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Has everyone become a ‘tech savvy consumer’? How companies can contend with a new level of digital understanding

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The rise of the tech savvy consumer! To kick-start Season 2 we are joined by Kate Russell to discuss how companies can contend with a new level of digital understanding while maintaining effortless and memorable customer experience.

Guest Speaker - Kate Russell

Kate Russell

Kate Russell has been writing about technology, gaming and the Internet since 1995. She’s been a regular on BBC technology programme Click for over a decade and writes for National Geographic Traveller magazine.

In addition to her prolific writing and TV career Kate speaks regularly at technology events and conferences and in schools and Universities inspiring the next generation of
technologists. She also gets involved in policy meetings that aim to shape the way the Internet is governed in the UK.

There are 2 billion strong consumer group who are just sort of like at university age now. So they’re just sort of like to become fully fledged consumers. And when they’re all in it over the next sort of four to five years when they’re all become part of the active consumer, consumer and community globally. The skew is going to be that way more people and who are your customers will be digital natives. And not only is it important that you offer them digital services, they will not buy from you if you don’t. So it’s just accelerated our awareness of the imperative.

Discussion Topics

  • Do you agree with what the media is saying in terms of technology adoption being at an all-time high as people have been forced to become digital to stay connected?
  • Do we expect this trend to continue or will people want to go back to the old ways of interacting?
  • Presumably this presents a raft of challenges for companies that haven’t been able to keep up digitally, but also presents an opportunity for digital first companies? Who will be the winners and losers?
  • How quickly does innovation become the new expected norm – e.g. uber/Airbnb apps. How much pressure does this then put on companies to keep up? Do they need to change their business models?
  • Analysts continually talk about the need to offer easy, effective and emotive experiences but how do you create emotive customer experience if there is no human contact?
  • Is there a risk that companies could over digitise and miss valuable human connections which strengthen brand loyalty and present sales opportunities?

Transcript

Simon Thorpe – Welcome to CX Chat with Matt and Simon, the weekly podcast on all things customer experience. And yes, it is fantastic to be back, we are recording again and starting our second series. Now, before we get going, I just like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has followed the show so far. And when we embarked on this journey, Matt and I, and we all said, Look, we’re not the experts. But what we do do is have an awful lot of interesting folk and connections of people that have brilliant ideas and practical know how that we can kind of introduce to the community. So we really thank you for following us. We really thank you for all of the comments and feedback and questions that have been coming in. We hope you continue to enjoy it into Season Two and what a season two we have coming up for you. And for those of you who don’t know me, and if you’re new to the show, my name is Simon Thorpe and I’m joined by my colleague Matt Dyer and the best way we always describe ourselves as two blokes with bags of enthusiasm for CX, both with big opinions and lots of passion for the industry. So Matty start Season Two eh?

Matt Dyer – I know it’s amazing. I can’t believe we’ve got here.

Simon – It’s been a whirlwind, doesn’t it? I’m so Matty what we call the 10 episodes in season one. What’s the biggest thing that surprised you think?

Matt – I think for me the themes we talked about, and how they’ve been used by people in other industries. A lot of people have been pinging me in WhatsApp and LinkedIn saying, keep the topics coming, because a lot of things you’re talking about, we’re able to use in our business. So that for me has been really positive that we’re able to give something back.

Simon – Yeah, it’s been fantastic. And some of the guests have just given us so many pearls of wisdom. It’s been brilliant. And what about improvements? I mean, we all said we were going to try and test and learn we’ve never done anything like this when we when we started and we are trying to improve wherever we can particularly with my my hosting and but what improvements do you think we’ve learned?

Matt – Well drinking water during the podcast, so Jenny doesn’t have all the dry mouth moments, that’s one of them.

