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Student Experience

The Changing Expectations Of Students: If They Are Behaving More Like Consumers, Shouldn’t They Be Treated As Such?

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The likes of Apple and Amazon have set the bar high with regard to standards of quality and service. Consequently, it’s probably fair to say that students nowadays expect this same high standard from all service providers. Is it fair to say that their higher education “provider” should be making the same efforts to secure their satisfaction and loyalty?

Student Experience

Faced with a minimum investment of at least £27,000, today’s students are understandably, and of necessity, more discerning, price-conscious and outcome-orientated than ever before. Universities and other places of higher education all compete fiercely with each other for their custom, employing similar marketing tactics to those used by regular customer-facing businesses to entice students to their respective institutions. Promises of “transformational experiences” and “dream career opportunities” are made to students in exchange for qualifications – or at least the opportunity to achieve them…Therefore is it any surprise that they are behaving more like traditional customers than ever before?

Put crudely: No students…no universities.

It seems obvious, therefore, that students should be treated like the valued customers they so clearly are.

In the higher education context, it shouldn’t surprise that student satisfaction alongside the educational experience has now become a priority in the management agenda. Institutions with low student satisfaction struggle to compete with those that are able to deliver satisfaction. It is important that not to confuse satisfaction with easy marking, or ‘degree mills’, however.

Whilst it is true that students are now more outcome-based, the reality is that nobody benefits from universities becoming degree mills; as degrees become increasingly commonplace their perceived value as a means of differentiation decreases.  The PM recently alluded to this issue in a recent speech on the saturation of unemployed or overqualified graduates.

Delivering higher student satisfaction does not equate to a shift in the purpose of  providing the best possible education – educational standards will remain uncompromised – it just means delivering on a clear set of  promises made to their students and living up to expectations.

To do this, however, requires a deep, empathetic understanding of their needs, feelings and expectations at each point in their educational journey. To effectively do this, universities must map the entire student journey from their students’ first interaction with the university to their last, identifying each specific journey step and ‘moment of truth’ (“I feel interested and challenged by the curriculum” for example) and determining student expectation and the university’s current delivery for each of these points. This is common practise in customer experience transformation. A good customer experience makes for satisfied customers.

The Heartbeat customer journey mapping methodology CGA uses in such projects takes this even further, prioritising customer needs and ‘painpoints’ by empirically analysing the gap between customer expectation and the reality of the service provided, all simply illustrated in a clear and visually engaging format showing exactly where intervention will offer greatest value. Armed with this knowledge, higher education institutions can specifically target efforts to where they know will have the most impact on student satisfaction.

Satisfied customers are valued customers. Companies in all sectors are now awake to this reality so isn’t it time universities caught up? Isn’t it time that they recognized that the key to their future survival lies in satisfied students – or more accurately, satisfied, valued customers.

We will be discussing in more detail everything covered in this article as well as examples of how we have helped companies satisfy their customers in our next webinar. You can sign up early using the following link.

local government funding gap

Bridging the local government funding gap

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Rising costs, demands and expectations on a shrinking budget:

How to achieve more with less with customer journey mapping

local government funding gap

State of Affairs:

Austerity measures and the uncertainty surrounding the UK economy amidst the chaos of Brexit, has reduced government funding to county councils. This, combined with the ever-increasing demand on services from an ever-increasing population, means budgets are tight and efficiency gain is high on the agenda. Furthermore, the current customer service bar has been set high by the likes of Amazon and John Lewis and citizen and government expectations now reflect this. It is clearly then a difficult task delivering to this level of expectation whilst staying within budget and cutting costs where required. The key to achieving this balance lies with the citizen.


How to do it right

Hackney Council is a prime example of a council, which has found that balance. In a recent Mori survey 70% were satisfied or very satisfied with how the Council was doing things. Hackney Council did this by listening to the voice of their customer, their citizens. Regular surveys and feedback helped them to put in place a strategy led by two major principles: getting it right first time and moving services online.


These two principles played a major part in Hackney’s high citizen satisfaction score, but have furthermore resulted in huge efficiency gains. “The average cost to the Council of a face-to-face transaction is £14, and it’s £5 per phone call. This compares to just 17p if that transaction is carried out online.” Reducing repeat calls and unnecessary information requests drastically reduced use of expensive human resource. Thanks to listening to their customers, Hackney council was able to identify their citizens biggest pain points and then resolve them.


