Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthSeptember 20, 2019
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4min1163

The Customer Experience Professional Masterclass is coming to Sweden, where world-renowned CX consultant and author Ian Golding will impart his knowledge over two days in October.

Taking place on October 22 – 23, the Masterclass is held in collaboration with the AROS Congress Centre in Västerås, where attendees will gather for an intense course covering all core Customer Experience competencies, such as strategy and brand proposition; the role of employees in delivering the strategy; customer journey mapping; CX measurement (VOC, VOE, and VOP), CX improvement; and CX culture.

Highly practical and engaging, The CX Professional Masterclasses are hugely popular in the UK, UAE, and beyond, and now is the chance for Sweden-based CX professionals to learn from Ian, founder of the Customer Experience Consultancy, and author of Customer What? The honest and practical guide to customer experience.

In 2015, Ian (pictured) became the first person in the world to become an Authorised Resource and Training Provider for the CCXP accreditation, and his Västerås Masterclass is taking place ahead of the 2019 International Customer Experience Awards in Amsterdam on November 21, which will be chaired by Ian and will feature some of the biggest brands in Europe competing across a wide range of CX categories.

Speaking of her experience at a previous UK CX Professional Masterclass, Pam Whitehouse, Customer Engagement and Improvement Manager at LGSS, said: “Ian Golding is utterly knowledgeable in this subject matter, and is able to bring the training to life using real-life examples that anyone can relate to. His passion and drive for helping people to improve their customer experience is inspirational.”

Speaking to Customer Experience Magazine, Ian said: “I’m really looking forward to the Masterclass in Västerå this October, and to bringing our curriculum to a Swedish audience. Customer Experience is continuing to redefine how brands do business right across Europe, and it’s exciting to have the CX Professional Masterclass at the vanguard of this movement. It’s a busy time for CX in the continent, with the International Customer Experience Awards also set to take place in Amsterdam in November.”


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthSeptember 19, 2019
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2min2266

Data insight leader Kantar has appointed a new Commercial Director to drive its CX strategy into 2020 and beyond.

Chloe Woolger (pictured), the former Marketing Director of Watermelon Research, will be based at Kantar’s London HQ, reporting to Tim Pritchard, Managing Director of CX at Kantar UK.

The Vice Chair of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, Surrey Branch and a committee member for ‘&Thrive’, a support network for women in research and marketing, Chloe’s new Kantar brief is to build on the brand’s commercial success with its expanding CX offer.

Working closely with Kantar’s UK marketing team, Chloe will help to develop the go-to-market strategy for CX, managing client and business development activities. Her aim is to strengthen Kantar’s existing CX partner ecosystem, working with Medallia and SAP-owned Qualtrics, to drive sales.

Kantar’s end-to-end CX capability helps organisations better understand their customers, improve how they deliver CX and, in turn, improve their business outcomes and commercial ROI. Capabilities includes programme design, best-in-class platform solutions, advanced analytics, activation consulting, and managed services.

Tim Pritchard, Managing Director of CX, Kantar UK said: “We are pleased to welcome Chloe to a growing, successful team. Over the last 18 months, we have secured over £20m in new CX contracts including client wins such as Bupa, Hyundai, Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays and most recently Post Office and Nationwide Building Society. Her appointment will drive the business forward, helping to maintain Kantar’s reputation as a global centre of excellence for customer experience management, and ensure our long-term commercial success.”


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthSeptember 19, 2019
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5min1697

Global leader in omnichannel CX and contact centre solutions Genesys has announced the creation of two business units, Genesys Cloud and Genesys Core.

The firm, which is sponsoring the 2019 UK Customer Experience Awards, is enhancing support for its diverse, global customer base, which includes organisations of all sizes, spanning private and public cloud, hybrid, and on-premises deployments.

Customers will benefit from faster delivery of targeted portfolio enhancements and artificial intelligence-driven applications at scale. The Genesys Cloud division will unify the company’s next-generation public cloud solutions and services by combining the PureCloud and workforce engagement management (WEM) groups. The second unit, Genesys Core, is comprised of PureEngage and PureConnect on-premises and cloud.

The company has appointed two general managers to lead the business units: Olivier Jouve takes the helm of Genesys Cloud, and Barry O’Sullivan heads up Genesys Core. Both executives report directly into Genesys CEO Tony Bates. The company also announced that Peter Graf was appointed Chief Strategy Officer.

Tony Bates said: “This new structure enables us to provide even greater value to our customers and partners by rapidly delivering innovation across our market-leading product portfolio. I want to acknowledge the tremendous work Peter and his team have done to deliver AI-powered, cloud-based common services that make this new structure possible.

“I look forward to his contributions as our new Chief Strategy Officer as well as those from Olivier and Barry to drive our future growth and disruptive vision of hyper-personalisation.”

As general manager of Genesys Cloud, Olivier Jouve adds to his existing responsibilities as Executive Vice President of PureCloud, the company’s leading Software as a Service (SaaS) solution.

In addition to continuing to head its operations, product strategy and commercial activities, he will take on ownership of the company’s WEM business. Since joining Genesys two years ago, Olivier has been instrumental in continuing to drive the triple-digit revenue increases PureCloud has experienced since its launch, furthering its hypergrowth. His career spans more than 30 years and includes senior executive roles for IBM, such as vice president of offering management for IBM Watson IoT, among others.

Meanwhile, Barry O’Sullivan moves from the Genesys operating committee and joins the company as Executive Vice President and General Manager of Genesys Core. In this role, Barry will leverage his extensive industry, AI, and unified communications knowledge, along with his intimate understanding of the business, to take the Genesys Core division to the next level.

Previously, Barry founded and served as the CEO of Altocloud, the cloud-based customer journey analytics provider acquired by Genesys in 2018. Earlier in his career, Barry was senior vice president and general manager for Cisco Systems, leading several multi-billion-dollar divisions including Collaboration, Unified Communications and Voice over IP.

“We’re extremely fortunate to have executives of Olivier’s and Barry’s calibre leading our business units. With their extensive experience, strong leadership and incredible business vision, they are each ideally suited to help us continue to solve our customers’ toughest challenges and further propel our ongoing momentum,” added Tony Bates.

