give their view on your company product or brands. We can ask your customers and / or YourSayPays panellists to record and upload an audio or video file of their views or an answer to a question. Obtaining the views from customers or target groups through video uploads following a web survey can provide you with all the benefits below.

n Case Study contacts for PR

n Views that can aid internal training programmes

n Vox-pops for Marketing n Evidence for R&D projects n Real life comments to reinforce research statistics

n Insights that can be shown to internal stakeholders

n Another channel to encourage customers to get their message to you

To find out more contact Darren Wake or call 01484 467012

online research


6 Case Study

19 Research

Jurys Inn - delivering an exceptional experience

How impressed is your board when you present survey results?

11 Latest thinking


Matthew Syed - the talent myth

The latest results and insights from the UK Customer Satisfaction Index 28 Technology QR codes - why use them? 31 Case study Winterbotham Darby and Ultralase online case studies

15 Case study

33 Customer

YHA - be inspired

Why do customers switch? 35 Online panel

In this issue...



Pulse of the nation online panel surveys 37 Book review The myth of talent and the power of practice


Listen to what people have to say. Turn to page 20


Spring/Summer 2012 customerINSIGHT


Customer Surveys One day training course £325 (excluding VAT)

Learn how to ask the right questions to the right people in the right way to get actionable customer satisfaction data. Valuable for anyone wishing to initiate customer satisfaction measurement or to improve an existing customer survey programme.


18th April 2012


25th April 2012

Visit our website for information on more courses

Learn how to: · Generate accurate, reliable and actionable data on customer satisfaction · Design your questionnaire to ensure the most accurate reponses and best response rates · Make sure your responses reflect a truly representative sample of customers · Analyse data and communicate results internally for maximum impact · Introduce the survey to customers for maximum participation · Provide feedback to customers after the survey to demonstrate its value · Calculate an accurate Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) which can be updated and monitored over time

For a detailed agenda please contact us on 01484 467000 or email The Leadership Factor Taylor Hill Mill Huddersfield HD4 6JA

Tel: 01484 517575 Fax: 01484 517676

Email: Web site:

Nigel Hill editor

Do you ever check work emails at home in the evening? At the weekend? When you’re out socialising? On holiday? Lots of us do despite the fact that many of us don’t think it helps our relationships or makes us a better person. 40% of Brits say they could survive for a week or longer without their mobile phone (or any other technological gadget such as a tablet), but hardly any of us ever do! Technology is definitely seen as a mixed blessing. As well as irritations, it has brought lots of benefits to our social and professional lives, not least in the fields of customer relationships and customer insight. This edition of the magazine has a heavy emphasis on some of the advantages that new technology can bring to professionals in the customer management field. Have you ever scanned a QR code? If you haven’t you’re with the large majority of Brits. Even if you’re under 35 you’re lined up with two thirds of your age group and if you’re over 55 you’re a real early adopter if you have used one since only 7% of your cohorts have done so. Why not have a go at this one and see where it takes you?

Customer Insight is the magazine for people who want their organisation to deliver results to employees, customers and any other stakeholders as part of a coherent strategy to create value for shareholders. We publish serious articles designed to inform, stimulate debate and sometimes to provoke. We aim to be thought leaders in the field of managing relationships with all stakeholder groups.

Nigel Hill


Production Editor: Chris Newbold Rob Ward


Creative Director: Rob Egan

If you don’t know how to do it there’s a beginner’s guide on page 28 and there are lots more QR codes to practise on throughout this magazine. Talking of practice, could you be as good as Andy Murray at tennis if you’d practised as much as him when you were younger? Conventional wisdom says not. The old adage is that if you want to win an Olympic gold medal you must choose your parents very carefully. The clear implication is that to return serves like Andy Murray you’d have to be born with genes that programmed you to have quicker reaction times than the average human being. But there’s a growing body of evidence that conventional wisdom about the importance of talent may be wrong. Ex-world class table tennis player, Matthew Syed, explains on page 11 and his book, Bounce, is reviewed on page 37. Syed’s conclusions cast doubt on many organisations’ efforts to recruit and fast track ‘top talent’. He would argue that you already employ top talent and it’s all down to how effectively you train, develop and motivate them. A company that has been very successful at promoting from within is Jurys Inns. You can read their story from page 6.


Watch what people think.

Turn to page 20

Charlotte Ratcliffe


Printers of Customer Insight Magazine Customer Insight PO BOX 1426 Huddersfield HD1 9AW Tel: 0845 293 9480 NB: Customer Insight does not accept responsibility for omissions or errors. The points of view expressed in the articles by contributing writers and/or in advertisements included in this magazine do not necessarily represent those of the publisher. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained within this magazine, no legal responsibility will be accepted by the publishers for loss arising from use of information published. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or stored in a retrievable system or transmitted in any form or by any means without prior written consent of the publisher. Copyright © CUSTOMER INSIGHT 2012

ISSN 1749-088X


Spring/Summer 2012 customerINSIGHT


Case Study


an Exceptional Experience

Jurys Inn is an international hotel group founded in Ireland with hospitality in its DNA. There are 32 Jurys Inn hotels in city centre locations throughout the UK, Ireland and the Czech Republic. The employees strive to “make the exceptional everyday” through their commitment to service. Guests rate the group higher than its three star status due to the consistency and quality of service and some of the hotel features which are more typical of a four star hotel. These include large, welcoming lobby and ground floor in all of the hotels, staffed 24 hours a day, as well as a separate bar and restaurant. In the last three years the company has grown significantly, opening 9 new hotels and renovating many existing ones. Over the last couple of years, CEO John Brennan has re-defined the Jurys proposition as “Exceptional Everyday City Hotels”.


customerINSIGHT Spring/Summer 2012


Exceptional means ‘more than you would expect for the price’, and everyday means that they are accessible and affordable for business and leisure. Though classified as three star hotels, they are designed like a four star venue, with spacious lobbies, a full service food and drink offer, larger, better appointed bedrooms than the typical three star hotel and, most importantly, exceptional levels of customer service.

Investing in people Two years ago the company placed HR at the heart of its strategic objectives. The HR function was considerably strengthened, both at a corporate and local level where a HR manager operates in every hotel – not a cost that the industry generally is prepared to incur. But it paid off for Jurys, with the IIP Gold Award achieved in 2011 followed closely by a really good result in

the annual employee engagement survey.

Employee Engagement Survey In November 2011, The Leadership Factor carried out the second Jurys annual employee survey. The response rate improved to a very high 78% and the overall employee satisfaction index went up by over 2% to 75.9%, placing Jurys in the top 10% of organisations on this very tough measure. Jurys is almost a textbook case for how companies should use employee surveys to drive up employee satisfaction and engagement. This article seeks to examine how Jurys achieved such a good result in 2011.

Feedback to employees It is essential that the results of the survey are thoroughly communicated and fully

Case Study


explained to employees. The new role of ‘survey champion’ is to ensure that the views and ideas of the employees at the ‘front line’ form an integral part of how the survey is initially communicated. But more importantly, these employees are also empowered to work with management in ensuring that the PFIs are implemented by involving employees at every level. As a starting point, Jurys organised five regional briefings, attended by the General Manager, HR Manager and ‘Survey Champion’ from every hotel. A feedback leaflet was designed and printed by The Leadership Factor and each hotel collected enough of these at the briefing to give out to all their employees. They also learned how to highlight the key points of the survey, explain the PFIs (priorities for improvement) and answer many commonly asked questions, e.g. how respondents’ anonymity is guaranteed. This enabled the teams to go

back to their own hotels and thoroughly present and explain the survey results to all their staff. There was also a feedback website which the teams learned about at the presentation and were able to demonstrate and explain to their own staff.

Action to address the PFIs Communicating results is great, but the survey becomes credible only when employees see the company taking action on the survey findings. After the survey at the end of 2010, Jurys had three corporate PFIs (which can be summarised as The 3Cs - Culture, Communication and Career) and each hotel had to nominate at least one local PFI. There were action plans for all PFIs and hotels which were monitored at the monthly management meetings. Let’s explore how the PFIs were addressed.

Culture This was a rather general PFI focused on everyone being treated fairly but it was the essential foundation on which all other


Spring/Summer 2012 customerINSIGHT


Case Study

HR improvements would be built. Organisational culture is heavily influenced by management behaviours, so Jurys developed a bespoke Leadership Programme with the Irish Institute of Management, which was rolled out for the Senior Leadership team (i.e all General Managers from each Hotel and all group Heads of Functions from corporate offices) in 2011. The programme emphasised the difference between managing and leading a team and the importance of adaptable leadership behaviours, (e.g. flexibility to use a more decisive, even authoritarian approach in a crisis but a much more collaborative approach at other times.) The Leadership Programme also covered topics such as emotional intelligence, 360° feedback, managing high performance teams, people development etc. Where necessary, a small number of managers received individual coaching to allow them to explore and understand their impact on their teams and to allow them to discuss some of the challenges or difficulties they met on this new approach. An interesting example of the importance that Jurys places on culture is the effort they have made to ensure that all employees are aware of and understand the company’s vision and values. In 2011 a competition was held for the best way to communicate the vision and values. One of the winning entries (Jurys Inn Glasgow), produced


customerINSIGHT Spring/Summer 2012


a graffiti display on the walls of the staff restaurant. This idea has been adopted by some other hotels including the Dublin Head Office! A ‘best practice’ booklet was produced outlining the wide range of ideas used across the hotels and circulated so that each hotel could adapt their own approach to vary how the message was communicated on a regular basis.


Praise and recognition are also prominent in the Jurys culture. Every second month, one employee in every hotel is recognised for being ‘exceptional’. At the end of the year

Operating in a ‘24/7 business’ over 365 days per year, across 32 hotels and 3 head office locations, in 27 cities, it would be very easy for people to feel that they don’t know what’s going on in the company, and this did emerge as one of the PFIs from the 2010 employee survey. To address this kind of multi-site communications challenge, senior management and head office functions have to have communication at the top of their agenda. In 2011, I think it’s fair to say that Jurys really took this lesson on board.

an overall winner is selected to represent each hotel to attend the annual gala dinner (with a guest of their choice) where ‘Oscars’ are awarded for exceptional performance or behaviours. There are team awards, such as Best Hotel (Derby was the 2010 winner), and its subsets such as best accommodation, best customer satisfaction score, best employee satisfaction score, most environmentally friendly hotel etc. Individual awards recognise best graduate and, of course the overall ‘Exceptional Employee of the Year’ chosen from across all hotels.

