10 Inspiring Zappos Human-centric customer support stories

When support is amazing, it has a value to the organization that is hard to quantify. Think of those companies that are consistently rated as service excellence powerhouses.  What are their lines of business?  Zappos is such a powerhouse, acknowledged by experts worldwide for the service they deliver. It just sold shoes online when it started.

Today it is the epitome of service excellence. Their reputation is their selling point.  There are plenty of online e-tailers that compete in their space.  But their service – oh wow – their **service** is what really sets them apart.

As a result, they don’t focus on competing on price, because they don’t have to. They are selling shoes, yes.  But what are they really selling?

Service. That’s right, the best darned service out there. Crazy good.   We’ve found 10 Zappos story that inspired us and we think you will love them too.

5 big things that make all the difference in a human- centric service organisation

Human-centric services means that the company is committed to providing you tailor-made services and solving your issue through understanding your business and what you need.

This type of service approach is focused on building a relationship with you and your business. It dramatically differs from the more traditional productcentric service that focuses on pushing your products or solving the issue and moving on. Generally, human-centric support means that you will experience a warmer and more “real”  conversation about the services and issues that you are having, allowing for a positive relationship between you and your service provider.

Many of our clients are moving in the direction of human-centric services as it allows for a better understanding of their customers hence providing an near personal experience that adds value to their customers problems. Skipping old fashioned segment approach, but value you for your needs and expectations and that specific point in your “customer life-cycle”. It’s an area in which I had the privilege of assisting my clients to think human-centric, not only from a customer point of view, but also think employee-centric. As they are the key to delivering real human experiences, off course assisted by the technological innovations that are available today.

If a company wishes to improve their services, why can’t they do it? Super service is a tough thing to measure.

Usually i start this type of projects by asking my clients the following question :  “What makes a great customer experience?” it is typical to get numbers and statistics back. There are off course Net promoter scores ( NPS ) ,  service level agreements (SLAs), or key performance indicators (KPIs). In contact center support “95% first contact resolution (FCR)” is typical. “Average speed to answer (ASA) of less than 30 seconds” is another favorite goal.  In customer service support “One hour time to resolution (TTR)”, and target referrals rates. I’ve even heard a mind-numbing “Our objective is to keep more than 90% of all types of calls to under five minutes.” Sometimes I’ll hear algorithms that crunch combinations of these stats i. It sounds simple, you can measure it with software, math, and automation. Perfect.

But if we are trying to care for customers, why are we only measuring performance using such hard measures when communication and service is a soft skill? 

Teams are made up of real people, with hearts and minds. Successful employees will deliver results against whatever thresholds that management sets.  What’s going on in those places where their service is delivered with a heart?  How is it that those teams really love what they do, care for each other, and genuinely feel for their customers?  What’s special there? Can we also measure this and what is the main pillar here?

It has been my experience that a leader in the heart of service teams can increase the quality of customer experience more than the manager who is adept at only using statistics. In this age of big data and metrics available from omni-channel in our service organisations, could it be that stats are better suited for understanding the operational aspect , rather than being the basis for rating customer experience in it’s totality ?

May I suggest : look for different standards of excellence, those with a more human-centric viewpoint. I further challenge us to look at how we lead through inspiring our people to really care about the way they interact with customers and how we can measure culturally aligned


So what does a company have to do in order to empower and enable their employees to be a dominating force in a competitive space ?

Besides dedication and commitment, it takes specific structure and focus on certain things.

I’ve identified 5 big things that make all the difference, and all 5 must be present.

Here’s how a company supports and builds a highly functional service organisation that can consistently deliver a world-class customer experience:



The service employees must be well-trained and totally comfortable with the parameters of their job and beyond! They must be aware, adept, and curious of things outside their immediate job description. This means a complex matrix of curated documentation, knowledge transfer programs, peer coaching, ongoing education, attending customer sessions, and more.



Simplicity comes from sleek, stable, mature services. Robust self service options and agent-centric tools are paramount. 360 degree customer views are a necessity today, as is clean accurate customer data. [note: If yours is an omnichannel organisation, this is a tricky one, from its sheer inherent complexity.]

The company should make sure the support teams have bug-free tools, and be willing to implement tools that employees expresses interest in getting. Employees will think of things that the company never thought of, for their own processes as well as customer-facing processes and even service features. Listen to them. This is gold. Engage in bottom-up continuous improvement programs. Think lean culture!



Businesses do not innovate or service, people do! Your employees are the ones servicing your customers. From sales to logistics, everyone is responsible for their own little part in the overall customer journey. How your employees perform on a daily basis, directly affects your customer experience. The more engaged and satisfied employees are, the more happy they will be to deliver a good experience to customers.



