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Unlocking the power of your customer base

Forward into 2019 .. and Beyond

January 3, 2019 posted by Liz Machtynger

Partnership – the unexpected? 

animal band

In business to business marketing, it can be hard to share what we learn and share the secrets of successes more openly. Sometimes it’s because it’s confidential. Sometimes it’s because it is so complex, with lessons that need to be translated into different industries and businesses. Sometimes success is a question of the right strategy (or change of strategy) at the right time, sometimes it’s about willingness to invest – whether in new technologies, new strategies or new models. Sometimes it’s a question of whether companies are prepared to address skills issues through recruitment and training. It is always about the customer base!

We often act as conduits or “chief networkers”. We bring people and best practice together. We help form new partnerships. We have been developing ideas for this year focusing on Business 4 Business – the new frontier! This means we are focusing on situations of true partnership between businesses. These include:

  • Building strong, professional, long-term relationship, supported by the right business models, strategies, data, information technology and skills
  • Creating strong cross-functional/cross-partnership teams and collaborations, balancing the needs of clients and suppliers
  • Adding value to relationships, between companies and between employees, based on strong multi-sided propositions
  • Managing change, balancing the need for new directions with the need to ensure stability of existing contracts and relationships, using state of the art techniques of programme design, proposition development, communicating, training and motivation
  • Helping smaller businesses and start-ups work more effectively with larger business, based on the above principles

Keep in touch – let us know – are you interested in:

  • A specific issue you need help with e.g. addressing a problem with clients or suppliers; assessing the impact of your programme, proposition or strategy; designing or implementing your programme/proposition, implementing your proposition; developing your leaders and all your people
  • Discussing your B4B relationship challenges with us – “a B4B check-up
  • Meeting informally with us/others to debate and share ideas
  • Developing and/or delivering events with your partners, customers or suppliers
  • Researching B4B questions, such as what your customers, partners or suppliers need and how well you are delivering it.

Liz Machtynger, Merlin Stone & The Customer Essential Network.

We have been successful in working to unlock the approach for and with companies and have the ideas, experience, skills and methods to add true value and design the customer strategy and proposition that fits a particular company, brand and team.

Contact the team: Liz.machtynger@customeressential.com, Merlin@merlin-stone.com




Proud Moment

October 11, 2017 posted by Liz Machtynger

It was with great excitement that I joined the ” 4th B2B Marketing Colloquium – Innovation in B2B Marketing” at Bournemouth University on Friday 6th October. An action packed agenda, and a chance to present a paper on: “Transforming Key Account Managers into Managing Directors of Accounts“. A subject very close to my heart, having worked with sales, marketing and service leaders on development programmes which have unlocked their leadership potential and in some cases enabled them to move into higher education. The paper is one we are now working on in detail, I would love to hear your stories. I will post more detail here. If you would like the slides, drop me a line: liz.machtynger@customeressential.com.

There was much debate and a keen interest in how the academic world should become more integrated into the world of business and therefore providing greater thinking and impact for the individuals and organisations they interact with. I am quite sure there is a lot more on this to come.

The most exciting part of the day was listening to two fantastic speakers: Mike Russell and Luke Robbins. Each have just completed their MA in Sales Management at Portsmouth University having converted onto this programme from the leadership programme we worked on with them at RSA. Mike presented his work on Social Media in B2B and Luke on Portfolio management. Both gave great presentations and it was a proud moment for us to see them graduate and present to an esteemed audience. Congratulations guys!

mike luke



CIPD Finalist – L&D Consultancy

October 4, 2016 posted by Liz Machtynger

Customer Essential and RSA were shortlisted for the coveted CIPD awards – Best L&D Consultancy 2016. It was an honour to be shortlisted, and it was really exciting to attend the CIPD Awards Dinner. The judges noted after our presentation:

“This was a strong presentation to the judges, with a clear sense of connection and collaboration between client and customer. The involvement of a participant in the programme was particularly valuable”.

This makes us all very proud, and even more “fired-up” to take this and other leading edge customer leadership programmes forwards. Congratulations to all the finalists, there are some amazing programmes out there!

Merlin, Katherine, Liz & Luke

Merlin, Katherine, Liz & Luke



September 23, 2016 posted by Liz Machtynger

We have been working very hard on a magnificent Customer Leadership programme together with our colleagues at RSA. We are very pleased to announce that the CIPD has shortlisted us for the Learning and Development Consultant of the Year award 2016. We know just how much planning, insight, drive and belief went into our programme from Mark Allan and his Leadership team at RSA and the team delivering as well as those participating in the programme. We hope that we win it, for them.

The Together Academy was initiated two years ago as part of the RSA passion for “Superior Account Management and Leadership qualities”. There was no programme out there to achieve their aims and drive the level of performance and impact for individuals and the organisation. We were absolutely honoured and very excited that they chose us to design and deliver the programme with our experience and network of experts to guide them.

The year long Academy incorporates key Leadership theory as well as a strong focus on REAL implementation. It takes the participants through 5 key stages:

1. Thinking like a CEO – Changing thinking and contexts, being mindful, considering own thinking and style.

2.  Building Cross-Functional Teams – Understanding the partnership and the functions crucial to building successful partnerships, orchestrating the delivery across the team, building meaningful plans and stories together.

3. Strategic Leadership – Building goals, driving for the future not just short term goals. Using insight to drive strategic thinking.

4. Innovation – Working with tools and people to create new ideas, new propositions.

5. Business for Business – Making the shift to a partnership. Creating the best relationship model. Creating the best Account Director/Leader.