As part of the Leadership Programme, Jurys introduced two Leadership Forums per annum, where senior managers can get together, hear about how the Company is performing against its strategic objectives, the latest developments and plans from John Brennan and the Executive Committee and contribute their own views. In addition, there are quarterly conference calls in which all hotel and function managers participate, which focus on business performance and shorter term operational matters. General Managers have a responsibility to cascade all this information to their own teams and staff and this was further enhanced by new communications initiatives from head office. A series of short videos have been commissioned in February 2012 enabling John Brennan to keep people updated on company performance and priorities. These are supplemented by a monthly Ezine with all

Case Study

the latest company news, profiles of managers and recognition for outstanding hotel, team or employee performance. There is also a comprehensive intranet, including for example a calendar of events to ensure all hotels know what’s happening and there are no clashes of events. CEO John Brennan and the Senior Management team are very visible in hotels, and John ensures that he personally addresses as many employee meetings or training sessions as possible. An early part of the Leadership Programme was also to ensure that all hotel and function managers understood their roles and responsibilities on communication. Prioritising communication within each hotel and within departments was essential to ensure that all employees in every part of the company actually noticed the improvement in communications.

Career As well as career development, this PFI also encompassed personal development and training. To heighten everyone’s awareness of the range and extent of learning and development opportunities and emphasise that it’s not just about job-related training, HR has developed a new ‘learning and development’ brand called GROW. This applies at various levels such as Grow Team, Grow Graduates, Grow Supervisors, Grow Managers, Grow Leaders. As well as training sessions

(see the customer service training later in this article as an example), Grow includes things like job swaps, a secondment programme, networking, and the Jurys Library. HR Director, Jennifer Lee, has been very keen to invest in new e-learning and communication platforms, using the intranet, internet and social media as much as possible for training, learning, internal communications and recruitment. A small but really useful example is the forthcoming rollout of tablets in each hotel to make learning and training more accessible, as well as facilitating every employee’s ability to keep up with what’s going on in the company.

of the high level of employee engagement across the company. To develop action plans, the management teams consulted widely with their staff and each hotel appointed a ‘Survey Champion’ who was involved in delivering the feedback and, more importantly in developing action plans. The Champions ran sessions along with employees to decide what actions should be taken, monitor that the actions were happening and report back to the GM on a regular basis. Half way through the year the hotel GMs, HR Managers and Champions held a review with Group HR to report back on their progress.

Hotel action plans Narrowing the gap All hotels were set a PFI based on a local issue and determined by survey data from their own employees. As well as general feedback on the survey results, the PFI was communicated to hotel staff by the General Manager and the HR Manager. Examples of local issues could be anything from ‘approachability of my manager’ to ‘staff facilities’. In terms of insight to understand how to address their PFI, hotel management teams could glean a lot of ideas from employees’ comments. The 2011 survey generated over 4,000 comments across the 1,500 responses, an average of almost three comments per respondent. This in itself is an indication

Whenever a company has multiple stores, branches, hotels or any other sites, the most effective way of improving employee satisfaction is usually to help the least satisfied locations move up to the level of the more satisfied. Jurys selected hotels in the bottom quartile of their hotel league table (i.e. the eight hotels with the lowest employee satisfaction) to receive special focus. As well as the process described above, Group Employee Relations Manager, Deborah Taylor, visited each of the eight hotels every two months to review progress with managers and hold focus groups with employees to really understand through their eyes whether the PFI was being effectively addressed. This then enabled Deborah to feed back to GMs and help them to refine their action plans if necessary. Sometimes seemingly simple actions can make a big difference. For example, in Belfast the staff facilities were redecorated and additional lockers installed and their employee satisfaction


Spring/Summer 2012 customerINSIGHT


Case Study

increased by 9% (though obviously the many other company-wide and hotel-based actions would also have contributed to this). In 2011, the bottom quartile increased their employee satisfaction scores significantly, narrowing the gap between the hotels with the highest and lowest scores. Achieving a narrow range of satisfaction across multiple sites is a good thing in itself as it demonstrates consistency of processes and management behaviours.

Employee satisfaction-related pay Another reason for Jurys excellent progress on employee satisfaction, especially at hotel level, is that a significant part of all hotel managers’ and departmental managers’ bonus is based on the satisfaction of their own employees. A very interesting and rather unusual addition to this incentive is that they are also bonused on the employee survey response rate that is achieved in their hotel or department, which goes a long way to explaining the very good increase in the 2011 response rate. The importance of this shouldn’t be under-estimated. A higher response rate means that the survey is more representative of employees’ views, hence giving it much more credibility with everyone.

Guest satisfaction Jurys is a very customer focused company, and the employee survey highlighted just how much employees have taken this value on board. When asked to rate the importance of a range of factors, the 2nd most important was ‘Jurys Inn cares about its guests’. This was rated as much more important than several more selfish requirements such as pay, benefits and staff facilities, and only a fraction of a point behind ‘communication within your team’. Moreover, employees were very satisfied by


customerINSIGHT Spring/Summer 2012


the extent to which Jurys does care about its guests. This is because Jurys has made a big investment in customer service and guest satisfaction. As well as working hard to recruit friendly, genuine, honest people who want customers to be satisfied, the ‘Be’ branded customer service training programme is followed by all employees from the newest recruit in the kitchen to senior management. The amount of customer contact employees have does not influence who goes through the training as Jurys takes the view that employees who don’t directly serve guests all have internal customers and can therefore make a big difference to how well customer facing employees can satisfy guests. It’s also very important for non-customer facing staff to be able to put themselves in the shoes of their customer-facing colleagues. For example, if the kitchen is asked to do something really inconvenient by a colleague it’s probably because they’re trying to satisfy a guest. The training includes modules such as ‘Be Exceptional’, ‘Be Empowered’ and there are ‘Be’ badges. After ‘Jurys cares about its guests’, the factor that employees scored second highest for satisfaction was ‘I feel empowered to help guests or my colleagues’. This is directly related to training such as ‘Be Empowered’, which focuses on giving employees the confidence and the skills to do what’s necessary to keep guests satisfied, especially in difficult situations. For example, if a guest’s TV isn’t working, it’s not usually the problem itself but how it is handled that determines guests’ ultimate satisfaction with their stay. Training includes lots of interactive games and activities supplemented by online modules and short 15 minute sessions every day in every hotel. Topics for these will be very specific, e.g. how to say hello to guests in all the most common languages.

Jennifer Lee HR Director

The benefits of employee satisfaction Jurys Inn is a strong believer in Harvard’s Service-Profit Chain principles – employee satisfaction driving customer satisfaction which, in turn, results in shareholder value. The Jurys employee survey proved the link for them between employee satisfaction and employee retention both for more senior staff (who tend to have a lower turnover rate) and for hourly paid employees. In addition, HR Director, Jennifer Lee, thinks it’s really important that the HR function focuses on what’s most important to employees and the survey really spells that out as well as providing copious insight into how employees feel. This is particularly important for remote head office management and it also enables them to focus help on the hotels with the lowest scores that need it most. Above all, the survey demonstrated unequivocally that Jurys is committed to listening to its employees and to its core value of “developing exceptional employees and promoting a culture that values people and their contribution to the business”. According to Jennifer “this is the glue that holds everything together”. CI

Nigel Hill Founder of The Leadership Factor and Editor of Customer Insight Magazine.

Latest thinking

A debate that rages in many organisations is whether it’s better to recruit outside talent or to promote from within. For much of the twentieth century, promotion from within was the norm but in the latter part it became increasingly popular to recruit externally, especially for senior management roles. The justification was that organisations need to be constantly refreshed, otherwise they will become gradually less competitive in a world of constant change. This view was often taken to extremes. It was considered good to ‘disrupt’ teams and organisations rather than allowing a comfortable culture to emerge, so as well as recruiting from outside, many organisations constantly moved people around internally, especially those considered top talent, destined for senior management roles in the future. ‘Talent management’ became a key HR competence and the competition for ‘top talent’ has led to huge inflation in reward packages for people believed to be endowed with it. However, in recent years, a growing body of academic research has cast doubt on the notion that some people are innately more talented than others. This came to wider prominence with Geoff Colvin’s 2006 Fortune magazine article, “What it takes to be great”, and his subsequent book, “Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else”. Colvin provided new evidence that top performers in any field from Winston Churchill to Warren Buffett and Jack Welch are not determined by their inborn talents but from practice and perseverance honed

over decades. He even applied the theory to fields requiring technical ability where talent would appear to be a much more obvious pre-requisite, such as golf. According to Colvin, golf wasn’t in Tiger Woods’ DNA but came from many hours of coaching, practice and hard work. It isn’t just the fact that star performers across diverse disciplines, like Woods, Mozart and Bobby Fischer start early and therefore clock up many years of practice. No, ‘practice makes perfect’ isn’t even half the story. It has to be the right kind of practice, so-called ‘deliberate practice’.


Spring/Summer 2012 customerINSIGHT


Latest thinking


The importance of deliberate practice has been amplified by Matthew Syed in his 2010 book “Bounce”. (For a review of the book, see page 37). Matthew Syed was a British and international table tennis champion and is now a sports journalist, consultant and speaker. Named Sports Journalist of the Year at the British Press Awards in 2009, Matthew now examines how misguided assumptions about ‘talent’ often result in organisations failing to effectively motivate and manage their employees.