It is a systemic structure that continually offers new knowledge or understanding to the customer in a passive way. In other words, the customer who calls in for support gets something more than just the removal of an irritation. They get something in return; maybe it’s an offer, or a tip or shortcut. But it’s something. And the company needs to make sure the employees can have these things ready to go for customers. Employees should not feel like they have to ‘ditch it’ when a customer calls, or when there is a new service launch.



Cultivate employees’ ability to fix stuff and make people happy, or even decline a problem customer’s unreasonable demand. Take on abusive customers yourself, away from your employees. Your employees usually are in support roles because they like to help people. Service & Support is where loyalty happens. This is where relationships are built. It’s also what feeds your employees’ souls and makes their days memorable. Empower them to have control over their choices, then reward the great ones they make. Celebrate great saves.
Management Summary

When the service teams are constrained through micromanagement of process, policy, and budget, it is opportunity missed and money wasted.

Blind adherence in a randomly selected metric will usually cause unintended consequences. Constraining resources, and discounting service teams’ potential value will yield apathetic employees; the good ones will leave because they are doing the majority of the work for no payback from the organisation, even if they love their colleagues. Without continued efforts to free teams from mundane tasks, the creative ones will exit, making retention of high performers impossible.

If these unfortunate things happen, you will see it. Symptoms of missed opportunity may include high turnover, increased staff absenteeism, missed SLOs/SLAs, declining morale, and declining reputation.

If you see this, fear not. The good news is that it is also entirely reversible, because support personnel genuinely want to see things get better, and they are full of ideas on how to make that happen.

When an organisation empowers that service teams to function like a cherished, valued asset, that company’s service is poised to be a powerhouse of excellence, generating positive reputation and customer loyalty.


Vincent Defour

Digital transformation expert

M +32 495 45 75 71




Winning experiences in the post digital age

Today’s customer experience is characterized by the following:

Expectations are rising at an exponential rate:

  • Customers are adopting new technologies and tools faster than ever, expecting a certain level of convenience and user friendliness across all channels and industries;


  • At the same time they crave for authentic, relevant and emotional experiences that make them feel special and personally addressed.

Customers are not thinking in terms of channels, it’s no longer about what’s digital and what’s not. It’s all about their intrinsic need, emotions and experience.


Your challenge as a business is not only to create relevant customer experiences at the right time and place. It’s also about maintaining consistency of those winning experiences across all channels.


Global and local businesses around us, are slowly adapting to the above customer trends.

  • On one side of the spectrum, we see physical point of sales investing in technology and digital touchpoints within their traditional shopping journey. Think about the use of smartphones while shopping (for example searching product information by scanning QR codes or paying for your groceries with Android Pay or Payconiq), virtual fitting rooms and fully automated self-checkout systems.

At the same time, these originally ‘brick-and-mortar’ players try to emphasize their “physical” strengths by maximizing the emotional customer experience within the shop/agency. This leads to new concept stores (concept store Mediamarkt Wilrijk, CRU, …) where it’s all about sensing, feeling, experiencing…


  • On the other side of the spectrum, we see pure online players like Amazon and Cool Blue opening their own physical shops, because they also believe human interactions matter.



In order to face the above challenges and create winning experiences across all channels, we identified 4 best practice transformation tracks:


Walk the customer talk

Everything starts with truly understanding customer needs. According to Brian Solis, Customer Experience expert, you should architect the ideal customer journey for your target persona’s. Develop your touchpoints around micro experiences that stick.  Use storytelling to emphasize your company’s purpose (authenticity) and make it fast, easy, fun and simple (customer effort score). Think about online retailers who insert a personally relevant handwritten message into your ordered package.


Reinvent your core

It’s one thing to have an amazing marketing department which excels in designing winning experiences but putting these into practice is a business wide undertaking. That’s often the hardest part. As process experts, we still see most of our clients struggling with ensuring continuous customer value across all touchpoints. Common pitfalls are:

  • Troubles aligning business and IT to the ideal customer journey; causing friction and bottlenecks between the client facing roles and the back office;
  • Difficulties to create ‘channel less’ experiences;
  • Mismatch between modern front-end interfaces and tools and obsolete back-office applications; causing waste along the journey and affecting overall user experience;


Get your data sorted out

In addition to aligning and optimizing your processes, you should get your data sorted out. You never had so much data. Think of your social media data, transactional data, process data and all other digital touchpoints… a gold mine of information. The challenge there is to find the right patterns between all data streams in order to turn data into actionable insights for your marketing and sales departments. Personification, which is often seen as the way to raise customer loyalty, can only be achieved with the right algorithms. This requires digital skills and customer understanding across all business departments. Because getting this wrong, mistakes in your attempts for personal messages and services, does more harm than good.


