24 724 7December 5, 2018


In a world where customer experience is now as important as – or even more so – than the product itself, brands can no longer compete based just on price and functionality.

They need to be relevant and they need to provide value. In order to do that, they need to understand their customers’ needs and preferences like never before.

In this article, we take a look at why brands need to focus their efforts on the rise of subscription-based purchases, making sure customers get value that goes beyond the product, and on technologies such as AI and the IoT that will play a key role in shaping our in-store and online experiences in 2019.

More brands will move to subscription – based business models in 2019 – and the automotive market will see a huge transformation here

Many brands, from apparel through to health, are already adopting subscription-based services, but the automotive market will see the most dramatic change in 2019 in order to reflect shifts in consumerism. With car subscription, customers will no longer be restricted to traditional car buying and leasing methods.

Essentially, consumers will pay a monthly fee to a manufacturer for access to several vehicle models in a lineup. This fee would also cover the cost for insurance, maintenance and road assistance of the car.

Volvo Cars is one carmaker that is a step ahead, having announced its focus on subscription-based services with its Care by Volvo programme, which will completely change the perception of car ownership. In fact, its CEO recently suggested that half of the company’s revenue by 2025 would come from consumer subscription services.

Why is this relevant to Customer Experience? The customer of today prefers omnichannel offerings and more personalised experiences that are convenient and make them feel supported, informed and in some cases, entertained. Therefore, every organisation should be reviewing their business models in 2019 to ensure it reflects these shifts in consumerism.

Experiences will overtake price and product in 2019

Next year, we’ll see a drastic shift in focus from product and price to an emphasis on customer experience. Recent studies suggest that millennials spend more money on doing things than on buying products. Yet, they aren’t the only age group that puts a high value on experiences over goods. When it comes to in-store Customer Experience, baby-boomers prefer the human touch that comes with a twist of technology innovation, such as expecting store staff to carry smart devices to assist with their inquiries.

2019 will be a pivotal year for brands and retailers to focus their efforts on making sure customers get value that goes beyond the product. When buying online, customers expect relevant and valuable interactions from the brand they’re buying from.

In fact, eighty percent of consumers would voluntarily reveal personal information in exchange for these interactions. When this works, strong relationships between the brand and the customer are formed, with the brand moving from being a product provider to a trusted advisor with a purpose.

We’ll see an increase in high-street stores using shopbots for better Customer Experience

With the advent of Industry 4.0 we’re going to see a big rise in the number of online intelligent agents helping with customer queries not only online, but also in-store. The use of AI and IoT to improve the in-store experience is becoming more desirable by customers – a recent survey suggests that 27 percent of millennials would be keen to be helped by robots in-store and 20 percent of baby-boomers would like to have technologies available to them in-stores in order to find items easily.

While we will always expect that human touch in-store, the role of shopbots can complement this experience. For example, shopbots could help customers easily locate items in store or point them to similar items if the ones they are looking for are out of stock. By entering their email addresses or signing up with their fingerprint on the shopbot, customers could be targeted with individusalised ‘Offers of the Day’, based on the personal information they’ve already shared with the retailer.

Many high-street brands will be adopting shopbots for their e-commerce platforms as well to provide an experience where customers will be targeted with individualised deals and ‘inventory’ which has been created by the bot, based on that person’s previous interactions with the brand.

In 2019 marketers will need to revisit their CX strategies to find new ways of providing value to customers as a good product just isn’t enough anymore.

24 724 7October 18, 2018


Providing valuable Customer Experience online has become more important than ever, particularly since the new GDPR regulations came into force in May.

This requires brands to work even harder to earn customer data. Organisations can no longer collect, store, or use personal information from individuals without their consent, so customers must make the decision to opt-in to marketing strategies used by brands, such as targeted emails.

So far, only 27% of customers (according to a survey of more than 1,000 consumers, which was conducted by Toluna) believe their experience with brands is better since GDPR, suggesting that businesses are struggling to collect and use data, such as internet browsing habits or geolocation, in a valuable way. If brands want to create personalised and targeted e-commerce experiences, they first need to understand how to earn this information back.

A recent Sitecore survey found that many consumers in the UK are comfortable with brands having access to their information, with over three quarters being happy to share their name (78 percent) and email (74 percent), over half (53 percent) their email address and 43 percent their browsing history.

