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Customer Centric Approach Case Study

It’s not enough to use technology to deliver a personalised experience on a website, brand’s have to create and measure its emotional impact across every channel to help build relationships and stand out from the competition.

At the Festival of Marketing 2015, held over two days at the Tobacco Dock in London this November, there is an entire stage devoted to the emerging role of emotions in customer experience.

Here speakers will discuss how to create connected journeys and marry together datasets, tech infrastructures and teams, in order to create a customer centric culture.

In the meantime, let’s take a look at some other useful case studies.


In 2012 Macmillan research found that people affected by cancer were in need of additional support with everyday practical tasks such as shopping, ironing or cleaning.

It also discovered that one in four people newly diagnosed with cancer in the UK lack support from family and friends, which equates to 70,000 people every year.

The main aim for Macmillan’s Team Up service was to create a region-specific, online marketplace which could help to provide practical support to people affected by cancer.

The project needed to empower cancer sufferers to seek help with day-to-day tasks from members of their local community. It was vital that the service was safe, easy to use, accessible and available across all devices.

Additionally, Macmillan needed to recruit more volunteers and appeal to a younger demographic.

One of the main challenges would be recruiting early adopters to test early iterations. Another would be differentiating Team Up from other local Macmillan services.

Team Up used a series of digital practices to deliver real-world services within its pilot site of Brighton and Hove.

Macmillan embraced new technologies, running the project mobile-first and introducing pioneering software such as Veridu to verify user’s identity at point of registration.

Macmillan’s local development team worked in fortnightly agile sprints, raising and prioritising tickets before deploying changes.

A unique brand identity was developed to ensure Team Up had a distinct visual appearance, differentiating it from other Macmillan services in Brighton and Hove.

A dedicated Community Manager spent time working with local groups to sign people up pre-launch. Macmillan ran bi-weekly user testing sessions, to ensure members of the community fed into the project, to help build trust and loyalty in the service.

Team Up complemented the existing support offering in Brighton and Hove by sharing resources while offering something new.


Team Up has seen steady growth and by June 2014 had exceeded its registration KPIs (key performance indicators) by 40%.

In the offline world, tasks are on average connected to a volunteer in less than two hours. The initial target was a turnaround time of under three days. Tasks are carried out, on average, within two days.

And as of June 2014:

  • Team Up has had an average conversion rate of 8.4%
  • 67% of people who click ‘get started’ carry on to become a Team Upper
  • From step two of registration, 93% continue to complete their registration.

Vodafone UK

Vodafone UK developed a graphical and interactive representation of its network performance, which is a first for the UK telecoms market and meant that a heavily technical subject was made simpler for customers.

The main objective was to reduce network related queries into call centre via a self-serve tool and create a system for communicating planned outages to those customers affected.

The tool had to be easy to maintain and hold the ability to update in real time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It should also improve network specific T-NPS scores.

Vodafone kicked off a substantial cross-channel working group, touching areas of the business such as online, network operations, service operations, public relations, technology, security and a third party supplier (Aricent).

Initially, the project was led by a technology team and involved translating network information into online messages. UX designers soon joined the project to ensure the customer was at its heart.

Vodafone carried out extensive usability studies with the public to validate graphic design and user experience before implementing, analysing and ultimately improving it.

The team built a system where information could be updated on-the-fly by field engineers via a network operation centre, linked to an email notification centre.

Affected users can now register their email address with the system, which then sends an email to those registered as soon as the issue is reported as closed with the network operations centre.


  • 40% increase in visitor traffic since launch
  • 25% reduction in network-related topics posted on the forum
  • 66% reduction in views of network-related forum topics
  • Since launch, it has been able to decommission the forum for communicating network issues, reducing manual intervention from our social operations team
  • 9% reduction in network related complaints
  • 54% reduction in escalated queries requiring a customer call back
  • 13% improvement in network related T-NPS
  • 90% improvement in time to load faults online for customer viewing

Thomas Cook

Thomas Cook wanted to establish direct relationships with its target audience, and particularly non-existing Thomas Cook customers.