Read the full transcript

Simon – I agree. I agree. Yeah, we’re getting there. We’re getting there. And slowly and surely but then once again, thank you everyone so much for everyone that’s followed. And now, because it’s the first episode of season two, we wanted to do something a little bit special. And I’m thrilled to say we have our first bonafide celebrity joining us in the pod booth. Now, to say this lady is accomplished would quite frankly be an understatement. It certainly made Matt and I question our careers. She has been writing about technology, gaming and the internet since 1995. Has been a regular on BBC technology programme, Click, for over a decade now. Writes for the National Geographic traveller magazine, has published two novels, her website won UK blog award, she’s featured as one of the top 50 most influential Women, computer weekly magazine. And breathe, please welcome the fantastic Kate Russell, how are you, Kate?

Kate Russell – [Laughs] Hello. I feel like I’ve got a lot to live up to after that introduction. 

Simon – [Laughs] You know, we don’t often get someone with with quite the level of accomplishments that you have so we’re, why not share it with the world. Thank you for joining us.

Kate – Thank you so much and I guess there’s a lot that comes from the longevity of doing something because I’ve been writing about technology since 1995 now, so you know it’s kinda it’s good job that I’ve got good at it but by now.

Matt – The question I have, writing for the National Geographic that is a good commission. What would you say is the most excited exotic place you visited that’s not in the top 10 of must places must visit to go.

Kate – I’m afraid I’m going to shatter your illusions. Now. One of the great things about my career is I’ve managed to create about a niche for myself as being a technology, you know, somebody who writes about technology but also, you know, a female who represents the female of the species and and that’s made me quite an unusual beast and so all everybody wants from me is technology. You know, my neighbours come around knock on the door and I think oh, they come to see me. No, they want me to fix their Wi-Fi or figure out why verges network, they are friends as well. But no, so National Geographic traveller, I’ve had a column for them for five and a half years now every month, and I’ve never travelled anywhere but my own office, because I, my, my columns called tech traveller. So I talk about technology that will help you when you’re travelling, I don’t actually get to go travelling.

Simon – Well, you’ve certainly managed to squeeze in a fair amount though in this illustrious career of yours. I had a question as well Kate, before we get going because I’m, I’m a father of two young, young girls and then I was looking through your bio, actually, and I’m I right in thinking got your big break on Nickelodeon.

Kate – [Laughs] Well, the first show that I was on yeah was Nickelodeon. So I was I was working at the time in manufacturing for games, I was selling CD, pressing and games, sort of computer game distribution and packaging. And so I was in with all the games industries, and I’d been a gamer since 1984 when the BBC Micro landed in our kitchen with elite on it. And I’d always been a gamer and was involved in the games industry and one of my customers actually saw an advert Nickelodeon were looking for a young and funky female presenter who knew about video games. And he dared me to do it and mostly is if I can use such language on your show a bit of a piss take because they’re young and funky. So yeah, it was all a bit of an accident, me doing television, but it seems you know, seems to have worked out quite well.

Simon – Absolutely. I’m very jealous of Nickelodeon connection. Since I spent most of my life watching various degrees on Nickelodeon with my young girl. So, yeah,

Kate – Well, you won’t remember this presumably and you’ll also certainly won’t but it was a programme called Chips with Everything and my one of my co hosts was a bad tempered Mancunian fish that was digitally sort of transposed onto the show so I would walk around this games arcade talking to an imaginary grumpy monk fish.

Simon – Well, you know, you do realise now everyone’s reaching for their the YouTube clips of this must exist somewhere.

Kate – I’m going to try to find this bit on my YouTube as well. It’s fine. I’m not ashamed of my past. [Laughs]

Simon – Fantastic. Well, thank you so much for joining us, Kate. I think we’ve got an absolute belter of a first topic for season two. And that’s really around technology and how, how? It seems to me that every media outlet and Every new story I’m reading at the moment, and related to technology is talking about how consumers have have, because of the pandemic very, very quickly adopted, usages of different technology to stay connected and, and effectively, we’re running at an all time high of people, you know, starting to understand how to use technology in different ways. And I suppose the first question really is do we think that’s do we think that’s true? And you know, other media, right? Do we think that people are more technologically savvy than they ever have been? And are we living in a bit of a boom period because of the pandemic?

(Are people are more technologically savvy than they ever have been?)

