After New York City, San Francisco, Sydney, Singapore, and London, Forrester hosted its first event dedicated to customer experience (CX) in Paris. It was a great pleasure for me to host about 150 leaders in a unique venue: the Parc des Princes (PSG’s football stadium!!) for a networking event to discuss CX trends and best practices among CX peers.

While it is difficult to summarize the event, here are some key takeaways from the Forrester and external speakers:

David Truog, VP and research director at Forrester, shared the results of our Customer Experience Index (CX Index™) France. The conclusion is very clear: Only 3% of French consumers said they had a good experience with a brand, while 56% said it was only OK and 42% said it was poor! France lags behind most of the countries where we measure the CX Index.

I think several factors can explain this. There is a cultural bias for sure in the sense that customer centricity is not necessarily part of the business culture the way it is in the US or in the UK. Too many brands still think of CX in terms of UX and design for digital interfaces, but most still do not consider it as a business discipline affecting the entire organization and requiring deep cultural and structural changes. Forrester Analytics data also shows that it is less of a marketing priority than in other countries. Measuring CX beyond advocacy is also key: it truly matters to understand how consumers feel engaged by the brand and how it impacts retention and enrichment.

Luc Dammann, VP and managing director for southwest Europe at Adobe, confirmed the importance of governance and the fact that Italy and especially Spain are catching up on CX faster than most French brands.

Karine Cardona-Smits, senior analyst at Forrester, shared some great insights on how to implement a service design approach. She explained the four most common pitfalls firms are facing: adopting UX practices without considering the big picture, ignoring backstage elements (people or processes), failing to communicate value to customers, and setting up good ideas for failure by reinforcing silos!

Romain Roulleau, who joined recently Conforama Group as deputy CEO of digital  and customer, highlighted the importance of measuring CX across the entire customer journey, both offline and online. He opened a new position of CX leader in his team and convinced the rest of the board to change the cultural mindset of the organization to accelerate the delivery of the brand promise across channels.

Luiz de Oliveira, VP and Executive CIO Partner, then discussed with Philippe Le Cam, General Manager of UGIE (IT shared services organization) a company owned by Système U (one of the largest French retailers), discussed how to institutionalize sustainable innovation beyond IT and (efficiently) explore new technologies such as predictive analytics, conversational agents, blockchain, robotics and VR.

Aurélie L’Hostis, senior analyst at Forrester, demonstrated that retail banking experiences in France are not as advanced as the ones offered by Spanish, Turkish, or Polish traditional banks, not to mention the disruption caused by new entrants like N26 or Revolut.

Yves Tyrode, managing director in charge of digital at groupe BPCE (France’s second-largest bank, with 4 million app users among its 10 million digital clients) highlighted the importance of fixing data basics to make the most of AI, in order to mix the best of human interactions and automation. Grégory Desfosses, chief digital officer at BNP Paribas Personal Finance, stressed the key role of mobile, especially in activating future conversational interfaces.

While collecting the right data is key, acting on insights to personalize the experience is a challenge for most brands. To do this, you must establish trust with customers and consider privacy as a competitive advantage and not as a legal or compliance issue. In this context, Henry Peyret, principal analyst at Forrester, insisted on the role of value-based consumers. He inspired the audience by sharing examples of brands (such as Nike, Patagonia, Danone, and Thales) that increasingly integrate ethics in their marketing and processes. Jennifer Belissent, principal analyst at Forrester, told us that 47% of enterprises already commercialize data and this will continue to increase significantly. One of the most advanced players in the space in France is Group Casino, a multichannel retailer reconciling offline and online data. Adrien Vincent, managing director of 3W.relevanC (a start-up within Group Casino), showcased the key benefits of such an approach and the unique role of transactional data.

Cyril Lamblard, global head of e-commerce at Nespresso and Jérémie Herrmann, head of e-commerce and digital marketing at Nespresso France, shared best practices on how to organize to deliver a global brand promise in local countries. One of the key success factors: create trust and collaboration among the central and local teams. An example of the level of trust they have managed to establish among the eCommerce team: an annual Best Failure Award!

Véronique Lacour, executive vice president of transformation and operational effectiveness at EDF, explained why it is so critical to evolve the culture and to simplify processes to improve the on-boarding of employees: there is no differentiated CX without a good employee experience (EX). Processes do matter: Without operational excellence, you can’t deliver a good customer experience.

Thanks a lot to all our speakers and to the numerous C-level executives who took the time to join us for this first event!