Marija PavlovićMarija PavlovićNovember 22, 2016

2min192

The Tesla chief executive, Elon Musk, has unveiled new energy products aimed at illustrating the benefits of combining his firm, which makes electric cars and batteries, with solar installer SolarCity.

During a press event at Universal Studios in L.A., Elon Musk announces that Tesla will build and sell its own line of solar panels with integrated batteries. Coupled with the also unveiled PowerWall 2, it will allow residential homeowners to replace their entire roof with solar panels, making it much simpler for homes to be entirely powered by solar power.

“This is sort of the integrated future. An electric car, a Powerwall and a solar roof. The key is it needs to be beautiful, affordable and seamlessly integrated.”

Musk’s cousin and SolarCity co-founder, Peter Rive, stated that the solar roof just might win a 5% share of the roof market in the next couple of years.

Watch the video to understand the full idea behind this concept.

Video overview:
00:00. Why solar
04:02. PowerWall 2 introduction
06:40. Solar roof introduction

Interesting links:

 

 


Marija PavlovićMarija PavlovićOctober 17, 2016
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13min195

Within our CXM Interview series, we have talked with the director of technology at Expedia, Jonas Olofsson, about trends and technologies in the travel sector, user experience and the purpose of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0.

Hello Jonas, how the things are going at Expedia?

Jonas: This year is Expedia’s 20th Anniversary and being a leading technology business for two decades has taught us several lessons. The most important lesson we’ve learnt is that you need to invest in new technology and intelligence to stay innovative, relevant and nimble.

In our business, relevance of content and conversion are interlinked. Our goal is to give travellers the most relevant information for them, which is why we use pattern recognition technology that takes data from across Expedia’s brands and delivers insights in a way that consumers find useful. The more customers that visit our website, the more effectively we can match customers with relevant content.

The next big thing in travel will be better use of information to make travel more personalised and predictive in real-time. The biggest challenge we face in travel is to make the booking phase as seamless as possible.

As the director of technology, can you tell us to what extent have things changed in the travel industry lately, and what kind of technology proved to be game-changing and disruptive?

Jonas: What’s changing in the travel industry applies to most major industries. Cloud enables us to move faster throughout the whole development lifecycle: from development to testing ideas, as well as deploying and scaling our infrastructure. Big data is also immensely important: to be able to handle vast amounts of data in an efficient way to ensure customers receive the most relevant content.

Chatbots are potentially the next evolution in discovery. Expedia’s goal, since we started, has been to help travellers find the best answers to their travel related questions. These questions come in the form of “where should I go,” or “what hotel is best for kids,” or “I need help as my travel plans have changed.” The traditional web interface for travel relies on customers coming to us with some of these questions already answered. It’s a format that hasn’t fundamentally evolved in years.

With a chatbot interface, Expedia and our travellers have an opportunity to interact in a more open-ended and natural manner.

Our monthly theme is trying to touch upon the subject of dying practices in the world of CX and UX. Can you recognize some of them through your work at Expedia?

Jonas: I don’t see any practices dying within the CX and UX industry. In fact I see most products coming out of the travel industry are faster, smarter, and more usable than ever before. CX and UX for me is about the whole user experience and it needs to be seen as a skill or muscle that an organisation needs to develop. For instance, by hiring the right people to drive those disciplines it’s also necessary for organisations to embrace UX just like product development and marketing are meant to be carried out in short cycles and within cross-functional teams. No discipline today can be planned in isolation without considering all the aspects of the development phases.

The general IT industry has shifted from a conformity approach (through standardisations and governmental enticement) to an approach of ‘doing the right thing’. For instance, today accessibility is not enforced, but rather companies can choose to conform to it or not. Most companies find that if they have an advanced product, they also focus on making the product accessible because it’s the right thing to do when you have a sustainable business. In fact I believe that making our products accessible, will not only improve the full user experience but it will also provide a more user friendly experience to our customers that do not require accessible features.

Recently we had an article telling us that travel industry seems to be failing to cater the needs of people with disabilities. What makes a great and inclusive user experience today? Who are the leaders in the industry who are able to provide it?

Jonas: I agree that there are big improvements that can be done around accessibility. At Expedia, we take this very seriously. One way we make sure we address accessibility issues is to ensure we assess our site through the eyes of all types of customers. For example, a member of our product team is visually impaired and he tests our website to make sure our accessibility targets are met. Additionally, we have a network of accessibility advocates across our UX, product and engineering teams who make sure that we prioritise accessibility concerns whenever we build a new product or service.

A great inclusive user experience incorporates accessibility within the full development process: from UX, to product thinking, to development, testing and also non-functional aspects: performance, browser support (screen readers, responsive, etc). To do this well, teams that work on the UI/Front-End need a good understanding around certain aspects that normally may not be considered. This is to ensure teams build simple, clean, fast experiences for all travellers.

In a recent report by Sigma, Skyscanner was at the top of the league table when the company website was tested for usability, ease of use on different devices and accessibility. However, despite the company achieving one of the highest scores for accessibility, it only scored 28 out of 35. In order to set an example within the industry for other travel booking websites, the site would need to score full marks.

With the Pokemon Go revolution, this type of interface used is already adopted by some businesses. Is there a useful tool or approach that you recognize as the future of travel apps?

