Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthOctober 15, 2018


The 2018 UK Customer Experience Awards brought the best of British customer centricity to London’s home of champions, Wembley Stadium, for the most successful CX event the country has seen to date.

Over 900 people gathered under the iconic arch of Wembley to present before judges representing the biggest CX names in the UK and further afield, to compete for glory in 32 categories covering all aspects of Customer Experience delivery.

From the category kings, one Overall Winner was also crowned, for achieving the single biggest judging score on the day, with this year’s title claimed by Aspen Healthcare after the company claimed Gold in the Best Health & Wellbeing category.

Other big winners included BT Consumer, O2, EE, Business Stream, and Skipton Building Society. For a full list of winners click here.

The exceptional standard of entries this year gave the judging panel a lot of food for thought, with many impressed with the clear dedication on display from delegates representing the companies that care most about customers.

Judge Sara Gorman, Programme Director for Digital Customer Experience at Liberty Global, told CXM in-between presentations: “We have been floored with the energy and passion shown by the teams today.

“They have a clear understanding of CX, and are providing clear examples of why they deserve success, which makes our job tough. However, this is a fantastic celebration of the UK’s best customer centric firms, and it’s a pleasure to hear what they have to say.”

Judge and author Ian Golding added: “Another year of exceptional standards at the UK Customer Experience Awards. It’s truly an exciting time for CX in this country and beyond, and I would like to offer a huge congratulations to all those who made it to the Finals here in Wembley.”

Following a day of presentations, finalists gathered for a gala dinner event in which the winners were announced, before a night of celebrating that even saw a surprise appearance from pop legends S Club.

Following the hugely successful event, which was sponsored by Barnardo’s and supported by partners including Cranfield School of Management, Neil Skehel, CEO of hosts Awards International, said: “Thank you to all of our judges, finalists, and winners for making this the most successful UK Customer Experience Awards yet. What a day we had celebrating the best of British CX – here’s to 2019 and another year of excellence.”

Entries for the 2019 Customer Experience Awards will open on February 14, while November 20 will see the inaugural International Customer Experience Awards take place in Amsterdam.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthOctober 4, 2018


Senior Vice President of Customer Experience Innovation at Confirmit, Claire Sporton, has been named a winner of the 2018 CX Impact Awards by the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA).

The CX Impact Awards were held to mark CX Day, a global day celebrating the organisations and people who are delivering great experiences to customers. The award commends Claire for her passion in ensuring CX practitioners are acknowledged as fundamental elements to business success.

She has made it her mission to get CX on the radar of every business leader and to ensure that CX practitioners have the tools they need to guarantee their programmes deliver measurable value. Claire’s continued challenge is to turn CX measurement from a backward-looking metric into a catalyst for organisational wide action and cultural change.

Michael Wooh, Chief Marketing Officer at Confirmit, said: “Claire brings a wide range of experience and knowledge to her CX practice but, more importantly, Claire has a real passion for how CX can be used as a catalyst for empowering practitioners and delivering tangible business success.

“This vision underpins everything she does in her role at Confirmit and it has been the driving force behind our CX strategy. She is extremely deserving of this award given the strides she has made for our customers and making a name for herself in the CX industry.”

Following her win, Claire said: “While no one is ever going to say that CX is not important, it is often sidelined by executives as they prioritise their business outcome KPIs – revenue and profitability. The primary focus of my work is to ensure that CX is recognised as an invaluable component in the measurement and delivery of business success – and I’m honoured and thrilled this work is being rewarded today.”

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthOctober 4, 2018


The Future is CX conference at Microsoft HQ in reading saw the UK’s most talented Customer Experience professionals pass on wisdom to enthusiastic attendees, and shine a light on where customer-centricity is headed.

The event was hosted by Awards International and comes ahead of Britain’s annual biggest celebration of CX, the 2018 UK Customer Experience Awards, taking place on October 11 at London’s Wembley Stadium.

