Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJanuary 17, 2019


UK Business Awards winners indaHash, the influencer marketing platform connecting more than 900,000 digital influencers with brands such as Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, and L’Oréal, has announced it is expanding its global footprint into Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg.

Rodric Leerling is the newly appointed indaHash representative offering automated cross-market influencer campaigns with international reach. Leveraging indaHash’s technology, brands and agencies are given end-to-end solutions to work with global influencers at scale, with speed and convenience.

indaHash technology, along with their newest insight tool, indaHash IQ – powered by Amazon Rekognition – enables the analysis of millions of influencer images and videos, significantly increasing the relevant partnering of influencers and brands. indaHash focus on the internet’s ‘power users’, micro and mid-tier influencers. Campaigns however combine influencers from multiple tiers, which until now has generated over 50 million engagements on branded content.

Prior to working for indaHash – which in 2017 won the Disruptive Business Model category of the UK Business Awards – Leerling was engrossed in new media technology and projects, taking brands from traditional advertising into the digital age.

Working in Benelux, DACH, and the US, Leerling has worked for renown publishers such as Time Magazine and Nikkei Business Publications. He has dealt mostly with international brands and successfully introduced new publishing concepts such as Crowd Sourcing, Advocacy Marketing, and Online Reputation.

Barbara Sołtysińska, CEO and co-founder at indaHash, said: “With the headquarters of many international brands being in Benelux, indaHash is a solution for them to run cross-market campaigns in an easy way, thanks to our tech. We have successfully run indaHash campaigns in 34 markets for Catrice, eight markets for Sony, and many others. We have chosen further development in Europe and with Leerling’s local and global expertise, are offering clients high quality campaigns at scale.”

Rodric Leerling added: “I’m not only here to drive the growth of indaHash in the Benelux region, but also to educate, assist, research, debate and advance the progression of influencer marketing.”

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJanuary 17, 2019


Fashion brand PrettyLittleThing has announced a partnership with tech firm Narvar to enhance post-purchase Customer Experience.

Narvar’s role in PrettyLittleThing’s CX improvement journey has centered on its post-purchase communications. Before working with Narvar, PrettyLittleThing directed customers to third-party websites for delivery updates. These communications were unbranded and purely functional, meaning they did little to engage or delight customers who had just purchased.

Passing on delivery communication responsibilities to external carriers also meant the experience customers received after the buy button was out of PrettyLittleThing’s control.

Now, using Narvar’s enterprise-grade SaaS post-purchase platform, PrettyLittleThing customers receive proactive, convenient, engaging, and branded delivery and tracking messages – via the communications channel of their choice.

PrettyLittleThings focus on improving the post purchase experience for its customers has already resulted in tangible gains in both customer satisfaction and brand loyalty: the rating that PLT customers assigned to its overall post-purchase experience increased by over 30 percent and the average time to next purchase reduced by 57 percent.

By taking control of the post-purchase experience, PrettyLittleThing has enjoyed greater engagement from customers who have made a purchase. Branded delivery communications have brought customers back to the retailer’s website, boosting site visits – which previously would have gone to external carriers’ sites.

The retailer also enjoyed a 44.3 percent Marketing Engagement Rate vs an industry benchmark of 14 percent. This incremental brand engagement and the resulting additional revenues were key to PrettyLittleThing seeing a massive 24x Return on Investment (ROI) in just five months since working with Narvar.

With its core audience in the 16-24 age bracket, PrettyLittleThing also realised it needed to expand the number of channels to communicate delivery updates to customers. To meet the experience expectations of increasingly mobile-first customers, PrettyLittleThing now offer SMS delivery notifications, which the retailer has seen high opt-in rates for. With Narvar also offering customer care via Chatbot, Facebook Messenger, or Voice-Assistant (e.g. Alexa, Google Home), PrettyLittleThing is now considering extending the number of channels on which it communicates with customers.

Nicki Capstick, Head of Marketing at PrettyLittleThing said: “We’re at the cutting edge of fast fashion, but a sub-optimal post-purchase experience was disrupting our otherwise seamless customer journey. To keep customers coming back, we worked with Narvar to provide our customers with valuable and meaningful experiences after the buy button, not just discounts or next day deliveries.

