“My goal was to create the Juilliard School of the customer and employee experience”

Publié le 29 septembre 2021 par Magazine En-Contact
“My goal was to create the Juilliard School of the customer and employee experience”

Today will start, near Pouliguen from Batz-sur-Mer, a gathering specially named ECTFF. For 9 years, La Baule has been bringing in around one hundred professionals during two days to conduct master class series and to meet peers and brands. All share a common subject in which they excel, break new ground or train : customer experience. 

Here below is the interview and mid-point assessment of this event, “Experience Client the French Forum”, with its founder Manuel Jacquinet

Nine years ago, customer experience was rather a niche issue seriously taken into account by a small group of forward thinking experts you were part of already. This new “martingale” deals more today with a not to be missed topic, not to say a buzzword claimed by high masses of the industry (CRM Meetings, etc.). How do you manage to differentiate and keep for your Forum  a pioneering nature ? 
 

Manuel Jacquinet - © Edouard Jacquinet

Manuel Jacquinet : By sticking to my initial goal to grant a triple mission to this moment  : training, meeting and testimoning around innovations, best practices and failures dealing with customer experience. The purpose of our Forum is far from just prospecting, speed-dating as for many professional events, even if this kind of trade events is also mandatory. People attend to hear CNRS researchers working on prosody and the ability to detect emotions through a conversation; to hear AI and data science specialists forecasting visitors or passengers flows but also incivility treatment professionals and, in this year's case, ex BRI policemen. Showing the ultimate research and innovations in France is at the core of the initial project. The conference team spends each year quite a bit of time identifying researchers, leaders, doers, often discreet but pushing forward state-of-the-art. I believe we are like curators and each edition can be seen at the result, at a specific date, of what should be considered as stakes and major themes related to customer experience. 

How did you manage to refresh the format, the topics etc. over the successive editions? Is customer experience a theme broad and and changing enough to bring innovative and fresh air to this event? 
A first differentiating factor lies in the way we have broaden the scope to the experience of patients, visitors, users, employees or travelers thanks to the watch that comes with my job as Editor-in-Chief of two specialized magazines, En-Contact and Les Cahiers de l’Expérience Client. These two watch towers are valuable to make oneself understand that some challenges or best practices from the travel or retail industry can be exported to the luxury or medical sectors. The porosity of these fields of application regarding customer experience between various worlds is a key driver for the Forum renewal. 
But to make people be surprised and interested, one should also hold beliefs and stay rather uninfluenced by the current trend. Everyone predicted the voice shall die or fade like the media. We note that it has never been more vivid since given a crucial role by the pandemic remote era. These beliefs form with experience and field reality: being involved in the call center industry for 20 years, I always thought that the first line - call center agents, cashiers, delivery persons - are a key component of a successful customer experience. That a client, patient, visitor or traveler experience cannot be smooth and well conducted without taking into account, seriously and sincerely, the employee experience. It seems obvious henceforth: no care without caregivers, no repeat business without smile, no seamless experience if the delivery person has not been provided with the digicode. In many industries, it is people who make people come back. 
These beliefs sharpen or polish over time through my passions or personal affections: I go to the cinema, I love music, I read all the time; in short, I crunch in all I can get my hands on. When Ken Loach films and releases Sorry we missed you, what I see in his work is that he understands and speaks far earlier and better than others about the importance of supply chain and the mystification behind mistreated delivery persons. When I listen to JJ Cale and Sensitive Kind, “Don’t take her for granted, she has a hard time (..) Treat her so gently, it will pay you in time”, I realize that marketing topics and priorities we speak about nowadays have been tackled and touched on by artists for a long time. Regarding satisfaction, emotion, consideration, I believe that there is often more to reveal in a single great record or a movie than in an umpteenth webinar on the subject. Renewing itself is often as stupid as digging into art and the daily life it depicts to remind oneself basics and fundamentals. 

Have you witnessed the emergence of new champions in this field? discovered young talents in customer experience? Have you been on the lookout for latest trends and challenges? 
France, the country where I live, is such a hub of innovations, experimentations, resources and talents that it naturally predisposes me to identify and to meet people who build tomorrow’s customer experiences. This is by the way the reason why I created and called this Forum as such nine years ago. And one shall note the increasing playing level, the standards set higher and higher by this beehive of future builders. 
Amongst the half-dozen of promising gold nuggets I had the chance to dig out each year are included Le Slip Français, one of the early participants and winner of the made-in-France underwear, Trainline (ex-Captain Train) which dusted off online train tickets sale, Whoog, now become Hubo which solves one of the major pain points for the patient experience, that is to say the staffing shortage, or last but not least Zaion, which has been supporting us for several years already and which, on the high-potential callbots segment, has climbed to a record of some hundred thousands of calls actioned by the InfoCovid line. They all honoured us with their presence to one or several of our Forum editions. 

What do you take away from this little decade punctuated each September by meetings and experiences shared in La Baule? 
That my idea of creating the Juilliard School of customer experience, a democratic school whose motto goes hand in hand with requirement, multidisciplinarity and emotion was a good one! 
First, a democratic school because, as well as artists-to-be can benefit from scholarships, I refuse that money might be a factor in exclusion and I therefore strive to adjust our pricing for the very young companies which choose to dedicate two days to come to La Baule to learn and present themselves. A demanding discipline then, since one does not win an Oscar or a Grammy Award just because he wants it and without any effort. The same applies for the biggest maestro of customer experience. A multidisciplinary training also when mastering core subjects, first and foremost data science, supply chain, HR capital, sales and pre/after ones, basic methods thanks to which a young graduate can make the difference between what can be seen as a must-have and what is a nice-to-have within a successful customer experience. 
Last but not least, an emotional vehicle because, as for a piece of music or a cinema scene, the impression, the memory or the state of mind which pulls away and strikes us following a clear customer experience certifies its good quality. About emotion precisely and as a conclusion, I think we have nothing to be ashamed of aside from Anglo-Saxons: we deserved our Juilliard School in its French Touch version!

Any success stories, fun facts to share? 
The choice of Hermitage Barrière and La Baule to locate the French Forum. The bike ride between two rain showers last year to go to Batz-sur-Mer and the conversation between Myopla founder and one of Orange Bank executives. Seeing them getting to know each other and sharing their visions while cycling upwind is the kind of match I wish to create and enable.

What ambitions, silly projects or surprises could you disclose for the upcoming editions? ECTFF in 2028, what does it look like? 
ECTFF will have become a South By SouthWest (SXSW) in the Loire country on the seaside; we will produce and publish, if we will have been good enough, books and original soundtrack of the Forum, which will have evolved to a Festival. The experience will start at Montparnasse terminal, with a chartered train stopping in several train stations before arriving at Escoublac. But before 2028, there is a shorter time horizon with the declination of ECTFF on the African continent, in Tanger, in two month: the Tanger CX Forum. I need to go, Mick Jagger is calling me : he is so eager to play* in Tanger, for the first edition in November! 

Interview conducted by JJ who collaborated and worked 
for the organization of the first edition of ECTFF,
translation by Emil Hernon

*The Rolling Stones played several times in Africa, and they recorded in particular their title, Continental Drift, with the group Master Musicians of Jajouka. 

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