Never Stop Listening

produce shotNever stop Listening

As she’s scanning organic bananas or buckwheat kernels at the checkout the assistant at local health food store strikes up a conversation. She’s curious to know if the bananas are just for making smoothies and what the customer uses the buckwheat for. These seemingly insignificant interactions are hardly worth remembering and yet over time they spark ideas for new menu items to be introduced at the in-store cafe and give rise to opportunities to better serve her community of customers.

Good marketing starts with the customer’s needs and wants, not with the company’s emergency.

A great marketing strategy is geared towards creating lasting connections instead of simply being focused on reaching short term targets.

The gifted marketer doesn’t simply try to sell what’s in stock today. She strives to understand what her customer will want tomorrow and then creates the culture and momentum to deliver that.

If your success and profits are by-product of satisfied customers, it stands to reason that your priority is to matter, not simply to make and sell.

The challenge that many organisations have is understanding what matters to customers, and rapidly transferring that understanding into developing products and services that matter to customers.  Don’t get me wrong, being on the shop floor and interacting with customers is a critical part of marketers and leaders’ role. Good retailers still spend a day or two a week out in shops, and Terry Leahey in Tesco formalized this with every leader spending a week in store: TWIST, Tesco Week In Store Together, starting with himself.

Using Data-driven technology can harness the power of your colleagues and customers to listen intensively to customers and anticipate their needs at even more scale.

At Coop we starting a Listen Act and Fix programme where we gathered ideas from colleagues and used these to understand and prioritise problems to fix.

At Sainsbury’s “Tell Justin” was a colleague crowdsourced ideas generation programme where 150,000 colleagues could write to Justin King the CEO with ideas. He saw every idea and they were passed to senior managers to review. Every Idea earned a certificate for the colleagues and a simple thank you from Justin. The best ideas when they were implemented were celebrated through the company.

At Starbucks in USA they have taken this idea further to crowdsource ideas from customers. My Starbucks Idea created a digital portal and crowdsources suggestions to improve service/experience and lets users vote for their favourite ideas. Every idea is responded to by management and customers are kept involved in development, through digital media or you-tube style updates.  Ideas such as writing name on the cup, or even suggesting baristas taught the basics in sign language are being seriously reviewed.


Clever Cars

clever cars 2

What can your driving habits tell us? A lot is the answer. In fact, where people drive can reveal a lot more than Google searches and this is what advertisers, startups, and car-makers are quickly realising.

For years car companies have been installing software and sensors that collect driving behaviour and location data from our cars. This is invaluable to advertisers & car companies alike.


Car companies argue this data will enhance the driving experience CX.  It could help to predict flat tires, find parking spaces or charging spots, alert authorities to dangerous crossings & even track criminals fleeing from crime-scenes.

Advertisers are even more excited. Israeli startup, Otonomo, cleans up and organises data for carmakers. They let drivers select the information they’re willing to share with companies in exchange for rewards & discounts – imagine leaving work late and a £5 Dominos discount coming up on your display 🍕

This is only the start. Ford estimates that by 2020 their vehicles will have 100m lines of code and Gartner estimates 98% of new cars in the US & Europe will have an embedded cyber connection.

clever cars

What about BIG data?

The real interesting part is when all this data is aggregated. With all this data, companies can see trends that are linked to other events. For instance:

  1. Hedge funds could use boot sensor data to see how much people bought when they went shopping which would show consumer spending
  2. Banks could see how many people had stopped driving to work, thus suggesting they’ve lost their jobs, and if this number began to rise they could anticipate an economic downturn
  3. 3rd parties could track trips to the police station, domestic violence shelters, STI/HIV testing centres and infer sensitive information about drivers’ health and relationships.

Autonomous cars won’t stop us… 

One of the most important big-picture outcomes here is that car manufacturers are not only hardware companies now, they’re also software companies. It’s often been suggested that traditional companies will die off with the coming of autonomous cars, but this shows they’re using tech themselves to find new sources of revenue.

People need to be aware of the level of privacy they’ll be giving away. Soon your car could know more about you than your family…

Starbucks data driven coffee

starbucks cup

Starbucks have adopted a data driven mobile first approach to making the customer journey simpler and easier in its coffee shops world-wide.

Innovating and transforming the Customer experience by leveraging data-driven analytics and technology is critical for success in a 21st Century convenient foodservice retailer. 21% of Starbucks transactions are now completed via mobile … in store at the till using Apple Pay via app or using Starbucks Mobile Order and Pay . What’s more is Starbucks processes more than 6million Mobile Order and Pay transactions a month globally.

Mobile Order & Pay is available on iOS and Android . It’s an established of the popular Starbucks mobile app that allows customers to place and pay for an order in advance of their visits and pick it up at a participating Starbucks location. Mobile ordering is emerging as the fastest and easiest way for Starbucks customers to order ahead , then pay and pick up their purchases, providing on-the-go customers a simple and quick alternative to get their favourite coffee.

