Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJuly 3, 2018


CX is a global industry, and now a new event is set to celebrate and honour the world’s best customer-centric organisations – the 2018 International Customer Experience Awards.

The inaugural event is taking place in the capital of the Netherlands, Amsterdam, on November 20, and entries are now open in 19 categories that cover all aspects of Customer Experience.

These include: Best Omnichannel Customer Experience; Best Digital Strategy; Most Effective Customer Experience in Social Media; and Best Customer Experience Professional.

Entrants so far hail from eight different countries and include household names such as Microsoft and DBS, with many more to be revealed in the coming weeks.

The spectacular gala event will also see an Overall Winner crowned at the ceremony, which takes place at the Movenpick Hotel City Centre, overlooking Amsterdam’s famous Ij waterway.

Meanwhile, scrutinising presentations on the day and deciding winners will be an expert independent judging panel of CX specialists from a wide range of industries. So far 16 countries are represented on what will be a truly international judging line-up.

Among the judges are the 2018 International Customer Experience awards Ambassadors, who are representing their respective countries and bringing unique takes on CX strategies in the run-up to the event.

They will be sharing their insights with CXM World as the awards draw closer, so keep and eye on the magazine for further details.

The inaugural Ambassadors include UK-based head of the Customer Experience Consultancy, Ian Golding; Mike Wittenstein, a Managing Partner of US-based consultancy Storyminers; and Daniel Ord, of Singapore firm Omnitouch International.

Mark Hamill, the Managing Director of Awards International UAE and The Netherlands, said:

For many years now, we have hosted the Gulf Customer Experience Awards in Dubai, while Awards International in Britain has successfully put CX at the forefront of the business world with the UK Customer Experience Awards.

Now it’s time to go global, and help identify those organisations all over the world that put customers at the heart of everything they do. They deserve international recognition and these awards are all about celebrating the schemes, ideas, and best practise that makes them true CX pioneers.

As always, the awarding will be carried out according to our high standards of impartiality and transparency, while all entrants will benefit significantly from the detailed feedback offered following their presentations.

This is an exciting time for Customer Experience, and we are proud to be hosting an event that will set the global standard for CX best practise, not just in the UK or the Middle East, but worldwide.”

For more information on entering the 2018 International Customer Experience Awards, visit the official website.

The deadline for entries is August 23, with the full list of finalists to be revealed at a later date.

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJune 28, 2018


The finalists for the 2018 UK Customer Experience Awards have been revealed, as the countdown begins for the country’s greatest ever celebration of CX.

Returning to London for its ninth year, the event will take place on October 11, when Awards International will welcome the UK’s most customer-centric organisations to the iconic Wembley Stadium, where they will compete across 32 categories.

Titles up for grabs during the gala evening ceremony – which follows a day of presentations – include ‘Best Engaging the Customer Online’, ‘Best Health & Wellbeing’, and ‘Best International Business’, while people-focussed categories include ‘CX Professional of the Year’ and ‘CX Team of the Year’.

This year’s shortlist of finalists represents a broad spectrum of British business, and features brands including Lloyds Banking Group, Vodafone, Scottish Widows, BT, and many, many more.

Meanwhile, the judging panel for 2018 is also shaping up to be one of the most diverse to date, with an exciting array of professionals and industry leaders preparing to scrutinise presentations on the day and award the most deserving entrants. Places on the panel are still available.

Judge and Awards Chairperson Ian Golding, Founder of the Customer Experience Consultancy, congratulated all shortlisted finalists, and hailed a record year for entries.

In our nine-year history we have never shortlisted 100 companies before. Surely this shows the growing impact of CX on business and signals Customer Experience has gone mainstream,” he said.

“The standard of entries is formidable and the number of organisations striving for true customer centricity, or transforming their organisations in the name of CX, is truly remarkable.

We listened to your feedback and we learned some lessons from last year, so this year’s finals and awards ceremony is going to be better than ever. In fact, I believe it will be the greatest event of its kind in history.

Those that didn’t make the grade, I say bad luck to you, but I hope to see you back again next year.

Congratulations once again finalists. I look forward to seeing you on October 11 at the amazing Wembley Stadium.”

For a full list of finalists for 2018, click here.

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJune 27, 2018


The recurring question of whether the high street is dying and clicks have indeed replaced bricks is back in the news with House of Fraser and New Look’s high profile problems – but the largest ever fashion retail survey amongst digital-savvy millennials reveals they still prefer the human touch.