“A key element of this has been the fully branded, personalised tracking dashboard which Narvar has helped us execute. Making sure our customers stay engaged after they have bought is fundamental to increasing their lifetime value. We know it works – the results of the investments we have made in the post-purchase experience speak for themselves.”

Anthony Gavin, EMEA Director of Narvar said: “Brands and retailers which fail to recognise the importance of Customer Experience beyond the buy button are missing a trick. The post-purchase experience that customers receive is fundamental to keeping them engaged and turning one-off sales into loyal customers.”

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJanuary 14, 2019


A Reading-based rugby club is reconnecting with supporters after pioneering a ‘fan experience’ similar to the Customer Experience initiatives that have revamped the fortunes of firms across the globe.

London Irish RFC, which was founded in 1898 by Irish expats, currently shares its home with Reading Football Club at Madejski Stadium, and is a founding member of Premiership Rugby.

However, with a fan-base spread across a wide geographical area, along with a recent league relegation, the club has struggled with ticket sales for games. This has been compounded by the fact that the club relied on its soccer team stadium-mates Reading FC to provide ticketing support.

Despite keeping costs manageable, the set-up limited the amount of fan engagement London Irish could provide.

In a bid to revamp what they could offer fans, London Irish approached voice and message solution provider Apifonica to re-engage with supporters and tailor personal communications to keep them updated with club news and offers.

The bespoke campaign focussed on providing relevant information to season ticket holders and other fans via what is now seen as a more ‘traditional’ means of communication – SMS. The club agreed to the initiative due to text messages having a 90 percent open rate compared to 20 percent for emails.

Speaking of the campaign’s success, Head of Commercial at London Irish RFC, Sam Windridge said: “We have seen a significant uptick in attendance in light of the messages that have been sent. The impact is almost immediate. We send out a message and within an hour we see a significant increase in ticket sales.

“We see a significant jump in social media engagement as soon as messages are sent. This is important because we have worked hard with Apifonica to ensure our season ticket holders do not simply see these messages as an opportunity to exploit them. 

“The reality is that it is an opportunity to engage with them, understand more about what drives them and help us serve them better.  The reaction that we have seen has been overwhelmingly positive and supportive, meaning that the messages are appreciated as well as commercially successful.”

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJanuary 11, 2019


2019 UK Complaint Handling Awards finalist Zurich has announced a new sign language service for deaf and hard-of-hearing customers.

The firm, which has its UK headquarters in Whiteley, is partnering with British Sign Language (BSL) Online Interpreting Service SignLive to introduce the scheme.

Zurich is the first insurer to offer this flagship service, which enables customers with impaired hearing to contact the insurer using a SignLive video interpreter. The interpreter acts as a middleman on behalf of the customer, carrying out their instructions, liaising with the insurer, and sharing feedback with the customer.

Customers using the service for the first time need to register with SignLive to complete online security and video quality checks before accessing an interpreter. Once registered, customers can access this free service from any mobile device by downloading the app from the App store or Google Play. They can also access it by installing the SignLive system on their desktops without having to download additional software.

Richard Pash, UK Marketing Director at Zurich UK said: “We’re very proud of our partnership with SignLive. It’s a fantastic service which we think will make a real difference to our customers with hearing difficulties enabling them to engage with us in a meaningful way which really works for them. We’re confident that this service will be well received and continue to look for ways to innovate and enhance the customer experience for all our customers.”

Joel Kellhofer, Director at SignLive added: “We’re delighted to be working with Zurich as the first insurer to be using the service, helping Zurich enhance the customer experience for its Deaf British Sign Language users. We’re confident that the service will prove popular with Zurich’s customers.”

The 2019 UK Complaint Handling Awards are taking place in London on March 8 . Click here for a full list of finalists.

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJanuary 10, 2019


Poorly organised meetings are costing time and money for the UK’s employees, a new report has found.

Online scheduling platform Doodle has released its The Doodle State of Meetings Report 2019, based on data and new research conducted with 6,528 professionals in the UK, Switzerland, Germany, and the USA.

It found that employees in the four countries spend two hours every week in “pointless” meetings, adding up to 13 days over the course of a year. The average professional has three meetings each week, with an average duration of one hour per meeting. Those surveyed felt that two thirds of the meetings they attend are unnecessary.

Poorly organised meetings are seen as the biggest cost to their organisation by 40 percent of UK staff.

