Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthAugust 15, 2018


Alongside two exclusive conferences focusing on sharing best practice in Customer and Employee Experience, comes a summit on one of the most crucial aspects of modern customer service – complaint handling.

Taking place in London on September 20, Winning With Complaint Handling is a unique one-day event featuring speakers whose dedication to dealing with customer queries has earned them success at the UK Complaint Handling Awards.

Presentations and Q&A sessions will offer insight into the strategies of the firms that turn complaints into a chance to win back and cement customer loyalty.

Held at the Park Plaza Riverbank Hotel in the heart of London, the conference will also be a valuable networking opportunity for attendees.

Speaking at the conference is Founder and CEO of complaint handling software pioneers Resolver, James Walker, whose morning session, titled Keeping Your Most Loyal Customers, will explore the modern customer journey and its relation to ‘loyalty debt’.

Next, Christina Liciaga, of double 2018 UK Complaint Handling Award winners HSBC, will present on the secrets behind her brand’s success, before Sally Ainsworth of Unite Utilities’ Head of Service Recovery discusses the art of Proactive Complaint Handling.

Shine Prakash, the Senior Manager of iCasework will also discuss strategies, while Claire Churchill, Customer Relations manager at Ombudsman Services will help attendees understand what their customers really want when it comes to complaint resolution.

Rosie Bailey, of award winners CitySprint, will chart her firm’s journey towards customer-centricity, while Paul Dowell and Neil Davies of Severn Trent Water will discuss how theIr organisation went Back to Basics when it comes to customers – and earned recognition for doing so.

Representing Henley Business School, Andrew Bryan will offer insight into the mind of the 21st Century customer, and what they expect from businesses, before BT’s Amanda Redhead discusses how complaint handling was completely overhauled within one of the UK’s best-known communication brands.

The Co-Op’s Ben Lyons will offer an overview of the firm’s award-winning contact centre transformation strategy, while expert awards consultant Donna O’Toole will show you what it takes to join award winners at the very top of their game.

Travel giants Thomas Cook successfully delivered a ‘Centre of Excellence’ for complaint handling, and in a presentation, Susan Wilkinson, Head of Customer Relations, will outline the steps taken to implement it.

From New Day, David Land, Head of Service Delivery, will reveal the firm’s hugely successful complaint handling strategies, while Steph Heasman of Feefo will also address attendees.

Other speakers will include Christina Dolding of Old Mutual Wealth, and Neil Skehel, CEO of conference organisers Awards International.

He said:

Successful complaint handling has become the centre of customer experience. Research shows that for every one customer who complains, there are another 26 who say nothing and just leave. So a complaint can be a valuable gift that enables you to improve your business and keep customers happy.

By attending the Winning with Complaint Handling conference you’ll discover cutting edge strategies that are proven to transform businesses through a focus on root-cause analysis and complaint resolution.”

For further details and to reserve tickets for the conference, click here, where details are also available of an exclusive Early Bird ticket price offer that can save up to 47 percent in costs.

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthAugust 10, 2018


As Employee Experience continues to mould the landscape for businesses in the UK and beyond, a new conference will bring the country’s foremost authorities on EX together for a day of sharing best practice and the techniques that have won awards.

Winning With Employee Experience is a one-day event taking place on September 13 in the heart of London. Hosted by Awards International at the HQ of FDM Group at Cottons lane, the conference will be introduced by the founder of the World Employee Experience Institute, Ben Whitter – AKA ‘Mr Employee Experience’ – and will feature speakers from award-winning organisations whose approach to employee satisfaction has made them some of the most desirable firms to work for in the UK today.

The businesses represented have enjoyed success at the 2018 UK Employee Experience Awards, and they want to tell you how they achieved it.

Presenting on the day will be Scott Morrison, head of Capability Development at BT, who will focus on Empowering Employees to be Brilliant for Customers.

Diana Crouch, of Crouch Consulting, will outline why Diversity Means Business, drawing from her skills as a marketing and diversity consultant, and presenting on her own strategy matrix that enables businesses to develop inclusion strategies that positively impact their bottom line.