Reinvent the human part

Digital excellence supports convenience and user friendly transactions but brand loyalty requires emotional experiences which you can only achieve via human interactions.  That’s why we believe your employees become key in today’s (post)-digital era. Your employees can help your brand and business on so many levels:

  • Service delivery (correct product/process knowledge and customer centric attitude);
  • Winning experiences (truly engaged and happy employees go the extra mile in delivery, showing passion, empathy and creativity);
  • Free marketing or brand advocates (truly engaged and happy employees will create a positive buzz);

Your challenge is to engage them!

Dorothée Laire

Customer experience architect

M: +32 473 31 60 50

Human interactions are key in our (post)-digital age

The digital era afflicts all sectors and still leads to a lot of insecurity and questions in today’s boardrooms. It’s our human nature to show resistance in a changing world. Every sector, every business can either fear or embrace digitalization.


Today, we notice a positive evolution. More and more sectors, ranging from retail to banking and other B2B services, saw opportunities and have started their digital transformation. Businesses are widely investing in digitizing their processes, building new digital interfaces and offering new digital services to customers.


Along the way companies notice “technology is not the holy grail”.

Technological advancements will be widely available. The tools and interfaces we use as customers and consumers will always evolve… but in the end what’s really changing? We remain human beings, driven by emotions and aspirations. Human emotions are at the heart of every move we make, driving our attitudes and behaviour, not technology. We still have the same basic and social needs, even in the (post)-digital age.


Once all your competitors offer an omnichannel experience and win efficiency through digitization, your competitive advantage deviates to humanity. Building human connections with your customers becomes your critical challenge. Especially in our (post)-digital era where human interactions with brands and businesses become rare and therefore more valuable (law of scarcity). Given the convenience of digital channels, customers who are putting effort into visiting your point of sale or offices, expect a splendid welcome and service!


We see a lot of clients, in various industries, struggling with finding and implementing the right balance between their digital and physical customer interactions. Common challenges are:

  • Ensuring consistency across all channels;
  • Assuring end-to-end convenience or user experience;
  • Crafting and offering emotional experiences;
  • Using data to offer a personalized service;
  • Difficulties to install a customer-centricity across all departments from front to back;
  • Difficulties with engaging employees;


The winners will be the ones who made their digital transformation a human transformation. Sure, you need to excel in your digital capabilities and channels to compete within your industry (operational excellence via automatization/ robotization and offer user-friendly digital services) but in the end you will make the difference with your people. We believe your employees and their evolving role remain key!


Dorothée Laire

Customer experience architect

M: +32 473 31 60 50

NPS-score: a simple metric … but what’s next?

NPS or Net Promoter Score is a powerful metric that is used to gauge the loyalty of your clients to your organization. The Net Promotor Score is based on the idea that an organization can divide their clients into three categories: promotors, passives and detractors. To measure NPS, one simple question is

sufficient: “To what extent, on a scale from 0 to 10, would you recommend [service x] to your friends & family?” This question is ideally followed by an open-ended question “Why did you provide [score y]?” which gives your client the possibility to motivate his or her score and offer suggestions for improvement. Each NPS is related to a specific touchpoint within the customer journey.

NPS has become an important tool to evaluate and optimize your customer service. However, knowing the score is only the first step in increasing customer satisfaction. Driving improvements within your customer service is the ultimate goal.

A key achievement is to turn passives into promoters, and to avoid detractors as much as possible. A high NPS means that your organization has a lot of promoters: people who rate your services with a 9 or 10.  They are enthusiastic and love doing business with you. Yet, a research by Wharton School of Business shows that 83% of satisfied customers are willing to refer products and services, but only 29% of them actually do. If you are able to get your customers more engaged, by converting them into ambassadors, this will lead to more revenue and growth. Hence the rising trends towards more customer advocacy and ambassadorship programs.

Möbius is partnering with a Belgian start-up that provides a very user-friendly NPS tracking software.  With this innovative tracking software you can track the NPS of multiple touchpoints and customer journeys within your company. The software is multi-device, meaning you can gather NPS data via mail, SMS, iPad … Nice features are the simple, user-friendly and insightful dashboards and the possibility to set alerts, enabling your organization to detect negative feedback and immediately react upon it.