In addition, Peter Graf will transition from Genesys Chief Product Officer to a new role as Chief Strategy Officer. He will be responsible for developing, communicating, sustaining and executing the Genesys strategy, and will also assume responsibility for strategic alliances, mergers and acquisitions, business operations and disruptive innovation for the company.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthSeptember 19, 2019
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3min917

Gaming firms in the UK are facing a customer loyalty crisis, with 96 percent of punters saying they switch betting providers every year.

Customer insight firm Feefo found that despite this challenge, 93 percent of customers claim they can be persuaded to stick with a favourite firm, and 98 percent admitting that they value aspects of their current gaming firm.

Exploring the habits of 1,000 adults who use UK gaming firms, along with the views of 50 gaming industry decision-makers, The Gaming Report  found customers feel no incentive to be loyal. More than a fifth of customers (21 percent) switch every three-to-five months. Younger and more frequent customers are more likely to switch.

A quarter (25 percent) of 18-34-year-olds switch every two months, for example, compared with six percent of over-65s.

Punters are tempted away by better odds (40 percent) and better introductory offers (39 percent). Only 44 percent of decision-makers say their company can persuade more than half its customers to make more than two deposits.

Ben Marley, head of market development at Feefo, said: “UK gaming companies are employing lower league loyalty tactics against top-level competition, constantly losing customers to rivals. Almost all punters are ready to quit their company at least every 12 months, yet more than nine-in-ten tell us they will stay loyal if they get the right offers, odds or overall quality of experience.

“It’s time for a serious re-think about the tactics betting companies employ. The majority still lack real insight into what precisely customers want.”

The research found that 82 percent of respondents use more than one company at any time and more than half (51 percent) use two. Half of players (50 percent) stick with a company because they like the loyalty programme, and almost as many (46 percent) because a firm is ready to match another company’s offers. However, 50 percent of customers choose a company because of its good reputation.

Ben Marley added: “There’s an ace up every company’s sleeve they continue to overlook – using customer feedback insights to understand precisely punters want, so that loyalty programmes, odds and offers hit the jackpot more often. They need advanced, AI-powered Customer Experience platforms to provide game-changing levels of insight into what players want right now.”

 


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthSeptember 18, 2019
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2min1383

Customer engagement software firm Freshworks Inc. has been named in the Forbes Cloud 100 list for the third year running.

Compilers describe it as “the definitive list of the top 100 private cloud companies in the world”, and Freshworks has moved up the list to number 40, having first entered in 2017 at number 95, before climbing to 60 in 2017.

The Cloud 100 Judging Panel, made up of public cloud company CEOs, reviewed the data to select, score, and rank the top 100 private cloud companies from all over the world. The evaluation process involved ranking companies across four factors: market leadership (35 percent), estimated valuation (30 percent), operating metrics (20 percent) and people & culture (15 percent).

Freshworks CEO and founder, Girish Mathrubootham, said: “Providing simple yet powerful customer engagement software has always been our main focus, and the market continues to embrace our approach. As our 2019 momentum continues, our latest jump in the Forbes Cloud 100 List completes a trifecta of analyst, customer and investor recognition we’ve received this year. Forbes’ just-released ranking comes on the heels of our technology landing in three Gartner Magic Quadrant reports and recognition from peer review platform G2 Crowd.”


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthSeptember 18, 2019
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3min931

Outrage culture has left businesses unable to sincerely say sorry.

Instead they apologise routinely for trivial transgressions, issuing ‘fauxpologies’, ‘nonpologies’ and baffling their customers with incomprehensible jargon in a way that undermines their reputation, damages their credibility and impacts on their bottom line.

In The Apology Impulse, authors Cary Cooper and Sean O’Meara reveal how businesses are getting it wrong on an epic scale.

Whether it’s Paperchase apologising to the Twitterati for a marketing promotion with the Daily Mail and cutting themselves off from the Mail’s 1.5m readership by promising never to advertise with them again. Or the boss of United Airlines apologising for ‘reaccomodating’ a peaceful passenger who was bloodied by United staff and physically dragged from his reserved seat so it could be given to aircrew for United’s operational convenience.

Cooper and O’Meara show how the business world is increasingly driven by an instinctive fear of mass disapproval and hyper-sensitivity to even the smallest criticism. They apologise for the most trivial of things but withhold the big apologies when things really go wrong, due mainly to an unfounded fear of litigation.

Getting it wrong is damaging, but getting it right can enhance an organisation’s reputation even in the midst of a major crisis. Nick Varney, the CEO of Alton Towers, was widely praised for his direct, plain-speaking and empathetic handling of the 2015 rollercoaster crash. He accepted full responsibility and made sure the victims were at the heart of his response, famously replying: “You’ll forgive me if I’m not really focused on the share price at the moment,” when asked about the commercial impact.

The Apology Impulse explores our modern addiction to apologising without really saying sorry. It looks at the best and worst examples to help readers understand when and how to make meaningful amends and why respectfully holding your ground makes you better at being sorry.

It reveals the tricks and techniques we all use to evade, reframe, and divert from what we did. Explaining the psychological reasons why people quickly demand apologies and why businesses are so quick to give them.

The book illustrates why stage-managed apologies can harm businesses and their clients and provides essential lessons for every business, CEO or communications professional who may find themselves in the eye of a crisis in the future.

The Apology Impulse is published by Kogan Page and out 3 October, priced £14.99. 

 


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthSeptember 17, 2019
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25min831

The 2019 UK Customer Experience Awards is just around the corner, and CXM is shining a spotlight on how fantastic training can help your strategies burst out of the boardroom and become worthy of awards recognition.

Among this year’s finalists is finance and admin solutions provider Equiniti Group, which is partnered by First Impression Training (FIT), a firm that enhances CX by assisting companies in developing their employees to build better relationships with customers.

However, good training goes deep, especially when it comes to earning awards recognition for your efforts, and FIT have been assisted in crafting an entry worthy of judges’ admiration by the one-and-only Donna O’Toole, the force behind August – The Awards Consultancy.

Donna lives and breathes awards, and knows exactly what it takes to bring your in-house achievements to a wider audience, with the aim of garnering industry recognition that can open doors to future success.