Jonas: The way Pokemon Go uses augmented reality is also very interesting for travellers and companies that build travel technology. I believe it will be a bigger hit than virtual reality and provide better value in its first iterations. It is definitely something we’ll see more and more of in the near future. In fact, I think that there are surrounding technical challenges that, once solved, will enable this even further. For instance with data access when travelling (roaming), there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to get features that show what direction your hotel is and the fastest way of getting there. It should also be able to show you some interesting places worth visiting which are within your immediate vicinity based on your preferences. If you are a foodie, interested in modern arts or have other interests – the app will show you where you can fulfil your interests and simultaneously keep you on the right track so you don’t miss your flight and connection to the airport.

Can you tell us more about the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0? What is it and how does it help web builders today?

Jonas: WCAG 2.0 helps organisations know how to develop good products for accessibility needs by using four groups of principles. These groups try to ensure that we look at how our products are perceived, operated on, understood and that they are robust. For example: To ensure full accessibility we should consider presenting content in different ways for both the visually impaired as well as people with loss of hearing. Operable is to ensure functions can be invoked in various ways – via keyboards/finger interactions but also ensure that buttons appear long enough to be able to be invoked for people with less ability of motor control. Robustness is to ensure that supportive accessible technologies such as screen readers are supported and future proof.

These standards provide a good guide for companies to ensure there’s an industry-wide understanding of what is needed to ensure a good accessible experience for all users. The four different groupings is a good example of that breadth.

Both as a professional and as a customer, how would you describe a great customer experience? And what are the practices that should be left in the past?

Jonas: I would describe a great customer experience as being able to give a customer the information they want, given the customer’s context (where they are located, etc.) in a way that’s easy, fast and valuable. This means that UX is the responsibility of the full development cycle.

Gone are the practices where UX is a mock or redline of how a website should look that’s handed over to development to fulfil. Many aspects of UX are left undiscussed when that happens: Speed of transitions, variations of UX with different levels of data, etc. In fact, UX is part of every feature so daily interaction and review between UX and developers are needed.

This also means that UX is central to how businesses should test and learn features. We need to make sure that the developers understand our customers, what they value and the direction we want to take our brand to ensure that the user experience matches that.

Interesting links:


Marija PavlovićMarija PavlovićOctober 5, 2016
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8min204

Within the CXM Interview series, we had a chance to talk to Mr. Vincent Delaroche, the founder of the first Euronext-listed tech firm, CAST, about software industry, technology trends and business transformation. He shared some useful tips for start-ups and an overall analysis of the fast-changing market.

Mr. Delaroche, thank you for sharing your insights with CXM readers.
Your company, CAST is celebrating its 25th anniversary. In the tech world, this is an immense success. How do you feel now, after 25 years in the software business? What has changed?

As Marc Andreessen pointed out not too long ago, software is eating the world. It’s a very exciting time for technology, and especially the software market. Digitization and mobility has made technology much more broadly accepted, and it’s software that really brings those technologies to life. The most promising innovations in the market today hinge on software success. For example, connected and autonomous cars are only as good as the software engineers who architect those systems. This is software that really has the potential to transform the way we live. But, under the surface, that software must be void of risk and must be secure enough to trust. That’s where CAST comes in. We’re in the business of bringing invisible software risks to the surface to keep companies and consumers safe.

This year was marked by some huge buyouts. For example, Microsoft bought LinkedIn, Facebook bought Instagram and Verizon bought Yahoo. What do you think about these changes?

As more leading corporations move to platform-based business models that leverage software-generated data, these acquisitions make sense. To take one example, Microsoft has acquired a very successful platform already populated with people who are in its target enterprise market. The big question is whether Microsoft can integrate its existing products and services with this platform to grow revenue from this network exponentially rather than linearly. For instance, how does Skype add new revenue-producing capabilities to LinkedIn? How can LinkedIn help Microsoft provide more targeted offerings based on demographics?

In any case, these acquisitions mark telling moves by some incumbent players to modernise their offerings. We’re seeing this all over the market, and they’re creating opportunities for companies to come in and provide objective software measurement that helps these CIOs and IT teams prioritise and deliver value back to the business faster.

In 2006, you moved the entire leadership team from France to New York. What was the reason you left the EU? And what are the substantial differences in running business in USA and EU?

At that time, we had developed the business across Europe and our plan was to expand to the US, as this is one of the biggest markets for software. The idea, actually quite basic, was to be on site to be able to recruit the talent we needed to penetrate the NA market and meet as many prospects and customers as possible. Being based in Paris and building a business in the US makes little sense.

In the spirit of the changes UK companies will face after the Brexit vote, do you have any advice for them that could help them on the road to transformation?

There are currently some interesting things going on in Europe following the Brexit vote. Leaving the EU is going to cause a political mess. However, I don’t think Brexit is going to have a huge impact on the small and mid-size tech leaders who tend to be the fastest-growing, because European or not, great technologies remain great technologies.

On a general scale, I think creating long-term customers should be of utmost importance to all businesses, whether you are on the road to transformation or not. Continuing to get those customer wins is extremely important, and they are critical to long-term success. Then, you must also hold the line, stay focused and don’t listen too much to technology “sirens.”