Real world experience and support preferred

One-in-two (49 percent) 18-34 year-olds say they prefer to shop for clothes in store, compared to 11 percent via apps and 39 percent through websites, according to the first Fashion Retail Barometer from the CX Millennial Index compiled by emotion analytics firm Adoreboard in partnership with survey platform OnePulse.

Adoreboard’s Queen’s University-based data scientists analysed the emotional responses expressed by 10,000 millennial consumers in a landmark survey about their clothing shopping habits, preferences and brand rankings, to help retail brands provide a better Customer Experience.

One-in-three (31 percent) feel less certain of their choices when they shop online, and brand trust seems to be generated more by human rather than AI support: an overwhelming 76 percent of millennials say they prefer human assistance online over a chatbot.

New Look performs well, H&M sizing issues dominate

The online fashion industry is predicted to reach £36.2 billion by 2030: 63 percent of the market compared to today’s 21 percent, but purely online retailers don’t fare as well in the Adoreboard Fashion Retail Barometer rankings. Asos is rated below beleaguered high street chain New Look and BooHoo comes in eighth out of the 10 fashion retail brands analysed.

In fact, despite its recent reported £1 billion financial debt and impending store closures, high street chain New Look far and away outstrips the other brands, coming out top of the 10 fashion retail brands analysed in the Barometer with an overall emotional response – or ‘Adorescore’ – of 42 despite sharp competition from second position ASOS with a score of 40. The Queen’s University analysts used Emotics, an AI platform which uses mathematical algorithms to calculate the overall Adorescore by assessing emotions such as joy, trust, rage and anger in respondents’ comments on individual brands.

There is stiff competition to win the hearts of the Millennial consumers who desire on trend fashion balanced with quality and value for money,” said Chris Johnston, Chief Executive of Adoreboard.

New Look’s efforts to appeal to younger shoppers is reflected in strong Trust in providing affordable fashion, whilst Joy has been driven by how Millennials rate the in-store customer experience. However, many would argue the allure of appealing to millennials has come at a cost of alienating core customers and reflected in plummeting sales for New Look.”

 Meanwhile, it seems H&M’s recent announcement about reviewing its sizing can’t come soon enough for millennial shoppers: complaints about the brand’s sizing being too small was the most recurring theme driving anger and sadness amongst respondents.

Sizing complaints seem to be at the heart of fashion favourite Topshop’s surprisingly low score, too: the brand ranked sixth in the 10 brands analysed, scoring particular highly on ‘Sadness’ due to small sizing.

Personalisation, ethics and sustainability rule rankings

Overall, personalised customer service, value, affordability and ethics are the most important clothes shopping motivators for millennial consumers – and these guide the ultimate rankings and higher scores of New Look, ASOS, H&M, and Primark. Nearly two-thirds (61 percent) say ethics and sustainability are important when shopping for clothes, compared to 26 percent who were undecided or had no preference, and 12 percent who said ethics isn’t important to them.

At the other end of the scale, poor quality products, long queues in store and sizing issues lead to lower rankings and less overall brand trust for River Island, BooHoo, and Zara.

Trust in influencers, not brand marketing

The majority of millennial fashion retail consumers (61 percent) don’t trust direct brand marketing – and online advertising bombardment may be to blame. Nearly two-thirds say (65 percent) they would be less likely to trust brands who sent them too many ads.

Seeking information and peer-to-peer communication is more preferable to unsolicited brand messaging. A huge 85 percent of 18-34 year olds say social media influences their fashion buying decisions, with Instagram being the most popular influencer channel (28 percent). A further 53 percent report they would rather get their information directly from the brand’s app.

Chris Johnston said:

Brand marketers need to work smarter to start a dialogue with younger fashion retail consumers who are turned off by overt brand messaging. We know that they like to be in control of their consumer choices more than any other age group, and to feel part of a one on one, authentic conversation. The analysis notes that 85 per cent of Millennials say that emotion influences their purchase decisions, so marketers need to work smarter to build new experiences and retail theatre to heighten the appeal to these new type of shoppers. 

There’s been a lot of comment recently about the high street business model failing customers. But our Report proves that Millennials – those consumers whose spending power will drive retail and brand performance over the next generation – want, need and value that in-person, human, individualised experience.

