Maria Soroka
16 Oct 2019
Customer experience at the Festival of Marketing 2019
Neil Harwood
It is all about the customer experience at FoM this year!
Customer is at the heart of any business and this notion was at the heart of discussions at the Festival of Marketing this year. It was a spectacular event, full of deep and clever thinking and especially insightful for us as a service platform operating in an agile field.

From major transformations and restructuring to making some smaller targeted changes, many businesses are taking steps towards an approach which will allow them to hear and serve their customers better. Obviously for us being an agile research agency it was illuminating to hear just how much thinking was already in that realm.

Companies used to focus on the traditional marketing mix, the 4Ps (Product, Price, Place, Promotion) whereas now the conversations revolve around the customer and doing everything to enhance the customer experience.

Of course, getting there is another story and many companies are undergoing change to one degree or another. It could be anything from tactical changes in marketing approaches to full blown organisational transformations. But one thing is clear, wait and see attitude is no longer enough.

Customer focus in action
An exciting lineup of speakers covered a wide range of applications for how the customer focus looks in action. Here are some of the highlights:

For example, Dan Goran from Hotels.com spoke about how companies that adopted the marketing first approach to the GDPR changes had a significantly higher success rate at achieving their objectives. Stressing the importance of communicating with and reassuring the customer.

Deliveroo Chief Marketing Officer Ines Ures said they have undergone a transformation in order to centre their operations around customer feedback. They created multi functional teams making it easy to test large volumes of content and adapt on the spot.

Starling Bank, the award winning banking app works in a lean and agile way to keep close attention to the needs of their customers. They add new features monthly to ensure that the customer experience is as delightful as can be. Jason Maude, the Chief Technology Advocate at Starling Bank mentioned that in the current environment you need to be brilliant at one thing and develop a network to support cooperation for other things.

Monika Schulze the Global Head of Customer Experience and Digital at Zurich referred back to when the industry was traditionally focused on sales, whereas now is increasingly being focused on the customer. NPS is the measurement tool of their choice and it shows correlation with performance of the business.

'Brutal objectivity is critical when you are leading a transformation bringing change to your company' - Dave Lewis, the CEO of Tesco feels passionate about objectivity being key to successful strategy implementation. They have restructured to work in smaller more flexible teams to ensure faster less committee like decision making. To ultimately focus on the customer and customer experience rather than competition.

Robinson's squash took a risk and launched a premium product which had a halo effect on the whole brand. They listened and understood their customers but they were also brave and it paid off. Another interesting point was around search playing a key role in the purchase journey nowadays. It is almost like dating. Customers research and try different things before going all the way with one of them.


This years Festival of Marketing was all about the customer. Customer experience and customer focus are at the centre of every business model, even in the in the most traditional industries. And businesses are changing to accommodate that and to be able to respond to customer needs fast. It is no longer about being better than competition because that isn't enough, it is about becoming better than you were yesterday, much better... and faster.
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