#21 Simplicity, British Airways, relationship research, NPS Podcast


Welcome to the 21st edition of my customer strategy newsletter. The five topics this week are:

  1. Thoughts about ‘simplicity’. It’s a complex subject!
  2. British Airways research update. (They told me what they are going to do.)
  3. Latest blog posts
  4. Notable items from other sites
  5. Looking forward

The complexity of simplicity

I am sure most of us  have said something like “We have to keep things as simple as possible for our customers.” But… what do we mean by that? Different companies take different approaches. I believe simplicity means one of two things in this context. Unfortunately, the two are opposites. In one version of simplicity, you simply say yes to whatever the customer wants. It may take some time to actually deliver what the customer wants. In the other version, you provide a limited number of choices, and can deliver each choice right away.

I don’t think either approach is right or wrong. They are just different. There are businesses, like fast food, where choices have to be limited, or it won’t be fast. There are others, like automobiles, where both approaches work. We see some car brands that offer very few choices, other than the color of the car. This allows dealers to keep the most popular choices in stock. Customers can drive away with their new car shortly after arriving at the dealer. Some brands have twenty different choices of wheel design, five sorts of leather for your seats, each available in four colors, and therefore provide almost infinite permutations and combinations. Whatever you want, the answer is yes, but you may have to wait.

Whatever business you are in, I believe you need to decide which version of simplicity is right for your business and market. Then stick to it.

British Airways update

I have blogged about British Airways’ survey process, and have written about them in one of our books. On top of their tendency to have over 100 screens in their surveys (yes, I have counted them), the main criticism I had was that they never ever wrote back to say what they had improved based on their research. That has now changed. After the most recent Executive Club survey, they wrote to the Bronze members saying that based on their feedback, they would bring back the ability for Bronze members to pick seats at no charge. My retirement last year and my general dislike of transiting through Heathrow mean I have gone from Gold to Silver to Bronze with them over the last three years. I don’t know whether Silver and Gold customers got any feedback. Please let me know. I am quite prepared to change my mind about BA, though not about the horrible transit experience in Heathrow T5, compared to the main continental European airports.


Our latest blog posts

The first two posts of three planned articles on deep customer relationship research are shown below. My Tropicana post surprised me in that it attracted both positive and negative attention. At least nobody has contradicted what I stated about the control distributors and supermarket chains have over farm prices. Older posts are of course still available on the blog page.

image Customer relationship research / surveys for B2B – Second of three articles

The second article in the series covers who to interview in a customer organization, how to perform the interviews, and how to track and report results.

image Why I became disloyal to Tropicana – A story about brand image

I have been fiercely loyal to Tropicana since late 2005. Reading the results of an orange juice comparison test in a Swiss consumer magazine changed my mind, and I don’t expect to buy Tropicana products anytime soon. Read on to understand why.

image Customer relationship research / surveys for B2B – First of three articles

In almost all B2B situations, you have a relatively small number of customers that provide the majority of your revenue. Understanding the views of key individuals in the customer organization is critical to success. You need to do it better than your competitors. These articles will help.


Notable customer experience items from other sites

Wootric blog: There is a correlation between CX and revenue growth

“… and here is the data to back it up.” I came across this article while trying to find public data on the relationship between NPS trends and market share trends. While it does not mention NPS, it does provide interesting reading on the general subject, particularly when referencing two HBR articles. What I found interesting was the attempt to cover both transactional and subscription businesses. The article is here.

CustomerGauge article: Colt Proves NPS® is More Than Just a Number

While she is also promoting their own software, I like this story by Cvetilena Gocheva on the CustomerGauge site. It tell’s the multi-year story of Colt’s NPS journey so far. Colt is a UK-based data center services company. The article is here.


Looking forward

Rob Markey, co-author of The Ultimate Question 2.0, has asked me to record a new Net Promoter System Podcast with him on June 28th. If you are interested in the Net Promoter System, these podcasts are essential listening. I consider them to be the single reference source for the evolution of the system since the book came out. The system has indeed evolved over that time. If you are not familiar with the podcasts, why not listen to one ? Our intention is to cover questions that have been raised on the Net Promoter System Forum group on LinkedIn. You can find the group here.

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