Yesterday was the first day of the Marketforce 20:20 Customer Experience Summit in London. I wasn’t impressed with the last Marketforce event I participated in, so I have to admit I arrived with my smiley-slash-poker face, ready to criticise my Customer Experience at this CX summit across touch-points…
I was greeted at the building’s reception with a smile and directed to the next floor to the left. Upon doing so I stayed left and walked to the registration and was, also with a smile, directed to the registration table to my right. I was registered in less than 60 seconds and directed to the coffee and tea. While waiting for my coffee I pulled out my mobile to see what the notification vibration was … it was an email from Marketforce welcoming me to the conference, with all of the information I would need to connect with others in their community and in social communities.
I quickly found a seat in the main conference room. All the spaces at tables were taken or where there were empty seats, they were reserved. So I was a little disappointed about balancing my phone and notebook on my knees and setting my coffee down on the floor. But it wasn’t the end of the world…well not until the fire alarm was sounded with a methodic and quite loud announcement that lasted for near eternity, “May I have your attention please. May I have your attention please. An alarm has been activated. This incident is being investigated. Evacuation of the building may be required.” Though I heard several comments later that the summit should have paused, everyone praised Jeff Foley, Director of Product Marketing at Pegasystems for his extraordinary ability to continue presenting through the announcements and to intertwine the alarm situation into his customer experience story. (hmmm. Maybe it was a setup!)
I moved on to the Omnichannel sessions where right upfront the question over multichannel versus omnichannel was raised. The fact is, that’s the least of marketers’ problems: customers are since 89% of them say they would ditch a brand if the brand didn’t get the experience right (statistic from Celia Pronto of Ford Retail). How do brands differentiate themselves today: relying on product, quality and pricing involves risks we weren’t worried about before. Today people want and crave experience, good ones that is. Bad experiences are more detrimental than ever before. Celia Pronto challenged the need for a 360 degree view by suggesting that brands are failing to use data in the right context. For example, call centre staff have precious time to make lasting good or bad impressions. If you give them too much information at the on-set they will struggle. And customer experiences are remembered - Celia Pronto told us that she originally declined to interview with Ford Retail because of her own negative experiences as a customer.
The most powerful message I’ve heard at the conference so far is that, the customer is demanding change, becoming less brand loyal, harder to reach, and in the meantime brands are beginning to revolutionise how they do business. For example, Barclaycard will now let consumers evaluate whether they qualify for a credit card before sending an application. That’s a major shift in the secretive process. The second most powerful message I’ve heard is that most companies are changing too slowly, either delaying their transformations or poorly planning the length of time the change will really take. The average time discussed repeatedly at 20:20 Customer Experience Summit is TWO years to replatform.
Related blog post: Connected customers and disconnected experiences in an age of convergence