Jake Third, Hallam’s MD, described today’s world (and by extension the digital landscape) as Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous – or VUCA. With constant changes in finance, politics, and everything in-between, it is more important than ever to adjust our client interactions and business practices to reflect our evolving world. At this year’s Nottingham Digital Summit, I learned about what today’s customers need, what they expect from brands, and what brands can do to provide the experience their customers deserve.
Serving Great Site Experiences with Jan Barthelemy
Imagine walking into a beautiful store. There is soft, flattering lighting, there are high quality products on the shelves, the space is roomy and there are plenty of changing rooms… But no staff! No one to greet you at the door, to give guidance on the best products, or even to assist should you need it…
This is the picture painted for us by Jan Barthelemy from Leadoo in his talk on ‘How to make your website your best performing sales channel.’ In a world where we increasingly desire and expect a personalised experience – think Amazon’s suggested products – the digital space remains incredibly impersonal. We all find our way to the same shopfront, with the same customer journeys, and the same shopping experience.
A more personalised site experience can leave your customers feeling valued, taken care of and therefore more likely to make a purchase. While we cannot directly contact every person who visits our site, there are features which we can use to act as the attentive floor-staff that are missing from our virtual shopfront.
Jan is a massive proponent of the chatbot. Even a simple chatbot can increase a site’s chance of converting a lead. Jan demonstrated how a chatbot could be used to enhance the customer experience by asking them what they were looking for and taking them directly to the desired page. In this example, the chatbot was not being used to sell items directly or to try and get the customer to interact with it instead of the site – a common annoyance – instead it served the customer and allowed them to continue their journey unimpeded.
It is this desire to assist rather than to sell which made Jan’s next demonstration so intriguing. On a site which sells experiences for company away days, there was a pop up asking about numbers, type of experience, etc., and creating an estimate for the service there and then. The service experience was greatly streamlined but it was also gamified and interesting. Even watching the experience on the screen, it felt like a much more intimate service than filling out a form or receiving an email after you have left the site.
I would love to see more of our clients using a wider variety of tools to improve their customer experience. While a chatbot is certainly a great tool, there are far more ways to serve customers on the site and using a little ingenuity can provide a truly engaging experience.
The Power of Values: Google vs. Apple with Duarte Garrido
Duarte Garrido from Coca-Cola HBC presented us with a puzzle. Google has created their Pixel mobile line with the overt ambition of outcompeting Apple. Their phones are more functional, they do not force the user to buy a separate set of accessories as Apple do, and they are cheaper to boot. Why, then, is Google failing in their mission? The answer: values.
Apple may seem an illogical choice when weighed up in terms of technical details and price, but we as humans do not make our choices through a spreadsheet, we do not buy because the price and the product are right, we buy for desire. When we think of Apple phones they hold a strong set of values – exclusivity, luxury, design and technological innovation. As Duarte pointed out, when we think of Google we think of the search engine. Helpful but certainly not prestigious.
However, a strange thing happened during the talk. Duarte talked about Google’s values, a company that chose ‘Don’t be evil’ before business values became important, a company which offers its employees the time and space to manage themselves and had done since before hybrid working became almost standard. I listened and, unbidden, the thought came into my head ‘maybe I should buy a Pixel.’ By bringing out Google’s values Duarte had unintentionally made a pitch much stronger than the features of the product itself.
The fact is, despite having been exposed to innumerable adverts, I did not know about Google’s values until listening to this talk. If being told about a business’s values could convert me to a new brand in a few statements, that would suggest that business values should be a major consideration of any marketing strategy. However, I would like to note that simply saying that Google appreciates its employees and customers would not have sold the Pixel to me.
What sold the idea was action. Google walked the talk which led me to see their values. Values without action are just words and in the age of information, consumers know it.
Doing it Right with Krisi Smith
Though doing the right thing by our customers can seem like common sense, traditional economic theory and big business practices have often focused on cutting costs and increasing profit margins, which come at the expense of the customer. Even today, we see a trend towards rising prices with lower quality goods and impersonal experiences. We are often told that this is what a business must do to survive. However, Krisi Smith from Bird and Blend Co. was at the summit to show us that a business can do the right thing both by its customers and its employees, and thrive.
Krisi and her partner, Mike, did not start a business with the aim to maximise profits. When they first discussed creating a business, they decided together that their tea would be eco-friendly, that they would put their customer experience first, and create opportunities for their employees. The values of the business speak for themselves. When you walk into a Bird and Blend store, the products are set out in a visually appealing way, their staff are friendly, and you buy your tea in recyclable containers.
The same story comes across on their website. The interface is user-friendly and visually appealing. Though the products are easily accessible there is also an emphasis placed on their ‘Charitea’ efforts, and their personalised tea quiz. They have managed to maintain their customer contact through their ‘Communitea’ and handwritten messages included with customer deliveries.
By putting their customers and their values at the centre of their business, Bird and Blend have managed to retain a massive, dedicated customer base and grow from their bedroom-run business to ten stores across the UK and a thriving online shop.
With a little ingenuity and the willingness to apply our values to our businesses we can all create a brand and an experience which will appeal to our customers.
What I Learned from #NottmDigital 2022
I had a fantastic time at this year’s Nottingham Digital Summit! The talks were enlightening and inspiring, and I am ready to apply what I’ve learned to my clients and my own practices. I’ve been inspired to think deeper about what my clients need, what their pain points and challenges are, and how I can create a better experience both for them and for their customers. I think that a look at Bird and Blend and similar businesses show the power of values and personalisation, and I can’t wait to support our clients in creating similarly memorable experiences going forwards.