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Taking punk CX to the mainstream

Susanne Axelsson
May 20, 2021

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Adrian Swinscoe is the author of Punk CX, a book that has been described by some as a “visual slap in the face” for the customer experience industry.

“Emerging in the 1970s, prog rock was often accused of being overly technical, too elaborate, not focused on its audience and often in danger of disappearing up it’s own a***.

One could argue that the service and experience space is starting to exhibit some of the same characteristics - namely it’s in danger of becoming overly technical, benchmarked, frameworked, measured, codified, certified, specialized and functionalized…”

“Punk exploded out of the back of prog rock with it’s democratic, DIY, back to basics approach that inspired both a cultural and musical movement and change in mindset. It dared to be different...” (Amazon).


Adrian is a teacher, economist, manager of businesses and leader of teams and has worked with some of the best know CX companies in the world, including Apple, Costa Coffee, HarperCollins and more. What he advocates for most is simplicity and human connection in CX.

We caught up with him about what harnessing our inner punk to transform customer experience might look like…

Walk among us

A common theme across the best companies that Adrian has worked with is that they are always open to new things. You can’t stay at the top of the charts by resting on your laurels and singing the same old tune. Working hard, intensely so, but staying humble is key. Thinking that you’re already the best and what you’ve achieved will keep you that title can’t be the leading strategy for any organization wanting to earn customer loyalty. Make sure you’re looking for opportunities to do better in different and innovative ways. It’s about improving, constantly. 

A lust for life

Planning the future; researching the next big thing in technology and experimenting around different ways of working are really important, but all useless if you aren’t hyper-focused on what's happening here and now. The future is built on the present, and the best organizations are those who are working on being the best they can be right now – because it’s in the here and now that your customer is ready to spend money with you. If they tell you about the brilliant service they received, capture that – and transfer it to those future plans.

Hanging on the telephone

If you think about the brands that are held up as being the best, their CX secrets are hiding in plain sight… they have their basics for the customer down to a T, and that’s how they treat every customer, every day. 

To get to that point, you really must understand your customer’s needs, and that takes ongoing dialogue. Talk to them about what they do, how your service helps them, their buying history with you, and what they expect from your organization in the future. (But don’t forget the here and now – always involve them in a conversation about what's happening right now, and how you can make their day easier.)

Gotta get better

Those consistent conversations with customers will give you priceless feedback on all aspects of your business. But – don’t fall into the danger of thinking you know all the issues affecting customers, or what they love most about your brand. Think again! Each and every one of those small annoyances or moments of magic could easily be dismissed as insignificant. It’s building on a lot of those little things that will add up to big things. 

We often take for granted the results we see when a beautiful painting sells for a record amount, or a new 100m world record is smashed – but these huge achievements are the product of hard work, and small improvements daily. 

CX is hard work – every day, and it takes courage to stand up to the overly technical, codified, specialized and functionalized – but your customers are looking for a kick-ass gig. With a punk CX attitude, your frontline teams will be ready to put on a show.


About the Author

Susanne Axelsson
Susanne is the Frontline Community Evangelist as well as the author and researcher for Frontline Magic Handbook. She believes happy customers are born out of great experiences. Great experiences are delivered by motivated frontline people.
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