Attending the conference was a range of speakers that included global CX consultant and author Ian Golding; the award-winning founder of consultancy CXellence, Manuela Pifani; and Andrew McGuigan, Microsoft’s Director of Worldwide Customer Service Strategy; and many others.

As the title of the event suggests, CX is the future for all businesses, and the conference allowed the experts to discuss  advances in the sector, including new customer-centric concepts and thinking, and cutting-edge technology.

Over the coming weeks, Customer Experience Magazine will look into the ideas shared at The Future is CX, and what they mean for UK – and international – industries.

Following the presentations, delegate Sophie Collins of bOnline said : “The Future of CX Conference was a fantastic day, which made me question everything we know about Customer Experience, Employee Experience and the use of technology.
“My six A4 pages of notes don’t even start to cover the extensive knowledge we were given from true industry experts. I will look forward to joining again next year.”

Speaking after the event, Awards International CEO said: “A huge thank you to all of those who attended this conference. They will all agree that the quality of the presentations on the day was truly exceptional. Attendees will have a lot to think about and take back to their respective organisations.

“It was also an honour to be hosted by Microsoft at their UK headquarters. This is a company that has almost single-handedly allowed everyone to have access to the internet, and of course, the power of online connectivity has become the backbone of Digital Experience.

“This event has set an exciting precedent for future CX gatherings, and comes as we prepare for the biggest ever UK Customer Experience Awards this month, for which we must say good luck to all finalists.”




Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthOctober 2, 2018


CX Day 2018 sees the country join in worldwide celebrations of outstanding Customer Experience, ahead of a huge month for British events including the annual UK Customer Experience Awards.

The global scheme is championed on Tuesday October 2 by the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA) and in the UK, Birmingham is hosting Europe’s largest CX Day event, bringing together 200 CX executives from firms including Virgin, Tesco, and Barclays “for a day of insightful presentations, transformational case studies, and amazing demonstrations”.

This year the event will shed insight on digital transformation, customer and employee collaboration, company culture, humanisation, artificial intelligence, and customer-focused innovation.

Hot on the heels of CX Day is Wednesday’s The Future is CX conference, hosted by Awards International at the UK headquarters of Microsoft in Reading. This event features a talented range of speakers, including Microsoft’s Director of Worldwide Customer Service Strategy, Andrew McGuigan; Business Stream’s Director of Customer Operations, Jo Mayes; and global consultant and author of Customer What?: The Honest and Practical Guide to Customer Experience.

Meanwhile, CX Day precedes the UK’s biggest celebration of talent in the sector – the UK Customer Experience Awards, which take place at Wembley Stadium on October 11.

Finalists will descend on London’s home of champions to present to the most influential judging panel in the UK’s CX scene, and compete for glory in over 30 categories.

A spokesperson for CXPA said ahead of today’s events: “CX Day is a global celebration of great Customer Experience and the professionals who make it happen. CX Day 2017 saw thousands of participants in online events, company celebrations and local networking events across the world. We anticipate this year will be even bigger and better.

“Over the past several years, the field of customer experience management has matured, we are seeing more and more companies recognise its importance as a key ingredient in building and maintaining customer loyalty.”


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthOctober 1, 2018


New research has shown that boards are not only looking at Chief Information Officer’s (CIOs) to address operational efficiencies and IT performance, but are also focused on how they can become more customer-centric.

The Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey of 1,200 UK CIOs found that 60 percent said that management were looking at IT to help enhance Customer Experience. It also found that when it comes to prioritising digital technology initiatives, improving Customer Experience is the most important goal for 62 percent of CIOs. This is followed by attracting new customers and growing revenue from existing customers, with both at 57 percent.

Lisa Heneghan, head of digital transformation at KPMG UK said: “Customer centricity is becoming understood to be at the core of driving greater value for organisations. This year, we have clearly seen how organisations that put customers at the heart of everything are driving greater growth and profitability. This is requiring CIOs to think in a different way and understand how the IT function can also pivot to enable a more integrated Customer Experience.”

