Max EaglenMax EaglenSeptember 23, 2019
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9min1718

It wasn’t that long ago that getting a “job for life” was the aspiration of those leaving school and college.  

From gaining an apprenticeship to being part of the furniture, having a salary, a pension scheme, and the golden handshake – you were living the working dream. 

We all know that the working world has changed and with technology acting as the enabler, those in employment are moving jobs more now than ever, with a LV report revealing that the average UK worker changes roles once every five years, equating to around 9.4 jobs a lifetime. 

The ability to work “anywhere, anytime”, combined with many finding their roles made redundant by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and others wanting to opt out of the “9-to-5” means the likelihood is more temporary and less permanent roles emerging in the future workplace. A trend backed by the Office for National Statistics that estimates there is currently nearly 5 million self-employed in the UK (equating to around 15 percent of the workforce) up from 3.3 million (12 percent) in 2001

So, what does this mean in terms of workplace? Is this the demise of the office? At Platform, where we help clients such as Vodafone, British Gas, and Centrica Business Solutions visualise their working world of the future – we think not. We think it means changing our ideas and beliefs of what the office means and building a space that can be wholly cooperative, that allows fluidity of working while giving flexibility yet function. In fact, this is what we have created working with Vodafone on its Digital Innovation Hub, a technology incubator for start-ups and entrepreneurs based in Manchester’s Media City.  

The launch of the Digital Working Hub

Billed as the workplace of the future, the Vodafone Digital Innovation Hub will provide entrepreneurs with access to network experts, the latest technologies, including 5G, IoT, and high-speed fibre and a space to work together and exchange ideas. 

Yet the creation of the Digital Innovation Hub and Media City are far more than just places for those wanting to work independently. They highlight a new beginning in the world of work where cities become more agile to accommodate those working within it. We helped Vodafone imagine just what this city might look like with V-City, a 3D visualisation created by Platform for Vodafone that usesIoT and 5G to show a snapshot of the future. Complete with smart, connected infrastructure, drone deliveries, driverless cars and 4k streaming video, it helps organisations to plan for the future and assess some of the challenges and opportunities ahead.   

The launch of digital working hubs signifies the need for people to have face-to-face interaction with their colleagues, but not be confined to the traditional office environment. It creates a space for those moving through their working lives but not being constricted by it. The lifestyle, travel and hospitality platform Salina takes this one step further by blurring the lines between work and play by offering spaces you can travel to, yet live, work and co-exist for as long or as little as you want.    

Collaborative hubs are not in themselves new. However, what if they were the office norm allowing workers to move from one city to the other? To travel while working and to use the power of the community, just maybe not their organisation’s community?  It brings a new meaning to “working away from home” and a new way of thinking of the office space. 

What does the future workspace look like?

So, what might this new office space look like?  It goes without saying that tech will enable it allowing not only connectivity with colleagues working remotely, but those working in different continents across different time zones.

Taking learnings from those around you, language will no longer be a barrier as your virtual assistant translates in real-time allowing you to have conversations and meetings with those who have never spoken your native tongue.

Artificial Intelligence will take mundane, repetitive or highly complex, big data tasks and find meaningful patterns within them that help enhance decision making or deliver better insights into our business and our customers. Imagine VR and AR being seamlessly woven into the workplace to allow scenario planning, training via virtual visualisation and an enhanced sense of environment with VR/REAL bringing true immersive content that understands the user’s location.  This kind of full immersive technology gives rise to a much more mobile and distributed workforce and a more freelance economy of specialists contracted to deliver specific tranches of work.

Teams will be virtual, organic and machine based but not all, not yet.

The social agenda creeps higher up the priority list

As our technology races ahead and machine learning permeates throughout the workforce we will still have the need for places that better serve our creative, communal desire for human contact and face to face interaction. The ‘social’ agenda will inevitably creep higher up the list as priority for keeping a productive, successful happy workforce and if we are to avoid the possible dystopian scenarios such as the emergence of the Useless Class (people that cannot find employment means they are unable to maintain or improve their standard of living) predicted by the likes of Yuval Harari, we need to be mindful of the need to create spaces for not just as workplace solutions but social solutions helping to boost interaction, creation, innovation and dialogue and really consider the isolation risk threatened by remote working.

As last decade saw the end of the “job for life”, this decade the end to the “9-to-5”, maybe the next decade will see the end of the office as we know it but open up a world of offices that we move fluidly through, collaborating and engaging with different communities. Giving workers the chance to move and change working environments as they feel fit, it could boost creativity, help share best practice and see us becoming a global workforce like never before.  


Max EaglenMax EaglenJune 25, 2018
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18min3542

The workplace is changing, and with this change comes opportunity for those who can adapt.

Traditional ways of working are being replaced with new, digitally powered, more collaborative ones. Those who can embrace and leverage the technology that digital brings can gain significant advantage over their competitors. Not just in how they provide goods or services but how and where they engage with them in the first place.

Sales conversations with customers are more dynamic and demanding than ever and a meaningful dialogue requires a more complex set of stimuli delivered in more meaningful ways, and in more inspiring environments.

This is the era of the Customer Experience Centre (CEC).

Embodying the brand, the CEC is more than just a showcase for products and services. A place to explain, explore and expand your brand with your clients, potential clients and influencers, the CEC works on a number of levels. The following is a ten step process to creating a great Customer Experience Centre.

1. Understand your audience

It all goes back to the customer – understand the audience you are identifying as relevant to your Customer Experience Centre. 

