Marija PavlovićMarija PavlovićNovember 22, 2016
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2min579

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 PavlovićSeptember 27, 2016
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4min719

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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4min698

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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6min982

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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17min731

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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11min555

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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5min674

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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10min689

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:


Marija PavlovićMarija PavlovićAugust 1, 2016
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1min2687

Being marked as “the new marketing”, customer experience is becoming a focal point of the business development today. However, there is a growing need for having a consensus about what customer experience truly is.

This video is one of the rare examples of an image marketing campaign that focuses on the customer experience itself rather than on the specific customer experience a company is trying to create.

In the fast-paced age of disruption, this video teaches us that we have to make a shift in realizing who the customers of today are and what makes a good customer service.

It’s actually not about the millenials, the technology or the channel. It’s about the power given to the customers to choose the experiences they need in any given moment, strengthened by the same tools used by any given business.

Making them not merely a target to reach, but a movement to follow.


Marija PavlovićMarija PavlovićJuly 18, 2016
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17min597

S&DWithin our series of CXM interview, our Editor-in-Chief, Marija Pavlović, talked with Dressipi co-founders, Sarah McVittie and Donna North about their interesting personalisation solution for the fashion industry.
CXM: Dear ladies, thank you for your time. Can you first explain to our readers what makes Dressipi so special and tell us more about the core value of the customer experience it provides?
Sarah and Donna: When Dressipi started in 2011, we found ourselves increasingly overwhelmed by the millions of garments to choose from across thousands of retailers who were going online. Retailers (like any content provider) suffer from the problem of what to show to whom, so instead show everyone everything which results in a very poor customer experience. Every retailer was pushing product but there was no one genuinely servicing the consumer to help them work out what suited them, their wardrobe and their budget.
Dressipi is the first ever truly 1-2-1 personalisation solution for the fashion industry which addresses this issue, providing a service that enables retailers to show individually personalised product recommendations (to each of their customers, rather than the same recommendations to groups or clusters of customers). Dressipi has always remained true to its aim, which is to make clothes shopping and dressing hassle free for all women, ensuring customers find the clothes they will love, buy and keep, removing the frustration of filtering through hundreds of products.

Women go to the retailer’s website and take a short quiz to create their Fashion Fingerprint®, which captures their shape, lifestyle and feature preferences. Dressipi tags every garment with up to 30 data points and then goes through a process of reviewing every garment to find the best match for with that customers’ specific Fashion Fingerprint®. So what magically happens is instead of the customer seeing 100s of items they see their ‘perfect edit’ – a surefire way to get the right product in front of the right customer at the right time.

We also understand how to deliver this content in a way that is helpful and valuable to women. Most women want to know the best key styles for them, they want to know the best edit of each retailer for them specifically, they want to see how they should wear items in outfits that are tailored to them and they want to understand how these items work with their existing wardrobe to make sure it is a good investment.

What separates us from other companies in our space is our unique marriage of real world fashion advice and technology. We have a team of industry renowned stylists and world leading technologists working alongside each other to capture the complexities and nuances of something as dynamic and personal as fashion.

CXM: Your clients include some of the biggest names in British retail, such as M&S, John Lewis, Shop Direct Group, Arcadia Group and many others. What’s it like working with such big brands and what are the challenges you face in offering them top solutions?

Sarah and Donna: We are passionate about technology, data, and solving real customer problems so we have come to see the challenges facing retailers in an environment where customers are becoming more demanding as a big opportunity.

Our offering is very unique, and has the potential to be disruptive and transformational for both the retail industry and the customer. When we started Dressipi the retailers’ understanding of our technology and what we were able to provide was limited and personalisation was definitely a “nice to have” not a “need to have”. This has definitely changed over the years as retailers become more open to the idea of collaborating with technology businesses to address key issues such as personalisation and returns reduction.

We have also taken the time to build real partnerships with each retailer and we have both benefitted from that partnership. Working together to state and understand what problems we are solving for their customers and then working iteratively to ensure we are delivering that in the best possible way.

Having worked tirelessly with our partners over the last 2-3 years we now typically see 1 in 3 customers creating a profile in the first year. We also deliver up to 30% increases in net revenue per customer (who shops with a profile) and 5% (percentage point) reductions in garment returns.

