Hi Nick, tell us about yourself, your background?
I’m the insight Director at AutoTrader. I’m a consumer psychologist and have been working in Marketing and research for over 30 years and am a visiting lecturer on the Consumer psychology course at Anglia Ruskin College, Cambridge.
After graduating from Loughborough in 1986, I spent years in advertising and media planning at Dorlands and Lintas, was a guitarist with Great Northern Electrics, a publisher on HiFi magazines at Petersen/EMAP, and a research Director at Carat/Difiniti responsible for a team of researchers advising a range of Blue-chip clients on the development of their marketing and communications strategies in the Digital arena.
I joined Auto Trader in January 2007, running Business Intelligence and in 2010 built the retailer insight team running masterclasses and webinars. I also make short films to evangelize about data and Insight and regularly speak at conferences in Europe, Canada, and North America.
I’m fascinated by people and technology and try to turn this fascination into inspirational talks to anyone who will listen. As a lifelong petrol head too, I am fortunate to be working in an industry that I am passionate about.
We have an immense amount of data and research to analyze, giving us real insights into the car buyer and seller and my role now is to bring this to our customers. Help them get the most of their advertising budget with us and improve their return on investment.
Online commerce was booming in 2020, and so did consumer reviews. – How can brands better utilize this data to improve their customers’ experience?
McKinsey says that we were through seven years of tech adoption in 2020; we’re effectively doing things now, that by rights, we should be doing in 2026/2027. COVID helped speed up tech adoption, and as a result, we have become a lot more familiar with it. And used it daily. The element of Transparency and Trust is even more important today than it has been, and so keeping up with and responding to the reviews your customer leave is key. Good or bad – that best thing to see is someone responding and thanking for a good review or apologizing and fixing the poor one.
Who wants to buy or use anything that doesn’t have a review?
What is one element that must always be considered when working on a CXM (customer experience management) strategy?
The four key tenets for digital retailing today and for retailing offline, in general, are Ease, Speed, Simplicity, and Transparency. Not rocket science, but if you can nail these four elements, you should have a successful business.
- Ease – is it easy to do? Can I find the answer to my query easily? If not – it is not working for me.
- Speed – Can I do whatever I want to do quickly? We are all impatient now, and this tech adoption has made us all even more impatient. Amazon, Just Eat, Uber, Deliveroo are quick…and easy to use, and these companies have raised the bar for us all. We expect this now.
- Simplicity – No complex instructions to follow. I’m impatient… whatever I’m doing needs to be simple.
- Transparency – is all about Trust. If you are transparent in your business, I will trust you and then work with you/buy from you.
How can you demonstrate Transparency ? with reviews… with being open to questions, allowing me to chat to you with “text chats” or virtual calls…
Do you think personalization and customer-centricity are going to become increasingly more relevant in the coming year? How so?
Personalization can save time, and saving time can make things happen quicker, so that plays into one of the four key tenets I mentioned earlier…
The word “hybrid” seems to be in vogue today to describe how retailing will evolve. A Hybrid of off and online working seamlessly together. And to make a truly seamless buying experience, some personalization must take place.
The consumer must be willing to give their personal details in the first instance, understanding that these are safe and there are GDPR compliant processes are in place so that they can enjoy a bespoke service.
Imagine looking for a car on a marketplace on your phone, and then when you drive into the dealership a day later, the receptionist welcomes you by name, and the sales teams already know-how are far you are, in the buying process. They don’t qualify you; they clarify where you are – and help make the process quicker. Simple…easy…
It’s like the apple store question – the staff will ask you, “do you know what you want, or would you like some help?” They don’t treat everyone the same way. If you know what you want, have made up your mind, let’s help get you out of here quickly.
What’re the most insightful books you read in 2020?
The Changing Mind by Daniel Levitin, Wilful Blindness by Margaret Heffernan, and Creativity by John Cleese
Nick’s predictions for the future of CX
What are your predictions for trends in customer experience in the coming year?
More personalization, leading to better experiences…. Geo tracking to follow the customer from their search on a mobile device to walking into the physical store. Clearly, the customer must permit the company to track them, to make the process simpler/quicker/easier.
Increase usage of facetime/visual calls with helplines, as we have all go used to Zoom/Teams calls too.
Last but not least, what is your favorite CX metric?
Is our audience spending less time but doing more and interacting more with us? If yes, then we are getting some of our CX right.