However, customers need to be offered something of value in exchange for this data, and brands that have bombarded their customers with irrelevant content and promotions have seen their databases shrink significantly since GDPR.

So, what can brands do to win back customer trust? Well, they should initiate a long-term strategy to develop personalisation and offer unique, tailored online experiences through new business models by understanding exactly what customers want.

Deliver consistent personalisation across all platforms

GDPR has given customers the opportunity to share their data only if they are happy with the interactions they receive from brands. As a result, they will no longer tolerate being spammed with irrelevant information. This means brands must use the data they collect in the most effective ways possible by moving beyond personalisation to individualisation to ensure a great customer experience.

For example, online retailer ASOS now compiles multiple points of data to allow it’s ‘Fit Assistant’ to recommend a size for each item to individual shoppers. Customer’s own purchase history and size preferences, including information about their body shape, and data compiled from customers with a similar purchase history, are all used to recommend the perfect size.

Before ordering a new coat, ASOS may recommend a size 10 for you, based on the knowledge that 78 percent of customers with similar size preferences to you who bought this size were satisfied with it. Such individualised recommendation provides the customer with a valuable experience; the reassurance that their new purchase will fit, without the inconvenience of having to order and return if it doesn’t.

Amazon is also going beyond broadly segmenting customers based on one of three pre-determined body shapes by trialling 3D body-scanners that monitor an individual’s body, allowing them to virtually try on clothes and suggest styles that are better fitted to their own body. Such individualised experiences encourage customers to share more personal information with the brand, as they feel more valued and less frustrated as they are not targeted with irrelevant content.

It is also crucial to deliver these experiences across all physical and digital touchpoints. As today’s customers are using more channels and platforms than ever before, a coherent cross-channel customer experience strategy should be employed, using tactics such as a cross-channel shopping baskets, which customers can access from any device, or email offers that apply directly to a customer’s local store. From supporting, informing and educating customers to providing them with entertainment, it is important that the experience is seamless.

Offer convenience and quality through new business models

Brands that have operated the same way for decades are being challenged by new business models, such as subscription-based services, which respond to the increasing customer demand for unique, personalised and convenient experiences without having to commit to contracts.

Deloitte research suggests that millennials care more about experiences than owning things, and a convenient, repeated subscription service is the type of service they value highly. These business models also ensure a customer base of loyal and engaged customers that have given you the permission to reach out to them with news, updates and personalised offers. This is all made possible through the power of collecting data and using it effectively.

Any type of online business could consider the benefits of a subscription model, like we’ve already seen it in the entertainment space from Netflix and in the retail space like HelloFresh and Amazon. Netflix uses an algorithm which records customers viewing preferences from the very first time they watch a film or an episode, tailoring future recommendations to every individual.

It even personalises the digital aspect of the site. For example, customers may see one of nine different images advertising the Stranger Things series, based on information that the site has collected about them. This means that once a customer is subscribed, their experience should always match their preferences, keeping them satisfied and therefore ensuring they return.

Amazon has also taken its subscription service beyond Prime this year, offering both a children’s book box and a fashion box, Prime Wardrobe, which deliver monthly curated selections from the retailer. This allows Amazon to apply its consumer data and increase its reputation for providing convenient, personalised shopping.

Even dog food suppliers are benefitting from such models. Chewy, a pet supplies brand, now offers monthly subscriptions for dog food to make dog-owners’ lives easier, removing the need to carry heavy bags home from the store and offering extra savings and convenience if customers opt to automatically repeat their order every month.

This mixture of convenience, quality and value works in a continuous cycle to encourage customers to sign up and remain loyal to a brand, happily share their data for the service they get in return and allow the data to be used to make future experiences with the brand even better. As a result, brands can accumulate more accurate and valuable data, equipping them to better serve their customers and deepen the existing customer relationships.

24 724 7February 27, 2018


Generic marketing campaigns and the traditional ways of targeting consumers in a catch-all manner are no longer relevant.

Personalisation is now driving marketing and advertising strategies. The new 790-square-metre screen (bigger than a full-sized tennis court) being installed at Piccadilly Circus in London, which will display ads based on the personal interests of nearby cars and people, is an extreme example of where this is going.

Personalisation makes marketing relevant to the individual. Every customer is different in their own right; therefore, they have different relationships with your brand. And each these customers will be on a different stage of their buying cycle, which will influence the type of content you share with them.

