Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJanuary 21, 2020


US tech firm IPsoft has unveiled what it claims is the most “advanced digital employee on the market” in the form of an updated avatar that replicates human conversational behavior.

The firm’s Amelia digital employee system is already one of the market leaders, with B2B customers told “thinks like a human but works at the speed of a machine”. Now the AI system has been updated to feature a new-look avatar (pictured), which IPsoft say “provides the most human-like digital experiences in the industry”.

This new version of Amelia brings together her sophisticated cognitive capabilities – built to mirror the functions of the human brain – with the latest advancements in avatar technology. Amelia is designed to deliver the visual elements of human interaction – conversation, expression, emotion, and understanding – to everyday user experiences, driving deeper customer connections and greater business value.

Utilizing advanced Natural Language Processing (NLP), Amelia is able to understand natural language, follow context switching, and independently execute complex tasks to resolve user requests. Her state-of-the-art affective computing and sentiment analysis enable her to recognise and adapt her responses based on the mood of the user and the context of the situation.

Dube said: “By 2025, I believe that you could pass a colleague in the hall at work and not know if it’s a man or machine. Amelia’s new lifelike avatar takes us one step nearer to closing that gap between physical and digital colleagues to create a truly hybrid workforce.”


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJanuary 20, 2020


Employers have been warned not to forget about employee wellbeing after ‘Blue Monday’, with today cited as an opportunity to begin engagement with staff about issues including mental health.

The third Monday of every January, ‘Blue Monday’ was coined by psychologist Cliff Arnall in a bid to identify the peak of January ‘blues’, and in recent years has become a date noted by employers keen to improve the wellbeing of staff.

However, firms should avoid being seen to pay lip service to the concept by only taking mental health and wellbeing seriously for one day of the year, commentators have warned.

Clare Moore, Head of Marketing at HR platform People First, said managers should understand each member of their team at a “human level”, and maintain that connection throughout the rest of the year.

“That means learning about each employee, their experience at work and, importantly, maintaining meaningful contact,” she told CXM.

“This is achieved through regular check-ins. This can now be facilitated by technology, so that regardless of whether the manager and employee is in the location, they can still have the same opportunity to meet and discuss any potential issues that may arise and put the right strategies in place to support them,”

Ms Moore added: “Businesses that only take mental health seriously on a singular day such as Blue Monday or week are simply not acting responsibly, and therefore risk harbouring unhappy employees with lower productivity which ultimately impacts the service your customers experience.”

Meanwhile, Philip Richardson, partner and head of employment at Stephensons Solicitors LLP, said employers unsure of how to begin the engagement process can use Blue Monday as a starting point.

“For many of us, feelings of stress and unhappiness, whether at work or at home, aren’t limited to one day per year, but rather a perennial problem that can have a significant impact on our mental and physical wellbeing,” he said.

“The need for employers to foster a culture of openness around mental health has never been greater and while it can often have a lot of negative connotations, Blue Monday can be used as an opportunity to engage with staff on these issues.

“For employees, it’s equally important to be open with their manager or HR team. What changes can be made and accommodated in order to help you?

“Can you explore flexible working arrangements or remote working? By law, all employees who have worked for their employer for more than 26 weeks have the right to request flexible working and in many cases, where appropriate, employers are more than willing to accommodate this arrangement.

“You can also look at setting clear boundaries about ‘checking-in’ after work hours, banishing the urge to check emails for instance.”

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJanuary 17, 2020


Customer Experience Magazine is profiling the top 10 Professionals and Influencers from our Top 50 CX Stars list.

Here we conclude our list with a look at the well-deserved Number 1 in each category. Amanda Riches of  is today’s featured Professional, and our Influencer is James Dodkins.

We welcome feedback on our CX Stars list, and all correspondence should be sent to

Amanda Riches

Director of Professional Services at Medallia

CXM’s first Number One Professional CX Star is Amanda Riches, who leads CX Consulting for experience management software firm Medallia’s Professional Services division in the EMEA region.

There she helps organisations operationalise customer feedback programmes in order to deliver maximum impact, and London-based Amanda is putting her valuable years of CX experience into the role, to magnificent effect.

