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Stories of CX Excellence – Bus Eireann, IKEA, Capital One, Delta Hotels and Starbucks

The best way to immerse yourself in CX Excellence is through real stories. We gather genuine customer stories and bring to life the Six Pillars in our CX framework.

The Six Pillars are based on creating emotional connections with customers and include Personalisation, Integrity, Empathy, Time & Effort, Expectations and Resolution.

Bus driver holds up his route to help an elderly man in need

Fiona, the daughter of a dad with dementia, received a call from a man who told her that he was standing with her father quite a bit away from where he lived. He reassuringly told her that he was happy to stand with him for as long as it takes to have him picked up. It was when she got there that she realised the man who was with her dad was a Bus Eireann driver (Gabor) in the middle of his route. He saw her dad and knew straight away that something wasn’t right. He pulled over, delaying his route and spoke with him, then checked him for an identity band.


Ikea revolutionises the cookbook with their unique ‘instruction manual’ style

Not content with just revolutionising our homes, IKEA could change the way we cook too. They have created a unique ‘Cook This Page’ recipe book that channel the same info graphic assembly instructions used for their other products.

Made from parchment paper and nontoxic ink, the IKEA Easy Recipe Series posters were designed so you could portion the ingredients directly onto them, with blank spaces for everything from sauces to herbs and spices, that you simply then wrap up and put in the oven to cook.

Featuring meals available in IKEA’s food hall such as pasta, salmon and the legendary Swedish meatballs, and they have caused a buzz online ever since, with many customers desperate to get their hands on one.

This concept is a fantastic example of a business addressing the pillar of Time & Effort, and, if IKEA decide to roll out this cookbook worldwide, they could even give their loyal customers personalised recipes based on the ingredients they purchase in store.


Capital One helps a customer in a sticky situation.

Giving members of your team the leeway to do random acts of kindness for customers can make someone’s day and turn them into an advocate for life.

When a Capital One customer discovered that Apple Magic Keyboards and orange juice do not mix, after the unfortunate spill, the “2” key didn’t work. Even worse for this customer was that the number 2 was part of his account number with Capital One, which made logging into his online banking account impossible.

Having posted his predicament on social media, a member of the Capital One support team saw it and decided to send him a brand new keyboard!

In a handwritten note, Janeth and Adam from Capital One explain how the bank thought about sending just the “2” key—but decided to go all out with a brand new keyboard.

Empathy is the art of letting the customer know that you can genuinely understand what it is like to be in their shoes. Empathy creating behaviours are key to establishing a strong relationship and involve the telling of personal stories that reflect back to the customer how you felt when in similar circumstances. Then going the extra step because you understand how they feel.


Delta Hotels turns a bad view into a great experience

Most customers may assume a company is too busy to engage over social media. For the company, being able to learn about customer issues instantly on social media can be an opportunity to create great CX.

Recently, Mike McCready, a Delta customer, tweeted a picture of his room view at Delta Hotels’ Vancouver Suites. He included the caption, “The inside of my room at the Delta is really nice, but the view, not so much.”

Mike wasn’t expecting to hear anything. But within less than an hour, he received a tweet back!

Delta wanted to put Mike in a new room. But since he was leaving the next day, Mike told them that switching rooms wouldn’t make much sense.

When Mike returned to his room later that day, he found a handwritten note and pastries.

Mike would probably still have had a positive opinion about Delta Hotels without their tweeting or pastries. But because his experience was changed from good to remark-able, he went out of his way to share it!

So, for the cost of a few pastries, Delta Hotels left a strong impression on a customer and turned him into an advocate for life.

Empathy requires an awareness of your customer’s emotional experience and is more than just seeing the world from their perspective. It’s about having the emotional intelligence to choose the right response from a range of potential emotions to improve things for the customer. Delta delivered brilliantly in this case.


Starbucks barista learns sign language for a regular customer.

Great customer experience requires you to make sure all of your customers feel welcome at your business.

Ibby Piracha is a regular at his local Starbucks in Leesburg, Virginia. Because he is deaf, Piracha usually makes his order by typing it on his phone and showing the barista. He was surprised one day to see his barista use sign language to ask for his order. She handed him a note that said, “I’ve been learning [American Sign Language] just so you can have the same experience as everyone else.”

Piracha was so shocked that he posted about the experience on Facebook. Since then, the post has received roughly 27,000 likes and almost 6,000 shares.

While you can’t teach your staff how to connect and care for your customers, you can hire caring people who are invested in creating customer experiences. Hire well and eventually, magical moments like this won’t be a rare occasion.


We are always looking for examples of CX Excellence. If you have any yourself please send it on to us and we will feature it in our blog.

If you would like to explore how your company can activate CX excellence, e-mail Michael Killeen to discuss further.

CX Breakfast – The Growing Expectations gap in Ireland

Left to right, Jonathan Stanley CEO Homestore+More, Lisa Browne, Head of marketing, Electric Ireland and Aidan Power, Director of Customer, Brand & Marketing, KBC


The CX Company recently held their 4th CX breakfast on the Growing Expectations Gap in Ireland.