Over a quarter of all respondents (26 percent) stated that poorly organised meetings impacted their client relationships, while others feel they create confusion in the workplace (43 percent), and impact their ability to actually do their work (44 percent).

Supporting this is the finding that a third (33 percent) of professionals find themselves unable to contribute to most of the meetings they attend – suggesting over-invitation is a major waste of time at work.

Responding to the findings, Dr Sankalp Chaturvedi, Associate Professor of Organisational Behaviour and Leadership at Imperial College London, described what makes a good meeting.

He said: “The secret of a successful and time-efficient meeting is preparation. The agenda mustn’t be too long. Otherwise there’s a risk of spending too much time on the first items and later items are rushed. The agenda should be circulated well in advance, including the goals of what is expected from the meeting, and specific detail on the subjects and time allocation.”

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJanuary 9, 2019


Bigger UK businesses should pick up the childcare tab for employees, according to a new survey of parents.

Research commissioned by Cuckooz Nest, a workspace with integrated nursery and sister company to Cuckooz, has found that 85 percent of parents believe companies with over 250 employees should subsidise the childcare costs they incur.

The survey of working parents also found that 91 percent of parents think the government should provide tax relief on childcare costs from an earlier age in order to encourage parents to return to work earlier if they should so wish.

The availability and affordability of childcare is a big issue and 46 percent of those surveyed stated that the cost of childcare in relation to their salary was the biggest obstacle when returning to work after having a child.

Flexibility was the second largest obstacle at 28 percent with just 15 percent stating separation from their child as the hardest barrier when returning to work.

Fifty percent of fathers stated that finance was the biggest blocker when considering shared parental leave, with 34 percent also worried about the risk to their career. Although 52 percent said that they were happy to wait until their child was between the ages of one and two before returning to work, 65 percent would return sooner if they could access more flexible childcare arrangements.

The issue of affordability and flexibility can also impact the career opportunities open to parents, with 52 percent only willing to commute for up to 30 minutes and 39 percent for just an hour.

Charlie Rosier, Co-Founder of Cuckooz Nest, said: “Childcare has always been a hot topic and while parents want to secure the best option possible for their child, the lack of flexibility and the high cost of doing so can often mean this just isn’t the case.

“We’ve seen the difference on-site childcare can have first-hand via Cuckooz Nest when facilitating new mums and dads, their early return to work and the positive impact it brings. But for many, this isn’t a luxury they can afford and more has to be done to breach this financial barrier to provide flexible, affordable childcare for everyone. Of course, there are changes the government can make but we really want to see Britain’s big businesses take the lead and get behind this initiative, whether it’s to provide an on-site nursery or to subsidise the cost for its employees.”

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJanuary 9, 2019


UK Customer Experience Award winner Natterbox is set to help Virgin Wines create a more personalised service for its users.

Part of the wider Virgin family – which has itself enjoyed UK Customer Experience Awards success in recent years – Virgin Wines is an online retailer offering boutique and exclusive wines that its customers cannot find anywhere else.

It enables purchases online or over the phone via one of the company’s Wine Advisors, making human-to-human interaction crucial for the business’ relationships with its customers.

The firm previously suffered from substantial holes in its knowledge of customers due to a telephony system that did not enable them to analyse and make use of the data gathered during calls. On recommendation from Salesforce, Virgin Wines chose Natterbox to enable advisors to have full visibility into all their existing clients, approximately 1000 each, in order to create a seamless and personalised journey, with the ability to route a call through to the right advisor or service team.

Virgin Wines will also be using Natterbox’s call recording capability for review and training purposes.

Virgin Wines CIO Karl Wharam said: “Virgin Wines works on a lifetime value model, meaning that when a customer is captured, we place a huge focus on ensuring they come back to us and become a regular customer. The company’s relationship with our clients is built on the Wine Advisor knowing our customers and having the ability to offer a fully bespoke and personalised service, but we were previously having trouble with our visibility into who was calling us and what the outcome was, making it difficult to conduct follow ups.

“For this reason, Salesforce, and now Natterbox, are crucial tools for our Wine Advisors and customer service staff to be able to manage our customers and have full access to details about their lifestyle, preferences and previous interactions.”

In the 2017 UK Customer Experience Awards at London’s Wembley Stadium, Natterbox won Silver in the Technology & Telecoms category.