Trying to make something happen rather than showing up at the end of every battle to celebrate the victory is for me the true definition of entrepreneurship. Finally, you need to make sure you hire top talent who are not only smart but also loyal to the company’s cause and will stick with you through challenges and growth periods.

Do you recognise any tech trend that will mark the following period?

With technology infiltrating every corner of the market, there is no question we will see demand for more objectivity and transparency in the IT / business relationship. It’s not only imperative that software teams are able to map their productivity and quality to business outcomes, but those outcomes will need to be moderated and regulated by institutions that guarantee minimum risk and safety.

I believe in the years to come, we won’t be able to sell software without a “quality stamp” showing to the buyer what’s inside, and guaranteeing it’s safe, resilient, secure, efficient and green. The same way we check nutrition facts at the grocery store now, we will check for a “bill of health” in our software.

Any tips for the people who are just starting their business in the software industry?

Today, between 80 and 90 percent of startups fail. One of the problems is, CEOs have become too focused on their exit strategy and don’t spend enough time to generate innovation which is needed to make an impact in the market. To create a true, disruptive change, it takes time and a long-term commitment from CEOs and investors. So to be more successful, I would advise anyone who just started his or her business to surround yourself with good people and unify your employees around a common strategic goal.

Mr. Delaroche, thank you for your time, keep up the good work.

Interesting links:


Marija PavlovićMarija PavlovićSeptember 27, 2016
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4min199

The biggest CX awards event in the UK was held on Friday, 23rd September at the Park Plaza Hotel in London, gathering an incredible number of 800 CX professionals and celebrating the best initiatives in the industry.

Overlooking the Westminster Bridge and Palace, the Park Plaza Hotel once again served as an amazing venue for the biggest UK event that celebrates outstanding practices from the world of customer experience.

It was an exciting day all in all. Final presentations of the selected finalists across all sectors were held in the morning, analyzed and ranked by a panel of judges made up of industry top experts. The winners were announced after several rounds of presentations and a celebratory gala lunch.

Participating in the event of this kind brings the opportunity to CX professionals to present their winning initiatives but also to attend presentations open to the public and learn all about the best case studies from 2016. With the panel of judges made of the renowned and experienced experts, it makes a valuable platform for networking, exchanging ideas and tracking the most relevant CX practices.

The UK Customer Experience Awards were founded in 2010 by Awards International, leading business awards experts, the only company dedicated to delivering business awards on independent, transparent and fair basis. For 7 years now, they are run in partnership with the Customer Experience Magazine, Cranfield University School of Management and this year, they were sponsored by Rant & Rave.

The Awards team is also a long-term partner of Barnardo’s charity. This year, the awards participants raised incredible £7,448 to help support the UK’s most vulnerable children. Barnardo’s currently run 47 Child sexual exploitation services projects throughout the UK, helping children and young people escape their abuse and support them throughout their recovery journey. They also support those who are going through the distressing court process to bring their abusers to justice. Find out more about their efforts at www.Barnardos.org.uk

The overall winner of the UK Customer Experience Awards 2016 was Four Seasons Health Care and we congratulate them on this amazing success!

To see the full list of winners by Sector Specific Categories, follow this link

If you have any questions about entering the Awards, please contact our friendly Awards team who will be delighted to assist you. Please call Thomas Scott on 020 7193 0664 or email:
thomas@awardsinternational.eu


Marija PavlovićMarija PavlovićSeptember 16, 2016
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4min221

We have big news in the mobile industry coming from Samsung, with the U.S. decision to officially recall Samsung Galaxy Note 7 from the market. The decision was made after a number of users reported the device caught fire while charging.

One million Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphones were formally recalled by the federal consumer safety regulators yesterday. After 92 reports of the battery overheating, including 26 reports of burns and 55 reports of property damage, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission told customers to “immediately stop using and power down” the device. Among others, there was a case in St Petersburg, Florida, where a family stated that a Galaxy Note 7 left charging in their Jeep had caught fire, destroying the vehicle.

This decision is by all means a huge blow for the South Korean giant and it is yet to be seen how they will recover from it and retain the loyalty of their customers. In the meantime, Note 7 users can get a free replacement from Samsung, their wireless carrier or the retail outlet where the phone was bought. They can also ask for a refund or a different device.All U.S. users can check Galaxy Note7 Safety Recall instructions and choose the option that suits them best.

In South Korea, the company announced the launch of a “battery-problem-free” Note 7 with a software patch that prevents affected phones from charging more than 60%, for those who don’t want to return their phones. This is certainly a prompt reaction to the customer needs, however, you must agree, this quick fix doesn’t really do much for the brand’s reputation and their brand promise. As battery life is one of the most important features of any smarthphone whatsoever, putting the limit to the phone charging most probably kills the excitement about the new phone purchased.

Statistically speaking, the problem with battery overheating affected only 0.1% of the 2.5 million phones sold worldwide, however the severity of the malfunction could not be treated from the perspective of mere statistics. And apart from the huge failure in quality control, Samsung was also criticized for initiating a voluntary recall without coordinating it with the U.S. agency.

The recall came at the particularly bad time, with the new product launch of Samsung’s main competitor, Apple, introducing iPhone 7 today. However, the new Note 7 will be in stores by the end of September the latest, trying to get back on the track with the least possible consequences.