Meeting a customer’s expectations has become one of the biggest issues for businesses in Ireland and our speakers shared with us how they tackle this issue.

Michael Killeen, Chairman of The CX Company, opened the session by sharing that Expectations is the worst performing pillar in Ireland. Ireland are about 2 and 2 ½ years behind the UK and US respectfully. But in 2016, Ireland Scored 12.8% lower than the UK and 15.7% lower than the US in Expectations – suggesting that we are nearly 5 years behind them in this particular pillar.
The sectors that are performing the worst in managing expectations include Telecoms, Utilities and Insurance. Which makes sense, because these sectors are all focussed on switching with little effort on retention.
The leading sectors in Expectations are Supermarkets Retail and restaurants, all sectors focussed heavily on CRM and loyalty programmes.
On a positive note, our public sector is scoring on par with the UK and US for expectations – these include HSE Ambulance, Garda Síochána, Passport office and the Revenue office.
The major issue for the Irish market is that consumer expectations are constantly on the rise and it is becoming an on-going arms race to keep up with them.
A recent Kinsey study revealed that 80% of brands believe they are delivering an excellent experience to their customers. But just 8% of customers believe they receive a good experience which is a shocking gap.
Michael finished off by covering the golden rules that we must follow to bridge this gap.

  • Set my expectations accurately
  • Respond quicker than I expect
  • Make clear promises
  • Over deliver when you can’t meet a promise
  • Guide me through the process


Michael introduced our first speaker of the morning – Aidan Power, Director of Customer, Brand & Marketing at KBC Bank Ireland.  Aidan spoke about busting through barriers in banking with ‘extreme customer experience’. He gave us a brief background of where KBC has come from and how it has grown over the last four years, from people calling it ‘KFC’ to now being one of the main players in the financial sector. KBC’s brand promise of putting the customers at the heart of their business was, he said, a tough one to sell to the board. But it has stood strong and they haven’t looked back since.
KBC’s mantra of stop talking, acting and walking like a traditional bank would suggest this.
Aidan explained that, to deliver an ‘extreme customer experience’ you need to be customer centric.
KBC have created a seamless integration between all channels by allowing their customer to decide how to interact with them. Be it online & mobile, a customer contact centre or a retail centre.
KBC are breaking free of the expectations set by Irish banks by offering a different experience. What is next for KBC and extreme customer experience? Aidan explained that extreme CX is not a once off.  He said the most extreme customer experience is simply to get it right consistently.

Aidan closed by giving 5 key learning’s for attendees to take with them.

  • Look outside your sector for the best experiences
  • Think and act differently
  • Be the customer of your own experience
  • Challenge the rules and the norms
  • Be the pirate inside – build a challenger culture within


Next up, Lisa Browne, Head of Marketing, Electric Ireland, spoke to us about preparing for a different future.
She opened with a brief background of Electric Ireland’s growth. From ESB’s nationwide monopoly to having to change their approach in dealing with competitors and the ever evolving energy market driven by 4G energy. Lisa shared how Electric Ireland recruited a large team of nationwide customers to test innovative new products and services. They use this strategy to walk in their customer’s shoes and use the insights gathered to deliver the best possible experience.
Our final speaker of the morning was Jonathan Stanley, CEO of Homestore+More.
Jonathan told us that indifference in the retail sector is a slow killer of businesses.
From the top down their philosophy of ‘give customers a +1 shopping experience’ is followed religiously. He told us that their bonus schemes aren’t based on sales or profit as these things are out of staff’s control, Homestore+More reward their staff on the experience they deliver to their customer.  If sales consultants treat customers like a friend or family member they will come back- simple as that.
Jonathan shared that satisfied customers are fickle in that they will likely purchase a product or service from a competitor without thinking. Convenience will trump preference for them.
A delighted customer is a customer who will come back and remain loyal.
To Homestore+More a delighted customer is a satisfied customer +1.
What is +1 service? It refers to human interactions, not price and value but a genuine smile and personal contact. This is taught and trained to all staff and expected to be delivered at all times.
Jonathan finished off by sharing Homestore+More’s four foundations:

  • Keep product price and promotion exciting
  • Achieve a high standard look and feel across all stores
  • Give all customers a +1 shopping experience
  • Consistently follow management philosophy


We would like to thank our three speakers for their brilliant insight into their business and we hope you enjoyed the morning.

Many thanks,

The CX Company

Airlines should put more muscle into their empathy, rather than their resolution

When was the last time you attended a match or a concert and were asked to give up your seat? United Airlines have made one customer’s on-the-ground travel experience more stressful than flying upside down in a hurricane.  And United’s response has got to be the worst form of resolution we have ever witnessed. Giving an insight into how much they and their sector truly care about their customers.