“Perhaps the key task of any institution is to encourage the adoption of a growth mindset. When that kind of philosophy becomes embedded in the culture, the consequences can be dramatic.” Peter Keane, UK Sport Performance Director

Why do some people perform better than others? Most of us have been on the receiving end of an inspirational speech. Usually it is delivered by a former Olympian at a company conference and is all about the big M: motivation. It is sometimes eloquently delivered, and often fun to listen to, but most people leave the room wondering how 30 minutes of biographical information about a 7ft rowing champion is going to help them back in the office. Nobody would dispute that motivation is a key driver of performance, but this knowledge does not help many of us understand where it comes from. Listening to a sportsperson speaking about their own personal journey may be uplifting, but how is it going to leave a lasting and usable legacy in terms of how you approach your job? It is almost insulting to think it could. It is not anecdotes we need, so much as a science of performance, underlying principles that help unlock the question of why some people work hard and excel,


customerINSIGHT Spring/Summer 2012


while others don’t; why some are committed to what they are doing while others exist in a state of semi-detachment. It is a question with ramifications not just for business but for education. And, fortunately, the answers are beginning to emerge. To see how, we need to take a step back and ask a deeper question: where does excellence come from? For a long time, it was thought that the answer hinged, in large part, upon talent. Hard work may be important, but if you don’t have the ability, you are never going to become top class. It is the notion that high-level performers have excellence encoded in their DNA. It turns out that this point of view is mistaken. Dozens of studies have found that high flyers across all disciplines learn no faster than those who reach lower levels of attainment – hour after hour, they improve at almost identical rates. The difference is simply that high achievers practise for more hours. Further research has shown that when students seem to possess a particular gift, it is often because they have been given extra tuition at home.

This tallies with evidence in business, too. In 2001, General Electric launched a study of the best performing companies worldwide – those that had grown much faster than the economy for many years and had produced excellent returns for shareholders. What did they have in common? According to Fortune Magazine: “The key trait the study found was that these companies valued ‘domain experience’ in managers – extensive knowledge of the company’s field.” As Jeff Immelt, the chief executive of General Electric, put it:

“The most successful parts of the business are places where leaders have stayed in place a long time. The places where we’ve churned people, like reinsurance, are where you will find we’ve failed.” The question of talent versus practice/ experience would not matter much if it was merely theoretical. But it is much more than that. It influences the way we think, feel and the way we engage with our world. And it determines our motivation.



Latest thinking

Growth “We saw that the students in the fixed mindset group blamed their intelligence when they hit failure. What did the students in the growth mindset group blame when they hit failure?”

Fixed versus Growth Mindset To see how, consider an employee who believes success is all about talent – this is known as the “fixed mindset”. Why would they bother to work hard? If they have the right genes, won’t they just cruise to the top? And if they lack talent, well, why bother at all? And who can blame someone for having this kind of attitude, given the underlying premise? If, on the other hand, they really believe that practice trumps talent – the “growth mindset” – they will persevere. They will see failure as an opportunity to adapt and grow. And, if they are right, they will eventually excel. What we decide about the nature of talent, then, could scarcely be more important. Businesses often suppose that financial incentives are the primary driver of motivation, but this is not supported by the evidence. Monetary inducements can, indeed, make a significant difference, but mindset is more important. This insight was first demonstrated by Carol Dweck, a professor of psychology at Stanford University in a now famous experiment in 1978. She took 150 students and gave them a questionnaire to identify their beliefs about talent. She divided those with the fixed mindset

(those who believe that talent or intelligence is by and large determined by genes) from those with the growth mindset (those who believe intelligence is transformable). The students were then given a series of 12 problems: the first eight were relatively easy while the remaining four were considerably more difficult. As the students struggled to solve the problems, two different patterns emerged.

The answer, which surprised us, was that they did not blame anything. They didn’t focus on reasons for the failures. In fact, they didn’t even consider themselves to be failing. “How did they perform? In line with their optimism, more than 80% maintained or improved the quality of their strategies during the difficult problems. A full quarter of the group actually improved. They taught themselves new and more sophisticated strategies for addressing the new and more difficult problems. A few of them even solved the problems that were supposedly beyond them.”

Performance differences Dweck described the students in the fixed mindset group when they came up against the tough puzzles: “Maybe the most striking thing about this group was how quickly they began to denigrate their abilities and blame their intelligence for the failures, saying things like ‘I guess I am not very smart’, ‘I never did have a good memory’ and ‘I’m no good at things like this’. “Two-thirds of them showed a clear deterioration in their strategies, and more than half lapsed into completely ineffective strategies. In short, the majority of students in this group abandoned, or became incapable of deploying the effective strategies they actually had in their repertoire.” And the kids with the growth mindset? Dweck said:

This is not merely surprising; it is extraordinary. Just to reiterate: this schism in performance had nothing to do with intelligence and nothing to do with incentives. Indeed, Dweck actually made sure all the students were equally incentivised by offering gifts they had personally selected. Instead, the gap in performance was opened up by their respective mindsets. Those who held the belief that abilities are transformable through effort not only persevered but actually improved when confronted with difficulties; those labouring under the talent myth, on the other hand, regressed into a state of psychological enfeeblement. Why such a striking difference? Consider for a moment what was going on in the minds of the two groups. Both groups


Spring/Summer 2012 customerINSIGHT


Latest thinking

understood that the test was measuring their intelligence or talent. So far, so good. But those in the fixed mindset had a further belief: that their intelligence is set in stone and there is little room for personal development. That, of course, is the defining feature of the fixed mindset. Is it any wonder, therefore, that they interpreted failure as calamitous; that it saps creativity and undermines performance; that they will do anything to avoid challenges, even when they might be useful?

Mindsets in business These results are not limited to youngsters; they have been replicated with university students, sportsmen, business leaders, and even systems engineers at Nasa. The growth mindset not only predicts motivation and performance highlights but other key indicators, too. Managers with a fixed mindset, for example, are less able to recognise changes in employee performance and are disinclined to coach employees on how to improve their performance (why would they bother, if they believe that ability levels are fixed?) A growth mindset positively predicts managers’ perceived fairness in dealing with employees, which is critical in enticing employees to identify with their work and commit themselves to it. So, how to create a growth mindset within an organisation? Interventions which have

presented participants with the powerful evidence of how excellence derived from perseverance – which explains the possibility of personal transformation – has had a dramatic impact on motivation and performance. When this is allied with clearly identifiable pathways from shop floor to top floor, so that employees can see the route ahead, these results are strengthened further. Businesses that focus on recruiting external “talent” with “the right stuff”, on the other hand, and who neglect the cultivation of existing personnel, foster the fixed mindset. A rank-and-yank appraisal system is also damaging, because it suggests that the abilities of those ranked the lowest cannot be developed. Many would argue that these outdated techniques provide the underlying cultural explanation for the collapse of Enron in 2001. In short, an ethos constructed upon the potential for personal transformation is the underlying psychological principle driving high performance. It is an insight that is not merely deeply relevant to business, but to any organisation interested in unlocking human potential.

used. But careful study has shown it turns on mindset. The Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy, which has produced more than a dozen grand slam champions, is built on this guiding principle. It is its published creed, which has to be signed by all residents at the club:

“Every endeavour pursued with passion produces a successful outcome, regardless of the result. For it is not about winning or losing – rather, the effort put forth in producing the outcome.” The same is true of the British Olympic Team, which won so many gold medals at the Olympics in Beijing. Here is Peter Keen, the sports scientist who masterminded the success: “I am convinced that world-class performance emerges from mindset. Many of our greatest cyclists did not start out with obvious natural advantages, but they transformed themselves through application.” CI

Mindsets in sport Sports science has long focused on the question of why some young athletes are more motivated than others. Why do some put in the hours, while others regard it as a bit of a chore? For a long time words such as “hunger” or “drive” were

Matthew Syed Matthew was the England table tennis number one for almost a decade, three-times Commonwealth Champion, and twice competed for Great Britain in the Olympic Games


Read what people have to say. Turn to page 20


customerINSIGHT Spring/Summer 2012


Case Study

200 properties, 1,200 staff, 2,000 volunteers, £38.5m + turnover YHA is one of Britain’s top 50 charities. Now over 80 years old, YHA has more than 200,000 members, as well as many non-members, who enjoy its facilities. Customers could range from a group of retired people climbing the hills of the Lake District to a group of young people visiting London for the first time. YHA is keenly aware it has to keep all its customers satisfied, however diverse their needs. YHA accommodates almost two million overnight stays each year, with visitors from over 80 different countries who, on average, stay for 1.8 nights. Customers can book through a range of channels includ-

ing YHA website, direct with the hostel, YHA Contact Centre and through third party websites including,,, booking. com and even The organisation also employs 1,200 staff including 600 seasonal staff. Roles differ greatly, from National Office staff covering Sales & Marketing, Membership, Fundraising, Operations, Property, HR and IT, to hostel staff dealing with customers face to face, cleaning and maintaining the hostels as well as the day to day running of a hostel.


Spring/Summer 2012 customerINSIGHT


Case Study study

As a charity, YHA’s mission is to “To help all, especially young people of limited means, to a greater knowledge, love and care of the countryside, and appreciation of the cultural values of towns and cities, particularly by providing youth hostels or other accommodation for them in their travels, and thus to promote their health, recreation and education.” A great deal of this is made possible by the generous donations it receives. All the money YHA makes is put back into the business enabling the organisation to give more experiences to more people, especially young people.

The business of keeping customers satisfied.

Black Sail

YHA is like any other business. It prides itself on the sociable friendly experience it offers, on the support it offers to learning, skills and self development of young people and of its work with young people who might not otherwise be able to broaden their horizons through new experiences of travel and adventure, which it believes sets it apart. However retaining members and attracting new members is paramount to its success as it faces stiff competition from budget hotel chains (with larger marketing and advertising budgets). YHA therefore works hard, using a range of techniques and methods to gather feedback from customers.

YHA makes a point of monitoring what’s important to customers. Understanding what members want and expect is vital As part of the drive to understand and satisfy customers, YHA has worked closely with The Leadership Factor for over 4 years. Originally, the focus was on understanding the Family & Individual market (F&I) but over recent years the focus has expanded to include the Group market. YHA also makes a point of monitoring what’s important to customers. Understanding what members want and expect is vital. Years ago members might have visited the countryside to escape the fast moving modern world – nowadays members make bookings using their smartphones and expect access to the


customerINSIGHT Spring/Summer 2012


internet and Wi-Fi regardless of whether they are in London or visiting the Lake District fells.

