Reflections on the 2014 Nuance Customer Experience Summit in London

Nuance’s 2014 Customer Experience Summit was recently held in London and brought together customer service leaders from a variety of industries. Participants engaged in discussions about industry trends and shared valuable insights that will impact future decision making. A hot topic of discussion included consumers demand and expectation for self-service. Additionally, participants discussed the key traits of “disruptive innovation.” Sebastian Reeve reflects on his experience at the summit and offers his key takeaways.

As we wrapped up the Nuance Customer Experience Summit for 2014 in London’s wonderful Langham hotel, I want to take some time to reflect on its theme “Disruptive Innovation and its impact on servicing today’s digital consumer.”

Customer service providers in all industries have never been faced with so much change in so short a time – not only in the nature of the interaction experience consumers now expect – but more importantly in the shift of power in terms of who sets those consumer expectations.

Most customer service leaders realise, of course, that many consumers now demand self-service as a priority, with their first choice being from digital channels such as web and mobile. However, what is still only understood by the forward-thinking few is the importance of the specific device being used to access that experience.

In particular, the impact is powerful because often times it is not the customer service provider that is setting the user experience expectation. Instead, it is the device manufacturer and the leading application experience providers in their app ecosystems that set those expectations. In short, it’s the design leadership of folks like Apple, HTC, Samsung, Google, Twitter, Facebook and others that set the consumer expectation for what’s possible.

This shift in influence has major consequences in terms of decision making for executives in customer-facing industries. For example, it used to be the case that an executive in a bank simply needed to survey the best mobile experience available from the other banks servicing their market. However, today consumers increasingly are not evaluating a bank’s mobile experience against the other banks. Instead they compare against the innovation and ease of use embedded in the devices they use from other apps they have downloaded.

The combination of the gap in meeting consumer expectations, coupled with the shift in influence away from industry peers and towards external third-parties, leads to a significant opportunity for disruption from new market entrants.

The question that we challenged our audience of customer experience leaders from industries such as Finance, Telco, Retail and Utilities was “Are you going to disrupt your industry or be disrupted?

During the Nuance keynote we shared our insights into what makes the best disruptive innovators, also identifying 5 key traits of disruptive innovation:

  1. User-focussed: companies putting UX design at the core of their organisations – rather than in silos.
  2. Agile: using customer feedback (not emotion) to drive change and release changes often.
  3. Engaging emotionally: building solutions with appealing personas thinking about how people will feel.
  4. On-device engagement: it’s got to be mobile first but considering how, when and where mobile and other devices will be used is key.
  5. Omnichannel: using customer context to ensure a seamless overall journey with personalized and proactive experiences.

Our four customer speakers and guest industry speaker all answered that question and showed us how optimising those traits and being an active disruptor are essential to them. Each of them shared their own perspectives during the course of the day on how they are providing highly user focussed and differentiated experiences which are aligned to their changing customer expectations. The four customer speakers included Eoin Power from TalkTalk, Isık Ilhan from Garanti Bank, Andrei Calin from ING, and Iain Hanlon from Barclays Weath and the day was rounded off with a keynote from Rick DeLisi, co-author of The Effortless Experience.

All in all, the Customer Experience Summit was well-received by attending delegates, provoked a wealth of discussion in the networking areas, and fueled all attendees with new ideas to proactively disrupt their own industries with low-effort customer experiences.

Can’t wait for next year’s installment!

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Sebastian Reeve

About Sebastian Reeve

Having spent more than 15 years obsessing about how the customer service industry transects the world of technology, Seb has finally decided to admit that this is not just a phase. In his current role at Nuance as EMEA Director of Product Management and Marketing, he is responsible for defining and evangelizing the Nuance customer care proposition across Europe, the Middle-East and Africa – sharing how companies can create extraordinary automated experiences which their customers actively choose to use rather than simply tolerate and complain about.