In a special look behind the scenes of an awards journey, CXM spoke with Donna and FIT’s Training Director and co-founder Marie Cross, about how dedicated training can lift a business to new heights and, ultimately, awards glory…

Donna O’Toole

Hi Donna. Tell us about August and yourself. What inspired you to found a masterclass aimed at preparing organisations for an awards journey?

I started August – The Awards Consultancy in 2015 as a way of helping people to achieve their dreams. I’m a true ‘people-person’ and my background is in English linguistics, so I combined my geeky language skills with my deep knowledge of the awards industry to create an agency that empowers businesses by using awards as a growth tool. August actually means respected, celebrated, and admired, and that’s exactly what we help our clients to become. 

Over the years, I have overseen literally thousands of award entries, including nominations for high-profile awards like the Queen’s honours, and award panel presentations. I see every single entry as unique. It needs to reflect the true values of the brand or individual, but it also needs to deliver a powerful, highly-evidenced argument that makes the reader (in this case a panel of judges) truly believe in them and want them to win too. 

I continuously analyse award entry results, stories, evidence, and feedback, and I’m never satisfied with good results; I strive for excellence in everything – both for my clients and for my own team. It’s this determination to succeed, and to see people truly shine, that has driven me to develop a unique blueprint for awards success.  

I created the unique awards training programme for my own team, then expanded this to train individuals and teams around the world who don’t want to outsource their awards, but do need support to win. I also train PR teams and communications professionals in exactly what they need to do to help their clients win too. I think sometimes people think writing an award entry is just ‘copywriting’. Well, I can tell you for free that it’s not!

We are not a copywriting agency – we eat, breathe, and sleep awards, so the copywriters I train get a surprise when they realise what they have written for a website or blog is completely and utterly wrong for an award entry!

For a firm like FIT, how does the Masterclass help bring out the confidence to put themselves forward for industry awards such as the UKCXAs?

When Marie came to our training day she had the same issue that a lot of people have – she was so busy making sure her customers were achieving everything they wanted and needed to, that she had very little time left to focus on getting recognition for her own business.

First, she needed to think about which awards to enter, and be objective about the value they could deliver back to her business. Then she had to think about what she needed to collect from her own business and that of her clients’ in order to win. When you are running a customer-focused business like FIT, you really don’t have time to think about promoting yourselves, so this was a fantastic opportunity for Marie to take a good look at her achievements so far, and make a clear plan for the future progress of the business, using awards to support and drive further growth. The little time Marie did have to focus on awards needed to be used effectively. She needed a formula that would allow her to put an award entry together that had the right structure, story, content, and evidence right from the off. 

With First Impression Training, you were essentially ‘training trainers’. Did Marie’s training background help when it came to her adopting the skills she learned?

Working with Marie was a dream, because she was not only ‘ready to learn’, she is a trainer herself, so she knows what it’s like to be on the other side of the table! Marie has also judged lots of awards too, so she knows what the judges are looking for in a winning entry. 

Marie and I also have in common the fact that we work with global brands and organisations, as well as smaller businesses and leaders who want to bring out the best in their business. So she understands the challenges that her clients face and was able to use these in our awards training to bring out their unique qualities and achievements, as well as her own. This is so valuable for award entries where businesses are working in partnership, or where you have a supplier relationship and want to gain recognition for both brands. 

 

There is always a ‘eureka’ moment during the training day, when you see a light come on for the trainees. Suddenly, they can see exactly what their strategy should be; what their ‘win theme’ should be; what to include in their entries, and what to leave out.

They can also see exactly why previous entries haven’t been winning, and what can make them win next time. Marie was able to draw out what was both challenging and unique about the projects she had been working on with her clients, and see what she needed to do to present these in a way that would truly ‘wow’ the judges. 

As an awards industry expert, what would you say to a company that is considering taking the plunge and entering, but might have reservations about the process and what benefits it will bring?

The canniest businesses know that you really don’t have to be changing the world to win an award. And you don’t necessarily have to be the best in your industry to win!

You only have to know how to beat the businesses you are competing against at that particular time, in that particular category, to win.

However, when you do win, that’s when the value of awards comes into its own. Your team will be massively motivated by the recognition, and happy employees make happy customers! Your customers have another ‘reason’ to trust you, which means they are more likely to choose to spend their money with you rather than your competitors. And you can use your awards to leverage interest in your business for PR, recruitment, referrals, investment, and Thought Leadership, as well as in your advertising. We are constantly asking our clients for feedback on what’s been happening in their business since winning awards, and the results are always hugely positive. Winning awards can create an immediate uplift in sales, help you to secure significant investment (investors love to see you winning awards), help you to recruit the best talent, and even lead to personal benefits like promotions and pay rises.

What’s not to love?

However, the value in entering awards is not purely in the win – it is in the entire process. Many people are put off entering by the amount of time it will take to prepare their entries, or by looking at previous winners and thinking they are bigger/better and so they couldn’t possibly win, or by a previous awards experience where they didn’t win.

These are all big mistakes, and probably why their competitors keep winning awards and they stay on the sidelines looking like the poor relation in the industry! 

Going through the process of entering awards gives you an opportunity to do a gap analysis on your business – anything you don’t have ready for that award entry (evidence, feedback, growth, and performance stats etc) needs to be either gathered, created, or implemented. And once you’ve got this, you can use and reuse the information, usually for at least a year, to enter and win lots of awards. So you’re already adding value to your business just by starting the process! 

How does August help an organisation that has lots of talent and drive, but has less knowledge about what it takes to enter – and ultimately win – an industry award such as the UKCXAs?

We help businesses in lots of ways – not just by training them to win, but by doing all their awards work for them if they wish. Firstly though, and most importantly, before we can help a business to win, we need to get to know them. What do they want to achieve over the next few years? What are their biggest challenges? What are their biggest achievements? What are their company values? How are they different from their competitors? Why do they want to win awards, and what is their experience with awards so far? Just going through this process reveals so much and allows us to make sure our clients only enter awards where they will have the best chances of success. 

