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An Executive Critique of the Customer Experience
It’s not often I compare my work life to my home life. In fact, I usually try to keep my office and family separate—multi-tasking between the two rarely works out well. Last week, these two facets of my life merged when I felt as much pride at work as I normally do only when I’m around my children.
It happened our annual Client Connect event in London—where over 100 people gathered at the beautiful Chartered Accountants Hall at One Moorgate Place.
Being around such a passionate and inspiring team of SMG colleagues, from both the St. Albans and Kansas City offices, was wonderful. It took me a good while to fully understand what Steve Jobs meant by the idea that a good business starts with hiring fantastic people—but now I absolutely subscribe to this notion. Witnessing our team deliver powerful presentations on stage and lead insightful breakout sessions made me realise how fortunate I am to work with such a strong collection of intelligent and passionate individuals on a daily basis.
The knowledge and discoveries that came out of our event were truly mind-blowing—I could go on and on. But for the sake of brevity, here are my headline takeaways:
1. Millennials see things differently, but not as differently as the rising Gen Z.
Our keynote speaker, Jeff Fromm, illuminated the changing notions of what it means to be a millennial, and how their customer experience expectations differ from other generations. But we should not be fooled by the newest segment of Gen Z. As Jeff put it, “they are old souls in young bodies” and very much believe in the values of respect and privacy.
2. Data science is getting better all the time.
Advances in the industry continue to give brands new ways to better understand the full customer journey. From combined datasets to omniCX programmes, from video comments to multi-source text analytics—the technologies available are helping brands get into the root cause of customer decision-making faster than ever.
3. True partnerships between SMG and our clients can lead to some startling successes.
Both Sarah Llewelyn from Shell and Matt Winfield from McDonald’s shared their CX journeys—which helped land the message that being a large organisation should not be a barrier to thinking and acting nimbly.
Partnerships pave the way for big wins
On top of that, mingling with representatives from some of the most impressive brands in the world never gets old. And many of those people weren’t just attending SMG Client Connect, but actually played a key role in the whole event. Hearing how their businesses are growing, and which insights and innovations help them build more customer loyalty every day reminds me why I love what I do.
McDonald’s gave us a great example of a big win in programme adoption. Despite being an enormous company with close to 1,300 locations in the UK, they choose to have a culture of transparency and action. First, they focused their efforts on engaging all their franchisees in the CX programme launch—Food For Thoughts. But they didn’t stop there—they included their COO Jason Clark in a gameshow-style video celebrating colleagues who have demonstrated outstanding customer service. This level of top-down focus absolutely re-enforces the message that McDonald’s is genuinely aiming to become customer-centric and ensures that every crew member within that organisation is fully aware of their business priorities
And that’s just one example. We love celebrating when our clients win, and were thrilled to present our Top Partnership Insight awards to Bluewater, Domino’s, Nando’s, Shell, and Wolseley this year. These awards go to those clients who have taken some amazing actions based on our shared insights, and seen tangible improvements in the business as a result. Congrats to our winners!
You can see why I left this year’s event brimming with fatherly pride. A huge thank you to our clients who reward our efforts by genuinely making use of the insights we develop together. I hope to see you all again next year.
And don’t forget: all of this year’s content is available exclusively to SMG clients.
Managing Director, UK