Octopus Energy: Customer experience is not just a job for marketing

Communicating goals to everyone across the business is vital to ensuring a great customer experience across all touchpoints, say senior marketers from Octopus Energy and the FT.

Everyone in a business should be thinking about customer experience (CX), not just those in marketing or customer-facing roles, according to Octopus Energy’s global director of product and marketing Rebecca Dibb-Simkin.

As a relatively young company established in 2015, the business has benefitted from the fact it has been “deliberately built…without walls between functions”. This means everyone across the business is concerned with CX, not just one team, which makes customers a priority for everyone.

“Everything the customer touches is your product and a critical element of your business and driving growth,” she said, talking at the DX Summit, hosted by the Festival of Marketing in partnership with Zone and Cognizant Digital Experience today (23 March).

She acknowledged this might be more challenging for older businesses, where the walls between different functions are already established.

Fellow panellist Fiona Spooner, managing director for consumer revenue at the Financial Times, admitted as a 135-year-old company it does have some “legacy challenges” to work through.

Spooner agreed it is a top priority to make sure staff across the whole business understand CX. She gave the example of a soon-to-launch app, which has been trialled by FT staff and their friends and family. Allowing team members throughout the business to “live and breathe” the product so they can understand the benefits is crucial, she said.

Customers are the most important thing in our business. They pay everybody’s wages.

Rebecca Dibb-Simkin, Octopus Energy

Another challenge of working within an older business is communicating the value of changes to the wider team, Spooner added. The FT was one of the first publishers to implement an online cancellation function, but while this move was expected to deliver lifetime value, short term it would lead to more subscription cancellations, so the benefits had to be communicated to the rest of the business.

“It’s not something that most [publishers] do and it was something that we had to fight quite hard to sell,” she said.

For the FT, improving customer experience also means evolving to be where the customer expects the publisher to be. The business now has more than 1 million digital subscribers and is investing in areas like video, audio and mobile to continue to keep up with customer needs.

How Octopus Energy’s ‘obsession’ with customers is helping it take on bigger rivals

Leading on CX from the top down

At Octopus, the marketing team deals with customer emails and Dibb-Simkin said she will often respond to customer communications personally.

Octopus has always positioned itself as a company that has an “obsession” with customers, and is keen to hold on to this even as the business expands by ensuring there is awareness among all levels about overarching CX goals. Transparency and accessibility from the top of the team is crucial, she said.

“I think it’s very important that your senior leaders lead by example,” Dibb-Simkin added. “Customers are the most important thing in our business. They pay everybody’s wages. So why would I not answer emails from customers?”

Spooner agreed that communication across the business is vital. When it comes to measuring success, lifetime value is the metric of choice for the FT.

“It’s a metric that’s been implemented across the whole business,” she said. “It’s important all of our teams understand it, from editorial to marketing to product to finance.”

For Spooner, the most important element of CX is “trust”, both across the business between employees, as well as trust between the customer and company.