Interesting links:


Marija PavlovićMarija PavlovićAugust 30, 2016
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6min277

Grasping on how the use of social media looks like throughout the world is vital for businesses that want to build an online presence. We Are Social’s ‘Digital, Social and Mobile 2015 Report’ analyzed more than 240 countries worldwide. In this article, we will tackle with the problem on a smaller scale, focusing on the UK market.

Social Picture of the UK

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In the UK, focus on Digital is astounding. Research has shown that 11 out of 376 pages put emphasis on digital trends, allowing companies to monitor how social media is being used, how many active users are currently engaging on social networks and who those people actually are. In the UK, a country of 64 million people, there are over 38 million active social media profiles on various social platforms. This number is constantly on the rise: since January 2014, the number of active social media accounts increased by 6%, and the number of mobile accounts increased by 7%. This info revealed the fact that social media users dedicate slightly more than 2 hours to their social presence, or in other words, more than half the time they spend on the internet in general.

Broken down to social networks, the situation becomes interesting. Here, we extrapolated the data concerning three major social networks, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and tended to make our analysis useful for marketers trying to position themselves on the UK’s social sky.

Facebook Stats

Facebook is the unquestionable champion of the social networks with over 1.44 billion monthly active users globally and more than 30 million in the UK. When it comes to demographics, the state of affairs in the UK is fairly even with 49% male and 51% female users. Interesting fact: 60% of the UK population has a Facebook account!

While younger users seem to be shifting over to other networks, Facebook still has a solid number of 2.5 million 13-17-year-old’s active accounts, in consort with 26% of people still in the 25-34 age limit.

Twitter Stats

Favored by many, Twitter has a strange destiny of being either adored or completely disliked. It has over 15 million active UK users, 65% of which are younger than 34. From the mobile point of view, the situation is more than clear. 80% of Twitter users access this network from their mobile devices, 29% of which checks the feed on several occasions throughout the day. If you are a marketer, this fact may be of use when it comes to mobile optimization.

Make sure your pages are well optimized for mobile devices before you start promoting them on Twitter. This simple optimization can greatly increase the retention time and traffic rates.

Same as Facebook, Twitter is fairly well proportioned gender-wise: hving 49% male and 51% female users. Interesting fact: There are over 400 million tweets sent daily, and close to 75% of users are following less than 50 twitter accounts!

LinkedIn Stats

LinkedIn is an undisputable B2B leader among social networks. It has more than 60 million openingseach month in the UK alone. With a minor swing in regards to the age and gender stats, it has only 21% of active users younger than 35, while 79% of users are males.

Interesting fact: Two people join LinkedIn every second! 187 million people visit LinkedIn monthly, while 40% of users visit their accounts on a day to day basis.

What is certain?

To conclude, 30% of the UK people seem to be using social media apps. Businesses should make use of these stats in order to create effective social media presence and to grasp on the devices their customers use to access social media. It is obvious that Facebook endures as a number one social network in the UK and the mobile users constantly amass in numbers.

Stats are only a part of the game!

To recapitulate, while the above stats cover the social media scene from one perspective, stay open for the new heroes of social networks. Do not forget that the failure and success of social platforms is ruled by a number of accidental factors, the main of which is the young population. Take into account the fact that young people worldwide, teenagers in particular, have been losing interest in Facebook and shifting towards Instagram and messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Snapchat. Just don’t stop liking, tweeting and endorsing in the meantime.

Interesting links:


Marija PavlovićMarija PavlovićAugust 29, 2016
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17min176

CXM editor-in-chief Marija Pavlović talks to Iain Shorthose – customer experience director of international support services and construction group Interserve – about how customer experience is driving his company’s future strategy.

CXM: Hello Iain, can you please by explaining to our readers what Interserve does and why customer experience is such an important part of your business?

Iain Shorthose: Interserve is probably the biggest company you’ve never heard of! We’re one of the world’s largest support services and construction groups, with annual revenues of around £3.6 billion. The business is multi-national, listed on the FTSE, and is growing all the time – especially the support services part of the business, which is my main area of focus.

Support services covers a vast range of areas, from facilities management and security to maintenance and catering, but essentially it is our job to manage, maintain and improve our customers’ properties and assets. Some of our work is for the public sector – working with central government departments, local authorities, etc – but the growth area for us is in the private sector, which now accounts for around 50 per cent of our business. This sees us working with major corporate customers from big retail operators to large occupiers such as professional services firms, technology businesses, retailers and pharmaceutical companies.

Facilities management and support services is what we do, but we are a people business at heart. Our people, our customers’ people and the quality of the relationships between them define whether we succeed or fail. Capabilities and compliance are no longer enough to win and retain business; customers are looking for someone that’s easy to do business with, who understands their operation, and who can use this knowledge to add value where it matters most.

We also need to remember that we really have two customers: the organisation that has employed us and also that organisation’s customers and employees i.e. the people who use the facilities we manage every single day. The customer experience for us is never just about those who pay our bills but about every one of that organisation’s stakeholders.

Ours is an increasingly commoditised industry, driven largely by price. So for Interserve, we see the customer experience as an opportunity to differentiate; to be seen not just for the things we do, but how we go about doing them. That is hugely important for the long-term success of our business and is why we’re putting a great deal of time and resource into getting the customer experience right.

CXM: What is your background and what have you learned from your career so far about the world of customer experience?