Fellow CX pros will know Amanda for her inspiring work in years gone by establishing the service formula for Premier Inn through her role as Head of Brand Excellence and Customer Service. Her success in the role saw her go on to become Head of Quality and Guest Insight for the hotel chain’s owner Whitbread, where her skills continued to grow through a range of successful Customer and Employee Experience projects, including innovations such as creating an ‘e-panel’ of hotel guests to harvest and better utilise feedback.

Confidence in her skills pushed Amanda towards creating her own CX consultancy, and in 2008 she founded Enrich. Later, joined by Employee Experience expert Fiona Tweedie, together they promised – and delivered – “No fluff, just simple, clear, engaging programmes,” for clients.

Today, at Medallia Amanda continues to help firms make significant and lasting changes to their CX offering, including Fidelity International, which took not one, but two Gold category titles at the 2019 UK Customer Experience Awards (UKCXAs).

Fidelity’s wins for Use of Insight & Feedback – Customer Satisfaction and Financial Services in partnership with Medallia have been cited as among Amanda’s proudest career moments, as she has worked closely with the firm in previous years.

Speaking of awards, Amanda is in high demand for judging roles due to her expert eye, and along with appearances on panels at the UKCXAs over the years, she has also judged at the Patient Experience Network National Awards. Patient Experience is an area very close to her heart, and Amanda leads workshops to improve experiences for those using NHS services, among other worthy initiatives.

Amanda says: “Successful customer-centric organisations must relentlessly search for actionable insight and improvement opportunities. Listen, learn, prototype, test, iterate, validate, repeat!”

She tells CXM that her biggest inspiration is the frontline CX workers across all sectors who contribute in many ways, big and small, to making memorable and lasting experiences every single day.

Amanda is herself one of the UK’s most inspiring CX professionals, and a role model for everyone working towards greater customer centricity. We look forward to seeing Amanda’s influence reach exciting new heights in 2020.

James Dodkins

The face of a new generation of CX influencers, James Dodkins is the founder of Rockstar CX,  a consultancy which promises “fast, heavy, powerful customer experience transformation” for progressive firms unafraid to think outside the box.

The energy, enthusiasm and stage presence of James has its roots in his time as an actual, honest-to-goodness rock star, and now instead of wielding a guitar in front of heaving crowds of heavy metal fans across the globe, he is bringing a vibrant new take on Customer Experience to an audience of thousands in the form of bestselling books including Foundations for Customer Centricity, videos, and speaking engagements.

A savvy social media star, engaging fans through now-traditional platforms such as Facebook, and even emerging ones such as TikTok, 2019 also saw James make the move towards a new realm for Customer Experience influencing – television.

His This Week in CX show was launched on Amazon Prime, and offered a snappy weekly round-up of CX news, pulling no punches with his assessments of big name brands and where they were going right, and wrong, with customers.

James brings his signature style to every aspect of his influencer role – a poster for his upcoming ‘Disrupt CX’ UK Tour looks for all the world like a flyer for a series of gigs, but instead of head-banging in the mosh pit, delegates will be jumping head-first into the Rockstar method of CX delivery, while learning from James’ own experiences working alongside some of the planet’s biggest and best-known brands.

These include Disney, Mercedes, Adobe, Nike, Microsoft, and Lego, to name but an impressive few.

Meanwhile, alongside his Rockstar CX duties, James acts as a Principal Consultant for Customer Experience and Process Management firm BP Group.

James says: “Knowing your customers at a deep level allows you to understand their Successful Customer Outcomes and associated needs, and then allows you to design ideal experiences that achieve those outcomes.”

Globetrotter James is the one rock star hotels are happy to welcome – instead of throwing TVs out the window into the swimming pool, he’s more likely to be found engaging with staff on ways to make guests’ stays more memorable.

With an incredible few years already under his studded belt, 2020 looks set to see more businesses than ever before benefit from a blast of the CX Rockstar’s passion.

We say rock on James!

Click here for profiles of our Number 2 Professionals and Influencers, and here for the full Top 50 CX Stars list.

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJanuary 17, 2020


Customers are turned off by a 100 percent fully automated service, while high levels of customer service are more “essential” for B2B customers than B2C, a new report into CX expectations has revealed.

