How are CX leaders planning for the recession?

In our season finale, Martin Hill Wilson joins Matt and Simon to discuss and get a clear picture of what CX leaders, particularly service leaders are doing to plan or prepare for the recession.

How are CX leaders planning for the recession?


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Martin Hill Wilson


Guest Speaker - Martin Hill Wilson

Martin is a Customer Service, CX & AI Engagement strategist and facilitator. He provides keynotes, masterclasses and transformation frameworks on omni-channel contact strategy, customer based quality management, emotive CX for Customer Interaction and AI driven customer service.

Well, I think there’s a there’s a common wisdom, whether true or not, I tend to believe it, and that is that if you’re going to have to do something terrible, do it quickly and do it early. Because otherwise people will Always, you know, sort of die from 1000 cuts, going through the process. So cut deep cut early. But certainly, there’s going to be very few sectors that get away with this entirely.

Discussion Topics

  • What will be the short, medium and long term impact of the recession on the service industry?
  • Will companies de-prioritise CX as a differentiator and revert to price wars? Will the value of CX be challenged?
  • Which technological options do we expect leaders to factor into their thinking to weather the storms ahead?
  • Has the crisis encouraged companies to prioritise agile working – i.e. will decisions be sped up or descoped due to cost cutting.
  • What impact will the likely changes to consumer expectation have on leaders strategic plans?
  • How much consumer change do we think there will actually be and how much are companies factoring this into their thinking?
  • What impact will the recession have on the workforce and how much have employee values changed following COVID 19?
  • What practical tips should leaders be considering when building their strategic plans for the months ahead?


Simon – Welcome to CX Chat with Matt and Simon, the podcast series where we discuss some of the hottest topics facing customer experience professionals today. My name is Simon Thorpe and as ever I’m joined by my colleague Matthew Dyer. And if you haven’t tuned in before, we like to describe ourselves as to chaps with big opinions and bags of enthusiasm for the CX industry. Matty, can you believe this is our 10th recording? How was tongue flown?

Matt – Yeah, I can’t believe how quickly it’s all gone. And I’m thinking of buying myself a proper microphone and headset. It might might. It might help people understand my Scottish twang a little better. And I do love a new gadget.

Simon – Yeah, we want all the toys don’t we. I think when when we come out of lockdown the idea of some kind of a Joe Rogan esque pod booth with drinks and, and relaxing couches and all that sort of thing really appeals to me. So let’s hope we get there. One day. Actually, today is going to be our final episode of season one, isn’t it? So. So for those of you that have supported the podcast through and through, thank you so much for tuning in. And we hope you’ve enjoyed it. Keep the feedback coming and let us know what you think. Don’t worry, we’re going to be moving into season two, with not too long a break. But we will be announcing more around the exciting guests. We’ve got planned and some new formats at the end of this podcast. So we’re, so make sure that you stay on and on to the very end and let us know what you think. As this is our season finale, we thought well, it’s only right to finish with a bang and invite one of the Guru’s of our industry to join us and so he doesn’t really need an intro, if I’m honest, but in time on a traditional will give him a nice warm welcome anyway. He is one of the founding fathers of the contact centre industry, has been operating as an independent consultant specialising in customer engagement strategy for many, many years. He’s an author, keynote speaker, if I remember rightly, the Lifetime Achievement Award winner, and it’s Martin Hill Wilson, how are you, sir?

Martin – Very well, indeed. And thank you very much for that very warm welcome, Simon, and Matt, and I’m thoroughly looking forward to our time together today.

Matt – So, Martin, you’ve been in this industry a long time, like all of us on this podcast? What technology would you say you thought was going to make a lasting impact on the industry, which never really achieved adoption? For me? I think it was video chat. What about you?

Martin – The one I’m saddest about about probably is interaction analytics. I always thought that understanding what’s going on inside the call was massively important in terms of the status of the contact centre, and in terms of the decision making, you know, just transforms everything and yeah, I don’t know what The numbers are maybe 15-20% of people are doing it. There’s lots of competition in the market, there’s good value price points all the way down the scale. And yet, it’s been very difficult. So that, for me, is one of the things I thought was going to be a slam dunk, but actually 15 years in, we’ve still got a fairly technology resistant set of decision makers.

