Behind the Customer Centric Conference: building an event from scratch

May 28, 2019

It all started with a newsletter, last August. A weekly bulletin with hand-picked content and insights for the CX leaders who seek to turbocharge the customer experience. We called it Customer Centric.

Then, as now, our editorial interests were vast, covering everything from artificial intelligence and cognitive bias, to the gig economy and the role of humor in customer service. And yet, our mission is always the same: to understand what it means to be a customer centric business, and to hardwire empathy into the technology and processes that businesses use to serve their customers.

Each week brought a new theme — and new subscribers. It turned out that people really want to put their customers first, and were eager to learn how. Customer Centric was growing before our eyes. Eventually, we decided to try something completely different, something that would bring CX leaders together to exchange ideas and share what they’ve learnt along the way — so that, ultimately, customers around the world have the best experience possible.

That’s why, on June 6, we’re gathering 100 of the fiercest customer advocates in Lisbon for the first ever Customer Centric Conference. We expect to come out of this day with a renewed motivation and deeper knowledge that will allow us to continue to transform the customer experience on a global scale.

But how did we go about building this platform?

CCC: Behind the scenes

You’ve probably heard the expression “content is king.” After all, it’s a very popular belief within the marketing community, especially for the most SEO-driven of us. And it can be perfectly applied to the challenges of creating a new conference from scratch.

Through our conversations with partners and customers, and our own market research, we identified the big themes and latest trends that dominate the Customer Experience field in 2019:

  • Do more with less: How can we leverage technology to support a bigger number of increasingly demanding global customers, while still keeping a lean support team?
  • What to measure: Does CSAT really cut it anymore? What should you measure and why?
  • When disaster happens: How do you prepare, what can you never prepare for, and how do you learn to rebuild trust in the aftermath?

Our Market Intelligence and Product Marketing teams were key in this stage of the process, but there were a lot of people involved in making this vision a reality. With the help of the events veterans at WinWorld, we assembled a team of designers, marketers, partnership managers and account executives to expand the Customer Centric brand.

From the start, we wanted this experience to be as concentrated and productive as possible. One day packed with sessions and panels. No multiple stages to choose from, no fillers or overlong coffee breaks.

With these core building blocks and our team, led by event manager Mariana Silva, working around the clock, it all started taking shape.

A brand to remember

To create the visual identity of Customer Centric, our Head of Design, Bruno Silva, started working on a language that would reflect how we can leverage technology and industry knowledge to build empathy, nurture relationships, and improve the customer experience. A language of convergence — the convergence of disciplines, ideas, and people.

We wanted to leave a bit of wiggle room for the Customer Centric brand to grow, with an eye towards projects like the Customer Centric podcast, to be released in the upcoming weeks. We didn’t want the conference to limit the freedom the brand needed. So we created a visual language that was bold, empathetic, dynamic. One that can make connections that haven’t been made before.

The full scoop

In order to push forward the movement for more empathic, customer-centric service, we invited an amazing mix of experienced CX professionals, thought leaders, journalists and a very special wildcard (more on this in a bit).

The response we got was overwhelmingly positive. Kristina Mercier, Senior Manager of User Happiness at Expedia, immediately got back to us:

The only answer was “Yes!” You gotta grab great opportunities as soon as they’re presented. And while sharing knowledge is wonderful, learning from others is the true gift. CCC provides the space and time to meet extraordinary like-minded people from around the world, coming together to build better customer experiences everywhere.

Hosting the event will be our very own Michael Ollitervo-Murphy, our own VP of Customer Experience, and a passionate advocate for customer centricity, who has been working in the industry for 20 years. He’ll guide us through lively debate, storytelling, and knowledge sharing, covering both industry trends and cutting-edge innovation.

Agents of change

First, we’ll start by looking into the future with Paula Kennedy, VP of Concentrix and an award-winning business leader in global digital customer management, who will be speaking about the ongoing transformation of customer experience.

Turning the lens on us

Once we know the way forward, it’s time to look at how we can prepare for the journey. Kristina Mercier, Mick Frederick, and Mara Figueiredo will be exploring the role of emotional intelligence in the customer experience; building world-class teams in disruptive industries; and bringing a bit of humanity into customer service.

I jumped at the opportunity to share some of our unorthodox and creative approaches to our daily customer care. Also especially keen on hearing about how the approach on customer service is being delivered in disruptive industries that are organically required to think out of the box, push boundaries and test new methodologies that can ultimately change the paradigm for Customer Service.


