Ed Deason: The Reality Behind Brand Loyalty

Ed Deason: The Reality Behind Brand Loyalty

Ed Deason: The Reality Behind Brand Loyalty

Episode 85

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Episode 85

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Edward Deason, Head of Customer Experience for cycling retailer WiggleCRC, shares his insights on how to facilitate high-loyalty brand communities, drawing on his experience in CX for a wide range of brands including Explore Worldwide, Royal Caribbean and Pret a Manger.


Episode Summary

Maximum Loyalty

The different companies Ed has worked for have all experienced high levels of brand loyalty, some to the extent of forming brand communities. When asked how this can be achieved, Ed told us that the key similarity between those brands (although hailing from various industries) is their hyper-focused approach to knowing what value they offer, their specific target audience, and combining the two into an extremely tailored offering that supersedes satisfaction. In other words, dominating a niche is one of the best ways to gain customers for life.

The Online Challenge

In contrast with the face-to-face success of Pret’s coffee subscription, Ed now works for Wiggle – the outdoor fitness retailer that operates solely online. This brings a great challenge, especially since their products like bicycles and running gear are very much physical. So how do you grow loyalty and customer connections when you have no in-person interactions?

Well, Wiggle uses common online tools like reviews to build their community of fans and grow credibility, but the retailer is also investing in AI functions. Their use of technology allows for top-of-the-line language processing and sentiment analysis, alongside complex data interpretations that help CX leaders like Ed streamline the customer experience using real, valuable insights.

To discover more and learn how niche differentiation can transform customer experiences, check out our full episode with Ed – available on all your favourite channels. Now including YouTube!

This article summarises podcast episode 85 “The Reality Behind Brand Loyalty” recorded by CX Insider. For more information, listen to the episode, or contact Ed on his LinkedIn profile.

Written by Marcell Debreceni

Full Episode Transcript

Marcell: What similarities are there between high loyalty brands across differing sectors? How is the subscription trend shaping the present and future of customer experience, and which communication channels might become king as social media evolves? But the answer is not what you think. You’re listening to CX Insider, and today we find out. Hey everyone, welcome to the podcast with me, your host, Marcell. In this episode we talk to Edward Deason, head of customer experience at Wiggle Chain Reaction, discussing all things digital retail, brand loyalty and customer satisfaction. Enjoy the conversation and if you do, why not subscribe to our YouTube channel for Insider’s Best content or share the episode and leave a comment down below to keep the talks going? By the way, this podcast is brought to you by ACF Technologies Global Leaders in Customer Experience Management Solutions. All right, So welcome Ed to our podcast. Thank you very much for coming on. Usually we start with an introduction of our guests. So would you like to tell us a bit about yourself?

Ed: Yeah, absolutely. So hi guys. I am Ed, I am currently head of customer experience at Wiggle Chain Reaction. So we’re kind of a niche bike retailer, I suppose, bike and outdoor sports retailer. So I head up the kind of customer experience element of the organization. So that’s our new proposition development and also the customer service side of things as well. Really my history I suppose is probably like a lot of other customer experience professionals. We were saying this a second ago absolutely is that I started off in customer service and I started off as a customer service admin. Would you believe about, I don’t know, 18 years ago, maybe in retail? No, in the travel industry. Okay. So I started out working for a cruise line called Royal Caribbean. Yeah, as a temp, purely because I wanted to get out of education and wanted to just get into work. And like I said, like, like a lot of us, I think I worked up through customer service from a, you know, temp to permanent to team leader to manager. And I did my first 15 years or so in the travel industry. Then I moved on to a really kind of so from, from huge cruise line with millions of customers and billions in revenue to really small niche tour operator called Explore. Okay. And they were all about super responsible tourism all about small group adventure. So totally. So instead of 5000 customers like you get on a cruise ship, ten customers going to exciting places, you know, and traveling as a little group and sort of really experiencing those places authentically, if you like. Yeah, and responsibly. So I worked there for a little bit and that’s where I went from customer service into customer experience. I saw an opportunity there to really kind of have someone dedicated to customer experience, to improving the customer experience. They’d gone through a fair bit of change at the time. They’d introduced some new systems and it was having a real impact on their loyal customers.

Adam: When you say a real impact. Like what? A negative impact, Yeah.