The travel operator was also keen to have more influence in its customers’ online journeys and obtain a better understanding of their purchase lifecycle.

Thomas Cook launched a highly targeted lead generation campaign and travel survey to capture information on future buying intentions and specific customer requirements, which have a bearing on their decision to buy.

A nurture programme was also implemented to deliver individualised messaging and increase user engagement. Once the survey was completed, consumers were immediately presented with a choice of headline offers or redirected to the website.

Display retargeting tags were embedded into the campaign to enable Thomas Cook to deliver personalised display banners to respondents.

Once the nurture campaign had ended, the customer data, including all click affinity, response and survey data, was immediately fed into the Thomas Cook newsletter programme to become part of the overall new CRM strategy.


During the most recent campaign, more than 15,000 leads were collected.

Email engagement rates increased by more than 30% and open rates were twice the national benchmark average. Click rates averaged in double digits, more than three times higher than the national average, and far in excess of the standard newsletter program.

The results achieved just as much success from an ROI perspective, achieving an ROI of 7.5:1 in a three-month period post registration.

RS Components

Despite search engine marketing delivering 10m visits to the RS Components websites each month, customer feedback and analytics showed that its user experience was not conducive to a quick and efficient process, with 70m customers leaving the site at search stage over the last year.

With conversion being central to the business, RS Components knew it needed to improve its online experience. A huge task involving changes to 60 websites, mostly in local language.

Customer feedback from online surveys and real-time customer lab testing identified the following key priorities:

  • Speed: due to the accelerating pace of technology many engineers are under immense pressure to be first to market with their innovations
  • Ease of identifying products: not being able to find a product or confirm users have found the right products was causing significant levels of frustration and dissatisfaction
  • Range reliability: 47% of customers come to the site knowing the exact product they wanted. In such cases they simply wanted to be able to input the manufacturer’s part number and find it in stock.

With this in mind, any improvements to the user experience needed to drive a 0.5% increase in overall conversion and make a contribution towards RS Component’s financial targets.

Data showed that 20% of searches returned zero results, causing low customer satisfaction.

So RS Components introduced the following measures to improve the customer experience:

  • Search term correction
  • Improvements to search result categorisation and presentation
  • Improvements to facetted search, enabling customers to filter results and see faster results in real time
  • Search that recognises double byte characters for China and Japan
  • Mobile search

And within purchasing and tracking:

  • Shared order history: engineers could now track the history of orders placed by anyone in the company, using any online or offline channel from trade counters to mobile
  • Guest checkout: with 57% of purchases being unplanned, customers could now purchase with only an email and delivery address
  • Express checkout: buyers could go straight from their shopping basket to order confirmation in one click


Kitchen garden hotel THE PIG was keen to improve its online customer experience. Additionally it wanted to get to grips with its customer needs, and build an online strategy around them which would ultimately lead to fewer clicks to purchase.

Improving the online booking process was of primary importance, and was a core objective for the project.

THE PIG enlisted the help of Etch, and initially spent time analysing the hotel’s customer journey, and most specifically the path to purchase, to understand the time it was taking to book a stay.

This research provided the intelligence needed to map out a new online strategy, which placed the customer at the centre.

Central to the project was the need to improve the customer experience of the onsite booking journey. Etch worked with Micros, utilising its Opera Reservation System (ORS), to create a customised booking system which had the capacity to manage the five hotel locations.

The team was given direct access to the application-programming interface so that it could design a customer experience which met the needs of THE PIG hotel’s customers.

A further part of the customer engagement programme was to ensure that the right messaging was being communicated to potential and existing customers throughout the path to purchase. THE PIG worked with Etch to ensure this was carried across all of its display advertising, email, social media, search and referral traffic.


As a direct result of the project, and particularly the new booking engine, THE PIG hotel has seen a 250% growth in online revenues over a two-year period.