Simon – It’s a weird one, isn’t it? I mean, that’s, that’s something that you and I worked pretty closely on for a little while. And then we haven’t quite got to where we expected. But hey, today, the topic we’re going to cover off the finale, something that that you’ve been really working on, I think it’s a brilliant topic to finish with Martin. And so the whole idea of, of how are leaders planning getting ready for the recession, particularly those that are service leaders that are operating in customer experience and contact centres? And this is something that you’ve been running some virtual events around, isn’t it Martin, trying to get a feel for how business leaders are, you know, kind of getting ready what the kind of picture is looking like, how’s that all been going?

Martin – Really well. And it was a topic that I, I think I was just watching the telly one afternoon, you know, the Chancellor was on some of the numbers were coming out. And by any definition, it’s going to be a problem for us. Clearly, every every economy has been put completely out of hinge, as far as COVID is concerned. You know, interestingly, we’ve also now got a social problem as well as a, you know, an economic problem, as well as a sort of health problem and you combine all those things together. And you’ve got a very unstable looking world going forward. And I thought, are we really calibrating that yet? Probably at the time I first did it. Most people were still bedding in working from home to be honest. And that was something that I think, taken everybody by surprise, but it was an obvious thing we had to do. It was interesting because it busted a whole myth around to the fact that you can’t you shouldn’t No, we’re not going to we’re going to do it. We’ve got perfectly good reasons Not to, and then suddenly 80% of the industry or even maybe 96%, who knows, but the vast majority go into it. And I think that unleashed a whole number of things, but it preoccupied everybody. And I thought that, you know, often good things happen in trios and bad things happen in trios. So that change is probably then good to turn up in terms of Oh, gosh, now, do we bring them back? What’s going to be the balance between being home and being in bricks and mortar? And then the context for that decision and going forward is going to be the fact that a recession is pretty much inevitable? The only decision is, you know, if you visualise that, does it look like a V? In other words, we go down and we go up, in which case, you know, we can all be happy again by possibly January of next year, or do you find the fact that it’s a bit elongated, in which case the V stretches out to be you? So let’s push that somewhere further down the middle of next year? Or do you actually have a whole number of relapses? If you want And who knows, but it’s an uncertain outlook, certainly. And probably for most planning assumptions when you’re getting next year’s budgets together, you’re going to be looking at, yeah, those who are saying, Well, clearly, we have had a tough time looking out, we have got customers, particularly b2c customers, who are not necessarily going to be as flush as they used to be. We have got people who possibly have got different priorities now. I think there’s a whole bunch of work going on around value propositions right now, interestingly, and therefore, how are we going to survive? And the instinct of course, is to say, well, let’s cut our costs as an initial risk tactic. So therefore, what’s going to happen and the last time it happened, of course, pretty much it was it was kind of a, you know, a 10% across everything. So you just took the hit. And the survey that we did on one of the sessions didn’t show that most people are anticipating somewhere, you know, around About 20, possibly even 30% being taken out of budget now, contact centres customer service have never really been that flush. We know that it’s always been difficult to do that. So if you then look at taking maybe 30%. From that, are you then going to just say, right, I will do 30% less in terms of quality and output? And the answer is probably, unfortunately, not because we live in a world where customer expectations have continued to accelerate. And we’re in a very mature economy regarding expectation in terms of all sorts of things. And as we well know, customer service has become very much central to the delivery of experience. And so therefore, the problem becomes, how do I maintain customer experience at much, much lower cost, which I think is a fascinating thing, because it’s rather like the home working problem. It’s been forced onto us. And in some respects, when those kinds of massive decisions are forced on you, it actually unleashes some very creative thinking and action as opposed to you know, procrastination and timid timid steps so I think that we’re in line to see some really interesting outputs because we’re literally sink or swim. And I think it’s a radical topic and I think it’s one that people are beginning to get their heads around off and they will need to make some interesting decisions.

Simon – Do you think this, it does worry me and you were kind enough to invite me to one of the one of your your group sessions with some fantastic people. You know, you’ve had, you know, real leaders of industry, people that were managing big operations consultants, people at the, you know, on the technology side, it was a fascinating group. One thing that really worries me about this whole recession is all the kind of sea level the board are they going to use this or some are going to simply revert back to type of, you know, price differentiation. CX is too woolly. It never, you know, it never really proved itself as the differentiate that everyone talks about, and suddenly that’s going to be stripped back. And that that really concerns me, but also, I think presents an awful lot of opportunity for some companies that go the other way. What do you think we’re gonna land on that, Martin?

