Management / CustFoc 2013 Liveblog

CustFoc 2013 Liveblog

This is the official liveblog for the Customer Focus 2013 summit, being held at the London Film Institute on the South Bank.

You can follow us on Twitter at @BiznessReporter for the main event (or click the button to the right) and we are using the hashtag #custfoc.

The conference is split into two streams. For Twitter updates from the Customer Experience Measurement and Analysis stream please follow our corporate account @LyonsdownLtd. Updates from the Customer Engagement Strategies stream will be tweeted from @BiznessReporter, as above.

This page will NOT update automatically. Please refresh to see the latest updates. We will be updating about every five minutes.

1228: Due to technical difficulties we have to stop liveblogging. Apologies – please follow the live coverage via Twitter on our accounts above.

1205: Tavani: “You cannot advertise your company on social media as you would on TV, simply saying ‘our company is great'” – it doesn’t work like that.







1152: In the social media stream we are now hearing from Giovanni Tavani, social media outreach manager at Dell.

1148: Richard Ahern, head of customer oeprations at Zen Internet, is now speaking and he makes an intriguing point that sales directors should pay close attention to:




1144: “Consistency is even more important than the ‘wow’ factor,” says Overbeek. For example, giving one customer a birthday cake will annoy another customer if it’s also their birthday and you don’t give them a cake!



1137:  “Respect and recognition was a key driver for customer satisfaction” says Dawson.

1133: Sam Dawson is head of insight at Hay Group, and is speaking about driving a better customer experience through employee engagement.



1128: Overbeek: “If your long haul connection is an hour late, you could spend a ten hour flight worrying about this”

1126: Casper Overbeek, of Air France KLM, is speaking about using social media to drive customer engagement in the social media stream.

1123: The mid-morning sessions are split into two streams – employee engagement and training (live tweeted from @BiznessReporter, and the social media stream (live tweeted from @LyonsdownLtd).

1120: We’re back for day two after some technical difficulties – our apologies!

1725: Last article summary for today is available here:

Don’t forget to come back tomorrow for the second day of Customer Focus 2013!

1700: Panel discussion breaks for comedian Patrick Monahan who immediately grills those members of the audience who are leaving. Stick around for comedy and drinks, otherwise liveblogging shall resume tomorrow!

1657: Customers only use social media when they feel strongly – either negatively or positively. Rod Butcher explains that customers “can’t be bothered” to complain to the company, and so air their grievances on Twitter. Companies should carefully monitor feeds in order that they can “hear” this communication.

1655: Turnbull asks audience about efficacy of data and metrics.

1654: Cadle responds that his council has services in place to provide support for vulnerable customers – other companies should enforce additional online support for their services.

1652: An audience member from The Alzheimer’s Society raises question of vulnerable customers. Self-service has potential to be bewildering for more vulnerable customers. Have either of the panellists dealt with this?

1643: Can customer self-service really improve efficiency? Cadle says that it is important to carefully embed self-service into the company’s operations.

1641: Turnbull opens up the question to audience. Speaker in audience talks of constant strive to reduce cost and improve efficiency.

1639: Eberhard suggests to “look around and copy”, because that’s what your customer will be doing too. They will be shopping around for better customer service, so it is vital to stay on trend. Host Bill Turnbull says, “After all, there’s no copyright on customer service”.

1637: custfoc 13

1635: Mayes’ talk has finished. Now on to panel discussion on ‘How to achieve effective and lean customer service functions’. Host Bill Turnbull invites Graham Cadle from Croydon Council and Markus Eberhard from SwissCom on stage to initiate discussion.

1631: Standard Life are “optimistic” that their customer engagement journey will reap rewards.

1630: Customer engagement can happen top-down, with senior board members and executives taking part in the customer dialogue by working on-the-ground with customers themselves.

1628: Mayes speaks of age-old problem: how to utilise data effectively? Users now want to be treated as individuals, not anonymously, and data must reflect and progress customer conversations.


1622: Standard Life aims to map customer journeys holistically. Engagement should move from functional to transactional, and the company aims to change their tone from operational to communicative, “creating great conversations”.


1621: Mayes runs us through Standard Life’s Ten Customer Experience actions. First step is to define who your customer is: vital if you are to tailor their experience with your company.



