Ben Langdon

Chief Executive Officer

Customer experiences are difficult to design. They require a mind-set shift; towards thinking from the customer’s perspective. Something that is still quite alien to most product-centric companies. They rely on sound insight into a customer’s core wants and needs. Insight not only into what customers say they want but also the outcomes that customers are trying to achieve; their motivations and the intrinsic values that are really driving them. Finally, they require a mixture of skills (service design, UX / UI, mobile, web etc.) to effectively re-imagine a journey.

But designing a customer experience is really just the tip of the iceberg. The challenge begins in implementation.

There is a ripple-on effect behind each customer experience that the combination of EY-Seren and EY are perfectly positioned to deliver on. The ripple-on effect touches many of EY’s capabilities:


Many clients start experience design projects with the goal of delivering “the best” customer experience. In reality this is an illogical starting point. The best customer experience for one company may look completely different to another, depending on its business model and strategy. For example, a low cost airline might want a “hassle free” experience that minimises cost (everything spent over-exceeding customer expectations is money that could have been used to keep prices low); whereas a luxury retailer might want a high-touch, cutting-edge experience.

Service Design must reflect the company’s purpose, vision, business model and brand promise. Without that context, companies run the risk of confusing their customers or worse, cannibalising their business model.


User research may indicate that customers like a new journey, but is the cost of implementation really worth it? In what order should we implement new experiences? For which customer segments?

By leveraging EY’s finance and modelling capabilities we are able to determine the likely impact of experience design by quantifying “value to customer vs. value to business vs. cost & complexity to implement”.

Statement of Work

Technology can certainly help create experiences, but people build relationships. All of the customer experience leaders (Burberry, Zappos etc) put just as much effort into their employee proposition and experience as they put into their customer experience.

EY has a global People Advisory Services capability to help organisations super-charge their people, skills and culture with customer-centricity.

Legal & Regulatory Compliance

The digital world is moving at breath-taking speed, regulation tends to respond in slow but painful bytes. In the last few years we have seen the start of the regulatory fight back against digital e.g. EU cookies law, “the right to be forgotten”, EU Data Privacy law. 

Some of these legislative changes can have share price-affecting consequences. The EU recently passed legislation to raise the maximum fine for a data breach within the EU to 5% of global group turnover. Today it is impossible to design and implement new customer experiences without considering the legal and regulatory consequences.

EY has huge strength in this area with strong capabilities in data privacy, Digital Law and sector specific regulation e.g. mis-selling in utilities, adverse effects reporting in Pharma. Some companies have been fined hundreds of millions of euros for getting this wrong. Our recommendation is always to engage lawyers and regulatory people as early as possible in the design process.


Believe it or not, the experience that you design can have unforeseen tax consequences. For example, designing an experience to buy a product in a country where the company does not have a permanent presence for tax purposes could create a tax liability. Shipping products from and via different locations can have tax implications. 

Recently the EU changed the VAT laws for anyone selling digital goods and services within the EU. From January 1st 2015 anyone selling digital goods or services (e.g. eBooks, music, software, video on demand) cross-border in the EU was forced to register and pay VAT in the place of consumption, rather than the place of supply. 

The implication of that tax change is that anyone selling digital goods and services in the EU can no longer base themselves in a low tax country like Luxembourg and pay 3-15% VAT. Instead the company must interrupt the customer journey, capture proof of the customer’s location, display the correct price and pay VAT to the Tax Authority where the customer is based. Across the EU VAT ranges from 3-28% so this significantly impacts the customer experience for consumers in different member states.


Most major companies are attacked hundreds of times per day. High profile attacks today have an effect on the share price of a company (hackers will often ‘short’ the shares on the stock market to gain financial advantage). Hackers will attack the weakest connected entry point in the company’s network and today it is impossible to put a firewall around that network. Consider the automotive company whose car was attacked by hackers who took full control of the brakes. How did hackers gain access to the brakes? Through a third party app that an insurance company had created that plugged into the vehicle diagnostics system. The Insurance company had no connection to the automotive OEM but their app in effect created a weak point in the network.

Supply Chain & Operations

Experiences often look great at the front end of the consumer experience, but they are impossible to implement because the company simply doesn’t have the right level of sophistication in its supply chain and operations to deliver products, on-time, every-time. eCommerce is typically a fulfillment challenge, far more than it is an ordering challenge and it is fulfillment that is the easiest way to make or break customer trust. Consider the omnichannel retail program that EY ran for an electronics retailer in Russia. Facing stiff price competition from online-only retailers, our client invested in an omni-channel solution. Their supply chain powered the omni-channel solution. The strength of their supply chain allowed them to take orders in cash (our customer insight indicated that Russian consumers were reluctant to use credit cards), deliver the products on time, collect the cash and if necessary process returns online or in store.


Implementing a new experience almost always involves technology. Again there may be a tension between the experience we would like to implement and the ability of the client’s technology stack to deliver that experience. Many clients have simply built up too much technical debt to be able to implement the experiences that they would like. Some clients also struggle to deliver technology in an agile and iterative manner. Service Design can be an excellent way of helping a company prioritise its technology investments and reduce scope on those features and functions that will not provide value to customers. In addition, experience implementation typically requires business and technology architecture, data (quality, migration, maintenance etc.), vendor and SI selection, implementation oversight and business readiness etc.

Analytics and Agility

Of course when we design new experiences we test, measure and iterate. We let the data tell us how customers are reacting to the new experience and we respond accordingly (insight into action). Building a real-time, ‘finger on the pulse’ of customer feedback requires strong analytics and data architecture skills. Acting on customer experience typically challenges the agility and operating model of a company. We are working with a global Pharma company to help them design and implement a new operating model to manage patient interaction on social media in a way that delivers on their desired customer experience but also protects them from regulatory risks and gives them the right playbooks to respond quickly in a crisis.

EY’s aim?

To assemble multi-skilled teams with Service Designers, Lawyers, Technologists, People & Change Consultants, Voice of the Customer specialists etc. to bring unique but also implementable experiences to its clients.

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