Ed: So they’d, they’d introduce a new booking system and it was these customers that had been booking with them for 20 years or so were suddenly finding that it was hard to make a booking and it was hard to get what they wanted and all that kind of stuff.

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Ed: And there was a real opportunity for us to go, right, let’s, let’s get the magic back into this because their customers were super loyal. I think at the point I left, one of their customers had travelled with them over a hundred times. We haven’t been on a hundred holidays, but if we have right, you tend to just go, okay, well you know, where do I want to go? What’s cheapest or what’s the right rate star rating? This guy didn’t go do that. He went right. I’m going to explore. What have they got? Yeah, because he was totally committed to them because it was exactly the type of holiday that he wanted. So he was super.

Adam: Jumping on TripAdvisor and going five-star reviews and exactly.

Ed: Like you or I might go to. Okay, what deals have TUI got? Okay. Well, they haven’t got 100%. What deals have, you know, easyJet got?

Adam: Up low to high pricing and then you go on TripAdvisor and see if the is actually any good.

Ed: Which is exactly how we do it. Right? Yeah.

Adam: Yeah.

Ed: And they had these super loyal customers, you know, they had a huge chunk of customers who’d been over 25 times and this guy had been over a hundred times. So anyway, so there’s a real opportunity there to sort of improve the customer experience and sort of get it back, get back that kind of magic, if you like, of that booking experience. So I did that for a little while and then they were bought out by a bigger company called Hotelplan, and I moved over to Hotelplan shortly after the purchase to go and do customer experience for them. And that’s kind of been a bit of a theme through my career, is wearing both hats at the same time, doing customer service and customer loads, and you were.

Adam: Absolutely spot on. I think so many guests that we’ve had on this on Six Insider have started their careers in customer service. Yeah, partly actually because I think the role of customer experience or customer experience officer or head of customer experience I don’t think necessarily existed maybe ten, 15 years ago. Definitely didn’t, did it? No, absolutely. There. Yeah. So naturally people like yourself come from customer service who understand experience, but that sounds like you’ve made a good career choice there.

Ed: Yeah, and it’s been super interesting. And I think when you’re in customer service, you hear about the stuff that’s not really working. And when you move to customer experience, it’s so nice to have kind of that you have more of an impact on that and you can pick some of those things. You make that experience so much better for customers? And then probably about three years ago now, I moved to Pret and I was their global head of customer experience. I moved to about four weeks before COVID hit, so it was very mean. So I went from the travel industry who was probably the worst hit to hospitality, which probably second worst hit.

Adam: Yeah, no, yeah, absolutely.

Ed: And I spent about two years at Pret sort of really kind of over that core COVID period working as the global head of customer experience, worked on stuff like the coffee subscription. And then maybe about ten months ago I moved to wiggle chain reaction. So the online retailer.

Marcell: Ed’s worked in customer experience for a variety of brands with high levels of customer loyalty. Do these companies have any major similarities that empower such loyalty, or perhaps any differences? Now, Michael Porter’s generic competitive strategies suggest that brands with great differentiation in a narrow target market know what they’re good at, focusing and mastering it. Whereas organizations that try to straddle with a bit of everything tend to perform worse. Does this apply for brands like Pret Wiggle and explore?

Ed: I think it’s a really interesting question. So I think it comes down to kind of this they’ve got this kind of single minded focus, right? They know what they do and they do it very well and their cultures, if you like, their management is all designed around doing that thing very well. So if you think about Royal Caribbean, they’re the most technologically advanced cruise ships. Yeah. You know, you know, when you look in the paper and it’s, you know, world’s largest cruise ship launch, it’s always Royal Caribbean.

Adam: My perception of Royal Caribbean is a very premium brand. Okay.

Ed: Interesting.

Adam: Yeah, because I’ve been on a couple of cruises and I’ve always thought Royal Caribbean are high level. I might be wrong, but that’s my perception.

