The pillar of Expectations is critical in customer experience design. It is one of six such pillars which describe the universal elements of customer experience best practice, and in KPMG Nunwood’s Customer Experience Excellence analysis, Expectations was found to be a key driver of a person’s loyalty towards a brand. To succeed in this pillar, organisations need to be insightful and innovative. Moreover, they need to move quickly; what works for a customer on one day might cease to be relevant two months down the line.

The high bar

KPMG Nunwood’s latest analysis found that, even though the UK’s average CEE score had increased by one per cent overall, there was little change amongst the majority of measured brands. Of course, the usual ‘high flyers’ such as first direct and Emirates performed exceptionally well, but many of these best-in-class organisations continue to function in a league of their own. Moreover, their high levels of customer experience management make it harder for other brands to catch up; customers don’t always perceive banks such as first direct as ‘rarities,’ but rather the acceptable standard to which all other brands should adhere. The bar of expectations, therefore, is often unattainably high.

Moreover, some organisations find themselves sucked into a ‘swirling vortex,’ frantically scrambling for creative ideas in the vain hope that they’ll be impactful and resonate. And whilst there is much to be said for being innovative – and indeed it’s essential for CX success – there is little point in being inventive for the sake of being inventive. What may look like a first class approach to customer experience design could, in fact, be a waste of valuable resources.

The currency of insight

As such, the best way for any organisation to be innovative is to use customer insight as their business’ bedrock. Indeed, one theme that united the strongest brands of the 2018 analysis was the way in which they submerged themselves in pools of customer data, constantly moving with the flow of consumers’ sensibilities and course-correcting when necessary. The entertainment brand Netflix is a good example in this respect, continually using customer data to monitor viewing habits and deliver content that people will enjoy. Indeed, this strategy has borne much fruit for Netflix; its customer insight indicated that viewers valued high quality dramas, and the brand invested in exclusive shows such as House of Cards and Stranger Things and subsequently quadrupled its subscriber base.[1]

The best innovations, though, are the ones that fulfil customer needs that people might not be consciously aware of. For instance, the bed specialist Casper Sleep decided to investigate the belief that people had different sleeping positions and therefore needed different mattresses. The company discovered, through research, that this claim was a myth, and concluded that it was possible to develop exactly the right kind of mattress in a single product by combining two of its customers’ most favoured materials – foam and latex. It now offers this mattress at an affordable price and arranges to have it delivered straight to a person’s home, avoiding the perceived ‘pushy’ sales people and confusing product options that shoppers cited as off-putting. In addition, Casper offers a 100 night trial of the new mattress to give customers time to decide if they’re happy with it.[2]

The need for speed

The final point to be made about customer experience design innovation is that it needs to be fast. Customers’ expectations can shift rapidly, and brands need to remember that the task is never complete

As Craig Donaldson, the CEO of Metro Bank, explains: “We work with a lot of fintechs and tech companies to leverage their technology and bring it to life for our customers. Innovation curves used to be three to five years but they are three to six months now; so you want to be moving and constantly trying to work with the best and that’s what we try and do.”[3] It’s about ‘closing the loop’ from a customer offering feedback, to a root cause being identified, to inventive solutions being implemented, to a customer offering feedback, and so on.

As such, innovation must be insightful and relentless if a brand is to deliver best practice in the pillar of Expectations. 


Download the 2018 UK Customer Experience Excellence Analysis in full.


[1] KPMG Nunwood’s 2018 Customer Experience Excellence analysis, page 26

[2] Ibid., page 28

[3] Ibid., page 33