Meanwhile, insurance leaders Staysure will be represented by Trudy Purchase, Head of L&D, and Nicky Curtis, HR Assistant and Health & Wellbeing Champion. Together they will outline the strategy that land the firm Gold in the UK Employee Experience Awards’ Employee Engagement – Recognition and Wellbeing category.

The Group Talent Director at recruitment giant ManpowerGroup, Jo Pursail, will discuss the best methods for motivating group talent within a business, while David Henderson, Management Development Lead at Aspen Healthcare Group, will present on the award-winning strategy that transformed employee engagement at The Holly Private Hospital in Essex.

From consultancy Sparks Grove, CX & Service Design Leader Emily Cullen, and Head of CX Rebecca Galea, will present a strategy to attendees on the real benefits of approaching EX change using proven Customer Experience Methods.

They will show how applying tried and tested tools including journey maps and research can reap huge rewards for outlining a successful Employee Experience agenda.

Also Employee Experience guru Flick Hardingham will provide an exclusive insight into ‘Circles’ an innovative organisational model of collective leadership that was developed at London’s Jubilee Street Practice, and which has kept employees engaged and fulfilled, despite ever-increasing pressure on the NHS.

Rounding off the day will be a presentation from UK Employee Experience Awards partners Benefex.

For further information on Winning with Employee Experience, and to take advantage of an early bird ticket offer that can save up to 35 percent in costs, click here.

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthAugust 9, 2018


The future of the booming Customer Experience sector is the focus of an upcoming conference in which attendees can gain valuable insight from some of CX’s biggest names.

Hosted by Awards International at the Reading HQ of Microsoft on October 3, The Future of CX will feature 10 presentations from industry leaders, who will discuss award-winning CX strategies that have revamped the paths to success in both B2B and B2C environments.

Chairing the conference is Ian Golding, international CX specialist and author of the book that has this year ignited a new drive towards customer-centricity, Customer What: the Honest and Practical Guide to Customer Experience.

Ian will introduce a range of speakers, including representatives of firms that have enjoyed significant success in the UK Customer Experience Awards.

They will reveal the strategies that pushed them not only towards awards recognition, but also a new level of customer-centricity that has revitalised their relationship with consumers and clients alike.

The speakers include Jo Mayes of Business Stream, who led her team to victory at the 2017 UK Customer Experience Awards thanks to a hugely successful partnership with consultants Capgemini, who will also be represented at the conference by Principle Consultant Karen Thompson.

Together, they will reveal how utilities have learned from other industries when it comes to much-needed digital revamps of customer service provision.

Meanwhile, Bluesky’s Managing Director Sally Earnshaw will present on the need to keep ‘people power’ a focus in an era of ever-increasing digital dominance, while Andrew McGuigan, Microsoft’s Director of Worldwide Customer Service Strategy, will outline a range of successful strategies, including turning customers into advocates, and the importance of data science.

Other guests include Director of The Henley Centre for Customer Management and Professor of Strategic Marketing at Henley Business School, Moira Clarke; Digital Learning Specialist at clothing giant River Island, Mike Collins; VP of Consulting and Innovation at Forrester, Qaalfa Dibeehi; Maria Bourke of Let’s Get Healthy; and the founder of CXellence Consulting, Manuela Pifani.

For further details and to reserve tickets for this unique event, click here, where details can also be found on a special early bird offer that can save 35 percent on booking costs.

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthAugust 7, 2018


Cris Beswick is among the UK’s foremost innovation specialists, and one of the pioneers behind an exciting plan to change how digital media is consumed.

That vision is The Future Shapers, a roadmap to bringing quality content and thought leadership pieces directly to readers through a ‘pay-as-you-read’ model closer in style to Netflix than the more traditional methods of paying for this content, such as intrusive adverts or hefty annual subscription fees.