For example, have they owned your product before, have they engaged with your brand before, or are they a huge fan and do they know your brand inside out? Do they have any particular wants and needs related to your brand?

Identifying these different stages of your customers’ journeys will help you to create a map which can be used to inform your content strategy. From there, you can ensure you are serving the right information to the right people, in a truly personalised way.

Segmenting your customers to find out where they are on their journey

To achieve true personalisation, you need to be able to identify where your customers are in the buying cycle. Let’s use an automotive company as an example. You could broadly split their audience into three sections:

1. The browsers: These people don’t own one of their cars, but they are interested in cars in general and would be open to hearing about their cars. They might buy one in the future.

2. The buyers: These people are convinced they want to purchase a car, but it’s a big decision because there is so much choice on the market. They will need to be guided through the process and be advised on the right car to suit their personal needs.

3. The owners: These people have bought a car from them, but they might need aftersales care, such as spare parts, accessories, or services. They may also be interested in upgrades or accessories – whether that’s the sound system within the car.

A good personalisation strategy would consider all three groups of people and tailor content appropriately. Taking the third group as an example – those who already own a car – you don’t need to convince them to make a big purchase, meaning they don’t need information about your vehicles.

Instead, they will want to engage with content that can enhance their driving experience, such as tips on how to reduce engine wear or how to drive in a manner that increases fuel efficiency. Likewise, if they interact with your website, they will want to go straight to aftersales or customer care, and not be served with content that tries to convince them to purchase a car.

It’s not just about selling either; it’s about serving them useful content that will keep them engaging with your brand. For example, if you know this customer makes a lot of long journeys each month with their family, a simple piece of content which provides ideas such as top five films to download for iPad for long car journeys to keep their kids entertained, will enable you to connect with these customers on a new level.

This data-driven approach, enabled by powerful content management and marketing software, will provide a personal and highly relevant experience for your customer whilst driving upsell opportunities for your brand. And critically, maintains customer engagement and loyalty.

How can it benefit my business?

Once you know your customer well and have embraced personalisation, the question is, can you measure the effect it has on your company’s bottom line? The answer is yes and, in fact, while trying to perfect the customer experience, organisations discovered a whole host of benefits that have huge financial and business impact.

In 2016 we commissioned a report together with Avanade, which concludes that for every US $1 organisation spend on improving the customer experience, they see a return of US $3.

Getting personalisation right

While the benefits are clear, it’s easy to get it wrong if you don’t have an accurate view of your customers’ behaviour. Recent research shows that 98 percent of UK consumers think that there is such a thing as ‘bad personalisation’, because brands are making simple mistakes such as using out-of-date information about them (66 percent of consumers said this about brands they have interacted with), get their personal details wrong (63 percent) and make assumptions about what consumers want based on single interactions (64 percent).

You probably wouldn’t want to market a new sound system or shiny alloys to a retired couple who use the car to tow their caravan, for example.

To get personalisation right, we must have relevant contextual information for each member of our target audience. Ensure you are capturing as much data about your customers as possible, across all platforms – from mobile and social media through to point of sale, CRM and ERP systems. A holistic view of this data is critical in order to paint a clear picture of each customer’s preferences and where they are in the buying cycle.

So, make sure you know who your customers are, and take the time to understand what they’re looking for and where they are in the buying cycle. If you want to plot a course to success for your business, it’s key to understand where your customers came from, where they are now, and where they’re going. Only then can you deliver true personalisation.

24 724 7December 4, 2017


Customer Experience management is a hot topic, and I would get a least one invitation a day to a CX seminar or workshop.

Reflecting on the content of these events and having reviewed literature on the subject, it seems that the main focus is on improving Customer Experience in terms of streamlining transactions between the brand and the consumer, and orchestrating key ‘touchpoints’.

As part of these concepts, TNS Global has coined the term ‘Situational Equity’ – the at-risk moments where there is a gap between what the customer wants and what the brand is able to deliver in terms of pricing, product fit, place, and promotion.

Yes, the ‘Four Ps’, so, nothing new with that!

