The big CX challenges we all face


I've just finished up two days hosting and chairing the IQPC US CX Exchange for Retail in Miami!

I’d had a pretty lucky run with speaking gigs abroad so far this year, for example escaping the freak storm known as the Beast from the East that hit the UK in March, swapping snow for the South African summer. I was hoping for more of the same, as Florida is billed as the sunshine state.. but as it turned out I actually arrived in the capital of Thunderstorms. For a change, the weather was actually better in London. But ever the optimist, I still packed my bikini just in case.

As host and chair of this event, it was my job to help the delegates get the most out of their experience, by drawing together the themes of the event with my comments, encouraging them to ask questions, interviewing speakers and sparking debate.

I had been a delegate at events like these over the years and know how much value I personally took from the opportunity to learn from industry leading experts delivering keynotes, participating in the panels and running think tanks. But what makes IQPC events unique in my eyes, is the time given to networking with your peers and the opportunity for 121’s with suppliers who may well be able to help you get your head around problems you are looking to address. This approach to conferencing isn’t a passive one where you spend the days being shown PowerPoint after PowerPoint, it’s about joining in the debate and putting yourself out ther- engaging and interacting with others. The more you put in, the more you get out kind of vibe, so I wanted to ensure the delegates felt engaged and involved.

So why was I asked to chair the conference?

Today, I’d call myself a ‘CX Entrepreneur’, as I recently founded my own CX consultancy business,  but prior to this, I was Head of Customer Experience at the UK’s second largest retailer, Sainsbury’s where I spent 5 years of my career and presided at a time when we were experiencing huge changes in the market and in customers behaviour. For Sainsbury’s it was a simple case, of transform our business or decline. With 190k colleagues, 2000 stores, a bank, the 4th largest brand in the UK in TU and 32 million customers every single week to take on the journey with us… it wasn’t going to be an easy change. But one thing that helped us steer the course was 1 certainty. Sainsbury’s understood and believed that ultimately, building the business around the needs of customers was fundamental, and that the experience of shopping with us, being there whenever and whenever they wanted to engage, was the biggest lever we could pull to win.

In today’s crowded omnichannel market place, customer experience is potentially the biggest differentiator a retailer can have. But nowadays, that means being able to deliver a seamless, helpful, personalised joined up UX across channels, where bricks and mortar provide something special for customers to experience, and engage them with the brand.  But with legacy systems, target operating models to meet and often thousands of people to take on a journey with you, this is easier said than done. BUT it IS possible.

I just wanted to share the big challenges that came out of the event, even if it just gives you comfort that we are all in a similar position.

  1. How do we survive and thrive in the face of disruption and cost cuts?
  2. How can we deliver seamless, friction free CX?
  3. How can we use data and AI to drive success?
  4. How can we keep up with customer needs despite changing technology?
  5. How do we design experiences that meet our customers where they want to be served?
  6. How can we merge the best of on and offline to drive differentiation?
  7. How can we move from multi to omnichannel service?
  8. How can we take people with us on the journey?
  9. How can we break down barriers between functions?
  10. How can we get C-suite Executives to sponsor CX initiatives?

Over the next few weeks I will post articles that help to answer some of these questions.. but you know my answer will involve being...........'by DESIGN!' 

 Oh and some good news.. on my last day in Miami, the sun shone and the Skys were blue! I spent the afternoon in Miami Beach before catching my flight home to London, so the bikini wasn't wasted, and neither was my optimism. :)

Oh and some good news.. on my last day in Miami, the sun shone and the Skys were blue! I spent the afternoon in Miami Beach before catching my flight home to London, so the bikini wasn't wasted, and neither was my optimism. :)

Clare Muscutt