(Will companies deprioritise CX as a differentiator and revert to price wars? Will the value of CX be challenged?)

Martin – Well, I think I think an accurate answer has to say it all depends. Yeah. And again, if you just look at CX, in supposedly good times, it’s a, you know, for some people, it’s blindingly obvious why you should know, the pathway to excellence is pretty well clearly articulated. And as ever, in a particular area, there’s a small group that have got there, you know, I don’t think that ever changes. And some people have sort of been in denial, and some people have been rather half hearted. And I think this will also be another testing period for that. I suspect that those people that have got to the point where the CX is in the corporate bloodstream, well managed hub and spoke. They have invested in it. They’ve seen commercial outcomes. They have a reputation for it, and indeed, people are attracted both as customers and employees to that brand. But this kind of environment won’t do anything in terms of dampening their enthusiasm, they might probably need to rethink what a luxury project versus essential project, but I don’t think they’ll descend on their point of focus and their sense of the value of doing it. The will though on against that point be some that will probably take quite draconian perspective, not necessarily just again, CX but possibly any major kind of investment projects, and say, No, we just can’t afford to do that. And that I think will also be driven by if you look through the lens of recession, you’re going to see a you know, a mixed a mixed set of economies, or sectors I should say, you know, I think that anybody who is somehow associated with travel, whether that’s an airline, you know, whether or not that’s a hotel, whether or not the destination You know whether or not that’s another form of transport, it’s probably going to be quite difficult to recover that. Indeed the Rolls Royce CEO said, having gotten rid of I think did he go for three, five or 8000 lemons, a lot of people on sales and yeah, yeah, we don’t see it recovering for five years. That’s the that’s the you know, that’s the time it’s going to take to get back to that thing. Retail will never look the same again. But again, from that session you were with, there was an online brand, they’re misguided, who would thank you and growing. Yeah. against that. Will we ever see a high street again, where typically you’ve got the anchor top clients of M&S at one end and, you know, and John Lewis at the rest on the other end, with all the other boutique brands in between, I suspect the answer to that is we will never see that mix ever again. And it remains to be seen in a world where as consumers we have got increasingly comfortable ordering online. Those brands could see morph into into online only, which raises the question can we still afford to and what is the role then of doing something in a physical kind of environment, but, but overall there will be some sectors, which are going to find it very, very difficult to recover, and some might never recover. And indeed, they might get rolled up into something else. So, you know, when we’re talking about, can you afford to focus on CX, some people will be asking that question from almost an existential perspective of we are under real threat as an individual brand, or possibly even as a sector. And some will be going with this is great opportunity. I mean, if right now, for example, I was selling cloud services, I would probably be celebrating my annual bonus, because, quite frankly, everybody that ignored going to cloud absolutely has to do that world because you’re just not going to survive in the next period of time. So again, the answer to the question is nuanced, but over all, I suspect more than less will stay true to CX, but it’s certainly going to have to become much more commercially articulate, able to understand the impact of CX, not just on the behaviour of the customer, but through into profit and loss. And that’s going to be massively important to articulate that and get the whole industry, I think, up to a much more commercially literate standard. And then I think we’re going to have to look to what we consider to be essential, versus, you know, glamorous projects. And one of the problems I think, is this, to get CX up and running, in many respects, it’s a question of laying a whole number of layers of foundation. Now, if you happen to have spent the last period of time doing that, then you’re in quite a good place. You’re just at the early stages of those journeys. And you still got to make some of those really fundamental decisions and investments. I think that’s going to be quite trying, you know, to do the right thing as far as getting those things are concerned, because you can only go so far with CX at a tactical level. It quickly gets to be a set of strategic decisions around of organisational structure, you know, technical capability, you know, the whole digital transformation piece is heavily dependent upon the blend of culture, people skills, but also the enabling technologies underneath of that, all of which take time to bed in and to get right. So I think it’s also a period where leadership and brave but nonetheless realistic, really leadership is going to be massively important, and there’s going to be some risk in taking those decisions. Some people will get them wrong, in which case, that’s going to be tough, but some people will get them right and will take those organisations through a choppy times, but they will end up much stronger at the other, the other end of the thing, so a lot of people are going to be earning their pay in terms of you know, exhibiting that leadership and organisations that are unfortunately right on that I think will be very, very tough time because it’s not going to be a status quo world. It’s going to require you know, data driven decision making, but it’s also going to demand some, you know, bravery from the leadership and a willingness of everybody else to follow those leaders and do some extraordinary hard work.

