Guest Blogger

Customer Engagement Transformation Conference

Chair’s report Hall 2: Nicholas Brice

Hall 2 was a really great place to be at the recent Customer Engagement Transformation.

After some sparkling keynotes in the plenum session, we explored some of the innovative things happening in Financial Services and B2B and how people are enabling experience creators* to transform the way they engage customers.

(*Chairman’s note – I’m so sorry, but I just can’t say ‘front line’ any more to describe people who engage with customers. The expression was after all from the war and involved shooting at people and horrors beyond imagination. Please may I use the term ‘experience creators’?

Holly Devonold from Liverpool Victoria shared how LV puts people at the heart of what they do. A keen focus on simplifying things and helping people focus on key priorities and aiming to “being the best loved – our people, our customers, our business.” Strategies for creating “an even better place to work” such as homeworking, have seen the company drive down sickness rates and increase both engagement scores and Voice of the Customer scores. A key strategy for Holly is using customer feedback as a strategic CX development tool while empowering their staff to do what they think is best for customers.

Sustainable transformation is often about getting the right balance of strong, believable and ‘live-able’ core values, aligned internal communications and leadership style, mission critical skills, supportive structure, but also making sure the right enabling systems and processes are in place.

Martin Taylor from Content Guru showed us just how the contact centre platform storm® can play a role in delivering outstanding experiences – on both the good days, and the bad days! With modern businesses now needing to engage customers 24/7/365 the right platform is essential to create and sustain a vibrant CX driven business. Martin shared one survey that reports that only 16% of contact centre agents report satisfaction, with the main issue being workload. There is clearly room for a real transformation in this area.

Rounding off the morning was Claire Sporton of Confirmit. Using a simple and effective metaphor of a bicycle, racing across the ground, through puddles with ease at speed with wind in your hair…just a moment, I’m there now.  Now I’m back. What a beautiful image for how we want our CX programme to run. With a Forrester report showing CX laggards only enjoy on average 3% growth while the leaders are seeing 32% the business case is clear. But how? Claire’s answer is by empowering people to improve their world, using data to drive richer insights, make smarter decisions and drive action and change. She also shared the pWc finding that only 16% of businesses are driving decision-making down to the front line, although 63% are intending to do it. The road to hell…

I’m reminded of the great insight from Jan Carlzon, former CEO of SAS, the original ‘Moments of Truth’ author – who way back in the 70’s proposed “Giving people to freedom to take responsibility releases resources that would otherwise remain concealed. An individual without information cannot take responsibility, an individual with sufficient information cannot help but take responsibility”

After a break we explored some key challenges and solutions around Technology and Customer Engagement. Starting with Mark Harrison, ex-General Manager of Shell, he talked the task of developing business-winning CX in a situation where less than 2% of customer facing staff worked for Shell. Mark highlights the need to consider and engage all key stakeholders and take both the ‘inside out’ approach as well as ‘outside in’ – designing both the customer and company experiences. We must make sure people feel listened to across all listening posts across all key challenges and respond to and act on issues proactively to evolve better experiences. His core CX principle of ‘Making Life’s Journey Better’ means customers being treated like guests and informing all design and the identification of key metrics. The result of this process of organisation development? A rise from NPS scores of less than 20 to over 60.

Next, we heard from Mark Grainger of Engage Hub with his take on how the empowered customer will seek out and pay for premium experiences (Amazon, You Tube, Netflix etc). He told the story of how Netflix reinvented their business through the CX, in particular in the use of video streaming technology as it emerged. Engaging with best in class partners, using customer preferences to drive show production and generally acting as a disruptor in the market (we love those). Mark showed us how Bank of Ireland successfully introduced 365/self-serve by reducing the need to speak with advisors while maintaining 89% customer satisfaction.  He stressed the importance of getting quick wins and measuring ROI by really understanding your objectives, cost centres, as well as using a wide range of measures and setting realistic timescales and milestones.

Orinta Gaucyte of demonstrated the power of meeting a gap in the market – in this case tailored nutrition for dogs. are delivering over 4 million meals a month, with online nutritional consultations online to launch a customer journey backed up by customer service organisation high on empowerment for people to change things. This strategy, coupled with powerful data and feedback, drives an NPS score of 71. Orinta’s bottom-line: ‘Customer Loyalty’ is dead, long live ‘Customer Preference’.

