Today I’m pleased to share a guest post by Paul Laughlin.

Legoland, home to the legendary construction toy, never struck me as a conference venue. But it works well. Joining 200 others, I spent Moments of Truth Day 2015 (part of NCSW) here, thanks to Rant & Rave.

As you’d expect, there was time to play with Legos and to learn how playing can enhance both customer and employee experiences. All in all, it was an engaging day that was clearly popular. Apparently this was also the third annual CX Day organised by the CXPA (global association for CX professionals).

My reason for attending was to get closer to the customer insight requirements of these key customers for many insight teams. Although I write a lot about Marketing requirements, customer insight is also key to designing and delivering for CX teams.

So, what happened and what would such a day hold for you if you thought of attending next year? 

Here are the highlights I still recall:

First off, the always knowledgeable Prof Moira Clark from Henley Centre for Customer Management talked about generations and technology. Highlighting insights about the different mindsets, service expectations, and use of technology, she reviewed generational segments since 1925. Starting with the ‘Silent Generation’ (born prior to 1944), she compared the ‘Baby Boomers’ (1945-64), Generation X (1965-89) and Gen Y (1990+). It was interesting to note the, at times, conflicting service experience requirements of these segments.

Moira then went on to review both recent and coming technology developments, as boundaries between online and offline worlds blur. A resident artist usefully captured a summary in this picture of her talk:

Now, I’d be amongst the first to caution against the inappropriate use of such a broad brush segmentation (your customer behaviours and attitudes may vary greatly within these area ranges). But it is a timely reminder to not get so focused on automating your service experience in such a way that may work for Gen X or Y but could disappoint your richest customers (Baby Boomers).

Next, we had an excellent presentation from Ian Golding, an independent consultant who is passionate about customer experience. It was really good to hear him extol the importance of storytelling in communicating your customer experiences (good, bad, and downright ugly), a previous recommendation on this blog. This included a terrible experience with SAS airline and the positive example of Hector (a taxi driver in Rome).

Once again, our resident artist captured most of Ian’s key themes in a useful visual summary. I felt challenged to use personal stories more, and service tales are a great way for us insight professionals to bring to life research or analytics findings through the eyes of one customer.

Later we had time to learn about “Lego Serious Play.” Patrizia Bertini got some unsuspecting volunteers to play with Lego in a reconstruction of such a workshop. It was a fascinating method, with real psychological and philosophical grounding. Themes stressed included the role of the body in memory and intelligence (especially the hands), as well as the importance of metaphor as a way of communicating, especially through creative activity and play. Do your hands know more than you do?

After initial warm-up exercises, it was interesting to see these volunteers express their customer insight challenges through Lego creations. This included visual metaphors that some were not aware they had intended to reveal. There is a real depth to this technique, and it’s akin to methods I’ve also seen work well in coaching scenarios. Why not try tackling your business problems through play?

After lunch, a MaKey MaKey workshop gave us opportunity to play with electronics, fruit, and play-doh. I kid you not. Getting (or not getting) a pair of bongos to work, through tapping a lump of play-doh and a satsuma, is quite an experience. To check out more of these creativity aids see their website.

The point of our exercise, where much went wrong – but that is the curse of the ‘live demo’ – was to design more fun ways for customers to give feedback. Once again, if you can make it play for customers, you will up participation.

Toward the end of the day, we then heard about how to gamify the employee experience. Most businesses now recognise that genuinely engaging your employees is a key to improving customer experience. So, it makes sense to think about gamification here. too. Like the success of TripAdvisor levels/badges and fun competitions to creatively tackle business issues, there appears to be real value in looking for opportunities to do this. Plus more tools to deliver this.

All in all, this was a valuable day. I’d advise other Customer Insight leaders to think of attending similar events. Build bridges with your Customer Experience Leader as increasingly you should have common cause and challenges.

Have you seen the value of play in your business? How do you use serious play to tackle business problems or to engage your customer or employees?  

Paul Laughlin has over 20 years experience of leading teams to generate profit from analysing  data. Over the last 12 years he’s created, lead and improved customer insight teams across Lloyds, TSB, Halifax and Scottish Widows. He’s delivered incremental profit of over £10m pa and improved customers’ experiences.