IS: I came from an operational background, working as a service engineer for a major energy company. I started my career in a directly customer-facing role so I understood the importance of getting service right – and the negative effect when you get it wrong!

I then moved into various executive roles: first in business development, then in operational management, before going into marketing and focusing on developing and implementing customer propositions.

Through all of this I began to recognise that while companies spend much time and a great deal of money developing ‘value propositions’ and ‘mission statements’ and discussing how they want customers to perceive them, there are very few who truly understand how these strategic concepts translate into day-to-day operations. They don’t realise that it’s not just about putting something down on a piece of paper and thinking the job is done – the real work comes in putting the systems and culture in place that enables your people to actually deliver against this proposition, day in, day out.

The key words for me are ‘predictable’ and ‘repeatable’. In a service-based company, your employees and your customers are your greatest assets; I want our people to believe that they can deliver the same quality of service time and again, and for our customers to have the utmost confidence that this will be the case. For me, the concept of customer experience ties all of this together.

It’s about understanding everything from a company’s overarching brand and business strategy, to the way the company communicates to the market, right down to the second-by-second experience the customer has when he or she walks into a store or picks up the phone to place an order. If you can bring all of these elements into alignment, you are on the right track.

One other point worth making is that the customer experience is an excellent barometer for general commercial performance. Where customers are dissatisfied, you will usually find that your cost-to-serve is higher. Not only that, but your people will also often be frustrated and disengaged, which leads to further problems. So there is a very clear commercial rationale for better understanding the customer experience – it’s not fluffy marketing stuff that people sometimes assume.

CXM: How would you define ‘customer experience’?

IS: The customer experience is all about taking your brand DNA and making it live and breathe throughout the organisation. You have your brand proposition, you have your business strategy; the customer experience is how you deliver the brand promise on a daily basis, to the customers that matter the most to you. Otherwise your values, your vision, your mission statement – they are all just pieces of paper.

Customer experience is also not a ‘fire and forget’ thing. It is a continuous loop – you should be measuring and evaluating how you are performing in terms of your customers’ experience of your business, and feeding that back into your wider strategy. So it delivers the strategy, but also informs it.

I’d also stress that the customer experience cannot be left to chance; it must be proactively designed. For too many companies, the customer experience is defined by the person they deal with, or it’s a legacy thing (i.e. it’s just evolved that way over many years of doing business). In the modern business world, this isn’t something you can leave to chance. You wouldn’t build a building without the architect’s drawings, and you can’t expect to develop a strong customer experience without putting some structure behind it first.

Last but not least, it’s important to remIain Shorthoseember that the customer experience is not a purely functional thing (did they deliver the service on time and on budget, or did the product work?). There is an emotional aspect to any experience. That could be frustration at being passed from pillar to post when trying to rectify an issue, or a feeling of confidence at dealing with an expert and competent sales person. This emotional side is often forgotten, especially in the B2B world – but it remains a crucial part of the customer experience. For Interserve, the customer experience is about being at our best when it matters most. If we get it right, we earn the trust and confidence of our customers and establish ourselves as a partner of choice, which is where every service-based company wants to get to.

CXM: I feel that we need more global consensus about what makes a great customer experience. Do you agree?

IS: We certainly need more people who understand the concept of customer experience and are able to implement it. There are many out there who throw the term around, but few who really know how to drive it through an organisation at every level and at every customer touch point.

Do we need consensus specifically about what makes a great experience? Outside the broad acknowledgement that a great customer experience is the mix of meeting a customer’s rational and emotional needs, to be honest, I’m not sure we do – or if that’s even possible. What a customer will consider to be a ‘great experience’ will change depending on industry sector, geographical location, by service, from company to company – there are simply too many variables to consider.

There are more people engaging in this debate and there are increasingly tools and approaches out there that can help companies to deliver consistent customer experiences, for example customer journey mapping. But can we define what a great customer experience is for every single organisation – I’m not sure we can.

CXM: So what are the big future trends we’re seeing in the customer experience realm?

IS: There are three that are big on our agenda at the moment. The first is self service, which is becoming increasingly prominent across many industries now. Customers, both B2B and B2C, are expecting to do much more themselves – low touch, less clicks, and intuitive. They still want human interaction in certain circumstances – for example when resolving issues – but generally they are recognising that they can and want to do more themselves, often through online and digital tools. From a customer experience perspective, it is about understanding the balance between self service and direct interaction and aligning your service accordingly.

Pre-emptive resolution is another big trend for the next few years – in other words, predicting customer requests and issues before they happen. Using data in the right way, it’s possible to forecast what usually happens in a certain scenario and prepare the service to respond before it happens; streamlining the customer process, reducing costs, and demonstrating excellent service to the customer. As data and connectivity continue to proliferate this will become an increasingly important part of the customer experience.

Finally, looking specifically at the office environment, we are seeing a growing focus on the way in which employees experience the workplace around them. With productivity top of the agenda for many companies, more and more is being invested in creating working environments that contribute to employee engagement, wellbeing and performance.

CXM: The concept of the workplace experience is interesting. To you, what defines a great workplace experience, and how does that impact on a company’s employees?

IS: For me, a great workplace is one which reflects the culture and nature of the wider business. Company culture is a key driver in both recruitment and retention, and has a clear impact on performance – so it’s important that the workplace aligns with that culture.

