DOES CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE DEPEND ON DATA?

We look at the latest CX Conference from IQPC for the Telco industry, where, if any market depends on data, it is this one.

You would be forgiven for thinking that this is yet another data-driven conference. It is not like we haven’t had enough of these already. And you would be both right – and wrong. But it is an awkward balance. Workshops that describe “leveraging your current data goldmine to deliver a better customer experience” – are a mouthful and redolent of putting square pegs in round holes.

Since when has a “customer experience” – been the result of some IT focus on “data”? And do customers, who presumably are the beneficiary of these discussions, care – when their only contact contact with their telco, is the guy who keeps them waiting on the end of a phone.

It’s a tricky one.

But these questions, have to be addressed. The behaviour of the guy on the other end of our phone, is determined by the solutions and methodologies that he has before him, And that includes the understanding of the psychology of the whole business of choosing, buying, keeping using a telephone. After all, it’s not as if we can do without them – and in many ways, the single unique focus on the telco industry means its focus is what its players want to know about, within their own market. This was not a touchy feely conference.

Having said that, if you accept that the data that we ourselves create when using a mobile – can be assessed to see how both sides can benefit in the future – then this is the Conference you should have attended.

And the data and tech players are many. Key specialists line up to talk about their own experience, their customer experience, with long titles such as; Head of CX; Chief Experience Officer, Data Transformation Manager – then moving on to the more commercial “VP Sales” – with which we are more familiar. It is three days of intense but relaxed discussion. You choose the sessions you want to look at, and it is up to how proactive or reactive you wish to be. Key topics range from the evergreen “how do I stop churn”, to..”how do I train my call centre properly”. They are practical, basic,

We sat and chatted with a random selection of delegates, from large and small players, who came to “keep up with what is going on” – and with a broad range of vendors, who increasingly are moving from the pure tech of handling data, to a more customer focussed look at how you and I behave.

If there was one standout dawn of realisation, it is that we have all moved on from GDPR. Nobody mentioned it to me, and I wasn’t going to start that discussion. And lets face it, as consumers, we weren’t interested in it anyway…

WHY ARE BIG COMPANIES, BIG? IS IT BECAUSE THEY LOOK AFTER THEIR CUSTOMERS?

We look at the recent CX Network Conference in Stockholm and ask, maybe it’s more than that?

The next question, which I haven’t raised – is; well, if you are a small company, but you want to get bigger – well, is it just a matter of customer focus? Sorry to say, but the answer is alas No. But I think you knew that already, although some of the answers about attitude etc, might surprise you. I will come back to that one.

If you’re going to talk about Customer experience, then there is no better place to sit down at Fika time and chat with friends, – than anywhere in Sweden. Communal consensus and discussion in Scandinavia is a religion and disturbing any colleague as they break for lunch is like interrupting someone at Communion. But this is 10.30 in the morning.

So here we are; drinking our glass of milk and nibbling on our cake, and we are looking out across the water towards Gamla Stan. Pretty much all the big names are there; Vattenfall, Danskebank, Sweco, and I could go on. Each one looking at the alchemy of – how do you translate the act of dealing with a customer, into an actual repeatable experience that transforms your business to “stand out in a sea of sameness”.

And what the delegates and speakers say is that – customer experience does not start with the customer. It starts with the employee. The problems of employee engagement are bigger than the simple act by comparison, of reaching out to the guy whose payments to you, contribute towards your personal mortgage. If you cannot communicate your corporate focus and reason for existence, within your organisation, there is precious little chance of spreading your gospel beyond that.

In the past, this message has not been understood by management. It has translated into an act of self-harm called “Managed HR”, where numbers and individual performance, ie, measurable stats, have taken prime position.

The message here at this Conference, is that life has moved on. Engage with your own employee – and by default you will engage with your customer. You could say this is a triumph of human values over corporate monotony, but the key message from Stockholm and this CX Network event, is that if you can motivate and create an employee experience, then that individuality will take you beyond the “me too” of everyone else in your vertical market.

After launch we talked in small groups about the mechanics of this process, we talk about innovation, of being brave, of making mistakes in the way you communicate. The best presentations were those who were Ok to admit that “guys, we did not know where this would take us”.

And sure, this is not going to reach the heights of an away day at Disney. There will not be the emotion of a roller coaster ride. But there will be for sure the light-bulb moment.

But the bigger surprise is that this is a pan-market discussion; the usual vertical market focus of a typical CX Network event, has been surpassed by bringing everybody together from wherever they come from, from banking thru Energy, thru Retail, thru data and analytics – to HR. And perhaps that is the secret sauce of this meeting of minds. Ultimately, people are people, and human nature is human nature. Reach out to the individual – and you grow as a business. That’s how you do it.