Why the human touch will help brands win the customer experience battle - The Joy of CX chair, Mel McVeigh, explains

“There’s something about serendipity that gets lost with data, we need to get back to making the customer experience more human as customers want to connect with other likeminded people and their time and service is just as important as the products that we’re buying,” warned Opposite Days product director, creative strategist and chair of The Drum’s forthcoming ‘The Joy of CX’ conference Mel McVeigh.

Speaking with The Drum ahead of October’s event, McVeigh explained that companies we would think of being at the “pinnacle” of customer experience, such as Amazon, aren’t really doing that great a job as the term 'CX' covers everything from “service design and product design to how you use data to drive customised, personalised experiences”.

“The customer experience I talk about is everything from the way you are greeted in- store to the design of the shop and then how things are packaged and wrapped up and handed to you. It’s a really important part of the experience, not just the stuff you buy,” she said.

“A lot of websites are forgetting those elements, from the design of the experience up to how something is delivered to you.”

Labelling Amazon “frustrating” due to its “over-personalisation”, McVeigh remarked that “in this world of data and personalisation that serendipitous part is lost,” using the travel sector as an example of when returning to more traditional routes can be advantageous to the consumer.

“When you go online you get thousands of flight combinations and millions of places where you can go. When you walk into a travel agency they ask what you’re interested in and what you like doing and come up with recommendations, but they’re also looking at more physiological things about what you look like and what you’re wearing to assess where you might want to go in a way digital can’t do.”

Ocado is among the brands which have grasped CX properly, or have at least “do elements of the overall experience really well,” according to McVeigh.

She cited a recent personal experience with Ocado where she was able to cancel an order via Twitter.

“I got stranded in an airport for nine hours and I was able to tweet them [Ocado] to cancel the order,” she revealed. “They understood that it was out with my control and helped me through the process via Twitter. I didn’t have to email, I didn’t have to log in and for me they have the end-to-end covered.”

Other brands also credited by McVeigh for their CX are Sweaty Betty, Net-a-Porter and, from a content perspective, Vice.

Startups including Gingerline and Drowned Man theatre group are also worth watching for their approach to creating "memorable experiences that people talk about still and that really is the holy grail for brands,” according to McVeigh.

Addressing Ryanair’s controversial inclusion on the bill, Which? readers named the brand the worst for customer service in a 2013 poll, McVeigh commented: “I know a lot of people will be thinking why is Ryanair speaking at a customer experience conference but why can’t they? If brands can go bad, why can’t they go good? They might not be perfect but they’re setting up labs and investing in improving their experience.”

Shop Direct will join Ryanair in speaking at the event, along with the Telegraph which will explore how to build “team structure and culture,” something which McVeigh believes is fundamental to getting CX right.

“If people are passionate about what they design or sell or market it comes through...if people aren’t happy in their jobs they won’t sell stuff and they won’t be great salesmen of your brand, even if their job has nothing to do with sales, it’s all the cogs of the wheel that come together.”

For those attending on 16 October McVeigh said to “expect the unexpected” and be prepared for a “challenge”. She added: “The Joy of CX is going to be different from any other conference you’ve seen, it’s a non-traditional venue and we have people who you might not necessarily think do good customer experience. It’ll be different and we’ll have some fun on the day to create something truly memorable.”

Tickets for the The Joy of CX and more information on the speakers and venue can be found on the The Joy of CX website.

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