Matt – Yeah, because a good example of that actually is was Monzo I think yesterday, or was it today that announced that the laying off 130 service support staff. So when you think about an organisation that uses data, and a lot of primary research to kind of drive I guess their service strategy, they’ve come up to well, they’ve come to the conclusion now that they need to quickly meet some cost cutting to make themselves, I guess, still economically viable moving forward, and they are seen as the darling of the FinTech space. So I thought that was quite from what you’ve said, that’s quite an interesting take on that.

Martin – Well, I think there’s a there’s a common wisdom, whether true or not, I tend to believe it, and that is that if you’re going to have to do something terrible, do it quickly and do it early. Because otherwise people will Always, you know, sort of die from 1000 cuts, going through the process. So cut deep cut early. might be that might be part of that. But certainly, there’s going to be very few sectors that get away with this entirely. Because the other interesting point about this, even if you think you’re sitting pretty, the world as a global entity is inextricably all connected together. I mean, one of the most interesting discussions right now, is the supply chain issue. I mean, I, what was it? I think I was trying to buy something for my son’s birthday. And I must say, it amazed me, you know, really getting into the detail of trying to buy something from Amazon, how many selection points in terms of sizes and colours, it just wasn’t available in a way that you know, across a whole number of different categories. And I thought, well, gosh, that’s all to do with the fact that it’s not flowing as easily as it used to do and by the way, you know, we’re bored of the B word, but you know, if you introduce the resurgence of possibly Corona on top of Brexit on top of the argument that’s going on, you know, between the West and China and all of that geopolitical instability, supply chain isn’t guaranteed. Now, all that starts to mean is that sectors are hugely interdependent with each other. So the knock on effect could also be can also be quite interesting. And some of those issues are quite frankly, not easy to spot up front and organisations, leaders within those organisations can find that they’re just overwhelmed by some of those larger, you know, geopolitical considerations. So I think that two years down the line, we will see a very changed world economically in terms of who survives, and from the consumers point of view, what is now seen as being essential, as opposed to something that we can’t get back to and we don’t have the money for.

Matt – Do you think Martin as we move forward as well, obviously, I think you touched on it, the business models will change. But do you think organisations probably going to be a lot of more mergers acquisitions. But do you think there’s going to be a more of a marketplace type business model? And just on that, how do you think service will be maintained across that when you’ve got one provider offering the service, but obviously they’re piggybacking off different companies? I think there could be a challenge there. I don’t know. What’s your thoughts on that?

(How much consumer change do we think there will actually be and how much are companies factoring this into their thinking? )

