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CXBuzz Interview With Jamie Thorpe, Head of Experience Management at Ipsos MORI CX

Hi Jamie, tell us about yourself and your background.

My name is Jamie Thorpe, I am Head of Experience Management at Ipsos.  I lead the CX Centre of Excellence, we work with clients on everything from professional services to platform implementation and analytics.  I started in CX before it even identified as CX, this was in 1996.  Since then I have worked in 4 agencies all the time evangelising, promoting and delivering CX programmes.  I remember my first project for a grocery retailer collecting and analysing feedback on comment cards, fair to say the world has changed a lot in 25 years!

How did you first start working in the CX space?

Honestly, like most people it was by accident.  I was previously a chef but grew tired of working when everyone else was out having fun.  A friend of the family got me in to see the MD of a research business at the time and I took an office junior job.  Really I knew nothing about much at all.  I ran both jobs for about 6 months until the MD said ‘boy, time to make a choice’ and so I did, the right one!

What are some of the common misunderstandings related to customer experience?

That’s a good one.  There are indeed many.  Some common ones are “CX is just surveys right?” or “CX is NPS isn’t it” or “CX is fluffy to satisfy the board”.  Believe me I have heard them all and some are frankly shocking from brands who the average customer would think is advanced and has their act together – often nothing could be further from the truth.  For me the biggest misconceptions are the narrow field of view that some people place on CX and the failure to understand its true business impact.

Have you seen any interesting new trends in eCommerce this year?

The most interesting trend is of course the flocking to digital itself when physical was not available.  The impact on this was business scrambling to make a step change in eCom recognising that inefficiencies in this channel had the potential to damage not only the brand but business performance itself.  We have seen (and continue to see) spikes across the board in areas such as CX maturity assessments, return on CX investment (ROCXI), insight and data led journey mapping, digital measurement (surveys and footprint), how and when to close the loop, user experience (UX) and much more.  Necessity really is the mother of invention, some businesses have come further in the last year than they did in the last ten!

eCommerce boomed in 2020, and consumers started leaving more product reviews online. How can we make the most out of this momentum?

By making each experience a positive experience and showing action on the back of feedback.  There are many ways in which eCommerce can be improved.  Through the application of what we know about customers (CX, research and personalisation) and the development of technology (innovation, improved UX, frictionless experience) some of these new trends will just stick.  Of course many customers will be keen to get back to physical, the multi million dollar question is what will remain digitally when physical is fully an option again.  My personal belief is that this, like life, is all about balance.  Multi (note I am avoiding the phrase omni) channel can co-exist but there has to be greater consistency and communication between them.  This is not new but the need and appetite to actually make it become a reality is.

What are some CX companies/solutions you’re keeping your eyes on right now?

I am an avid follower of the innovative in CX.  Our programmes are powered by some of the best tech on the market (with our expertise wrapped around it) so I have a vested interest in their roadmap and how we innovate together.  One passion of mine at the moment is social (online reputation) and seeing who does that well, for me this area is will continue to be in demand.

So many things changed in 2020. While some things are going to return to “normal,” what are new trends and habits you think will stay with us in the long term?

Who knows what the new normal will be.  Fluidity will stay with us for a long time.  The options some people were forced to embrace will become the norm and in some instances desired i.e. pre-booking or table service.  It will be interesting to see what learnings brands will take from the pandemic.  The customer has changed dramatically and will continue to do so.  Hearing me speak at events or webinars you will have heard me say that the customer is more savvy, fickle and promiscuous than ever before.  This is only amplified in the current climate making the need for brands to be on their CX ‘A game’ business critical.  Customers have no qualms to vote with their feet, experience is demanded nowadays and those brands that choose to ignore CX do so at their peril.

Do you believe focus groups are still relevant in the era of eCommerce? Why?

I do but believe they will continue to evolve and take a different shape.  Reflecting on what I said above the physical will need to co-exist with digital more as we go forward, why would this not be true for focus groups and how we deliver the insight from them.

Last but not least, what is your favorite CX metric?

I know that convention dictates that I play an agnostic position here or make a sweeping statement about the value of all metrics and how businesses should use them carefully and consider which to use where, when and how – but I won’t!  In direct answer to your question mine is Customer Effort Score (CES).  Customers want an effortless experience in everything they do so CES reflects the wants and needs of the customer and hence is my favourite.

About the author

Efrat Vulfsons
Efrat Vulfsonshttps://www.prsoprano.com/
Efrat Vulfsons is the CEO & Co-Founder of PR Soprano and the editor of CXBuzz parallel to her soprano opera singing career. Efrat holds a B.F.A from the Jerusalem Music Academy in Opera Performance.


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