Ed: I mean, the marketing guys at Royal would absolutely, like adore you. Right? Okay. So yeah, so so Royal is all about the technology, right? The biggest, the best. You know, it’s all about excitement and they really kind of approach that with a single minded focus. Yeah. When the ships launch, they always send the office teams into the ships to go and experience them. Yeah. They’ll always get them down to Southampton and you get on board and you get to see what the ship is, what the ship is like, you know, and you get to experience the technology and you get to you’re really there to kind of absorb it. And it’s such a good way about reinforcing, right, okay, this is who we are. This is what we’re about. This is what we do. And the same with Explore So, so Royal is about that kind of single minded focus about having those technologically advanced ships at Explore. It’s all about responsible tourism. They’re utterly devoted to responsible tourism. Everything they do is about, you know, travelling authentically. It’s engaging with the people that you go and visit. It’s not staying in chain hotels in luxury. It’s about spending time with the people who live in those environments. Yeah, it’s about getting the most authentic experience you can, and they’re all about making sure that when you’re there, you’re giving to that community. You’re not, you know, paying backhanders to government officials or anything like that. It’s all about making sure that money reaches the people who need it most and the people who are sharing their homes with you, cooking you foods, taking you for tours.

Ed: And they’re totally devoted to responsible tourism. When I worked there forever being told off for leaving my monitors on overnight or forgetting or forgetting to switch off of lights as I left a meeting room and things like that. But, but, but because they were truly, you know, culturally, they were all about responsibility and they were the same holidays they’ve been providing for 40 years. So that guy had travelled with them a hundred times, had probably travelled with them pretty much since they started. The reason he was super loyal was because they were continuing to do the stuff that he liked. Right? They knew who they were. They know what they were about. And at Pret, again, you know, super loyal customers. And that’s because Pret knows what it does. And what Pret does is fresh food prepared daily. You go to prep because the food’s good and they and the guys in the food development team are absolutely rabid about it. You know, they love it. They’re all about food development. They’re forever popping up out of the kitchen going, Try this. What do you think? So the thing those companies have in common is they’re very clear about what they do. That’s what their customers want, and they pursue that with that kind of single minded devotion to it.

Marcell: One big driver of customer loyalty nowadays, especially for digital products and services, is subscriptions. Ed was one of the workstream leads behind Pret a Manger’s wildly successful coffee subscription service that was released as an antidote to the COVID-19 lockdown hangovers that washed through London as people returned to in-person working. Not only was Pret’s strategy extremely timely, but it revolutionized the industry. Let’s find out more about how the idea came to life and what it means for modern cooks.

Ed: I think that, you know, Pret’s coffee subscription was genius, if I’m perfectly honest.

Marcell: Not your genius?

Ed: You know, I would love to. I wish I wish it was, you know. No, absolutely not. I couldn’t claim any responsibility for it. But it’s but it was such a perfectly timed piece of strategy. The coffee subscription was launched over COVID. If you think about the environment we were in at that point, everybody was working from home. Yeah, we spent the first, what was it, 2 or 3 months hospitality venue shut. So every single Pret was shut and that was really their only channel of business as well. And when things started to reopen, Pret had a real challenge ahead because 80% of their shops were in London.

Adam: Yeah. Oh, I think there’s literally four within 50 yards of each other in one place in London the other day.

Ed: Once I once heard a fact when I was working there that there are more Pret’s in one street in London than there are in the entirety of Wales.

Adam: WYeah, that’s impressive. So, so.

Ed: That gives you a sense, I think, of kind of the challenge they had because, you know, hospitality was starting to reopen a little bit and 80% of the Prets are in London. And, you know, local towns, the footfall was starting to increase. London wasn’t speeding up at that same rate. You know, most city workers were still free to work from home. You know, in London, footfall was still only at 40, 50%, where other areas were at 60, 70, 80%. The kind of coffee subscription was an opportunity to get people back into the shops naturally. But what it really did is kind of steal a march on the competition. So if you think about the environment we were in at that point, your routines stopped. Yeah. If you think about COVID and all of a sudden we’re all working from home or public transport is not the same, or you’re two metres away from each other or all that kind of stuff’s going on and your routine is totally out of sync. So where before you might have every morning got up at the same time, stopped at the same coffee shop on the way in or stopped at the same coffee shop. As you get off the tube, your routine’s totally bust.

