Morten Blomfeldt, Head of Client Development and Advisory Services at Epinova.

NOVA Day: Growth and profitability through excellent customer experience

Today, it is more important than ever to dive deep into your customers' desires and needs. Success is not just about selling products and services, but equally as much about creating good experiences throughout the customer journey. So how do you do just that?

Why is it important to understand and meet customer demands in an ever-changing market? What can the latest research and emerging trends tell us about customer behaviour and satisfaction? How is AI impacting commercial developments, and what does this mean for our business processes? These were but a few of the questions on the agenda when Nova Consulting Group invited to this year's NOVA Day at Oslo’s central theatre last week.

“The interest has been overwhelming. We had to close registration yesterday, when we reached maximum capacity for the venue,” said Karoline Thynes, Head of Marketing at Nova Consulting Group. She managed to organize the final event details just before a signal sounded and a little over 360 registered participants streamed into the prestigious theatre hall.

Once inside, the attendees were welcomed by Morten Blomfeldt, Head of Client Development and Advisory Services at Epinova. And with five enthusiastic speakers and an exciting panel debate on the agenda, everything was set for an inspiring and insightful afternoon.

Driving force for innovation

How do you create a product that customers love? That was the big question that Johan Brand, creative entrepreneur and founder of Kahoot, took to the stage to answer.

By sharing his experiences and advice on how to understand customer needs, desires, and challenges, and use them as a driving force for innovation, Brand explained how Kahoot succeeded in creating a learning platform that engages millions of users worldwide.

“What makes your product or service emotionally engaging? The most important thing now and in the future is that you provide a sense of community,” explained Brand from the stage before urging everyone “never be afraid to be a small player with a big heart!”

Brand also emphasized the value of keeping it simple, as simplicity gives you a wider reach. He recommended prioritizing simplicity whenever your goal is to generate major growth and capture market share.

Daring to keep it simple

Simplicity was also something Marianne Harmann Ullsand, product manager at the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration (NAV), highlighted. Dare to keep it simple, she suggested, not just because we can, but because we must. Marianne explained how NAV simply has to keep things simple when connecting 45,000 different positions with job seekers every month, which it does through an open and self-service marketplace; She talked about how NAV, through systematic efforts during the past year, has made significant changes that make the job application process easier for both job seekers and companies. NAV focused on creating the greatest value by solving the most important problems – those that affect the most people – first. By addressing the user's journey, they have worked diligently to improve the application process and have now introduced innovative AI features that employers can use to boost their job postings.

A success just like last year

Down in the theatre basement, participants chatted during a brief break halfway through the program. Kjetil Manheim, Head of Interaction, Quality and Marketing at Nova Consulting Group, mentioned that this year's NOVA Day was the second in a series, after being held for the first time in 2023 – also with great success.

“Last year we filled Gimle cinema, this year we have filled the central theatre, so let's see if we can make it to Oslo Spektrum eventually, said Manheim, with a twinkle in his eye, before participants made their way back to the main hall. There, Xiaopengh Li, Cloud & AI Business Lead at Microsoft, was ready to talk about how you can make smart use of AI technology as an ingredient in your recipe for business success.


From buzz to brilliance

AI is a technology that is constantly evolving, and it can be challenging to keep up with its progress. Using specific examples from major companies such as Bayer, Heineken, Volvo, and TomTom, Li showed how AI can make employees more productive, as well as reinvent customer engagement, transform business processes, and contribute to innovation.

Focusing on Microsoft’s report From Buzz to Brilliance: Achieving Business Success with AI in Europe, Li guided a receptive audience through key factors that organizations should consider in successfully implementing generative AI and achieving business impact. He also shared some important learning points from this study based on actual AI adoption and usage data from almost 600 organizations across Europe.

The never-ending customer journey

Just like it was the second Nova Day, it was actually only the second time Swedish Patrik Stoopendahl had been in Norway. He had just delivered his doctoral thesis, Tracing Smartphone-Enabled Customer Journeys: A Socio-Material Approach, at the University of Borås, and has become a sought after speaker because of his unique approach to discussing customer journeys.

“The digital customer journey is not linear. Consumers jump from search to search, store to store, log off and log on, read a review here, watch a film there – before maybe ending up buying something completely different from what they had originally thought of, or buying nothing at all; most customer journeys do not necessarily lead to a purchase,” Patrik explained.

“Customer journeys are now much more complex, as both research and knowledge gathering are as crucial as the decision to make a purchase. In addition, many visitors to your online store are there just to pass the time. Therefore, you have to understand how behaviour changes when consumers use digital devices, and one must remember that if your business is digital, you are not just in the sales industry, but also in the entertainment industry,” Stoopendahl concluded.

Consumer spending and investment in challenging times

Next on stage, lawyer and consumer economist at Nordea, Derya Incedursun, provided insight into current economic trends and their impact on various industries. What do consumers do when everything becomes more expensive, and where do we go from there?

New figures from Statistics Norway show that Norway’s retail sales have decreased. At the same time, Norwegians are spending more on services like health, beauty, restaurants, and leisure activities. Derya could also reveal that Nordea has seen an increase in the purchase of long-term savings products and deposits in savings accounts, driven by an increased awareness of personal pensions.

Global consumer trends for 2024 point towards health, wellness, diet, technology, and sustainability, and they indicate that consumers are looking for brands that reflect their personal values – particularly when it comes to politics and social issues.

Back to the core

Incedursun was then joined on stage by Ann Kristin Sørensen from Epinova, Magnus Strømnes Bøe from Rocket, Peter Asplund from Singular Studios, and Babak Behrad from Trigger Oslo. Their discussion explored questions connected with consumer behaviour and trends, and how we can meet future challenges and create valuable customer experiences.

Epinova’s Morten Blomfeldt rounded off the day with the following summary and call to action from the stage, before the audience slowly but surely left the hall and emerged into Oslo’s low spring sunshine:

“It's all about understanding people, and going back to the core. We need to evolve both our products and services, as well as our communication with people.