One of the things I was most looking forward to in 2020 as I returned to focus on our European consumer research was CX EMEA. I’ve always enjoyed Forrester events, both as a customer more than a decade ago, as an analyst presenting, and as a research director acting as MC. It’s a chance to take a couple days out of the normal routine to be inspired, soak up challenging new ideas, meet up with old friends, and make some new ones.
Then . . . COVID.
I live in Nottingham, famous for Robin Hood, Brian Clough, and, in 2020, literally the viral hub of the UK — not an accolade the city wanted. As I write this now, I’m awaiting the UK government’s announcement that we’ll most likely be entering into a new phase of lockdown. The good news is that despite the pandemic, CX EMEA is still happening, albeit virtually. Although Forrester is a B2B business, our approach to this event is something of an analogue to how leading B2C businesses are responding. When we study industry leaders such as ASOS, Farfetch, ING, Monzo, or Zalando, we see three key trends that set them apart from their competitors. In times of uncertainty, leaders:
- Reaffirm what they stand for. Lockdown has given European consumers the opportunity to step back and make commitments to change their way of life. As they pivot to more values-driven consumption, turning to firms that align to their social, ethical and political values, firms must shift to new ways of doing business, doubling down their efforts for corporate social responsibility. ASOS has driven this commitment through its supply chain by establishing ethical and sustainability standards for its suppliers.
- Orient around what matters to their customers. The digital growth driven through lockdown is here to stay. Italian and Spanish consumers are the most likely to connect more digitally with brands: 30% of them plan to do so versus, respectively, 19% and 21% of French and UK consumers. But successful firms think beyond just shifting transactions onto digital channels. Allied Irish Bank is rethinking its customer experiences around end-to-end journeys as oriented around what matters to the customer, like saving for their children’s future or going to college.
- Rapidly pivot to what matters most. Consumer behavior has never been more volatile. Firms must identify how consumers’ needs are changing by ingesting, analyzing, and acting on both quantitative and qualitative data, then they need the business agility to pivot production and distribution to deliver what the market needs. Firms such as Burberry and Brewdog shifted production to deliver personal protective equipment and hand sanitizer, while grocery firms like Ocado and Tesco scaled their infrastructure and logistics to meet rapidly growing customer demand.
Align CX, Marketing, And Employee Experience
The answer to the turbulent times we face is customer obsession — not a veneer of trite marketing phrases but a deep-rooted, systemic focus on understanding what your customers need, orienting your business around solving customer problems, and acting with pace and agility.
At CX EMEA, we’ll explore these themes with data and examples of how leading European businesses are responding. There’s too much to cover in detail here, but the highlights include:
- Six keynotes outlining the urgency, the need to embrace constant change, the pivot to a values-driven customer engagement, and the art of journey orientation.
- More than 20 track sessions digging into brand, marketing, customer experience, and employee experience strategy and execution, looking at the tools, techniques, and frameworks you need to deliver and measure great CX.
- An exclusive virtual concert from BRIT award winner Ellie Goulding for a change of pace.
Join us from 17–19 November for our fully virtual event, designed for marketers and customer experience professionals. Find out more.