CX meets design thinking

Jody Arebalo, VP of Transformation and Consulting at Majorel, with more than 20 years of experience overseeing digital transformation in BPOs, is passionate about how design thinking can build better customer experiences. She’ll be explaining how to use design thinking as a strategy to boost creativity, solve problems, and transform product development.

Voices from the field

We have also lined up some key industry players, business, and technology journalists, and experts to share a few of their stories. Speakers like Jessica Twentyman, Tom Reekie, Keyur Shah, Marissa Gordon, and Lauri Haav will bring to life a few of the lessons they’ve learned along the way.

I jumped at the chance to get to know my peers and fellow customer experience experts (and in Lisbon, no less!) and to be a part of such a wonderful event that helps to push the industry standards forward. I’m excited to get time to chat one on one with each of them, and to make connections which I hope to maintain long after the conference has ended.


Scaling customer centricity

Before we break for lunch with our friends at Google, two of the world’s biggest leading brands will share their success stories and past experiences in scaling customer centricity. Suri Ratnatunga, Senior Director of Community and Support at Vimeo, is leading a support operation that serves over 80 million creators worldwide. She’ll be joined by Rebecca Walsh, Global Program Manager for International Growth from Google. Walsh is a fierce Googler bent on eliminating the challenges in scaling outsourced customer care services internationally.

Taking you to new heights

In the afternoon, things will heat up.

Diana Gomes da Silva is the only woman aerobatic Pilot in the Iberian Peninsula, and one of the youngest in the world. At her job, being prepared is quite literally a matter of life and death. And so, she’ll be teaching us the importance of preparation, planning, and training when it comes to dealing with the unexpected.

It’s a total disaster. Now what?

But we’re also going to tackle when things do go wrong, because chances are, if something can go wrong, it will. Reagan Miller, Head of Global Analytics at Concentrix, has a few insider tips on how to navigate the disasters lurking ahead. Joining him is Max Klimmek, Manager of Customer Success at Intercom, who will share his insights on how best to confront potential disasters and turn them into success stories using communication.

Startups to watch

We also want to encourage and support the development of customer centricity, so we decided to invite the founders of new and exciting startups to join CCC and showcase the great work they’re doing. Each startup will deliver their “elevator pitch” in a fast-paced, snappy discussion moderated by Peter Gerson, VP of Strategic Alliances at 5CA.

Non-bullshit innovation

Given that we’ve started with the future, it’s only fitting that we end on a futuristic note as well. For the past year, David Rowan, the former editor-in-chief of WIRED UK, has traveled the globe in search of the most exciting and pioneering businesses disrupting their fields and shaking up the tech industry. He collected all these stories in his latest book, “Non-Bullshit Innovation: Radical Ideas from the World’s Smartest Minds,” and he’ll be sharing some of his key findings with us.

More than a conference

We may be biased, but we believe Lisbon is an amazing city, and we wanted to make it part of the experience. That influenced two critical choices we made: the day and the location of the conference.

During the first two weeks of June, Lisbon is home to Santos Populares — the city’s most iconic celebration, where the streets come to life with parades and dances, grilled sardines and pimba music. It’s quite an impressive sight, especially in Alfama, in the heart of Lisbon. Which is exactly where we’ll be hosting CCC.

And for those who believe a conference is only as good as its side events, we’ve got a few extra surprises. To make sure our guests experience Lisbon at its fullest before heading back, we decided to partner with a few of our friends.

Fado night

Together with Intercom, we’ve prepared a special event the night before CCC. We invited our guests to experience a traditional Fado evening. “Fado” comes from the Latin “fate,” and if it’s fate that has brought us together in Lisbon, let it be so our guests can immerse themselves in our culture and heritage.

Tuk-tuk the extra mile

To take our guests to the event, we’ve partnered with 5CA. We’ll tuk-tuk all the way to the venue, climbing the quaint streets of Alfama, where they’ll enjoy a perfect, if slightly bumpy, view of Lisbon.

Dinner and a cocktail

After the conference, we’ll take a stroll through the festive streets and head to Zambeze, a restaurant near Castelo de São Jorge known for its fusion of Portuguese and Mozambican flavors.

Our guests will be able to unwind with some music and a drink or two overlooking the river, courtesy of our friends at Majorel and Freshworks. After all, following a packed day focusing on our customers, it feels good to take a moment for ourselves.

See you there?

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