Two of the Leader Insights Forum (LIF) started with the rousing sound of Europe and “The Final Countdown”—the signal our moderator Stefan Osthaus has been using to indicate that it’s time to return to our seats. Once everyone was settled, he welcomed Steven Van Belleghem to the stage.
Steven is an author and advisor with expertise in customer experience and digital disruption. His 2015 book “When Digital Becomes Human” was the inspiration for the theme of this conference, so it was only appropriate to invite him to speak about how his ideas have developed in the four years since the book was published.
started by clearly explaining his own vision of the human vs digital question. What if we just let computers handle operational tasks and allow humans to perform the emotional and creative work that delights customers. Sounds simple right?
problem is that so many brands do not follow these guidelines, no matter how simple Steven makes it sound. He used the example of a family visit to DisneyWorld to demonstrate how a company can make this possible.
After booking his Disney vacation, Steven received four Disney MagicBands to use at the resort. These allow the wearer to access rides, pay for dinner, pay for gifts, and the convenience of not requiring a wallet in the park, therefore making it fun to pay for things with the band. Disney created an environment where it’s not only the park, rides, and restaurants that are fun, but spending money in there can also be fun. They made it easy, fast, and fun to spend money.
As you might expect, the MagicBand caused spending inside Disney theme parks to increase by around 30%, an enormous surge in revenue and just because they made it fun to spend. They didn’t change the park itself, it was just the payment process.
Steven talked about Net Promoter Score, a very common metric used by companies to rate the satisfaction of their customers from 0 to 10. He said that if you ask people why they are scoring a company a 9 or 10 then it is always because of what a person did. There is always a human connection, a person made the experience outstanding. A computer would only ever score a satisfactory score.
He described how many companies are obsessed with a constant race to catch online brands such as Amazon. Was it Amazon that killed Toys R Us? Steven said no. It was because brands like Toys R Us just offered satisfactory and forgettable service. If you don’t win the heart of your customer and make them remember an experience, then it is your fate to be in the history books with Kodak, Blockbuster Video, and Toys R Us.
Steven outlined the three variables that companies must focus on: time, energy, and money. These are the three scarce resources that your customers have. The use of technology to help customers save or enhance these resources with human interactions as required creates a powerful way to engage and create a fantastic customer experience.
We then heard from Sarah Metcalfe, the head of customer service at Sure Petcare. Sarah talked about the people power of transformations and the importance of not just looking after your customer, but also your team as well. It’s easy to understand why. If the team that interacts with your customers is not happy, then how do you think that influences the customer experience?
Sarah explained that employee engagement should be a genuine cultural change. You can’t expect people to be happy at work because you provide a free fruit bowl or smoothies. Nobody ever goes home at night and says to their partner, “I had two free apples today; I love this job!”
what your team thinks should also be a regular part of what a manager does, not just a once a year survey asking for an opinion and then never acting on it anyway. Ask yourself, what is it that really makes your team happy at work? You might be offering a
great salary, perks, titles, and bonuses, but most of these things don’t make anyone happy for more than a couple of weeks. You get a raise and after two weeks that is now normal.
Focus on what can really influence behavior at work—reinforcing results and relationships and making work matter. It’s never the perks that actually create happy employees, but be aware that it is easy to annoy people by taking away perks. If you remove the right to free fruit and coffee, that can create a lot of resentment even though you could argue that it is not the main driver of satisfaction at work.
The fact is that around 70% of employee satisfaction is driven by how managers behave, so if you have bad managers, then you cannot tolerate them even if they are performing well in other areas. Managers also need to create time and space for their team. Sarah said that she thought her own team was quite happy, but when she called a meeting to discuss issues they found about 37 inside 10 minutes. People just have no time to resolve small problems and keep going until they all mount up and become too much.
Day two was well received by the audience who kept a continuous stream of questions going for both Sarah and Steven. These two presentations were well-matched because Steven drove home the idea that we rely on our people to make emotional connections with customers and it is technology that can help them to do this more efficiently. Sarah showed that if you want to create those emotional bonds with customers then you really need to be creating an emotional connection with your own team first.
That’s it for the Barcelona Leader Insights Forum. It was a fantastic event. Thank you to all the guests who traveled from all over the world to attend. We had 169 attendees from over 100 brands in 26 different countries so it was a truly fantastic turnout, and everyone learned from the speakers and from each other. If you were not with us here in Barcelona, then use the hashtag #LIFEurope on your favorite social channels to find content that we shared during the event.