‘Releasing Potential’ Customer Strategy and Planning 2017

It’s that time of year again and this year to Harrogate, home of the famous Betty’s Tea Rooms and Turkish Baths for the Customer Strategy and Planning conference from the Forum, held at the grandly named Majestic Hotel.

Betty's tea shop harrogate customer strategy and planning conference 2017

Chris Rainsforth kicked of the opening keynote with a brief history of Harrogate, also known as “The English Spa” and since 2013, polls have consistently voted the town as “the happiest place to live” in Britain.

Nicola Callan, Head of Engagement and Learning at The Forum introduced us to storytelling, and the art of ‘Telling Stories of Success’;

Nicola Callan The Forum, Telling Stories of Success Customer Strategy and Planning

‘Tell me a fact and I’ll learn it, Tell me a truth and I’ll believe.

But tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever’

The science tells us that our brains become more active when we are told a story. Whenever we are told a story, we want to relate it to our existing experiences and because of this we are more likely to remember.  According to Uri Hasson , ‘a story is the only way to activate parts in the brain so that a listener turns the story into their own idea and experience.’

Next up was Mike Harvard from Ember Services, who took us through making the case for investment.  Mike’s opening slide advised that according to research from Call Centre Helper, over half of business managers don’t get the investment they think they need to effectively manage their customers. Why not?

Mike Harvard Ember, Gaining Investment from the Board, Customer Strategy and Planning

Mike explained that many opportunities are lost as we don’t ‘speak the language of the boardroom’.  The ‘C suite’, are interested in P&L, balance sheets, risk, competitiveness, agility/execution – all driving stakeholder returns.   Emotion can also work well in the boardroom in the way of using examples of the effect on the customer but we need to make a compelling case and be visionary to get the desired effect.

Jonathan George, Director of Sales & Service at the RAC, shared his career journey, days gone by when he had hair! as well as key steps to learning and continued development:  Test and Learn.  Sometimes it is OK to fail!

Jonathan George RAC Sales and Service Director there is no thing as failure Customer Strategy and Planning

Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.– Albert Einstein

‘You must be the change you want to see in the world’ – Ghandi.

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” – Charles Darwin

Steve Woosey talked about the ‘Glue Guy’, the Glue Guy is the person in your team, that holds everything together, they will not be the most successful, but their input, and the little things they do to hold the team together are invaluable.  We need to identify and support our own Glue Guys for a more effective, stronger team.

Steve Woosey The Forum The Glue Guy - Customer Strategy and Planning 2017

The Conference featured all of the 11 Award Innovation Finalists presentations;

TUI; Who have been on a sizeable transformation journey, put resource planning at the heart of every decision and helped their people visualise desired behaviours. TUI also shared the grit and determination from their people when faced with a site closure, they created and presented a compelling story to the board, who with good reason to do so, reflected on and reversed a site closure decision.  A business truly listening to its people and acting in the best way for all.

BT, Aegon, FCA,  Staples and Legal and General;  L&G presented a case study jam-packed full of content and wins, although centred around automation and robotics, it was always with the customer and their employees in mind.  Despite delivering significant cost savings and efficiencies from ‘Bots’, they have also raised their employee engagement significantly and have not lost any heads, as they have been trained, developed and utilised elsewhere. L&G also talked about creating a ‘Great Place to Work’.  It is not about free pizza’s –  An employees direct line manager makes the biggest difference to engagement!

IFDS, HSBC, SkyBet, Shop Direct and Three Ireland; Three Ireland have developed an amazing analytics dashboard, individual to their business and needs, showing real creativity and ROI, everyone who saw the solution was impressed. (Three Ireland went on to be the overall winners of the evening, so huge congratulations to Dick and his team.)

All of the presentations showed real resilience, innovation and as Richard Abdy spoke about the next day ‘courage’.  Well done to all!

Other highlights included; Phil Anderson who talked about what you need to realise potential and encouraged us to Dream; As what you dream is what you get.   Too many of us are not living our dreams as we are living our fears!

There was an engaging keynote from QStory’s Patrick (Paddy) Coleman, who talked about how disengaged colleagues don’t thrive and took us to an unexpected place; Uranium mining in Namibia.

Just a brief mention for our very own Perry Fletcher, who got to the final of the ‘Salon Bar Shootout’ at the Monday night entertainment, provided by The Team Challenge Company, sadly Perry just lost out in an exciting best of 3 finale to Colm Maguire, however, did get the fastest time of the night! The networking games and entertainment was a very enjoyable,  friendly night which included many wins and lots of loses (all pretend money) on the Black Jack and Roulette tables, where the competition was high and the luck fleeting….

Saloon Bar Shoot Out Perry Fletcher Douglas Jackson Customer Strategy and Planning

As always, an interesting, fun and enlightening few days and so great to meet so many people again.

So on to the awards – Congratulations to everyone involved and especially to each of the following, a full list of all the finalists and case studies can be found here

The overall winner was Three Ireland, with individual awards taken by Aegon, TUI, L&G and Sky Betting & Gaming.

The 2017 Hero Awards were:

  • David Edwards, European Head of Workforce Management, Staples
  • Bob Stella, Head of Business Implementation, L&G
  • Andy Bugg, Quality Analyst, Financial Conduct Authority
  • Jo Hale, Customer Contact Director, Domestic & General
  • Peter Massey, Managing Director, Budd UK Ltd


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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