Survey method The method of data collection, employed by TLF for the customer satisfaction survey, has been particularly successful for YHA. A web survey is sent out every Friday afternoon, ensuring that it is received within days of a visit to a hostel or is waiting for them when they arrive home. The response rate of between 25%-30% means that nearly 80,000 surveys have now been completed by customers. The volume of response means that results can be segmented in many ways including specific areas of interest to YHA such as customers under 26 years and by hostel. Prior to this approach YHA surveys were typically paper based and conducted at hostel level. The volume of data gathered during that time was very sporadic and, as a result, it was very hard to generate any meaningful analysis.

Mystery shopping During the time YHA has worked with TLF it has also simultaneously run a mystery shopper program. This consisted of surprise visits to all hostels. The program ran for two years and focussed heavily on operational procedures, practices and conditions at a hostel. This worked very well, and was certainly fit for purpose at the time. After steady increases in mystery shopper scores there came a period where high scores were maintained and thus the mystery shopper program was completed and deemed a success. Whilst the mystery shopper programme was in force it is fair to say that the organisation’s focus was drawn away from the customer satisfaction surveys a little. A couple of years ago, a conscious decision lead to a refocus on the satisfaction surveys. The volume and reliability of the findings meant that the results, quite simply, could not be ignored. The organisation’s focus is very much on wanting to gather, understand and act on customers’ feedback post-stay. This is particularly important in this economic climate where customers need to be cherished.

Case Study

Other surveys Ad-hoc surveys have also been conducted for other products such as YHA’s summer camp Do 4 Real to understand the views of children as well as their parents/guardians. This information helped to pinpoint how young children benefited from their residential summer camp and how it had an impact on them.

Using the survey results In common with many organisations, YHA struggled to secure buy-in throughout the organisation at first. However, there has been enormous progress in this area and now the whole organisation is well and truly engaged in the measurement process. In fact, the organisation is in its first year of working to strict KPIs for satisfaction and loyalty (CSI of 86% and NPS of 59%). It is currently on target to hit these levels by the end of the financial year. At the present time, a number of hostels achieve an individual index of over 90%. The challenge is increasing satisfaction at the hostels towards the lower end of the scale. With the introduction of the new web reporting tool created by TLF, the results of the surveys have been a great deal easier to access and scrutinise. Every hostel manager in the organisation, as well as a number of people at head office, has access to the web tool. This ensures all the relevant people who can use the results and action the feedback are aware of what the customers are saying. The Health and Safety and Property teams are

great advocates of the feedback which really helps when customers raise issues that perhaps the hostels themselves are powerless to act upon. Buildings managers can view the customer feedback and use the information to help make tough decisions when it comes to knowing how, and where, to allocate their limited budget. The Customer Insight team embarked on a ‘tour’ to demonstrate the web tool to all relevant staff. This was a time consuming exercise but extremely worthwhile. The survey results are also used to monitor pre and post staff training in customer service as well as pre and post investment in hostels to monitor any fluctuations in customer satisfaction. This helps to determine the impact of investments on satisfaction levels. Feedback also helps with any funding bids that are submitted because the aim of refurbishing existing hostels is to enhance the customer experience and increase satisfaction and loyalty.

Feedback to employees Within the organisation, sharing results with staff is viewed as vital. YHA has an internal weekly e-communication called Connect. This portal allows any member of staff to update the organisation with things that are happening. Connect is used as a tool to keep the customer feedback fresh in the mind and remind people they have access to the raw data via the web tool. It stimulates their curiosity and interest. Some staff are also invited to the quarterly TLF presentation of results. Highlights are then made available via Connect and used in relevant monthly team briefs. The aim is to provide enough information to keep staff involved and engaged without veering into overkill. Whilst the survey results and focus on action is important, there is also a great deal of other information that also needs to be shared with staff.

play regardless of whether they come face to face with customers or not and Connect is way to convey and strengthen that message. Whilst buy-in is a challenge, this was overcome by a clear strategic theme, from the very top, which clearly states that YHA must ‘put the customer first in everything we do’. This philosophy was backed up with a strong push internally which included various promotional material including mouse mats and coasters for desks. It really has been drilled home just how important customers are.

Feedback to customers Ensuring the Connect articles are presented in the best way possible as a tool to engage staff is a priority. Ultimately, it is staff that make a difference to the customer experience – and to each other. Each and every member of staff has a role to

Sharing results with customers is particularly important to us as our survey is rather lengthy. It is important to thank customers for completing the survey and to reassure them that the feedback does not get lost


Spring/Summer 2012 customerINSIGHT


Case Study

in a huge void. In an ideal world, the survey would be shorter, but it’s fair to say that the loyalty of our customers and their willingness to share their views means that the response rate is strong and consistent. Every week, the survey generates literally, hundreds of responses with some very detailed (and lengthy) comments that provide invaluable insight. Feedback is currently provided to customers via our twice yearly membership publication ‘YHA News’. It was used to supplement articles on specific hostels along the lines of ‘Customers rate this hostel 9/10’. Where space permitted in the monthly e-newsletter that goes to Groups, the winner of the prize draw has been celebrated. This is also something that goes down well and is sure to become a regular feature.

Outcomes Through trying to understand customers better, it has become apparent that the churn rate is much higher than was previously believed. This has lead to a drive to understand why they churn. This understanding is and will continue to be fundamental to the success of the organisation going forward. Improved CRM systems will, in 2012, allow for better understanding of the link between satisfaction, loyalty and revenue.

Future challenges Over the next 3-5 years, it will be a challenge to maintain the focus of the organisation on what customers want, when, and where they want it. This won’t be easy. It will also be vital to keep ahead of the game with emerging communication channels and booking channels. Harrington




customerINSIGHT Spring/Summer 2012

Llam Hall


There will be increased competition from other budget accommodation providers that have greater financial power. Not only will competitors be able to invest in aggressive advertising and marketing campaigns, they will also be able to open new properties in more locations. Indeed, budget hotel chains have already expressed their desire to open in areas previously considered unfeasible – such as on the edge of National Parks.

personalised and segmented communications to support the customer retention strategy.

YHA has to face these challenges head on. This will be achieved by ensuring the organisation maintains its level of commitment to the customer by listening and acting on customer feedback. There will need to be more focus on complaint handling - reducing the number of complaints or issues customers face by getting the basics right first time, every time. This area poses particular issues in that it is easy for issues and complaints to slip through the net. Customers can complain to the hostel manager where they are staying or direct with YHA. Customers are often reluctant to complain whilst they are at a hostel and some hostel managers are likely to be better at dealing with problems and complaints than others.

All in all, 2012 needs to be the year in which the strands come together to form a solid basis for years to come. In order to achieve this, YHA is working closely with TLF and through our close working relationship believe 2012 will see us move even further forward toward achieving our goals. CI

In the past, there has been a lack of feedback from the core demographic, customers under 26. Going forward, we must gather as much feedback from this market as possible. This means keeping on top of how these customers respond and communicate and analysing customer feedback from all possible channels e.g. TLF, SurveyMonkey, social media, complaints, third party websites etc. The current survey focuses on the customers who book accommodation with YHA. Gathering feedback from the customers who stayed but did not make the booking will play a more important role. This has been addressed somewhat by, at the end of the web survey, appealing to the respondent to forward the survey to other members of the party. The aim is to populate YHA’s new CRM system, Microsoft Dynamics, with, among other things, satisfaction and loyalty scores to create a detailed single customer view. This will then help with the generation of more

It is clear that customer feedback should play a role in marketing the organisation. The information gathered so far needs to be exploited to help promote YHA and build awareness. It will be valuable for both attracting potential customers and staying engaged with existing customers.

Paul Watkins Customer Relationship Manager YHA Paul can be contacted on: 01629 592764 or via email at:

Rachel Allen The Leadership Factor Client Manager working closely with YHA Rachel can be contacted on: 01484 467034 or via email at:

Case Study Research

This article continues on page 22...

Yes I do know they’re not easy to impress, but do we always help ourselves by the way we present results from customer surveys? I think the problem stems from the fact that the people responsible for the surveys (whether research agencies or company managers) are immersed in the detail of the survey, keen to tell the full story and too obsessed with demonstrating the credibility / statistical reliability of the results. Put yourself in the Directors’ shoes for a moment. Two things are typically much more important than anything else. First and foremost a summary of the key outcomes that is very quick and easy to take onboard. Secondly, and this is a bonus if it can be achieved, something that adds real insight, e.g. a real eye opener into how customers think or feel about a particular issue. The evolution of results presentations For many years, the reporting method of choice in the market research industry was the crosstab. It wasn’t unusual for agencies to deliver telephone directories of crosstab data tables full of numbers. Comprehensive? Definitely. Reliable? Usually. Meaningful? Yes if you’re a stats anorak. Actionable? No chance!


PowerPoint Advances have been largely driven by software developments, so the ability to produce good looking Word reports, with charts in the 1990s was a big step forward. They could explain the results, illustrate them in charts, they could include all the detail (e.g. data tables and customer comments) as appendices and, if they had a good exec summary (which they often didn’t), they could meet the needs of researchers and their CEO pretty well. The next advance was integrating all this in Microsoft Office including PowerPoint presentations. This was a fantastic differentiator for the early adopters but as we all know, has very mixed press these days. This is mainly because people seem to go out of their way to make them long, boring, complicated or all three!