Kate – This is a this is a topic that I’ve actually been speaking on for quite a few weeks, or maybe even a couple of months now because I’ve been evangelising for digital transformation for about 10 years or so I you know, to speak at events all over the place. In fact, that’s how I met you guys. And the the interesting thing is when you go to sort of events for small businesses and entrepreneurial kind of people, and you speak to people in the networking sessions afterwards, people always fit into the same sort of few categories when it comes to their relationship with technology. They’re either they hate it, and they object to having to you know, they’ve got no interested in, in integrating into their lives. Or they hate it because they’re afraid of it. And you know, they’re worried that their jobs are going to be taken over by robots or they’re, you know, worried that they’re going to get it wrong or look stupid. Then you’ve got people who would really like to do more with technology and computers, but because it’s not integrated into their lives when they do spend a bit of time learning about it, and they don’t do it every day so they don’t get that muscle memory. So when they come back again, I don’t if you’ve got a you know, an aunt or an uncle, elderly or grant, your neighbour whatever, and how you have to keep on showing them how to do email. Because they don’t do it all the time, it only becomes easy, when you it becomes second nature so and then you’ve got you on the other end of the scale, you’ve got people who are good with technology going up. But during the lockdown, or during the pandemic, more than 100 countries have had travel restrictions, and 1.4 billion people have been asked to stay at home. And whereas before the locked down, only about 2% of office staff regularly work from home. You know, everybody, those 1.4 billion people, those of them who were office workers, they’ve had to figure it out. And so what’s happened is the objectors the people who wouldn’t even try because of the various different fears that they have. They’ve had to get on with it. And you know, they’ve actually discovered Oh, isn’t actually as hard as I thought it was going to be. And, and then what happens is because they’re doing it every day, and that’s the people who would like to learn more, but they wasn’t hitting muscle memory, because they’ve been doing it everyday for two months. They now get it you know that’s slotted in the basics of slotted in. And so they begin to think about what else they can use from the digital world to enhance their, that their life. So it people like me have been trying to get people to accept and try technology digital technologies to enhance and remove friction from their lives for years and years and years, and it’s been falling on deaf ears. But thankfully, it seems like you know, urgency beats inertia, and people have had to get used to it. And in businesses, businesses have discovered that, you know, it can work and you know, they can trust people to work at home and you know, the world doesn’t collapse in on itself. And really, I think we’ve we’ve fast forwarded the digital transformation effort by about 10 years in the space of three or four months through the pandemic. So there it looks pretty grim at the moment. And you know, I think ultimately, we are We stand on the precipice real opportunity because when we’re over the health risks concerned with COVID-19 we all we’ve found a way to manage them should I say, and we’ll be able to start the conversation around digital transformation at a whole different level from before, you won’t have to say, you know, go to the boardroom and say, you know, this is why we should do it. You know, this, these the benefits because people already know now they’ve seen it firsthand. You manufacturing lines are in tatters, you know, nobody’s running at full capacity. You know, automation is the way to get back on on track. Everybody sees that now. And you know, and offices around the world are realising they don’t need to sort of you know sit and watch people working in order for them to work. And all sorts of digital automation is beginning to be rolled out. And it’s, you know, it’s just I think it’s nearly 45% of organisations have adopted new technology. for remote working during the COVID-19, nearly half, and that won’t go away after the pandemic so.

Matt – Yeah, because one interesting thing we’ve seen in actually Sabio started using zoom. My parents now go to church using Zoom and it’s actually created quite new markets and my mum’s from Africa. And she’s actually had people from her back from where she’s from joining the services from Aberdeen on Zoom. And, and from a church perspective, with dwindling numbers of people joining it could be a new revenue stream for them, but they’re not thought about pre COVID.