With the existing tooling, gathering your NPS becomes easy. But that’s only the starting point…

Keeping track of the scores is one thing, to apply them in a way that benefits your organization, is another. With NPS, you can improve products, enhance customer experience and drive growth, but how? Knowing the score clearly isn’t enough. By not interpreting the score, you miss out on the following: increased sales and revenue, insight in customer turnover, turning passive customers into promoters, and discovering which services can be further improved. Promoters and detractors need individual attention because they can offer valuable insights into your customer experience. You can get feedback from detractors and find out what they dislike about your organization or service. Promoters, on the other hand, can specify why they feel connected to your organization, and suggest desirable improvements.

Once all those NPS data come in, the following questions typically arise:

  • How do you convert passives into promotors?
  • How do you convert promotors into real ambassadors?
  • How do you respond to detractors (convert them to promotors)?
  • How do you link your data sets to become smarter (CRM data, NPS data, cash registry …)?
  • How do you implement a customer centric culture (NPS philosophy) amongst all employees?
  • How do you ensure the representativeness of your NPS data, making sure you keep measuring the right touchpoints, moments of truth?

Möbius supports you in answering these questions. We offer a project-based approach to create a flawless customer service and facilitate a customer-focused culture, which will ultimately lead to higher revenue and growth.


Multichannel vs. omnichannel. A story of consistency and customer centricity.

The term omnichannel is all around us. It is often seen as the only way to survive for retailers, as is seconded by Gino Van Ossel, Marketing Professor at Vlerick Business School in his book ‘Omnichannel in Retail’.[1] Möbius is a partner of Vlerick Business School and in this blog, we’d like to elaborate on his book and discuss the importance of omnichannel.

In many news articles and blogs, the terms ‘multichannel’ and ‘omnichannel’ are used interchangeably. However, they differ greatly. Often, when an author makes the distinction, omnichannel is termed as ‘multichannel 2.0’ and while one can understand the reasoning behind this terminology, it wrongly suggests that both omnichannel and multichannel are fundamentally based on the same principles. However the two are fundamentally different both with regards to the organization (internally) and to the customer (externally). The difference explains the main reason why omnichannel is necessary to survive, according to Gino Van Ossel.


Now, what is the difference?

Over the last couple of years and decades, the different steps that a consumer takes before the actual purchase of a product changed dramatically. In the old days, consumers went to a shop, received information from the shop assistant, chose a product and took it home. Now, consumers can shop using many different channels (physical shop, app, website, etc.) and they receive information via all sorts of ways such as recommendations from their friends on social media, ‘independent’ customer reviews, newsletters, in-app advertisements, etc. The customer journey nowadays puts spider webs to the blush.

How the different channels, available to the customer, relate to each other explains the difference between omnichannel and multichannel. Multichannel refers to the availability of multiple channels, hence multichannel. These channels, for example physical stores and a web shop, are installed by the company and are at the disposal of the consumer. However, in multichannel, these different channels operate separately from each other (often engraved in the company by separate reporting structures and revenue goals). In a sense, a multichannel offering is passive since one channel exist freely and independently next to another.

The term omnichannel, on the other hand, indicates that all different channels are completely consistent with each other and form, so to say, one ‘omni-channel’. As such, the different channels are aligned in an active way. In omnichannel, the different channels that are available to the customer function much more as simply different ways of addressing the company, without being different content-wise.

Although the difference seems small, the impact for both the customer (external) and the company (internal) is important.

Consistency – the external omnichannel

Let us illustrate the external difference between omnichannel and multichannel by an example.[2] A customer in the USA wanted to buy a treadmill online at Target. However, the price of the treadmill in the eBay store of Target was much lower than the price of the treadmill in the Target web shop. The customer bought the treadmill via eBay, but at the moment of delivery, the trucker could not unload the package since he did not know the package was heavy. When the customer ordered a new delivery date, his treadmill seemed to have moved to a warehouse of Target. After some calls with the contact center of both the shipment company and Target, no one could tell exactly what went wrong. Frustrated, the customer sent out a tweet and to his surprise he got a quick and helpful response. He was asked to send some documentation but after doing so, he received an answer from Target that they could not help him since he bought the treadmill in the Target store on eBay and not in the Target web shop.

There’s no doubt that the customer experience could have been better in this example. But most importantly, each time the customer contacted Target via a different channel (normal web shop, eBay store, shipment company, Twitter, customer contact center…) he felt like he was interacting with a different company. The most striking example, but which is seen quite often, is a difference in price between different channels. Offering an optimal customer experience would require having a consistent approach towards the customer via each channel. This is exactly what omnichannel aims to achieve.

