Back to basics: The customer experience in a digital world

20 May 2021

Shay Walsh of BT Ireland. Image: Luke Maxwell/

BT Ireland’s Shay Walsh discusses the current customer experience landscape and why it’s important that leaders walk in their customers’ shoes.

While digital transformation has accelerated massively over the past year with the shift to online and remote processes, how have these changes affected the area of customer experience for tech companies and leaders?

We asked BT Ireland’s managing director, Shay Walsh.

While he said that in many ways, there’s “nothing new under the sun” in terms of keeping customers happy, the Covid-19 pandemic has brought the need to understand customers into sharp focus.

‘No matter how good you are over the year, if you fail at the last moment before a customer experience survey, you will generally get a poor score’

“Overnight a lot of our customers had to have their employees working from home, they had to have remote access to their services, their IT services, their platforms and that really brought into play how close you are to your customer.”

He added that the sudden shift shone a light on whether or not companies really understood their customers – something that cannot simply be switched on if it wasn’t already there. “You can’t become a trusted adviser overnight, you have to have that embedded in your relationship,” he said.

Even without the sudden change to customer needs due to the pandemic, customer experience has become more important than ever in recent years.

A Walker study suggested that by 2020, customer experience would overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator.

And when it comes to customer experience and digital transformation, a PwC report found that 82pc of the top-performing companies pay close attention to the human experience around digital and tech.

One major growing element within the customer experience industry is the use of data analytics, which Walsh said is an important part of BT Ireland’s focus.

“We started working with a company called Deep Insight, which did a much more extensive focus on understanding the customer, a real deep dive into what your customer feels about the service you give them and about you as a company.”

But while there are plenty of tech tools that can be employed, Walsh noted that it’s essential leaders remember the basics of customer experience. “The most important aspect of customer experience and customer satisfaction is really getting to know your customer and walking in their shoes,” he said.

“The one thing about customer experience is no matter how good you are over the year, if you fail at the last moment before a customer experience survey, you will generally get a poor score. So reliability and being relentlessly focused on the basics and delivering a great service and a reliable service is so important so that those things never change.”

Jenny Darmody is the editor of Silicon Republic