Martin – Well, I think I think the number of things in terms of how, there’s been a whole focus point hasn’t there in maybe 20 years where you’ve got to be in a global market, you’ve got to be very, very good at one particular thing. Yeah. And that’s tended to lend itself to specialisation. And then the counter cyclic behaviour is kind of vertical integration where you try to be good at all those things. I think that we’ve reached the peak as far as global supply chain and global economies is concerned, whatever our politics are, there’s much more of a nationalist and an isolationist thing. And I think one of the points that many territories will have considered from the National Leadership perspective, maybe we need to be growing more of our own whether or not that’s vegetables or factories. Yeah. So I think there’s going to be a consolidation of the bits that you need to be able to deliver your service to happen at a much more localised or or best maybe retired level, which will be an opportunity for developing new industries and possibly soaking up some of the people being unemployed, I think that’s going to be an attractive thing for some governments to consider funding and seeding and doing that. And some people are gonna have to think very clearly about that. Because, you know, if I can’t, if I can’t get the bits of my apple to get out my latest, latest version of that I just can’t do a product launch, you know, so how am I going to secure my access to those kind of bits and pieces? So I think that different business models coming back to your question will emerge, in terms of what do I need in order to secure my ability to deliver my value proposition. And I think a lot of people will certainly the big organisations have got an ongoing discipline on this, but everyone’s gonna have to say, in my portfolio regardless of how much in love I am with it, is it still making me money? Do we see it’s got a future? Should I cut it now? Should I reinvest it? Should I reinvent it, you know, there’s gonna be a lot of that kind of thinking at the end of the day. So that’s one side of it. The other side of it is of course demand, which is what the customers either b2c or b2b want these days. And, you know, I think that’s, that’s kind of beginning to change. So, just as an example, there’s a piece of research I picked up this morning from somebody down in Australia admittedly talking about their marketplace, but they have done some quite extensive consumer research and said that as far as you know, the consumer is concerned there is more focus on being transparent, more focus on online that makes good sense. More focus on delivery and reliability of delivery, but equally and I think you, you might be interested in this, Matt, less focus on quality of goods and service, and then personalised preferences in product. And I know you had a little bit on your bonnet on that one. And I’ve had loads of questions around corporate social responsibility, again, so if you if you just say take that at face value of some of the shifts, and I think there’s much more detail to that emerging change of consumer priorities, it starts to mean that we’ve got to really build what we’re selling and offering to customers to remain relevant to those needs.

Matt – Yeah and that personalization, when you touched on, it has been a bugbear of mine, because we’ve never actually really achieved it. And I think with GDPR, and the kind of restrictions that sit around that I wonder if it’s going to be even harder to deliver moving forward.

Martin – Yeah, well, I agree. I agree. And I was never I I mean to be very cynical about it, just putting Dear. Martin and then, yeah, I get I am an independent. There’s one of me. My wife is another director of the business but there’s essentially two at most. How the heck does it work that you send me an invitation to buy a 900 seat call centre? Dear Martin, how are you today? Can I drop you a line tomorrow?

Simon – [Laughs] We all get them though don’t we.

Martin – And I’m not going to swear on this because you know, it’s it’s a you know, it’s it’s an open age audience. All that junk mail turned up on our on our mats, you know, 30 years ago and and it’s deeply depressing, that people are still obsessed with the notion that volume will fill a pipeline rather than relevance.

Simon – Martin did you just say I don’t know whether I caught it correctly, that the piece that you read from from Australia said that there’s a lower demand on companies social consciousness.

Martin – Yeah, isn’t that Interesting?

Simon – That is the polar opposite. In fact, I was having a conversation today about how interesting it is that so many CEOs are rushing to get comments out and position themselves around some of the crisis that’s going on, you know, in COVID, and in America and all those sorts of things, and that to me really spoke to the idea that a lot of CEOs really understand that unless they get their, their values out in to the world and people can see it, and they, you know, they’re really concerned that customers will take their business elsewhere unless that’s not that’s absolutely transparent. So I’m shocked that actually that that’s coming out differently. And some of that research is interesting, though.

(What impact will the recession have on the workforce and how much have employee values changed following COVID 19)

Martin – It is that because, you know, I mean, we already know that doing COVID there have been certain high profile leaders who have been seen to say the wrong thing in the wrong way. Yeah. And you know, we will go into eh we’re going to have long memories, you’re going to suffer from that. You know, and and again, we were getting acted out, as we speak, you know, in both in terms of racial inequality and the problems that all of that has been. And again, as an organisation, Nike did, it got in there very quickly, didn’t they? I don’t know if you noticed that a couple of days ago, the way that they talked and stepped up, you know, as far as that’s concerned, so it’s a straight it’s, it’s a strange thing. And again, actually, there’s a decreased focus on the quality of goods and services. So the only way I could possibly read that is to say that maybe there is a realisation from us as customers that we are living in a, you know, we’ve lost 20% of capacity to live in paradise. You know, we can’t expect the same quality of goods, you know, it doesn’t turn up as quickly as it could do before. We can’t afford to Super please. And maybe we can’t afford, expect costs, you know, brands to pursue their social responsibility projects in quite the same way. I don’t know that would be my guess at what that was about but.