The Mobile Order and Pay feature allows customers to choose a store from a (Google) map view , browse , select and customise drinks, view the estimated time the order will be ready and pre-pay the order. All within the Starbucks app, and integrated into the existing Starbucks app, and my-Starbucks Rewards loyalty programme. A simple easy way to sign up and earn Stars

PROBLEM: It’s Too popular….

The Mobile Order & pay is creating some problems, that Starbucks are working hard to fix. Customers expect not to wait at all, but at busy times the queue is building up and customers are waiting and creating a headache. Starbucks being Starbucks though is working it through operationally and using data driven technology ahead of its rivals to improve the customer experience

They have launched an AI driven Starbucks Barista where customers can text through their orders: Check out below



Starbucks are leading the way as Tech leaders in convenience foodservice, using data and technology in a way that McDonald’s , are starting to respond but need to respond rapidly if they want to meet customer needs.


Cashless Starbucks

starbucks shop

Starbucks is experimenting with cashless restaurants at a posh location in downtown Seattle. Since January, your money is no good at the cafe inside the Russell Investments Center unless it’s in the form of plastic.

There is no sign announcing the policy, but a barista on Wednesday declined to take a $20 bill in payment for a short latte and a piece of lemon cake, explaining that the store is not accepting cash.

The test will help Starbucks  understand how cashless forms of payment may impact our customer experience,

Starbucks says its mobile payment and ordering app is a fast-growing success — to the point that last year it blamed slow sales growth a stores on crowding by people who had ordered from their phones.

The second-floor Russell Center cafe, dominated by armchairs, couches and at least one chaise longue, is reached from the lobby of the 42-story building, which is the corporate home of the online real-estate company Zillow as well as Russell, an international financial firm.

The cashless test is an opportunity to make Starbucks Better Simpler Cheaper, by removing the need to keep Cash in the Till, speeding up transactions,  removing a hygiene issue and removing the need to go to the bank to cash & change.

Employee theft is also less of a concern in a cashless system,  And the move may help in “positioning themselves as a very innovative company.”

“If we can shave another 10 seconds per order, over a day or over a year, that’s a lot of savings.

A box at the sales register made clear, however, that tips are still accepted in cash.

starbucks tip jat

Amazon Go-Go

amazon go

In January in Seattle, queues formed around the block for the first glimpse inside Amazon’s latest retail offering – Amazon Go.

Luckily, I had a colleague in Seattle checkout what it looked like on launch day  to see what the future of retail (might) look like; overall impression was that it was remarkable at how unremarkable it was…

Inside, the atmosphere was  calm – erring on the “good side” of downright boring, in fact, given the ease of the experience.

Before entering, everyone is required to download the Amazon Go app, the digital counterpart to the physical shopping experience. Downloaded over a phone network on the walk to the store, the app provides a short animation on how to navigate Amazon Go, followed by a QR code to identify yourself at the entrance. For a digital-first company such as Amazon, it was curious to see the digital elements function largely as invisible enablers of the physical experience.

There is no interaction with the app required while you shop, and a fully itemised receipt appeared as a push notification upon departure several minutes after leaving.

There is a “Discover” section on the app, where you can browse products by category, but this is the extent of its intersection with the physical experience.

The store itself was small, reflective of the limited selection of products – largely a curated, premium selection of pre-prepared healthy fare, perfectly placed to meet the needs of time-poor Seattle office workers. Interesting to see how that can be scaled….

However, the limited space posed a problem for the few store employees tasked with re-stocking; the crates were unwieldy and large enough to block some of the shelves and were a noticeable inconvenience. This though may have been due to the anticipation of higher demand on the first day or the fact that amazon don’t ( YET) understand retail operations

Purchases are tracked by an impressive, dense array of cameras mounted on the ceiling that follow your journey around the store. While the cameras don’t use facial recognition, there were rumours that the original launch was delayed as the tech couldn’t distinguish between shoppers with similar body shapes  – suggesting there’s a certain level of personal, visual data that customers are handing over.

It seems likely they’ll be comfortable doing so, however, as it’s this “computer vision” which enables customers to ‘Just Walk Out’, without having to go through a traditional check-out.

It’s savvy too – despite various attempts by my colleague to fool the system, it was able to correctly identify who should pay for what.

This was the case when comparing products as well; while in the store, I tested it by continually picking up and replacing two different products and was pleasantly surprised to find my final choice was indeed the one on my receipt.

Known online for its relevant and contextual suggestions, Amazon’s Go has rudimentarily translated this digital capability into the offline world with signs in the wine section with suggestions based on your previous purchases (“If you bought X, you’ll like Y”).

It’s easy to see how they could quickly expand this using their wider digital infrastructure, perhaps with decisions or indecisions in Amazon Go showing up on Amazon next time you log into your account.

The “computer vision” element of the cameras is another indication of how Amazon could potentially layer this real-world data onto the digital profiles of customers. In the near future, we’ll see the computers in these cameras not just process information but also react to the world around them.