 

An awards event like the UKCXAs is outstanding for recognising and celebrating the success of so many different types of business, but it takes work to win it! And it is one of my absolute favourite awards to judge because the competition is fierce, and you know that during the presentations you’ll hear stories that make you proud to be part of the process.

It is an award that aligns completely with our own ethos too; it’s not just about doing the right thing by your customers, it’s about making their hearts sing!

Marie Cross

Hi Marie. Tell us about First Impression Training and the work you do with firms seeking to boost their CX offering.

First Impression Training is a small organisation with a big pedigree, having worked with some of the giants of industry over the last 18 years since our launch, including AXA, Aviva, Kuoni, Equiniti, Legal & General, BUPA, and the NHS.

We’re an award-winning, people development consultancy specialising in the CX arena.

Wholly focused on developing the talent of frontline teams and leaders, we enable cultural and behavioural change that enhances our clients’ Customer Experience, increases employee engagement, and improves operational efficiency on the front line.

Our training solutions are tailor-made for each client we partner, applying our unique S.H.A.P.ETM methodology, which enables clients to fully own and internalise the FIT solution in a smooth and seamless way, so that the ‘FIT Way’ is kept living and breathing within the organisation, long after we’ve left the building!

 

You met Donna while judging at Awards events. Did your judging role inspire you to take FIT down the awards entry route, after seeing the success enjoyed by winners?

I’ve been involved with many award programmes over the years, since industry legend Don Hales and I first met (over 18 years ago) when he persuaded me to become a judge for the (then) National Customer Service Awards and the National Sales Awards. 

I was also heavily involved with the National Training Awards led by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills for five years, before the programme was taken over by the National Apprenticeship Service.

So yes, I’ve certainly been witness to some amazing winning entries during this time.

And this experience definitely does get you motivated to go for it yourself, partnering your clients – which is exactly what FIT has done this year with the culture change programme we’ve delivered for Equiniti’s 400-seat Customer Experience Centre, and now we’re finalists in four categories across three prestigious award programmes with them!

Donna’s Masterclass is the UK’s premier ‘how to win awards’ tutorial. What skills did you learn from August that FIT will use in its goal of achieving industry recognition?

Donna is a consummate pro! She’s an articulate awards expert, PR guru, and marketing whiz! I love what she’s about and I learned heaps from her at the Masterclass, from designing an award-winning strategy and creating your ‘win theme’, through to the very specific techniques she teaches for crafting your story, content, and evidence for your award entry.

She also shows you how to get the best out of your PR once you’ve actually taken your well-deserved place on the winners’ podium.

If you need a hand ‘bigging yourself up’ and getting your story out there, Donna’s yer gal!

While learning from Donna, what did you discover about your own organisation that you now realise needed improving, but might not have been aware of beforehand?

At the risk of sounding a little boastful here, what Donna really helped me recognise was that we’d spent the last 18 years helping our clients get the recognition they deserved, both inside their organisations and externally, putting them forward for the big award programmes, shouting from the rooftops about their commitment to employee engagement and staff development, without actually doing anything to ensure we stood out alongside them! 

As Donna said to me: “Why on earth would you not consider entering awards – both independently as a training provider and jointly with your clients – when you’re half the reason for your clients’ success stories?” 

So that’s exactly what we’ve done this year!

Donna helped us realise: it’s not that we needed improving – we needed to become our own publicity agent and stop hiding our light under a bushel if we really wanted to get noticed and stand out from the crowd in this increasingly busy marketplace in which we operate. And the result? As I said: finalists in four categories across those three prestigious award programmes: the UK Customer Experience Awards, the UK Business Awards, and the European Contact Centre & Customer Service Awards.

Would you recommend other organisations to take the plunge and prepare for their own awards journey through August guidance? 

Yes, wholeheartedly!

I’ve already paid tribute to Donna and the August Consultancy publicly through my social media posting and our weekly blog to our ‘FIT fans’.

I know for sure that our written entries were as good as they were, resulting in us reaching those four finalist positions, thanks to the lessons I learned at Donna’s Masterclass. 

I’m a creative myself; I love to write and I’m told I’m good at it too! However, I also know that I couldn’t have crafted such a brilliant story – as I have done for the entries we submitted – if I hadn’t first learned the award-winning tips, techniques, and strategies that August has taught me.

The 2019 UK Customer Experience Awards, hosted by Awards International, takes place in Wembley Stadium on October 10.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthSeptember 11, 2019
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6min1298

The G-Summit Europe event, hosted by global Customer Experience and contact centre solutions firm Genesys, is underway in Amsterdam.

The three-day conference brings together CX professionals from across Europe to share the latest in technology solutions and good practice, and features guest speakers including Huib Van Bockel, the former head of Marketing at Red Bull Europe and author of The Social Brand, and Dave carroll, whose famous viral video, United Breaks Guitars, helped usher in a new era of accountability to customers.

Genesys customers, including, HeinekenKiwi.com, and Lowell Group will illustrate how they are using innovative technologies such as the cloud, artificial intelligence (AI), digital channels, and more. G-summit Europe will also celebrate agents from Swisscard, Harambee and Ving as Genesys CX Heroes for going above and beyond to provide exceptional customer service.

Merijn te Booij, Chief Marketing Officer at Genesys, said: “Through G-Summit Europe we aim to show attendees how immersive, experiential service is the new standard for every customer, every time. Attendees will glean insights from industry experts and businesses that have had success using innovative technologies to empower their employees and turn conversations with customers into the best-connected moments across marketing, sales and service.”

Meanwhile, Genesys is making it even easier for businesses to extend the power of its PureCloud software with the launch of single-click free trials for Premium Applications. Now available on the Genesys AppFoundry, this is the industry’s first fully self-service, automated free trial program available on a dedicated CX marketplace.

Jeff Wise, Vice President, Application and Developer Marketing at Genesys explains: “Our free trial program is a truly modern approach for companies to buy software. We’re offering a hassle-free way to try trusted apps, integrations and services that seamlessly tie into our leading SaaS solution, PureCloud.

“In a matter of minutes – not days or weeks – customers can test drive solutions to help them address real business challenges and deliver value. This is just the latest example of how we’re removing barriers to help businesses build deeper, more meaningful relationships with their customers and enrich their employees’ experiences.”