These could include:

Externally

Prospects and clients generally

Researchers: People who are comparison shopping

Deciders: People who have come to purchase or sign up

Enthusiasts: People who are interested in your business

Persuaders: People influencing others to support their purchase

Professional sceptics: Procurement specialists, third party advisors, journalists, technologists

Owners: Existing customers, people who have come for issue resolution or new product offerings

Visionaries: Experts, futurologists

Partners: Suppliers and partners in your network

Important and influential visitors: MPs, government agencies, industry bodies

Internally

Sales teams

Employees

New recruits

Senior leaders

2. Define what you want your audience to get from the visit

Mapping out what you want your visitor to hear, see and experience helps you visualise what it might be like to be in the CEC. If you can apply this practice to the majority of the customer types who may be coming through the space you can create a much more memorable day for them.

We break the audience down into paddler, swimmer and diver. It goes like this – for paddlers, a visit to the CEC may be an opportunity to:

Assess and give the nod of approval for others to visit or have a strategic light touch overview of what the centre has to offer

Swimmers maybe interested in a particular area of business or a challenge they may be facing within their business

Divers are there to really interrogate the product or solution – to get under the hood and ask detailed questions

In addition, map out what you want to hear, see and experience – what do you want to get from your customer? What are the desired outcomes from their visit?

3.Work your way back from the win

Ask yourself: what is the point at which the customer says…

“Yes,”

“I like that”

“How does that help me?”

“Well that’s interesting,”

“Now I’m here and you’ve given me coffee and a Danish, what are you going to do to make it worth my while?”

“Ok I’ll come to the CEC?”

“Why should I come to the CEC?”

Map out the answers on a piece of paper and imagine the conversations and activities that might have taken place to enable each outcome.

4. Define the journey types

Define the journey types that will apply to different audience members and what their purpose of visiting your Customer Experience Centre is. Different customer types expect different outcomes and require different dialogues and activities – by being prepared with the right journey you can ensure that the customer has a meaningful visit.

Example journeys include:

Targeted transactional: you know your guest well and know what you want to sell to them

Collaborative: discovering and tailoring solutions together (workshop/demo/tailor/plan)

Explorative: looking at their pains and your existing solutions that might match (workshop/demo)

Foundational: explaining your offer, your company and solutions (discuss/demo/support)

New opportunities: existing customer, trying to upsell/cross-sell

Fact finding: you want to find out more about their needs to seek opportunity (explorative)

Showcase: you have specific new products/services to sell (collaborative/transactional

5. Design your Customer Experience strategy

Plan out the day like a storyboard.

Visualising the customer journey provides a reference point. This can be a visible reference guide for customers or hosts within the CEC itself, a communication tool for sales and marketing teams delivering the journeys and a stakeholder engagement tool to be used internally for journey sign off. 

Work out every step of the journey and at each step plan out:

  • What you want to say
  • What you want them to do
  • How you want them to feel
  • What tools you will use.

For instance:

How do you invite them? – What makes the invite different – how do you tempt them?

What happens in the lead up to the day? (send them useful insights)

Create a microsite to handle the invite, from insights to concierge and follow up.

How do they arrive at your CEC? What makes it special? A VIP experience?

How do they find you? Where do they park?

How do yo get them to decompress? Switch off their phones, stop answering emails?

How do you get their attention? 

How do you introduce your company and how do you set agenda for the day?

Ask the customer what they expect to get from the day.

What stories do you tell and what technology do you use to help tell it?

For instance, in a collaborative customer journey:

Be a thought leader: share with them your vision of the future

You don’t have to know everything about your customers business but you do need to know their environment, be ready with insights and perspectives and observations that may be useful to them.

Don’t be afraid to ask challenging questions or share challenging insights.  Provide real insight instead of just skimming content. But be prepared with where you are going to take it.

Here’s some for starters…

It’s 2020 and your company has closed down.

What does the company look like that put you out of business?

or

Its 2020 and your company has just bought out its biggest rival, what did the company do to make this happen?

or

Select two things that your biggest competitor does better than you

Select two things that you do better than your competitor

Take them on a journey

Disrupt them.

Help them explore and discover.

Help them take a long hard look at themselves.

Help them ideate – use what they have learned and look at ways they could apply it to their business.

Help them plan – help them map out a vision of what they could do achieve using your solutions or products.

6. Audit your assets

Make sure that everything you are going to use to help your conversations is up to date, on brand, easy to understand and insightful. If it’s not, change it.

Create

Repurpose, make fit for purpose.

Refine/Iterate

7. Choose your technology wisely

Before you invest in hardware, consider what you are going to use it for.

If you have a large format touch screen make sure that you have the assets to show on it. And, if you want to make a real impact, make sure you have the right software in place to do more than just show a PowerPoint slide.

Don’t spend a lot of money on something that you can’t change easily without a high cost. At Platform we have designed Co:Lab, a suite of applications designed specifically for use in CECs.

8. Design the space to suit the experience

When building the CEC make sure the journey designs are complete and tested. By doing so you can ensure that interactions happen how, when and where in the space you want them to and customers find it a natural, flow from one experience to the next.

9. Encourage active learning

Once you have your customer journeys designed, ensure you have experienced trainers to role play with your sales teams. Get them to become competent with the journeys, the messages, the activities, and the software and get this really embedded before teams start to free form.

10. Follow up

The CEC takes a much larger role in the sales cycle than one visit – it’s an integral part of the early stages of customer relationships as well as a university, hub, workshop, repository.  Well managed, a Customer Experience Centre becomes a powerful conversion tool at every stage of the customer engagement cycle.




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