Kate – Right? No, exactly. I saw a brilliant story of a priest who was doing drive by blessings as well with a water pistol filled with holy water, which I thought was brilliant. But yeah, I mean, I’ve also had an experience with with the health service during this pandemic. And you know, I’ve had a problem my shoulder which is It turns out is something that needs physio therapy. But the process for me, my customer journey using the health service in the NHS was I phoned the doctor surgery. They booked me a phone appointment for a few days later, the phone appointment was to happen within a sort of 15 minutes of the specified time. I received a phone call, he ascertained that I needed an office visit. The following week, I’d booked I’d had an office visit book, I arrived at the time of my appointment. They let me in, you know, I was the only person there there was no waiting, I sat down, the doctor saw me off I went and then I was prescribed physio, and the physios all happened through the phone and an app they’ve now got, they’ve given me an app and I’ve got exercises which can be up you know, my daily daily progress changes. I can phone them whenever I want. And like the other day I was having problems with one of the exercises and I wondered if I should Drop it. So I phoned them to say, should I drop it? They said, Alright, we’ll get an appointment with you tomorrow morning 8:30 with a physio, videophone me 8:30, reassessed, changed the app. And all of that was such a better customer journey for me as a patient. There was no waiting around. There was no frustration there was no you know, no lack of communication, no communication is hyper now because it’s all digital. So, these things are going to stay after the pandemic.

Simon – Do you think? I mean, you’re, you are very much a native aren’t you Kate. So.

Kate – I’m, I’m 52. So although I have the age of a digital immigrant, I do have the mentality of a digital native.

Simon – Yeah, so but but I get the fact that you I mean, I suppose the question I’ve got is, how, how fragile is this? This new take up, you know, using You know, my mum as an example, I mean, she very much to your point about lack of muscle memory, she she quite likes technology, but she doesn’t have the opportunity to use it that often. And she’s scared of it. But locked down has effectively forced her to, to get used to it so that she could see my kids and those sorts of things. But I just wonder how fragile that uptake is going to continue? Will people revert back to type, you know, will they want to keep going back into their branch? Will they? Will they think you actually maybe some of the other ways were better? And how much do you think the way that companies adapt to, you know, this new kind of technological know how will have an impact on that lasting kind of sea change, I suppose.

(Do we expect this trend to continue or will people want to go back to the old ways of interacting?)

Kate – Well, to be honest with you, yes, we do have a tendency to return to type if type is easier than what we’re trying to push and I think one of the, one of the kind of one of the reasons that people have resisted digital transformation is because they do not trust that the new new way of doing things will be easier than the old way of doing things. But look at what we’ve got. Now, I mean, that people are not going to go back to the old way of doing things now that they’ve discovered that they don’t need to travel, you know, in an aeroplane add expense to the environment expense to the company stays away from their family, just to go to a meeting in New York, with, you know, with an investor or whatever, because everyone’s now realised, okay, we can do that over over a video conferencing out and it’s just as effective. You know, there will be occasions when you need to, you know, we shouldn’t do things in isolation. There is balance is very important. Everything in moderation, including moderation. I can’t remember it was he said that and but, you know, it’s if the old way of doing things were viable, then I think people would go back to it but they’re not going to be anymore COVID-19 is not going away, you know, we have no idea yet even you know how long it’s going to take to get a vaccine. When we do get a vaccine, it’s likely to be an influenza style affair where you know, these kind of Corona viruses they do more year on year so you have to have repeat vaccines if you one of the one of the big changes in humanity is going to be an understanding that we can’t cluster together in such intense you know, travelling, you know, packed into carriages is swapping germs with everybody and I think you know, that’s that’s an ongoing thing and unless that completely goes away, then the old way of doing things is never going to be an option in future.

