Friday, September 9, 2022

Customer Listening and Branding


To quote Matthew Kobach (@mkobach), "Twitter is a key that unlocks thousands of doors, some of which you never even knew existed." As a member of the Twitterverse for 13 years, I always enjoy meeting new people and learning from them. I recently connected with Damian Miller and invited him to appear here on my Blog in a Q&A format. Highlights of our conversation about customer experiences and branding follow a brief introduction.

Damian Miller has spent over 16 years working in market research, the last eight were focussed on customer research, including customer experience management, voice of the customer, journey mapping, customer loyalty, and understanding the lifetime value of customers. Currently, he is managing director of Intelligent Purpose based in London, England. He has collaborated with some well-known brands, helping and supporting their customer growth, including Coca-Cola, Kraft, Waitrose, Caffe Nero, Pizza Hut, Wickes, and John Lewis. He created Intelligent Purpose to go beyond just measuring experiences to understanding the deeper customer connection to brands and helping organisations to develop their customer roadmap  and improve their emotional connection with their customers and deliver truly great experiences. Visit online at, on LinkedIn at, and on Twitter @CustomerPurpose.

QUESTION: In a post on your blog entitled “5 W’s of Customer Listening,” you shared five tips to set up a brand for success when collecting feedback from customers. Can you please provide a brief overview of the five W’s?

(Read the full post here:

DAMIAN MILLER: So I created this post as a response to a few I had seen that were talking about how CX management programmes don’t work, and I fundamentally don’t agree. Bad programmes won’t work, or not taking actions from findings won’t work, but I see listening to customers as a vital tool in the CX toolbox so I wanted to talk about how to set yourself up for success.

The idea was to get people thinking about these 5 questions:
(1) Why are you listening? What is the purpose of the activity, what are you trying to achieve? What does success look like?

Then a really vital one:
(2) What are you going to do with the feedback? Action is so important to ultimate success, and you need to know how you are going to use what customers tell you and how you get people in your business aligned with using the feedback.

(3) Where are you going to listen? This is all about being where your customers are and using the channels that they want to use to give you feedback as well as at what points in the journey do you want to get feedback about.

(4) When are you going to ask for feedback from customers? If you want to encourage customers to keep investing in you and keep giving you feedback, you need to close the loop and let them know that you are listening, you heard them, and this is what you are going to do with the info they told you.

Lastly and probably most importantly:
(5) Who needs to make this happen? Who do you need in your organisation to work with you to bring all of this to life and to take on board the feedback and make action happen and ultimately drive improved experiences for customers.

QUESTION: We share a passion for customer experience marketing, so toward that end, I saw that one of your recent Tweets asked the question, "Who should OWN customer experiences?" Can you please answer that question?

DAMIAN MILLER: Ah this question, one I get asked quite often, but it is an important topic and because there is no one consensus on the ‘right’ approach. In my years of experience having seen a myriad of different set ups, I have come to the conclusion that the language of ‘ownership’ gets us into some trouble.

I believe that we should talk about responsibility and accountability. I believe that you do need leadership and governance of the delivery of customer experiences, a senior presence to be ultimately accountable. I have seen this work as one person or a leadership group, but they need to be able to set the direction, strategy, and goals.

They need to engage and inspire the whole organisation with the mission AND empower their teams to be able to deliver. Then you should have everybody in the organisation responsible for their part in the customer strategy. This includes people who aren’t customer facing so that you can build a culture that is customer focussed, and that when decisions are made, the customer is considered throughout the organisation, no matter what the decision is about.

TWEET THIS: Everybody in the org should be responsible for their part in the customer strategy. ~@CustomerPurpose #CX #DebbieLaskeysBlog

QUESTION: How do you clarify the difference between "customer experience" and "customer experience management?"

DAMIAN MILLER: I would say that customer experience refers to the holistic sense of how your customers feel about every interaction that they have with your brand, what they experience of your brand. Customer Experience Management is the discipline of working to enhance those interactions and experiences of the customer. So adding some science, art, and magic to the process of designing, developing, and improving the customers’ experience.

For me, that starts with a strategy that lays out the vision, goals, and the direction. It encompasses listening to and understanding customers and their wants and needs, and it has to include action, making changes, and improving so that you win more customers, increase loyalty, and grow your business.

QUESTION: Have you had any exceptional customer experiences during the current COVID-19 era? Please elaborate.

DAMIAN MILLER: Early in the pandemic when everybody was racing to change their approach and shift online, many local businesses became more accessible. For example, for me, a local wholesaler of cheese (one of my weaknesses) to the hospitality sector, became an online retailer, and so, I was able to order some local cheese to make me feel better. The box arrived as promised, and inside was a lovely hand written note thanking me for purchasing and investing in their local small business. Also, their story and some excellent notes about the cheeses I had purchased were also included to enhance the overall experience. It was a lovely simple touch that elevated the whole thing and meant I would definitely return.

QUESTION: According to Laura Holloway, Founder and Chief of The Storyteller Agency (@StorytellerAgcy on Twitter), “Storytelling is our obligation to the next generation. If all we are doing is marketing, we are doing a disservice, and not only to our profession, but to our children, and their children. Give something of meaning to your audience by inspiring, engaging, and educating them with story. Stop marketing. Start storytelling.” What does this quote mean to you?

DAMIAN MILLER: It is a really interesting quote as I am a huge advocate of storytelling. That’s how we pass on our history, it’s how we engage each other, and we have all learnt from an early age how to understand and take in stories. It is such a powerful thing.

For me, great marketing always has great storytelling, and so, it shouldn’t be dismissed quite so easily. I do agree, though, that there is a danger of losing that inspiring and engaging element in marketing as many now pick up on the trend of divisive and provocative that comes so readily on social media in particular. So whilst the quote picks up on the potential good of a well told story, you have to acknowledge that not all storytelling is used for good and is the reason why certain political and social narratives are taking hold, they are simply being told as better stories than the truth. I have to say I am not a fan of divisive marketing, of trying to cause a fuss so more eyes come onto your brand. I know it can be effective, but it’s not for me.

TWEET THIS: Great marketing always has great storytelling. ~@CustomerPurpose #brandstorytelling #DebbieLaskeysBlog

QUESTION: What are your three favorite brands, and why?
DAMIAN MILLER: Here are my three:
(1) Lego: I love Lego, partly nostalgia but also a really interesting brand in terms of how they operate.

(2) Disney: I love the creativity they foster, even if sometimes, they do odd things and have an interesting history.

And lastly for a bit of fun…
(3) Post-it notes: I love Post-it notes and use them so often, especially during some of the customer experience consulting workshops I do, I just wish they were more recyclable/sustainable.

As, perhaps, the biggest fan of Post-it notes, my thanks to Damian for sharing his amazing customer experience and branding insights and for appearing here on my Blog.

Image Credit: Simon Lee via Unsplash.

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