1st Aug 2016
Nicola Millard doesn’t like the phrase “futurologist”, which, until recently, was part of her job title. Millard is now BT’s ‘Head of Customer Insight and Futures’, and her interpretation of ‘futurology’ – if there is such a thing – centres on solid, evidence-based data. Here are four things she’s gleaned from her research.
There is a difference between research and innovation, Millard notes. Research is all about data and the longer-term view, whereas innovation is about practical implementation. But this doesn’t mean that the two are mutually exclusive.
“My role is largely to try and investigate trends and themes in terms of how customer behaviours are changing – to bridge from the research into the innovation space, to ask how we can improve the customer experience,” she explains.
Customers don’t want to work hard at being a customer. “We’re finding that easy, convenience factors are driving a lot of the digital behaviours,” Millard reveals.
One consequence of this is a rise in ‘omnichannel behaviours’; customers who give up phoning the call centre and use webchat instead. Or switch from the company website to social media. Such behaviours should drive innovation strategies to enhance the customer experience and assist omnichannel interactions with the organisation, Millard explains.
Motivation also determines the type of contact customers choose. “We’ve been starting to think about the context of the customer wanting to make contact,” she explains, “and how we then signpost that customer to get them to their goal. That’s occupying a lot of our thinking in terms of architecting journeys around that omnichannel dilemma.”
It’s no secret that as organisations provide more personalised services, data management becomes more challenging. From Millard’s perspective, customers will only want to share information if it provides them with an advantage.
She points to insurance companies that offer fitness devices that track people’s activity in return for cheaper health insurance premiums. “As a customer I am only going to share information if I think there is an advantage to do that,” she explains.
A full version of this article was published in issue 20 of Customer Focus magazine. Click here to read the original.