Simon – I mean, you and I are both huge fans and we had the wonderful Amy Scott who talked about some of the work you two are doing on the first podcast around the Motor CX and and how you make customers feel far and away. You know the gains to be had from that Forrester is certainly pushing that agenda. Based on what we’ve just talked about there that’s gonna have an impact on that whole case remotive CX surely?

Martin – What it is, yes, I there may be a difference in terms of priority of interest, which is you know, I’m less concerned about you saving the wallet is if you want then I am the fact that you’re you’re sensitive to the way I’m feeling this moment in terms of the service issue I’ve got so there might be discrimination in people’s minds. But to that, to that point, you know, this whole period of uncertainty basically leaves all of us in a heightened state of anxiety and a heightened state of being conscious of feeling that kind of way. And I do think that one of the reasons that so many websites, you know, have got plastered, please bear with us because our, you know, our call centre is really under heavy, you know, you know, heavy attack, in terms of demand is that people want to speak to people and online just have not got anywhere close to satisfying that kind of emotive demand and whether or not it’s asking for, you know, payment holidays, or trying to sort situations out or just be nervous and wanting confirmation about situations as we never, because let’s face it, you know, the period, these things do come by the way, spookily every 10 years, you know, you do tend to get a recession popping up or something traumatic every decade and this is our next version of that. But during that period of time, you know, you’ve got pretty much most people sailing in pretty good benign times and if you just look at the way London looks, the way Manchester looks the way Birmingham looks, you know, the startup community, the way that you could go to lovely offices and have a surrounding environment of wonderful places to have lunch and shop and, you know, walk by redevelops in, you know, economically rejuvenated, you know, old Victorian canals, which are now wonderfully turned into XYZ. There was a sense really, in which there was a, you know, a really marvellous thing that was going on, and it would continue forever and only ever get better. And yet, now we find ourselves that we can’t even go out and enjoy those things, and we can’t get close to people and we can’t do this and we can’t do that. And there’s always a fear, it might get worse again, because we’re not really in control and we don’t quite trust what people are telling us about. There will be a vaccine or not, and you go out all that stuff up, you know, with the fact that, again, hugely important, by the way, you know, 20% of the workforce is furloughed, and how many of those are actually going to get reemployed afterwards, we’ve Got a period of time where brands will will really need to understand that in addition to the functional output, we’ve got emotive needs, and we need to be attentive and do as much as we can to take people to feeling more, you know, confident reassured, if possible, happier, you know, with what’s happening, because that’s, I think, where the rubber really hits the track here, in terms of the value that an organisation can play in the experience of us as consumers, you know, which is basically make us feel a little bit better in a world where it’s pretty difficult to just wake up and go, whoo, it’s great.

Simon – Yeah, I think the whole emotive EX piece is something actually we’re going to probably cover that in a in a future podcast. I mean, how I’ve talked to a recruiter friend of mine the other day, and he said that how the few people that are still actively looking and part of the recruitment process, the amount of them that are doing their due diligence on how companies are reacting and what they’re future proofing look likes and how they’re creating emotional connections with their employers. It’s just going through the roof. So I think that’s gonna be really interesting.

Martin – Oh, I quite agree. And I think that actually really underpinning what we said earlier on, whether you call it you know, CX or whatever your standards of behaviour, you know, your your culture, your values, your leadership, these are all things, actually, that research is interesting because it said greater transparency, you know, we want to be able to see how you behave as an organisation. And indeed, I think if you looked at things like the, the Edelman trust barometer every year, organisations are trending significantly higher, you know, than your traditional politicians and all the rest of it. And in a world where we have got very polarised political views, which can often descend to the point of no longer listening to an alternative perspective and just condemning as fake news. I think It’s incredibly important that brands can continue to invest in transparent behaviour that causes people to trust because we know what you are about. And I think that will become a key criteria against which our decisions is who we buy from and who we are going to stay loyal to, are going to be judged against. And you can’t fake that that is for real, that’s authentic. So doing this stuff correctly, and the EX component is massive of size. That’s insane. Because you know, the Glassdoor score is a window into the SOUL and the CULTURE of the business. You can’t fake that. And you’re gonna have to do it right.