Leeds-based Romero Insurance Brokers have released their Customer Experience Report 2020, for which they surveyed hundreds of UK professionals to gauge their stance on CX expectations,

The report asks what the future of customer service will look like, how digitalisation will affect the customer service landscape, and whether upcoming generations will change the way businesses handle customer service.

As expected, Customer Experience is a key differentiator, with 96 percent of purchasers stating that high customer service levels are very important when making a business decision, while 34 percent labelled it absolutely essential.

The research shows customers expect a great level of customer service, but the majority of the time less than 75 percent of business purchases provide an exceptional Customer Experience.

Meanwhile, 45 percent of respondents would be more likely to choose a vendor that had digitalised their customer service offering, citing speed and ease of service.

However, although digitalisation is increasingly growing in popularity, no consumers are prepared to deal with a 100 percent automated service. Instead, customers prefer to choose from a wide range of communication methods depending on their personal situation. For example, 49 percent would choose real-person communication to resolve a more complex query.

There is a notable correlation between CX expectations and age. Twenty-nine percent of those aged 65 and over say they have never received customer service below their expectations, compared to just seven percent from other age ranges. This could demonstrate that younger generations expect more from businesses.

The report also shows the correlation between age and the importance of more personal and personalised customer service. For example, 85 percent of 18-24-year-olds feel access to good sales people is very important, compared to just 60 percent of those aged 25 and over.

A larger percentage of younger purchasers also feel a personal relationship with a vendor, a personalised buying experience, positivity and enthusiasm of sales staff, and empathy are very important. Businesses can ensure consistent, empathetic service by investing in staff training and ensuring they have an engaged, passionate team. This enthusiasm and care is then naturally passed on to customers.

Simon Mabb, Managing Director of Romero Insurance Brokers, said: “Our research shows the real value of quality customer service. It’s clear that the future of customer service lies in choice, flexibility and personalisation. Customers want to decide how they communicate with a business, and expect an empathetic, personal experience whether they’re chatting to an adviser on the phone or typing out their query on a website live chat.

“Customer service should be all about people, and genuinely connecting with each customer.”

Click here to read the full Customer Experience Report 2020.

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJanuary 15, 2020


Customer Experience Magazine is profiling the top 10 Professionals and Influencers from our Top 50 CX Stars list.

Here we look at Number 3 in each category. Jo Mayes of Business Stream is today’s featured Professional, and our Influencer is Adrian Swinscoe.

We welcome feedback on our CX Stars list, and all correspondence should be sent to


Number 3

Jo Mayes

Director of Customer Operations at Business Stream

The award-winning Jo Mayes is coming up to a decade of working in Customer Experience, and having breathed new life into the CX strategy of Standard Life, in 2016 she joined utilities firm Business Stream, where she has spearheaded a hugely successful shift towards customer centricity.

Following her appointment as Director of Customer Operations, Business Stream has enjoyed a raft of industry honours, including gongs at the UK Customer Experience Awards (UKCXAs), the European Contact Centre and Customer Service Awards, and the International Customer Experience Awards, to name but a few.

Jo herself was named CX Professional of the Year at the 2019 UKCXAs, taking the title in what was one of the most competitive years to date for the coveted category.

Her success is down to an instinctive understanding of what customers want from a brand, and she has been an advocate of robust measurement programmes and redesigns through co-creation with end-users from the beginning of her CX career journey. These techniques helped her previous employer appear in the KPMG Nunwood CEE Top 100 list for two consecutive years.

Jo says: “A key element for strong leadership is to set out for your people why delivering CX is important – good context setting and goal alignment create the focus and drive to deliver.”

Her inspiration in recent years include leading consultant and author Ian Golding, and KPMG Nunwood’s Director of Customer Experience David Conway; it’s safe to say that as far as professionals go, Jo Mayes will soon be cited as the inspiration for others as they follow in her footsteps and aim to transform businesses and place the customer at the heart of what they do.


Number 3

Adrian Swinscoe

An experimental CX thought leader and visionary, Adrian Swinscoe has been helping businesses reconnect with customers for 20 years, and is not afraid to take chances when it comes to innovation.

The well-known consultant has a solid business background, and his previous experience as both an economist and a teacher has provided him with the necessary skills to lead others to success, and he has found an eager audience through his in-demand coaching and consultation services, and his writing in blog, article, and book form.

