Guest Blogger

For those familiar with my after event debriefs, I’m happy to report it was another cracking day, courtesy of the Engage Customer team who assembled a great line up of speakers and a crowd of inquisitive and vocal delegates who were clearly eager to learn. Both Adrian Swinscoe and I chaired the event.

This is what happened in hall one.

Gareth Turpin of O2 kicked off the presentations. His was a long term perspective on O2’s journey as director of customer service and transformation with ten years already under his belt.  This gave authority to one of Gareth’s core themes.

“Change is Difficult. Not Changing Is Fatal”

It was a story of moving from phone based live service to a more balanced combination built around self service which now stands at 81% of customer demand which means live contacts are all the more challenging.

Gareth offered a great insight around service design when he reflected their initial experience was that self service needs customer trust or else they will still call!  O2’s success in self service has also created its own issues in terms of flexing resources and downsizing spaces – a key reason why they now use a BPO partner. Moving forward O2’s service strategy includes automation, personalisation and new channels.

Next up was Terry Kincheloe who kindly travelled all the way from Kansas USA. Terry runs Marcoms for UMB, a bank with a clear focus on customer experience.

I especially liked how smart they were around customer listening.

This came from a blend of sources including an enterprise-wide customer satisfaction study, a digital channel VoC, a branch VoC, website analytics which were captured live from customers while on the UMB site, a call center surveys and finally social media ratings and reviews. A pretty impressive mix that means the real issues can bubble up.

And in case you wondered, yes they did then do something with the insight.

Harry from the Goat Agency then showed us how fleet of foot you need to be these days. He’s into influencer marketing which apparently generates 11 times more ROI than traditional digital marketing.  What is an influencer? Good question. Harry had an answer.

“A person or page with a large, engaged social following that you will only know if you follow them. If you are aware of that person and do not follow them they are a celebrity.”

So now you know.

In a world stuffed with fake news and fake celebrity body parts, influencers generate what Gareth mentioned at the start of the day – TRUST.  Harry trotted out the research to prove it.

‘92% of consumers trust influencers more than traditional celebrity endorsements’.

Can’t argue with that.

Harry ended with some great tips.

  1. Results come from good content + right community + correct call to action executed in an authentic way
  2. Impact and value is much greater when you do a large amount of posts in a very short space of time. That’s the multiplier effect.
  3. Content has to be emotionally impactful – funny, scary, attention grabbing

After the break we moved from the world of real time to the world of financial services.

Gerald Bruce-Roberts & Elaine Kelly from Lloyds Banking Group landed some important insights. Relative to the bank manager relationship of old, today’s world has become depersonalised and largely one step removed as a result of self service.  Hence the focus on personalisation.

However it can be tricky to strike the right balance. Too much, too subtle, too big brother. The Goldilocks moment is tough. Apparently we are quite picky about how financial brands get personal with us.

However their big story was personalised video. An easy internal sell compared with the cost of the traditional paper based welcome pack. I’ve seen this in action with Geoffrey insurance and know its postive impact on customer’s attention and engagement. The rapid adoption across the brands within Lloyds Banking Group indicate they have discovered the same customer benefits as well.

Onto some lessons from Direct Line courtesy of Satarupa Banerjee.

Customer’s expectations from brands have changed. Customers want more personalised and relevant engagement. Omni-channel purchasing behaviour is trending towards mobile only. Social proof hugely influences purchasing decisions. The aggregator market has forced Direct Line to reinvent its value. Hence its focus on outperforming against three criteria. Connection – Convenience – Competence.  Next time you lock onto a Direct Line TV advert, watch carefully how that brief is being fulfilled.

Timi Tolonen then took up the running on behalf of giffgaff who, as you no doubt know, are ninjas in the social community space. ‘We don’t have customers, we have members’ etc.

This form of customer service speaks for itself:

  • ~800k questions
  • ~6.5M responses
  • ~£10 per “deflection”
  • 90 second response time

Timo had lots of sad but true stats from their community platform vendor Lithium such as:

  • “Only two percent of brands consistently respond to their followers’ posts across social channels”
  • “ Less than 40% of brands ever ask questions of their followers or engage with follower content”

The giffgaff lesson is that there are depths of engagement people are willing to dive into that most brands would die for. And it is there if you are prepared to encourage and support it.

If giffgaff is now a wee bit too old to be considered a startup, then smartbill ( certainly fits that profile. Nikhil Shah created and now runs a very clever service. In a world tilting towards even nappies being bought as a monthly amortised cost, things can quickly get out of hand in terms of what we sign up up and unknowingly shelling out for. Smartbill sleuths on your behalf and lets you purge those sneaky or now unwanted monthly subs.

Nikhil thinks and acts like a start up through and through. In practice this means a mix of old and new with a bit of quirky thrown in for good measure.

For instance, he had some solid things to say about focussing your engagement. Smartbill has recognised three cateogries of early adopter. Students, women and young professionals. All provide the brand with much needed input for their agile product development.

But here’s the thing. You might expect this to occur online at scale. But Nikhil is too smart for that generational stereotype. Instead he uses the best medium for quality in depth insight. The phone.

Insights are then recorded in a ‘feedback bank’  and shared in depth with the rest of the team to learn from. Of course online behaviour using the service is tracked via analytics and used to establish emerging needs.

Anytime Lego appears on a conference agenda it’s time to sit up. Especially when the story is being told by an out and out fan of those plastic bricks. Scott Gould went predictably nuts about Lego and its greatness and then moved onto to broader themes that linked back. It boiled down to a few really insightful principles for nurturing engagement. To quote the ex CEO who put Lego back onto the path to greatness:

‘Habit is how we build the connection’  – Jorgen Knudstorp

On that basis, Scott then convincingly argued brands have an opportunity to turn what is experienced as just routine into a deeper connection by creating certain rituals. The unboxing of an apple product. The unpacking of Lego pieces. As carefully designed user experiences, they become an enjoyable ritual each time they are undertaken.

Mid afternoon  saw the arrival of Katy Minson & Lizzie Greenstreet  – recent award winners from Alliance Healthcare. Their presentation showed why. I can’t really do it justice since it was awesome in its intensity of purpose to totally spring clean their culture. Every internal tribe was touched and positively engaged. 5,300 people in all. This was a classic example of employee engagement driving customer engagement. Go see them.

The last two speakers finished the day strongly. Jonathan George talked about the RAC’s capability in terms of gathering both customer and employee feedback and using it across the business to improve customer experience. Their future roadmap also looked interesting for the brand in terms of using customer data to better match customer value with engagement options.

Finally Michael Anderson provided the final act and encore with a tour de force around his experience as Programme Director for two seriously complex transformations at TUI and IKEA over a five year year period. Far too complex to summarise here but clear evidence that effective transformation is  no trivial matter and requires broad and deep across all the disciplines.

That’s it till the next time.

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