Ed: You’re sort of slowly going back into London. Maybe. Maybe you’re doing one day a week to start with all of a sudden, perhaps doing a month of free coffees. Yeah. And everyone in your office is drinking everywhere you look. Yeah. People have got Pret coffees and the guy sat next to you is drinking his third cup that day because it’s. Yeah, because it’s that first month was free and then subsequent months were £20. Yeah. So £20 for up to five coffees a day. 150 coffees a month. Yeah. It’s a lot of coffees. Yeah. So it was very flexible. And why it was a stroke of genius is people didn’t have a routine. They were coming back and their routines have been totally shattered. And now all of a sudden you’ve got this coffee shop offering you basically as much coffee as you can drink. Yeah, probably more coffee than you really should drink. Absolutely. And all of us. You might have been a Starbucks guy. You might have been a Costa guy. You might have been a little independent shop guy. But now all of a sudden, you’ve got a month of free coffee.

Ed: You’re going, Well, I’m prepared to be a Pret guy for a little bit. Yeah. And see what happens. And actually, the coffee’s pretty good. That starts to be the new routine. And if you’re, Well, I’ve got a reason to be in Pret each day. I’m just going to keep going, to be honest. And it starts like that, isn’t it? And it starts to build up that routine and your routine stops being Nero and Costa and Starbucks and it starts being Pret because it’s free for the first month and then it’s £20 and then there’s the food as well thereafter. And obviously the food’s good too. But so for them, you know, if you think about it strategy wise, you’ve got all these people starting to come back and their routines bust and now all of a sudden they’ve got this new routine. And you talk to me about loyalty and now you’ve got this opportunity. So that cost out. You’ve got that kind of share of brain space, if you like, that share of attention. And these customers are going, well, I’m yeah, why would I not take the free coffee?

Adam: Why do you think brands are obsessed with subscriptions? I mean, you’ve obviously just proved that with Pret, but do you think it’s because they’re trying to create like brand loyalty or what’s your feeling on that?

Ed: Yeah, that’s an interesting one. I think there’s, you know, there’s a few reasons for the real take up in subscription. So firstly I think recurring revenue, right? If you’re a business, having predictable cash flow is always a winner. Yeah, absolutely. You know, there’s no getting away from that. So subscriptions are massive. Subscriptions are great for businesses. Yeah. And they also help with your valuation as well, but then they absolutely drive loyalty. I mean, the examples are perfect. One, you know, it’s a reason for people to engage with you consistently. It’s a reason for you to reach out and talk to people as well. If they’re subscribing with you. There’s, you know, it’s that’s kind of the opening of a conversational door, isn’t it? You know, this person’s agreed to spend money with us every month. They’re obviously interested in us. So let’s talk to them about stuff that matters to them. It’s a great way of collecting data as well and all that, all that kind of good stuff. So, you know, really in terms of value, you know, customer value subscriptions are super useful because if you know you’ve got a customer who subscribed to you, right, you’ve got a consistent flow of cash, you know, when they’re making those purchases and you know, you can talk to them, you know, they’re probably fairly engaged as well. They’re some of your most valuable customers.

Adam: Yeah, absolutely.

Marcell: Following on from the theme of brand loyalty, when a group of customers transcends the bounds of customer experience, becoming closely connected with a company like fans and advocates, they can sometimes form what’s known as a brand community. Coincidentally, this is something that’s been prevalent throughout Ed’s awesome career. How can brand communities elevate customer experiences?

Ed: Some businesses and some types of product lend themselves to it quite well, and other businesses and products probably don’t lend themselves to it at all. So I work for Wiggle Chain Reaction, right? So we are a company that sells cycling gear, running gear, triathlon gear. Yeah. If you think about kind of that opportunity for community, that’s a good one. Um, it’s huge. Yeah. Because if you think about cyclists, they’re, they’re generally members of cycling clubs and they do cycling events, right?

Adam: You never see a cyclist on their own. There’s always a big army them on a Sunday afternoon you’re like, oh here we go. Careful. I’m only kidding.

Ed: No, no. Thin ice. Um, so you get to that. So, you know, so for us, you know, we’re absolutely dedicated to that idea of community, right? You know, running clubs are awesome. You know, sports generally are awesome especially. And you’ve got that kind of inclusivity piece as well, you know, and as a, you know, a brand that cares about community and cares about customers, you’ve got that huge opportunity to engage with people that are maybe underserved or don’t get as much opportunity to do some of these things as they might like. So and so. So some products and some services really lend themselves to customer communities running, cycling, swimming naturally, naturally, a great one for them. Perhaps things that are less suited to communities. Insurance, for example. You’re never going to be talking to your neighbour about insurance or making recommendations about insurance and things like that. So, so, so I think communities can certainly add value in certain circumstances, and trying to build a community can be really useful in certain circumstances. But I think there are limits to that as well with them.