So what does this tell brand marketers? Direct, one on one communication is key, as is providing a seamless customer experience from online to in store. There’s too often a disconnect between the value and convenience provided online with the levels of service and overall experience provided in store – and that experience is the high street’s key differentiator.

Putting the customer at the heart of your brand decisions is vital for brand survival and future growth. Exploring customer feedback through an emotional lens allows brands to generate more trust and build a seamless CX across every consumer touchpoint.”

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJune 5, 2018


The UK Customer, Digital, and Employee Experience Awards have received the Gold Standard Awards Trust Mark from the Independent Awards Standards Council.

The honour was bestowed on hosts Awards International for their trio of ‘Experience’ awards, along with the UK Complaint Handling Awards and the UK Business Awards.

Awards International is one of the first awards event organisers in the UK to receive the coveted accreditation, which rewards ethics and transparency throughout the entire awards process – from when entries are first submitted, to when winners take to the stage to accept trophies.

Awards International events – including the flagship UK Customer Experience Awards, which this year takes place at London’s Wembley Stadium on October 11 – feature independent judging panels, allowing for a rigorous but fair judging process, ensuring the winners represent the best in each category.

The Independent Awards Standards Council (IASC) is a not-for profit organisation made up of stakeholders in the awards industry. It was established with the aim of raising standards and perceptions of trust in awards as a whole, for the benefit of all stakeholders.

Congratulating Awards International on its achievement, Chris Robinson, Co-Founder of the Independent Awards Standards Council, and MD of the world’s first award entry consultancy, Boost Marketing, said:

Awards International events are exemplars in how awards should be operated. Their attention to every detail, from the transparency of the scoring system, to the briefings provided to judges, to the quality of websites, the clarity of the entering process, and the quality of customer service throughout, is exemplary. I hope more schemes will aspire to this level of service and also earn the Gold Standard Awards Trust Mark.”

He continued:

The need for the Trust Mark, and the elements within an agreed code of conduct, are based on research by Boost Marketing that gained input from both awards entrants and organisers. According to Boost’s research, the average score given by businesses when asked ‘how well does the awards industry meet your needs’ was just 5.7 out of 10. But around 80 percent of businesses entering awards would be influenced by an independent accreditation scheme when picking awards to enter.

It found that transparency was essential, and that most awards organisers were willing to consider such a scheme. The research also showed that perceived trust in the judging process used in an awards scheme is one of the most influential factors for businesses in picking schemes to enter.

The big picture for the IASC is that the UK aspires to lead the world in business awards, setting the standard to which the rest of the world aspires. This will improve the credibility and thus popularity and impact of awards schemes, for the benefit of all stakeholders within the awards industry.”

Meanwhile, Neil Skehel, CEO of Awards International, said:

Thank you to the Independent Awards Standards Council for this incredible honour. This is fantastic recognition for the work we do to ensure every awards programme is carried out to the highest standard with the most credible judging process possible. Thank you to everyone who has helped us develop our events over the past decade, and we will continue to reward and celebrate business excellence and innovation in the UK.”

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJune 1, 2018


UK tech firm Syntasa is helping businesses provide tailored digital experiences thanks to the use of sophisticated AI Assisted Customer Analytics. The firm was among many in attendance at the recent Adobe Summit 2018 digital marketing conference in London, and CXM caught up with Syntasa’s Senior Product Marketing Director Anthony Magee to discuss the future of Digital Experience and the use of Artificial Intelligence on providing it…


1. Tell us about Syntasa and the ideas behind the company

Syntasa was born from a need for organisations to get a handle on their disparate data sources, transform them into powerful actionable intelligence, and do so all in their own existing big data environment.

We set out to never become yet another cloud platform promising to deliver every part of the Customer Experience. Instead we believe data is such a valuable strategic asset that unlocking its superpowers should be in the control of the organisation.


2. Your firm utilises AI in innovative ways to help businesses better understand their customers. How much further can AI go when it comes to comprehending customer behaviour?

I’ve worked in many data and CRM leadership roles, both agency and client side, and a common misconception across all is that automation will solve the problem of actionable customer intelligence.