In an exclusive interview with Customer Experience Magazine, Cris – the author of The Road to Innovation – discusses how the plan has the potential to return value ‘back to knowledge’, and how you can get in on the ground floor to help make it happen…

Hello Cris, tell us how the idea for The Future Shapers came about

Well, I’ve written for various publications over the last 10 years, such as magazines and newspapers, and of course for online platforms also.

In the innovation space, myself and TFS co-founders felt there was still room for another platform, one that’s online, to try and do something a little bit different.

The idea was to try and focus on quality actionable content for readers.

When it comes to what’s already available, I was frustrated by things such as monetising through intrusive adverts that diminish or dilute the fact that a site should be about thought leadership and great content. As a result of feeling this way, a friend said to me to put my money where my mouth is, and so The Future Shapers was born.

We have been live for 18 months now, with the mantra of returning value back to knowledge, for the reader and the thought leaders (the contributors).

Tell us how this plan can become a viable business model for the likes of online journalism

The innovation space is an interesting one. There are a lot of genuine experts, and the innovation space is dominating a lot of conversations – such as when asking how do businesses innovate etc. The need for innovation is right at the top of the strategic agenda for a great many people.

Our intended readers are typically senior leaders, change makers, HR directors, heads of innovation and the like. We know they are struggling to find great content around the challenges they all face when it comes to innovating.

The Future Shapers’ core aim is to ultimately become the go-to place for these people, and many others. You might say ‘we are struggling with understanding how we build an innovation strategy’, so the answer would be to go to TFS and find the content around that strategy.

Also, doing this will pinpoint thought leaders who are contributing the most when it comes to content on strategy, so there’s a secondary potential for our contributors to be directly engaged by those clients.

The original business model was: how do we monetise access to that content without going down the advertising route and filling sites with banners, or asking for annual subscriptions?

How do we value the people who provide the content that people desire? There simply aren’t many sites in the innovation space that genuinely compensate the providers of the content for what they create, yet these same sites often make significant revenue because people visit to read that very same content.

We asked: how do we provide access to this content in a way in which people pay for what they consume, rather than through costly overall subscription methods? The flip side of that question is: how do we do this and compensate the contributors, not by paying them, for example, £200 for an article, but paying them every time the article is read? This way they get the lion’s share when it comes to revenue made through their expertise.

The Future Shapers has been compared to Netflix in terms of its business model. Could this venture be as successful as that?

The comparison is there because of the interface: a pay-as-you-view service. All you will need is an account and payment mechanism. You consume as much or as little as you want, so the ‘written content version of Netflix’ is a fair analogy.

What can people do to get involved with The Future Shapers?

The beauty of what we’re doing is that we decided not to go down the route of having a big institutional investor. We had the opportunity to be backed by a few significant investors, and we could already be up and running now in terms of having the funds to build the technology that’s going to sit behind the platform and do all of the things we talked about.

However, when it comes to the people we are building the platform for, we thought: wouldn’t it be better if they owned some of the platform as well? That is what prompted us to go down the crowdfunding route. 

Several of the current investors are also contributors. They recognise that when the tech is built it will power their ability to monetise their articles and thought pieces into content that drives a revenue back to them every time someone reads what they have written.

We kept the investing private for around four weeks, to give our community a chance to invest, but now we’re public. We want the public, as investors, to help us push on to the final goal.

We are between 20 and 25 percent funded, and over the next few weeks we want to get the other 75 percent and get us past the £200,000 mark. That will then be enough for us to build the technology we need.

People can have a look at what we’re building; we would suggest they do some research on the online media industry at the moment – how its being disrupted and how its on the verge of even greater disruption.

I’m not saying we are going to disrupt the entire industry alone, but we plan to play a part in shifting from that traditional annual subscription model into the consumption model I outlined.

I would ask your readers to feel free to log onto Crowdcube, see more of what we are about, and make an investment.

We are building the tech to power TFS, but the savvy investor will see, when they read the documents, that what we are building will be significant, and that technology is where the real disruption is. That tech will be applicable to other sectors where they require a managed, protected way to push content to consumers, so the licensing of that IP will be incredibly significant in terms of how big our revenues can be.










Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJuly 24, 2018


A “calculated risk” paid off for an award-winning design and marketing firm that has helped change how customers choose hair and beauty salons.

StrategiQ Marketing won Silver in the Customer Feedback and Review category at the recent 2018 UK Digital Experience Awards, which were held recently in London, after judges listened intently to the firms’ presentation on their partnership with salonspy, an interactive review platform for customers of salons and spas throughout the UK.

The goal of the project was to help salonspy bring in more positive reviews that assist its salon customers in building their reputation, and its execution convinced awards judges to names them as Silver winners.

James Bavington, Director of StrategiQ, said:

I’m delighted that the strategy, creativity, expertise and calculated risks that we worked together on for re-launching salonspy not only worked for their business but have been recognised by the judges at the UK Digital Experience Awards.”

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJuly 19, 2018


Despite today being National ‘Get To Know Your Customers’ Day, three quarters (75 percent) of marketers admit they don’t actually know what they are looking for when analysing their customers’ data.

That’s according to research by experience management company Qualtrics, which surveyed 260 UK marketers.

The research found that marketers are struggling to effectively analyse data, with 87 percent saying that they don’t have time to perform the complex analysis needed to put their data in context.

Commenting on these findings, Ian McVey, Head of Enterprise for Northern Europe at Qualtrics, said:

Collecting data on customers is fruitless unless it’s used to achieve meaningful insights.

Marketers today have more tools than they’ve ever had before to take customer data and apply new machine learning and data analysis technologies to turn it into genuine customer insights. With the right technologies in place, businesses can develop ever deeper insights into their customers, allowing them to create products, offers and experiences that are tailored to them. To get there they need to gather the right kind of data, with a mix of operational and experience data, and the right tools to turn that into meaningful insights.”


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJuly 18, 2018


Football might not have come home after all, but the World Cup added a kick to recent online retail sales, according to a new report.

The latest IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index reveals a 16.9 percent year-on-year (YoY) growth of retail sales in June. Both multichannel and online only retailers performed well (+14.8 percent and +18.7 percent respectively), and the report’s compilers believe both the World Cup and the recent heatwave played a part.

Unsurprisingly, the largest sector increase was seen in Garden, with a +49.9 percent YoY growth as the nation prepared for World Cup barbecues and basked in the hot weather. This was followed by Clothing, with the sunny weather inspiring a YoY growth of +19.3 percent, including a +23.9 percent growth for accessories and +22.7 percent growth for footwear.

Health & Beauty and Gifts sales were slightly more subdued, with +9.9 percent and +10.5 percent YoY growth respectively.

Bhavesh Unadkat, principal consultant in retail customer engagement, Capgemini, said:

June has seen continued buoyant sales online, strongly influenced by fashion and seasonal items. This has boosted non-essential spend while customers make the most of the buzz created by the good weather and the World Cup. We might question what the longer term effect is as Barclaycard report that one-in-three Brits have spent more than normal so far this summer.

This could result in a slowdown as customers align the potential overspend so far this summer in the later months of the year, supported by four-in-ten saying they will hold off purchasing big ticket items. Electrical and Home sectors have the lowest June YoY growth in the last 5 years, a reminder of caution during political uncertainty and upcoming interest rate increases”

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJuly 16, 2018


Three new trailblazing UK conferences are on the horizon which will help steer attendees towards success in the fields of Customer Experience, Employee Experience, and Complaint Handling.

The events are hosted by Awards International, which each year celebrates the best in all three sectors, with the UK Customer Experience Awards, the UK Employee Experience Awards, and the UK Complaint Handling Awards in London.

Now the secrets to successful entries will be revealed at upcoming conferences this autumn, headed by the UK’s foremost experts in each key area, including global consultants, awards winners, and judges who will provide insightful seminars throughout each day, enabling attendees to learn and grow their business towards the goals of winning awards, and simply improving their organisations overall.

The Future is CX conference will take place on October 3 at the Microsoft UK headquarters in Thames Valley park, Reading.

It is spearheaded by conference chairman Ian Golding, one of the world’s foremost CX consultants, and author of Customer What? The Honest and Practical Guide to Customer Experience, who will introduce and diverse and exciting line-up of speakers.