Matt – Yeah, example of that is peloton, isn’t it? So people like going the spin classes, but why would you go to a spin class now and waste your time travelling there when you can get, maybe not as good as experience you can get the experience you’ve been given time back and then you can start to focus on other things as you just talked about Kate, why would you put yourself in the risk of catching something in a confined space when you can get an experience it’s pretty much good enough

Kate – And the fingers of baring interest as well. There was one study that says 80% of people in the UK want to to maintain a level of flexible homeworking to reduce on having to travel in congested traffic traffic, congested public transport rather to reduce that your daily interactions with people who may have been exposed to broad us bubbles, the new You know, that’s what people want now, but it’s what people understand is healthy. And actually ultimately when you look at the way we’ve we’ve been going with urbanisation and you know sort of people will more and more people crammed into cities, the price of living cost of living going up exponentially in these sort of You know, capitals of commerce and finance. And we are now transitioning into a phase where at the end of it, we could have cities that are truly designed for people, you know, there’ll be more housing, there’ll be more green spaces, because there won’t be as much need for big corporate head offices and, you know, in those always said, be turned into, you know, penthouse apartments and stuff, but that and they will continue to be expensive, but what will happen is that people will money will buy places there. So will that should reduce the gentrification of the, of the outlying areas. I mean, I I hope that this is actually a balancing mechanism that will actually ultimately, you know, start slowing down the rate at which we’ve been urbanising and clustering, because that’s not sustainable anyway for the planet it just isn’t.

Simon – Let’s talk about companies because as you said, You’ve been you’ve been shouting about digital transformation for many years, and I totally agree with you, I think that this, this pandemic has forced a lot of companies to reassess and an incredible things have been achieved in such a short space of time. But there is so clearly some that, you know, we’re prepared and, you know, have the kind of Agile mechanisms and, and if, if you want to call it that have won during this period, and some that have been left behind massively and, you know, what’s your take on on these kind of companies? You know, and and how customer experience has been affected by, by this change in perception?

(How are companies being affected and their customer experience. Who are the winners or losers?)

Kate – Well, you know, I think customer experience has needed digitization for a long time. One of the one of the one of the big problems at the moment is we’re seeing, for example, a massive growth in Zoom. Zoom’s the obvious one right and usage shut up in March to 200 million daily meetings and meetings participants, and previous to that it was a maximum of 10 million. And the following month that figure rose again, just 300 million. So this is an exponential growth in usage. And we’ve seen it in the value of their share as well, which is their shares which have dwarfed you know, the tech giants like Amazon and Netflix even are being dwarfed by Zoom’s growth. And, and so the, these kind of these, I’m sorry, I forgot the question. I lost my train of thought.

Simon – I was asking you about companies and how, like the winners and losers of this, I suppose. And, you know, can companies compete, you know, with the, the kind of more digital first type businesses and, and, you know, what’s that gonna mean to the the kind of customer experience market?

Kate – Yes. Okay, brilliant. Thank you. So do you know depends how you really define winner, because and also, we need to remember that COVID-19, as I’ve mentioned before, is here for the long haul. So, tech companies generally are being winners. The classic example of that is Zoom. Zoom’s, usage in March, went to went from 10 previous maximum of 10 million total daily participants to 200 million in March, and then the following week, following month to 300 million. So, you know companies like that are seeing a real boost because of necessity. But then you’ve got companies like Amazon, who also you know, Amazon’s that they that they’re operating, and this is really interesting, actually the first quarter of their of this year, to March 2020. Their operating their net sales was $75 billion. And that compares with 60 billion for the pre for the previous year’s first quarter part, their net profit went down by point 4 billion from from 4.4 to 4 billion. So, the why is that well, okay, so more people are using online shopping, they’re doing more volume of sales, but they’ve had to invest an awful lot into keeping their mass amount of staff and the facilities safe. And, and they actually anticipate that they’re going to be spending all of that 4 billion operating profit in the next quarter, to ongoing, you know, the, in the ongoing fight against pandemic. So it’s a really at the moment again, because we’re still in COVID-19. It’s difficult to really make any serious predictions about the long term because we don’t know what the human impact is going to be. And another really interesting stat is Boohoo the clothing retail place and they’re orders that are typically they were did well into the night out clothes dresses, little black dresses, that kind of thing that’s fallen off a cliff edge and people are now playing joggers and hoodies, and tracksuit bottoms. So it’s really hard to make. And then the other thing is, what I’d love to see is all of the artists and, and kind of like artists and companies, the small retailers who do you know, artisan bread or, you know, all these little things like I’ve been buying from the snuffling pig company, and I’ve been ordering online and boxes of crackling because it’s deliciousness a small company and you know, they do a homemade cider as well, the rhubarb cider, and now people like that are offering online delivery, online ordering and delivering. So I think, you know, the fact is you asked whether or not you do you have to take up this digital transformation challenge in order to succeed. That’s been the case. For a long time, that’s not not new because of COVID-19. And but the pandemic and the lockdown and everything else that has happened around it has accelerated people’s need to react. So, you know, in, regardless of what’s happened over the last six months or so, this was the case anyway. You will, I think you will, you will feel the pain quicker if you don’t adopt because of the pandemic. But this is all to do with this sort of like acceleration of our, our, our take up of technology and our evolution into digital turns.

