A few weeks ago in San Francisco, the Deckers Outdoor Corporation held their first Consumer Experience Conference (CEC). Granted, I’ve attended plenty of conferences touting omni-channel and other buzz-worthy phrased presentations. But what made this stand out is the fact that a company re-focused a week long sales conference into a conference for their store managers and executives to learn the latest and greatest thoughts on the power of consumer experience (CX) and omni-channel retailing. A powerful blend of best of breed tech vendors, external experts and speakers, as well as their most vocal internal proponents, all spent the week painting the picture of how to go about changing an established leading shoe retailer into a CX and omni-channel juggernaut!
CG’s Charlie Miller presenting at CEC
A lynchpin of the overall conference success was the simple yet excellent CEC app developed by DoubleDutch. This app provided a schedule, as well as a social feed from all attendees, and was actually heavily used by all. Gameification of the leaderboard motivated attendees to submit and interact as much as possible and turned into a cut-throat battle for social sharing supremacy. Just like other major conferences, the format was familiar with keynote speakers, focus sessions as well as breakout workshops dedicated to specific topics. Another nice touch was the real-time translation services provided via headphones for team members who flew in from Japan and China so they too could enjoy the heady concepts around redefining the customer experience.
As an outside observer invited into this conference, it was heartening to witness how enthusiastically the attendees embraced the new ideas, innovations and upcoming changes. In other conferences the “focus on the customer” mantra seems like it is merely a veneer to cover sales conversion goals. But at the CEC event, this was taken to such an extreme that during the CEO’s talk to the entire group, he implored his team members to “stop selling and start being…. more compassionate… more engaging… more authentic”. As galling this call to arms sounds, it was all in line with the thrust of the Deckers retail approach, which is to follow the lead of the customer and never force the sale.
I’ve been working in retail technology for over 20 years and have never come across a company like Decker’s Outdoor that embraces change and innovation with such gusto. I’d like to thank the folks from Decker’s for inviting Control Group to attend and present at the Consumer Experience Conference 2014. The Deckers team’s enthusiasm and company culture make for a fertile bed of innovation and progress.