Of courses, it’s not just employees that matter. When it comes to customers, partners and other stakeholders, your office environment is an outward manifestation of a company’s brand and values. The quality of their experience will have an impact on how they view your company.

Ultimately, the customer experience and the workplace experience are two sides of the same coin. It’s all about ensuring that the messages that you want to convey to your key audiences – whether that’s customers, or employees, or partners – are done so correctly, consistently and effectively. This cannot be just a veneer; it needs to run through your entire business and be imbued into every single touch point across your operation.

Companies today are still able to win business based on competence and price alone. But I believe you will never retain business unless the customer experience has been positive. Businesses are looking at their commercial relationships in a different way now, always asking themselves ‘where is the added value?’ – customer experience is about finding those opportunities to add value and differentiate.

The work I’m doing is a big investment, but it’s the key to the future of our business – the return will certainly be worth the investment.

Iain Shorthose 2 Iain Shorthose, director of customer experience, Interserve

Iain Shorthose joined international support services and construction group Interserve as director of customer experience in November 2015 following a 15-year career developing customer experience and growth strategies for companies across a range of industry sectors.

Iain began his career at British Gas as a service engineer, where he got front-line experience of the importance of positive customer service. Having moved into an executive role in 2001, Iain spent six years working in marketing and business development before moving into his first customer experience role as head of brand customer experience for British Gas Business.

Since leaving British Gas in 2007, Iain has held board-level customer experience roles in companies ranging from FTSE listed energy firms to private consultancies across a range of sectors – latterly as global customer experience lead for market leading electronics distributor Premier Farnell.

 

 

Interesting links:


Marija PavlovićMarija PavlovićAugust 25, 2016
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11min164

Within our interview series, we had a pleasure of talking to Shane Cragun, co-author of Reinvention: Accelerating Results in the Age of Disruption with Kate Sweetman. We discussed market trends and challenges of keeping track with the disruptive practices.

Thank you very much for your time. Our monthly theme deals with the latest trends in the industry and relevant CX literature, and I believe we can cover both topics, given the fact you recently published the book. For a start, tell us more about it.

Shane: The Age of Disruption—today’s disruptive, tumultuous, and ever-changing global business environment—shows no signs of slowing. As authors, we believe it is time for a wake-up call to those hoping to thrive in the 21st century. Reinvention is the first business book to propose a simple algorithm, common principles, and set of tools that apply to both individuals and organizations facing disruptive and radical change.

The ability to pivot quickly, profoundly, and effectively might be the most important core competency individuals and organizations must attain in order to prosper in the new economy. And it isn’t enough to able to change when you have to; you must change before you have to, in proactive ways that allow your organization to leverage incoming global shockwaves to boost and accelerate performance.

In our book, Kate and I try to use contemporary examples to drive important points home. Key strategies are couched in metaphors to create visual maps that will help the reader implement their new learnings at the moment of need. The stories and case studies are compelling, eclectic, and global, and take the reader beyond just the world of business. Reinvention includes chapter insights written by six global experts from six different geographical business regions around the globe.

Sometimes it’s hard to tell which new innovation, phenomenon or advancement on the market is truly disruptive. How can one recognize what will be game changing in a sea of new trends and technologies?

Shane: Huge disruptions are like rogue waves at the beach that hit you hard and with great surprise. And then the tumbling and disorientations begins. We call these global shockwaves. There are also smaller ripples that might pass through a certain industry, market, or geographic region. There are two strategies to use to help organizational leaders “recognize what disruptions are game changing:”

First, it is important to place buoys our in your competitive ocean so that you are rarely surprised when powerful shockwaves begin pounding on your shore? Great organizations and highly adaptive professionals seem to be better at predicting and understanding incoming changes than others.

Second, highly adaptive leaders are voracious readers and have a sense of the inevitable approaching. By the time the shockwaves manifest themselves at full impact, these self-educated professionals have great insight regarding the implications of the approaching shockwave and have a sense of what strategies they might employ for leveraging it.

Your book covers stories and cases from around the globe over the past 100 years, on a vast range of topics. Has the idea of disruption changed drastically within that period?

Shane: Our research suggests it was in 1981 that the world became aware that the global economy was beginning to transition to something never experienced before. It was the first big global disruption post WWII. This was when Toyota, Honda, and Datsun (the Japanese Big Three) sold more cars in the United States than analysts had predicted; it was also the first year they sold their cars from their own dealerships. This was a game-changing event on a global scale that had never been seen before by global leaders and professionals.

Between 1981 and today we’ve identified 20 global shockwaves that have shaped our current business environment. However, if you go back in time exactly 100 years (1916), then we most definitely find two massive global disruptions: 1) Industrial Revolution; and 2) Mass Implementation of the Assembly Line. The world was never the same after that.

So…what is the trend over the past 100 years

  • Great change from 1916-1945
  • Stable and calm waters from 1945-1981
  • Great change from 1981-Present

Can you point out to some ongoing trends that show the potential of being disruptive?