Infographics Lots of more recent developments have made it possible to improve the visual appeal of PowerPoint – infographics and word clouds being two current favourites. They might be novel and look good but making them communicate actionable information or add insight is a much bigger challenge that few master. Look at this infographic from the BBC. Do the graphics on the right add anything to your understanding of the Greek crisis that you wouldn’t have easily assimilated from the stats on the left? You could argue it detracts from it on unemployment since the two rows of people are not even to scale with the percentages. Greek crisis in numbers


(Sources: ELSTAT, BBC)

Spring/Summer 2012 customerINSIGHT


The Opinion Dashboard is an online tool where you can watch, listen to and read the thoughts and views of your customers or UK consumers. Individuals can respond to your questions quickly, bringing research to life and provide in-depth qualitative insights.


customerINSIGHT Spring/Summer 2012


For more information please contact: Darren Wake 01484 467012

To view this Dashboard:

To view this Dashboard please visit:


Spring/Summer 2012 customerINSIGHT


Case Research Study

Real time reporting Real time reporting has also been one of the flavours of the month since software developments in CATI and web surveys made it relatively easy to do. Instead of quarterly or monthly reports, companies involved in continuous tracking can have results every week, every day or even all the time, as each interview is completed or a survey response is received. This is great technology. It can be just like watching a stock market screen and pouncing at the optimum time to buy or sell. That’s very useful. It can make your trades a lot more profitable. But it can also waste a lot of time as you watch the screen changing and maybe do or don’t invest at the optimum time. There’s obviously an opportunity cost to the time you spend watching that screen. And the same is true with real time reporting of survey results. What’s the opportunity cost of watching your headline measure ticking up and down? How often do you implement changes to your customer service strategies, processes, training or any other activities that make a difference to the customer experience? Every hour? Every day? Every week, or month? Less often? Whatever your answer, there’s not much point spending any time looking at real time reports that are any more frequent.

Web reporting Web reporting, i.e. the delivery of survey results via a website is a different matter. It’s not that it’s any quicker. You could have results emailed just as fast. The key benefit of a good web reporting site is interactivity. It gives you control and flexibility by allowing you to instantly select the results you want. Perhaps your Swindon store manager is going to run a promotion with in-store product demos on premium anti-ageing creams. No problem. Let’s drill down into the views of over 55 females in that area. Or you could get the store managers to do that kind of thing themselves as there’s no limit to the number of colleagues that can use a web reporting site – password protected if you want to control access. So a good web reporting tool is great for efficiency, speed and convenience. But does it impress your Board? I can’t think of many CEOs who will want to spend the time learning enough about a web reporting tool to get the best out of it. Making an impact No. Back to where we started. They want an instant picture of ‘the 3 key things I need to know’. And if you can give them some genuinely new insight into customers, that will really impress them. Especially if it chimes with a current flavour of the month

Web Reporting


customerINSIGHT Spring/Summer 2012


like the 3Es – customer emotions, customer empathy, customer effort. Bringing the customer into the boardroom This is where you need to bring the customer into the boardroom. A real customer would be great, albeit not too practical. But there are other ways of bringing the customer to life and making an impact. As you can see on the previous two pages, TLF’s Opinion Dashboard does just that on 1 computer monitor, 1 PowerPoint slide or even 1 piece of paper. On the first two, of course, you can make it work. Click on a photo for an insightful comment that represents the prevailing view in that demographic. Choose from a suite of videos that reveal customer emotions as well as attitudes and behaviours, or drill down into the data from any of your survey questions split by your segment of choice. And I nearly forgot. The centrepiece is the CEO’s 3 key points. CI

Darren Wake Originator of the Opinion Dashboard Business Development Manager The Leadership Factor

01484 467012

Opinion Dashboard


If you want to increase sales – improve customer satisfaction!

January 2012

Based on a representative sample of 26,000 adults surveyed over the internet, the Institute of Customer Service presents the latest UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI) which is the national measure of customer satisfaction for UK organisations. The survey is carried out by The Leadership Factor on behalf of the Institute of Customer Service. Customer satisfaction Customer satisfaction remains stable for the UK as a whole. While there have been no major shifts since July 2011, there is a slight

trend towards more differentiation in performance across sectors. In other words, the sectors with the highest scores have tended to improve and those with the lowest scores have decreased in satisfaction.

UKCSI, January 2012 versus July 2011 77.4



Retail (non-food) Retail (food)





80.6 80.0





Finance (insurance)


Finance (banks)


Public Services (local) Telecommunications Transport Public Services (national) Utilities

74.1 73.4 72.4 71.6

Jan-12 Jul-11

Figure 1: UKCSI results


Spring/Summer 2012 customerINSIGHT



The top 10

95% 95%

85 organisations achieved a customer satisfaction index (CSI) over 80 (of the 186 organisations with enough responses for a CSI); 20 organisations achieved over 85. For the first time an organisation has achieved a CSI over 90 – Amazon has made an extremely successful entry into the UKCSI. The 10 highest scoring organisations are:


80% 80%


75% 75% Comet Comet

70% 70% 65% 65%-20% -20%

Primark Primark

WHSmiths WHSmiths Carphone Warehouse Currys/Dixons/PC World Carphone Warehouse Currys/Dixons/PC World

10% 0% 10% 0% Sales Growth

-10% -10%

20% 20%

30% 30%

Growth Figure 2: The impact ofSales customer satisfaction on sales

95% 95% Amazon Amazon

90% 90%

Focus on retail - better customer service drives sales and market share The two retail sectors consistently top the UKCSI league table, and at the end of 2011 they increased their lead at the top. These are both very competitive consumer environments, where companies must compete to satisfy customers in every experience or risk losing them to a competitor. So is this how it worked out in the crucial pre-Christmas trading period? At the time of writing, most of the retailers covered in the UKCSI have released Christmas trading sales figures, and there are some remarkable correlations with customer satisfaction.

Non-food retailers Figure 2 shows the customer satisfaction index of each retailer on the vertical axis and the extent of its sales growth, or decline on the horizontal. You can see, for example, that Amazon had the best customer satisfaction (92) and the best sales growth (20%1), whilst Comet posted the biggest sales decline (-14%) and was well adrift of most retailers at satisfying customers with a CSI of 71.7. Based on all the data and illustrated by the red ‘best fit’ line, the correlation between customer satisfaction and sales is .63. It must be emphasised that a correlation

customerINSIGHT Spring/Summer 2012

Boots John Lewis Marks & Spencer Boots John Lewis Superdrug Marks & Spencer Superdrug Debenhams Homebase Argos Matalan Debenhams Homebase Argos Matalan HMV

85% 85%

· Amazon (92) · Marks & Spencer food (87) · Ambulance Service (87) · First Direct (86) · John Lewis (86) · Fire Service (86) · Virgin Holidays (85) · SAGA Holidays (85) · Boots (85) · Marks & Spencer non-food (85)


Amazon Amazon

90% 90%


Boots Boots John Lewis Marks & Spencer Superdrug John Lewis Marks & Spencer Superdrug Debenhams Homebase Debenhams Homebase Argos Matalan

85% 85%

Customer Service Customer Service

80% 80%


75% 75% 70% 70%

Comet Comet

65% 65%-20% -20%

HMV HMV WHSmiths WHSmiths


Primark Primark

Carphone Warehouse Carphone Warehouse Currys/Dixons/PC World Currys/Dixons/PC World

-10% -10%

10% 0% 10% 0% Sales Growth

20% 20%

30% 30%

Sales Growth Figure 3: Customer service and sales growth

of .63 (correlations are on a scale of 0 to 1), is considered to show a very strong relationship between the two variables. It is particularly noticeable that the four companies with the lowest satisfaction (and the lowest three are 10% below the sector average) have all suffered serious falls in sales. We should also point out that the UKCSI survey took place right in the middle of the Christmas trading period. The only outlier is Primark, where the attractiveness of low prices outweighed customer service for their target market. (Along with Amazon, Superdrug and Matalan, Primark achieved one of the highest scores for customer satisfaction with price).

Does customer service make a difference? Some people might argue that in an

area like non-food retail it’s all down to product and price. If you stock the products customers want (e.g. the most fashionable clothes or the latest technological gadgets), and sell them at the most competitive prices, you’ll achieve sector leading sales and market share even if your customer service isn’t the best. So does customer service matter? The answer is emphatically yes! Figure 3 shows the relationship between customer service and sales growth and the correlation comes out at a remarkable .66, slightly stronger than for overall customer satisfaction. This is great news in terms of building a sustainable competitive advantage because your competitors can copy your products and match your prices, but it is much more difficult for them to keep up with your investment in developing the kind of employees and culture that deliver great customer service.


Where do we get the customer satisfaction data from? 85%

Every 6 months a representative sample of 26,000 UK adults take part in a web survey. The questions that make up the index are based on the factors that are most important to customers - in other words the strongest drivers of their satisfaction, or dissatisfaction with a customer experience. The overall CSI is based on customers’ 20 most important requirements and it’s completely accurate because the relative importance of the factors was updated in 2011. The full list of customer requirements can be seen on the website, The score for customer service is based on a relevant subset of the 20 customer requirements including factors such as ‘being kept informed’, ‘handling enquiries’, ‘handling complaints’ and ‘staff attitude’. What about the supermarkets? This is an incredibly competitive sector and it displays a much narrower range of relative performance for both customer satisfaction and sales growth/decline than those we have seen in the non-food segment. For business performance, we have selected change in market share as the indicator since completely comparable figures are available from Kantar2. When ranges are narrow, correlations are always smaller, but the chart does show that, although the changes in relative market share are small, the winners have higher customer satisfaction than those losing market share. It’s also instructive that the two leaders, Aldi and Waitrose, have very different business models. This shows that it’s not about being the cheapest, or having the best products, but about delivering whatever your target customers see as the best possible customer experience. The leader of the pack Amazon has shown itself to be extremely good at meeting the needs of its customers. They are the first organisation since the start of the UKCSI to achieve an overall CSI over 90 (with over 25% of their customers scoring them at 100). Why are they so good at satisfying customers?


84% ASDA

83% 82%

Iceland Morrisons Sainsbury’s




80% 79%



78% 77% 76%

The Co-operative

75% -0.5% -0.4% -0.3% 0.2% 0.1% 0.0% 0.1% 0.2% 0.3% 0.4% 0.5% Market Share change Q4 2010 - Q4 2011 (Source Kantar worldpanel)

Figure 4: Supermarkets’ CSI versus market share changes

Figure 5: Helpful staff make shopping easy

Amazon performs very well because it creates a consistently excellent experience for its customers, scoring particularly well for the attributes “quality and efficiency”, “timeliness” and “ease of doing business”. Importantly, while it creates few problems for customers, it also resolves customer complaints efficiently if things do go wrong. Only 6% of customers had a problem with Amazon, and they were extremely happy with the way it was handled. Amazon customers score an average of 9 out of 10 for the handling of their complaint and 9.3 out of 10 for the outcome of their complaint. We asked customers to pick three adjectives that best describe their experience with an organisation. Within non-food retail the most commonly chosen word was “easy”. As shown in the word cloud in figure 5, the most commonly chosen

words (bigger) relate to a mix of two basic needs—speed/efficiency on the one hand, and staff attitude on the other. By getting the blend of these right for its customers Amazon is able to deliver consistently excellent customer satisfaction within an efficient business model.