Many CXM readers will no doubt own a copy of his 2016 book How to Wow, which offers 68 precise methods for CX transformation, while his new work, Punk CX, is an unconventional, yet exciting take on transforming CX in the vein of the radical 1970s punk rockers who pushed back against the overblown, over-technical prog rock that had previously dominated the music world.

In true punk fashion, Adrian designed the book to rebel against the mainstream of conventional business tomes, and the end result has an incredible aesthetic similar to the self-published fanzines that fearlessly promoted the punk scene in its heyday.

His methods encourage out-of-the-box thinking that reward businesses for daring to be different, and alongside the colourful new book, Adrian produces a Punk CX newsletter to further stimulate ideas and new wave Customer Experience practices.

Adrian says: “I help people and organisations achieve greater potential and results through building better relationships with those people around them whether they are leaders, team members, or customers.”

Adrian’s global experience has also earned him a regular contributor slot with Forbes, where he brings practical CX insight to a wider business audience.

Click here for profiles of our Number 4 Professionals and Influencers.

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJanuary 15, 2020


Omnichannel CX and contact centre solutions provider Genesys is rebranding its flagship software as a service (SaaS) offering.

The company is changing the name of PureCloud – the world’s leading public cloud contact centre platform – to Genesys Cloud.

The move is to reflect the evolution of the company and mark the launch of Experience as a ServiceSM powered by Genesys Cloud, which enables organisations to achieve true personalisation at scale.

Genesys CEO Tony Bates, explained: “Through Genesys Cloud, we’re delivering Experience as a Service to make it easier for organisations to foster customer trust and loyalty. This starts by helping them know their customers as individuals, not profiles or segments, and leading with empathy throughout every connected moment.

“When businesses can provide distinctive experiences tailored for each customer, they’re achieving the level of personalisation today’s consumers are looking for – and that’s what we enable with Genesys Cloud.”



Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJanuary 14, 2020


Customer Experience Magazine is profiling the top 10 Professionals and Influencers from our Top 50 CX Stars list.

Here we look at Number 4 in each category. Andrew McGuigan of Microsoft is today’s featured Professional, and our Influencer is Naeem Arif, founder of NA Consulting.

We welcome feedback on our CX Stars list, and all correspondence should be sent to


Number 4

Andrew McGuigan

Worldwide Leader of Deployment Services at Microsoft

Andrew McGuigan has enjoyed a career that has placed him in strategic positions for brands including Virgin Media, Vodafone, and now Microsoft, where he currently oversees global deployment services.

Before this role, Reading based-Andrew was Microsoft’s Director of Worldwide Customer Service Strategy – a vital post for a brand that has been at the forefront of IT since the heady days of the personal computer revolution.

His drive for customer centricity began with senior call centre roles at British Gas and Thames Water, and after joining Vodafone in 2010, he worked his way towards two major posts at the telecoms giant – Head of UK Customer Services and eventually Head of Consumer Customer Care.

Andrew’s instinct for call centre management has shaped his love of quality Customer Experience, and he has shared his wealth of knowledge at events including the 2018 Future is CX Conference, hosted by Awards International, where he discussed with delegates methods to turn customers into brand advocates and how to maximise the potential of data science when drawing up a CX roadmap.

When the future of contact centres and how customers will interact with these crucial touchpoints is being considered, so too should Andrew’s vision, given his unrivalled experience and eye for improvement.

His keynote speaking engagements continue to keep the industry abreast of CX and call centre thought leadership.

Andrew says: “I’m passionate about leading people and driving operations to focus on the customer – setting targets, managing information and delivering change programmes to continually improve.”

We look forward to seeing what we can learn from Andrew’s insight in 2020 as contact centres continue to evolve to meet the needs of tech-savvy customers.


Number 4

Naeem Arif

Naeem Arif is fast becoming one of the most influential voices in British CX, and has forged his skills in the fires of retail, hospitality, manufacturing, and more.

Among his business success stories is the Birmingham entrepreneur’s leadership of United Carpets Group, and his experience has guided him to prominent positions of influence including Chair of the Midlands Retail Forum.