1615: Charles Schwarz has now finished his talk – full details available over on Twitter at @BiznessReporter. Now we’re hearing from Jo Mayes, from Standard Life.


1611: Summaries of the mid-morning speeches are available here: and here:

1605: Liveblogging has temporarily slowed while we edit and publish the summaries of the last batch of speeches. Normal service will resume shortly!



1556: Interesting…


1548: The session has resumed, with Charles Schwarz, managing director of customer experience at Barclays, talking about the impact of instantly accessible information on customer experience.

1511: Both streams are now stopping for a tea – sorry, a socialising break! Back on from 1545.

1508: Companies need to find the root causes of customers leaving them and deal with those causes. Proactive engagement is a strong way of finding negative feedback that wouldn’t necessarily be passed on to your company directly, says Meltem.



1500: “PR is a very effective channel, so long as you tell the right stories,” says Nimrod May in the customer engagement strategies stream. He adds that GetTaxi employed a “closed door” strategy on International Women’s Day, where drivers would not leave until female fares had safely entered their homes.

1458: In unrelated news, a helicopter is hovering over the London Film Museum.



1456: “Customer experience is making prices irrelevant to consumers,” says Meltem. Her point is that brand loyalty can transcend mere price tags, if the customer’s initial experience is positive.

1453: Rod Butcher’s film analogies have sadly come to an end, and now the delegates in the CX measurement stream are listening to Meltem Uysaler of financial conglomerate Citigroup. Meltem is the bank’s head of customer experience EMEA.

1450: In the Engagement Strategies stream Markus Eberhard has finished his talk, and delegates are now listening to Nimrod May, vice president of marketing at cab booking website GetTaxi.

Rod Butcher of Mulberry Consulting effortlessly holding the attention of the room with some seriously excellent film references – he’s just brought the Godfather into his talk!


1447: Swisscom’s Facebook page has 1.8 million likes and a reply rate of 96 per cent to posted queries, resulting in a “major” reduction in incoming telephone calls, says Eberhard in the Engagement Strategies stream.



1443: “There’s no point gathering customer feedback and then doing bugger all with it,” says Rod Butcher. Strong stuff – and he’s right.

1440: At risk of turning this liveblog into a stream of embedded tweets, here’s another punchy point from Markus Eberhard‘s talk.


1437: Butcher mentions using to create a wordcloud for his team to use as a starting point for discussing the “visceral” feedback from their customers.



1435: Sage advice from the last speaker in the CX stream.


1434: Butcher previously worked for the insurance firm Aviva and was the author of Rod’s Roundup on honing customer experience.

1432: Now taking the stage in the CX management stream is Rod Butcher of Mulberry Consulting.

1430: Markus Eberhard is Swiss telco Swisscom‘s vice president of online. He will be speaking about reducing the workload on customer contact centres.



1424: Deloitte has also prepared a paper on customer service in the financial sector, which Alex Bentley says is available on their website. Also of interest may be this paper from public affairs and PR consultancy Cicero Group, on the financial sector and social media. (PDF, 2.6MB)

1422: Risebrow says it is important to humanise NPS transactions – “it’s not all about the numbers”. Customers are more likely to notice bad service than good service, he adds.



1420: By the way, the summary of the Contact Centre Performance stream is now online!

1419: Sean Risebrow of Virgin Media in the middle of an enervating talk on achieving customer loyalty.

custfoc 11 sean risebrow virgin media

1417: Even more tellingly, Bentley says there is far less value in “big data” than in “targeted data”. Here he explains what he means.

custfoc 10 alex bentley deloitte

1416: Alex Bentley of Deloitte explains how to keep your customers positively engaged:


1406: Opening the batting in the Engagement Strategies stream this afternoon is Alex Bentley of consultants Deloitte.

1405: Reps from Tripudio and Cyara Solutions striking a very Reservoir Dogs pose!

custfoc 9 tripudio cyara solutions

1403: We’re back from lunch. Bill Turnbull is currently introducing the first speaker in the Customer Experience (CX) Measurement and Analysis stream, Sean Risebrow. Sean is the director of customer experience at Virgin Media.

1230: Both streams have now broken up into their roundtable phases. After the roundtables comes lunch, and the conference resumes at 2pm. We’ll be restarting the liveblog then.