Quickly and without risk, Genesys PureCloud customers can sample a variety of select integrations, applications and services that work in lockstep with their cloud contact center software. Currently, there are 11 free trial applications from AppFoundry partners including: Avtex, CustomerView, nGuvu, PureInsights, Softphone, Survey Dynamix, CoBrowse, SmartVideo, Outleads, and more. These span a variety of capabilities including business intelligence, workforce management, CRM and more.

With fully automated installation and setup, Premium Applications are built to accelerate speed-to-use and deliver optimal time-to-value.

Softphone, a leading contact centre solutions developer & system integrator, currently offers free trials of four Premium Applications on AppFoundry.

Alan Lugiai, Softphone chief executive officer said: “We expect free trial offers to generate an incredible response from Genesys customers. This is a tremendous opportunity to help even more businesses amplify the value of their Genesys Cloud Customer Experience solutions by giving them friction-free access to and integration of our products.”

Businesses have 30 days to evaluate the offering and can choose to license or cancel at any time without friction. In addition, Premium Applications are fully integrated with PureCloud’s subscription and billing system, further streamlining and simplifying the entire process for customers.

Learn more about Premium Applications providers and the full roster of Genesys AppFoundry partners here.

Genesys is sponsoring the 2019 UK Customer Experience Awards in October. Click here for booking details.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthSeptember 10, 2019
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7min1448

A new report from customer engagement software firm Freshworks Inc has cast light on a staggering number of hours wasted annually by sales and service agents who struggle to navigate software they are forced to use, despite having no say in its implementation.

The Voice in the Choice survey, which was released at Freshworks’ user conference, Refresh ‘19, shows that US-based sales staff waste a combined 516 million hours a year as a result of top-down ‘software dictatorship’. The report shows that having no say in the choice of software, and using it despite the problems it creates, is costing firms time, money, and morale.

It is also affecting firms’ ability to control customer retention and satisfaction. It is estimated that in the US, the wasted hours amount to an incredible $8.3 billion in lost productivity every year.

The survey, which questioned 400 frontline customer service and success employees, showed that respondents feel powerless to determine which software they use, with 96 percent having little or no influence into its selection. Likewise, 57 percent have no clue who chooses the software they use, and 43 percent don’t know why the software was chosen. In fact, respondents indicated that they have greater control over snack selection at their offices than they do regarding the software that they use day in and day out.

Employee’s influence in decisions affecting their work life

  • Personal work schedule (28 percent)
  • Seat or desk assignment (20 percent)
  • Office snack selection (17 percent)
  • Software they use (7 percent)

Conversely, when it comes to the biggest impact on end users’ ability to do their jobs well, software becomes the top factor. Forty-seven percent say the software they use has a major or complete impact on their ability to do their jobs well.

Work life factors that improve employee performance

  • Software they use (47 percent)
  • Work schedule (41 percent)
  • Seat or desk assignment (16 percent)
  • Office snack selection (6 percent)
Demand freedom: ‘Hated’ software brings frustration to the workplace

The report shows that the pain of software dictatorship has both quantitative and qualitative ramifications. Half (50 percent) of respondents say that when they have to use software they hate, it is harder for them to satisfy their customers. One-in-five report that when they are frustrated with software, they are more likely to be rude to customers.

Exclusion from their organisations’ software decision-making also impacts overall employee morale and, ultimately, employee retention. Nearly one-in-four end users (24 percent) say that using software they hate makes them want to quit their jobs. This flight risk is more acute with millennials, with 30 percent reporting that handcuffing them to bad software makes them want to pack up and leave.

Tellingly, using ‘hated’ software brings frustration and unhappiness at work to more people (26 percent) than the drudgery of long hours and working overtime (23 percent).

The survey revealed that increased user involvement not only increases productivity but increases their job satisfaction as well. End users report that if management involved them in deciding what software to use, it would make them feel respected (60 percent) and empowered (40 percent) while boosting employee morale (43 percent).

The survey revealed that increased user involvement not only increases productivity but increases their job satisfaction as well. End users report that if management involved them in deciding what software to use, it would make them feel respected (60 percent) and empowered (40 percent) while boosting employee morale (43 percent).

Enlightened managers are adopting a more democratic approach to selecting software for net positive gains. Over half of end users say that helping to choose the software their company uses to engage with customers would result in happier customers (53 percent) and higher employee productivity (52 percent). In fact, over half of millennials (52 percent) report that they’d be at least 25 percent better at their job if they could choose the software they use.

Freshworks CEO and founder Girish Mathrubootham, said: “This lack of employee involvement is an outrage for those on the frontlines of the customer relationship and should be a wake-up call for companies who are looking to increase both employee productivity and customer satisfaction. Organisations have a responsibility – to their employees, their customers and themselves – to bring the voice of their workers into the technology-buying process. The happiness of their employees and customers depends on it, as does the health of their business.

“As our productivity and happiness at work becomes more closely tied to the technology we use, executives and managers have a true opportunity to make better software choices by giving a voice to their employees. Organisations can enact a more democratic selection process through a number of best practices, including employee surveys, pilot programs, employee committees and many other tactics to ensure worker voices are heard and can be as productive as possible.”


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthSeptember 9, 2019
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6min1269

Global companies are expecting to apply artificial intelligence (AI) within their organisations in the next few years, but are lagging behind when it comes to discussing the ethics of the technology, it has been revealed.

New research from CX and contact centre solutions firm Genesys has revealed that more than half of all employers questioned in a multi-country opinion survey say their companies do not currently have a written policy on the ethical use of AI or bots, although 21 percent expressed a definite concern that their companies could use AI in an unethical manner.

Genesys, which is sponsoring the upcoming 2019 UK Customer Experience Awards, questioned 1,103 employers and 4,207 employees regarding the current and future effects of AI on their workplaces. The 5,310 participants were drawn from six countries: the UK, Germany, the US, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand.

Almost two-thirds (64 percent) of the employers surveyed expect their companies to be using AI or advanced automation by 2022 to support efficiency in operations, staffing, budgeting, or performance, although only 25 percent are using it now.