The personalised weekly emails we send out to customers with a profile also get fantastic engagement, and almost always outperform the retailers own emails. We typically see average email click through rates of over 30% and open rates of over 45%.

CXM: Our monthly theme is trying to touch upon the subject of seasonal approaches to marketing. I believe seasonality is especially important in the retail business. Have you noticed some important aspects of seasonal approach while working for big retail brands?

Sarah and Donna: Yes, we see also that seasonality has an impact on customers shopping for fashion. Aside from the obvious variation in the type of categories and styles of garments that customers buy across different seasons, we also see a difference in their preferences for different features, price points, frequency of purchase etc.

CXM: Can you tell us more about how the Fashion Fingerprint® works?

Sarah and Donna: Click-based recommendation services, which work off what customers have clicked on or looked at, are limited in their benefit and in their scope and also fail to capture fundamental preferences of each customer at an individual level. As any woman will tell you, fashion is a deeply personal and emotional purchase. Unlike more regular categories like books and electronics, Fashion is far more dynamic. What we buy and wear in January is different to what we buy and wear in June, because the weather is different. Even if women have similar tastes, what

looks good on one may not look good on the other if their size and shape is different. Fashion as an industry changes every season so certain features come in and out of fashion (shoulder pads, jumpsuits etc) and fashion one industry where past purchases are not always a very good indicator of future purchases. A woman who loves to follow trends might well have indicated that she really does not like floral prints but if floral prints are the key trend that season she will go and buy a couple of pieces with floral prints. And, to make it even more complex clothes only exist to be sold for 3-6 months, so relevant data is a moving target!

The Fashion Fingerprint® is therefore a way for us to get to know each and every woman and start to capture their intent and their preferences. This is essential in delivering true personalization that drives excellent customer service.

We started out by sitting down with our stylists and asking them for their professional opinion on what it was they considered if they were styling someone in the flesh. Everything from height to body proportion, to hair colour and skin tone were important to understand in order to make good clothing recommendations. Capturing their style and the more emotional side of fashion was also essential, so questions to do with fashion confidence, lifestyle or whether the customer is particularly adventurous or not were also integral.

Turning these set of questions into an algorithm which would work alongside the garment data to provide accurate recommendations for each individual customer was no doubt challenging – as we all know fashion is an extremely personal thing and as an industry it is very dynamic and constantly changing. However, after years of testing and refining, each individual customer has their own personalised algorithmic model which continually learns and evolves with them and their purchasing habits.

The name came from the idea that everyone’s fingerprint is unique and so is their attitude to fashion. Our algorithms learn with each individual’s shopping and browse activity (across retailers) and understands the dynamic nature of the fashion industry, as well as how people’s lifestyle changes their fashion requirements over time.

Ultimately we are creating a service where every customer can use their Fashion Fingerprint® across all retailers both instore and online to guide every single purchase they make. Where each and every one of us looks and feels better as a result of excellent guidance when shopping or dressing.

CXM: Your service is obviously all about personalisation, which is showing to be one of the most important drivers of the successful customer service. In the vast sea of data and the number of customers, how does one achieve a truly humane and honest customer experience without falling into traps of the market?

Sarah and Donna: True personalisation has to be just that, it has to be truly humane and honest. It has to be customer-led and as soon as you lose your integrity with your customers you will lose their business.

The way we, as customers, use technology is constantly evolving. Never before have there been so many brands or products available with different channels to use for each step of the customer journey. Conversely, this abundance of choice leaves the customers overwhelmed, increasing the need for ever more personalised marketing and selling. Where each customer is recognised, wherever they are, and gets a differentiated experience based on their intent and their preferences.

Customers are now demanding retailers to think in the truly personalised realm, no longer the mass or even the cohort realm.

We believe that ultimately the customer will own his/her own data, they will choose who they share it with in return for excellent customer service.

We never push product to a customer unless we genuinely believe it will suit their shape and style. It is building that trust between the customer and the brand which is essential to maintaining brand loyalty and ensuring that the customer shops with you again and again. By providing a personalised service such as ours that aims to work seamlessly between the instore and online environments, customers will have even more reason to return.

