The Future of European Tech: a Panel Discussion with French Secretary of State for Digital
We had the honor of participating in a panel discussion about the future of European tech at Station F in Paris. As our position in France is on a path to exponential growth, it was great for our Heads of Business Development to align with industry leaders, including French Secretary of State for Digital, Mounir Mahjoubi.
Our solution has become one of the essential tools in customer experience management for some of the largest organizations in France. Such powerful discussions on the future of digital in a country at the forefront of the European tech sector truly showcase the country’s move towards digital enablement.
Along with French and Dutch C-levels and politicians in the panel, we discussed what both countries can learn from each other and opportunities for the future. Florian Gendrault shares his takeaways from the panel in the context of how Usabilla is positioning itself in France and what it’s like to operate as a Voice of Customer solution in the French market.
Living in the experience economy
We are living in the Experience Economy. Companies like Netflix and Uber raise the bar when it comes to building great customer experiences. At the same time, many enterprises are still lagging behind in meeting ever-changing customer expectations.
Forrester found out that 80% of B2C executives think they are offering a good customer experience whilst only 8% of their customers felt the same. Strange right? The main culprit is that companies make decisions based on intuition, wild guesses and what they think might work or what they assume customers want.
Instead of this lagging approach, they should confirm quantitative data & insights with continuous customer feedback. The difference between what you think customers need and what they actually want is what we call: the experience gap. It’s our mission to close that gap.
We started in the Netherlands in 2009. Our offices are now all over the globe with locations in Amsterdam, New York, London, Berlin and Sydney.
Closing the experience gap with customer feedback
Usabilla allows enterprise businesses to capture their users’ voices in real-time across all digital channels. Since 2015, we have had a leading position in the digital enterprise market mainly because our solution consists of the full framework: Ask, Analyze and Act.
This means you can ask questions at the right time without annoying your customers, analyze data in an automated way and act upon the insights with our powerful integration and ‘’closing the loop’’ functionalities.
Operating in the French market
It took us some time to find the right champions, partners and brand references, but now it’s going very well. The digital market is in a big transition and that gives us a lot of room for growth. We are currently trusted by 25% of the CAC40, a benchmark for the 40 largest French stocks and we are already in contact with another 25%.
Building relationships and trust in France takes time, but France has the lowest churn rate globally. This makes the market, in the long-run, very attractive for software license business models. Another benefit of doing business in France is the centralized business area around Paris and their strong digital startup ecosystem.
An example of how we work with other French SaaS companies is our collaboration with AB Tasty. A few weeks ago, we organized two partner-events with AB Tasty, one in Amsterdam and one in Paris, each with the goal of giving them access to our network in the Netherlands as they help us gain more brand awareness in France.
It’s sometimes challenging dealing with legal & security matters in France. Even though we see big uplift in terms of the English language in France, the French understandably prefer their own language when it comes to sensitive legal & security topics.
What can the Netherlands learn from France?
In our industry, I see a good presence of the French Secretary of State for Digital Mounir Mahjoubi, for example as a speaker at several digital summits. It’s great to see how he promotes French companies internationally.
In terms of culture, the Dutch are certainly more direct and the French more discrete. The Dutch are also used to signing agreements relatively quick, while in France it usually takes a few extra meetups to build the relationship and build trust. A positive side effect of this is that relationships last longer. I think that signing quick business agreements is a strength and a weakness of the Dutch, since our customers may be less loyal and switch more easily from supplier to supplier.
Besides this, France is the birthplace of many new SaaS companies, dedicated to delivering services that improve the customer experience. International companies like ContentSquare, AB Tasty & Webhelp are good examples.
How can Europe become an innovation leader again?
When it comes to venture capital, the chance of a very strong financial exit in Europe is lower than in other markets, due to the growth complexity (heterogeneous market, different maturity levels). Compared to the US or China, for example, it is generally more difficult for businesses to scale up in Europe. With less venture capital available for businesses in their early stages, financial exit options are also smaller.
Interestingly, after researching our enterprise customer base and use cases, the most advanced digital optimization efforts we see are not in Asia or the US, but mainly in the UK, Netherlands and Nordic countries.
What seems to be a challenge within Europe, is the big difference in digital maturity between countries. It would be great if Europe was able to connect mature digital markets with emerging markets, to grow in maturity and business opportunities together.
A concrete example on how we apply this as a company is by connecting non-competing, vertical-based companies in different countries so they can learn from each other and share experiences. Currently we see markets becoming more and more mature, since it’s usually the more advanced markets that attract most tech-talent.
What are the hidden strengths of European economies?
European economies are governed by potentially the strictest regulations worldwide, which might slow down the growth of domestic organizations. Yet, what may be perceived solely as an inhibiting factor at first, can also have positive long-term effects.
In recent times, the public perception of services, products and related brands is gaining more and more importance. Customers are developing an increasing demand for organic products, acknowledging the impact of our environmental footprint and also wanting to protect their digital identities as we are progressively shifting to a digital age.
This is more than just an intermediate trend. Omnipresent issues like global warming, leaked information about dubious practices of public and private institutions, as well as positive developments like diminishing supplier dependence and a higher level of education fosters the curiosity of people all over the world. Additionally, globalization and the rapidly growing number of competitors is contributing to a more sophisticated and demanding consumer culture.
With rigorous requirements applied over the last decades, European organizations are required to be agile, comply with high standards and therefore might be in a strong position to satisfy demanding economic needs. Identifying and implementing requirements of all stakeholders swiftly will be the baseline to excel in domestic and international markets. But only time will tell if European organizations are willing to take the time and extra effort to listen to everyone.
Last but not least, I believe European companies are too modest and can learn a lot from the U.S. market when it comes to selling their brand. Perhaps this can be solved within our educational system, with more of a focus on presentation skills, sales and communication.
Usabilla empowers brands like SNCF, PSG and Orange to become truly customer-centric by improving digital experiences on websites, apps and emails. Enterprises acquire the ultimate solution to capture the voice of their customers, collect quantitative along with qualitative data, and turn insights into actions that drive success. With Usabilla, start asking Why.
Take a look at how Transilien and Usabilla collaborated to improve the digital experience of their website users, here.