Customer centricity – the internal omnichannel

Defining omnichannel and explaining the added value of consistency is easy, but implementing it is another task. The inconsistent multichannel offering is the consequence of the internal organization of the company. Traditionally, companies tend to maximize the performance of each channel separately. The company is likely to be organized in ‘swim lanes’, according to Stacy Schwartz, a digital marketing expert, consultant, and adjunct professor at Rutgers Business School.[3] In a sense, this internal structure is pushed out to and reflected in the customer experience (this is sometimes termed ‘inside-out’). This results in the consumer interacting with different departments of the company when using a different channel.

According to Gino Van Ossel, having such silos for each new channels is not a problem per se, but it is an intermediate stage towards an omnichannel offering1: “Typically, a small team starts selling via a new channel and only the project leader is focusing on the new channel fulltime. When the channel is gaining importance, it becomes a separate silo, parallel to other silos in the organization. This prevents the initiative from being overruled by the interests of the existing business.”1

As a result, implementing an omnichannel offering is fundamentally different from a multichannel offering. Being a truly omnichannel company might well be the perfect example of customer centricity since this involves putting the customer first and building the company around his or her specific needs or journey, not the other way around. As Rik Vera, CEO of nexxworks, puts it: “As a company, you used to be the flower and you needed to attract as much bees as possible. What we see now is the customer saying “I’m not a bee, I’m the flower, I’m in the center”. As a consequence, companies can no longer define or map a customer journey. At best, they can monitor it.”[4]

Transforming the company in a customer-centric way is often termed ‘breaking down the silos’. Indeed, companies remain to be organized in silos that ‘throw data over the wall’ from one silo to another. Breaking down these walls (both technical and organizational) is far from easy and will take a significant amount of time. It is, however, the only way to go. In the end, how could a customer experience a truly seamless experience if the involved teams in the company cannot work together seamlessly?

Holacracy – customer centricity as an organizational structure

Implementing an omnichannel offering will require companies to invest in technology, infrastructure, marketing and almost all other aspects of their business. In recent years, a new management and organizational system was invented to make a company truly customer-centric: Holacracy. In literature, the online clothing store Zappos is often given as an example. To continue the metaphor of Rik Vera, CEO of nexxworks: “Zappos tries to be a swarm of bees and to see each of their clients as a flower. ‘Try’ is very important since they do a couple of things, learn from it and adjust constantly.” They realized that if you want to put the customer centrally, you cannot force them into customer processes. Therefore, the employees of Zappos are not forced into specific processes either. Zappos provided some key values and gave a lot of empowerment to their employees. This new organization system decentralized decision power and distributed power in the company in such a way that employees can perform their jobs the way they want as long as they put the customer centrally and keep focused on the company values.


At Möbius, we believe Holacracy has many benefits and is a great tool to organize a company in such a way that it can react very agile to a changing environment. One year ago, a part of our company started to adopt the Holacracy. The benefits of this organization structure became clear, which is why some of our employees became certified trainers to implement Holacracy. Currently, we started to organize our entire company via the principles of Holacracy. Therefore, we defined clear company values and our organizational structure is changing in such a way that all of our employees are empowered in their jobs. In this way, we are much more customer-centric and we believe that we can assist companies better in making a similar transformation as a part of their road to an omnichannel offering

[1] https://www.vlerick.com/nl/about-vlerick/news/omnichannel-betekent-overleven

[2] http://marketingland.com/opposite-omni-channel-targets-last-mile-e-commerce-customer-service-failure-112164

[3] http://www.econtentmag.com/Articles/Editorial/Feature/Multichannel-vs-Omnichannel-Marketing-Is-There-a-Difference-and-What-Does-It-Mean-to-You-102361.htm

[4] http://www.bloovi.be/nieuws/detail/als-je-je-klanten-centraal-stelt-moet-je-je-medewerkers-ook-centraal-stellen

Top 10 Global consumer trends for 2017

Consumers are now more demanding of products, services and brands than ever before and are using digital tools to articulate and fulfil their needs. Euromonitor sees the following trends, emerging worldwide.



In 2017, 25% of the world population will be over the age of 50, a record number.

These consumers aged over 50 are transforming what it means to be older in terms of lifestyle and are more demanding in their consumption needs. New business ideas for the baby boomer market include chefs, online dating sites and yoga instructors for those with health issues. “Midorexia” is a label for the middle-aged and older consumers who acts younger than their years. This label highlights the shifting status and needs of a consumer groups living and working for longer.  Some big and prestigious companies such as Goldman Sachs and PWC now organize re-entry internships programs for ‘older people’. Fashion campaigns continue pushing older role models. Technology is becoming an obvious opportunity for the soon booming “Longevity economy” with robotic and AI derived technologies that will help older consumers take better care of themselves in their own homes.