In fact, marketing automation and single customer view are amongst some of the most overused and yet underdelivered projects across organisations. I see it as a breeding ground for more problems, often:

  • Collecting more data and creating more silos
  • Costing the earth to store all your data in yet another cloud
  • Creating a bigger divide between marketers, developers, and data scientists
  • Never quite delivering that bottom line benefit that the ‘Proof of Concept’ had promised

It’s imperative to recognise that AI has many applications, but at its heart should be rooted in the core principle of optimising the status-quo. At SYNTASA we call this AI Assisted, where AI works next to our clients teams as trusted co-worker, co-creator, and advisor.

This enables us to blend the benefits of human and machine for a truly optimal Customer Experience, recognising that ‘data-driven’ requires virtual intelligence within the creative process, but recognises that AI needs human intervention to truly close the loop (think: collect, understand, activate).

AI and machine learning are intrinsically interlinked; we’ve only just scratched the surface in AI Assisted modelling being used for deep pro-active analysis, detecting discovery insights and activating AI driven decisions agnostic of channel or technology. The journey analytics model is understandably a popular choice amongst CX and UX professionals; with AI this detects automatically the optimal path and pain-points in the user journey, applying behavioural context to otherwise generic experiences.

‘AI Assisted’ is algorithms sifting through billions of records to apply context and understanding (combining User ID graph with intent, asset, and message taxonomy) to create a Customer Experience learning loop (AI assisted is the heavy lifting to super-power the creative process) to activate, test, learn, and auto-optimise offline, online, anywhere.

With 81 percent of executives predicting that by 2020 AI will be working alongside their human workforce as collaborator, co-creator, and trusted advisor (Accenture Interactive Survey 2018, of 6,300 business and IT executives), I’m excited by the possibilities of what we call AI Assisted Technology. Our roadmap focuses on the data and decisioning workforce, ensuring that they have the additional superpowers to support the evolution of Customer Experiences.

This means the virtual analyst and data scientist will be a thing of reality, providing AI tools and workflows to assist in data management, Customer Experience analysis, and recommended actions based on predicted outcomes. Not only this but we want to simplify the process of transforming data into intelligence that can be used by experience makers to enhance the journey, removing all of the pain from the process of becoming a data driven enterprise.


3. Where are businesses going wrong when it comes to Customer Experience? What are the common mistakes your firm assists them in rectifying?

Businesses are diversifying their touchpoints so fast in an attempt to keep up with the Joneses that their experiences are suffering. This is resulting in fragmented and disconnected messages that are not context aware and fundamentally don’t recognise that relatedness and relevancy are the lifeblood of great experiences. Data, of course, has a huge role to play in demonstrating to experience professionals the pitfalls in their experiences – where and what changes need to be made.

Experiences in context and not in isolation are critical, and I continue to see not enough holistic experience design across organisations. Why do we still have separate product owners who don’t truly collaborate? Retailers with checkouts, product pages, and recommendation engines that are isolated by device/channel?

My client, Rob McLaughlin of Sky *, recently discussed personalisation with me during a co-presentation at a forum. He explained that personalisation is an overused term and likened it to meeting a colleague you’ve known for years – you wouldn’t dream of rocking up at a party and ignoring them or saying ‘Hi I’m Anthony, who are you?’. That’d be rude, yet businesses are doing this every day to their existing customers and visitors; he added that his bank still tries to sell him the same credit card with a better introductory offer when he already has it!

Businesses need to utilise data as a unifier across their experiences; we see massive benefits being realised from our omnichannel journey analytics and it’s often the much needed catalyst for focusing teams on the true end-to-end customer journey which of course touches many channels – with upwards of 71 percent of consumers using multiple connected devices instore and online.

The challenge is recognising that relevancy is the aim over consistency; many brands still consider syndicating the same banner/message/offer across their channels as a win. However, real-time intelligence often highlights changes in intent and context that deems the syndicated content no longer relevant. So brands needs to shoot for the stars and aim for true relevancy with consistent design and UX applied.

4. What are the future challenges retailers and eCommerce will face as technology develops further?

Simply knowing what to adopt and when. Retailers need to be careful not to adopt technologies for the sake of it; certainly personalisation and decisioning can be truly transformational but can also create challenges. I see many retailers and pure plays monetising relationships, injecting advertising into experiences, and of course GDPR forces a positive step backwards in my opinion.