However, in spite of the growing trend, 54 percent of employers questioned say they are not troubled that AI could be used unethically by their companies as a whole or by individual employees (52 percent). Employees appear more relaxed than their bosses, with only 17 percent expressing concern about their companies.

Twenty-eight percent of employers said they are apprehensive their companies could face future liability for an unforeseen use of AI, yet only 23 percent say there is currently a written corporate policy on the ethical use of AI/bots.

Meanwhile an additional 40 percent of employers without a written AI ethics policy believe their companies should have one – a stance supported by 54 percent of employees.

Meanwhile, just over half of employers (52 percent) believe companies should be required to maintain a minimum percentage of human employees versus AI-powered robots and machinery. Employees are more likely (57 percent) than employers (52 percent) to support a requirement by unions or other regulatory bodies.

The Genesys survey found that millennials (ages 18-38) are the age group most comfortable with technology, yet they also have the strongest opinions that guard rails are needed. Across the countries, the survey questions about AI ethics resonated more with millennials than with Gen X (ages 39-54), or Baby Boomers (ages 55-73).

Whether it’s anxiety over AI, desire for a corporate AI ethics policy, worry about liability related to AI misuse, or willingness to require a human employee-to-AI ratio – it’s the youngest group of employers who consistently voice the most apprehension. For example, 21 percent of millennial employers are concerned their companies could use AI unethically, compared to 12 percent of Gen X and only six percent of Baby Boomers.

Steve Leeson, VP UK & Ireland, Genesys, said: “As a company delivering numerous Customer Experience solutions enabled by AI, we understand this technology has great potential that also comes with tremendous responsibility. This research gives us important insight into how businesses and their employees are really thinking about the implications of AI – and where we as a technology community can help them steer an ethical path forward in its use.”

He continued: “Our research reveals both employers and employees welcome the increasingly important role AI-enabled technologies will play in the workplace and hold a surprisingly consistent view toward the ethical implications of this intelligent technology. We advise companies to develop and document their policies on AI sooner rather than later – making employees a part of the process to quell any apprehension and promote an environment of trust and transparency.”

Read CXM’s interview with Olivier Jouve, Executive Vice President of Genesys Purecloud, for more on ethics in AI.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthSeptember 4, 2019
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3min2235

Over three-quarters of IT teams don’t understand the buzzwords that marketers use, causing concerns over how firms handle their Digital Experience (DX).

A new report from content management system (CMS) provider Magnolia, Straight talking content management, incorporates a survey of over 200 IT professionals and 200 marketers across both the UK and US and garners unique insights into the DX landscape and the attitudes both groups hold in relation to their peers.

It reveals that the emerging field of DX has become swamped with buzzwords and jargon, which has led to a huge disconnect between marketers and IT teams.

The research found that almost a quarter (23 percent) of IT teams believe that marketers use too many buzzwords, with 21 percent saying they don’t know what marketers mean when they ask for ‘omnichannel’ content, and 24 percent saying they don’t know what a ‘call to action’ is online.

Furthermore, with 80 percent of marketers collaborating with their IT team on a weekly basis – and 46 percent interacting on a daily basis – it’s crucial that both teams can communicate with one another effectively.

Commenting on the research, Rasmus Skjoldan, CMO at Magnolia, said: “In order for brands to create great content, both IT teams and marketers must work together to understand each other’s unique pressures and objectives. Talking in technical jargon and marketing buzzwords isn’t helping, if anything it’s just causing more frustration for both groups.

“Too many CMS brands add to this problem, expanding rather than bridging the divide. As an industry we need to focus on developing straight-talking solutions that work for everyone across the business – from marketers, to developers, to customers and IT teams.”


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthSeptember 3, 2019
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3min1871

Financial services compliance solutions firm Worksmart has joined the 2020 UK Complaint Handling Awards as a sponsor for the event, which will take place in London next year.

The firm, which has been supporting Britain’s leading financial service businesses through the challenges of regulatory compliance for over two decades, is bringing its considerable influence to the awards final next spring, where companies will compete in 15 categories, including Best use of Insight & Customer Feedback and Complaint Handling Professional of the Year.

Worksmart is the firm behind cutting-edge complaints software Caresmart, which has revolutionised complaint tracking and resolving for organisations keen to protect their reputation with both customers and regulatory bodies. It joins fellow partners Cranfield School of Management and Professor Malcolm McDonald in backing the awards, which are once again also sponsored by children’s charity Barardo’s.

2020 will be the fourth year of the event, hosted by Awards International, and finalists will descend on the Park Plaza Riverbank on March 5 to present details of complaint handling initiatives before a panel of leading experts including representatives of award-winning firms such as Capita.

Entries remain open for the awards, and hopefuls have until October 18 to take advantage of an Early Bird discount offer. The final entry deadline is on November 14, with shortlisted finalists set to be announced on November 26.

Julie Pardy, Director of Regulation & Market Engagement at Worksmart, said: “We’re delighted to be a sponsor at the UK Complaint Handling Awards, as it promotes best practice in complaint handling. Our complaints product, Caresmart, helps companies resolve complaints compliantly and in a way which ensures the best possible chance of retaining the relationship with the customer for the future. As such, sponsoring these awards is the right thing to do.”


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthAugust 30, 2019
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2min1708

Luxury hotel group Calcot Collection has enlisted a guest experience management firm to help monitor staff happiness through the company’s employee survey function, in order to motivate and retain its team.

The move follows the sacking of a senior chef and launch of an investigation into a scalding incident in the kitchen of one of the group’s venues in Gloucestershire, the Calcot & Spa (pictured).

The agreement with guest experience management firm HGEM serves 575 employees across five venues, and will provide Calcot Collection with in-depth reports to track employee engagement at all stages of the career process, and identify opportunities for development and improvement. The reports will enable Calcot to establish and reinforce best practice, while The Hub (HGEM’s innovative reporting platform) will give the company access to e-learning modules for ongoing improvement.

Pat Sparkes, HR Manager, Calcot Collection said: “We are pleased to be working with HGEM to monitor employee engagement and identify any areas for improvement. The company’s detailed analysis in this area will help to inform our ongoing strategy and ensure we create the best possible culture for our employees.”