Customers will shop with the brands that recognise them, help them and inspire them. In return for that amazing experience they will share valuable data about themselves, their intent and their preferences. This will provide brands with the data and insight to create better products, targeted selling and more efficient merchandising and distribution. Which in turn means shoppers feel more connected to the brand and better serviced. So used correctly, everybody wins.

CXM: Any tips for the young businesses out there? Any tips for the ladies in business in general?

Sarah and Donna: It’s not about being male or female it is about having the tenacity and drive to push your company forward even when regularly faced with big challenges. It is important to find a network of people (male and female) that can support and help you through your journey.

We were recently out on a Female Founders Scale-Up mission to Silicon Valley. We were chosen as 1 of 14 female led companies that are scaling quickly. It was an extraordinary trip with extraordinary women running really great businesses. The key take-aways from that trip that are great tips to all of us trying to build great businesses:

  1. Purpose first Revenue will follow: state and know what problem you are solving
  2. Speed vs Perfection: expect to get 20% wrong
  3. Clearly Defined Goals: Steps should be fluid because they change
  4. Purposeful Building of Culture
  5. Hire Well: your team will define your success
  6. Be Ambitious: think faster and bigger than anyone else
  7. perational Rigour: but don’t forget the detail and the KPIs
  8. Be Visible: you can’t be what people cannot see
  9. Pay It Forward: go out of your way to help people, you’ll reap the rewards
  10. Find Your Tribe: find your network and contribute

CXM: That’s a nice way to end our interview. Thank you again for your time. 

Interview:


Marija PavlovićMarija PavlovićJuly 14, 2016
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8min893

If you are not playing it as we speak, you must have at least heard about one of the most interesting digital phenomena of our time – the augmented reality game, Pokémon Go.

Pokémon Go, apparently one of the most popular apps ever, that has more active daily users than Twitter and Tinder, is now officially even more popular than porn, according to Google searches. You have to admit, in terms of internet usage, this is a colossal success and it definitely raises a number of questions and insights, from both business and sociological perspectives.

After 20 years of Pokémon franchise (oh, wait, remember the Game Boy?), the Japanese company Nintendo made a step forward, implementing the game into the real world, making people chase the miniature animated monsters via their smartphones, together with the real people in the physical environment. In the era of smartphones, reality programmes, video games, and the raising concerns about alienation, this was simply the smartest possible move a company of this kind could make.

It’s not like Nintendo hasn’t already created some iconic characters. Super Mario was for long the most popular and beloved video game globally. However, in recent times Nintendo has been criticized for being “old-school”, failing to step up to the challenges of the growing smartphone market. Well, by partnering with US-based developer Niantic and the Pokémon Company, which owns the rights to the characters, not only that they faced the challenges, but they also raised the bar and set new standards in the gaming industry. In numbers: so far, the game has been installed more than 15 million times on the App Store and Google Play, and Nintendo shares went up more than 50% since Pokémon Go release.

The Rise of Pikachu

What creates the magic of the game? Its user experience. From the business perspective, this is definitely one of the trendiest proofs of the importance of customer experience and user experience today. The exciting thing about the game is that it makes you part of the game in the real world, it makes you interact with your team members on the whole new level and makes your own everyday environment an exciting game field. It literally makes you go out, explore the environment around you and find the “hot spots”, where you can meet with your team, find your game targets, free items etc. It is an app that adds the element of socialization in the real world that was missing from the traditional world of video games. And the game feels real.

Level up

From the business perspective, apart from being a rocking success for Nintendo, Pokémon Go opens up a number of opportunities for marketers and their advertising methods. For instance, if your business is near a “hot spot”, you will probably experience some organic benefits of your “hot spot location”. Not to mention the promotional opportunities a business can take by involving in the game and creating campaigns that are targeting the game’s teams and their needs. Sometimes, even an image campaign can do the trick, at least for your exposure.

Dangers of Pokémon hysteria

And then, there are downsides. First of all, people are acting rather insane sometimes, forgetting they are actually moving around the real world. There were reported cases of trespasses and there are plenty of cases of people falling, cutting themselves and grazing as they were not paying attention to what’s in front of them during the play.