They are:

Andrew McGuigan, the Director of Worldwide Customer Service Strategy at Microsoft

Jo Mayes, Director of Customer Operations at Business Stream

Karen Thompson, Principal, Utilities & Operational Excellence at Capgemini

Moira Clarke, Director of the Henley Centre for Customer Management and Professor of Strategic Marketing at Henley Business School

Maria Bourke, Managing Director of Let’s Get Healthy

Mike Collins, Senior Digital Learning Specialist at River Island

Sally Earnshaw, Managing Director of BlueSky

Emily Cullen, CX & Service Design Lead at Sparks Grove

Manuela Pifani, Certified CX Professional and Founder of CXellence Consulting

More will be announced in the coming weeks, including representatives from US market research specialists Forrester.

Conference chair Ian Golding said:

The Future is CX is an exciting new conference that will delve deep into the theories of Customer Experience success, from those who live and breathe it, and well-known organisations that are winning awards for their dedication to customer centricity.”

To take advantage of an Early Bird offer that can save up to 47 percent in conference ticket prices, click here.

The Winning With Employee Experience conference will take place on September 13, at the FDM Offices on Cottons Lane in the heart of London.

Chaired by Ben Whitter, AKA Mr Employee Experience, Founder of the World Employee Experience Institute, the event will feature UK Employee Experience Award winners offering insight on their initiatives that earned them nationwide recognition.

The speakers will be:

Representatives of FDM Group

Scott Morrison, Head of Capability Development at BT

Diana Chrouch, Director of Chrouch Consulting

Trudy Purchase, Head of L&D, and Nicky Curtis, HR Assistant and Health & Wellbeing Champion at Staysure

Jo Pursail, Director of Talent at ManpowerGroup

David Henderson, Management Development Lead at Aspen Healthcare Group

Emily Cullen, CX & Service Design Lead and Rebecca Galea, Head of Customer Experience at Sparks Grove

Flick Hardingham, Founder of Habit

Representatives of Benefex

Ben Whitter said:

Our conference speakers will reveal all about what it takes to be an award winner in Employee Experience, and show what it takes to transform your organisation into one that staff will be proud to be a part of.”

For Early Bird tickets, click here.

The Winning with Complaint Handling conference is taking place on September 20 at the Park Plaza Riverbank Hotel in central London, by the banks of the Thames.

This unique event will allow attendees tolerant from UK Complaint Handling Awards winners, which include some of the best-known household names in Britain today.


The conference chairs are Awards International CEO Neil Skehel and CXellence Consultancy Founder Manuela Pifani, and the speakers are:

James Walker, CEO of Resolver

Christina Liciaga, head of Service Recovery at HSBC

Sally Ainsworth, Head coo Service Recovery at United Utilities

Shine Prakesh, Senior Manager at iCasework

Claire Churchill, CX Lead at the Ombudsman Services

Rosie Bailey, Director of Customer Management at CitySprint

Paul Dowell, Customer Resolution Leader and Neil Davies, Customer HUB Lead at Severn Trent Water

Andrew Bryan, programme Director at Henley Business School

Amanda Redhead, General Manager at BT

Ben Lyons, Customer Services Operations Manager at The Co-op

Donna O’Toole, CEO of August 

Susan Wilkinson, Head of Customer Relations at Thomas Cook

Christina Dolding, Head of Customer Experience  and Innovation at Old Mutual Wealth

David Land, Head of Service Delivery at New Day

Representatives of Feefo

Helen Gibbs, Complaints Resolution Manager and Brett Coniber, CX Manager at South West Water

Neil Skehel said:

Winning With Complaint Handling is set to be one of the UK’s most significant customer service gatherings, focussing on the core aspect of how to deal with complaints in a fast-changing landscape.”

To purchase Early Bird tickets, click here.

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJuly 13, 2018


The winners of the 2018 UK Digital Experience Awards have been revealed at a glittering Finals event in London.

