I’ve written a number of times about branding and consistency, and how the customer experience is one that is made up of millions of facets, not least staff on the front line.

This weekend, however, I had the pleasure of attending the Queen’s diamond exhibition within the Buckingham Palace exhibition. Now British tourist destinations, especially those in London, have not always had a great a reputation for either quality or value for money. I am pleased to report that Buckingham Palace was both.

This started from the pleasantly small queues (given it was the first day of the diamond exhibition). The equitable handling of ticket allocation (first come first served, enabling a day tripper to take advantage) was good. The staff (admittedly all fairly young, and fairly posh – I guess to give the ‘British’ experience) were all exceptionally helpful, polite and well turned out in navy and scarlet uniforms (which were dandruff and lint free). The price was good, including a year’s day pass if you gift aided the money, and  the tour included audio tour, the diamond exhibition, tour of the palace, gardens, tea room etc. Even the gift shop, so often a source of awfulness, had some really high quality and well-merchandised gifts that I’ve not seen since the Guggenhiem in New York. The core of the offering, the Palace itself, was stunning and quite amazing.

My point here is not to act a tour guide, but to reflect that a high quality customer offering is founded on a clear brand, in this case Royal, and is then carried through in all aspects of delivery. This does not mean just logos or paperwork, but a meaningful work through of the customer experience. Thus for auditors, who should audit this significant source of competitive advantage or disadvantage, it is not enough to look for a marketing strategy and mark ‘tick’. One would hope to see the work though of what the brand is, and its integration into the core of what the organisation’s service offering really is and to whom it is designed to appeal. This should be supported by customer journey mapping and clear review of customer feedback.

At Buckingham Palace no element of my experience was left to chance and it had been clearly thought through. For this I thank the team behind it and fully intend to return with my free day pass. I would not even mind receiving the call to audit the Royal Palaces.

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