As we moved into the issues concerning Retail and Logistics, one of my favourite eateries came next. Leon, with former MD John Upton speaking about what’s worked for him over 20 years in Customer Engagement Transformation with the likes of Mother Clucker, Naked Deli, McDonald’s and dishq amongst others? The core for John is a clear customer purpose i.e. “to make it easier for…”, “to be the best in the world at helping people…” backed up by a clear philosophy that is a) Realistic – honest about what people think, b) Relevant – fully in tune with what people want and c) Relentlessly – delivered in the day to day.  John’s view is that we need to be fully centred on fulfilling the basic needs (he talks about thinking ‘binary’) of customers by being forensic with data to spot missed needs and addressing them with action. This also applies in John’s view to employees’ needs too (i.e. creating a great place to work).

Arkin Salah of NKD started with a startling statistic – 80% of CEO’s believe their organisation delivers a superior CX – but, only 8% of their customers agree. He shared with us the DHL Global Forwarding strategy to get their people feeling personally responsible for the customer experience, for nurturing the relationship and identifying opportunities for new and better services. Arkin showed us how their CX programme “The Great Expedition” focused on transformation across 150 countries and 850 branches.

Sarah Davies, from Oliver Bonas, got us thinking about real accountability for service with the question – “How would you feel if your customer agent was saying that to your granny?” Remembering that we are people serving people after all, in all the digital noise in which we live, Sarah reminded us of the level we need to achieve in CX – in sharing a Bain survey that revealed that 60-80% of customers who say they are satisfied, do not then go back to the same company. Sarah spoke of her view that having the right values and using them to question everything we do is key to developing a successful CX organisation.

Toby Poulsom, former Digitalisation Manager at Hager gave two of our delegates a live demonstration of how to uncover valuable insights about what customers value by examining the language they use and the choices they make about what they say they value. In this case, buying a car or choosing an advisor. Some very clever stuff on how to more accurately tailor products/service design around the way people experience their worlds as individuals.

Ross Lane and Depesh Nathwani of DOTS spoke about the need to create workplaces where people want to contribute and the need for ensuring relevant content gets to customers. They encouraged us to challenge common misperceptions such as “Old people don’t want digital” or “Young people don’t want voice” as well as suggesting a mindset shift away from mapping our customer journeys using an established blueprint of our own, rather that working from how the customer really sees things. Ross and Depesh introduced the interesting notions of ‘non-linear conversations’ and how these will change the way we provide services.

Richard Spencer of Promoderation explained how trust in charities is generally going down – primarily because of newspaper reporting. He spoke of the need to develop one, single, clear measure, the right measure – simple to understand, with a robust method behind it to inform CX priorities. Richard referenced the excellent piece of research on p39 of the Event Guide that give powerful data about how loyalty correlates with how a charity, as well as other organisations, needs to cultivate experiences associated with honesty, trust, integrity, belonging…The key? Emotions are often the key driver of loyalty to a brand.

After more coffee and networking, Peter Evia-Rhodes of News UK shared some thoughts about how he has been using data science and machine learning to study customer behaviour and drive better customer retention and loyalty.  Peter challenged us to separate real trends in our data from ‘herrings’ and talked us through his elegant strategy for driving deeper engagement with the brand through the way content is personalised and presented across the customer touchpoints.

Wil Lynch of consultancy Thunderhead introduced us to the notion of engaging customers in “fruitful dialogue” – by really connecting with the customer’s context and intent to have the ‘right’ conversation and make it effortless. He shared the remarkable statistic that fixing CX problems is costing businesses $56 billion a year and how we must shift our attention from the needs of the brand to the real desires of the customer. Wil spoke about his work with Page Group recruitment and how he achieved an open rate of 63% and a click through rate of 30% with a more ‘fruitful’ approach.

Rounding off an excellent day we heard from Liam Page of Whirlpool, showing us how many of the approaches that we have shared in the day that work in retail, financial services etc can also work in a manufacturing business where Liam and his team have achieved some massive gains in operational efficiency by mining and using data, developing many more first-time fixes when things go wrong, as well as driving up customer loyalty and commercial value.

Thanks for everyone for your work as Experience Creators in a wonderful day.

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