We are all very proud of the outcomes – for individuals first and foremost, and of course for the business and their partners. The business and NPS results speak for themselves. We are also very excited to be working with Beth Rogers at the University of Portsmouth, enabling some of the graduates of the Academy to progress to MA in Sales Management.

Special thanks go to the amazing team involved: Prof. Merlin Stone, Phil Banfield, Lauren Barwell, Norman Black, Nicola Carver, Sara Dean, Shahin Amir-Ebrahimi, Bryan Foss, Katherine Heseltine, Andy Gallagher, Nicole James, Gill Johnson, Dave King, Neil Lewis, Catherine Macleod-Smith, Dr Jon Machtynger, Steve Messenger, Dave Snowden, The So Team, Amanda Warwick, Ann Wright.

” A fantastic programme. I’ve got loads of great opportunities to make a real difference using the new tools acquired”  Luke Robbins, Broker Manager.

” From the outset the design and delivery of this programme has been an excellent example of true partnership. Customer Essential succeeded in getting to the heart of our “Together Strategy”. They worked with us to provide our account managers with a programme that has given them access to a range of learning. The individual impact is clear to see and collectively is supporting our ambition to be a partner of choice.” Katherine Heseltine, RSA, Learning & Development Business Partner

If you would like to drive impressive customer leadership through your teams, sales, service or marketing, we would love to hear from you.




Merry Christmas

December 23, 2013 posted by Liz Machtynger

Merry Christmas 2013

It is welly time today! Lets hope the weather is kinder to all and wishing you a wonderful Christmas time with your friends and families.

See you all soon

The CE Team


Engaging Customer Propositions the John Lewis Way..

November 8, 2013 posted by Liz Machtynger

Engaging Customer Propositions are what we all (well mostly all) aspire to! Just what does engaging mean? Well, for some it is all about interacting with customers and keeping them connected to the company, and of course being there for them when they have a need.

pleasing, charming, or winning” is the free dictionary’s definition for engaging.

Although many companies are working hard on the art of customer interaction and building winning formulae for getting target customers to buy from them… few have mastered the art of pleasing or charming! Winning then becomes a dream.

When you get to the level of pleasing, charming and winning.. you are on to a good one! Hats off to John Lewis. They work hard and the continuously engaging journey, but it seems effortless. Their new Christmas ad is out today. It warms the heart as usual. Take a look 🙂


John Lewis this Christmas




November 6, 2013 posted by Liz Machtynger

Dear Readers,

Welcome to our new site and new blogsite. We are excited by the autumn change. We love the colours of autumn in the UK and have infused them throughout our branding and materials. It makes a very good time to launch something new and fresh.

We have had a pause from blogging, and on request we are back. Please keep us posted with your requests, ideas and feedback we will be glad to hear from you.

Kind Regards

Liz Machtynger



When Service Really Matters

May 10, 2013 posted by admin

If we are asked which companies we think deliver great service, I know a few of the names that might come up. We usually think of those organisations offering fantastic experience at a time of enjoyment, or service related to a purchase we really want.

There are times in our lives when service really matters. When we rely on an organisation to get it right! These things usually relate to:

  • Health
  • Schooling
  • Finances
  • Accidents
  • Personal issues or changes e.g. divorce, death in the family, retirement
  • Business issues or changes e.g. recession, acquisition

Often these times are not things that we plan for, but they are things that the organisations we deal with should be planning for. They must understand our mindset and need for service delivery.

What is it that we often look for?

  • Empathy – someone who is empathetic and understanding of our needs
  • Knowledge – the comfort that someone with experience or knowledge is dealing with us.
  • Clarity – what should I do next? What will happen next?
  • Responsibility – someone to say “don’t worry I will do that for you.
  • Action – the process driven or the matter dealt with quickly and clearly to an outcome.
  • Communication – clear and proactive communication to remind us or keep us up to date on where things are at.

What is it that really lets us down?


  • Forms
  • Process descriptions
  • Answer phones
  • Queues
  • Dealing with the wrong person
  • We have to make all the moves
  • Feeling of blame or that we have made a mistake

Often we go into important matters with a very low expectation.

E.g. We expect the bank to have a queue, we expect the insurance company not to pay out, we expect there to be many forms and lots of red tape to get through. Often we are right to have this expectation. It is when we go through one of these really important moments and meet a shining star, an organisation that understands our pressures and deals with us differently, that we really know we have received excellent service.

Many organisations deal with customers when they are going through one of these tough moments in their lives, and do not prepare their service to match. It is a real opportunity to shine and really make a difference.

Compelling Customer Propositions

May 9, 2013 posted by admin

Couple standing in front of organic food store smiling

Our business is as strong as the customer base we have.

•Our customer base is as strong as the proposition we offer!

Just close your eyes and think of a company you would do anything to go back to. Take a moment to consider the reasons why. Note them down, they are a good guide for you as to what is an outstanding customer proposition.

The thing is, that more often than not, the examples we think of are not extremely different or luxurious. They are often the companies that do the right thing, the thing customers really want (or didn’t really know they wanted until it was delivered). Companies that responded well in a difficult situation or delivered something special at a difficult time.

These experiences are also relevant to businesses. Often when we think of outstanding propositions, we consider them as consumers. For a business there are many more factors to put in place to stand out. More people = more complexity.

We have set out in a short series 10 challenges for extremely compelling propositions, and have told the story with a few video examples of companies that are often mentioned when discussing compelling customer propositions.

The first is Knowledgable

First things first, for a compelling proposition, you have to really know about your market, your customers and your competitors to truly understand the difference you can make. Those companies with truly compelling propositions may not be hugely different in the product they deliver but may deliver it very differently.

First Direct is a UK based bank that changed the approach to banking and perception of the banking proposition for customers.

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