Guest Blogger

It’s rare I leave a conference humming The Prodigy’s ‘Firestarter’ – in fact this may be the first time, but ‘Go be a Firestarter’ was the rallying cry ringing in my ears (more on that later!), as I headed out from EBM’s super successful CX Marketing Summit.

I was delighted to have been invited to chair the Summit; new into my role as Global Chief Marketing Officer for Ipsos Loyalty, Customer Experience, having just moved from my UK MD CX role, I was clearly the perfect representation of the target audience; marketing and CX rolled into one!  Apparently, 70% of CX leaders are female; yep, I nailed that one too. Many thanks to all of you at EBM for a great day.  I truly enjoyed chairing, but, more to the point, I truly enjoyed being a member of the audience – what a fabulous bunch of straight-talking, storytelling, expert speakers you brought together for us.

At the start of the day, my co-chair, Martin Hill-Wilson of Brainfood Consulting, promised us the ‘real-life take’ on the challenges faced by CX and marketing leaders; CX Marketing Summit certainly delivered on that front. According to Julian Poulter, Gartner Research Director, we have, however, only a short time as CX leaders to get our act together and deliver on those challenges, with the average tenure of the CX leader being just 18 months.

Next up was Jonathan Armstrong of law firm, Cordery. The night before the conference, I counted the number of emails I’d received that week (like you do…) promising to de-mystify the wonders of GDPR; 29 and it was only Thursday!  Thanks goodness for Jonathan who cut through the ‘fake news’ out there and got us to focus on the task at hand and the time we have left to do so.  People, we have 72 days to sort our 72-hour plan – hang on, that was on 15th March; you have even less time now.  Worth bearing in mind, as you prepare, is that the biggest breaches last year were paper related.

A subject close to my heart, from Gagandeep Gadri of Capgemini Consulting, who spoke on the role of emotions in Loyalty.  Our Ipsos research (1) also shows that there are substantial rewards to be had from creating an emotional attachment. When a customer is both functionally satisfied and emotionally attached:

  • They are significantly more likely to stay with the brand in the future
  • They are almost twice as likely to recommend the brand (than if they were just satisfied)
  • They are much more likely to consider the brand for other products and services.

I’ve heard Professor Malcolm McDonald of Cranfield University School of Management speak a number of times; he was on absolutely cracking form at the Summit. I’m not sure I’ve ever laughed so much (at all?) about the risks of damaging reputation and profitability.

Over to digital transformation for our next batch of speakers: Michel Koch kicked off the topic through the lenses of knitting, cycling and horses, sharing lessons from his time at TIME Inc UK. My mother knits, my brother has a cycling business and one of my daughters rides – did he write his presentation for me?  He encouraged us (all – not just me) to find our customers’ passions, truly understand our organisations’ DNA and to create new sustainable business models whilst keeping that brand DNA intact. Rachel Lane of Medallia – great speaker, great shoes – guided us on leveraging Digital VoC programmes to drive transformation, whilst Adam Jeacock of Smith & Ouzman spoke to the challenges of full digital transformation (paper train tickets, anyone?).

On to IA, IOT and Robotics, with Wally Brill of Google kicking off, making us all feel that little bit less cool (or was that just me?).  Even the voice-first technology related questions he raised were fascinating, let alone the answers!  How anthropomorphic is just too much?  Discuss …  Andy Peart of Artificial Solutions and Cameron Worth, founder of SharpEnd, The Agency of Things, were yet more examples of absolute experts in their fields; in Cameron’s words, ‘blowing the smoke away’.

Biased moi (?), but I do love a Voice of the Customer session; thank you Claire Sporton of Confirmit (she of the ‘Firestarter’ call to arms) and Gustavo Imhof of Hermes (several gingerbread men were hurt in the making of his story!).

Another real life example from Jeremy Nicholson who encouraged us to gild the lily, but did point out that that this is a misquote of Shakespeare’s 1595 King John, which actually refers to ‘painting the lily and gilding refined gold’.  Many of us were frantically scribbling notes as we learnt about applying the principles of psychology to design and content from Giuseppe Caltabiano of Scorch Agency, as, indeed, we were when hearing from the Darrell Murphy of St Giles Hotel Group.  It’s got to be a good sign that I now want to have a St Giles’ Experience’, and note that’s more than ‘stay at St Giles’.  Brilliant brands represented by more brilliant speakers to round up our day; Guy Johnson of Marks & Spencer exploring the concept of GDPR as a framework to build trust and Amy Vetter of Samsung describing the era of the omnipresent experience, kept us glued to our seats, even as we heard the trays of drinks approaching.

Back to my humming of ‘Firestarter’; our role as CX leaders is to drive change, but we cannot do that alone; perhaps our role is best described as ‘CX Coach’ given our drive to get our organisations to work with us, and as one, to truly deliver exceptional experiences to our customers.  Boy, do we have a lot of change to effect!   According to our latest (2) Ipsos Loyalty ‘Captains of Industry’ survey of more than 100 of the most senior figures in top UK companies, only 20% of Captains rate their own organisations as being top notch (score 9/10) in terms of delivering a customer experience that is consistent with their brand promise … even ‘on the basics’ just 3 in 10 claim their organisations are top of their game (9/10) when it comes to listening to their own customers.  I look forward to hearing about the progress you have made when we meet again next year.  In the meantime, sorry for leaving you with an ‘earworm’ – I hear you humming!

Helen Wilson is Global Chief Marketing and Communications Officer of Ipsos Loyalty.

Ipsos Loyalty is the global leader in designing, measuring and delivering value from Customer Experience programmes.



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