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HSO Michael Lonnon and Jon Rallings

Transcript

Intro

Welcome everyone to episode 46 of the HSO Dynamics matters podcast.

Your regular sonic dive into the world of Microsoft technology related matters and much more besides. And I’m your host Michael Lonnon.

Last weekend my wife dragged me out to go clothes shopping together with my two young daughters. Not my favourite weekend activity. I’ve about a 30-minute tolerance limit before irritability kicks in. I much prefer the ease and comfort of online shopping. Joining me for today’s chat is a guy that has a similar preference, and that’s HSOs Head of Customer Engagement, Kevin Brown.

And in this edition Kevin explains why offering a personalised experience is so important regardless of whether you’re in a retail store buying clothes, online buying insurance, or booking a visit from a health worker.

So, grab a brew, sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.

Michael Lonnon

Buy in store or shop online?

Kevin Brown

shop online

Michael Lonnon

Is that a new thing for you or have you always been an online purchaser? Has it evolved as you have got a little bit older?

Kevin Brown

No, I think I’ve been online for the most part, I just don’t like crowded rooms. I don’t like lots of people, when you go shopping in a shopping centre it doesn’t matter where you stand, you’re in the wrong place.

Michael Lonnon

When it comes to whether your happy to buy in store or whether you prefer to buy online where does the customer experience help? Whatever the store is, whether you’re buying clothes, spanners or whatever it is that you’re buying, where is it that good customer experience helps improve the buyer journey?

Kevin Brown

I think it’s around the speed of which I can get from the browsing to the purchase of the product. It’s recommendations, it’s how does it help me get to the things that I like, much quicker. I think in this day and age, everyone is time poor. I want to get to the thing I want quickly, or I’ll move on to something else. It’s the experience of browsing things being suggested to me, based on my behaviour, based on my previous engagement, that drive me towards the things that knows I’m going to like the style of clothing, or what are the right sizes, etc, etc. The same point tells me the things that I do like that are not in stock, so I don’t waste time and get to the point where I’m disappointed. That’s the other side of things.

Michael Lonnon

Do you think that’s a new thing, so if people come online and the purchasing process is sped up, their engagement is sped up? Do you think that’s changed people’s behaviour or has people’s behaviour evolved in line with that or do you think it’s always been a requirement?

Kevin Brown

I think it’s become more so and the culture generally across the board is ‘I want things quick, I want things in my time, I want things based on how I’d like it to be and be personalised’. Therefore, retailers must adapt their systems to suit that type of buying behaviour because you have only a few moments before someone becomes turned off and moves to elsewhere.

Michael Lonnon

It doesn’t really matter what industry it is either like with financial services, for example, I thought my bank was quite clever as they recently released a new application on my phone, which allowed me to do investments and made it really, really simple. And this was something that my bank had taken yonks to get to grips with, but it was really nice change. Actually, what they were proposing was in line with my buying behaviour, I don’t know how they’re done it, Artificial Intelligence perhaps, but it’s mapping to the experience as well. That’s where you get customers engaged, isn’t it?

Kevin Brown

Absolutely. We talk about financial services. So again, similar scenario, both positive and not so positive with my bank is they have an app now that tells me, where my finances are going to be at the end of the cycle. So, whether you’re overspending or whether you’re under spending. The negative to that is the mortgage application process is just a complete nightmare. As an experience, that experience is something that definitely needs to be looked at and improved because it causes quite a lot of stress to an existing stressful situation, moving house or buying houses is not an easy process to go through and it doesn’t help.

Michael Lonnon

What are the challenges for organisations trying to try speed up the process of engagement and improve experience? What were the challenges they’re finding in getting there?

Kevin Brown

It starts with what I call ‘outside in view’. So looking at your business from the outside, not from an inside process driven, it’s looking at what the customers are looking to achieve, looking to understand what the data points are we need to capture. And that’s one of the biggest challenges. So data within an organisation exists in multiple different facets, bringing that data together, and the cost of doing so is often the barrier, to providing true personalised experience because in the past personalised experience has always been being able to send an email with my name on it and that’s a simple mail merge functionality. It needs more than that. You need to know a lot more about me, my habits, my family, my work, the things that I do, my social circle, etc, etc. So, there’s more to it than simply personalising a letter. It’s driving some intelligence in every engagement, and I think a lot of companies struggle to do that because of the quality of the data and the consistency of data being connected.

Michael Lonnon

How do you think they could overcome that, because that’s a problem that is relevant across any industry I’ve ever worked in. It’s in the connecting of data to create that bigger, wider picture. How do you think organisations can solve that?

Kevin Brown

It’s a challenge on number of levels. So, you have the data and the business across multiple facets, and you have multiple different owners of different parts of that data, but seldom do they come together and look at the whole picture of the customer. If I require a system to do email marketing, I’m going to buy a mass marketing tool. If I want a system to drive a pipeline, I’m going to buy a sales tool for that. And a customer service tool for that. So invariably, what you have is fragmented organisation. As an organisation you need to look at the data holistically across your business and implement a platform or a foundation that brings data together, which then can be surfaced in multiple different areas of the business so everyone’s looking at the same version of a customer, and therefore going to understand the experience a customer is going through in department A versus department B and then tailor the message or tailor the engagement specifically. I think that’s where organisations need to focus on bringing customer data together.

Michael Lonnon

Is nirvana then to have a foundation that allows you to put different applications on top of it, and connects the data between different applications? And as your needs change, you want to be able to connect the data and create a personalised experience, don’t you?

Kevin Brown

Absolutely. If you consider it a data pool, the data is ultimately the heart of the business, and then the applications are simply windows into that data. Whether I’m in customer service, or sales or complaints, etc, I’m looking at the same data just through a different application, because that’s specific to my use case, or my business or my day to day, etc, etc. So that’s what I think about is the data is the starting point, and everything else branches from that.

Michael Lonnon

How are Microsoft approaching this element of data management and customer experience?

Kevin Brown

Microsoft has a suite of applications but all of it sits on top of the dataverse, which, is a term being bandied about, but ultimately, it’s a connected state. It’s the ability for you to drive all of the data that means the most to you as an organisation into one single format, one single platform. You are then able to plug in Microsoft applications. Whether it’s an application, any ERP solution, or power platform extending to do something specific, the data itself remains consistent. That’s then driven through applications providing a window into who Michael Lonnon, is what are his preferences, what are his trends, who does he work for etc, etc And it drives an orchestrated process where you extract the most value from you as a customer, but you’re getting the value you deserve from them as a customer of an organisation.

Summary

Improving customer experience begins with what Kevin calls: an outside in view.

Which is a perspective of looking at engagement with your organisation from the perspective of your customers. From here you can see how easy it is to engage with you, request services, buy products, speak to staff and so on – is it good, is it personal, does it consider the fact of how we all engage is different? If not, it’s something you could look at improving for the sake of happier customers.

Building this outside-in view is a lesson any business in any line of work would do well adopting.

And on that note, thanks for listening, take of yourselves, and I’ll see you for the next episode.

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