Changes to UKCSI—a multichannel focus In 2011, the Institute of Customer Service completed the results of a major project to re-measure the priorities of customers in each of the 13 sectors included in the UKCSI. This research showed that, for the most part, priorities were much the same as established by the original research in 2006. What had changed was the importance of the internet, and multi-channel service in general, for organisations operating in many sectors. Whilst customer priorities


Spring/Summer 2012 customerINSIGHT



are largely consistent across channels, and indeed across sectors, it was felt that the growing importance of multichannel service merited a change to the UKCSI questionnaire.


In person (e.g. visited a store/branch)


On their website

The UKCSI questionnaire now uses a set of questions which are applicable to all experiences, followed by a smaller set of questions which are specific to the channel used by each customer in their interaction. This allows us to incorporate web-only businesses, such as Amazon, and also to study how effectively organisations are managing the customer experience through all their channels. Channel differences Across the UKCSI as a whole, there is a clear pattern for customers to be happiest either when dealing with staff face to face or with a web transaction. Phoning organisations, and particularly writing to them, is a much less satisfactory experience.

Over the phone (e.g. called a contact centre)



In writing (letter or email)

Figure 6: Some channels deliver a better customer experience than others

100 95 90 85 80 CSI

In person On their website Over the phone In writing

75 70 65 60 55

Attitudes towards energy providers Each time we run the UKCSI we use a section of questions which change to reflect a topical question of interest. This time we explored the attitudes of customers towards energy providers in the light of fluctuating energy prices.


customerINSIGHT Spring/Summer 2012



Public Services (national)



Public Services (local)

Finance - insurance





Retail - food

Finance - banks and building societies

The interesting thing about this new data is that it highlights some great opportunities for organisations to improve customer satisfaction. Companies across diverse industries such as First Direct, BUPA and O 2 have shown their call centres can deliver great customer service, so it should be possible for all organisations.


Retail - non-food

This overall trend shows some differences at a sector level (see figure 7). In particular, this highlights that there is adverse customer satisfaction when people deal with some sectors in writing (particularly Public Services – local, but Transport, Telecommunications and Banks and building societies also show a significant drop in performance through this medium).

Figure 7: Big variations in channel experience by sector

32% 26%



Very Likely




Figure 8: Customers are reluctant to switch energy provider


Very Unlikely


Most customers do not think they are more likely to switch As a general rule, customers tend to overestimate their propensity to switch. Even so, relatively few customers think that rising prices have made them more likely to switch energy provider.

33% 30% 25%

Just less than half (47%) of the customers we interviewed said that they intended to monitor other providers’ tariffs with a view to switching, but over 80% said that they intended to keep a closer eye on their provider’s bills. The importance of customer service for energy providers We asked customers whether customer service has become more important for them when choosing an energy provider, and the majority think that it has. 68% of customers said that they would consider switching energy provider as a result of poor customer service, but only 26% have ever done so. Customer attitudes to tariffs and switching Finally, we asked three questions about customers’ attitudes to the energy market, on a scale of 1 to 5 designed to measure their strength of agreement with three statements. The mean scores are shown in figure 10.

8% 5% Very Important





Figure 9: Customer service is important

Strongly agree


Strongly disagree


Switching energy provider is now much easier than it used to be




It’s difficult to know which provider is cheapest as their tariffs are complicated

I want a provider that is easy to deal with and offers understandable tariffs




Figure 10: Please make it easy for me!

Customers tend to agree with all three statements, but are most supportive of the idea that they want a provider that is easy to deal with and does not try to obfuscate tariffs. This is similar to the retail word cloud shown in Figure 5, and shows that ‘ease of doing business’ is a very important customer requirement across many sectors. References 1.  Sales growth statistics refer to like for like sales over the Christmas trading periods of 2010 and 2011 and are derived from the announcements of the individual companies. The timescales used by companies may differ slightly but all refer to UK sales apart from Carphone Warehouse and Amazon who only released European figures. Some retailers covered by the UKCSI have not

made announcements at the time of writing. There are useful, but not comprehensive compilations of Christmas trading figures on and on business-16429005 2. CI

Stephen Hampshire Client Manager The Leadership Factor If you have any thoughts about this article you can contact Stephen at


Spring/Summer 2012 customerINSIGHT



QR co A QR code is a quick response code. They can be used by just about any phone with an onboard camera. A QR code, once scanned, can take a phone user to a web page, a video, or even place a call. Companies are using QR codes in all sorts of places to provide a link to a wide range of information. They can be included in ads, in a magazine for example or even on a billboard, on packaging, in shop or restaurant windows, on price lists, literature, flyers or menus, even on a vehicle. They can quickly link the customer to anything you want – today’s special offers or discounts, detailed product information, advice (e.g. recipes for a food ingredient, food matching ideas on a bottle of wine), contact details, jobs etc.

Why don’t you scan this QR code here and see where it takes you?


The sample was representative of the US population in terms of age, gender and income and they also conducted 20 oneon-one interviews which were used to add more detailed qualitative information. A UK survey was done by EConsultancy, also in October and with 1,500 respondents.

communicating the right offer both before and after scanning will be important for marketers. Around a quarter did so to gain information or simply out of curiosity. Importantly most who have scanned other than out of curiosity, have made a purchase as a result.


Companies must be aware of the situations where consumers will be engaging through QR codes and design their communications accordingly. This means different codes and landing pages for different situations. For example, 35% scanned a QR code from a magazine or newspaper followed by 18% who scanned product packaging. Sometimes it will be necessary to make reasonable assumptions about consumers’ motivations in specific circumstances. For example, if scanning an ad in a magazine, it’s a reasonable assumption that the consumer is a potential new customer, so an incentive to purchase would be relevant. On packaging, higher value products will often be scanned in store to do price comparisons, so incentives will be particularly important. By contrast, on a lower cost product, e.g. a food item, it’s more likely that the customer is seeking information, so nutritional details or recipes could be relevant here.

If you haven’t done it before, here’s a quick guide. As well as a camera you need an app on your phone that can scan the code and interact with it. If you have an Android Phone, go to the Google Apps Market and search for “Barcode Scanner”. This will let you scan normal bar codes as well as QR codes. An alternative app is “Google Goggles”. If you’re an iPhone or iPad owner, the best app is “QuickMark”, which costs 69p and is a fully featured scanner but a perfectly adequate free alternative is “scanQR”.

There were some very interesting findings on awareness. Only 21 percent of American respondents knew the term “Quick Response code” or “QR code” (when asked if they had heard of the term). However, whilst 81% of American adults recognise them by sight only 31% of Brits did and only 10% could correctly identify it as a QR Code (with a further 12% saying barcode). At 19%, more Brits said they have scanned a QR code compared with only 11% in the US. Not surprisingly, under 35s were much more likely to have done it (32%) than over 55s (only 7%). 70% of those who have done it found it easy to do.

Do people use QR codes?

Reasons for usage

US firm Chadwick Martin Bailey conducted an online survey of nearly 1,500 US adults at the end of October 2011.

In the UK, receiving discounts, coupons, or free items is the main motivation for people who scan QR codes (42%), so

customerINSIGHT Spring/Summer 2012



odes Successful uses of QR codes There have been some very creative and valuable uses of QR codes, such as their use on Radisson Edwardian’s menus. If a customer scans a code, they can see a video of the dish being prepared by the chef. This is obviously a great way to enhance the customer experience, and also to help them decide what to eat. It’s not quite co-creation, but it would feel a bit like that as a customer, and would certainly be a great word-of-mouth stimulator. Tesco in Korea created a virtual store for smartphone users in the underground (which, unlike London is wi-fi enabled). While waiting for the train, mobile users could use their phone’s QR code reader to scan and browse products and even to

buy them. The result was that more than 10,000 people scanned the QR codes, new customer registrations rose by 76%, and online sales were up by 130%. US retail chain Best Buy has added a QR code reader to its mobile apps, which is a good way to ensure that customers don’t have to actively download a third party reader before interacting with ads. Wilkinson Sword used QR codes in Tesco that linked to the mobile landing page above right. It offered entry to a competition and videos of its products in action. It also features a URL and an SMS option for those without QR code reader apps. The code sends users to this mobile landing page right: CI

Throughout this magazine we have added QR codes to the adverts and to many of the articles, so if you haven’t used them before, why not download one of those free apps and scan a few now?


Spring/Summer 2012 customerINSIGHT


European Customer Experience World 2012 22nd & 23rd May · London

At ECEW 2012, you’ll hear from the most forward-thinking authorities in the field, representing leading companies from across the globe like the Disney Institute, Starbuck’s, Virgin Holidays, Fiat, Zappos, Bank of America, Metro Bank, Cadbury’s, BT and many others.



ECEW 2012 is professional yet informal, organised yet comfortable - a program you can tailor to your needs. The ECEW structure encourages substantive conversations among colleagues, led by facilitators who keep the discussion on target and on goal. It’s a hands-on process of experiential learning that engages you in a constant exchange of ideas and insights.

Executives who are, or who want to champion customer experience, such as, Members of Board, Vice President, Directors, Head and Senior Managers involved in:

LEARNING, NOT JUST LISTENING ECEW 2012 is not just listening but learning in a way that brings it to life by hearing from the people who lived the story. They will tell you how to move your customer experience from idea through strategy to selling it and implementation and measurement.