Where customer journey mapping comes in

Customer journey mapping, goes far beyond surveys and feedback in terms of the level of detail and sheer actionable insight. By mapping the citizen’s entire journey with a council, it is possible to identify each journey step and painpoint in a highly granular manner. Such diagnosis can help determine exactly where investment will have the biggest positive effect on customer satisfaction. It can also help identify where cuts may have the least impact. It’s a powerful tool to map the gaps between customer expectation and current satisfaction and thereby identify where the efficiency gain will deliver the greatest return. CGA’s Heartbeat® journey-mapping tool uses quantitative, qualitative and emotive analysis from the perspective of the customer. This information is crucial to calculate the gaps between citizen expectation and current delivery at each individual journey step and interaction. Identify and prioritise where investment should be added and taken away for maximum effect on efficiency and satisfaction. The heartbeat methodology can be used to interrogate different segmentation models and can be used internally and externally to build customer charters. To learn more about efficiency gain  and citizen satisfaction, sign up for our next webinar.


Online Grocery Retailing

“What’s for dinner tonight?” The challenges and opportunities in grocery retailing

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Online Grocery Retailing

Customer Confidence:

The post Christmas retail results and reports were perhaps not surprising for British food retailers. Customers are unsure of their short-term future in the face of substantial uncertainty, and were canny about how and when they spent their Christmas cash.

The good news for most retailers was that food continues to deliver stable growth. The question remains as to how to deliver against rapidly shifting expectations and buying patterns. Buying online continues to grow as more people grow accustomed to the convenience of home delivery, and are prepared to pay a premium for that benefit.


Behaviours and expectations:

Equally remarkable in how customer behaviour is changing rapidly was the news from Amazon that Echo and their digital assistant Alexa was one of their fastest selling electronic products in the run up to Christmas. We assume that novelty and perhaps Alexa’s corny jokes are still the primary motivators at this early stage of adoption. But the way that artificial intelligence is now finding its way into our lives and kitchens opens up all kinds of future opportunities to deliver customer value.


“What’s for dinner tonight Alexa?”


We wonder how quickly that opportunity will be matched with the data that our retailers already master on our historical buying habits, and be exploited to delight us by removing the chore of figuring out what to eat, how to eat healthily, and how to take the effort out of conventional buying and shopping.



Needless to say, the retail choice for customers has never been greater or more competitive. We have the choice of cut-price discounters, mainstream generalists, or indeed the luxury of delegating the chore entirely and paying someone else to do the do the cooking for us! We observe how some millennials are happy to pay a significant premium to Deliveroo or Uber Eats to satisfy their desire for wanting it and having it now!


Business Model Evolution:

Recent announcements from both Sainsbury & Tesco in the refocusing of capabilities and resources are perhaps representative of just the beginning in what may become a dramatic shift in business models “to ensure our business remains competitive and set up for the future” (Tesco press release 22nd January, 2018).

Just as High Street banks are adjusting their focus to digital self help, so the question in traditional retail will be the pace of change to take account of rapidly changing customer footfall and expectations.


Big data versus changing customer expectations

British grocery retailers have become expert at gathering data through loyalty programmes, and probably understand our eating habits and preferences better than we know ourselves. The question for consideration is whether that big data can be harnessed in such a way to push the boundaries in artificial intelligence to the benefit of customers with innovative propositions.  At CGA we are absolutely convinced that customer expectations will continue to evolve rapidly. This insight gap is not yet delivered by big data and it needs a solution to future proof retail brands.


Future proofing:

There are already many new propositions being tested to push the boundaries in the search for the frictionless customer solution, Sainsbury’s Chop Chop service, and Amazon Go (check-out free store) to name but two.

At least we can all agree that “business as usual” is not a viable position or strategy in British grocery retailing.

At CGA we believe that starting with the customer is a powerful way to first understand what matters most from their perspective. Armed with that insight, figuring out where to focus, and what to invest in becomes a lot easier.

Join us in our upcoming webinar on future proofing the retail experience.

“Customers must be at the heart of everything we do in the rail industry”

“Customers must be at the heart of everything we do in the rail industry”

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CGA is delighted to be awarded the next phase of a strategic project by the Rail Delivery Group to put the customer at the heart of decision making.

“Customers must be at the heart of everything we do in the rail industry”

Having mapped the end-to-end customer journey in 2016 using CGA’s Heartbeat® methodology, the Rail Delivery Group is now seeking to measure industry performance in service quality and more “experiential” measures.

Jacqueline Starr, Managing Director Customer Directorate, said:

“Our long-term plan to change and improve services commits us to improving customer satisfaction to remain the top-rated major railway in Europe. Supplementing our existing performance measurement data with insights focusing on customers’ experiences will give us the ability to analyse a more complete view of overall performance from the customer perspective. This invaluable insight will enable us to deliver a better experience for our customers.”

CGA will develop a proof of concept methodology and reporting tool which will combine existing insights gathered by Transport Focus and the Train Operating Companies with new, more experiential metrics. The proof of concept, run in cooperation with Great Western Railway, is scheduled to deliver first insights within the next 4 months.

