Verve’s Adrian Sanger and Potentiate’s Dan Alexander-Head give their view on the world of integrating CX with community panels and how they’re working together to build new solutions for clients post-pandemic.

What are the major factors accounting for the rise and rise of CX in recent years?

Adrian Sanger portrait
Adrian:

It’s about finding a meaningful point-of-difference when the consumer is bombarded with choice. In a world where any feature, recipe or function is quickly copied, leading companies have sought to differentiate on service delivery- the relationship with the customer assumes an extra criticality when the point-of-difference is experience.

In parallel, organisations have re-wired to obsess on the customer experience - we’ve seen the rise of the Chief Customer Officer and a pivot to better servicing the customer to win in the market. We’ve seen new teams emerge to define, customise and optimise the user experience - made all the more vital by the proliferation of channels and routes to purchase. The complexity of the customer relationship simply demands grown-up measurement.

Technology has also enabled the rise in CX Tracking - pre-digitalisation it was simply too cumbersome to collect the data and too long to process, which had strained the relationship between learning and activation.

Dan Alexander-Head portrait
Dan:

The significance of the customer experience was once something that seemed to be only experienced by the wealthy flying first class. Then the mass population suddenly became very aware when brands such as Starbucks, Amazon and Apple were highlighted for their “revolutionary” attitude to the customer. Along with a number of other key factors, the customer experience helped them achieve exponential growth with customer loyalty - over time it has become evident that brands with a strong, positive customer experience outperform their competitors.

Challenges in customer experience share similarities with product development – how to effectively measure, manage and improve. With positive intention, many brands have companywide KPIs around customer experience, which is great, but challenges can arise in understanding what to measure in order to deliver insight that allows the brand to make the right decisions. What is right for your direct competitor may not be relevant to your brand - brands are becoming more savvy to this and investing in order to outperform the status quo.

How does digital impact the way we measure and understand CX?

Adrian Sanger portrait
Adrian:

Always having devices in our hands combined with an ‘always-on’ mindset, means it is far quicker to send and receive in a relevant, authentic way. Whether we ask for feedback from 1 or 100K customers, it makes little difference to price, driving the response, let’s contact everyone, at every contact-point, each time.

More importantly, digital is the enabler to how we can activate the CX program. Automation simplifies the steps - gets the invite sent, uploaded, processed, visualised and hot-alerted to any corner of the globe. The act of collecting data, which took so much sweat in the past, is streamlined. That creates a game-changing benefit – CX Tracking is not only for future learning, it is also in-the-moment course correction. Or, put another way, from describe to prescribe.

Dan Alexander-Head portrait
Dan:

Insight has always been required to adapt to how customers behave. Before the ubiquity of the internet, the most advanced method of data collection was telephone. Data was stored in silos and all that brands had access to were siloed snapshots of historic events. Now, with the explosion of digital methods of interaction and the sheer frequency with which they happen, brands are under no illusion that they need to understand the entire customer, not just a single interaction in time.

With this explosion we are left with it being easier to interact with customers to gather their feedback, yet we want to try to find every place they interact with our brands to understand their attitude. Either way, it is hard to imagine that brands have a lack of data. Rather the crucial issue they face is how to bring the data they have together in a way that will help them better understand the customer and predict how they will behave in the future.

How are Verve and Potentiate innovating in this space?

Adrian Sanger portrait
Adrian:

Last year, Verve and Potentiate made a shared commitment to innovating new propositions. Each hired an Innovation Director to lead the development of new propositions, to further strengthen the tech capability and to add new solutions to the pressing questions for clients as they emerge from the pandemic.

In a few short months, the teams now work together across Marketing, Solution development, Operations and Client Service. We share ideas and spread costs, challenging our own biases and preconceptions – all the time guided by an unshakeable commitment to ‘how can we create more value for clients?’

Dan Alexander-Head portrait
Dan:

Our innovation is driven by the challenges that customers have articulated to us. Perhaps unsurprising to some, the biggest issues raised are the dissemination of insights within the organisation, how do you provide access to data and insights to those not necessarily experienced in putting context to such information, and time spent researching and negotiating with suppliers. These are two key challenges that we are grabbing by the proverbial horns and co-creating solutions with customers.

How does the partnership add more value for clients?

Adrian Sanger portrait
Adrian:

There are CX and DIY community panel platforms out there who want to sell high cost, low service software propositions. We know clients need more support with the activation and come to regard the tech as a means to an end, seeing the value proposition in high-service. Potentiate and Verve are a disruptive force to respond to that gap - we believe clients want service from experienced, capable people, empowered by great tech. We help them not only see the potential, but we also ‘have their back’ to deliver that potential to their stakeholders in an empowering, business-changing way. Together, we provide a global integrated CX and community panel platform, and a global in-market service presence in key client territories.

Dan Alexander-Head portrait
Dan:

Our teams come from different backgrounds, not just geographically, but also in terms of technical experience - then there are a lot of similarities, particularly culturally and ethos to improving the customer experience. At the heart of any successful partnership is a set of core values without which the chances of a successful collaboration are slim. Verve and Potentiate are both unwavering in these values and very much aligned. This means that when we provide solutions to the market, we may come with different approaches and solutions, but our goals are mutual.

The market has already been through a high-growth period, where do you see the future of growth opportunities?

Adrian Sanger portrait
Adrian:

It is still not commonplace for CX Tracking and Communities to be joined-up, so often they serve their different masters and are the sum of their parts but no greater. By combining CX tracking with deep-dive research, a true path to action emerges – validated and precise. We see the growth opportunity from combining the light and deep learning loops. Having the data is one thing, knowing what to do with it needs the expertise that comes from companies like Verve and Potentiate.

Dan Alexander-Head portrait
Dan:

Capturing a point in time of the customer experience is not hard – there are so many solutions on the market that buyers are spoilt for choice. Where the future lies is not in the capturing of that single point-in-time interaction, but understanding the broader experience – someone who does not convert to being a customer is not always going to be captured in a survey. Pulling together a holistic picture is imperative for a brand to deliver that exceptional experience above the competition.

Contact us if you’d like to find out more about CX and community panels.