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On this podcast, Kevin and Graham chat to Ian Hughes the Founder and Chief Executive of Consumer Intelligence, a company based in Bristol. They advise companies in customer satisfaction services in Brazil, UK, Ireland, US, Canada, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates and France.

He learnt early on in his career, working in the mail room of his father’s mail order services company, that if you get the service wrong upfront, it costs you a fortune at the back end.

Ian Hughes describes how customer satisfaction varies around the world. What you might get away with as good service in the UK, you would not survive in the opulent surrounds of Dubai, where wealth drives the expectation of higher levels of service.

You’ll hear how important it is to:

  • See the world through the eyes of the customer. The best way to do this is to be a customer of the organisation. Approach them through naïve eyes. Come at it with curiosity. Use both ears!Ian says this alone will reveal 80% of the customer satisfaction issues companies have.
  • Listen to the opinions of your own people. Ian believes 70% of experiences that his company faces were delivered at the board table. But it is difficult to connect their ideas to staff. There are many reasons for the disconnect between plan and execution. Ian quotes a customer who advises “You should never confuse strategy with stupidity”. The more layers there are in a company the more difficult it is to achieve clarity.He says the best leaders incessantly communicate SIMPLE messages about serving customers over and over again.
  • You start customer communities. Great CEOs are NEVER far from the customer. In Facebook for example. Ian’s company Consumer Intelligence has created a feedback community –

Consumers interact with each other and with companies. Viewsbank’s 150,000 contributors produce “amazing, unbelievable” ideas for Ian’s customers. The advice is to spend time with your customers online – create a dialogue.

  • Mystery shop your competitors. What is it like to shop with them? Be curious. Do it clinically. How long does it take for goods to arrive? What is the experience like opening the packaging?
  • Know the 4 most important things about customer satisfaction:
    • The only person that can define customer satisfaction is YOUR CUSTOMER. So see the world through their eyes.
    • Great customer experience is delivered by people and processes coming together. That is ‘shockingly tough to do’.
    • You are only as good as your last service experience, so make EVERY experience count.
    • Be unique. Differentiate yourself. And continue to differentiate yourself. “Excite in a world of bland”.Ian says the best experience that this podcast can deliver is for YOU to be incited to take action – on just one thing you’ve been moved about. As a result of this podcast, please take action on at least one thing that applies.EXCITE to INCITE!

You can find out more about Ian Hughes and his company Consumer Intelligence or

Footnote: Ian’s I Love Claims Board involvement is to be on the organising committee – largely to keep them happy and satisfied at events for companies involved in the claims industry.