Simon – Yeah, Agreed. Agreed. Hey, just before I mean, we probably need to start thinking about wrapping up and although I’d love to be talking about this for forevermore, actually, because it’s such an interesting topic. One of the advantages I think, that has come out of COVID if we can find the silver lining is and we’ve certainly covered this in previous chats we’ve had is the ability of some to make far quicker decisions to spin up technology to finally kind of do away with the bureaucracy and the red tape and actually get to decisions and deploy technologies and ways of doing things far quicker. And I just wonder, well, I’ll go to you, Matt first, technology wise, which technologies do we think CX leaders are going to be thinking about? Help them kind of weather the storm and possibly come out the other end as well?

(Which technological options do we expect leaders to factor into their thinking to weather the storms ahead?)

Matt – I think from my perspective, it’s probably an easy one. automations got to be an area that they’re focusing on the driver cost and do more with less people. So things around behavioural biometrics, from an onboarding perspective, to speed up authentication, machine learning, potentially, to stop things like fraud, or kind of insurance to maybe process claims a lot easier. These are the sorts of things you’ll start to see and really embedding RPA so you can have straight through process I guess takes away the need to speak to somebody. So these are the sorts of initiatives that were talked about a lot prior to COVID. And there always seem to be a lot of red tape or reasons why they couldn’t move ahead with it. I think they’ll come to the fore. But I do think as a function of that, they still need to understand exactly what it is the customer actually wants from the business, and especially as things change and what they want changes, there may need to be a realignment on how they’re driving those projects. So I would say, Great that they’re going to do a lot more automation, but make sure that they think about the primary and secondary research to make sure that deliver what the end user and even the agents want as part of that.

Simon – What’s your take on that, Martin, in terms of discussions you’ve had with some of the leaders as they’ve been technology and, and certain things that have come out?

Martin – Yeah I support Matt’s perspective there. I think RPA automation is an obvious one, by the way to do That correctly clearly you don’t automate rubbish you transform journeys and simplify journeys and then you automate what works. So implicit in that is cleaning up and automating and then freeing up humans to do the work better. And some people will take that benefit in terms of the reduction of headcount, for good or for bad. Or we, you know, reapply where they’re focusing on their human investment. I think beyond that and there is a cross over anyway, I think there’s within the category called AI, there are a whole number of AI technologies that are relevant to our space, you know natural language, computer vision, for example particularly with the remote stuff through to the intelligence that sits with or the pattern matching capabilities sitting within machine learning and deep learning, and AI as a general observation, customer service, I think of in terms of for the things that happening, there are all sorts of customers with all sorts of topics, using all sorts of ways of contacting with all sorts of outcomes. And the pattern and relationship between those four entities if you want, remain by and large, invisible, you know, the standard. This is slightly stereotyping the world now, but it used to be that all we knew was what was triggered from the AI that came out of the ACD view very difficult beyond that particular point, and the rest was guesswork. And clearly that is massively inadequate. So anything that allows us to benefit from much deeper insight into those patterns clearly puts us more into a front foot than a back foot. And I do see that being accelerated, the more that vendors managed to bake that in meaningfully into their systems. And we are now beyond the vaporware level, we’re beginning to see some real value delivered. So I think that’s hugely encouraging and that’s everything from next best actions tothe way that workforce planning takes place and the way that it supercharges interaction analytics. So there’s all of that stuff sitting there. And then if you step back a little bit, I think that there is a broader thing, which is called Digital enablement. You know, whatever the heck that really means. But I do think it’s a, it’s a, it’s a, it’s a, it’s a march towards an ecosystem within organisations, in which the technology is primarily cloud based. The technology is deeply and simply integrated through, you know, modern API type connectivity. And then across that flows, hopefully redesigned design thinking led workflows and journeys, which are increasingly simplified, which means that they are more likely to work in an automated context. And then you’ve got a marriage of intelligence coming out of machine learning, getting smarter over time, which again, people are then sitting in the middle of and driving evidence base. You know decisioning at the end of the day, and to that extent, customer service, and sales and marketing could and should, and probably need to get much more closely aligned, I don’t think you can afford to have service clouds, marketing clouds and sales clouds in the future. I think it’s an artificial divide. And I think we probably need to consolidate a lot of that in terms of, you know, busting of those silos, and changing them. But my last comment would be to say, tragically, and nothing has changed in 40 years on this, you know, 70% of most ambitious technology, lead products don’t deliver on those expectations. And I think that there needs to be a much much closer connection between those that want to use technology and appreciating the behavioural impact and the change management impact and the organisational design implications and that we need to really tighten up our act so that we get a much better yield. And ROI because basically, we do need to spend money in this next period, but we’re going to have much less of it. So that means our success rate has got to dramatically improve, and we cannot tolerate 70% failure if we’re going to continue to move forward.

