Neil Skehel, Managing Director of Awards International, talks about his visit to the IQPC Customer Experience Transformation Summit, and how the session taught him a few things and forced him to shave off his goaty.

I remember attending an operations excellence benchmarking meeting in Frankfurt, in the early noughties. Our host, Georg Schmidt was second on the agenda. He possessed a monotonous low tone of voice, not enhanced by a nervous presentation style. I honestly think Georg believed, the content was what mattered. How could anyone not be interested if the content was very thorough and factual and detailed?

As we all know – tone of voice accounts for 70% of what we hear. So when a gentleman called Geert Stieps from Deutsche Bank started to present the second session of the second day of the IQPC Customer Experience Transformation Summit, and for whom English was his second language, I could not help myself wondering – here we go again!

Imagine my surprise, when by the end of the session I was sitting up, alert and had been dragged away from my iphone, email, social media and all the other things we do when we are not engaged by what is in front of us.

Deutsche Bank’s Customer Experience model includes customer service development and product development we were told. Customer research is an important component of product and service development.

“it’s hard……product development, customers don’t always know what they want, but we ensure that our research has a clear customer experience objective and our product and service development has a clear over-arching goal of aiming to “understand what the customer must get out of a well developed product or service”.

And the killer line;

“…..developers at Deutsche Bank learned to become not product developers but value developers”……

The presenters from Deutsche Bank were high quality and high value. As indeed was everything that I came into contact with at this IQPC event. The Exhibitor Demo Drive – we have all thought of ways to get conference attendees to visit stands, be it getting a stamp on a card next to the suppliers name or offering a reward in a free prize raffle. The idea that each conference attendee would get a seven-minute download from each exhibitor, without the fear of being trapped by the patter of a skilful sales person has significant appeal.

The exhibitors, all of whom can be seen on the event web site, were of an impeccable high standard. I am sure that IBM won’t like me reminding them of a tab on their competitive data interface which is called tealeaf (Cockney rhyming slang for a thief, I think). I finally got to meet the people from NICE, formerly Fizzback – Andy Dada did a great show. However, what really stood out for me, and it’s a personal thing was the MATS team.

The MATS team was probably unique in the fact that they linked business processes to feedback data. Enabling live process maps with customer based scores against the steps in the process.

I recall working with a team to create a catalogue of process maps across nine different areas of the business for an insurance services organisation some time in 2007, wishing we had a way of applying meaningful metrics against process steps – well here it is.

The reason that MATS sponsored the event was because the tool, which they developed off the back of a complaints process, has been lying around for a while, and now they can see a significant commercial opportunity for this…I would tend to agree. It seems to me that one of the most important steps in CXMTM, will be to generate measures by step in customer facing processes – its unavoidable in large organisations. I am sure there is much more to it than that, but for example the tool could potentially even be linked to the NICE black box solution to text and data analytics. WOW! So customer facing measures and customer facing processes.

Having enjoyed the Exhibitor Demo Drive, I returned to the auditorium to hear the panel session and was bowled off my feet. The audience and panel were discussing offshoring and whether or how it diminishes the customer experience. The insights gained were significant. The quality of discussion excellent, real insights from real operators, offering each other encouragement and solutions.


iqpcAs an aside, having a daughter, I am concerned at the lack of opportunity for women in senior management positions in big organisations. However, at this event, I was pleasantly surprised that the ranks of budding stars contained so many women. I had a quick count and noticed that at least 50% of the people in the room were indeed women. The cost of attendance at the event represents a significant premium, I felt that only managers of a certain grade would be in attendance. Is this an encouraging sign that top management is changing, or just another sign that I am behind the times?

As another aside, I reckon the average age of the people attending, excluding the representatives from Deutsche Bank was about 39. I will be 50 this coming November, so I felt quite old and particularly conscious of my dress and my middle age spread. So I went home, perhaps a little early to go start an exercise regime to get in trim, buy a new wardrobe and shave off my goaty.

If you get the chance to attend one of IQPCs events or to go see MATS, take the opportunity.


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