So, the UK Customer Experience Awards are now behind us and what a great day it was. I feel rather honoured to have been involved, chairing one of the judging panels and presenting an award.

More than anything else, I was struck by the energy from all of the finalists in my category. Each entrant had overcome significant challenges in one form or another; some technological, some cultural, others regulatory or deadline-based in nature.

Each approach was unique and interesting but the enthusiasm from everyone was unified and infectious.

The awards in one sense is a celebration of organisations finding their own way to a better customer-centered future, and there was a strong feeling of common sense of purpose at the Excel. I for one found it inspirational to be in such esteemed company, and a breath of fresh air that everyone I spoke to on the day simply ‘got it’.

As a consultant I have a wide range of methods, models and frameworks in my toolkit. And, as I mused over the event I was reminded that the range of approaches is so necessary because there really is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to creating remarkable experiences.

Sure, there is best practice. Some corners simply can’t be cut, and I’m loathed to play fast and loose with areas of CX strategy. But ultimately no matter what route is taken, the best solutions need to work with the culture of the business, rather than against it…and where the culture needs to change it must happen by mutual consent.

The best work in my judging category without exception was where employees were invited along on a journey, and I’m happy to say there was much evidence of this.

Unsurprisingly the winning teams I spoke to (and I imagine many of the finalists) all had one thing in common. They shared a clear sense of purpose and a vision for the customer. They were galvanized and engaged, and clearly enjoyed their work.

I often talk about the importance of employee engagement, but the most significant thing I took away from the Awards was the reaffirmation that this is one area not to be underestimated. Yes, we all already know that engagement is important, but all too often it comes second place to the ‘sexier’ aspects of the customer experience transformation process.

Overall a great day hosted by great people, and a big congratulations to all winners and finalists alike. I hope to see some or all of you again next year – best of luck!

Ben SmithwellBen Smithwell
Ben has had a varied career in CX, Service Design, leadership, marketing, customer service, and business analysis. He’s worked internationally in Bulgaria and the Middle East, and has done award-winning work in the HE sector.

His consultancy helps businesses implement CX strategy and uses Service Design to stage-manage remarkable experiences; recent work includes banking / FS, patient experience, education and retail.

He is also a CX speaker, Global Service Jam mentor, and committed enemy of mediocre experiences.

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