Moreover, unfortunately together with business opportunities come the crime opportunities as well. Some criminals are already using the game to lure players to certain places and rob them at gunpoint, turning the socialization aspect into direct safety threats. The advice for the users given is to team up with the familiar people from their own environment and avoid going to any shady, remote places recommended by complete strangers. Which kinda makes sense in general, as you are moving around the real world with its usual threats, augmented.

However, most warnings are related to privacy & data safety. To provide such an amazing experience, this sort of interface collects a huge amount of information. According to the Pokémon Go privacy policy, Niantic may collect — among other things — your email address, IP address, the web page you were using before logging into Pokémon Go, your username, and your location.

Read You Should Probably Check Your Pokémon Go Privacy Settings

Also, given the limited game release, eager users are often downloading the game from unverified sources, exposing themselves to direct malware threats.

Game is never over

And what does this game say about the humans today? Naturally, just like any other trend or phenomenon, Pokémon Go can bring out the worst and the best in people. As we are moving further from the natural environment, gravitating toward big cities, digital spaces and comfort of our homes, we need an additional reason to go out, even to socialize. And apparently, we like video games even more than sex. Well this could be a pessimist point of view.

What about the positive sides? In business, one of the most important trends today is gamification. I guess, both during the work and in their everyday lives, humans today need play more than ever. Something to spark our creativity and give an additional flare to our everyday environment. The time will tell how the game will influence the whole market and the approach to user experience in general.

So far, provided it is used with caution, this game opened up a number of truly exciting opportunities, for players, customer experience professionals and companies. And yes, for some truly creative game cheaters as well:

 


Marija PavlovićMarija PavlovićJune 8, 2016
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9min2004

As part of our CXM Interview Series, our Editor-in-Chief, Marija Pavlović, talked with Jeb Dasteel, Senior Vice President and Chief Customer Officer at Oracle about the importance of customer success and employee satisfaction for the effective customer experience strategy.

 

  • Q: Hello Jeb. First of all, thank you for your time and insights you’re about to share with our readers.  How are things going in Oracle and for you personally?

My pleasure. Thanks for taking the time to speak with me. Things are going well on both fronts. At Oracle, we have made remarkable progress in our quest to be the most customer success-oriented company in the world. Over the past decade, we have been on a mission to promote customer centricity and loyalty, and this focus on customer success is the last leg of the journey. It’s a long leg, but the last.

  • Q: What takes a company, be it a small or giant, to delivering higher level of customer experience?

There’s no question in my mind, the secret, especially given the shifts in economics and consumer behaviors today, is in customer success. That simply means that everything you do for your customers is about understanding their business objectives and helping them to realize those objectives. If you carry that principle through the entire customer experience – from buying, to installing and implementing, to using the product – you really can’t go wrong. In the book “Competing for Customers: Why Delivering Business Outcomes is Critical in the Customer First Revolution,” written by Craig LeGrande, Amir Hartman and myself, we discuss the three pillars of customer success – listening, engaging and ensuring.  We encourage companies to listen by truly understanding what it means for your customers to succeed with your offers; engage by starting a productive dialogue, collaborating to solve problems, and promoting awareness of your value; and lastly, ensure by innovating to deliver on your promises, proving your value to the customer, and building retention.

  • Q: Your broad experience linked you to some leading B2B companies, such as Cisco, GE Power, Rockwell Automation, and Telogis. What has that experience taught you so far, are there any valuable examples or case studies you can share with us?

What Cisco, GE Power, Rockwell Automation, and Telogishave in common, and in common with Oracle too, is that they have done some really innovative things around customer success delivery. Broadly speaking, the majority of organizations we reviewed said that they are very good at understanding their customers’ business objectives, but when we spoke with the actual customers of those organizations, we heard very different stories

There’s quite a divide between what most of us think we’re good at and what our customers would tell us. With Oracle, Cisco, GE, Rockwell Automation, and Telogis, it’s very different. These companies are in point of fact delivering customer success to their customers. Are they doing everything perfectly? Of course not. But they’re farther along in some combination of listening to and engaging with their customers, and in ensuring that customers realize business outcomes. That’s what sets them apart. One of my favorite examples of ensuring business outcomes is how Rockwell deploys “solution teams” with deep knowledge of customer factory operations so that Rockwell can help customers achieve their manufacturing automation objectives. Automation, in turn, delivers higher quality and higher margins. We discuss how Rockwell Automation measures success further in chapter nine of “Competing for Customers.”

