Highlights from the 2017 Manchester Customer Experience Conference

September 24, 20170 comments

With over 60 CX events available each year, why did I choose to attend the Customer Experience Conference in Manchester and what did I learn?

With some events, you know what you are going to get. Such as those run by tech vendors, who show case their tech stack as the CX silver bullet. Or the key notes from the ‘professional CX speaker’ circuit, who preach non-practised rhetoric. So, it’s important, considering how much they cost, to find ones which offer fresh content from a broad range of company perspectives I feel.

Why I chose the Manchester CX Conference  

It was this diverse range of promised case studies that initially attracted me to the September CX Event in Manchester. Among others, Virgin Trains, eBay, British Gas, Atom Bank and Leeds Rhinos were on the bill. I knew from this selection I would hear about battles in the board room and fantastic frontline improvements. In addition, I always look for an excuse to visit Manchester which is a firm favourite city of mine. And being a consultant, it was refreshing to see an affordable priced ticket for non-clients.

So, I got up at 4.30am and set off to Manchester with my note book in hand ready to capture some pearls of wisdom. The first speaker was the Head of CX from Virgin Trains, so as I boarded their 6.45am I wondered if I’d arrive on time and in good shape, or would I be raging having endured a miserable trip. VT didn’t let me down. I arrived at the conference hotel in time for coffee and croissants, laid out by the organiser in the middle of the now customary sponsored vendor’s baiting arena!

The hall was full and John Lewis’s Head of Contact Centre Operations kicked off proceedings with exemplary professionalism.

What I learnt at the Manchester CX Conference

We were off with several client presentations following in quick succession. Some were brutally honest and revealing whilst others skimmed over edited highlights. But scattered among the day were several gems which made the day valuable to attend.

eBay, Atom Bank and Virgin Trains presentations stuck in my mind as insightful and the Cystic Fibrosis Trust and Leeds Rhino’s CX presenters put passion in their pitch.

My five CX take outs from the day were:

  1. Some are losing faith with Net Promoter Score and its unreliable correlation with the commercial drivers of the business. With one highlighting the move to a more accountable ‘behaviour’ measure proving more insightful. That said many are still pegging everything to it
  2. The CX tech stack is still seen as an unwieldly However, some are shunning expensive platforms from gold plated sales reps opting for self-built solutions or using ‘free to use’ cloud based off the shelf set-ups to some effect
  3. Getting the CEO onside to drive CX is still critical. One organisation cited how they used to ignore customers until the new CEO arrived, who is customer obsessed and things have now changed
  4. Artificial Intelligence is proving a distracting for some who have more fundamental improvements to prioritise. The focus appeared to be on cost reduction rather than quality improvements. The issue of digital ethics was also raised in consideration of chat bots. Should companies declare to customers they are trying to kid them into believing they are talking to a human?
  5. Understanding how to engage other stakeholders with conflicting objectives is important to break down silo barriers. Which all agree is essential to move forward with CX.

Overall it was an enjoyable day. I heard passionate people talk, met a couple of interesting practitioners over coffee, caught up with vendors on what client challenges they are facing and heard much from the speakers to reaffirm our own methods and models we provide to clients are still at the front of the pack.

It was a shame Shopping Direct, Barclays, BooHoo and RBS from the originally advertised programme didn’t show. Even without these the organisers managed to run over time!

I got home about 8pm from the 16-hour round trip, making it a tiring day in search of fresh CX insight. The following day we ran an all-day planning session with a new client appointment’s team, so I was glad to have prepped beforehand and grab an early night.

Attending an event is a big commitment, both in terms of time and cost, so it must be worthwhile. However, the proof of the pudding is in the eating as they say. The reality is it will be when you are in an improvement session or journey mapping months later that you will reach in to the memory banks and pluck out the relevant example you heard from that day at an event, making the value of attending conferences difficult to quantify.

On reflection, I gained.

With over 60 events every year in CX, keeping up with what’s on is hard enough, let alone picking the best ones.  If you want to know what’s on email christopherbrooks@lexdengroup.com and I’ll email you the FREE listing of 2017 Global CX Conference and Event we’ve compiled to help others.

Posted by Christopher Brooks, Director of Lexden, Customer Experience Consultants.

Lexden helps deliver effective customer experience strategy and solutions for clients seeking sustainable profit from customer experience.

If you like what you’ve read please sign-up to Lexden’s ‘Customer’s World’ Update for ideas, inspiration and insights to improve your customer strategy endeavours. 


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