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthAugust 30, 2019
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2min1559

Forty percent of UK employees would consider working in a temporary, interim, or contract position, according to a new poll, in order to enjoy benefits including a better lifestyle.

Research undertaken by staffing business Walters People found that for those who would take on such positions, 47 percent said the motive would be an improved lifestyle, 29 percent cited higher hourly pay, 26 percent said more flexibility, and 19 percent said they would accept a temp post in order to be exposed to new skills.

Regions where the ambition to contract is most prevalent include Wales (47 percent), Yorkshire & Humber (44 percent), East Midlands (42 percent), and London (40 percent).

Further analysis shows that for the first time in 18 months, contracting vacancies in the UK has seen a significant boost – increasing by 29 percent in Q2 of this year.

Regions which have seen the biggest increase in contract or interim vacancies over the past three months are Birmingham, Manchester, London, Bristol, and Leeds.

Director of Walters People London, Phill Westcott said: “There are almost 5 million self-employed people in the UK – ten years ago, this number would have been in the tens of thousands. This shift is not down to any one generation but is an indicator of where the mindset of the UK workforce is moving.

“Work life balance, reticence to be part of corporate structures, lack of training or progression, unpaid overtime, exposure to new industries, and the desire to seek out interesting project type work are just a few of the common reasons we often hear professionals who have made the contract-role switch or would like too.”

The desire to contract is most prevalent for professionals in Technology & IT (48 percent), Procurement & Supply Chain (46 percent), and Banking & Financial Services (45 percent).


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthAugust 29, 2019
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3min1161

UK and International Customer Experience Awards finalist Northern Gas Networks has been recognised for its innovative work to improve the impact of traffic management on customers when improvements to its network are taking place.

The North of England’s gas distributor has already been shortlisted in six categories for the 2019 UK Customer Experience Awards, and three categories in the 2019 International Customer Experience Awards, and now the firm has been nominated for a national award by the UK Society for Trenchless Technology (UKSTT) – a charity which promotes new technologies and practices which don’t involve digging.

Considerate: NGN aims for as little disruption as possible when carrying out upgrades or repairs

Traffic management, such as temporary traffic lights or lane closures, can be necessary when work such as the replacement of gas pipes is taking place. In traffic sensitive areas, a Traffic Management Plan (TMP) is always required before work can start; agreed with the local authority and other stakeholders. However, these plans can be complicated and slow to produce.

Now, the Innovation Team at Northern Gas Networks (NGN) is developing new ways to plan traffic management so that it will have less of an impact on people’s lives.  New software developed by NGN and project partner 1 Spatial now makes it possible to generate automated traffic plans far more quickly, with clear benefits for road users, local businesses, and other customers.

It’s this responsive approach which has seen the project shortlisted in the UKSTT awards’ category for the Application of Digital Technology, and winners will be revealed next month.

NGN’s Head of Innovation, Richard Hynes-Cooper, said: “This shortlisting recognises the ability for our designers, planners and engineers to generate traffic management plans, at the click of a button. This is a potential game-changer for the industry.

“It will save money on every traffic management scheme that we create, as well as ensuring that our key local stakeholders, such as councils, have quick and easy access to our plans.

“However, what is most exciting about this innovation for me is the ability to make our schemes even more customer-focused. Bu building in key information such as local traffic flows, we can design schemes which are less disruptive, and more sensitive to local issues.”


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthAugust 21, 2019
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4min1394

Local authorities in the UK are failing to provide an acceptable level of customer service, according to a new poll.

Over a third (37 percent) of UK citizens have been denied critical information from their local councils because they couldn’t reach the right department through the customer service team, according to new research from cloud and contact centre solutions firm 8×8.

Difficulty getting through to their local authority has significant consequences, with one-in-five people (20 percent) missing council tax payments; 17 percent missing rent payments; and 14 percent signing up for the wrong benefits because they were unable to get hold of the information they needed.

According to the poll, it takes seven minutes on average for residents to get through to their local council, speaking to at least two different people before reaching the right department. As a result, 71 percent of residents believe that customer service at their local council should improve in line with recent rises in council tax.

The study also reveals that councils are offering a limited number of channels for residents to contact them on. Around half of the public can contact their local authority by phone (58 percent), but when it comes to digital communication, only 50 percent of all residents say they are able to contact their local authority by email, 14 by social media, and just five percent using a chatbot.

Communication concern: Councils are lacking in digital communication channel options, a poll has found

Nearly half (44 percent) of residents would value more digital communication channels from their local council to get a quicker and easier response to queries.

Despite residents facing a range of issues when contacting their local council, the vast majority (85 percent) say that they have also received good customer service from their local authority in the past.

When asked about what they value from these interactions, the most important factors were being able to reach a person to speak to (39 percent), getting queries resolved quickly (38 percent), and getting their query answered the first time, without being passed between multiple agents or having to contact the council again (35 percent).

Mary Ellen Genovese, MD of European Operations, 8×8, said: “While there are countless examples of local councils delivering great service for residents with a human touch, our research reveals that many people are dissatisfied with their experience. At best, this is an inconvenience but at worst, residents are missing out on vital payments or services because they can’t easily get the information they need.”


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthAugust 21, 2019
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3min1305

Global customer engagement software firm Freshworks has announced a 61 percent year-over-year billings growth in the second quarter of 2019, driven by considerable momentum in multiple areas.

In addition to the Q2 growth, Freshworks broadened its corporate footprint in Europe by opening offices in Paris, France, and Utrecht, Netherlands. On the heels of expanding its existing office in London, Freshworks hosted Refresh19 London, its first ever UK user conference, attracting over 400 attendees.

Outside of the EU, the company also grew its presence in APAC by partnering with OrangeOne Corporation, a leading software services provider in Japan. Freshworks also opened its third office in India in the city of Hyderabad, and Melbourne, its second in the Australia-New Zealand region.

The company rounded its Customer 360 platform with the acquisition of Natero, which leverages artificial intelligence and machine learning-powered technology to help put actionable data in the hands of customer success professionals. With Natero, Freshworks helps companies engage with their customers from first web visit to latest inquiry.

