I recently had the pleasure of chairing the Customer Engagement Summit in Victoria, London.
Attended by over 300 industry professionals with an appetite to further their understanding of, and exposure to, practitioners, analysts and academics in the rapidly evolving area of customer and employee engagement.
The feedback on the event to me has been fantastic and matches my own view that the quality of speakers, the content and material was first class – thought provoking, practical, robust and just plain interesting as well, which always helps!
In retrospect I suppose it was an ambitious agenda covering over 30 presenters on a huge variety of relevant topics in a single day, ranging from macro-economics and the impact of liquidity on the importance of customer value and market share, through to the innovative customer-community management principles working so effectively for Giffgaff.
Though difficult to draw any sensible thread out of the emerging themes of the day, there were definitely a few interesting notions that I saw as relevant and important to my own work in this area. Firstly, that it seems that the leaders in organisations seemed to be less concerned about what customers might say about them in the social-sphere (rightly or wrongly) than what their own staff might say.
This is not just about trust and control issues, it is also about naivety that such risk is not prevalent already. We have seen recent examples where emails at the BBC or call recordings highlighting over-aggressive sales calls have been made public and have cost the offending organisation dearly.
Another theme was that out of challenge and adversity (market pressures, cost pressures, etc.) there can be interesting and effective innovation that creates differentiation and advantage without necessarily taking eons to implement or fortunes to deploy.
First Direct get it
First Direct’s principles of ‘hire for attitude, train for skills’ has helped them achieve just this sort of differentiation and capability, standing out from their peers.
And a third theme I observed – probably because I was looking for it as this is core to my thinking about how customer management and engagement needs to develop, is that the financials and the needs of the Board seemed to be better understood. Finance is not a dirty word – it is an imperative to understand it and talk the language of the board when seeking support, investment and driving change through the organisation.
I am seeing more evidence of this discipline now, which can only be good for the industry and those within it looking to do better things. If you weren’t able to attend I’d urge you to obtain copies of the presentations – the material will stand you in good stead.
Or feel free to contact me or the Customer Engagement Network people about any specific interest or area that was on the agenda that you’d like to know more about – I’ll try and point you in the right direction. And better still – get next year’s Summit date in your diary – I will certainly be there.
Mike Havard, Customer Engagement Summit Chairman and Director Ember Services firstname.lastname@example.org