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Interview

Oli Lewington, Director of Marketing and Communications (Engagement) at the Cystic Fibrosis Trust and speaker at our upcoming Customer Engagement Summit, gives insight into his case study and role …

Can you provide us with an insight into a ‘day in the life’ of your role?

My days are relatively simple, but simple doesn’t always mean easy. I have a very specific morning routine to get me in to the office: tea and a protein bar for breakfast while looking over a few news outlets, then onto a train where I read papers for the day’s meetings, fire off some emails and catch up on daily bulletins from Civil Society, The Drum, Marketing Week and Campaign.

I work two or three days a week in our office in Aldgate, and when I’m there I try to keep half of my diary free and half booked up with face-to-face meetings on everything from our marketing strategy and up-coming communications opportunities to organisational leadership meetings. The free half of my day is all about serendipitous chats: our office is relatively small and we all hot desk, so that’s a great starter, but it’s mostly about the kitchen (amazing things happen while making a brew!) and about my team being able to walk up to me or grab me for five minutes in a way they don’t when I’m not physically present.

On the days I work from home, I’m still in meetings using our outstanding communications technologies to connect to colleagues, but most of the work I do from my study on the top floor of my home in sunny Milton Keynes is the more strategic, deep work that requires more attention than an office environment is conducive to.

Either way, I’m a big proponent of Gary Keller’s The One Thing and pair it with Cal Newport’s Deep Work so whenever possible I block out two hours at the start of my day to work on the most important task for the day. It’s amazingly effective.

What do you think is the most important factor affecting Customer Engagement today?

The single most important factor affecting customer engagement is organisations’ recognition of just how vital it is, and how vital it is to do it honestly and not from a ‘sell sell sell’ position. You can never engage customers for the long term – enough to build up a truly deep connection that leads to trust and support – without authenticity, listening and engaging back.

What do you think the future looks like for Customer Engagement?

I think it’s bright. More and more organisations are starting to understand the need for authentic engagement, which doesn’t mean being Innocent Smoothies all the time. It means being true to your brand, your value proposition and your place in people’s minds (all of which can change, but not overnight).

Moreover, I think the future is especially bright specifically because some places will get it horrendously wrong. If you can be the organisation in your sector who does it the right way with the right focus on the right platforms with the right engagement at the right time, you’ll be way ahead of the field.

Can you provide a sneak peek into your case study?

It’s a story about changing perceptions to mobilise people from all sides of a community to make a real difference – a potentially life-saving difference to the lives of hundreds and, we hope, thousands of people affected by a deadly genetic condition.

What are you most looking forward to about the event?

Hearing everyone else’s stories for sure. It’s possible to become so insular within our own sectors and just look at what others in our field are doing. That’s why I’m always keen to provide our not-for-profit story, because I think there’s a huge amount that even the big corporations can learn from organisations that deliver real results and create real change on tiny budgets by using the kind of marketing judo that you can perform by engaging customers and motivating them to action.