1223: The omni-channel stream is now breaking up into the roundtable discussion phase, which we will not be reporting in order to facilitate a more frank and open discussion between delegates.

custfoc 8 roundtable

1220: Frank Burnett-Alleyne concludes his talk in the omni-strategy channel.


1216: Scottish Power takes a proactive approach – its customers can file a complaint via its website and request a callback. The company aims to resolve all complaints within 10 working days.

1215: Richard Tasker of Scottish Power emphasises that correctly implemented technological solutions can greatly improve your customers’ experiences with your company.




1212: We think this audience member lurking in the shadows probably needs a few more tips on improving the Dr’s customer experience…

custfoc 7 dalek

1210: Frank Burnett-Alleyne of eGain, along with Bill Turnbull, on the stage at #custfoc.

custfoc 6 frank burnett-alleyne

1206: “From the actual advisor point of view, what we found is that it’s very beneficial if the advisers have a joined up view of the customer” – Frank Burnett-Alleyne, head of retail at customer engagement software house eGain.

1203: Speaking of the Contact Centre Performance stream, here’s a great photo of Richard Tasker, head of direct debit operations at Scottish Power, speaking to a rapt audience.

custfoc 5 dominic cross

1200: A “behind the scenes” note from the Business Reporter team – updates from the Contact Centre Performance stream may slow slightly as our intrepid reporter switches from tweeting to writing up a proper summary of the last speech. Multitasking is our middle name at Business Reporter!

1159: In the Omni-Channel Strategy stream we’re now hearing from Frank Burnett-Alleyne, head of retail at eGain.

1156: On the importance of engaging with customers, from the contact centre performance stream:


1153: Elliott, in the omni-channel stream, emphasises the importance of engaging with consumers on the platform they expect to use.


1150: Dominic Cross, director of enterprise sales, EMEA at LogMeIn, speaking to the Contact Centre Performance Stream.

custfoc 4 dominic cross

1147: Jules Elliott, director of customer and channel strategy at car insurers Direct Line, speaks to Customer Focus 2013.

custfoc 3 jules elliott



1142: A slightly lower-res image from the chamber in the omni-channel stream. The event is being held in the old County Hall building, formerly the HQ of the old London County Council and later the base for the Greater London Corporation during the 1980s. More info about the building’s history is available here:,_London

custfoc 2

1140: From the Contact Centre stream, Dominic Cross of LogMeIn emphasises the importance of a strong customer experience to promote brand loyalty, citing Apple as an example:


1137: Up in the omni-channel stream now is Jules Elliott, director of customer and channel strategy at car insurers Direct Line. He’ll be talking about keeping your customer experience consistent across your brand’s various channels.

1132: Coming to the end of Derek Allison’s talk on delivering customer experience improvement.




1130: In the Omni-Channel Strategy stream, Dominic Cross, Director of Enterprise Sales EMEA at LogMeIn is speaking about how new technology solutions can assist your contact centre to retain customer loyalty.

1121: You can also read a full writeup of the first half of this morning’s talks from Claire Sporton of Confirmit and Anthony Thompson of Metro Bank here on our website:

1120: Always nice to have positive feedback! Thanks James! (and do give him a follow if you’re on Twitter!)



1117: By the way, if you’re a Twitter user, please be aware that the feed from @BiznessReporter will be concentrating on the Omni-Channel Strategy stream. We’re also live-tweeting the Contact Centre Performance stream from @LyonsdownLtd, our parent company’s Twitter presence.

1116: We’re back from tea and biccies, and here on the main stage is Derek Allison, Head of Customer Centricity at Sony Europe.

1102: Coffee break in progress! Back on from 1115.

1048: “Everyone who wants coffee now, say coffee,” asks Bill. “Coffee” says the audience. “Everyone who wants to do more speed networking, say “More, please” … silence!

But it went down really well:


1045: According to the official programme this is called Speed Networking. It’s so good that Batman’s joined us!



1043: That’s the end of Claire Sporton’s talk. Bill Turnbull now has the stand again, and is encouraging delegates to get to know each other within 3 minutes. Sort of like speed dating, perhaps?

1040: “I was talking to an insurance company the other week,” says Claire, “and they were in the really early stages of rolling out their CX programme. They asked, ‘what should our target be for next year’ and I said, ‘I don’t know.’ Ask if it’s really appropriate to set a target so early on,” Claire advises.