Matt – Yeah, I think unless got CBS alpha in your analogue proposition. So I don’t know, maybe Warren Buffett. And Berkshire Hathaway is a good example of that. And if you’ve ever checked out his website, but you just wouldn’t be buying it because it’s very analogue. But then if you think about other organisations, and what I’ve started to see is, everyone’s kind of moving to this marketplace mentality. So you might not be the expert specifically in a field, but you offer up via your kind of Portal access to domain experts. So this could be banking, and they may offer you the ability to do insurance within app. So this kind of networks of network strategy and it’s something that Sabio adopts as well, in terms of we offer best of breed across different vendors and serve up a solution to the customer, in a frictionless way, is a way that I think we’re going to see an acceleration in the kind of in the digital space from a busines perspective.

Kate – Yeah, 100% agree, Matt and you know, there was an going, I can’t remember who the, I found a good quote but I can never remember who they’re by. And there are two types of knowledge that which you know, and that which you know, how to find out. And I’ve always held that really dear to me, because I don’t have any personal knowledge. Really, if you said to me, what do you know? I’m like, I’d be like, no Not much actually. But if you asked me what I know how to find out, then you know that I’m one of the, one of the best people to come to in that respect. Because I, I have kind of prided myself on gathering around me the resources to be able to find out the answer to most questions, specifically, certainly in the technology realm. And that’s not because I know stuff and remember stuff. It’s because I know how to search the internet. I know the good portals for certain different types of content. I know the good people to, you know, contact directly and cool. So these these are all really important things. And, you know, the digital world and using digital automation and AI gives people access to that information in a much more efficient and rapid way than human based systems in there are a lot of questions. There was a brilliant it was Georgia Tech. University in America. And about five years ago, they did a study and they introduced an AI teaching assistant, and on the forums, and typically in a new school year intake or a new college year intake, and you know, the first sort of three months, there will be 10s of thousands of queries about really basic things like where do I hand in this coursework? or How long do I have to do that? Or, you know, what’s the process for this? And you know, for claiming this, or where do I find this out? These are all questions that are asked 10s of thousands of times every year, there’s no reason for a human to have to be involved in that process. So they introduced this AI teaching assistant, and but they didn’t tell anyone it was an AI teaching assistant. And initially, they actually realised they would have to slow her response times down because people started getting, you know, so suspicious about why the teaching assistant was being so efficient at four o’clock in the morning. So they They actually introduced, you know, a slowing mechanism. And people didn’t know that she and she was actually nominated for teaching assistant of the year, at the end of that year, and somebody even asked her on a date as well.

Simon – [Laughs] Brilliant.

Kate – There’s really no reason for it to be, you know, for it not to feel human for it not to be, you know, a an efficient and rewarding experience. And the key is to remember that you can’t just have that you have to have AI assisted, you know, sort of services. So you pass off on to the 80s, bit like my doctor’s experience, right, you pass on to the AI First, the AI deals with all the basic queries, and that saves the person who can really deal with proper problems because you do need a human there in that instance, to then spend time with the, you know, with with the person with the customer and dealing with them. That query or their problem in a really personal manner that helps to build brand loyalty because they feel more cared for. If you just want to ask a question, it’s a quick and easy answer. You don’t care if it’s a, you know, you want it quickly, you want it efficiently, you want it to be correct. Like, all of those three things computers can do way better than humans. If you have more of a problem, you want to feel like you’re being taken, you know, care of and somebody cares. And that, you know, they’ve been thoughtful about you. And, and the person’s got more time to do that, because they’re not dealing with all that other stuff. So in every way, I can’t see a negative in continuing to, you know, improve the way that we we remove friction by introducing computer assisted support mechanisms. And then the customer journey can actually reflect we you’ve got social media representatives who can actually spend their time engaging With influencers and running marketing campaigns rather than constantly firefighting little snips because people haven’t been able to get the art the simple answer that they wanted really quickly.