With the average number of people flying each year increasing, airlines are continuing to reduce the space afforded to passengers as they aim to increase the amount of people on their flights. Unlike the grocery retail sector, where we’ve seen discount brands like Aldi and Lidl disrupt the mainstream grocers with their simple ‘low price, quick service’ model, the Airline industry has been critically damaged by layered pricing strategies, overbooked flights and their reluctance to take their customers’ comfort and travel experience seriously.

If the Airline industry wants to buck this trend then it needs to look at its leading brands and learn from them. Southwest Airlines have ranked 9th in the USA Customer Experience Excellence Report, the US’s highest ranking airline. Southwest are an organisation that cares passionately about its customers; it empathises with the unfairness of hidden fees that other companies work into their price plans, and it wants the customer to receive the best deal possible. It calls its own approach ‘transfarency’, which means it doesn’t include extra charges for bags, additional luggage, or last minute flight changes or cancellations. As such, Southwest has performed strongly across The Six Pillars, particularly in Empathy, Expectations and Integrity, where its scores are 12 per cent higher than the US average.

Zappos in the USA and First Direct in the UK are two of the world’s leading CX companies. Both hire employees exclusively from the caring sector. They know that the best way to differentiate their businesses is via CX excellence. They also know that the best way to do this is via a hiring policy of caring and empathetic staff and training them across the key emotions of CX excellence.

Airlines have gone down the route of the Insurance and Telecoms sector where churn is regular and customers are viewed as numbers on a spreadsheet. Gone are the days when flying was an amazing experience, it has now been replaced with stress and inconvenience. But the outrage towards United Airlines last week shows that the customer’s patience with airlines has reached breaking point and the industry now need to put their hand up and accepted that it’s time for a change.

Irelands Customer Experience (CX) Masterclass will help SME’s differentiate their business

Stand out from the crowd with the CX Masterclass

It’s become harder  to differentiate your business from others. Customers are tired of hearing businesses mouth off about how wonderful they are. Consumers have reached a tolerance level where they now demand that businesses stop over promising and start over delivering.

We will show you how to grow large sales teams made up of your own delighted customers. If your customer has an experience with your business that surprises and delights, they will immediately become loyal ambassadors who will happily sell on your behalf.

Dialogue set up the CX Academy to deliver insights and practical tips to help owners and managers sharpen their CX excellence. We have gathered re-markable stories from local and international CX champions that clarify what CX excellence and complete disasters look like.

We’ve packed this all into a concentrated 3 ½ hour evening session. We will discuss how SMEs can differentiate their business without additional cost by locking in your their best customers. Find out how their business compares with Irish and global CX champions. We discuss how to implement organisational change so staff members welcome a new CX culture. And most importantly, we share examples of how to persuade current customers to amplify their message amongst friends, family and colleagues

The Masterclass is taking place in the National Concert hall on June 15th 2017.

Full details on the class can be viewed here  

If you or anyone you know could benefit from the CX Masterclass, we would appreciate it if you would pass this on to them. It’s interactive, full of re-markable stories and tips to activate in their business the next day.


Dublin’s Finest Outdoor Experience, Rain, Hail Or Snow!


The 1916 celebrations have received more stick then credit over the past number of weeks. I personally had a number of great experiences from a Saturday stroll through Stephens Green among many fine actors who brought to life, events of the rising as they unfolded, in utter confusion. The RTE centenary extravaganza in the Board Gas theater was a perfect example of under promising and over delivering, something we don’t do too well in Ireland. That said, I also had my first ever ‘Remarkable’ Dublin experience during the week and I want to share it with you in an unbiased way.


For those of you who missed school on the week they covered the 1916 raising, the rising walking tour is unbeatable. Check out Don’t just check it out, book it! It is absolutely unique, remarkable and will sell out for the summer. It is also undeniable proof that world class story telling can make walking outside on a pissing wet day enjoyable!


Lorcan Collins and his partner, Conor Kostick taught me more in our two hour jaunt then I learned in 16 years of school.  He is the total package. Think meets National Geographic meets Daragh OBriain. We met in the International bar, thankfully too early for a scoop. During his intro, Lorcan very cleverly takes the time to get to know his audience in a way that lifts the tour. His empathy is world class and he uses what he learns in that first 10 minutes throughout the tour with welcome wit and light hearted jabs.  He brilliantly engages both young and old, local and tourist, republican and loyalist, socialist and capitalist.


The tour consists of approx. 20 members for up to two hours. Its fast paced but Lorcan finds a way to chat with each member of his group as we walked from one great story to another.


I talk about CX quite a bit and one question I always ask is who in Ireland has given you an amazing Customer Experience. This questions always leads to discussion on lousy experience rather than great. However, in the last number of weeks, four different people mentioned the 1916 rising walk. And I agree and am very happy to recommend it to anyone seeking a great day out in Dublin town, to give it a shot. The worst that could happen?  You might make some new friends for life.


If you would like to explore how your company can deliver CX excellence e-mail Michael Killeen to discuss further. 

Or call Michael directly at +353 1 6622277

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