1037: John Deere runs a customer experience programme for its employees, involving a 2 year secondment and Six Sigma training. She also cites Fidelity’s customer ambassadors, who spend 20 per cent of their time on CX activities, and Bupa’s Smile programme.

1036: Claire gives a practical example. One company had an intranet site for team feedback where lots of feedback came through. She says it was difficult for that setup to gather meaningful feedback, so the company developed a mobile app so team members on the shop floor could send immediate feedback, and even upload photos of the issues they faced. Claire says this system generated about 17,000 comments per week.

1032: “Once you’ve got your team together, what do you do with them? This is a great opportunity for you to use these teams to build your own customer journey map. What they can do is identify the moments of truth across that journey and also give an internal view – which does not replace the customer view – of how you’re doing at each of those stages across that journey.” Claire Sporton, Confirmit.

1031: “When we look at a customer experience improvement program, senior involvement is key,” says Claire. “Even more important is what underpins that team.”

1030: Claire’s now referring quite heavily to her slide deck, so it’s a little tricky to put that into words. Bear with us!



1024: “It’s not just the insights manager you need to be talking to, it’s the whole of the organisation.”

1022: “Please be aware that metrics are really important. They give us a good understanding of where a business is heading but you can lose your connection with real customers,” warns Claire.

1021: “We’ve talked a lot about metrics and numbers,” says Claire. “But if we stick to numbers it all becomes unreal. We need to get back down from exec level back to the customers.”

By the way, we’ll be sharing our speakers’ slide decks from today and tomorrow on the Business Reporter website later this week.

1018: Claire is now talking about the value of metrics in measuring business improvements with a customer-centric approach. She cites an example of a notional call centre, and suggests one useful metric may be the number of calls a customer makes before a given issue is resolved – to their satisfaction.

1015: “As a customer experience professional, what we need to do is understand across our organisations which employees are going to be behind us and supporting the programme – and which ones aren’t.” – Claire Sporton, Confirmit.

1014: Claire has three key themes: Engaging the business, empowering employees and measuring success. (and celebrating it!)

1012: “It’s always about the data and always about the analysis, says Claire. This article from tech news website The Register suggests that analytics is the way ahead for business:

1010: Next up is Claire Sporton, VP Customer Experience Management at market research firm Confirmit.

1006: “If you really want to put the customer at the centre of what you do, you’ve got to talk to your customers, get out there, sit down and understand the real life issues facing your customers. That way I believe you’ll create truly customer-centric businesses.”

That brings us to the end of Anthony Thompson’s speech.

1003: “Money is important, but it’s not what drives businesses. None of the entrepreneurs I know are driven by profit. They’re driven to create a better product, deliver a better service or create a better customer experience. Profit is a byproduct of doing well.”

1002: “Sensible businesses may take control of their costs, day in, day out, but no business survives by focusing on cutting costs alone.” – Anthony Thompson, founder, Metro Bank.

1001: A bit more on Anthony Thompson’s background prior to Metro Bank, from his local paper the Newscastle Chronicle:

1000: “All my colleagues have one target, and one target only: giving a great customer experience,” says Anthony.

0957: The Telegraph has an article on why Anthony Thompson stepped down from the chairmanship of Metro Bank last year: (may trigger paywall)

0955: “If you really believe in what you’re doing, you’ll see a positive outcome from it… We had an absolute belief that there was room for a bank who offered a better customer service. We kept going with the belief to see through what we were trying to do. If you want to be truly customer centric, ask yourself, do you believe passionately in your organisation as a customer-centric organisation?” – Anthony Thompson, Metro Bank.

0953: “Who here thinks businesses exist to make money?” Few hands go up. “I’m pleased” says Anthony.



0951: “It’s been a high street bank in the UK for over 100 years. It’s 50 per cent retail, 50 per cent commercial, and I believe what matters to customers is the experience.” – Anthony Thompson, Metro Bank.

0950: “As Bill said, I’ve got manflu” – we’re rooting for you, Anthony!

0946: Our first speaker will be Anthony Thompson of Metro Bank. He’s greeted with warm applause.



0940: And we’ve started, right on the dot! Pictures to follow shortly.

0930: Delegates are filing into the main auditorium ready for our opening speech with Bill Turnbull, BBC Breakfast presenter.


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