Charting their views on IT spend – which 45 percent expect to increase over the next 12 months – the  CIOs ranked artificial intelligence (AI) as their number one technology investment.

Virtual reality and Blockchain technology enhancements were the lowest ranked with only eight percent intending to invest. On-demand marketplace platforms were ranked second, followed by internet of things and robotic process automation.

Ms Heneghan continued: “The Government’s desire for the UK to be world leaders in AI seems to be developing as we see it being the number one technology spend for UK IT leaders. Interestingly, despite all the hype that surrounds Blockchain technology, it is the least favoured tech investment for the IT leadership cohort.”

The CIO cohort also highlighted the areas within their business where they have managed to automate jobs. Roles in IT (24 percent), customer support (19 percent), and finance (14 percent) were cited as the main three parts that have been automated.

Ms Heneghan added: “Technology is allowing businesses to automate many functions within IT and customer support. However, companies are still dependent on experts to oversee technical elements of business like risk and law. There is still some time yet before we will see wholescale changes to the workforce influenced by technology.”

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthSeptember 28, 2018


Amazon has opened a new concept store selling only goods that have been rated highly online.

Located in New York’s SoHo district, Amazon 4 Star is among the brand’s first permanent non-mall or pop-up ventures, and sells items that are receiving positive ratings from customers on the Amazon website.

The inventory will change weekly, depending on what is selling well online and achieving high ratings. Among items available in the opening week are board games and a triceratops taco holder.

Cameron James, VP of Amazon’s physical retail division, said: “SoHo is not just one of the premier shopping areas in New York, it’s also one of the premier shopping destinations in the country. When opening a concept like this you want to be where there are a lot of shoppers who are super-engaged, and this is a great place to do it.”

The new store follows the opening of the first Amazon Go checkout-free outlet in Seattle earlier this year, in which customers pay by sensors recording what they leave the store with, and charge the cost to their Amazon Prime accounts.

Amazon registered a UK trademark for their Go stores in late 2017, but so far the firm has remained tight-lipped about when the first will open this side of the Atlantic.