  • Q: Relying on your experience, how much is customer psychology different in the B2B world?

B2B customer behaviors have changed radically in the last few years – much of that is fueled by B2B buyer experiences in their daily lives as consumers. Thus, consumer and business buyer expectations have converged. In the good old days B2B sellers could reasonably expect their customers to essentially follow the seller’s lead through a structured sales process. Now the buyer is in control, and the seller follows the buyer through a buying process. Add to this the very real changes that comes in the form of subscription economics, and it’s a whole different world for both buyer and seller.

  • Q: How does a Chief Customer Officer tackle with customer relationship, keeping track with the signals coming from “the inside”.

We’ve seen for a few years now that employee engagement drives customer engagement. And, customer engagement drives everything that’s good: satisfaction, loyalty, referenceability and customer success. So it’s essential to keep employee engagement high, and that means employee satisfaction. At Oracle, this means that we simultaneously solve employee and customer challenges. If we remove friction for one, we invariably do exactly that for the other. A perfect example of this is with ordering.

We are making it far easier to buy from Oracle – so that the buying experience is as fast as every other aspect of cloud computing. Easy buying makes for easy selling. We call this Oracle’s Accelerated Buying Experience.

  • Q: What are your predictions for the following period, what is the direction companies should take to deliver a satisfying customer experience?

I believe that customer experience is already on its way out! Think about what it means. One of the major tech analyst firms, Forrester, defines CX as “how customers perceive their interactions with your company.” Makes pretty good sense – but that’s just not good enough anymore. It’s got to be about partnering with your customers to ensure they’re successful in achieving real, measureable, business outcomes. I see many organizations heading in this direction, with most of those just starting out – because they see this as the only surefire way to retain customers in an environment where they have very real choices and can switch with relative ease.

  • Q: Any final message for the CX community?

Just this: Measure your success by the success achieved by your customers.

 

jeb-dasteel-headshotJeb Dasteel
Senior Vice President and Chief Customer Officer at OracleJeb Dasteel holds the position of Senior Vice President and Chief Customer Officer at Oracle. He is responsible for driving the relentless focus on customer success into all aspects of the Oracle business.

Dasteel works across Oracle to deliver customer programs that continuously improve collaboration and attainment of customer business outcomes, value delivered, and loyalty.He has been with Oracle for 18 years in a number of corporate and field-based roles.

Before joining Oracle in 1998, he worked as a management consultant at Gemini Consulting, helping Fortune 500 organizations define and implement business and IT strategies.


Marija PavlovićMarija PavlovićApril 25, 2016
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10min1854

After winning Silver at the UK Customer Experience Awards 2015 in the Hospitality/Leisure/Charity category, B2B International certainly have a few useful tips to share about what makes an award winning practice. CXM Editor, Marija Pavlovic, interviewed their Chairman, Nick Hague, to find out more about the ongoing trends and tricks in the B2B world.

Your company offers numerous services revolving around market research with B2B focus. How does one create an impressive customer experience in that field?

Creating an impressive customer experience in a b2b marketplace is the same as in a b2c market; with a lot of hard work, continued effort and willing from management upon high.

Creating a differentiated customer experience is all about providing a tailored, all-inclusive experience to each individual customer at each touch point the customer interacts with the supplier. The added advantage in b2b markets is that often personal relationships hold stronger sway and therefore it is more important to help build the customer experience and get closer to a customer. Due to the fact that b2b markets often have smaller number of customers it is a lot easier to talk, visit and develop a position of trust; often with multiple decision makers in the decision making unit.

Also, it is true to say that until recent years, many b2b companies have fallen into the ‘commodity trap’ whereby they often compete on price as opposed to developing a differentiated position based on service.

Things are starting to change now but those companies that do start to ‘think like a customer’ instead of a supplier are creating experiences for their customers that have only been akin to b2c markets in the past and they are reaping the rewards.