However, whilst many technologies including voice, chatbots, and algorithmic personalisation are exciting, businesses need to have a clear experience strategy for planning how and when to adopt these. Now I’m not risk averse, SYNTASA shares my vision of continuous test and learn at-scale, however this requires critical thinking between marketers, experience professionals, and data teams. This is where we’re bridging the gap in knowledge and action-centred intelligence.

5. What do you think will be the ‘next big thing’ in Digital Experience?

For me this has to be AR, which depends on AI Assisted data (so no surprise why I’m excited about it) but also, with experiences being historically isolated without context and relevancy, I truly see AR as the opportunity to connect online and offline in a truly immersive way. Given that AR is now widely available at a fraction of the cost it was a year or so ago, I see this as the opportunity for all brands to refresh their Customer Experience.

I’m truly passionate that AR can be leveraged for many use cases from retailers offering explainers, ranges, and personalised pricing instore to sports broadcasters, giving viewers the best interactive seat in the audience without them leaving their living room.

My word of caution is that this has to be adopted by brands that are tackling the brilliant basics of their existing experience in parallel, like a poorly designed IA, impersonal content, and irrelevant/disconnected CRM activity.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthMay 31, 2018


Businesses urgently need to prepare for the influx of ‘pitiless machines’ into customer services, it has been warned.

Next-gen experience firm, Servion Global Solutions has highlighted that as uptake of smart speakers and voice assistants continues apace, consumers are increasingly using them to shop for goods and services on their behalf, and for information and advice.

Servion predicts that by 2025, three quarters of customer service interactions will be driven by such platforms. The impact of smart speakers and voice assistants, such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home, is already being felt in sales, with the screenless, ‘brandless’ marketplace posing new challenges for brands. As these channels rapidly grow in influence, Servion warns that companies must now face up to the challenge of incorporating smart speakers and virtual assistants – which are not loyal to any one organisation – into the pre-and-post-sales customer experience, or risk being outstripped by competitors.

Businesses need to face up to the reality that customers, particularly younger demographics, don’t want to call or email them anymore, and even chatbots will be too much for some. Consumers want the convenience of speaking to their surroundings and getting an answer quickly,” commented Shashi Nirale, SVP & GP EMEA, Servion Global Solutions.

Whether it’s asking for advice on holiday destinations, comparing mortgage rates, or querying their electric bill – more and more we will see customers using smart speakers and voice assistants to make their decisions for them. These machines are pitiless – they are not loyal to a single brand or service provider, nor are they swayed by marketing. Companies must prepare now to integrate voice into customer experiences and pre/post-sales environments or go the way other of other companies that were unable to adapt to new technologies and channels – think Blockbuster, Maplin, and Toys ’R’ Us.”

The pressure on businesses to build nuanced and predictive interactions through voice is growing as a generation of millennials – armed with disposable income and a healthy scepticism of traditional sales and marketing – enters the marketplace. Organisations from utilities, to public sector, to healthcare companies, need to understand this generation’s communications preferences – younger generations are even reticent to use text and chat to communicate with a company.

As speech recognition and neurolinguistics continues to advance, humanoid, natural conversations with machines will become normal and familiar. This means that the user’s trust in a voice assistant to make a purchase decision on their behalf or make a dependable recommendation will grow.

Shashi added:

The past 10-15 years have shown businesses what happens when they fail to respond to new technologies. Just as the shift to ecommerce killed off numerous high-street stalwarts, the evolution of smart speakers and voice assistants will kill businesses that ignore them as a channel. Businesses and brands must realise that in an increasingly commoditised world where technology moves fast, Customer Experience will be everything. Business must build distinctive, relevant experiences, backed by technology that can tailor and personalise responses to each user. As we deepen our trust of, and further our relationships with, this technology, businesses urgently need to find a way to incorporate these pitiless machines into their customer experience plans.”

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthMay 30, 2018


As summer heats up, so too does your ability to hone skills in a wide range of areas thanks to Masterclasses offered by CXM.

Throughout the second half of 2018, expert-led Masterclasses will train participants to perfect abilities in delivering Customer Experience, Employee Experience, and effective event management.

What makes these events unique is the sheer talent overseeing the classes. These include one of the world’s foremost experts on Customer Experience, Ian Golding, and ‘Mr Employee Experience’ himself, Ben Whitter.

Customer Experience

Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP) Ian, who is the CEO and Founder of Customer Experience Consultancy, will lead participants in the next Customer Experience Masterclass on July 2-3, before hosting a CCXP Exam Preparation Workshop on July 4.