Shane: Here are seven that the Huffington Post published a few weeks ago that would radically change they way we live if commercialized:

  • Crispr: Crispr is a gene editing technology that allows for the changing out, editing in, and altering of genes. It will end certain diseases, feed the planet, alter health care and human evolution, and even eliminate birth defects if commercialized.
  • SynBio: If engineering and biology got married they would be called SynBio (short for synthetic biology). It is the construction of new biological parts, devices, systems, and the re-design of existing biological systems.
  • Blockchain: Blockchain is the technology behind Bit Coin, the leading crypto-currency that might be the future of money. Blockchain could help in managing digital currencies and even larger economic planetary ecosystems.
  • IoT: When “things” wake up and become smart – aware of each other with the ability to communicate – we will have a different world. We may have 20 billion connected things by 2020. Smart things can monitor, sense, protect, transact, communicate, and share info that could enhance the quality of our lives (like smart cities).
  • Open AI: Artificial Intelligence is so powerful in its potential that Elon Musk has mused on its good, bad, and ugly possibilities. Companies such as Apple, Microsoft, IBM, and Google have invested approximately $10 Billion on AI R&D.
  • Big Data Analytics: The data tsunami of video, social media, text, pictures, and geospatial information is threatening to overwhelm humans, let alone machines. Big data science might transform every industry as the rise of the “predictive organization” becomes reality.
  • Planet GeoEngineering: This science will address rising ocean levels, droughts, pollution increases, and abrupt climate change. Planet GeoEngineering could be more vital to the future of humanity then any other innovation

How fast does a company has to react to the changes on the market? Is there a single advice that can help diverse businesses keep the track with their fast pace?

Shane: We begin our book with the law that will be in play in the 21st century:

“For organizations to win today and in the future, the speed of internal change must be greater than the speed of external change.”

By definition, if you aren’t changing as fast or faster than the external disruptions, you are falling behind.

My single piece of advice would be to understand and live this principle and put measures in place to monitor progress.

shane cragunShane Cragun, a founding partner at SweetmanCragun 

Shane Craguns is co-founder of SweetmanCragun, a global management consulting, training, and coaching firm, and co-author of Reinvention: Accelerating Results in the Age of Disruption with Kate Sweetman. His passion is creating high performance excellence at the individual, team, organizational, and societal levels around the globe. Cragun has worked as an internal change agent within a Fortune 500 High Tech Firm, a line executive at FranklinCovey, and a global external management consultant. His projects have received prizes in the areas of leadership and change. He recently co-authored the Employee Engagement Mindset published by McGraw-Hill, has presented a TEDx talk in Silicon Valley, spoken at business conferences worldwide, and was featured in Open Computing magazine.

 

Interesting links:


Marija PavlovićMarija PavlovićAugust 12, 2016
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5min215

Within our interview series, we had a chance to talk to Lorraine Millard, National Lounge Manager for Virgin Money, about winning two awards at the recently held UK Financial Services Experience Awards and the importance of team motivation and recognition.

CXM: Congratulations on the amazing success at this year’s UK Financial Services Experience Awards! Apart from winning at two categories: Best Innovation and Employee Engagement ‘Improving CX’, you were also the Overall Winner of the Awards? Can you tell us more about the “winning feeling” after being recognized as the overall best? 

Lorraine: It was a fantastic feeling to win the two awards. The whole team was euphoric and it’s so rewarding to have our efforts recognised particularly when we’re so passionate about what we have delivered both for the good of customers and colleagues. To be named winner of one award was great, but to win the overall award was just brilliant.

CXM: What’s interesting is that your company won in two categories that cover both aspects: innovation in customer experience and employee engagement. Is that the secret of success in general, combining the two? 

Lorraine: Most definitely. We believe that delivering an outstanding customer experience goes hand-in-hand with having the right culture and really engaged colleagues who are motivated to do the right things.

CXM: Can you tell us more about your winning initiative? What made it stand out from a number of superb initiatives presented at the event? 

Lorraine:

Our customer Lounges are unique in UK banking and truly embody our ethos of ‘Everyone’s Better Off’. Our Lounges are about more than money and banking – they are designed to be places where our customers can relax and local communities come together. They are all part of our ambition to be a very different kind of bank.

Lounge membership is completely free, and so are the refreshments, Wi-Fi and use of our iPads. You’re also welcome to bring a friend or family member in with you. We are very proud of our Lounges and how they benefit our customers, colleagues, the community, our corporate partners and of course our company too.

CXM: You had to go through a day of presentations in front of the panel of judges for different categories as the final test. How would you describe the whole day at the Awards? 

Lorraine: We thoroughly enjoyed the day, it was a great experience. There were some challenging questions following the delivery of your presentation, but we had prepared properly and felt confident in our replies.

The organisation of the awards was excellent and it was great to meet like-minded people from different businesses, who are also hoping to be recognised for their efforts. It’s always a great day.

CXM: Does your team feel motivated to keep the pace of providing the award-winning CX, what effect did this award have on the whole company? 

Lorraine: We are definitely motivated to keep striving to achieve more and deliver exceptional service to our customers. Examples of great customer service are communicated to the whole company every week by our CEO, Jayne-Anne Gadhia, and our award win was included in one of the updates so everyone could share in the moment and feel good about what we do, every single day.

CXM: Is there a secret of success for the future nominees? 

Lorraine: It’s vital that you are confident in what you have to offer, and you take the time needed to prepare an excellent submission and presentation on the day. I think the combination of real innovation in customer experience, and full employee engagement in its delivery is also key.


