Virgin Red’s Dave Robinson on why resolving customer issues may not win you awards but will win you customers.

Purple Square have been speaking to customer experience leaders from top global brands about Reimagining Customer Experience (CX). In this interview Tim Biddiscombe speaks to Virgin Red’s Dave Robinson on why resolving customer issues may not win you awards but will win you customers.

Tim: Should CX conversations and efforts focus more on surprise and delight or on resolving and avoiding customer journey problems?

Dave: Marketers can have a tendency to deliver the shiniest stuff, but the basics need to be in place. The task is to make the customer experience better.  Sometimes better means flashy, but sometimes better means simpler.

I don’t think there’s quite enough work being done on understanding customer journeys – mapping them out and knowing what obstacles brands are presenting to customers and how we can improve them. No one wins awards for untangling customer issues, but if you get this right, you will win customers.

Tim: How can marketers start to embed more customer experience analytics into their decision making and planning?

Dave: I’m a firm believer that where there’s data, better decisions can be made. There’s less guesswork required when there’s data available – whether it’s about where we spend our media investment or understanding our customer journeys better. Leading with data is the key to winning with customers.

We should be led by the data, but it is a balancing act. You do need a clear view of your proposition, but I think there’s a lot to be said for letting the data speak for itself. By that I mean start with what the data’s shown you and go from there, rather than starting with a hypothesis. Human nature will lead you to focus on the data that confirms your hypothesis, inevitably leading to confirmation bias

One of the challenges is working out how to get the data back into the system. You must take the time to get the pipework in place so the data can come back in and be part of the decision-making process. That isn’t always easy. That also involves being clear on which data you need rather than taking it all. There’s a risk that there’s so much there that you can’t ever see the truth.

Tim: How can brands find the sweet spot between human and digital interaction for their customers?

Dave: There’s something powerful about human interaction. We used to talk about personalisation as trying to get back to the ‘corner shop experience’, but on a larger scale. In a sense this is what we want to do, but we need technology to get us there.

Rather than feeling inhuman, tech needs to feel like a relationship – doing the tasks that people don’t need to but leaving room for face-to-face interaction where it makes sense. For example, an Upper Class flyer expects personal attention when it comes to their flight, but doesn’t need a person to change the phone number on their account.

I think the sweet spot is all about choosing where the human factor is genuinely important to a customer experience.

Tim: What role is social media playing in customer experience right now and how does it need to evolve?

Dave: In general, brands don’t use social as a two-way communication channel. While some are using it as a way to start conversations, what they haven’t done is to use channels like WhatsApp to talk to customers.

If I need to speak to someone, I’ll use WhatsApp. But for a brand, it’s kind of easy to say ‘that doesn’t suit us’. If we’re being truly customer-led, we have to say that social is a channel where they can reach us and have a conversation.

Social needs to be developed as a way for customers to have conversations with a business or brand. For them to comment and brands to respond. Admittedly, this does bring complications with workflow, which is why as an industry we still have more work to do.

Tim: What stops brands from taking on new capabilities to deliver a more personalised customer experience?

Dave: It’s difficult to come up with many examples of personalisation done brilliantly and I think that’s because we’re still getting started with it. Brands still need to join their data up and when they do, there will be loads more they can do.

I think customers must look at some brands and think, ‘you’re still not really talking to me are you?  I’m surprised you made that mistake…why do you keep offering me something you know I already have?’

Brands have been talking about personalisation for years, but I feel like they’re just getting started. I still don’t feel like they are talking to ME as an individual. I just received a flyer through my letterbox last week for a service I’ve already signed up for. There is so much more we can do.

This interview was also featured in a related article on mycustomer.com on 22nd November 2022. Read it here: ‘Tech needs to feel like a relationship‘.

By: Timothy Biddiscombe Managing Director (EMEA)