Simon – Absolutely agree. Absolutely agree. It’s something that I talk about almost on a daily basis where I have in mind, my flavour and specialisms are very skewed towards customer insight, but that the lack of case histories out there that really demonstrate that insight to action to pounds and pence value is few and far between I agree throughout.

Martin – Well that is the silver linings, sorry to butt in again, but you did say that there is a silver lining to this. And I think that there is one because there’s a needs must mindset here. And that gets people to focus. As you said earlier, everyone’s getting on with it quickly. So a lot of fuddy duddiness has gotten in the way has got out of the way, excuse me. People are competing well, and I think that there is a breach in the dam. Around, you know, cross functional and all the rest of the bigger issue stuff. And I do think that if there’s going to be a silver lining is that a lot of organisations will literally come out of their cocoon and potentially turn into their first level of being a butterfly.

Simon – Yes, indeed, indeed. Well, Martin as ever is always brilliant to hear your perspective about, about things. And what we try and do for all of our listeners is every week with the podcast and the theme, we try and leave them with two or three things that they can you know, practically have a think about, take back to their offices. It could be something to read, it could be something to do. And in terms of this, this context and what we’ve learned, and let’s just just leave everyone with two or three things to think about. So Martin, what what what take home would you suggest?

(#1 Takeaway – Discuss with your colleagues of the impact, reprioritise and execute)

Martin – If you don’t yet know, find out with, discuss with colleagues, what the impact is likely to be? In terms of cost cutting on your service budget, then once you know that, decide what you’re going to reprioritize, and how you’re going to evangelise and execute on that.

Simon – Matty, what about you?

(#2 Takeaway – Evolve your CX strategy)

Matt – I’ve been reading a really good book actually called the grid and the title, the master model behind business success by Matt Watkinson. It’ll give you some great ideas and testing your evolving CX strategies, I’d recommend you go and buy that.

(#3 Takeaway – Listen to your customers)

Simon – Nice, nice. I think for me, it’s keep listening to customers. I know there’s lots of kind of advice about you know, stop surveying. And, you know, don’t bother your customers right now. I’m actually seeing certainly from the work I’m doing that that response levels to surveys are actually increasing, believe it or not. But nevertheless, it you know, if it’s not surveys, it’s tuning into what your customers are saying through lots of different methods, whether it’s social listening, or you know, listening to calls, we have to understand what customer expectation is, because I fundamentally think that’s probably changed as Martin talks about and unless we know what our customers want, very difficult to make those decisions around, strategy and direction and so on. And so yeah, my my take home is that don’t forget to talk and listen to your, your your consumers. And Martin a huge thank you for joining us on our season finale. Have you enjoyed it?

Martin – Oh, it’s been a blast. Thank you very much for inviting me. It’s been thoroughly good fun. The hours gone by extremely quickly and ever. It’s been a pleasure to talk to you guys.

Simon – Thanks very much. Thank you for joining us and Matty. Yes, 10 episodes under our belt. We’ll be back very soon. And we promise to leave people with some snippets and ideas of what’s coming next in season two, so the guests that we’ve confirmed for series two, and we’re not going to give you the names just yet we want to leave that for a little bit later on to share who’s coming on but I can certainly reveal that in series two we will be joined by one of the biggest CX influencers in the world, an eminent journalist and TV personality, two or three hundred excited about transformational CX leaders from some of the biggest enterprise businesses in the UK. Some really fascinating people from the the associate the world of disruption and companies that are really doing things differently. And also some people from from the world of insight and sharing their thoughts as well. So I’m super excited about Season Two more details to follow. And as ever, thank you so much for listening. We’ve had a huge amount of support on series one, and you know, Martin closing the show is always a privilege to hear from him. Stay safe, stay well and look out for season two starting sometime in the summer. Bye bye.


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