Last year, you won Silver at the UK Customer Experience Awards 2015 in the Hospitality Leisure/Charity category and were a Finalist in the Insight & Feedback category. What did that feel like and what effect did the award have on your staff?

Just getting through to the finals again after reaching the finals in 2014 was amazing but going that one step further and winning Silver was fabulous.

Not only was it great for our staff and our clients staff but it meant so much more because we did miss out in 2014 and getting the Silver was great to show recognition for all the hard work that both us, as the agency, and our client have put in to developing the customer experience program we have in place and taking it to another level.

What do you think is the essence of an award-winning practice? What made your CX stand out?

We were given some good, constructive feedback in 2014 when we narrowly missed out and came 3rd in our category. We took this on board and not only developed the CX program in place but we knew what the judges were looking for and so were able to show clear progress in terms of NPS shift but also financial growth for our client.

A lot of differentinitiatives had been put in place over the course of 2015 both on the research side and in the implementation side by our client and so we were able to share in our CX showcase lots of innovation which I believe made our CX entry stand out.
Do you have any advice for future nominees?
My advice for future Customer Experience nominees is to make sure that you have a story so as to capture the judges attention as there is a lot of tough competition out there.

However, a story isn’t enough unless it is backed up by figures both in terms of measurable feedback from customers but also tangible, financial numbers on how your CX efforts have impacted your business.

We witnessed some interesting changes on the market and it is clear that customer experience becomes “the new marketing”. What are your predictions for 2016, what will be the next big thing companies should focus on?

My predictions for 2016 are that customer experience will evolve and become even more intertwined with other forms of measurement and experience programs as it cannot sit siloed from other parts of the business.

Many companies have realised the connection between employee engagement and customer experience but it goes beyond that. The customer experience needs to be integrated within the brand experience as well as the value that is been generated in the bottom line financial figures of an organisation. Therefore the predictions for 2016 and beyond are already been seen by some companies in that it is a holistic process that requires primary feedback from customers and employees tied in with competitive data in addition to internally held data such as OTIF delivery measurement, number of customer visits, quality defect counts and customer complaints.

Therefore the role of a CX Manager needs to evolve and either employ or become more of a data scientist in the future to understand what the ‘big data’ means.

Which current CX trends or tools do you find most useful in the world of B2B?

The use of NPS in measuring customer experiences is well documented and indeed it is a useful metric that allows companies to track change in advocacy and loyalty of customers over time. That said, in B2B markets, asking someone if they would recommend a company to someone seeking a supplier might result in that person losing their competitive edge and so they may give a low recommendation score even though they are highly satisfied and loyal to that brand. Also, as already discussed, in b2b markets customer bases often number in the 100’s rather than the 1000’s and so comparing results on low sample sizes can mean that results aren’t robust and volatile in reporting month on month.

Therefore in b2b markets you do need to be wary of the pitfalls of using NPS and that is why we have developed a number of other metrics and tools that can be used alongside NPS as the total customer relationship cannot be fully understood by just one question.

What basic CX tip would you give to any business today?

A world class CX program never stops and the key learning is that you need to continually monitor and improve to endeavour for best-in-class. However, you can only do this if you have buy-in from senior management but also that you have a dedicated CX team in place as it requires hard work from the entire company.

The main thing to remember is that great customer experiences are hard earned. It doesn’t come quickly and experiences are earned in small servings across many touchpoints over time.

Thank you for the interview, and once again, congratulations on the award.

NickNick Hague
Chairman at B2B International

Nick Hague is a founder member and director of B2B International, which was set-up as a specialist b2b research agency in 1998. He has vast global experience helping clients across every industry sector to develop their customer experience strategies. Nick is a regular writer on CX best practice and has written many white papers and had a couple of books published in the field of market research.


Marija PavlovićMarija PavlovićOctober 29, 2015
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5min555

“On 2003, two mates met up for a beer in Melbourne, Australia, and the idea that sparked Movember was born. The moustache had all but disappeared from fashion trends. Could they bring it back? They found 30 guys willing to take up the challenge. 0$ raised.”