Adam: So with Wiggle, yes. Okay. And I absolutely see it because you’re right, all the activities, all the things that you guys are involved in absolutely. Are about building communities. And what I found by anyone that is a keen cyclist or a runner or a triathlon or whatever, they’re always really passionate about it. And it’s also good because it’s good for your mental health because you’re releasing endorphins, you’re keeping fit, but you’re predominantly an online retailer. So how do you build a community when you’re not actually in the high street? Do you know what I mean? What challenges?

Marcell: Your products are very physical as well.

Adam: Yeah, exactly. So how do you go about that? That’s a challenge, obviously, for customer experience.

Ed: The natural one that comes to mind, right, is that kind of reviews piece and that ability to ask questions. And, you know, Amazon’s a good example. We do it on the wiggle site as well to ask a question and go oh you know, what size do I need? I’m this tall, I’m this heavy. What what’s your recommendation? And for customers to get involved in that conversation and that’s it’s kind of most surface level, right? But if you think about cycling is such a good example, right? Because you know, if you’re quite often cyclists are very knowledgeable about the sport and they love to talk to other as you’ve seen. They love talking. They really do and will happily talk about cycling all day. Yeah. So give me the opportunity to talk to other people about cycling who may be interested in cycling as well. And that’s the start of that community, isn’t it? You say, okay, well, this guy’s got a question. Would you like to answer it? Yes, absolutely. I’d like to answer it. Yeah. I mean, what does he want to know? Bottom bracket standards? Does he want to know what size handlebars he needs? So so these things kind of really naturally lend themselves to it. We sponsored a mile in the London Marathon earlier this year, and I talked a little bit about underserved communities and things like that. And one of the things we did was we put up some Braille banners for blind runners or partially sighted runners with, you know, get your wiggle on or, you know, you know, some motivational messages, get your wiggle on.

Ed: Yeah, love it. But it’s such because they’re an underserved element of the community and I think you can run the risk sometimes when you talk about communities and when you build communities you can run the risk of rather than being inclusive, being exclusive and turning it into a, you know, oh, well, you know, we’re specialists, we’re experts, We know who we are, you know, and not be as inclusive as you could. And for us, it’s the absolute opposite. You know, when we get engaged in sport, when we help people pick the bikes or the, you know, the running shoes or the swimsuits or whatever it is, we want to be as inclusive as possible. We want to give as many people the opportunity to engage in a sport as possible. So we’re really careful. And when we as we work on communities and as we look to develop these communities, we’re going to spend a lot of time on making sure that we’re as inclusive as we can be. I think a great example is if you go into a bike shop, yeah, quite often some of these bike shops are really road-focused or really mountain bike focused. And if you’re a novice to the sport and you’re walking in, they can be a bit, a little bit intimidating. 100%.

Adam: Personally wouldn’t have a clue. I’d be like, I don’t know if I need what kind of bike I need, whether it should be a hybrid bike or I don’t know, I literally wouldn’t know.

Ed: And the guys obviously, you know, the three mechanics are in the corner and they’re talking about the latest and you’re going, I’ve no idea. I just need a bit of I don’t really know, you know, and you get that and it can feel a little bit exclusive, you know. And actually, one of the benefits of online retail is you’re not walking into a store like that. You haven’t got this clique of people. And actually, it’s very easy to ask. It’s much more comfortable asking a question, isn’t it? Don’t know what I need. Could you give me a bit of a basically.

Adam: Exactly. You got no kind of pressure from people. You’re absolutely right. And also, the thing is, if you were a, say, amateur or if you were getting into something like that and you’ve got that kind of daunting feeling of going into a showroom, you may feel almost pressured to spend more money than you wanted to spend. Well, this guy, you know, I was looking at this bike, I don’t know, £1,500. I’ve sort of suddenly walked out. I spent £5,000. I don’t even know if I’m going to like it yet. Yeah. And that wouldn’t be great. That would actually be a bad start. But I suppose if you have got huge benefits by being online because you can.

Ed: We can make it easy for people to have those conversations. And actually one of the really kind of key things we’re keen to do is to an extent replace that local bike shop experience and do it online.

