A personal customer experience makes the European Customer Experience Festival a success

29th Sep 2014

In this blog, Danny Bagge, Digital Front Office leader, IBM, discusses why a personal customer experience made the European Customer Experience Festival a success.

"This is what makes a great experience" says my new best business friend I met on the first day of the Customer Festival. I feel like agreeing with him instantly, but think harder and wonder if the event fulfils the IBM view of a great experience: to be innovative, personal and engaging. Interested in this topic? Download the IBM The Individual Enterprise: How mobility can redefine your business.

Well the quirky feel of the event definitely makes it engaging. I am welcomed by a tattooed man dressed in leather (including his hat) and walk into a bustling Wild West theme. People listen attentively to our Customer Studios leader illustrate the importance of personalisation using the Two Ronnies’ "fork handles" sketch to create a powerful message around knowing your customer, getting the right data to infer need and selling an experience not a product.

The event features numerous examples of innovative experiences. Somo Group’s "handshake" app, specially developed for the event with location technology, is helping like-minded business people connect. Intermittently, the roar of a Jaguar sports car resonates, driving visitors to our stand to interact with a wall-sized demo showcasing the art of the possible in digital interaction. Cognitive computing for hyper-personalised experience is another innovation on display.

And, the experience is personal, with the format helping individuals engage be that on the ‘Ranch’ (bar), over table tennis, by the coffee counter or in any one of the themed rooms - Clint Eastwood, Henry Fonda or John Wayne. The seminars have kiosks with radio buttons allowing easy feedback and the whole feel is of a happy scrum wanting to network and discuss what makes a great experience. The only obstacle, a cardboard cactus between me and the person I was talking with, still adds to the theme and, in its own way, personalises it too.

However a great experience has to be underpinned by value. I personally must receive enough value from my time invested. This was also provided - by brands ranging from Wired magazine to North Face and day one ending with Boots describing to a packed auditorium the value of properly understanding customers.   

Day Two continued with IBM Interactive Experience covering the ‘Power of Two’, moving from two years', to two months, to two weeks’ product delivery time and how we all need to be more innovative and agile. Square presented on ‘Seven fundamentals of success’ - cue a swathe of mobiles raised to take capture the insightful slide, only for the speaker to dispute each point, and highlight the importance of perseverance and timeliness. Starwood Hotels had a hard act to follow but did it well, ending the keynote session by providing a whole string of compelling loyalty stories only Sheraton can give. Here I made the most notes finding real interest in the topic that loyalty is not about points but instead trust and how luxury brands need to interact more akin to a family member instead of a product push organisation.

So in summary, the event was a great experience. I leave remembering the analogy Tim from Square best described based on his own experience driving in harsh snow bound conditions across America: when you are driving blind, cant stop for the fear of dying and only have an occasional road marker to keep you on track - you just have to use the data you have and get on with it. This fits well with my take-out from the event meaning we all must just press on innovating with the tools we have access to (as shown by Wired and in the demo centre), focus on personalising every interaction wherever possible (taking the learnings from Boots) and of course engaging our organisation and employees to deliver that brand promise North face so well described.

Well done Terrapinn. See you next year.

Interested in this topic? Download the IBM The Individual Enterprise: How mobility can redefine your business.


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