Eleven years later, the Movember Foundation was ranked 72nd out of the top 500 NGOsi n the world. Twenty-one participating countries. 4,746,905 Mo Bros and Mo Sistas. More than £400 million raised. A total of 832 men’s health projects funded, according to the Movember Foundation. And a whole lot of moustaches grown.

Check these famous moustaches.

Movember illustrates how a fun and quirky idea can make a huge positive impact. It shows how style doesn’t have to be a superficial thing. It can be a powerful tool for uniting people around the world who are willing to dedicate to a certain cause.

According to a recent eSolidar survey, almost eight out of 10 people ignore most charity fundraising letters and emails. People often feel bombarded by fundraising appeals… which brings us to the point that customer experience applies even in the charity sector. Maybe especially in the charity sector, where there is ask that people can feel emotionally manipulated. Contributors are predisposed to take special caution with who they are giving money to.

Our November issue theme is charity and the non-profit sector, so the Movember case study fits here perfectly – especially because it is about how customer experience makes a difference. That leads us to an example from this year’s UK Customer Experience Awards whose, participants and organisers helped Bernardo’s Fundraiser raise £6,000 to help support the UK’s most vulnerable children.

Customer Experience Magazine meets this Movember all polished and redesigned. After several years, it had to evolve and make some updates to keep up with the needs of our readers. We see the redesign as our own new moustache, and we hope it will make great stories from the customer experience world stand out – and hopefully raise awareness about important causes, ongoing trends and award-winning practices in the process.

As the recent updates in Apple iOS showed us, visual communication is an important part of a brand and it functions as a language of its own. We hope our new design will make a step forward in improving our overall communication.

Together with the new design comes our editorial calendar for the year to come. Check out the themes of upcoming issues if you are one of the contributors who have a valuable story to share. And if you are among those who want to become one of our partners or advertise with us, check out our newly made media pack.

Welcome to a brand new Customer Experience Magazine! We look forward to making some amazing customer experiences together. And have a great Movember!


Marija PavlovićMarija PavlovićSeptember 1, 2015
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7min1152

by Marija Pavlović, Editor, Customer Experience Magazine

POSTCARD #1

Hi mum,

As I’ve heard, Athens is amazing. I mean, it must be with all its history and cultural heritage. I wouldn’t know. I’ve been stuck in the airport for 3 hours. Boooring. Just trying to kill some time.
Send kisses to Dad

M

P.S. I tried to buy you that lipstick you like at the airport, but the line was just insane.

POSTCARD #2

Hi Ana,

Yes, it’s a postcard. I bet you did not expect a postcard. Call me a romantic, but I like that retro-chic vibe.
Oh, who am I kidding? The truth is, the hotel wifi doesn’t work. Can you believe it? I am trying really hard to be positive about it, to switch off or whatever. But come on, no internet? Seriously?

Anyway, just wanted to congratulate you on your new job. That’s the last update I’ve seen on Facebook before we lost internet connection.

Chat soon, hopefully. XXXOOO

Drama queen M

P.S. Can’t wait to leave a hotel review.

POSTCARD #3

Hey honey,

The trip to Spain turned into a business+pleasure kind of a thing. We closed the deal (yay) and the client recommended me the coolest city spots and some hidden restaurant jewels. I possibly had the best tapas ever.

The only thing that bothers me is siesta. I just can’t get used to it, I keep forgetting about their weird working hours. Luckily, a shop near my hotel worked around it perfectly, it’s working even when nobody else does. Their employees literally saved my life, as I couldn’t get the contract printed anywhere else and I was already late for the meeting. It all ended well, thank to Olivia, the kindest girl who works there, whom now I consider mi amiga mejor!

I’m coming home soon, after a few more tapas. Besos!

M
Wish you were here, you’d love it!

***

How was your holiday?

The themes of the September issue of Customer Experience Magazine are Hospitality, Leisure & Tourism. You must admit, they are the tricky ones as holidays probably bring the best and the worst out of people.

The wanderlust in all of us imagines a travel as a fairytale land of infinite excitement, adventure, joy, tranquillity and happiness. In reality, apart from the amazing photos and memories made, we often face long museum lines, misunderstandings due to the cultural differences, poor service, blisters, sunburns, stomach aches, all in all – our dreamlike expectations not being met.