Customer Lifecycle Strategy Customer Experience Client Relationship Development CRM & Loyalty Customer Care and Service Quality Marketing/Sales Retention and Loyalty Programs Customer Insight and Satisfaction


Contact Maggie Wheeler

01993 844466

Case Study

Croissants How do you like yours? Background Most of us enjoy eating croissants now and again. Perhaps as a treat or when we’re on holiday, or maybe as a change from the usual breakfast or snack. But the companies who bake croissants would love us to purchase and consume even more! Winterbotham Darby, is an award winning supplier of food products across the UK and Europe. Primarily for supermarket own label, its products include Parma ham, Spanish charcuteries and tapas as well as croissants and other morning goods. They also do a range of branded luxury chocolates called Chocochic, which look particularly tempting! But before I get carried away, let’s get back to the croissants. As a supplier that believes in adding value to its customers’ category management, Winterbotham Darby were keen to find out exactly how people perceive croissants, understand the factors which influence whether we purchase them, and identify drivers which impact on overall sales. This type of insight will assist with their own R&D and help the supermarkets sell more croissants by meeting and satisfying consumer demand.

The Research Winterbotham Darby decided to use The Leadership Factor’s online research panel (YourSayPays) to survey to a representative sample of 2500 UK consumers. • What is the profile of people who purchase and consume croissants? •W  hat size would people prefer to eat i.e. mini or standard based on different occasions? •W  hat croissants are people currently purchasing and for which occasions i.e. lunch box, breakfast, weekend treat etc? • If they were filled, which flavours would people like to see i.e. chocolate, strawberry? •W  ould people be interested in individually wrapped vs unwrapped croissants based on different occasions?

The Findings The survey provided a number of interesting and useful insights, including: • 26% of people eat croissants at least twice every month • Tesco leads the way as the place where most people purchase croissants • 32% of people purchase croissants for their children as a breakfast treat •T  here was significant demand for individually wrapped mini sized croissants for children’s and adults’ lunchboxes •S  trawberry jam filled croissants were the most popular filling, selected by 36% of respondents.

Outcomes The research provided Winterbotham Darby with some key insights with regards to new product development and product positioning. Armed with these insights, Winterbotham Darby were able to approach the supermarkets with an

insight led strategy for growing sales of the product. They are currently putting the insights into practice, to grow sales of the croissant portfolio. Next time you are in your local supermarket – look out for their pre-packaged croissants range!


Spring/Summer 2012 customerINSIGHT


Case Study

Can Britain’s drivers see where they’re going??? Background


Ultralase are the UK’s longest established laser eye treatment specialists, with over 20 years experience. The Leadership Factor’s online panellists have taken part in a number of surveys for Ultralase, commissioned by their PR agency Lucre. The surveys have generated some interesting statistics and insights for stories which have helped Ultralase obtain substantial coverage in the media.

The results have been used in press releases to the mainstream media. Statistics regarding people who need glasses or contact lenses not wearing them when they drive are particularly powerful. Ultralase partnered with the charity ‘Brake’ to promote the research findings. Brake’s objective is to make roads in the UK a safer place, campaigning for safer roads for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. Brake’s campaign for drivers to have a compulsory eye test at least every 10 years, was given a boost when the survey found many drivers have never had an eye test, despite in some cases many decades of driving, and some drivers had been involved in an accident due to poor visibility.

The Research One survey was themed around people’s eyesight and driving. 2000 people were surveyed, 1000 who wear glasses or contact lenses and 1000 that don’t. The questions asked how long it had been since people had had an eye test, and how often people who wear glasses / contact lenses had driven without them. The survey also asked if respondents had ever been involved in a road accident and if that accident was down to poor observation by the driver.

The press-release distributed jointly by Brake and Ultralase was considered an outstanding success. The campaign has generated over 50 pieces of coverage in the UK media to date. The research findings have been featured by RAC, AA, other motoring organisations, Sunday Sun and many regional newspaper titles.

The Findings The survey revealed some rather worrying statistics for road users! 27% of people have not had an eye test in the last 4 years, and 5% admit that they have never had an eye test. Even worse, 39% of people who drive said they struggle to read road signs from distance or they ‘struggle to see clearly but they get by’. Of those who wear contact lenses or glasses, 32% admit to have driven without them, and 9% say they do this at least twice a week. When it comes to the question of whether people should have an eye test as part of their driving test, people overwhelmingly think so - with 89% saying it should be mandatory.


customerINSIGHT Spring/Summer 2012


Also, as 89% of people surveyed supported calls for eye tests to be made a compulsory part of the national driving test, Ultralase has launched an online petition on the matter. Dr Kamlesh Chauhan, vice president of the College of Optometrists, was invited onto BBC Breakfast to discuss the findings of the research, which provided fantastic exposure for Ultralase. He said: ‘It is important to have regular sight tests, especially for people who drive and find they are experiencing problems with their vision. The College recommends those over the age of 40 have an eye exami-

nation every two years but if there is an existing history of eye problems in the family, or you notice changes in your eyes or sight, it is always advisable to visit your optometrist as soon as possible.’ CI

Darren Wake Business Development Manager The Leadership Factor 01484 467012

Case Study Customer

Mike Ball Client Manager The

In September 2011 I took a family holiday in Turkey with a leading tour operator. The sun shone, the 5 star hotel was clean and well appointed, the food fantastic and my children loved it. All in all a recipe for the perfect holiday, one very happy customer you might think and a guaranteed repeat booking for next year...or maybe not? A recent study by the Institute for Customer Service says firms are already feeling the impact of customer churn and that the battle for customer loyalty is going to intensify. Loyal customers spend more, are less price sensitive, provide free promotion through recommendation and referral and cost less to service! However, the study found that 47% of consumers currently describe themselves as more likely to switch suppliers in the future meaning there’s over £2.2 billion of revenue there to be won...or lost. Back to my holiday. This was my first trip with this particular tour operator having religiously booked with another operator for the previous six years. So why do customers switch? Loyalty is driven by satisfaction and when it comes to satisfying customers the recent ICS study found that 71% of businesses and 83% of consumers ranked customer service as the biggest driver of loyalty ahead of product, brand and marketing. So clearly customer service is what delivers results but where does it sit as a priority in board rooms up and down the country? With 35% of busi-

ness leaders identifying customer churn as the number one threat to their businesses customer insight is increasingly vital. An online survey by The Leadership Factor showed 42% of people spend between £1,000 and £2,000 annually on holidays and 4 out of 5 people are still taking foreign holidays so tour operators can’t

ALL IN ALL I WAS A HAPPY CUSTOMER AND WOULD COMFORTABLY SCORE THEM 7/10...BUT THAT ISN’T ENOUGH TO GUARENTEE I’LL BE BACK FOR MORE. put their economic woes down to the economy alone. It’s down to not knowing enough about what matters to their cus-

Leadership Factor Mike can be contacted on: 01484 467057 or via email at: tomers and delivering on it. I calculate my total spend on holidays until the time my children are ready to fly the nest will be somewhere between £35-40,000. Alongside losing that revenue senior managers in the ICS survey estimated that on average it cost their business over £6,500 to replace just one lost customer and took, on average 58 man-days of effort. So will I be switching again? All in all I was a happy customer and would comfortably score them 7/10...but that isn’t enough to guarantee I will be back for more. Companies need to focus not just on the performance measures that make the business function but equally on understanding what is of greatest importance to the customer. What factors will have a real impact on a customer’s feelings about who they choose to do business with? Satisfaction drives loyalty, loyalty drives profit and great service in the areas that matter most to customers drives satisfaction. The message is clear; listen to your customers and build your service around their needs or be prepared to work harder and invest more in acquiring some new ones! CI


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Online panel


HOW WE THINK In Yorkshire they say ‘there’s nowt so queer as folk’! When you compare peoples’ attitudes towards gadgets and technology with their behaviours, I think they may be right!

A year for gadgets What a great year for gadgets! 2011 saw cutting edge technology at its best. Technology is developing so fast it’s hard to keep up with what gadgets are available and what advanced vision gadgets are in on the market.

gesture recognition. Its competitors are struggling to keep up but Nintendo has introduced its 3DS, a handheld 3D console that doesn’t require 3D glasses (a gaming first) and this year will see the launch of the Nintendo Wii U and Sony’s Playstation 4.

Do gadgets help your relationship? 15.8%

Apple was extremely busy in 2011, starting the year with the launch of the iPad 2 and like most Apple products this caused a mass media frenzy of consumer interest. In the second half of 2011, the iPhone 4S was introduced with voice recognition and other improved features compared to its predecessor the iPhone 4. This resulted in Apple becoming the biggest smartphone supplier in the world with 35 million phones sold in Q4 alone, making the fourth biggest profit in corporate history, becoming the biggest company in the world by market capitalisation and accumulating a cash pile of almost $100 billion – more than the annual GDP of many countries! As well as the iPhone 4s, lots of other great mobile phones hit the market, mainly based on Google’s Android operating system, such as the Samsung Galaxy S2, which many feel is superior to the iPhone and put Samsung just behind in second place with 34 million smartphones sold in Q4. Amazon’s Kindle, other readers and tablets have caused a revolution in reading habits with e-books outselling paperbacks in the USA as long ago as February last year. The new Kindle Fire has accelerated this trend with Amazon selling 5 times as many e-books in the 2011 Christmas trading compared with a year earlier. Microsoft’s Xbox has transformed family entertainment, especially with its Kinnect

So gadgets are transforming our lives – but for better or worse? A recent YSP survey of 1,000 UK panellists produced some very mixed views. When it comes to the impact of gadgets on our relationships, people are split right down the middle, with half those expressing an opinion thinking they do and half that they don’t.

30.8% 10.0%

18.4% 25.0%

Strongly agree - it does most of the time 10.0% Agree - it does some of the time 30.8% Neither agree or disagree 18.4% Disagree - it seldom does 25.0%

This follows through when you ask people to consider how their lives would be different without gadgets. Marginally over half envisaged a negative impact, with most of those simply saying they would feel out of touch but almost a quarter of respondents saying they would feel insecure, nervous or even ‘naked’! But almost half of us think life would be better. As well as better relationships, 6.6% thought they would ‘be a better person’ and 14% that they ‘would feel liberated’!

Strongly Disagree - it never does 15.8%

Impact of a gadget-free life 6.6%


10.8% 13.4% 7.8%

8.5% 27.3% 14.0%

I would feel insecure and nervous 11.6% I would feel naked without my technology 13.4% I would feel out of touch with the world 27.3% I would feel liberated 14.0% My personal communication skills would improve 8.5%

But this doesn’t explain how they behave. We nearly all take our phones and, often, other gadgets such as laptops or tablets, on holiday with us.