Marcell: What Ed’s touching on, there will be game-changing for the retail environment and specifically for a brand like Wiggle, who are primarily online. The utilization of digital channels is an increasingly important point of note with mediums like video calls that can make a customer’s life easier, faster and better. The growth of platforms like Chatgpt is also growing more widespread, which raises further concerns. Let’s hear from Ed on which technologies he thinks will take retail by storm and why.

Ed: I mean, I think you probably hit the nail on the head. You know, there’s going to be more video conversations with retail. To be perfectly honest, I think, you know, I think Currys are already sort of leading the way in some of this stuff. You can have a video call with a Currys expert. And I think that you’re only going to see more of that, to be perfectly honest, particularly in those companies that only offer online retail experiences, because that is the key challenge for them, isn’t it? How do you get a customer to get a sense of your product if the only way to do it is by ordering it video conversations, You can walk them around it. You can talk about the features with them, you can show them the benefits of it in a much more tangible way than you might than having it as a static item that you have to, you know, flicking through the slides, you’re flicking through the photos.

Adam: What is the most common channel at the moment? Is it telephone, or is it email? Is it live chat? Is it? What is it?

Ed: So for us it’s still email.

Adam: Is it?

Ed: It is. Although live chat is a natural second for us. I think it’s going to be a while before sort of email really drops out. But you know, again, things like WhatsApp, Apple Chat, they’re going to be huge channels, bigger channels.

Adam: Data is a big thing. And we both spoke about subscriptions earlier and you can collect people’s data by subscription. You can engage with that. You’ve obviously got people’s data from mailing lists online, but purchases. But do you believe AI has a role in terms of doing something with that data? It needs someone like yourself or someone in customer experience to be able to frame it and actually do it themselves?

Marcell: Yeah, perhaps it’s better to have that personal application to it.

Ed: So we’re already using AI. At Wiggle Chain Reaction. So yeah, so we, we earlier this year we started working with an AI company and their, their product essentially takes all of the free text you collect from your customers, whether it’s from surveys, NPS surveys, whether it’s from the chats that they have with our agents, whether it’s, you know, all those different kind of contact methods and way for customers to give you free text feedback. And if you’ve worked in customer service or customer experience, you know, the worst job in the world is trying to categorise this stuff. Yeah. And turn it into useful insights.

Adam: Yeah. Free text field is almost impossible.

Ed: And they’re horrendous and you spend an awful lot of time and you end up with these really generic categories. And this solution, what the solution does is it’s sentiment analysis, it’s natural language processing. So it takes those chunks of data and it turns them into useful insights. So it goes right. You had, I don’t know, 100 customers talk to you about this issue in a positive way. Last week you had 200 customers. Talk to you about this issue in a negative way last week. And that is fantastic, right? Because it really gets to the kind of the into the detail about what customers are talking to you about, what matters to them, what’s important, what’s upsetting them, what’s making them happy, what they’re loving, you know, all of those kind of pieces. And it presents it in a way that you can track it over time. So, you know, this week they were, I don’t know, 5% happy. They were 5% more positive, 5% more positive contacts last week, you know, the last week or this thing’s really shot up all of a sudden. Have you checked, you know, promo code contacts have really shot up in the last week. Have you got a problem with your promo codes? All of that stuff’s only going to improve, right? Because the more data you put into it, the better the model becomes. The more advanced it becomes, the better able it is to identify trends and issues and all those kind of things and more quickly. Yeah. So I mean, 100%, I think absolutely has a definitely has a place.

Ed: And it’s it offers real value and it’s great for customers too, because you know, it’s nice to be able to put a free text in and know that something’s going to happen from it, you know, give this feedback and understand that there are going to be changes off the back of it.

Marcell: Thank you for listening. We hope you enjoyed the podcast and if you did, why not subscribe to our YouTube channel for access to full-length videos and YouTube shorts? You can also like share and comment on the episode to keep the conversation going. If you want to join our growing community of thought leaders, head over to LinkedIn and follow us at Insider podcast to stay updated. Thanks again. I’ve been Marcell and I’ll see you in two weeks, but for now, enjoy our Rapid fire questions. And by the way, this podcast has been brought to you by ACF Technologies, the Global Leaders in Customer Experience Management Solutions. I think I remember from my initial call that you were quite a fantasy fan.

