Senate House in London was bustling on the 20th and 21st May with Customer Experience Professionals all eagerly anticipating the arrival of the Customer Experience World London 2014 conference. This year’s theme ‘being good for customers is good business’ attracted high profile speakers who talked about the customer experience strategies within their organisations and the benefits good customer experience can bring.

On day one Andrew Clayton, Group Vice President at Allianz SE, revealed the journey Allianz group has made to embed the customer at the heart of its strategy. Allianz Group review their customer experience improvement plan every year as customer expectations are constantly changing and companies need to keep improving. Andrew stressed that the voice of the customer and the business voice must be balanced to achieve long term success.

Andrew Cook, CEO at Eyerys, went on to give guidance on how to make your business more customer centric. Customers want good service, a good product and good value. They don’t need to be blown away, but expect promises to be kept. He stressed the importance of measuring, acting and rewarding staff on what matters – not always just productivity. He also advised how it’s vital to walk and understand your customer journey so you can understand each process that touches a customer. Ask customers what they really want and expect! Listen to your customers – are you delighting them? Which stage is delighting and which is disappointing? Feedback is key. If something goes wrong you need to act and engage with your customers to repair any damage as quickly as possible.

Aisling Hassell, Head of EMEA CX at innovative travel company Airbnb, gave insight on how employee experience is central to everything they do and how they focus on empowering their staff to help them consistently deliver outstanding customer experience. Their vision is to be the most loved hospitality company in the world. With the world of customer experience ever changing, they work hard to surprise and delight their customers and make sure they know what makes their customers tick.

Day two kicked off with a lively presentation from Stefan Osthaus, Founder and CEO of My Balance, a company dedicated to helping employers and employees provide sustainable balance in all aspects of work and beyond. Stephan argued that creating good customer experience is not about just about doing the profitable things and the easy things… it’s about doing the right things, and if you are serious about investing in customer experience, you need to focus on bringing your employees into your customer experience journey. His top tips included linking your customer experience and employee experience programmes, reviewing the employee experience repertoire – for example, add a life balance offering to your benefit package; and sharing insights from your customers with your team.

Maria McCann, Customer Success Leader at JoHo Venures, went on to give her top 10 lessons to get CX on the balance sheet. She warned about the dangers of having a ‘customer experience department’ and recommended building a community, so it doesn’t become the responsibility of the CX team to fix everything that might go wrong. Her mantra was to make the CFO your first follower, managing their expectations across a range of metrics, and last but not least – succeed quickly, fail quickly, move on!

Andrew Gallagher, Senior Director of Marketing at Papa Johns, joined forces with Dennis Fois at Rant and Rave, one of the UK’s leading specialists in customer engagement, to discuss Papa John’s implementation of Rant and Rave and how they are using the voice of their customers on the journey to becoming the nations favourite pizza brand. Dennis advised against surveying your customers to death, only ask for feedback if you are going to use it. He recommended mobile as the perfect channel to get feedback to enable you to take real-time inspired action and deliver a seamless experience throughout the customer journey.

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Although Papa Johns have only started using Rant & Rave at the end of April 2014 they have already received over 20,000 items of feedback enabling them to identify what people love about Papa Johns and what they need to improve on. They have also received 10% less customer complaints, and although initially Andrew was cautious about opening the flood gates, he found positivity and that more people love your product and your staff than you think!

In the afternoon session, Fiona Templeton, Customer Experience Manager at Scottish Water, winner of the UK Customer Experience Awards 2013 ‘Professional Woman of the Year’, told us her incredible story about how she and her team transformed Scottish Water’s customer satisfaction and experience. By shifting from a focus on cost to service improvements, they have been able to significantly increase customer satisfaction, reduce the number of customer complaints as well as reduce expenditure.

To engage and enable their employees, positive customer feedback initiatives like GEM (Go the Extra Mile) were introduced. Customers were asked to provide feedback on individuals who they felt had gone the extra mile, and the members of staff nominated would receive a phone call from the Director to acknowledge they’re doing a good job! At Scottish Water everyone is fully aware that their success depends on knowing what matters to their customers and they have invested in their people and their customer experience so they can live up to their vision to be ‘Scotland’s most valued and trusted business, one that we can all be proud of’.

After her presentation, Fiona shared her reflections on winning the award for Professional of the Year at the UK Customer Experience Awards 2013.

“I am very passionate about my role, my team and my customers so I am not and have never been in it for awards but there is no getting away from the fantastic feeling of pride and endorsement that winning the award has brought for me personally, my team and for Scottish Water. I thanked everyone in my team (I even took the award along to a team event to present it to them) as without each of their contributions we would not be starting to deliver for our customers.

“For Scottish Water I have had discussions with our Chief Operating Officer and SW leadership community to ensure that they are aware that the Award has ensured that our brand was featured in the same sentence as other leading service providers – an incredible endorsement for our brand and our achievements as a company.

“It is an exciting time in customer service, the economic climate has meant that companies are all really waking up to the value of understanding and delivering excellent service and I think many could learn from what we have done in Scottish Water and what we have achieved for our customers. The award has provided a platform for me to talk about Scottish Water, our approach and our achievements – the appearance as a speaker at the CEW event was as a result of the award. I have also now been accepted as a judge for the forthcoming Customer Experience Awards, providing an opportunity to grow and learn from others as well as help to shape the future of service provision in the UK.

“But most of all I am most proud of the fact that my team nominated me for the award and that in itself is the biggest proudest part of the process and makes all the time we have invested together on our customer service mission worth every moment. “

We also caught up with a few other delegates at the event who shared details of their exciting customer experience initiatives.

Stephanie Coleman, Director of Customer Journeys at BskyB, talked to us about Sky’s Home Move Programme whereby Sky created a dedicated National Home Move Centre so that when customers move house, with one simple contact they can book their home move, and Sky handle it all from there, keeping customers in the picture and doing everything they can to keep any disruptions to their service to the minimum. By greeting customers with a concierge service, providing a team of dedicated experts and working hard to ensure customers are connected and happy, they have significantly improved their NPS score as well as reduced the number of customers transferring to other providers.

IBM attended the event and were talking to delegates about the IBM Interactive Experience – a new breed of digital agency, bringing together strategy, analytics, design and data to create experiences for growth. IBM are helping organisations make better use of data to inform creative design, customer experiences and business strategy. To deliver this, IBM is establishing 14 IBM Interactive Experience Labs to help clients drive innovation and engage with customers in new ways. Experts in the IBM Interactive Experience labs will work side by side with clients to help them rethink their customer engagement strategies; to help differentiate their digital experiences through digital innovations, and to help orchestrate customer interactions across digital, social and mobile platforms to engage and transact, anytime and anywhere.

Alison Richardson, Centres of Excellence Manager at Compass Group also told us about their ‘Did we make you smile’ system to generate feedback from customers who had used their catering services.

After listening to all the speakers at the event and networking with delegates, it’s clear that businesses are taking Customer Experience seriously. Some companies are already reaping the benefits of their customer experience programmes, whilst others were just embarking upon theirs.

One of the themes that came out of the two days was that customer experience and employee experience are intrinsically linked – you can’t have one without the other.

Customer Experience Magazine supports the UK Customer Experience Awards. Now in their fifth year, the Awards celebrate and promote excellence in customer experience across a broad spectrum of industries. We’re excited to reveal that the UK Employee Experience Awards are launching in July this year. Please get in touch if you’d like to find out more as we’d love to hear what you’re doing to make your customers fall in love with your business!

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