The inside-out perspective of Customer Experience management still prevails, not the ‘outside-in’ view. In other words, the focus is still on how the brand delivers Customer Experience, fulfils brand promise, and transacts, as opposed to what the customers actually expect. Measurements are on satisfaction and not experience, let alone expectations. Which brings me to the nub of this article, and that is: without knowing what the customers’ expectations are, how can the right Customer Experience be delivered?

Smith+co (2016) touch on the subject of customer expectations, stating that clarity is vital on the following before attempting to align or define your Customer Experience:

1. What do your target (most profitable) customers expect and are you meeting these expectations?

2. What do these customers value that drives their retention and advocacy?

3. Have you created and articulated a brand promise that speaks to these values and differentiates you?

Point 1 is good council. But the challenge of understanding and meeting expectations is increasingly difficult. The human race has an inherent insatiable appetite for instant gratification and this is being fuelled further by the internet.

We live in the ‘Now Society’. Simply just delivering a core product or service is not good enough. It’s increasingly hard to differentiate, particularly as consumers have so much choice literally at their fingertips, hence the rise of digital disruptors.

The principle business model these disruptors adopt is that they wrap around traditional products and service facilities that make a consumer’s life better and as a result they are raising the bar of expectations. No market sector is immune. Here are few examples of industries which have been caught napping:

The legal market: Customers expect prompt service and value

A traditional conservation industry that was thought to be immune from the digital age, and yet there is an app called Ask a Lawyer. If you have a car accident you can find a lawyer in the moment who specialises in such matters. One that is available, gives you immediate advice, and provides navigation to their offices.

In the UK regulation has changed. You don’t have to be a qualified lawyer to provide legal services provided you get a license to practice. This has led to new entrants innovating Customer Experience and is significantly raising service expectations. Watch out laggard law firms!

The higher education market: Customers expect choice and flexibility

Another sector which some thought had digital immunity. Yet people are increasingly wanting vocational courses and to be able to take them at their own pace and at a reasonable cost with great teachers.

Udemy.com provides online certified vocational courses. It was founded only seven years ago, but today it has 8 million students and offers 32,000 courses provided by qualified teachers from all around the world, making it far bigger than most universities. Udemy is crowdsourcing education – no wonder student applications to traditional universities are declining.

The brewing industry: Customers want choice

Intelligent X is a new generation of brewers using technology to provide outstanding customer engagement. The brewery gains real-time insight directly from consumers about their opinions on the beer they are drinking. Consumers are asked for views about their preferences and how the taste of the beers could be improved or ideas on new flavours.

Using AI, the brewer takes the insight to then brew beers based on the expressed input from its customers and lets them know when the product is in the bars. What better way to gain consumer advocacy than to allow your consumers to feel part of your product? Expectations raised again.

I could cite many more examples, not least the Fintechs such as Monzo, where innovative organisations are improving Customer Experience by wrapping services around traditional products through knowing and meeting consumer expectations. These business models serve to inform, educate, support, entertain, and ingratiate their customers.

As a result, customer expectations will continue to rise.

I leave you with two thoughts: don’t try exceeding customer expectations without knowing what they are in the first place – just meeting expectations is a good start – and don’t embark upon a Customer Experience strategy without tackling the expectation question first.

24 724 7June 30, 2016


[24]7 announced that Hilton Worldwide has introduced predictive chat technology, powered by [24]7’s Customer Engagement Platform, to deliver an intuitive and personalised online experience for its hotel guests worldwide.

Hilton’s Reservations and Customer Care team is comprised of over 3,000 reservation and guest assistance professionals who serve more than 34 million guests annually. Recognising that the booking process can often raise questions for customers, Hilton has implemented [24]7 Chat within its digital channels, ensuring that all guests who book directly on the company’s website receive the best possible experience online.

Hilton chose to partner with [24]7, the global leader in intent-driven customer engagement solutions, because of its intuitive chat platform that learns and anticipates customer behaviour. [24]7 Chat is built on predictive models that are designed to understand a guest’s intent, and empower agents to know when to engage and what to recommend in real-time. Equipped with a rich understanding of each individual guest’s journey, [24]7’s Customer Engagement Platform initiates a chat conversation with those who may require assistance to complete their booking, and gives Hilton reservation specialists the ability to offer up rich media (such as photos of a property or room type) to help guests compare properties – all within a single conversation thread.

