I attended a conference on customer experience organised by

the Henley Centre for Customer Management

 last week, which raised a number of issues that I thought worth sharing.

Nicola Millard, BT Global Services‘ futurologist (her title, not mine) shared some of its research into the future of customer experience. 

Much of the future is like today, but more so. More customers will be looking for a truly integrated experience across channels. 

Surprisingly (or not for a phone company), real live people on the end of a phone or in a branch/store are still the channel of choice for complex problems. 

Customers are happy to use the web for basic fact finding and simple problem solving but as soon as it gets tricky, they want to talk. 

Contact centre operatives therefore need to be able to deal with increasingly complex problems – regurgitating the FAQ is not enough.

Henley’s own research into the perfect customer experience identified the top three attributes that drive satisfaction for both B2B and B2C. 

For B2C the three are:

  1. How helpful the organisation (ie its people) is.
  2. How the organisation minimises the time consumers have to spend on a transaction.
  3. The organisation’s ability to recognise the customer – i.e. knows about them.

For B2B , what matters is:

  1. The extent of personal contact
  2. Flexibility in dealing with the customer
  3. Demonstrating an implicit understanding of their needs

Other speakers from lastminute.com and customer management outsourcer Vertex also stressed the critical role that people and managing them effectively plays in delivering a great customer experience.

In summary; you can have all the technology you need, but when push comes to shove, it’s still people that make the difference.

There was also an interesting discussion about Web2.0 and the customer experience but I’ll leave that to another blog.

David Jackson is the Managing Director of




The views of the author do not necessarily represent those of the publisher.