Diane Magers is the CEO of the Customer Experience Professionals Association, which is collaborating with Awards International on events including the Gulf Customer Experience Awards taking place in Dubai on January 22, 2019.

In an exclusive interview with CXM World, Diane discussed CX as a major business differentiator, the importance of awards in celebrating and encouraging best practise, and the future of CX in the Gulf and beyond…

The Gulf Customer Experience Awards are on the horizon. How much can regions such as the Middle East benefit from a healthy, competitive CX culture?

Customer Experience has become the competitive differentiator, even over price and product.

Brands which focus on innovation, new ways of thinking, and working and engaging customers are winning in terms of business results. Customer Experience as a differentiator means understanding your vertical brand’s experience, but many brands are also learning and competing from general market changes.

Brands today must become relevant to future needs and expectations. Disruption is happening everywhere, and CX can help bring innovation, agility, and impact to those brands that are building these critical capabilities – both individual competencies and brand capabilities.

With new technologies and demographic/psychographic, generational, social, and economic changes, brands that have built the internal skills to identify and design around what their consumer or partners want are seeing the most significant impact in their business results.   

Dubai and the wider UAE is growing at a phenomenal rate. What are the dangers of CX not keeping up with the rate of business growth in such regions?

Business growth comes from local and global sources. The brand experience we have today with brands doesn’t recognise borders or regions. 

The reference point for great experiences is constantly changing. While there are still regional expectations, our digital lives have collapsed the global experience and provided new levels of expectations. Creating experiences needs to continue to rise as brands compete in a more comprehensive manner and discover where customers’ expectations are for their brand.

Missing the chance to meet and exceed those expectations is a critical part of brand relevancy and success today.

Loyalty is fleeting. Consumers and partners today have many choices, and they are flocking to those brands that demonstrate they are relevant and valuable to their lives. So keeping up with expectations and growth will have to become ‘the new normal’ for brands.

Brands who are succeeding are: 

Customer obsessed – designed to meet essential needs in people’s lives.

Ruthlessly pragmatic – there when we need them, consistent, and they make our lives easier

Distinctively inspired – emotional connection, earn trust, and fulfil a more significant purpose

Pervasively innovative – engage with us in new and creative ways and find ways to address unmet needs. 

Source: Forbes, 2018.

How important are events such as the Gulf CX Awards for the CX industry? What are the benefits of entering and judging?

Awards like the Gulf Customer Experience Awards and the International Customer Experience Awards are recognition for brands that are creating relevancy among their customers, their employees, and their partners.

CX professionals perform momentous feats of change. They are leading new thinking, new behaviours, and new competencies to lead brands to become customer focused. They are breaking long-held beliefs, assumptions, and ingrained ways organisations work.

They are often creating a ‘connective tissue’ between many parts of the organisation and bringing the customer to the forefront. These awards events help to inspire brands and CX practitioners when it comes to what is possible and how they can build dynamic change and transformation within their organisation.

What advances in CX would you like to see in the Gulf region and across the globe in the coming years?

There is a considerable effort underway with many brands to explore this critical dimension of CX that will define the future for their organisation.

Customer Experience professionals will continue to with identifying and designing integrated experiences, even across brands. We work to ensure brands are aligned and committed to providing an integrated and optimised Customer Experience. With the ‘Internet of Experiences’ and data about customers exploding, brands will have to work together around the customer in designing experiences.

But most importantly, this work is about the future. It is about knowing how and why customers do what they do and how brands can build relevancy in the future. Transformation is all-encompassing, so for our profession, we need to help continue to create cohesion in how our organisations work; define new ways to engage customers in co-designing our brands’ future; and find new ways for brands to help solve world issues.

We have great tasks in front of us for everyone across the globe, and each experience we have and how we live our lives will count toward how we progress as a society.  There is no higher purpose.

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