A part of the blame for inconvenient things happening lies within us. We did not check the weather forecast, forgot to bring the comfy shoes, or we simply made the wrong destination choice carried away by the spirit of adventure.

The Couple Who Quit Their Ad Jobs to Travel the World Ended Up Poor and Scrubbing Toilets

However, the rest of the blame has to be on the other side of the fence. What is a must for hotels today to meet travellers’ expectations? Do you care about customer feedback? Is it possible to get proper food as a tourist today? What do your online reviews tell about your business?

The list of the questions like these goes on. Therefore, in this issue, within the articles referring to our monthly themes, our contributors tried to share some valuable insights that might help us all realise what makes a great customer experience in Hospitality, Leisure & Tourism industry today. And more importantly, what kind of journeys should companies take to get to that magical destination.

Have a safe trip.

eBook: Connecting Customer Journeys: An Executive Q&A Featuring Emirates Airline

P. S. Have Love, Will Travel


Marija PavlovićMarija PavlovićAugust 3, 2015
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6min468

By Marija Pavlović, Editor of the Customer Experience Magazine

***

Midsummer Morality Story on the Importance of Market Research

Once upon a time, actually somewhere around the mid-1980s, there lived a market giant called Coca-Cola.

Although quite huge, the giant was not terrifying. On the contrary, he was tenderly loved across the world.

However, going through some sort of identity crisis, the giant thought he should go for a better taste. He decided to reinvent himself, and he offered this new taste to around 200000 people to see if they would enjoy it even more. And they did.

So, he cleared out his old wardrobe and started presenting himself as “The New Coke”.

Then the giant lost millions of dollars.
End of story.

Well, not really.

Even scary stories are precious if you learn something. What went wrong here is that Coca–Cola assumed that taste was the deciding factor in consumer purchase behavior. What they didn’t tell their consumers was that the old coke would be replaced with the new version. Moreover, no one considered the symbolic value and emotions involved with the original Coke.

Bottom line, market research matters if it’s done properly. If not, even giants can show their vulnerable side.

***

Cool Twitter moments:

twitter

***

We Went through Some Cosmic Changes, Literally

There were some exciting changes going on last month, NASA published the first photo of Pluto via Instagram, Apple launched the first streaming device and I’ve started in my new job as the Editor of the CXMagazine. Yeah, I know, the Pluto piece is quite exciting, but in my own universe, this last news was the cosmic one!

By definition, Customer Experience is the product of an interaction between an organisation and a customer over the duration of their relationship. As you probably know, relationships are hard. You have to be knowledgeable, patient, kind, supportive and ready to keep investing all your resources to keep the relationship healthy and long-lasting.

However, this product can be extremely rewarding. It can help you grow and evolve into a better version of yourself, that is, your business. The interaction you create is powerful enough to pave the road to success or failure.

By keeping up to date with the news from the industry and exchanging experience with one another, we can make sure that all the business relationship we create are successful and rewarding.

So far, Customer Experience Magazine has managed to build strong relationships with CX professionals and winners, finalists and judges from the Awards who are passionate about their CX and ready to share the secrets of their success.

With over 10,000 subscribers, the magazine is a valuable informative and promotional vehicle. However, the Magazine is ready to evolve. The CXM team will be working hard to improve the customer experience we provide and make sure we are up to date with the latest trends and market demands.

This magazine is not made by me or my team. It is made by us and you too. This is the only way we can keep it relevant both for you, our readers. So if you have an interesting CX story to share, please email me at marija@customerexperiencemagazine.co.uk.

Sign up for our free newsletter and learn how to inform, inspire and include your customers and improve your business.

And we’ll do our best to do the same for you.
Looking forward to creating some amazing Customer Experience with you.

***

P. S. Remember, with the right approach to your CX, you can be a star of your business.


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Inform. Inspire. Include.
A free way to improve your business.

Customer Experience Magazine is the online magazine packed full of industry news, blogs, features, reports, case studies, video bites and international stories all focusing on customer experience.

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For article submissions:
Editor
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editorial@cxm.co.uk

For general inquiries, advertising and partnership information:
advertising@cxm.co.uk
Tel: 0207 1932 428

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Tel: 0207 1937 483

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