Taking place at the Business & Technology Centre in Stevenage, the Masterclass will provide students with case studies, exercises, and stories to sharpen the skills required to succeed as a CX professional. This is a highly popular course and a chance to learn from the UK’s top CX personality, who is currently riding a wave of success thanks to his new book, Customer What? The Honest and Practical Guide to Customer Experience.

Attendees can expect to focus on all core CX competencies, including strategy and brand proposition; the role of employees in delivering said strategy; customer journey mapping; establishing a customer-centric culture; and much more.

Meanwhile, the one-day CCXP workshop will see Ian offer the best preparation possible for those seeking CCXP accreditation and aiming to pass the exam first time.
Ian was the first person in the world authorised by the CXPA to teach CCXP accreditation skills and is responsible for helping create around a quarter of the world’s qualified CCXPs.

Another two-day Customer Experience Masterclass led by Ian will be held on October 22-23, and a CCXP Workshop on October 24.

Also, an exciting new CX Masterclass is on the horizon, led by multi-award winning CCXP business leader and founder of CXellence, Manuela Pifani.

The 2015 UK CX Professional of the Year will oversee the Customer Strategy & Design Thinking two-day course, that will enable participants to get to grips with different strategy and design methodologies, and teach how to align organisations behind the delivery of a consistent Customer Experience.

The course will feature case studies and exercises that will aid participants in designing their own customer strategy, and successfully embed it within their own business.
The dates for this Masterclass will be revealed soon, so please keep an eye on Customer Experience Magazine for details.

Employee Experience

Meanwhile, the CEO and Founder of the World Employee Experience Institute, Ben Whitter, will lead the Employee Experience Masterclass at the Park Plaza Riverbank in London on September 10 and again on November 12.

Participants will learn the tricks of the EX trade from Ben, who is known in the industry as ‘Mr Employee Experience’ – and deservedly so – for his ability to help bring out the best in businesses when it comes to hiring and retaining staff.

Over the course of the day, participants will discover how to build outstanding employee experiences that contribute to key business metrics and deliver invaluable results.
Everything from pre-hire to retire is covered and the training has already been successfully delivered to hundreds of delegates worldwide.

Event management

Sarah Halfpenny is the face of Sarah Halfpenny Events and one of the UK’s most sought-after event management experts.

She is now heading up two exciting Masterclasses. The first is Event Strategy and Planning, that will cover meaningful event objectives, understanding audiences, forging partnerships, and content creation.


Her second Masterclass, Event Project Management, covers the fundamental elements required to project manage an event from concept to completion. Participants will learn all aspects of event management, from constructing an event brief and developing a project plan and schedule, to delivering it on time, in budget, and on-brand.
Both classes will be held at the Business and Technology Centre in Stevenage.
Event Strategy and Planning will be held on July 3, with Event Project Management on July 4. The classes will also be held on September 25-26, and on November 7-8.

Meanwhile, CXM Masterclasses are also available as in-house training sessions, that can bring the experts to your place of business. To learn more about in-house training availability, and to make bookings, email, or call 0207 1937 483.

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthMay 29, 2018


Motivating staff to ‘think like owners’ was one of the key factors in helping Startle achieve success at the 2018 UK Employee Experience Awards.

The firm, which helps brands provide outstanding digital venue experiences, won the Employee Engagement – Growth by Design award at the gala event earlier this month at London’s Park Plaza Hotel. The event was hosted by Awards International and sponsored by Benefex, with the help of other partners.

Startle was recognised for its unique approach to business growth; namely, how it operates completely remotely and achieved 400 percent financial growth in its second year. With an EMI share scheme that means all employees are owners of the business, Startle aims for motivated team members who ‘think like owners’, meaning there is great care and consideration for costs across all departments, helping to set the company up for further future growth.

Head of Operations and Co-Founder of Startle, Adam Castleton, said:

To have Startle recognised not only for our dedication to a unique Employee Experience, but how this aids the business in achieving excellent levels of growth, is a testament to the great work all of our team put in. Proving that it’s possible to run a multi-million pound business that operates globally from our homes signifies the future of employee experience, and demonstrates our commitment to providing an excellent work/life balance for all of our employees.”