Virgin Trains were named Overall Winners at the ceremony, which was held by the banks of the Thames in the Park Plaza Riverbank Hotel

Hundreds gathered for the event, which saw finalists present details of their Digital Experience initiatives to judging panels consisting of the UK’s foremost DX specialists, before the winners were named at a gala luncheon.

The Overall Winner success of Virgin Trains followed the firm’s Gold Award win in the Digital Team – Digital marketing category.

Other significant winners included EE, which took Gold in the Personal Entertainment and Telecoms category; Octopus Energy, which topped Best Mobile Strategy; and Sky UK, which won Gold in the Data Analytics and Insight category.

Certain categories at the event, which is hosted annually by Awards International and partnered by children’s charity Barnardo’s, featured Silver and Bronze winners that were agreed by judges using scoring criteria approved by Cranfield School of Management.

Other partners which helped make the awards the huge success were Malcolm McDonald Consulting and Usability 24/7.

Following the event, Awards International CEO Neil Skehel said:

This was the fourth year of the UK Digital Experience Awards, and has been the most significant to date. We are in the middle of an era of significant developments with digital technology, and it is inspiring to see how organisations such as the finalists here today are using these advances to improve services to customers.

These DX pioneers are more than deserving of the credit they have received, and on behalf of Awards International I would like to offer a wholehearted congratulations to all finalists and winners, who have proved themselves true digital leaders.”

For a full list of winners click here.

Meanwhile, the countdown is now on for the 2018 UK Customer Experience Awards in London on October 11. Click here for table booking details.

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJuly 9, 2018


New research from UK Customer Experience and Digital Experience Award winners Capgemini shows that artificial intelligence is no longer alien to customers, who desire AI to become more ‘human-like’.

Capgemini’s Digital Transformation Institute have released a report showing that close to three-quarters (73 percent) of surveyed customers interacted via AI, with 69 percent of those being satisfied with those interactions.

The report, The Secret to Winning Customers’ Hearts  with Artificial Intelligence: Add Human Intelligence reveals that 55 percent of consumers prefer interactions enabled by a mix of AI and humans, and 64 percent want AI to be more human-like.

These human-like qualities can generate significant goodwill and drive a greater propensity to spend for nearly half (48 percent) of consumers. However, many organisations are failing to take consumer pain points and preferences into account when applying AI technology to their Customer Experience, focusing more on traditional metrics such as the cost of implementation and expected return on investment.

The report, which surveyed 10,000 consumers and over 500 companies across 10 countries, found that 63 percent of AI-aware consumers like AI because of its 24/7 availability and how it provides greater control over their interactions. Consumers are also opening up to the possibility of digital alter egos – 48 percent say the opportunity to be able to delegate tasks to an electronic personal assistant is exciting, with another 46 percent believing it will enhance their quality of life.

Consumers want human-like, not human-looking AI

Consumers’ growing comfort in using AI is also increasing their reassurance in AI having human-like attributes. More than three-in-five consumers are comfortable with human-like intellect. Forty-nine percent say they would have a higher affiliation to a company if their interactions enabled by AI were more human-like. Surprisingly, this preference transcends the generations – across all age groups between 18 and 55-plus years, consumers prefer interactions to be enabled by a mixture of human and AI.

However, customers want their AI to be heard, and experienced, but not seen. While they are keen for AI to have a human-like voice (62 percent) and the ability to understand human emotions (57 percent), physical features are deemed ‘creepy’. Over half (52 percent) of customers are not comfortable when AI is set up to look like a person.

The report also finds that two-thirds of consumers (66 percent) would like to be made aware when companies are enabling interactions via AI.

Mark Taylor, Chief Experience Officer, Digital Customer Experience Practice, at Capgemini said:

It is somewhat ironic that natural language processing and machine learning provides organisations with the opportunity to build deeper, more human relationships with their customers. By focusing their AI implementations to reimagine, streamline and simplify customer interactions, organisations can boost customer spend and loyalty. To see the biggest bottom-line boost, firms need to make both artificial intelligence and customer experience a strategic priority.”

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