Marija PavlovićMarija PavlovićAugust 5, 2016
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10min141

With our monthly theme covering relevant CX literature, we talked with Julie Cottineau, a branding expert, about her recently published book Twist: How Fresh Perspectives Build Breakthrough Brands and relevant trends in branding and customer experience.

in-text-photoJulie, it’s lovely to have you in the CXM, congratulations on the new book. In it, you focus on the non-profits and small businesses that have to fight certain type of challenges on the ever-changing market. What could be the main thing those companies should focus on when developing their customer experience?

You really need to clearly define your consumer and direct your focus on them, specifically. One of the biggest branding mistakes I see small business make is that they target everyone. They have broad and generic advertising headlines and website copy. But when your brand stays at this very general level it is hard for your ideal consumer to see that you’re really speaking to them and it’s a struggle for them to feel connected or feel compelled enough to take action. But if you can put yourself in your customer’s shoes and understand what they need, what they worry about, what keeps them up at night, what – on a deep level –they desire – and how you can deliver that – you’ll reach more people who will be willing to take action and keep returning to your brand.

Your experience is closely connected to gigantic brands, such as Virgin Group. In what ways can such practices developed for larger brands be applied to developing strategies for small businesses?

During my five years as V.P. of Brand at Virgin I witnessed the passion and excitement that Richard Branson and other entrepreneurs who worked with Virgin embody. That inspired me to break out on my own and create BrandTwist, my branding consultancy and Brand School Master Class, a branding program that helps entrepreneurs create breakthrough brands to take their businesses further.

Virgin embraces innovation and encourages fresh ideas and taking calculated risks. Small business can do the same. It’s even more important for small business owners to find fresh ways to reach more customers and stand out. Richard’s mottos, “Screw it! Let’s do it!” and “Fail harder” are reminders that it is okay to try new things – even If they may not be successful because what you learn from the both the successes and failures are both valuable.

Big brands have big budgets to develop their brands and hone their marketing – but if small businesses and non-profits put a little time into really developing their brands, it will pay off many ways. I cannot over-state the importance of developing a well-defined brand identity for small businesses; it’s literally your relationship with your customer – your most valuable business asset. Strong brands have tangible business benefits: they allow you to charge a premium, develop new products and services, and help you be forgiven when you mess up – and let’s face it, all brands, even Apple, make mistakes. If you keep your brand healthy – in return, it will help you build a loyal consumer following.

As the VP of Brand at Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, you were overseeing branding strategy for both new and established Virgin companies in North America. What did your path to that position look like? What has and has not changed throughout your career?

My passion for creative problem solving began at an early age- around 8, when my parents wouldn’t let me have a pet because of my brother’s allergies. Undaunted, I took a rock from my garden, put it in a Cool Whip container, poked holes in the lid so the rock could “breathe” and voila Instant pet rock! A few years later the official Pet Rock was invented by Gary Dahl and he made millions.

Throughout my career at Grey Global, Interbrand, Virgin and my own Brand consultancy, BrandTwist, and Branding School, Brand School online.com I have been obsessed with finding creative solutions- ideas with a TWIST- to problems. My own life has also been filled with wonderful TWISTS. I originally wanted to be a TV broadcaster, but my time as an exchange student in a summer work/study program in London during university led me to advertising. This was the only internship available and I fell in love with this discipline that used both the creative and analytical sides of my brain. During my ten years at Grey Global I was transferred to the Grey Paris office for three years. I didn’t know anyone and I didn’t speak any French. Overtime I became fluent, and a chance meeting at French tennis camp led me to me bring home a little “souvenir”. We’ve been married now for 20 years, living in the beautiful Hudson Valley of New York with two wonderful teenage children.

What are the most important do’s and don’ts of branding today? To what extent does branding affect the overall customer experience?

Making and keeping a meaningful promise is critical to any relationship. This is just as true today as it was decades ago. And strong brand relationships, like most human relationships are built on trust. A brand is what defines a business, product or personality and is the way you communicate to your customer what you stand for, what your promise is, and how you will deliver that promise. Your Brand Promise is not just about what the product does – it’s about how using the product makes your customer feel. For example, there are other brands with better technology than Apple–but owning and using an Apple product makes people feel like they are part of a world where they can create anything they set their minds to.

Today, you need to make sure that every touch point in the customer experience is communicating and supporting your brand message. It’s not just about traditional advertising and marketing. It’s also how your employees act, what people say about you in social media, brand partnerships and having brand ambassadors that speak on behalf of your brand. People are becoming increasingly wary of traditional communication like TV ads.

In the world of Social Media, it’s all about creating Word of Mouth and Word of Eye… a quick visual reminder of your brand that can appear on mobile devices and in virtual realities that can surprise and delight your customers.

Can you share some interesting customer experience practices that truly blew your mind recently?

I recently used UBER and noticed that I had the option of sending my playlist to the car – which means that from the moment I enter the vehicle my favorite music would be playing. It’s a little touch of customization that empowers consumers and also says “We care”.

They will also forward my ride details and itinerary to a friend, colleague or family member – this is a tiny convenient perk that also adds more “trust” factor to their brand.

I guess then, the magic formula would be “trust, with a twist”. Thank you very much for your time. We wish you many more successful twists in the future.

Interesting links:




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