Building Blocks for Success. Challenges and how to overcome them. Part 1

5 September 2017 by Mark Fallon

Building Blocks for Success. Challenges and how to overcome them. Part 1


Joan Fahey Digital, Digital

Outputs from the Alternatives Digital Think Tank by Joan Fahey, Senior Talent Manager


Hosted by Alternatives Digital Talent Team; Joan Fahey and Adrian Clarke and moderated by Charley Stoney, Managing Director of Alternatives, this breakfast Think Tank was held on 5th July and was attended by 20 digital leaders and decision makers from a variety of industry sectors including; Professional Services, Insurance, Banking, FMCG, Retail, Media, Technology, Tourism and Utilities.

The purpose of the session was to provide a platform for the most influential, senior digital strategists in the Irish market to meet and discuss important topics and challenges around digital transformation that affects their business.  It was an opportunity for the group to learn and share experiences with their peers as we are all still learning and acclimatising to the pace of change in this digital era.  It also provided the Alternatives team with a deeper understanding of the needs of our clients when it comes to sourcing the best digital talent.

This particular session focused on Customer Experience and participants were divided into four groups, with each group discussing a key aspect of Customer Experience; Customer Expectations, Personalisation, Marketing Automation tools and how to build a successful CX strategy.

 Why the Customer Experience Matters

The stakes for winning customers have never been so high. The focus of business today has very much shifted away from just selling products and services to creating a great overall customer experience.  Today’s customer is better informed, smarter, harder to please and less inclined to be a loyal. Customers are now in the driver’s seat, have more power and higher expectations than before.

A study by the Harris Group found that a staggering 72% of millennials prefer to spend their money on positive experiences rather than on just material products and according to a Walker study, by the year 2020 customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. Customer Experience is now the new battlefield and according to Forrester, 72% of businesses say that improving the customer experience is now their top priority.

Susie O’Donoghue from Kellogg’s was the spokesperson for this particular group and led the discussion on what customer expectations are today when it comes to their experience with brands and what businesses should and shouldn’t be doing to meet their growing demands.

  • Customers, now more than ever, value their time with the hectic lives they lead and expect immediate responses to their needs or queries. They don’t want to be put on hold, transferred or ignored. They demand immediacy and there is simply ‘no room for error’ here when it comes to responding to their needs.
  • They want a personalised experience and are more willing to give their data to trusted companies in exchange for a better experience. They recognise that personalisation can give them more enjoyable and relevant experiences to meet their needs. It is crucial though to recognise the level of personalisation that is acceptable in your business and sector so listen to your customers and the data they give you.
  • They expect nothing less than high quality service and technology. They have no time for inferior platforms or technical errors.
  • Even with all that technology has to offer, customers still want the human touch so find the right balance. The use of chatbot technology can help bridge the gap between face to face and online interaction.


The MUST HAVES to meet customer expectations:

A clear and focused CX strategy for your business is the crucial starting point – outlining what your customers want and how you plan to get there.

  • Technical capabilities must be able to support your customer demands
  • Ability to track and measure every data touchpoint
  • A team culture and structure that is agile and open to change; Marketing & Digital must work together and come out of their traditional silos.
  • Be Brave! Adapt a ‘fail-first’ attitude throughout your organisation
  • Always a ‘Mobile first approach’ – media consumption habits now at over 60% on mobile platforms
  • A robust social media listening plan is also critical to deal with the volume of feedback and complaints from customers that can come through social media channels. This can be outsourced to an agency however, if it forms a big part of your customer care service then an in-house team should also be in place.
  • Tight campaign management skills still very critical to manage the process with the multiple key stakeholders involved in driving and executing your CX strategy.

What we need to STOP DOING to meet customer expectations:

  • Don’t be slow to respond! A brand has a limited amount of time to respond to customer needs today. A delayed response and you will lose your customer!
  • Avoid technical failures – customers will very quickly lose patience and leave
  • Don’t over deliberate and over-complicate your CX strategy
  • Don’t over-react to social media commentary. Recognise that it can be extreme as you deal with it.

Key Insights on Customer Expectations…


  • There is simply no room for error when it comes to meeting customer expectations today and their experience with your brand.
  • Their experience is now becoming the most critical element of any business strategy and a key differentiator of brands.
  • Without a clear strategy and plan in place, you will struggle to retain customers and ultimately loose out to competitors.

By Joan Fahey, Senior Digital Talent Manager at Alternatives.

Why is Personalisation so critical? Part 2