The Forum – Customer Strategy & Planning Conference – Changing Gear.

This week, some of TeamDJ headed up to Newcastle for the Customer Strategy and Planning Conference.

The event opened with some light-hearted, North East linguistic training from the Forum’s adopted ‘Geordie’ Chris Rainsforth.  The 400+ strong delegates were able to successfully recite the meaning of ‘Geet Walla’ and ‘Scratcha’,  as well as recognise the difference between a Geordie, Mackam and Smoggie….. Geordie Shore here we come…..

Newcastle Tyne Bridge Changing Gear The Forum Online Conference

Photo Courtesy of Ken Wheeler from Arise.

The newly branded ‘The Forum (previously The Professional Planning Forum), are celebrating their 15th year and this year’s conference theme was ‘Changing Gear’.

Douglas Jackson The Forum - Changing Gear Customer Strategy and Planning

Paul Smedley, Founder of the Forum asked; “Which of us ‘has been asked to deliver that little bit more, with less, or, to deliver a result that has never been achieved before?’  The customer demands are different and to rise to the customer challenge we might just need to slow down, step back and learn to do things differently.”

This thought was also mirrored by Michael Mc Quillan from Ulster University, who suggested, if it isn’t broken, SMASH IT! –  Then sticking with the cycling analogy (in addition to the picture above), Michael shared the story of the British Cycling team coach David Brailsford, who is known for his acute attention to detail.  By breaking down each part of the process into small sizeable parts and achieving a mere 1% gain in every area, these small improvements, when added together were able to deliver transformational change and allowed the British Cycling team to achieve the sort of success we did not think possible over the last few years.  If each of us were able to do the same with our processes, we too could achieve great things.

True Customer Experience - A toilet and Large German housekeeper Michael McQuillan Ulster UniversityMichael also shared, one of my personal highlights of the conference (there were a few), with his highly entertaining story about a toilet, a large German housekeeper, and some precariously placed post it notes, as he was taught the true meaning of delivering Customer Experience by ‘Walking in the Customer Shoes’, in his early career within the hotel and leisure industry.

Many of the sessions and ‘How to’ workshops were full, or, standing room only, with a high level of interest for ‘How to Influence Colleagues’, How to Start Planning for Web Chat’ and the Omni Channel keynote. (for those of you who missed these sessions, all of the content should be available online in a few weeks at The Forum website).  This particular session showed that despite a number of years talking about Multi Channel and Omni Channel Customer Contact, very few present had already developed a working digital customer contact strategy, with integration proving to be a major issue.

Some Key takeouts from this session:

James Leach, Argos – Choosing your Digital Channels; It is not a pick n mix sweet shop, know the outcome and know the journey you want for your customers, then choose your channels and enable the technology to support that strategy.

‘The role of self serve/self help, is key to developing a successful #digital strategy’

‘Multi-channel; When mapping a customer journey, it’s a bit like throwing a can of spaghetti against a wall re the level of complexity. – Chris Stroud from Foresee

Customer Strategy and Planning Engagement and Quality Douglas JacksonThe Award Finalist Case Studies were packed full of inspiration, hard work, honesty, gutsy resilience and some fantastic achievements. Unfortunately, even over a packed two days, we were unable to get round and see every one of the sessions but those presentations we were able to see were very strong and had a focus centred more around people, engagement and quality to deliver performance than may have been present in previous years.

On to the Innovation Award Winners: 

British Gas Service and Repairs overall Customer Strategy and planning winners 2015

British Gas Service and Repair were the overall innovation award winners of the evening for their ‘Delivering the end to end customer experience’

Sustainable Culture Award went to –  Motability

People Empowerment –  Hughes Insurance

Customer Outcomes – LV=

Transforming Communication – Response

The Forum Hero Awards went too:

Richard Abdy – NE Ambulance

Ivan Smith – Motability

Dee Chapman – Essex and Suffolk Water.

Ruth Mercer – Hughes Insurance 

Colin Whelan – Aspect


See you in Shakespeare’s county for 2016!

About Douglas Jackson Executive Search and Recruitment Consultants

Douglas Jackson are an Executive Search and Independent Recruitment Consultancy offering professional executive recruitment and managerial appointments on a permanent and fixed term contract basis. We work with customer and experience focussed organisations, who want to develop, or, improve their operation, sales, strategy, service, experience, or success. We recruit for Chief Customer Officer, Director, Head of Department, Manager and skilled strategists for; Customer Service, Customer Experience, Customer Contact, Resource Planning, Operations, Strategy, Insight, Analytics, Sales, Success, CRM, Data, Programmes, Transformation, Continuous Improvement, and Contact Centre. We work in partnership with our customers across the UK and internationally, many of whom are FTSE 100, blue-chip brands but also challenger, fintech and start-up organisations, to design, develop, deliver and manage your Customer strategy. Revolutionise your Recruitment and Retention of New Hires. Douglas Jackson Search takes the guesswork out of your hiring. Sourcing Exceptional Talent….Define your Customer Strategy. Lead your Operations. Design your Customer Experience. Direct your Digital and Customer Contact. Transform your functions. Develop your Customer Insight. Manage your Data/CRM, Deliver your Sales and Customer Success. Differentiate your business and brand.
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