“Our guests begin interacting with us well before they set foot into one of our hotels, so it’s critical that we deliver the best possible online experience,” said Mike Gathright, SVP, Global Reservations and Customer Care, Hilton Worldwide. “[24]7 helps us anticipate what our guests want and ensure they receive the guidance that’s right for them, at the right time in their journey. We are already seeing improvements in both agent and guest satisfaction, and we expect that to continue over time.”

“The traveller’s experience begins well before they set foot inside their hotel room. A key part of their journey is the booking process, which can often times be stressful for travellers. While in the midst of booking a hotel, our guests often have questions about the destination or property itself. Answering them can help the guest make the best hotel decision, resulting in a more satisfying stay experience. With this in mind, we recognised an opportunity to deliver personalised assistance online to ensure our guests experience a frictionless, stress-free booking process on our brand websites. Predicting intent (in other words, determining what a customer is trying to do), and using that insight to deliver personalised service, is key to providing the kind of customer service today’s guest expects. The predictive chat feature is a benefit for our guests who book directly on our brand websites and is yet another way we are able to provide our customers with the best experience possible.” –Mike Gathright, SVP, Global Reservations and Customer Care, Hilton Worldwide

What makes this technology unique and customer-centric?

[24]7 Chat is an enterprise chat solution that helps businesses predict what their customers are looking for and engage them in meaningful conversations. Unlike the chat technology that customers commonly encounter and which offers up a generic “how may I help you?,” [24]7 Chat actually examines a customer’s behaviour as they navigate through a website, and empowers agents with useful insights to provide better service.

For example – is a guest is trying to compare room types, or browsing a property’s amenities? This knowledge helps agents understand when to engage and what to recommend in real-time, so that all interactions are not only relevant, but in fact provide personalised assistance in key moments that matter.

Hilton is using [24]7 Chat to extend the company’s hospitality to their digital channels, ensuring that guests who book directly receive a differentiated ‘white-glove’ experience online. It’s a customer-centric solution by design that takes into account a customer’s intent and context. The technology also makes it easy for agents to share rich media – such as photos of a room or amenity – without asking the guest to click on additional links or interrupt the experience. This keeps the conversation fluid and low-effort. Customers ultimately want to get things done with ease and efficiency, and the intelligence powering this experience makes it easy to do just that.

“Hilton extends its exceptional hospitality to every guest touchpoint, including its direct online channels,” said Christopher Schyma, VP, Retail & Hospitality, [24]7. “This visionary approach has led to a powerful way of engaging guests in the moments that matter most. With [24]7 Chat, Hilton is removing the friction from the online booking process, providing a white-glove level of hospitality to guests and increasing revenue opportunities.”

Interesting links:

24 724 7September 1, 2015


Live Chat Market Shaken Up as [24]7 Reaches 5000 Dedicated Chat Agents

[24]7 announced that it has become the world’s largest provider of chat agents, with 5000 dedicated chat agents providing digital assistance for the biggest brands in financial services, communications, retail, technology and travel. [24]7’s innovative chat services reinvent traditional chat by coupling technology-enabled “digital chat agents” with proven customer service best practices to deliver successful interactions in a more cost-effective way.

[24]7 has been able to overtake competitors thanks to an unparalleled ability to deflect phone calls to chat – long a key objective of the world’s largest service-oriented consumer brands. Leveraging a decade of expertise in assisted service, [24]7 digital chat agents now outperform voice agents, achieving costs that are 20% lower while improving Net Promoter Score (NPS) by 10 points or more.

Through proprietary technology and processes for managing chat operations, [24]7 digital chat agents are more efficient and productive than the rest of the industry. When compared to other chat agents, [24]7 digital chat agents consistently deliver better performance as measured by first contact resolution, average handle time, sales conversion, or NPS rating. [24]7 digital chat agents are experienced in delivering value using all major chat solutions in the industry.

“Our growth and ability to capture market share in chat is purely down to the fact that where others have failed, we have helped enterprises move more phone calls to chat while improving service and lowering costs,” said PV Kannan, CEO and Co-Founder of [24]7. “By removing the cost barrier that has long prevented companies from adopting these digital options, [24]7 is making chat agent services key to the enterprise’s customer engagement strategy.”

The new data presented by [24]7 shows positive results in terms of migrating phone interactions to chat at a lower cost, a conundrum that the majority of large enterprises face as they seek to reduce costs and improve NPS.

Interesting links:

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