Congratulating the winners, Neil Skehel, CEO of Awards International, said:

We are truly inspired by the incredible talent showcased once again at the UK Employee Experience Awards. This year we have seen many outstanding examples of businesses which are breaking the mould and creating working environments that are truly supportive and engaging. This amazing event gave us the opportunity to acknowledge those companies and celebrate with both the finalists and the winners.”

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthMay 18, 2018


Some of the best businesses in the UK to work for have been honoured at the 2018 UK Employee Experience Awards.

Taking place in the heart of London at the Park Plaza hotel overlooking the Thames, the spectacular day-long event saw the winners of 22 categories take to the stage following a morning of detailed presentations before expert judging panels.

Firms, including some of the best-known brands in the UK, outlined strategies and initiatives that lead to high staff satisfaction and retention rates, and explained how this translated into customer satisfaction and even boosted profits.

Attendees also enjoyed a day of networking opportunities and met with representatives from the event’s influential partners. This year, they included employment engagement specialists Benefex; global professional services provider FDM; Cranfield School of Management; Therapy Solutions; and the new venture from awards judge Donna O’Toole, August: The Awards Consultancy, the world’s first online course designed to help firms win awards and significantly raise their profile.

Meanwhile, also partnering the awards was The World Employee Experience Institute, and its founder Ben Whitter, AKA Mr Employee Experience himself, met with finalists throughout the day and also took to the stage during the gala ceremony to share valuable insights.

The event was also sponsored by children’s charity Barnardo’s, which outlined to attendees their amazing work in rescuing victims of child sexual exploitation.

The highlight of the day was the award presentations, which saw wholesalers Bidfood UK take home the coveted Overall Winner title after an outstanding victory in the Team of the Year category.

Other notable success stories includes London’s Jubilee Street Practice, which won Overall Best Employee Engagement, and the Holly Private Hospital in Essex, which won an amazing three category titles: Employee Engagement – Values & Strategy; Reward & Recognition; and Talent Management.

Speaking with Customer Experience Magazine, Ben Whitter said:

“Employee Experience is one of the most important aspects of business in the UK, and this event is the premier celebration of that.

“I have heard of some truly amazing EX initiatives in the run-up to today’s event, and I was lucky enough to tour the HQ of finalists to see for myself exactly why they deserve to be here today competing for these titles. They are all raising the standard for other businesses and I salute each and every one of them.”

Meanwhile, Matt Nathanielsz of Benefex added:

“EX is a massive trend in industries after years of being overlooked and undervalued. It’s great to see so many companies making the experience for their employees so special.”

Judges were also “hugely impressed” with the presentations. Judging Chairperson Hina Sharma, Head of Communications with Pitney Bowes UK, said:

“What was most impressive for me and many of the judges was how the finalists linked their employee engagement initiatives to overall business success. That standard of entries was exceptional. Well done to all who entered.”

Neil Skehel, CEO of hosts Awards International, added:

“It was fantastic to see so many inspiring companies who are leading the way in effective employee experience. Congratulations and thank you to all of our finalists, winners, and judges. See you again next year.”

Employee Engagement – Recognition & WellbeingStaysure

Employee Engagement – Growth by Design – Startle

Diversity & Inclusion –  Sky

Employee Engagement – Values & Strategy – The Holly Private Hospital

Employee Engagement – Transforming through EX – Jubilee Street Practice

Employee Engagement – EX Design – Manpower Group

Health & Wellbeing – Let’s get healthy

Insight & Feedback – Sparks Grove and FCA

Learning & Development – BT Business and Blue Sky

Reward & Recognition – The Holly Private Hospital

Talent Management – The Holly Private Hospital

Innovation in Recruitment – Marketing VF

Business Transformation & Managing Change – Homeserve

Organisational Development – BT Business and Blue Sky

Thought Leader in Employee Experience – Rebecca Robinson, Sparks Grove

SME – The Holly Private Hospital

Technology for Productivity – LifeWorks

Agency of the Year – Manpower Group

Leader in Employee Experience – Marketing VF

Team of the Year – Bidfood UK

Overall Best Employee Engagement – Jubilee Street Practice

Overall Winner – Bidfood UK

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthMay 14, 2018


The finalists for the 2018 UK Digital Experience Awards have finally been revealed, and the line-up promises an exciting day of insightful presentations and tough decisions for judges.

The UKDXAs are one of the highlights of the Customer Experience calendar, celebrating the businesses and organisations providing the best digital experiences for customers across the UK and beyond.

