Amélie Beerens, a Belgian pioneer of CX Design
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A bright pink T-shirt, a chilled-out look and sparkling eyes. Amélie Beerens is one of those people who is always two steps ahead of everyone else. Her profession: coaching and guiding business companies, shops and anyone involved in the world of work, giving them the means to improve their customer experience and make their concerns more people-centred.
Whenever we have a discussion with Amélie Beerens, the same question always springs to mind: but from where exactly does she draw the energy which makes her tick? With her, there are no awkward silences: ideas fly thick-and-fast, as do topics for conversation. And that often turns to a theme simultaneously very vast and still massively under-used: customer experience.
Not merely the experience which gets mentioned in the context of applications and computer programmes. Because Amélie sees the bigger picture. Her thing is to challenge the whole spectrum of the interactions taking place, both digital and physical. And she calls this massive undertaking CX Design.
So, what is CX Design, actually?
Ah, that’s the big question! And one we obviously asked Amélie Beerens: ‘It is the user experience carefully considered and created for the customers, keeping in mind the human beings who have a role in this experience. It affects huge numbers of people, across numerous different situations. It could be at the digital level and involve very simple things such as sending an email on behalf of a shop in which the customer is not considered in the same way as if they were on the premises, because the information has not been properly cross-referenced, and because the people who interacted with the client do not work in the same departments, and have not talked to each other. As a result, it could be perceived as a lack of consideration and communication on the part of the shop.’
CX Design can thus apply to simple gestures and exchanges, but it can also address much larger and more complex situations: ‘At this level, we are dealing with leadership issues, because you become aware that it is all well and good investing in better technologies, better solutions at business company level, but in fact what often blocks ongoing projects is the people, the employees, the teams, etc. You therefore have to help them to adopt new working methods, to want change and to accept that it involves benefits for the greatest number, even if it can sometimes give the impression that certain people risk losing their privileges.’
This long-term endeavour also includes the changing mindsets which are becoming more prevalent in our society: ‘Everything that is happening within feminism, inclusivity, in the way of rethinking our relationships with minorities, these are important movements making themselves felt at different speeds. For my part, I include a great deal of it in my job. I have always said that you have to put yourself in the position of the customers in terms of the interactions you have with them. But the clients are rarely the people we are. They are rarely white women like me, for example. They have a different origin, a different culture, a different gender. And therefore you must not start from the principle that just because you have a little empathy for them, you necessarily understand them. There is a certain humility which needs to be adopted. I like to remind people of that, even if you sometimes have to be a little confrontational to do so.’
A position up for grabs
When she talks about her career and the journey which has enabled her to become a much sought-after coach and consultant in the domain of CX Design, Amélie Beerens uses the term ‘organic evolution’. She has forged her pathway by adapting and situating herself in terms of the observations she has made around her in the world of work. ‘I studied business and marketing at the Brussels ICHEC, but I didn’t see myself in the work pigeonholes which were earmarked for me. And then the world of digital opened up to me, a little fortuitously, after a video CV I contributed to ended up working well.’
And she found immense pleasure in this digital world straightaway: ‘It’s a universe which is constantly changing, and it can occasionally go off at tangents, but in it I have found a source of curiosity and inspiration. As I have developed my activity in this sector a great deal, I wondered what was needed to have available more effective digital tools by focusing on the users, on the architecture of information (user experience – UX). And as I also had this business background, I found myself including in these reflections entire departments such as sales representatives and marketing. And that is when I realised that transversality and collaboration were essential lines to be developed.’
A successful influencer
And in this domain there is a lot of demand. Amélie Beerens has a very full diary. But that hasn’t stopped her wearing another hat, that of an influencer on LinkedIn: ‘I started as a consultant by working for consultancy firms, and I couldn’t see myself in the career paths they offered. None of the strategic pillars which were suggested interested me really, already being focused on CX Design at that moment. I felt stuck, telling myself that I couldn’t be the only person to have observed this need for an evolution in everything that touched specifically on this customer experience dimension. So I went onto LinkedIn, I observed what was going on for a while, and then I got going.’
Publications, articles and newsletters which took some time to create a buzz, as she explains with a smile. ‘I never gave up on it from the moment I started, even if it took six months despite all my efforts to have people other than my friends read and ‘like’ my posts. But afterwards, it all went very quickly. At the end of this period, I started to get my first contracts as a result of my communication on LinkedIn. And since then it has bever stopped. For the moment, all of my business comes from the platform.’
A free spirit and a strong identity
There are legions of consultants and coaches on the social networks. Well aware of that, Amélie Beerens had the bright idea of straightaway trying to be a bit quirky. ‘To start off with, I wanted to make a little announcement by posting some very offbeat photos. I have this photo where I am blowing a big piece of bubble-gum, a visor on my head and a flashy pink T-shirt. A lot of people really liked it, and I got incredible feedback. People loved this idea of taking a different stance, this boldness. That being said, then it was a question of developing the message, to explain exactly what I was offering. And to do so, it was a matter of consistency.’
Nevertheless, at the beginning she felt that adopting such an attitude was a slightly scary piece of risk taking. ‘I was really anxious about the whole thing, telling myself that people were going to see a woman in pink, who is making quirky photos, who is talking about what she thinks, whether it is about business, but also other subjects such as mental health, for example. And yet, in fact, my communication has never attracted this type of person. There must be people who think, “oh my word, the poor woman, she’s lost,” but it is not they who come to talk to me, and it is not with them that I want to work.’
Today, Amélie Beerens is a smash hit, with over 5,000 followers on LinkedIn, and the development of numerous projects such as the podcast, ‘People & Digital,’ and coaching programmes.
This content is brought to you as part of Propulsion by KIKK, a digital awareness project for and by women.
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