Additionally, over the last 12 months, THE PIG has achieved a 319% ROI on managed PPC activities, a 965% ROI on non-branded organic search terms, and a 1,943% ROI on email marketing activities, which were all carried out as part of the new customer engagement strategy.


When AO.com set out to expand its offer with a move into the AV category, it acknowledged the need to put the user experience at the heart of the new offer and set itself the objective of breaking new ground in the way brown goods are retailed online.

The starting point for this was to understand the customer journey, with insights demonstrating that AV consumers want to be able to view a product on a site across every device. As far as users are concerned, the internet is the internet and they expect a retailer’s site to perform equally as well across all devices.

The AV market was reviewed and AO.com concluded that was tired, static and really not meeting the needs of the consumer. The online offers were overcomplicated, too jargon heavy and populated with huge ranges that were hard to distinguish.

The brand demystified the jargon, provided greater explanation of the technologies, provided a reasonable sized range of quality brands with no own label product, and provided the opportunity to have products installed at point of delivery.

TV video reviews by AO.com’s own experts deliver informative content that sits on the product page, interactive 360 degree images recreate a showroom experience online and additional presenter-led videos explain features by individual manufacturer, providing detail on what the key features are and how to use them.

The brand also supported the consumer journey with a series of curated collections to help them buy the right TV for their individual viewing needs. So those in the market for TVs for sport, movies or all-round family use will be guided to the right product through dedicated ‘collections’ pages.

Video is also used to sell sound and educate the consumer on how different sound products work and the benefits and restrictions of the products AO.com has on offer.

On top of the segmented product offer and rich media content, the brand also offered two types of installation (stand mounted or wall mounted) with its same day and free next day delivery offer.

The service again differentiates ao.com from its competition, as many of the retailers currently offering this service don’t do so at point of delivery, often using a third party service to carry out the installation days later.


  • Average order value is consistently at £50 higher than the market average
  • Both orders and visits are on the increase, growing daily
  • The brand is trading customers up, over-indexing on large screen sizes and Smart TVs
  • Attachment rate is higher than the market average, meaning people are buying more than one AV product from AO.com.

Want to know more about how brands are using customer experience as a differentiator? Senior marketers from some of the UK’s biggest brands will be offering invaluable insight on the ‘Customer Experience’ stage at this year’s Festival of Marketing in November. To find out more and book tickets for the event click here.

Visit the store

It’s 10 PM on a Monday and you’re checking your emails one last time on your mobile device before you check out for the evening. There’s an email from someone who just abandoned their cart.

In it, the abandoner explains that the reason he didn’t finish checking out was because he thought your prices were a bit on the high side. Being the good business owner that you are, you jump at the possibility to have conversation with a potential customer about your products.

10 minutes and a $100 gift card later, you’ve just made your newest customer.

When you ask them later what influenced their final buying, they say the answer was easy, “When a CEO of any company answer directly to my email at 10 PM on Monday I know that I can trust that company.”

Having such a dedicated owner, it’s no wonder then that the company behind this story, Nest Bedding - Organic Mattress and Bedding, has sold more than a million worth of product in the last 90 days.

This is the story of how Joe Alexander’s hard work and industry knowledge paid off to find success in the competition rich world of selling mattresses online.

Setting Up Shop

Image Via Nest Bedding

Nest Bedding started back in 2012 with a single retail location and an online store. From the very beginning, the business was designed to be a “Brick & Click”, where they display products in a relatively small showrooms, and process all of their orders online.

Using this strategy, this family run business has opened 4 showrooms in less than 3 years. 

"At the very beginning, the point of the website was to act like an information hub that would give visitors an idea on what to expect from our retail location which in return acted as kind of a showroom for customers to come in and really get the feel of our products. Buying mattresses and bedding online was not that common and people had their fears, so having a retail location was a must" says Joe Alexander, owner/CEO of Nest Bedding.

Because all their manufacturing and shipping is handled by a trusted partner, Nest doesn’t worry about manufacturing or warehousing.