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthSeptember 10, 2018

Gathering feedback from your target consumers was once a time-consuming or impossible chore, that often gave brands an inaccurate (or blank) picture of the people they want to attract to their products and services.
Thankfully, times have changed with the dawning of the digital age, and gathering that all-important data no longer has to be a struggle that leaves you as confused as ever about what people really think and feel when it comes to interacting with you.
Yet not all data provision platforms are the same; some just get it more than others, and it’s safe to say that Attest, based in London, has absolutely nailed it. The dynamic firm is the brainchild of Jeremy King, a CEO with the kind of resume that makes you want to pack it in and leave life to the experts.
A true scientist, Jeremy has put his passion for data into helping brands understand their target customers in a methodical manner that leads to real, effective results, with the help of his hugely enthusiastic Attest team. Jeremy took time out to talk to CXM about what Attest has achieved so far, and what the future holds for his business and those that use its services.
“Originally I was a geneticist. I worked in synthetic biology, and focussed in particular on the ecology of how baby reef fish grow up. I have a huge passion for science, empicism and for marine life in particular,” he explains.
“I was then with McKinsey, a strategy consulting firm, for nine years. I worked in 25 different countries in almost every sector, for one to three months at a time, doing all sorts of weird things, in weird places, which was really fun.
“During that time I did an MBA at Harvard Business School. Just over three years ago I started Attest. The journey to Attest was inspired by what I was doing before – it combines a love for science, data, and empiricism, with a real world problem I saw in so many countries and sectors. Businesses everywhere need to know more and guess less, and Attest exists to make that easy.”
All good businesses have a genesis – a Big Bang that begins a journey towards success, and for Jeremy, that occurred in a boardroom in the famous Windy City.
He explains: “There was a time when I was working in Chicago. I witnessed a room full of middle-aged homogenous men in the midwest of America, guessing how to do a launch for products targeted at middle-aged women in emerging markets. As a scientist I thought that was really, really stupid.
“It was not only stupid, it was offensively wrong to see this group of men guessing how Indian women, Brazilian women, and Indonesian women think. The group of men had never visited those countries, and started by assuming that women in all of those countries all behave in the same way.
“I thought there must be a better way to do that. There must be a way to interact with those target consumers. There must be a way to bring them into the business, into the room, into the decision, right away, and to do that whenever it’s useful, which as a scientist I believe is all the time – rather than just guessing or having the chance to only test one or two things a year.
“That was the incident which sticks in my mind, and ultimately led to to the creation of Attest.”
Ok, nitty-gritty time! What exactly is Attest, and what can it do?
“Attest is a platform where you can interact directly with 100 million people in 80 countries, to ask them things, show them things, understand things, ask them to make choices, ask them to tell you how they behave, what they think about their market, and so on.
“It’s about reaching the consumers you can’t naturally reach, the ones you aren’t winning, the ones you don’t understand, the ones you need to drive your next waves of growth. That’s the hard part… you know the customers you have, but what about the ones you don’t? That’s where Attest comes in,” Jeremy explains.
“The answers go directly to you and only to you, and everything is primary, with real people clicking, answering, telling, viewing – whatever you want them to do.
“The best bit is you can do this in 30 seconds and have results in the same day – sometimes even the same hour. The crucial thing is making this easy to start, and easy to iterate, and so efficient and easy that you can do this every day. That’s the bit that’s been missing until now.
“For example, this means you can test 20 different ideas in a morning, judge the results, in doing so identify five new ones, and test those new ideas at larger scale the same afternoon.
“Attest connects you to many people around the world, directly but crucially anonymously, and what that means for your business in terms of the value it creates is that where you previously had guessing or a void of data, starting 30 seconds from now Attest can fill your biggest gaps in knowledge and give you new superpowers to understand markets, consumers, products, pricing, ideas, and competition.

“Great companies put consumers and data at the heart of every decision. Attest makes that simple and open for anyone at every business, continuously, at global scale.”

Attest is an innovator’s dream, thanks to the ability to gain unlimited intelligence and entirely new input to see if an idea has wings, or is destined to crash and burn. It can also be used in many different scenarios. Jeremy speaks of a hedge fund manager he knows who uses the platform to understand retailers and get an “information edge” on how consumers perceive them.
But what next for Attest? Well as you would expect from such a futuristic firm, the future looks bright…and busy!
“We have just added video capabilities as well as audio capabilities, and we have seen a lot of demand around podcast and radio advertising – previously there was no scalable way to test those types of assets,” he says.
“We build Attest to fill in all of the gaps in knowledge, for the people that have the most valuable gaps to fill…those who need the data but don’t have a way to get it. In terms of the future, we are looking to really expand access. In most companies, it’s one percent of people have access to big data, market research, consumer insights, and the reports that they need.
“We build Attest for everyone else, the 99 percent of people who need to know more and continuously wish they could be testing, learning, uncovering, and improving. That’s why we build it the way that we do – to make it easy to start, easy to repeat, simple and efficient, so that you can use it every day.
“We want to reach many more people in many more markets. Different types of companies, different levels of seniority, and making data available to more people everywhere – that’s fundamentally our mission. We have a bunch of really cool stuff in development right now – things that make the impossible seem ridiculously easy – things that help more people gain more intelligence and edge, far more often, always from the consumers you value most. It’s a big promise, and we intend to fulfil it.”

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthAugust 29, 2018


It’s been a busy-but-successful few years for utilities firm Business Stream, thanks to a renewed focus on customers and how they interact with the organisation.

Skippering Business Stream – known as ‘the Water Experts’ – as it charts a course through successful CX seas is Director of Customer Operations, Jo Mayes.

