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Face to face again

London, Horse Guards Hotel, a mild night in November – and Intelligent Sourcing was back in the room! Our dinner round-table debates were finally able to resume in person, with a limit on numbers for safety reasons. TTEC became our first partner for what we hope will be reinstated as a regular series of exclusive events.

This time the senior delegates from a variety of industries – banking, sustainable fashion, business consultancy, a network of delivery collection boxes, a major retailer and others – met to exchange views on how to retain customers. Moira Clark of Henley Business School kicked off with a PowerPoint presentation followed by some very structured thinking from Jo Causon, chief executive of the Institute of Customer Service.

There were many insights on offer. One of the most surprising came from Clark, whose research and findings suggested that an engaged workforce didn’t necessarily lead to a happier customer – in fact there were instances in which workforces were so engaged in a process the customers ended up getting in the way. The real issue remained that too few organisations had a truly customer-centric leadership team.

Causon commented that this was changing somewhat and that the position was healthier than it had been. She and the other attendees discussed the impact of Covid and how it was shaping the needs and wants of the customer; one of her friends had received a delivery from Amazon within 12 minutes of ordering and although this sounded great initially, further thought suggested this wouldn’t be sustainable either as a business practice or for the environment.

There was a lot of discussion of sustainability as it became apparent that the younger customer was a lot more concerned about ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance issues) from their suppliers than previous generations may have been. Covid-19, meanwhile, had changed the nature of the workforce in the customer experience industry. Practical issues such as whether a person had a suitable home to work from were important but so was the fact that the extrovert manager who had to have everybody working in front of them was no longer the most suitable personality to run a hybrid workforce; the introverts who preferred to stay home were having their day.

This skims the surface of a wide ranging discussion around the nature of customers and their evolving expectations, the practical mechanisms of supporting them and the evolving manager of a distributed team. TTEC has already set up a follow-up event on the 25th of this month.

Intelligent Sourcing is grateful to TTEC, Jo Causon and Moira Clark, and above all to everyone who gave their evening to take part in the debate. It was a stimulating event – we’re looking forward to the next one, and we’re definitely back in the room!

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