Thought leadership

Insights from the Nunwood Customer Experience Excellence Centre

Amongst The Six Pillars, Personalisation has the most significant impact on advocacy and loyalty. Whilst it’s important to advance all of the pillars to deliver an excellent experience, if one needs to be prioritised in a brand’s customer experience strategy then it’s Personalisation.

Much of the work done by organisations on Personalisation has been ‘inside out’:

  • Deployment of web content, based on explicit preferences, implicit behaviour or previous history.
  • Targeting of customers with the right offer at the right time in the right place.
  • Tailoring and configuring of particular experiences.

These approaches are rational, tend to be systems-driven and are about how the company sells more. If we step into customers’ shoes and take an ‘outside in’ approach, then Personalisation is more about how an organisation responds to a range of emotional needs.

Personalisation, a crucial element to a customer experience strategy, at its best attends to the following basic psychological human drivers:

  • The desire to bond and affiliate.
  • The desire to learn and grow – in experience terms this often relates to education and knowledge.
  • The desire to feel in control and be prepared for the unexpected.


Which brands are most effective in Personalisation?

From the CEEC we’ve identified the following emotional needs of customers and leading edge organisational responses:



Premier Inn

Respondents repeatedly mentioned the warmth of the welcome they receive from Premier Inn staff, the desire to show nothing is too much trouble and staff being committed to delivering the explicit brand promise of a ‘goodnight’s sleep guaranteed.’

Ritz Carlton has pioneered outstanding service in this industry. It has a mantra of ‘Radar on – Antenna up’- acknowledging every guest and identifying those unexpressed needs that can make a difference to a guest’s stay.

Premier Inn has learnt much from this approach. All staff smile, make eye contact and have personal greetings for guests. More importantly they’re willing to engage and help wherever they can.


Personalisation has long been an important aspect to Nationwide’s customer experience strategy. Nationwide has invested heavily in technology which does the heavy lifting when it comes to remembering customers and their preferences.

Use of names, noticing and acknowledging customers in a queue and making each interaction feel unique lies at the heart of Nationwide’s success.

The most recent manifestation of this is the extension of Personalisation to the anodyne world of the ATM which now recognises you, and asks if you’d like to withdraw your usual amount.


Jeff Bezos describes the Amazon recommendation engine as a soulmate – someone who seems to know you better than you know yourself. The Amazon web pages are a masterclass in subliminally humanising technology. It welcomes you by name and continues to use your name where appropriate. It knows your browse and purchase history and offers helpful hints about things that you didn’t know about, but might find useful. In fact, many US respondents referred to the fact that they felt Amazon created an experience that was unique to their specific needs – the very art of Personalisation.

John Lewis

John Lewis’ partnership model has created a culture of caring deeply about customers. Whether it’s imparting detailed knowledge and information about a product, organising a suitable delivery time or even fixing things when they go wrong – a process John Lewis calls ‘heroic recovery’ – customers feel both valued and appreciated.


The professionalism and responsiveness of staff sets Specsavers apart from its competitors. Respondents talked about feeling that when dealing with Specsavers staff they were all that was important. Many respondents highlighted the patience of staff as they tried on frame after frame to get the right look. They also cited a sense of collaboration with staff working together to meet customers’ needs as precisely as possible


Staff training is deep rooted in Lush’s customer experience strategy to ensure the right products are prescribed. Lush staff are trained to ask diagnostic questions and demonstrations, samples and testing all support this approach. Staff won’t attempt to prescribe a product until they have a deep understanding of customers’ needs. Do they have problems with skin conditions? What works or doesn’t work with their beauty regime? – key questions which highlight underlying issues or problems they can fix. The net result is that through this deep understanding not only does Lush have delighted customers but it sells considerably more products.

first direct

Responding to customers’ emotional situations takes strong detection skills as well as highly-developed emotional intelligence. Taking the problem off customers’ hands when they want reassurance, responding with urgency when something untoward has happened and providing sympathy and understanding when it’s needed are frequently mentioned attributes of first direct staff.

Uniquely in financial services first direct recruits staff from the caring professions and trains them in the first direct way. The company prefers this approach to taking staff who have already worked in financial services as it attracts personnel who care about customers and are used to giving the right emotional response when needed.

Appliances Online

The need to feel in control is a very powerful motivational driver. Appliances Online cleverly puts customers in control in many different ways. They can choose delivery times and read detailed descriptions and website reviews of individual products.

Choice is a key element of control- too wide a choice breeds confusion, too small a choice and customers feel railroaded. According to customers AO gets it just right – enabling them to choose from a range that’s neither too large nor too small.


Netflix famously offered a prize of $1m for the best algorithm for recommending personalised content. The clever way in which Netflix combines data and algorithms generates high Personalisation scores. Netflix can find an individual viewer’s ‘doppelgänger’ – someone who watches a particular combination of programming. Netflix analyses the titles a ‘doppelgänger’ has watched that the first viewer hasn’t and offers those to the individual. This sort of Personalisation is always iterating and is being continuously refined. So much so that Netflix is now investigating artificial intelligence to improve Personalisation using ‘deep learning’, a method of organising content to reflect how the brain works.

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