Consumers in training

Younger “consumers in training” have a voice that goes beyond “pester power” (the ability of children to pressure their parents into buying them things). This gives them a more active role in what is purchased, often turning them into functioning in-house shopping consultants. Children are navigating the digital world including e-commerce with ease.


Extraordinary consumers who fall into atypical consumer categories in terms of height, weight, dietary needs, physical ability … are pushing to see their needs better met. This is for example leading to fashion sizing for “real people” (global plus-size market is growing in line with the increasing obese population).  The “Healthwear” is an apparel niche that offers solution-based fashion design for ill and disabled consumers.


Faster shopping: in 2017 consumers are impatient, “IWWIWWIWI” – “I want what I want when I want it”. Consumers want to shop faster and secure their convenience. As an answer to rapid convenience Amazon is working on ‘an under 30 minute home delivery service’ using drones. “Proximity-aware tech” is growing in popularity and getting more sophisticated. It enables retailers to send relevant and personalized messaged to passers-buy, by sending alerts from in-store beacons directly to their mobiles phones. Many consumers find these targeted and more relevant promotions less irritating than regular ads as they are being contacted within a specific context where they can act upon.


Get real: the allure of authenticity

Authenticity is a standout consumer value in 2017, heralded by everyone from change makers and celebrities to supermarkets and chefs. Visual culture in an age of digital communications is at the forefront of discussions about authenticity. Social media and selfie culture have affected insecurity about appearance, exacerbating body dysmorphia in some. The Japanese concept wabi-sabi is advocating the beauty to be found in imperfection and the authentic. Different industries are adapting their offering around this “get real trend”: ranging from authentic holiday experiences, outdoor sport experiences, ‘natural’ fashion items to food experiences.


Identity in flux

The 2017 consumer is harder to characterize as the nature of identity itself is in flux. The existing tensions between global versus local have been highlighted by the migrant crisis, which questions national identity. Additionally, individuals are showing a more elastic understanding of ethnicity and sexual identity. Brands are forced to rethink who their audiences really are within different countries. The “We before me trend” arises among younger consumers, confirming an aspiration towards altruism and a smaller ego.


Personalise it

2017 consumers expect elements of personalisation in mass produced as well as upscale items. The so-called “Experential luxury” is the shift from purchasing luxury goods to enjoying services. A shift from “having to being”. With the new infinite capacity to gather client information, customers expect brands to fulfill and even predict their needs. Personalisation is also about adding a personal face to a brand. Popular clothing etailer ASOS (as seen on screen) has an #AsSeenOnMe feature in which shoppers can “Get inspired by how other customers have styled this item” and add their own look to the gallery.



In 2017, shoppers pay more attention to their post-purchase experience. Post-purchase contact with the company’s representatives, the medium and the tone of the response become critical parts of the customer journey, shaping their view of the business.

With online reviews, customers influence the post-purchase experience. This online sharing of buying experiences is considered as a new source of consumer power.


Privacy & security

The 2017 consumer wants safety in a perceived volatile world, particularly for its nearest and dearest, and is looking to tech tools as aids in this quest.


Wellness as status symbol

The desire to be fit and healthier seems to be almost universal. Healthy living is becoming a status symbol, as more consumers opt to flaunt their passion for wellness through paying for boutique fitness sessions, “athleisure” clothing, food with health-giving properties and upscale health and wellness holidays.


Dorothée Laire

Customer experience architect

M: +32 473 31 60 50

The Net Promoter Score (NPS) vs Customer Effort Score (CES)

It’s been 14 years since the Net Promotor Score appeared in a scientific article as “The One Number You Need to Grow”. Today, there isn’t a boardroom meeting imaginable without the Net Promotor score (NPS) as important KPI. Nevertheless, the Customer Effort Score (CES) is increasingly gaining ground. The CES is quite a new metric that also addresses the relationship between customer satisfaction and loyalty. Both metrics have their pros and cons. When do we need to use which metric? And is it really necessary to choose?

The Net Promoter Score – NPS

The Net Promotor Score is based on the idea that an organization can divide their customers into three categories: promotors, passives and detractors. The customers can be categorized by asking one simple question: “How likely is it that you would recommend [organization X] to a friend or colleague?”.

  • Promoters: the customers who answered the question with a 9 or 10.
  • Passives: the customers who answered the question with a 7 or 8.
  • Detractors: the customers who answered the question with a 6 or lower.