I would have a closer relationship with my partner / loved ones 7.8%

I would have more time for my partner / loved ones 10.8% I would be a better person 6.6%

Gadgets on holiday? 0%





Mobile phone Smartphone





Tablet / ipad

11.0% 5.3%

Other None





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How long could you survive without gadgets / your mobile phone?

Online panel

6.4% 21% 19.7%


So why on earth do 97% of us take our gadgets on holiday – especially when 18% said we could survive for a week without our mobile phone or other gadgets and

22% that we’d be ok for a longer time? Is it because gadgets are addictive? Perhaps somebody should form Gadgets Anonymous!


17.9% Less an hour 6.4% Less than 4 hours 12.0% Less than a day 19.7% 2-3 days 21% A week 17.9% A month 22.5%

Holiday of choice? As we enter the holiday booking season, holiday firms have been aggressively advertising over the past few months, with one of the UK’s major holiday companies, First Choice, taking the milestone decision to provide only all-inclusive packages. It seems like a brave move. YourSayPays recently surveyed 1,000 panellists about their 2012 holiday plans. Although the biggest segment is ‘an independently organised trip’, the second most popular (and biggest available segment for travel agents) was ‘an all-inclusive holiday’. City breaks form a large and growing segment. People’s city of choice is emphatically New York, chosen by twice as many respondents (26%) than 2nd placed Rome, which was closely followed by Barcelona, Paris and Venice. What do they all have in common? ‘Lots of culture

What type of holiday are you planning to take next year?

and history’, which 38% of respondents said makes the perfect city break, ‘great food and fine wine’ (30%) and ‘a good retail experience’ (20%). So with 2012 seeing UK holiday makers likely to choose to holiday in sunnier climates, it was interesting to note that the survey results highlighted that it’s the country suffering from a major financial meltdown that Brits still love to visit with its beautiful islands, sandy beaches, deep blue sea and wonderful food. Greek islands such as Corfu, Kos, Rhodes and Crete are what 20.7% want to visit this year (followed by other hot places such as the Canaries, Cyprus and Sardinia). Holidaying in Greece might not be able to solve the Euro crisis this year but an allinclusive main holiday to Greece could be people’s First Choice. CI


19.9% 36.0%

All inclusive 22.2% Package beach holiday 19.9% Independently organised trip 36.0% City break 17.1% Luxury holiday 4.7%

What would you class as a perfect city break? 5.2% 20.4% 38.2%


Which top city would you like to visit in 2012 ? New York York New Rome Rome Barcelona Barcelona Paris Paris Venice Venice Amsterdam Amsterdam Berlin Berlin Others Others

0% 0%

10% 10%

5.7% 5.7% 4.8% 4.8%

20% 20%

13.6% 13.6% 11.8% 11.8% 10.6% 10.6% 9.4% 9.4%

26.6% 26.6%




30% 30%

Lots of culture and a rich history 38.2% Where I can re-live scenes from my favourite films 5.9% Where I can sample great food and fine wine 30.3% Where there are lots of great shopping opportunities 20.4% Where I can sample some of the trendiest night spots 5.2%

17.5% 17.5%

Which top sun destination would you like to visit in 2012 ?

Greek Greek Isles Isles (Corfu (Corfu // Crete Crete // Rhodes Rhodes // Kos Kos etc) etc) Canaries Canaries Cyprus Cyprus Sardinia Sardinia Turkey Turkey Madeira Madeira Algarve Algarve Croatia Croatia Majorca Majorca Prague Prague Nice Nice Spanish Spanish Costas Costas Ibiza Ibiza Others Others


customerINSIGHT Spring/Summer 2012


0% 0%

10% 10%

10.2% 10.2% 8.6% 8.6% 7.6% 7.6% 6.4% 6.4% 6.1% 6.1% 6.0% 6.0% 4.8% 4.8% 4.8% 4.8% 4.8% 4.8% 4.3% 4.3% 4.2% 4.2% 3.1% 3.1% 8.4% 8.4%

20% 20%

20.7% 20.7%

30% 30%

Mark Forde Business Development Manager 01484 467050

Book Review Case Study

Bounce: The Myth of Talent and the Power of Practice

Fourth Estate

Matthew Syed

‘Talent’ is one of those words that’s defined and interpreted in many different ways, so to start on a definite footing, here are the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) definitions for ‘talent’ and ‘talent management’: Talent consists of those individuals who can make a difference to organisational performance either through their immediate contribution or, in the longer-term, by demonstrating the highest levels of potential. Talent Management is the systematic attraction, identification, development, engagement, retention and deployment of those individuals who are of particular value to an organisation, either in view of their ‘high potential’ for the future or because they are fulfilling business/operation-critical roles. Talent management is also known as HCM (Human Capital Management). The process of attracting and retaining ‘desirable’ employees has become known as “the war for talent”. Based on a view that only a tiny few have the ability to handle what we are told is the enormous complexity of administering large organisations, “the war for talent” has resulted in mouth-watering levels of inflation in the pay and benefits packages on offer to “top talent”. In 1980, for example, the highestpaid director at Barclays Bank received £67,500 (around 10 times the average national salary). The package of the CEO of Barclays is now around £10 million (closer to 400 times the average).


If pay in the public sector is anything to go by, the Prime Minister and cabinet ministers come a long way down the “top talent” league table. According to a report from the TaxPayers Alliance, around 2,290 people in local government received more than £100,000 last year. 48 local authority executives received more than £250,000, an increase from 19 in the previous year. Meanwhile, a report from Incomes Data Services found that 1,600 managers of NHS hospitals and health trusts now earn more than £150,000 a year. So despite there being a massive surplus of people looking for work, companies are apparently having a hard time finding talent. But are they? There is a growing body of evidence that they’ve got all the talent they need. They employ it already. It’s just a matter of whether they are getting the best out of it or not.

Bounce Matthew Syed, bestselling writer and international table-tennis champion (after many hours of practice) combines personal experience with the latest aca-

demic research findings to debunk the talent myths that prevail in many organisations. It’s in the sports arena that the talent myth has blossomed the most. People assume that to be a top tennis player you have to be born with faster reactions or for a top golfer, better hand-eye co-ordination than most people. To become a top chess player or musician, you’d also have to be born with the relevant genetic advantages. In the book, however, Syed explains how it has been established for even the most complex human activities, that natural talent is of relatively low importance because the development of the skills required to


Spring/Summer 2012 customerINSIGHT


CaseReview Study Book

succeed can only be achieved through a massive amount of “purposeful” practice. The end result of this practice is often mistaken for natural talent, but in fact the trait most high achievers have in common is a willingness to work harder than their peers, a very well organised training regime based on the right kind of “purposeful” practice and a belief that this hard work will drive greater improvement and success, not a belief in their innate superiority. There are many very convincing examples in the book, the most amazing of which is a family of Hungarian chess players whose father set himself the objective of proving that he could turn anyone into a world champion with enough “purposeful” practice. He chose chess as the medium simply because nobody believed that you



customerINSIGHT Spring/Summer 2012


could become a chess champion unless you were born with the right kind of mental attributes. All of his three daughters became champions and were amongst the best female chess players ever.

training and, crucially, the absence of subsequent testing to verify that the specified skills have been mastered.

When Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic return a fast serve, it’s not because they have faster reactions, but better anticipation. They can use the movement patterns of their opponent to make more accurate inferences about where the ball is going to go, so they’re in position almost before the ball has been hit. First class cricketers have figured out whether to play off the front or back foot 100 milliseconds before the ball has been bowled. These skills are not innate, but learned and repetitively practised for many hours. The rule of thumb is that it takes at least 10,000 hours of “purposeful” practice over a ten year period to get to the top, and Syed demonstrates how “child prodigies” such as Mozart or Tiger Woods had actually clocked up the 10,000 hours at a very young age.

Another of Syed’s recommendations that has strong relevance to the workplace is his assertion that you can inculcate the “growth” mindset by praising effort rather than talent. If success is linked to talent it breeds complacency amongst the more successful and despair amongst the poorer performers. Either way it is detrimental to organisational success. If you want your current over- and under-achievers to work hard in the future you must always link success to effort. Don’t tell people they’re good at something. Tell them they deserve their promotion, bonus or recognition because they’ve worked really hard, and link that praise in everyone else’s eyes with effort rather than talent.

Purposeful practice I have kept referring to Syed’s descriptor, purposeful practice. This is important because success isn’t assured by 10,000 hours of any old practice. Practice kind of makes perfect. It doesn’t necessarily make you perfect at tennis, chess or golf. It makes you perfect at what you have practised. So if you practise the wrong thing, if you practise bad habits, you will become perfect at consistently repeating those flawed skills. To become a world class performer you must practise the right skills executed in the right way. As well as relevance to sport, this has a business application. It shows that training must be sharply focused on the relevant and precise skills that the employee needs to improve his or her performance and that employees’ learning and subsequent ability to execute those skills must be closely monitored. If necessary the training and practice must be repeated until the goal is attained. Contrast this with the plethora of unstructured, wide ranging workplace

Praise effort not talent

‘Bounce’ was published by Fourth Estate in April 2011 and is priced at £8.99. It is currently available from Amazon for £5.62. CI

Nigel Hill

Founder of The Leadership Factor and Editor of Customer Insight Magazine.

Case Study

“We’ll be showcasing our latest innovations on how we can speak to your customers to get the best insight” PLUS

“We’ll be featuring our new Opinion Dashboard. Come and have a play and discuss how we could add impact to your results” PLUS

· Telephone interviews with difficult to reach audiences · B2B · B2C · Competitor Surveys · Respondent Recruitment · Online Surveys

Listen to Rob speak on June 27th at 12:40pm

· Very competitive online surveys · YSP Panel of 50,000 adults · Panel recruitment and management · Omnibus surveys · Stories for PR · Customer surveys · Customer videos · Brand and company awareness and perceptions


01422 360371

01484 517575


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Customer Insight V2 I1  

Customer Insight is the magazine for managers who are interested in using customer insight (i.e. really understanding what their customers t...