The Chief Customer Officer, Europe team has been hard at work, spending countless hours researching and discussing the current state of CX in Europe with key leaders in the industry.
We were able to ask some questions to David Bridges, Group Marketing & Customer Experience Director at McCarthy & Stone and get his insights on some of the current issues CX leaders are facing today.
Why is Customer Experience important in today’s market space?
Because customers have more choice and information than ever. All the old adages about “give a positive experience and x people know, give a negative experience and y people know” have been increased exponentially (especially on the negative side) so there is a more direct line of sight between customer experience and performance than ever before (and it will only get stronger).
What do you believe to be the most overrated buzzword in customer experience today?
Probably “customer-centric”. Or in other words, “our customers are our greatest assets”. For many organisations, those words are ignored on a daily basis. For most listed organisations, they are ignored as reporting periods loom. Finding a way to make customer-centricity resonate through all functions, for far more of the year, is a challenge for most businesses I have worked with and seen.
How do you see the role of Chief Customer Officer evolving in the next 5 years?
It is really easy to come up with grand statements on this, visions for the future. I remember the visionary stuff I was reviewing 20 years ago and how different things are to what we forecast then. So I think the evolution will be a continuation of what we see today as sensible practice – listen to your customers, place them at the heart of your product design and customer-facing processes, be passionate about exceptional service, be intolerant of “good enough” service and keep an eye open for approaches and technology that will allow you to do all of the above.
What are the top 3 challenges faced in the role?
I am sure it is different for all industries. So my list is very specific to my sector (house building in the retirement sector):
- Challenges of the supply side of our industry make maintaining initial quality a constant challenge
- Building engagement with a relatively non-techie customer base
- Living with our customers 24/7 for up to 15 years – that’s a long time to keep your game face on!
What are the top 3 CX challenges in 2018? And how to overcome those challenges?
- GDPR will have set hares running in so many customers’ minds – ensuring that we stay legal, decent and honest but can still operate
- Compounded by Facebook / Cambridge Analytica. There are a lot of people wanting to trip big business up.
- A tough market – “a principle is not a principle until it has been tested by money”. Many sacrosanct principles will be tested this year.
Is there an initiative or CX strategy you’ve seen the most success from in your CX journey?
A simple thing – look at our main sector satisfaction results and really understand what people are telling us. We have found 3 big but actually fairly mundane areas that, got right, will get rid of all the hygiene factors that drag us down (sometimes) in the eyes of our customers. Once we get those right, we win the right to do the sexy stuff.
Digital transformation is a big topic for CX today. While many
Listen to your customers, not your techies! CX ambition can drive a lot of cost and activity that your customers are not really up for.
And to make sure that the customer stays at the heart of that digital transformation, do you think that listening is the key or are there any other elements that
Absolutely, listening is key. But expert judgement is also important, finding that cost/time/quality sweet spot will be driven by our capability as leaders, balancing the opinions of our customers and our teams.
Employee engagement is such an important part of CX, do you feel that your employee engagement strategy actively supports or promotes customer experience? What challenges are you facing when it comes to talent management, employee feedback, staff turnover, training?
Employees can be a cynical bunch. They smell empty words. So asking your team “do we ask you to compromise on customer experience in pursuit of profit” will give you a good hard look in the mirror. If they say “yes you do”, then you need to do something about it. The reality is, in our industry, local teams can only go so far in avoiding and resolving issues, so give them the tools. And given them the vision about how to deliver the good stuff. And if you give a glimpse of the promised land, expect no mercy if you do not deliver.
What are the challenges for CX leaders as they have to demonstrate ROI of new initiatives? What have you done to get that buy-in from the executives?
I am lucky – I have a boss / CEO who absolutely gets it; the clear link between outstanding customer service and profit. So honestly, I have not had to fight too hard for support. But equally, showing strong commercial acumen gives him the confidence that I will always seek the right balance.
What can our attendees expect from you at the Chief Customer Officer Europe 2018 event?
Grey hair on someone who is passionate about providing a new level of customer experience for grey hairs!