This year, the event takes place in London’s Park Plaza Hotel on the banks of the Thames on July 12, and finalists will compete in 18 categories covering every aspect of expert Digital Experience.

These include Best Online User Experience B2B and B2C, Software as a Service, Best Use of SEO, and Best use of AR or VR.

Among the big names competing for the coveted titles this year are Sky, Three UK, Lloyds Banking Group, Tesco Bank, and BT.

Meanwhile, this year’s exciting judging panel includes Gordon Rimmer, Director of Marketing at Connect Managed Services; Paul Blunden, the CEO and Founder of Usability 24/7; and Kate Thompson, Managing Director of Business 3.0, among many others.

The event is hosted by Awards International, and CEO Neil Skehel said:

The UK Digital Experience Awards has risen to become one of the most important industry awards events of its kind, thanks to the spectacular growth of DX as a concept for businesses in the last few years.

“Customers are continuing to engage with brands digitally, and the challenge for companies is to provide the best, and most innovative touchpoints along the way, translating into exceptional Customer Experience.

“The awards celebrate the best customer journeys in a field that will only continue to expand as ever-more people choose to shop and interact with businesses through smartphones, tablets and other devices.”


UK Digital Experience Awards 2018 Finalists
Category Finalist
Financial Services: User Experience
  • Jumio and Monzo
  • Wipro-Lloyds Banking Group
  • Right Indem Limited
  • Click Consult
Financial Services: Innovation
  • First Direct
  • Divido
  • Tesco Bank
  • Alta Pay, a Valitor Company
Customer Reviews & Feedback
  • Feefo Holdings Ltd
  • Novus
  • Micheldever Tyre Services Ltd T/A
  • Strategiq Marketing Limited
  • Tesco Bank
Data Analytics & Insight
  • Feefo Holdings Ltd
  • Wipro Digital
  • Three UK
  • Sky UK
  • Unit4 prevero
Leisure & Tourism
  • Novus
  • Seatfrog
  • Sagittarius – Red Carnation Hotel Collection
  • Ethos Farm
Best Use of AR or VR
  • George P Johnson
  • Virgin Experience Days
Mobile Strategy
  • Aston Barclay
  • Resilio
  • EE
  • Three UK
  • Octopus Energy
  • Nelson Bostock Unlimited
Not for Profit & Charity (Including Public Services)
  • Staffordshire County Council
  • PA Housing
  • Dotlabel
  • Valtech Limited
  • HMA
  • Click Consult
Software as a Service
  • Wipro Digital
  • FoundIt!
  • StaySafe
  • Proteus
  • Mention Me
  • Redstone Connect Labs
  • MVF
Use of SEO
  • Receptional Limited, Liberis
  • Receptional Limited, Discount Supplements
  • Impression
  • Micheldever Tyre Services Ltd T/A Protyre
  • Click Consult
Personal Entertainment & Telecoms
  • Three UK
  • BT
  • Kitty
  • Sky UK
  • EE
Best Online User Experience B2C – Retail
  • Mamas & Papas Ltd
  • EE
  • Three UK
  • Octopus Energy
  • The Underfloor Heating Store
  • Micheldever Tyre Services Ltd T/A Protyre
Best Online User Experience B2C -Best Digital Customer Journey
  • McCarthy & Stone
  • FoundIt!
  • Dotlabel
  • Amigo
  • Jumio and Monzo
  • Vortex Commerce on behalf of Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group
Digital Team – Transformation
  • The Share Centre
  • Three UK
  • Micheldever Tyre Services Ltd T/A Protyre
  • EE
  • Wipro Digital
Digital Team – Digital Marketing/Campaign
  • Impression
  • George P Johnson
  • Amigo
  • Virgin Trains
  • Mamas & Papas Ltd
  • The Underfloor Heating Store
Best Online User Experience B2B
  • Absolute Design Associates Ltd
  • HMA
  • BMJ, with Box UK
  • MVF
Digital Change and Transformation – Software
  • Mamas & Papas Ltd
  • Novus
  • The Share Centre
  • Three UK
  • drp for Worcester Bosch
Digital Change and Transformation – Digital Engagement Platforms
  • drp for Worcester Bosch
  • Active Digital
  • BMJ, with Box UK
  • Grovelands Consulting
  • drp for Jaguar Land Rover x


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