Simon – Hmm. Do you think? I totally agree with you Kate I think it’s, it’s a fascinating thing. And I think you’ve really hit the nail on the head. We’ve talked a lot actually in the podcast about creating emotional and memorable and lasting customer experiences. And that, that was always one of the risks I think with with digital automation is that companies over pivot and over rely on automation and they forget that actually, sometimes customers do want that human to human contacts and particularly if there’s something emotive or, or something that requires an extra level of confidence. And, but one of the things that I, I think is interesting, and I haven’t heard an awful lot of is where you’re stripping out by using automation, that kind of more simplistic kinds of interactions. The things as you quite quite obviously said, could be handled much better by a robot, that obviously presents quite a significant cost savings to a lot of businesses. But what I’m not hearing is if you’re driving out the the kind of simplistic that will naturally drive in the complex for your staff to deal with and what I’m not hearing, and I’m hoping you’re gonna say otherwise, Kate, is that that money, that cost saving money will be reinvested into things like training into things like, you know, better resources for staff, you know, things that, you know, might help motivate them and deal with the more complex things that they may have to now start dealing with. What’s your take on that Kate?

(Creating emotive customer experience)

Kate – Well, I think this will be one of the things that will define the winners from the losers once the dust settles, you know, I mean, there’s, there’s no, there’s no question that we’re going to have to go with more digital service, we’re gonna have to do with more go with more automation, less face to face, you know, more social distancing. That’s a given, in my opinion, who’s going to be the winners in the losers, well, they’re the there’ll be the winners will be the people who realise that who realise that this isn’t just a cost cutting exercise, they can’t just go all suddenly everyone can work from home great, we can just get rid of the offices and throughout all the computers. No, you need to build that process on a solid platform. And you know, we talk about brand loyalty and brand identity identification, people do not buy you buy into your brand, people do not become attached to your brand, because you’ve got a platform that is a smooth user experience, right? They buy into your platform, because they they like you, they like the way that you treat them. They like that. And that’s not going to change depending on your platform. So when you’re looking at digital transformation and digital services integrations, you need to think about the human journey first. And you know, some companies will do that. And they will think, okay, we’ve got this, you’ve got this new process. And in some ways, the savings, you know, they go beyond just the sort of, you know, the physical like there’s a whole load of productivity benefits that are possible when you’re managing, you know, projects and people’s time through digital platforms as well. You can introduce, you know, sort of mental health support staff, and you know that and that can be more stuff to elevate the, the lifestyle, and it’s really important. If you are asked asking your your staff to work at home, you need to be aware of their mental health issues. Some people are not as well suited to work at home or may need more support. And some people you know, we are humans, we do need contacts, and maybe you need to start thinking about, okay, well, we need to bring people together, you know, a certain interval of time, just to sort of, you know, have a face to face and have that kind of human connection between us. And the companies that get that balance. Right. We’ll be the ones that we will see will fly. And the companies that go Oh, yeah, we can just, you know, chuck out all the office and the computers and leave people to their own devices at home. Well, they’re going to discover pretty quickly that that’s not actually How it works.

Matt – I think Kate made me some good points I was just listening in on that. And I guess the contact centre agents of the future probably going to be more specialised Simon in terms of what they do so they weren’t, as you see be dealing with the easy connect to deal with contact. And when you think about the virtual assistant and automation, they’re probably going to be providing content and great content to the the AI to support in the deflection strategy. So in a way, the contact centre readings are going to be publishers in their own right. And then later on, we’ll keep talking about interacting with influencers and do different things. There might be a different dynamic, how those sorts of people can be repurpose, to support kind of customer acquisition or customer retention in the fact that they can now now have time to do other things. So that is quite an interesting topic that maybe we should explore.