Neil Hammerton, CEO and Co-founder of Natterbox added: “We are delighted to be working with Virgin Wines. For a company that is so focused on offering a bespoke service and an existing 5-star Trust Pilot rating, delivering an amazing customer experience is crucial, and we are very happy to be a part of that journey.”

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJanuary 8, 2019


Employee Experience will continue to be a major factor in business success in 2019, according to a new US report that reveals staff will look elsewhere for work if professional development opportunities are not offered.

Recruitment firm The Execu|Search Group has released its 2019 Hiring Outlook titled, The Employee Experience: 4 Ways To Attract, Engage, & Retain Employees In Today’s Competitive Market. The report, which provides insights into the factors that most impact employee engagement and well-being, aims to help employers navigate today’s candidate-driven market.

It offers recommendations for improving the Employee Experience, from hiring to retention, and found that 66 percent of surveyed workers are not planning to remain at their current organisation in the long-term.

It highlights that 86 percent of professionals said that they would change jobs if they were offered more opportunities for professional development, while 66 percent said that there isn’t much support for those wishing to take on leadership roles.

In the findings, professionals ranked support from leadership/management as the most important element of company culture, while it revealed that employers are falling short when it comes to the all-important work-life balance.

A total of 45 percent of employees do not feel their employer promotes a healthy work-life balance, and 71 percent said they would change jobs if they were offered flexible scheduling in a new role.

Edward Fleischman, CEO of The Execu|Search Group, said: “With professionals in the driver’s seat, they’re commanding more than just higher salaries. Professionals consider their careers an integral part of their lives and they expect their job to provide meaning. Top performers who do not feel engaged or supported at work will be first to leave, so our 2019 Hiring Outlook is meant to provide employers with tools for creating a culture focused on building a strong Employee Experience.”

Entries are now open for the 2018 UK Employee Experience Awards, which will take place in London in May. Click here to find out more on how to enter.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJanuary 7, 2019


In an age where marketers look to enhance and differentiate their digital offering, 68 percent of consumers are crying out for brands to keep their experience simple, while 92 percent want mere convenience, a new report has shown.

Experiences have become too complex in a multi-channel, multi-device world, consumers argue, with 47 percent admitting they struggle to find what they want on a brand website, and 57 percent finding it hard to interact with brands online altogether.

In fact, the majority (56 percent) of consumers feel brands are behind the times with how they interact with customers online, and 70 percent notice that the brands they buy from provide a different or inconsistent experience across different channels.

These are the UK findings from Acquia’s inaugural annual report entitled Closing the CX Gap: Customer Experience Trends Report 2019, which assesses the state of Customer Experience.

Sylvia Jensen, VP of EMEA marketing at Acquia said: “Look at Uber, Deliveroo, Netflix and Instagram – these companies create amazing digital experiences, and at the core of all of them is simplicity and convenience.

“But with other organisations, marketers are often guilty of passing on their martech disfunction on to their customers when they look to expand and integrate new channels and technologies. Marketers must therefore keep ease and convenience front of mind when designing and planning new experiences. It’s not easy to integrate martech seamlessly, but if it’s done poorly, customers will just go elsewhere.”

According to the same report, 71 percent of consumers abandon a brand for a competitor if the online experience is poor, and 76 percent of consumers would switch brands after the first bad experience alone.

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJanuary 4, 2019


Professor Lynette Ryals of Cranfield School of Management has been awarded an OBE in the New Year’s Honours List for services to Higher Education.

Cranfield School of Management works alongside Awards International to ensure the scoring process at events including the UK Customer Experience Awards is first rate, and Professor Ryals is the School’s Director. She is also Programme Director for the new MK:U university planned for her home town of Milton Keynes.

She joined Cranfield School of Management in September 1997 as a PhD student researching customer profitability and customer management practices in sales and key account management.

Her prize-winning research has been published in world-leading journals including Harvard Business Review and Journal of Marketing. More recently, she has begun researching topics relating to executive education and andragogy, looking at the most effective way to educate adult post-experience learners.

Before taking on her current role, Lynette was a Professor of Strategic Sales and Account Management at Cranfield, where she was also the Director of Cranfield’s Key Account Management Best Practice Research Club (2003-2014) and the Director of the Demand Chain Management Community (2007-2014). She was Pro-Vice-Chancellor – Education of Cranfield University from 2014 to 2018.


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