The Net Promoter Score is the percentage of promoters minus the percentage of detractors. Note that the NPS can also be negative.


The main critique on the NPS is that it does not measure the actual customer behavior: customers make a prediction about their future behavior when answering the NPS question. However, scientific research has shown that customers find it easier to assess a recent and real experience. In addition, critics argue that it is not only important to measure the likeliness of recommendation to others, but mainly the customer’s eagerness to continue to do business himself or to even enlarge his commitment. Unfortunately, the NPS does not offer this perspective.

So why does one use this metric so much? The great strength of this metric lies in its simplicity. With just one simple question, two key points are measured: customer loyalty and future financial growth. Promotors will after all remain the customers of your organization, while there is also accretion of new clients. Also, each employee within your organization will understand the NPS after a brief explanation. Hence, the popularity of the model makes it easier for marketers to use the metric and benchmark results.



The Customer Effort Score – CES

The Customer Effort Score is based on the finding that customers ‘punish’ an organization easier than reward them. News about a bad service-experience usually reaches twice as many people than a good service-experience.[1] For this reason, reducing customer dissatisfaction yields sometimes more than increasing the customer satisfaction.

The Customer Effort Score charts how much effort a customer needs to put in during his or her customer journey. Elements such as time, money and risk are understood as effort. When measuring the CES, the focus is on a specific process of service, and the customer is asked to review this process by the criterion of difficulty/ease. It is necessary that the customer has been in contact with the specific point in the process that is being measured. The amount of effort experienced by the customer is measured by prompting the question: “How much effort did you personally have to put forth to handle your request?”.

The customer can answer this question on a five-point scale, with the lowest score standing for very little effort and the highest score for a lot of trouble. A low score implies that the process took the customer little effort. The chance that this customer will turn to the competitor is therefore low – why change when the service runs smoothly?

Organizations can create loyal customers by solving problems quick and easy. The swift handling of complaints can provide a strong sense of loyalty by the customer. This way, one bends a negative experience into a positive experience

CES correlates well with customer behavior because of the complexity and multitude of products and services. In addition, the fact that a customer sometimes even gets different answers from the customer service depending on whom one speaks, causes frustration. Fix the basics first.

But ease is not everything. Compared to a fancy restaurant, it is easier to make a choice from the menu of a fastfood chain and to place an order, it is easier to eat (you do not even need cutlery) and the whole process takes just a minimum of time. Yet there are people who prefer to eat at the fancy restaurant instead of the fastfood place, even for a multiple of the price. Ease is only one dimension of the complex interaction between a customer and an organization.



Practical example NPS and CES[2]

Imagine you are an energy supplier. Your main task is to make sure that your customers can purchase energy from you without problems. If this goes well, your customers will not shout it from the rooftops. Nowadays we find it quite normal that the light is on. Your service only stands out as soon as the light is off. At that moment, you can make a difference by solving the problem as quickly as possible, so the light is back on without too much difficulty for the customer. How well you handle this situation, is measured with the Customer Effort Score. Therefore, it is important that your customer actually had to deal with a power outage and with your service at that time.

But what if you are an accountant? First and foremost, customers come to you to check their figures or to put their administration into your hands. If your organization performs well on these tasks, your customers will be satisfied but it will not be striking. If you think as an accountant along with your customer and for example alert him on saving possibilities, you deliver an additional value without request of your customer. This added value and the exceeding of expectations leads to more satisfied customers who are delighted to share their good experiences. This recommendation intention can be measured by the Net Promoter Score. However, it is never certain whether customers will convert this intention into actual behavior.

Which metric is best?

Both metrics have their pros and cons. NPS measures the entire relationship between the customer and the organization and makes a prediction of the customer’s future behavior. A customer can recommend an organization but it is never guaranteed that the customer remains a customer. The NPS score is affected by the customer service but also by quality, price and brand. If an organization solely focuses on NPS, one will not be able to determine which customer service improvements will have the greatest impact on loyalty. From that point of view, the CES may be of interest. This metric only focuses on the ease of handling customer problems. So in this case, it is essential that the customer has been in contact with the questioned process. CES provides more useful insights to address the obstacles that appear during the service experience. NPS and CES provide answers to various questions but are strongly interrelated.

On which question an organization will focalize, depends on the specific aim of the organization. To that end, earlier practices can be an inspiration.


[1] White House Office of Consumer Affairs

[2] Customeyes

Physical retail stores need a reboot. Here’s why.