Earlier in the quarter, Freshchat, the company’s modern messaging software added an integration with WhatsApp Business solution. As part of Proximity, a bundle of features aimed at bringing businesses closer to their customers, businesses can now send customers text, images, GIFs, attachments or canned responses via WhatsApp’s enormously popular messaging platform.

Additionally, Freshworks launched Freshrelease, an agile product management tool that helps teams quickly complete bug fixes and get new products to market faster.

Building upon this momentum, Freshworks has exponentially expanded its ecosystem of partners. The Freshworks Marketplace has grown to 700 apps and counting, created by more than 350 partners globally.

Overall, the business from the partner network from over 40 countries registered 100 percent YoY growth in the first half of the year ending June 2019, underscoring its value to solution partners and ISVs working closely with Freshworks’ customer engagement suite.

Girish Mathrubootham, Founder and CEO of Freshworks, said: “While we are pleased by our growth, we continue to invest in product development efforts to expand our addressable markets. The ultimate reward for us is seeing greater customer success as businesses court, close, and keep customers for life.”


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthAugust 20, 2019
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3min1199

The North of England’s gas distributor, Northern Gas Networks (NGN), is having an outstanding year, and is aiming for an autumn of awards success as it competes for CX recognition nationally and globally.

NGN has been shortlisted for six categories in the 2019 UK Customer Experience Awards, and employees recently learned they will also compete in three categories at the 2019 International Customer Experience Awards.

The UK Customer Experience Awards take place at London’s Wembley Stadium this October, and NGN will present before judges overseeing the following categories: Team of the Year – Customer Centricity, Use of Insight & Feedback – Customer Satisfaction, Customers at the Heart of Everything – Initiative, B2B Customer Experience, Product or Service Development, and Employees at the Heart of Everything.

The following month, on November 21, the NGN team will be in Amsterdam for the second International Customer Experience Awards final, with the goal of winning gold in the Best Customer Experience Strategy – CX and Beyond, Business Change or Transformation and Customer-Centric Culture – Transformation categories.

NGN is hoping that 2019 rivals 2014 for awards success, as it was the year it secured an incredible six gold titles at the UK Customer Experience Awards.

Eileen Brown, Customer Experience Director at Northern Gas Networks, said: “We are immensely proud to be shortlisted for both the International and UK Customer Experience Awards. Our customers are always front and centre in everything that we do and to receive this recognition is testament to the quality of service delivered by our dedicated teams. We deliver gas to over 2.7 million homes and businesses across the North of England, and we are absolutely thrilled to be acknowledged for our service both nationally and globally.”

Global gathering: The International Customer Experience Awards is taking place in Amsterdam on November 21


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthAugust 20, 2019
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2min1279

UK Customer Experience Awards finalist Three has activated its 5G service in parts of London, ahead of rolling out the service for mobiles in other areas before the end of the year.

The first wave of the service is for 5G broadband home hub users in three areas, Camberwell, Camden, and Southwark, meaning householders there can access wifi speeds without landlines or installations.

Three has, appropriately enough, been nominated for three titles at the UK Customer Experience Awards, which take place in London’s Wembley Stadium on October 10. The network provider will present before judging panels in a bid to win the Customers at the Heart of Everything – Leading Edge, Online Customer Experience, and Telecoms category awards.

Three aims to have mobile 5G active in up to 25 UK towns and cities before the end of 2019, including Edinburgh, Cardiff, and Manchester.

The switching on of the service means Three joins fellow UK Customer Experience Awards finalists EE in providing next-level coverage. EE launched 5G in six cities in May, while 2019 UK Complaint Handling Awards finalist Vodafone’s network went live in July.

Meanwhile, O2, which has been nominated for an incredible seven awards at the UKCXAs, will launch its 5G network in October.

Speaking of the launch this week, Three CEO Dave Dyson said: “It’s clear consumers and businesses want more and more data. We have the UK’s best network for data and we have led the market on customer usage on both 3G and 4G technologies.

“We have worked hard over a long period of time to be able to offer the best end-to-end 5G experience.”


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthAugust 16, 2019
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4min1451

The CX Professional Masterclass is coming to Dubai in September, led by global consultant and author Ian Golding.

The two-day class will see participants learn from one of the world’s foremost authorities on all things Customer Experience, and receive direct advice on steps that will place customer centricity at the very heart of your organisation.

Topics covered include customer journey mapping, CX measurement, and how employees can affect and deliver CX strategies.

All graduates of the course will be provided with case studies, exercises, and stories that bring to life the skills needed to succeed as a CX professional. Attendees will create a relevant and personalised action plan that can start immediately and graduates will be able to demonstrate greater knowledge, confidence and credibility in Customer Experience within your organisation.

Ian’s many years of CX consulting led him to pen one of the best received texts in CX today, Customer What? The honest and practical guide to customer experience, and now is your chance to learn directly from Ian (pictured left) himself at the workshop on September 25 – 26th.

Following the class, graduates will also have the opportunity to take the CCXP Exam at a CCXP Assessment Centre in Dubai.

The Masterclass will take place at the Jumeirah Creekside Hotel, and for those who register before Thursday August 29, a special Early Bird Discount offer is available. Click here for more details.

In the UK, Ian’s CX Masterclass is going from strength-to-strength, and the next takes place on September 16 – 17.

The Dubai CX Masterclass will allow those in the Gulf region to benefit from the same standard of excellence as the UK events.

UK attendee Rebecca Farnworth, a Customer Excellence Manager, said of her time at the Masterclass: “Ian is a very strong commanding facilitator, presenter, and teacher rolled into one. He makes you want to listen!

“His experience is immense which makes him very credible. I liked the stories and the videos which helped maximise learning in a very adult accelerated learning way. I have never left a training programme wanting to stay and learn even more. My three things to implement into my workplace’s current culture is already on the agenda at the next leadership meeting.”

Meanwhile, Dubai staff can also avail of Ian’s outstanding teaching without having to leave their office.

In-house training offers both employers and employees a whole new set of advantages compared to sending a few people from your team to external training. The entire training process happens much more naturally in the familiar environment and enables your employees to improve their skills without going out of their way.

For more details of in-house training in Dubai, contact Antonija@cxm.co.uk.

 




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