My customer experience epiphany

Mastering customer engagement is about enabling your team to make better decisions, deliver better offers, and provide a much better customer experience.

About 15 years ago, I had a career-changing moment. I was working on a software project for a wine club that sells wine to club members. Until then, the organisation’s go-to sales approach – through its busy call centre – was to try to sell the same whites and same reds to all customers across the board. The problem was, everybody’s different, and everybody’s taste in wine is different.

Luckily, the business was catching on. The company bought this very expensive software project that I was involved in implementing. The project was about looking at consumers’ buying history and making recommendations about the kinds of wines the people the call centre was talking to would like to buy. Based on each individual, the computer would say, “Why don’t you offer them these reds and these whites?” The software based these suggestions not only on wines the customer had previously bought but also on what other people – who, from an internet standpoint, ‘looked’ like the customer – had previously bought.

We turned on the software and did a split test straight down the middle, with half the call centre using the existing sales approach and half using the technology-generated suggestions. In the first week, we got 30 per cent better sales from the people using the recommended products than those employing the old style of selling. Everyone thought it was a fluke, so we swapped the test over for the second week, and again, we saw a 27 per cent improvement.


So herein lies my epiphany: what this testing told me was that if you offer somebody something that they’d actually like to buy, they’re more likely to buy it. It’s that simple.

And this is why I wanted to get involved in this area of customer engagement – the concept that processing information can help people and organisations make better decisions, deliver better offers, and provide a much better customer experience. The customer gets a better result and is much happier, and the company gets a better result and is happier because it’s selling more stuff. Everybody wins!

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