Simon – I think it’s something we’re gonna have to keep a close eye on that because I’m fascinated by by How that how that whole world is going to adapt. I totally agree with both of you. We could go on and on and on with this topic. There’s one more thing that I’d like to get Kate’s take on particularly because you and I Matt have talked about this quite a bit. And I really feel for some companies in this kind of journey towards digital transformation. Because, you know, companies like the Airbnb use, or the Ubers or, you know, the classic disruptors that have done something that have changed how consumers, you know, expect, you know, their interactions to go I’m thinking like the kind of Uber app to order a taxi or the kind of interface that Airbnb is really cleanly created to, to, to take on one of their, their homes as a rental. Kate, I suppose the question is, how quickly do consumers take that, that kind of exciting new innovation and then convert that into what their expected norm looks like? And how much pressure do you think? What does that put on everyone else? Because it must be horrendously difficult to keep up in those sort of scenarios.

(How quickly does innovation become the new expected norm?)

Kate – Oh, yeah, I mean, there’s a really interesting graphic floating around the internet that gets updated every so often that shows the, the time to critical mass of customers, right? And I think the critical mass is something like 50 million customers. And, and you you know, you look at something like television, and it took, you know, 70 years or radio, whatever it took you I can’t remember the figures exactly, but just search the timelines to critical mass for customers. And, and then you get up to you knew sort of, I think, I think television was in the sort of seven to 10 years. And then you get to things like Angry Bird, the Angry Bird app took two days, no five days, and then Pokemon Go. And it happened over a weekend. So we’ve seen an escalation in the the speed that it takes for things to get to a critical mass and become an accepted part of the norm. And that’s not going to change anytime soon, you know, digital transformation has always been an imperative. And, and it’s just this COVID-19 has just made it, you know, more obvious, and we’re able to see it more. And in fact, if you look at generation said, there are 2 billion strong consumer group who are just sort of like at university age now. So they’re just sort of like to become fully fledged consumers. And when they’re all in it over the next sort of four, four to five years when they’re all become part of the active consumer, consumer and community globally. The skew is going to be that way more people And who are your customers will be digital natives. And not only is it important that you offer them digital services, they will not buy from you if you don’t. So it’s just accelerated our awareness of the imperative. And yes, it’s tough. But to be honest with you, you should’ve doing it a while ago.

Simon – Yeah. Yeah, there’s no real excuses. But it’s still it’s a fascinating topic. And we’re gonna have to start drawing this to a close and but what a way to kick off season two. Kate, thank you so, so much for helping us launch this season and, and to helping us introduce a topic which I think he’s going to run through many of the discussions we have throughout this season. Kate, thank you. You know, we’ve loved having you on. Have you enjoyed it as I know you said at the start of this, you’re more used to being on the other side asking the question, so how did you feel being the on the other side of the fence?

Kate – I really have. I really have especially, I mean, it’s been really nice to chat about this stuff because as you can probably tell, I am a relentless optimist when it comes, more of a possibilist when it comes to technology. And so I love talking about this stuff. But also this is actually the longest human to human converstion I’ve had since March. So thank you for that.

Simon – Oh, well, we’ve loved it. We’ve loved it at Mattie. What a way to start the season with Kate.

Matt – Oh I loved it, so engaging. Was a great insight. I’m sure the listeners will love it.

Simon – Yeah. I do not doubt it. Well, Kate, Matt, thank you ever so much. I’ve absolutely loved it. And I’m hoping all of our guests or have our listeners have to we’d love to hear from for everyone that’s listening. If you’ve got comments or feedback ideas, we’ll always put some of the tips and things that we talked about in the podcast follow up. So look out for those. But for now, thank you for joining us. Thank you for listening, stay safe and we shall see you next time. Goodbye.

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