Ed: Yeah. Yes, I read a few books in my home study.

Marcell: Yeah. I just wanted to ask you, do you have, like, a favourite fantasy book or series?

Ed: Okay. Anything by Iain Banks. Iain M Banks. Okay, so science sci-fi author, really fabulous stuff. I don’t think anyone’s really sort of got close to the level of detail of his books and his imagination.

Marcell: Are you quite into the proper deep sciencey stuff then?

Ed: Not particularly. I think maybe a kind of a light touch. Sci-fi.

Marcell: Would you rather have unlimited battery life on all your devices or have good free wifi anywhere you go?

Ed: Oh, good. Free WiFi. Anywhere I go. You reckon? Yeah. Yeah. I’m always reasonably well charged. Fair enough.

Adam: You’ve probably got a power bank in his bike. Yeah.

Ed: For the long distance cycle rides, you need a power pack.

Marcell: Yeah. Is there a device like that? Maybe with your cycling, like powers up using a gyro. There is?

Ed: Yeah, there is. So I do, I do really long distance cycling and I’ve got a dynamo attached to my bike which means that as you pedal the front, as the front wheel turns generates electricity powers, the lights on the bike.

Adam: Tell that we know so much about cycling.

Ed: I mean, it is a pretty niche product. It’s only because I cycle. I do long distance stuff.

Adam: That’s amazing. Sorry. How long distance? How long are we talking?

Ed: 400km.

Adam: What?

Marcell: What?

Ed: Yeah. So crazy. So. Yeah, so. So it is like it’s the niche end of the niche sport, right? Wow. So yeah, long distance stuff can be anything from typically 200K upwards.

Adam: So when the job offer came in from Wiggle, you were like, Yep, I’m in. Oh, 100%.

Ed: Yeah. I’ve been a customer of theirs for ten, 15 years. So, yeah, and that was why I took the move from Pret to Wiggle was because I’ve been a customer of theirs for so long. I’d always wanted to work there. It was a great opportunity and I love the brand.

Adam: That’s brilliant. Awesome. Well, what a person to have as head of customer experience. Yeah. Who’s been a customer for years. Perfect. Sorry.

Marcell: No, that’s perfect. Going back to explore as well. Did they Royal Caribbean, did you have any benefits like free cruises or did you get to experience them?

Ed: So working in the travel industry, right. One of the perks of working in the travel industry is you typically get to go on familiarisation trips. Yeah. So it doesn’t matter whether it’s Explorer, whether it was the Snowsports Company, whether it’s Royal Caribbean, typically you get a chance to experience the products. Yeah. One of the things that was wonderful about Explore, for example, was, and this really kind of leans into their passion and their customer experience base. You get a familiarisation trip after you’ve been there for, say, a year. You get to go on one of the tours. And there were two things that when you came back, you give a presentation to the rest of the business, okay? You share your photos, you share your highlights, you talk about all the great things, you know, customer contacts, the sales team and wants to know about that trip. Your name is on the list and if you’re available, the customer will come and speak to you. So it doesn’t matter if you’re in IT doesn’t matter if you’re in finance, doesn’t matter if you’re in. Everyone loves talking about their holidays, right? So that kind of apprehension about talking to customers totally disappears. And suddenly you’ve got Steve who’s interested in going to the Serengeti.

Marcell: I guess that perfectly answers the question before about kind of implementing throughout every department.

Adam: Why don’t other brands do that? Yeah, like that’s ridiculous. Like, for example, even like car manufacturers, you know, why not connect the guy who’s actually driving that demo vehicle to the person whose interest in that demo vehicle?

Marcell: I was also wondering, you said, you know, your long distance can go up to about 400 K. What’s the longest that you’ve ever done in one?

Adam: Was 400K not enough for you?

Ed: So I was entered to London, Edinburgh, London this year. So it’s a 1500 kilometers London to Edinburgh and back again over the course of about four and a half days was the plan. Unfortunately, I had a bit of an incident on day one, so I did about 200 miles. So this year, 200 miles is probably the longest, longest I’ve had. And yeah, I mean, generally for me, I sort of the enjoyment tops out at around 400 K a day. Yeah. Any more than that. And it’s a little bit, it gets a little bit uncomfortable. Yeah.