Under her watch, the firm has enjoyed victory at the UK Customer and Digital Experience Awards, and look set to give the competition a run for their money at this year’s UKCXAs, when they return to London’s Wembley Stadium on October 11.

Jo is also one of the speakers at the upcoming the Future is CX conference, hosted by Awards International at the UK headquarters of Microsoft, that will bring some of the UK’s most pioneering Customer Experience professionals together for an exclusive day of sharing best practice, which you can attend.

In an exclusive interview with CXM, Jo recounts how Business Stream utilised a huge influx of customers to redefine the experience they offer. 

In April 2017, the English water retail market opened, and we went into this new market and doubled our customer number overnight – we acquired Southern Water’s non-household customer base,” she said.

It’s important in a competitive market to focus on Customer Experience. There’s not a lot of margins for retailers like ourselves and others in the English market, and there won’t be for while.”

Of course, pricing is only one consideration for an organisation when it comes to keeping customers on board, and Jo realised that to truly stand out, they would need to overhaul the journey their clients embark upon.

While customers are very keen on price, Customer Experience needs to feature, because as a retailer you can’t give away a discount if there’s not a lot there in the first place,” she explained.

“It is imperative that a good experience is part of the overall consideration from brands. What we recognised was: we wanted to transform our Customer Experience. We invested heavily in digital, and we initiated our digital CX transformation programme. That was one of our entries at the last UK Customer Experience Awards, and we actually won the category.”

Describing the technology that gives them the edge in the utilities market, Jo continued:

“We completely redesigned and delivered a new Interactive Voice Response capability. It gives us a lot more flexibility in identifying customers and routing them to the right skill set in our business. We developed and launched a new virtual assistant so we could answer customer queries 24/7.

“We implemented an automated call and pay capability, and we launched our app. We worked with CapGemini and developed the app in seven weeks, from concept to delivery. A huge achievement!”

 Technology is just one component of exceptional CX, and Jo was determined that Business Stream would turn on the taps when it comes to meeting expectations.

“Another thing we did was that we wanted to ask customers what kind of Customer Experience they wanted us to provide,” Jo said.  

“We put in place new CX measures and really started to drive our actions based on customer sentiment and scores to try and help us target improvements in a way that would be more meaningful for our customers. Another key thing was that we looked at our customer onboarding experience and realised there were elements of dissatisfaction in that journey, so we transformed that.

“Through measurement and analysis we understood where we needed to make improvements. Some of those improvements were in communication, and we looked at it holistically to ask how can we make onboarding a more positive experience rather than something customers were showing dissatisfaction on.”

So where now for Business Stream and its journey towards ever-improving Customer Experience? Onwards and upwards.

Recently we worked with CAP GEMINI to develop a robotic process automation solution (RPA) using AI, and that has gone live,” Jo explained.

 “This is something we hope to be successful with at this year’s UK Customer Experience Awards, though I don’t want to give too much away!

We have robots working to pull in data and help set up accounts. That has been groundbreaking for us, and it’s essentially taken the time from 10 weeks to onboard a multi-site customer to something closer to two weeks. These are real tangible benefits: we have changed out complaints journey, and we have seen an 89 percent reduction in complaints in Scotland. Ultimately it’s the customer who is benefitting.”

True innovation never ends, however, and the success so far for the team in terms of Digital Experience is just the beginning, according to Jo, who added: “In terms of future developments, we have taken the first steps in the digital world and we will look to continue to innovate in that space. 

 “Potentially, chat bots could be something that will appear at some point down the line. We will continue down the robotics route, and utilise technology that will satisfy customers, and help us to secure new business.”

For more details on speakers attending the Future is CX Conference, click here.

Awards International is also hosting a second upcoming conference, Winning with Complaint Handling, which will bring together previous winners of the UK Complaint Handling Awards to share best practice.




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 December 12, 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.

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 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 is 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.

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