About CGA:

CGA has become renowned for its dedication to the customer agenda. It has led the way in creating value through transforming customer journeys into compelling and commercial experiences, bringing many companies closer to their customers and improving results. CGA has significant experience of supporting the rail sector both in strategic projects in UK and Europe, as well as successful tactical support of rail franchise bids.

CGA is typically engaged on national and international Customer Experience improvement and transformation programmes, receiving endorsements for creativity, insight and fresh thinking.  Our proprietary journey mapping solution Heartbeat® helps to bring the customer to life, showing immediate pain points in real-time and identifying where future intervention will offer greatest value. It can transform your customers’ behaviour into your biggest asset.

It’s critical to understand the implications of not becoming customer centric and the direct impact this is likely to have on future growth and efficiency strategies.  The future arrives faster than we think….

About the Rail Delivery Group:

The Rail Delivery Group (RDG) brings together the companies that run Britain’s railway to enable a better railway for customers, communities, the economy and our people.

All the passenger and freight rail companies are members of the RDG, as well as Network Rail and HS2 (see the full list of our licensed and associate members). RDG also recently formed a partnership with the Rail Supply Group.

We provide services and support to enable our members to succeed in transforming and delivering a successful railway. We also provide support and give a voice to freight and passenger operators, as well as delivering important national ticketing, information and reservation services for passengers and staff on behalf of member companies.

Rail is fundamental to the country’s prosperity. After enormous growth, Britain’s railway is increasingly important in connecting workers to jobs, businesses to markets, and people to their families and friends.

In a landmark coming together, rail companies recently launched ‘In Partnership for Britain’s Prosperity’, a single, long-term plan to secure £85bn of additional economic growth from a combination of public and private investment to change and improve the railway. In the plan, rail companies commit to delivering more for customers, communities, the economy and our people.

To support the Plan, the RDG’s day to day work is organised into four priorities:

Improving the customer experience – modernising ticketing and improving information

Improving performance today – focusing on punctuality, safety and value for money

Improving performance tomorrow – by planning for the future and training the next generation

Reforming the industry – so our team is as good as it can be

CGA's CX Approach

Learn more about CGA’s CX Approach

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If what you’ve seen of CGA’s thoughts and approaches to Customer Experience transformation so far has interested and intrigued you, why not make sure you don’t miss out on all of our other events, activities, newsletters and articles by subscribing below to learn more. You can discover what we do in various market sectors as well as gaining more insight on

· How to engage more closely and intimately with your customers by finding out where to start your transformation

· How to map that engagement using our Heartbeat® visual customer journey mapping solution

· How to make sure you stay on track with the right measurement program

· …and much more!




Trends in the UK Healthcare Market

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The Healthcare market is currently undergoing rapid and dramatic change and the one thing we’re really encouraged by is the desire to move to a more patient or indeed customer centric approach. In order to achieve that, you do need to understand how to join everything together and in our view, visual customer journey mapping that truly takes the patient’s perspective into consideration is a must do activity. You can find out more about that elsewhere on our site but in the meantime, here are some other trends, facts and figures that are shaping our approach to enhanced patient experience.Healthcare Market

Trends we’re seeing in Healthcare

  • A more Patient/”Customer” Centric approach
  • Paternalistic approach less tolerated by patients.
  • The Genetically Aware patient
  • New Provider and Healthcare models plus other collaborations to improve care and decrease costs – Dr Asda?
  • E health and the use of patient-centric, integrated IT networks
  • Rise of the Infomediary and CyberPhysician, supported by SMART cards, retinal scans etc
  • Widespread use of intelligent devices and expert systems – IoT and Big Data
  • “P4 Medicine” – Predictive, Preventative, Personalised and Participatory – driven by social media-led participation platforms
  • Remote consultation and home monitoring of vital signs
  • Use of genetic screening and pharmacogenetics
  • Further use of Minimally Invasive Surgery
  • Use of robotics
  • Augmented and Virtual reality applications
  • Digitally Engaged Insurers
  • Gamification – rewards for healthy behaviour
  • Development of online patient communities providing sources for crowd funded data and drug and healthcare rating
  • NHS Drivers
  • Overall cost reduction while maintaining service
  • Personalised Health IT
  • Long term conditions
  • Automated Dispensing
  • Paper Free 2020
  • Cost reduction
  • Manual Routing reduced
  • GP Forward View
  • Take Pressure off Acute
  • Telehealth
  • Auto Dispensing
customer centric productivity gain

In search of customer centric productivity gain!

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customer centric productivity gain

In a world of uncertainty we are forced to consider how to get more out of less.

There is a lot of talk in the UK right now about productivity; the UK is reported to have one of the lowest productivity rates in Europe so for every hour of labour paid, there is less output compared to it’s European counterparts. 