This allows Nest to focus on what’s important - sales and marketing. The biggest shift that has happened to the company is funnily enough not the expansion of retail locations but the evolution of their web presence.

I'll never move away from Shopify -it's a logical, simple platform. It just works, a no-brainer.

Choosing an Ecommerce Provider to Power In-Store & Online

Having been in the mattress business for many years, Joe knew what to expect when from the manufacturing and retail side of the business. His biggest blind-spot in the beginning  was in choosing an ecommerce provider.

Not knowing a lot about different ecommerce platforms,he did what anyone would do and Googled “ecommerce platforms.” 

"After researching and reading up on all the major players in the ecommerce space I decided to go with Shopify simply because it was the easiest one to manage and setup.

One really big plus, that made the decision making easier, was the selection of apps that they offered. I didn’t grow up techie, so having a simple plug and play interface made adding additional functionality a breeze."

Screenshot via Nest Bedding

Remember the hesitant buyer from the beginning of this story? Joe was able to  reply to that  customer because of an app that he had purchased months earlier for his Shopify Plus powered store.

The app sends out an automated email for every potential customer that abandons their shopping cart. Setup  took only minutes and it has paid for itself with just one customer.

Each app is like a another employee, it helps me with providing a better service for my customers


Product - check. Place to sell - check. Marketing?

Getting The Word Out

Starting out, Nest Bedding didn’t have a lot of money to spend on marketing. So when the time came to get the word out about the company to attract customers, Joe used what he calls “The Forrest Gump marketing approach.”

They actively looked for and got involved with as many conversations as they could - online and off, about buying a mattress online, even if it was as simple as leaving a comment in the company's name under an article or a blog post.

Another channel that worked wonders for them were reviewers. 

"These people are basically your sales team. It takes time to get to know them and build personal relationships of course so it’s not as easy as simply sending them stuff and hoping for the best - you have to work for it. Hard.

More often than not, you’re chosen reviewers will love your products  and will push affiliate sales through their own channels. 

But you can’t just blindly throw products at people and hope for the best.Your job is to take the extra time to figure out who the most passionate people are, who is most likely to LOVE what you sell, and build a relationship with them. Only once you’re certain it will go well, is when you propose to  team up with them."

Reviews from influential people in your space are great, they give your brand credibility among the people who are paying attention to them but Nest Bedding didn’t stop there.

They weren’t only working with professionals but were also pushing for and getting reviews from real everyday people that they then displayed on their various social channels. To automate the process, they used an app called YotPo.

Online reviews are great, but unfortunately they don’t always translate all that well to physical locations and their reviews. For that, Nest Bedding spent a lot of time taking advantage of  Yelp and encouraging reviews from their in-store customers. It worked, because their retail locations are in and around San Francisco’s Bay Area, where Yelp calls home..

On it’s  own, a  good Yelp review might seem arbitrary, but for Joe, being physically located in a market that places a great deal of importance on Yelp’s reviews, he understands how powerful they are, and makes sure not to let any slip by him.

Screenshot via Yelp

Getting The First Million One Customer at a Time

To Joe every customer is important and deserves to have their questions and worries answered right away, no matter the day or the time.

It’s this dedication to personal attention, especially in the modern world where everything has become automated, artificial and digital, that he attributes to Nest Bedding’s success.

At the end of the day, customer service rules. Being genuine, letting your guard down and really getting to know your customers and potential customers. Treat people with respect and kindness and the money will follow.

Things like a good looking and working website, answering people’s questions online, physical locations and their Yelp reviews, generally just being helpful - in aggregate  make a huge impact on how your overall brand is perceived. Nothing is trivial.

Joe says the main reason he’s able to focus on the little things is because Shopify Plus allows him to pay attention to the people, not the technology, and that has made all the difference to his business.   

Actually caring for your customers and not just saying it matters. You know that, your customers know that. Are you doing it or only talking about it?


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