With facial recognition software in a retail context approaching, it’s not a stretch to imagine that soon these cameras could react to our disappointment at limited stock, for example, and serve us a prompt to purchase the missing item through Amazon Fresh.

It feels unquestionably odd to simply walk out with the items you’ve picked up – it truly felt like shoplifting.

Once outside though, this feeling swiftly fades into the realisation that this store has undoubtedly set a new bar for consumer expectations at retail.

As we now jump out of Lyfts and Ubers without paying, or giving it a second thought, it’s quite easy to see this retail model becoming the norm as well.

Amazon Go is certainly a glimpse into the future of retail, and the focus on eliminating queues does not do justice to the scope of change this store could usher in.

More than convenience, the store has fundamentally altered the emotional experience of shopping. For retail incumbents, it’s a look at a new way of doing things – and they’ll have to quickly decide whether their service should adapt, or remain differentiated to survive.


Check Out the Amazon Go YouTube Film :



Data driven Easyjet flys easy

easyjet4Data Pulse # 434

Removing Friction in the customer journey to make it easier is critical for future success, and is important as a way of telling your Brand story , particularly if you are called EasyJet. Digital transformation can accelerate this change if applied with a clear focus on the commercial goals combined with deep understanding of the customer journey .

Carolyn McColl at Easyjet made great strides at using digital technology to transform the organisation making it easier for their customers to travel, simpler for their colleagues and cheaper for the organisation. They started with a clear understanding of the commercial goal: More customers flying more often on Easyjet, and developed a series of customer propositions that made it easier to fly driven around the key hardware that most travellers provide themselves: The Smartphone.

Easyjet app developed with key functionality

easyjet2 (2)


1) Book Flight

2) My Flights Booked

3) My Flights Tracked

4) Mobile Check-in and Mobile Boarding Passes.

5) Option to book HireCare & Hotel.

All personalised through MyEasyjet traveller registration , that uses customer data held, (including passport, address credit card details ) geolocation of all data, previous flights searched and taken to make it easier for booking.

I have just headed off skiing flying Easyjet:

  1. The email alerts prior to travelled felt timely & relevant: adding personal information, and checking.
  2. The mobile boarding pass removes friction in finding a printer to print a boarding pass and then not losing the boarding pass as you travel through the airport .
  3. The Flight Status monitor is an easy way of seeing ahead of leaving for the airport if flights are delayed or reassurance.

Easier Self Serve Baggage Drop.

Easyjet now have self serve baggage drop in Manchester as well as Gatwick , which makes it easier and quicker to drop off baggage rather than queuing

What Friction Points Next?


I would appreciate Easyjet helping me get to the airport and then to my onwards destination. It would be easy to partner / connect with Google or Citymapper to provide live travel options on drive times, Trains/ buses to catch, or even a link to Uber to get a ride to and from the airport.


I would really appreciate being walked through the airport with digital alerts that help me understand which gate to go to , the time to gate, and alerts on how busy it is at anyone time.  This technology is available and has been piloted in London City Airport by Dan Byles and the team at PlanetIT. So watch out for a digital concierge helping you through the airport and ensuring you have enough time and and not be rushed.

Eat, Drink and Shop at your pace.

I’ll even be able to order ahead and have my Starbucks coffee and porridge waiting for me as I arrive through security !

I am a demanding customer but I am really just like everyone else just more vocal.

Good Luck to Johan Lundgren , new CEO easyjet in accelerating the use of data even further to make easyjet even easier.

7 steps to data-driven customer obsession

seven steps

As we break for Christmas I have just had a great morning with DataIQ Leaders discussing how data can transform CX.

I led a discussion with a group of Analytical leaders with seven simple steps on the road to build advanced Customer Analytics. It’s challenging and requires commitment and alignment from around all the organisation to be successful

  1. Identify the commercial & customer Goals in next 18m-36m
  2. Build a clear vision of a radically different data-driven customer experience, working across digital & bricks & mortar and align across the organisation.
  3. Remove Silos of data use creating a single version of the truth, with a data strategy linked to business goals e.g. Unified View of customer data, GDPR ready and tools developed to meet commercial goals.
  4. Breakdown the institutional fear of data & digital at all levels through training & doing: it’s a tool that anyone can use to do what you have been doing better
  5. Use Data Analytics to Map & Prioritise customer journeys & personalised experiences across human & digital touchpoints and align organisation capability to deliver for customer.
  6. Identify & Build the capabilities (Process, Tools People) that will be required to transform process design from efficiency focused (cheaper) to customer focused (better simpler cheaper) , specifically putting in place an analytics capability to enable data-driven, personalised journeys
  7. Foster stronger bonds between technical and different business people. This is a two-way process to ensure the technical teams understand the commercial imperatives, and customer solutions you would like to build, and the business teams learn to trust the expertise of technical IT teams. It will also allow you to improve data quality through showing the business impact.

Using Data & Advanced Customer Analytics  to put the customer at the heart of an organisation is a transformation that future looking organisations need to start implementing now.