In the rush to deliver productivity gain through digital transformation, we are frequently asked to intervene to ensure that the customer experience outcome remains top of the transformation agenda. A productivity gain is only useful if it makes your customers happy. If it doesn’t, if it just frustrates them, you’ll risk wasting money and even potentially increasing costs. Once customers have reached a certain level of impatience, the default reaction is still to demand to speak to a real human being.

Customer Experience Strategy

A Graphic Roadmap to support your Customer Experience (CX) Strategy!

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A Graphic Roadmap to support your Customer Experience (CX) Strategy!

Where are you on the CX Maturity Curve?

As expert CX practitioners, we find it helpful to look at a maturity curve to establish where client organisations or brands currently sit in their characteristics, culture and current focus.

Customer Experience Strategy

The Heartbeat® CX Maturity roadmap is a straightforward, visual model to help shape the “point of departure” of an organization or brand wishing to begin or refresh their journey towards customer centricity and best-in-class behaviours. It also provides a framework for strategic debate on the CX vision. Get an in-depth breakdown of each maturity stage here:

  • Transactional Experience:
    Typical of organisations which have historically been driven by focus on product or operations, and who recognize the need to shift the focus to customers. In setting their short term CX goals, our client Michelin, for example, was clear that just fixing the basics in service provision was an absolute must before attempting to shift to the next level towards overall gap filling.


  • Predictable Experience:
    Delivering customer value consistently, and across all channels is a substantial challenge for so many sectors. The pace of change in customer expectations has never been more demanding. Not surprising therefore that digital transformation, service optimization and productivity gains represent the driving forces in arriving at this level of CX maturity. Understanding the gaps from the customer’s perspective is the starting point to reach this level. Heartbeat Customer Journey mapping is the methodology we employ to analyse the gaps, prioritise the pain points and map the opportunities to optimize service.


  • Differentiated Experience:
    The challenge of commoditization has already driven many brands to see customer experience as a source of sustainable differentiation. Brands are increasingly judged on their actions rather than their “advertising” promises. Translating brand values and behaviours into consistent delivered and differentiated experiences is the domain of Best-In-Class. Our client Renault embarked on such a journey with us 3 years ago, and are reaping the rewards in sales growth and improved customer satisfaction (Case Study) Needless to say, the further up the curve you aim, the greater the requirement for inspired employees to deliver such differentiation on a day-in-day-out basis.

Understanding the “Point of Departure” is the start point. Whether that entails simply beginning to “Listen & Understand” your customers through a  Voice of the Customer (VOC) programme and social media listening, or to run a deep dive on mapping their journey from their perspective, it’s critical that you have a robust diagnosis which helps to create a baseline. Once you have this, you can then begin to plot your roadmap, consider your ambitions and define your strategy for getting there.


The search for elusive organic growth

The customer knows that they now have alternatives, as disruptive competition becomes a reality for an increasing number of industries and sectors. Identifying sustainable organic growth is increasingly challenging for mature businesses, to the point that “Business as Usual” in thinking and behavior holds as much inherent risk as transformation. So many of the companies we engage with now adopt the position that they must either embrace customer centricity, or risk being left behind.


Defining a vision and strategy for customer experience management

So often we hear from companies who are new to the discipline of customer experience management that they recognize the need to become more customer centric in their decision making, but are not sure how to achieve this, how to measure progress, or indeed how to set realistic targets.

The good news is that there is plenty of empiric evidence to underpin the business benefits of putting customers at the heart of decision-making, and making customer experience a strategic priority. The challenge is to convert good management intentions into a roadmap which can withstand the scrutiny of ROI analysis and maintain momentum through performance measurement and achievable goals. The starting point is understanding your point of departure. Indeed, in our work as CX specialists, we frequently observe a significant gap between the internal company perspective on the customer journey and customer priorities, versus the reality of the gap between customer expectations and how they perceive current delivery.

Getting started is the easy part. If you would like to know more about the toolkit to define and deliver the roadmap we will be happy to talk that through with you.

Get in touch to talk to a consultant and get more information on how we can help your company!

Come and start your journey with us.

Customer Experience

Global CX Day, October 3rd 2017 – Claim your CX offer from CGA today!

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Is your Customer Experience programme measuring the right things to support improved business performance?

At CGA we offer a Fast Track CX Measurement Assessment Service to show the link between customer experience performance improvement and increased business performance. The benefits of CX can include:

  • higher customer retention
  • faster revenue growth
  • the ability to command a price premium
  • lower operating costs
  • less regulatory pressure
  • more engaged employees

In recognition of Global CX Day, 3rd October 2017, we are offering a complimentary half day CX Assessment to the first 5 companies that respond. Get in touch to talk to a consultant and claim your half day!

Come and start your journey with us.

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