Think Tank Review: The Customer Experience

On the 18th March, Linkdex host­ed an SEONow Think Tank on the cus­tomer expe­ri­ence, with a line up of guest speak­ers includ­ing Simon Nor­ris of Nomen­sa, Alan Colville from True Dig­i­tal, Han­nah Thor­pe of, Dis­tilled’s Will Critchlow, and Kirsty Hulse from...

Pat Hong By Pat Hong from Linkdex. Join the discussion » 3 comments

Cus­tomer expe­ri­ence (or CX) isn’t just the lat­est mar­ket­ing buzz­word — great CX is fast becom­ing a defin­ing qual­i­ty for any dig­i­tal brand. Dig­i­tal has increased the amount and fre­quen­cy of inter­ac­tions that con­sumers have with brands, and in a world where every bank, super­mar­ket, and air­line has a ded­i­cat­ed app, man­ag­ing con­sumer’s over­all expe­ri­ences, across all the touch­points they have, is increas­ing­ly impor­tant.

On the 18th March, Linkdex host­ed an SEONow Think Tank on the cus­tomer expe­ri­ence, with a line up of guest speak­ers includ­ing Simon Nor­ris of Nomen­sa, Alan Colville from True Dig­i­tal, Han­nah Thor­pe of, Dis­tilled’s Will Critchlow, and Kirsty Hulse from Linkdex.

Simon Nor­ris kicked of pro­ceed­ings with a fan­tas­tic premise to get the dis­cus­sions going: “Expe­ri­ence is every­thing, every­thing is expe­ri­ence”. Food for thought, cer­tain­ly, and his talk cov­ered the the intri­ca­cies of cross-chan­nel ini­tia­tives, the ‘Hier­achy of Expe­ri­ence’ and how mean­ing impacts user and cus­tomer expe­ri­ences. Nor­ris’ talk dis­cussed how expe­ri­ence should be coher­ent across all chan­nels when cater­ing for con­sumer inter­ac­tions, and ulti­mate­ly how brands should focus on mean­ing over func­tion in their pur­suit of excel­lent CX.


Simon also shared his key take­aways, and there was some great dis­cus­sion on the rela­tion­ship between how we shape expe­ri­ences and there­after how our expe­ri­ences shape us!

Alan Colville, Head of CX at True Dig­i­tal, gave the next talk on ‘Bridg­ing the Human Dig­i­tal Divide, which focused on how cus­tomer jour­neys are becom­ing more errat­ic, and how it’s increas­ing­ly impor­tant to look for human insight and how these can inform ideas.

Brands are after all ‘human’ too, and have relat­able qual­i­ties that con­form to cer­tain arche­types:


Human inten­tions becomes the most valu­able cur­rent­ly when atten­tion becomes expen­sive, but this is just part of the chal­lenge. As Alan shared, for two-thirds of com­pa­nies the biggest chal­lenge to improv­ing cus­tomer expe­ri­ence is still organ­i­sa­tion­al struc­ture. In this respect build­ing cul­ture is close­ly linked to the chal­lenges of cre­at­ing great cus­tomer expe­ri­ences.

Han­nah Thor­pe’s, Head of SEO at, talk cen­tered around how all too often, mar­keters approach CX with an under­ly­ing expec­ta­tion of ‘per­fect’ CX, which is unat­tain­able. Instead mar­keters should focus on find­ing their pare­to opti­mal, or the “con­di­tions under which the state of eco­nom­ic effi­cien­cy (where no one can be made bet­ter of by mak­ing some­one worse off)” occurs. What we should be look­ing for is a more prag­mat­ic approach to the ide­al­is­tic view of the dream cus­tomer expe­ri­ence. Her talk also explored work­ing frame­works and solu­tions for mar­keters to approach CX in more prac­ti­cal and prag­mat­ic ways (Make sure you check out the slides for some great insights.)

Kirsty Hulse’s pre­sen­ta­tion explored the rela­tion­ship between con­tent and cus­tomer expe­ri­ence. In her words: “could our affair with con­tent mean we are cheat­ing on cus­tomer expe­ri­ence?” A case in point: today, retail­ers are becom­ing pub­lish­ers now and pub­lish­ers are becom­ing retail­ers, and in some indus­tries, such as fash­ion for exam­ple, this can result in high qual­i­ty edi­to­r­i­al con­tent rank­ing for trans­ac­tion­al key­words — this isn’t the best CX.

Long­form edi­to­r­i­al con­tent may be per­fect for infor­ma­tion­al search queries, dri­ving brand aware­ness and influ­enc­ing pur­chase deci­sions, but clear­ly is not the best con­tent for peo­ple to land on when they are look­ing to buy. Brands then should look to opti­mise their edi­to­r­i­al con­tent for con­ver­sions. Con­tent per­son­al­i­sa­tion is a great way to do this, allow­ing us to align our con­tent with user intent.

Will Critchlow of Dis­tilled gave the last pre­sen­ta­tion of the day, with an insight-packed talk on the rise of per­son­al assis­tant apps, and the impli­ca­tions this will have on cus­tomer expe­ri­ences. Will’s talk chal­lenged our con­ven­tion­al under­stand­ing of search, explor­ing how intel­li­gent per­son­al assis­tants (IPAs) are redefin­ing the land­scape. With con­sumers more and more depen­dent on their smart­phones, and where we con­duct dozens of queries every­day, it’s much more rel­e­vant for brands to focus on intent.

It was a tru­ly fas­ci­nat­ing talk (that can­not be done jus­tice in a blog post) that explored the future of search and per­son­al assis­tant tech­nol­o­gy, that raised lots of ques­tions from the floor.

All in all a great inau­gur­al SEONow Think Tank. Do check out the slides below from each of the day’s speak­ers, and stay tuned on Linkdex for the next SEONow event.


Simon Nor­ris, Nomen­sa — Expe­ri­ence is Every­thing, Every­thing is Expe­ri­ence

Alan Colville, True Dig­i­tal — Bridg­ing the Human Dig­i­tal Divide

Han­nah Thor­pe, — Find­ing Your Ver­sion of the Per­fect Cus­tomer Expe­ri­ence

Kirsty Hulse, Linkdex — When Our Affair With Con­tent Means we Cheat on Cus­tomer Expe­ri­ence

Will Critchlow, Dis­tilled: A Post-PageR­ank World: The Rise of Per­son­al Assis­tant Apps

Pat Hong

Written by Pat Hong

Editor at Linkdex/Inked, Linkdex

Pat covers the SEO industry, digital marketing trends, and anything and everything around Linkdex. He also authors Linkdex's data analysis and reports, analysing the state of search in various industries.

Inked is published by Linkdex, the SEO platform of choice for professional marketers.

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