In a recent study, the Digital Transformation Institute at Capgemini investigated the value of physical retail stores for consumers by means of a global survey spanning 6,000 consumers and 500 retail executives.[1] Results from this study highlight several factors that point to a mismatch between changing customer expectations and the current physical retail stores. Here, we summarize some of their key insights.

Shopping behavior of 21st century consumers has changed dramatically and the physical store is losing ground compared to e-commerce. One third of consumers prefers washing dishes over visiting a retail store and 40% sees shopping in physical stores as just another chore that has to be done. Needless to say, the physical store has lost its charm.


Consumers in a digital age

In recent years, consumers have discovered several benefits of e-commerce such as home delivery or easy price comparisons. Current physical stores often function merely as a space to buy products, which is why consumers feel no urge to visit them.

Installing physical stores that regain interest from the digital customer will require adding some functionalities to current stores. Checking product availability before a store visit or same-day delivery of in-store purchased products are some of the most important consumer expectations of physical stores. However, this will only match the functionalities of the store with those of the digital channels and will not lure customers to physical stores. Therefore, to regain interest from consumers, the store should leverage some benefits it has over digital channels such as the ability to touch and feel products or the possibility to engage all five senses of consumers in a full customer experience.


Mismatch between customer and store

On average, 81% of retail executives believe a physical store to be important, while only 45% of consumers agree. Researching the Net Promoter Scores (NPS) for several brands, revealed that retailers underestimate customer dissatisfaction to a large extent. The mismatch between what consumers want, as was explained in the first paragraph, and what stores offer is expressed in several frustrations during the shopping experience. Long queues, difficult comparisons between products or not being able to locate products are some of the reasons why consumers avoid going to physical stores. This is confirmed by the result that 71% of consumers would be happy to bypass retailers and buy directly from manufacturers through small, local retail stores to handle the last-mile logistics.


Retailers are lagging behind

The survey showed that 54% of retail executives think the digitization of physical stores is happening too slow. Three reasons are mentioned as to why this digitization is not gaining speed: ROI of digital initiatives is difficult to assess, store managers/associates are not promoting digital initiatives enough and digital requirements such as Wi-Fi or data integration are still being rolled out.

Next to these digitization obstacles, another mismatch between retailers and consumers is observed in the sense that not all digital in-store initiatives are useful. Those that do implement the right initiatives are termed the ‘digital sprinters’. Some key characteristics of these retailers are that they have a clear vision and strategy, they prioritize digital transformation and have strong governance practices. They also use data to the best of their knowledge and motivate people to relentlessly focus on customer experience.


The new physical retail store

As was stated above, matching digital channels on proximity, selection and price is a must, but will not lure consumers to physical retail stores. Physical stores are obliged to go the extra mile and prioritize customer experience. In general, appealing to consumers of the 21st century will require injecting technology into the physical stores. However, this does not mean adding some fancy high-techy stuff to the store, but applying technology as enabler to address consumer requirements.

Several initiatives (usually powered by niche startups) showed benefits of some interesting technology applications. The benefits are mostly found in boosted sales, although cost reductions can be achieved as well. Some examples of customer-facing initiatives are personalized messaging, in-store navigation, facilitating social experiences or in-store convenience (e.g. cell phone chargers). Technology can also affect operations by supporting store associates, installing robotics for inventory management or using in-store analytics.


The road ahead for retailers

Next steps for retailers depend on their current situation. ‘Early gainers’ have realized some benefits of digitization, but should scale their efforts. Usually they should focus on using consumer data better to boost customer experience. ‘Strugglers’ have invested heavily in wide digitization initiatives, but have failed to realize the expected benefits. According to the survey, these retailers should rethink their vision and governance for the digital future. ‘Laggards’, at last, are failing at each aspect of a digital transformation. To boost their efforts, prioritizing digitization at the C-level is a crucial initial step for them.


 Möbius to the rescue

As the survey showed, unlocking benefits of digitization is not easy and involves tackling many different aspects. Möbius can offer the required expertise and experience to assist companies to succeed in the digital transformation from vision to implementation. At Möbius, our approach to digital transformation consists of addressing these different aspects through several steps:

Walk the customer talk: get to know the specific needs of your targeted consumers

Reinvent your core: rethink daily operations to support the desired outcome

Inject technology: use technology as an enabler in the customer experience

Stabilize your culture: install a culture of digital leadership and an innovative mindset

 Read More about how we can help you 


Simon Wostyn
+32 479 51 32 12

[1] Available at: https://www.capgemini-consulting.com/resource-file-access/resource/pdf/retail-store-research_dti.pdf

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