In recent years, CCXP Naeem has steadily grown as an CX influencer, and has established his own firm, NA Consulting, to bring his expert eye for customer satisfaction to a growing list of clients – from larger established firms to budding SMEs – across the UK.

Naeem will also be familiar to many business leaders thanks to his impressive back catalogue of books, including the highly influential and bestselling Customer First, which provides valuable insight into converting and keeping loyal customers through CX initiatives.

His excellent contributions have also engaged readers of prestigious titles, including the Wall Street Journal and of course the UK’s first-stop for CX thought leadership, Customer Experience Magazine!

Naeem is also carving out a position as a pundit on customer issues for broadcast media, including the BBC, which has approached him to gauge his thoughts on major issues facing UK retailers – from the rise of Black Friday to the impending impact of Brexit.

Keynote speaking engagements are also bringing his insight to ever-larger audiences – in 2015 for example, he addressed over 2,500 conference delegates in Las Vegas, and the future looks certain to bring a host of further opportunities to preach his clear and effective techniques on customer care.

Naeem says:Don’t chase turnover, chase satisfied customers. If you can create satisfied customers, then the money will come itself.”

Look out for Naeem’s contribution to the recently published Customer Experience book featuring best practise strategies from 22 global experts.

Click here for profiles of our Number 5 Professionals and Influencers.

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJanuary 13, 2020


Customer Experience Magazine is profiling the top 10 Professionals and Influencers from our Top 50 CX Stars list.

Here we look at Number 5 in each category. Alison Lawrie of AkzoNobel, is today’s featured Professional, and our Influencer is Clare Muscutt, founder of CMXperience.

We welcome feedback on our CX Stars list, and all correspondence should be sent to


Number 5

Alison Lawrie

Head of Customer Experience at AkzoNobel

Oxford-based Alison Lawrie has enjoyed a fantastic few years, which has seen her earn her Certified Customer Experience Professional qualification, and take home one of the most sought-after honours at the UK Customer Experience Awards in 2018 – Professional of the Year.

Alison is Head of Customer Experience, Quality & Continuous Improvement at AkzoNobel Decorative Coatings – the firm behind the world’s best-known paint brands, including the iconic Dulux.

Responsible for guiding the firm along its Customer Experience transformation roadmap, Alison lends her instinct for customer centricity to AkzoNobel’s full multi-channel experience, ensuring the Voice of the Customer remains at the centre of what they do.

Her talent was solidified during a successful, lengthy stint as the firm’s Customer Service Manager, before she moved up to the current role that led to awards success. Alison’s influence also ensured recognition in another category at the 2018 UKCXAs, with AkzoNobel winning the Bronze title for Best Business Change and Transformation at that same event.

Meanwhile, before Alison and colleagues were collecting gongs at Wembley Stadium with fellow UKCXA finalists in 2018, they were enjoying well-earned awards success at the British Coatings Federation Awards 2017.

At that event, Alison helped secure a win in the Customer Service Award for Transformation of a Paints Business category, which recognises the growing importance of customer service as a differentiator in the coatings industry.

Alison says: I am hugely passionate about Customer Experience and truly believe it to be the single biggest differentiator a brand or business can have.”

Motivated and inspiring, Alison continues to place the customer at the heart of AkzoNobel’s operations, at a time when doing so is more important than ever before.


Number 5

Clare Muscutt

It’s been a rapid – but well-deserved rise to the top for Clare Muscutt, who two years ago turned the skills honed in senior CX leadership roles at big-name brands including Sainsbury’s towards founding and developing her own consultancy, CMXperience.

From its humble beginnings in her kitchen in Hackney, CMXperience has grown to become a trusted name in customer service transformation, while Clare’s own profile has also increased, with many recognising her as the inspirational CX Nomad, who blogged about her experiences traversing the globe as a digital nomad running a successful consultancy.

This, along with her popular social media output and keynote speaking engagements has led to Clare becoming one of the most prominent and valued millennial voices in CX today.

A winner of numerous awards over the years, including UK Customer Experience Professional of the Year, Clare is someone who believes in giving back, and in true millennial ‘pay it forward’ fashion, is helping more women follow her lead through free coaching.

That desire to help make CX a welcoming and fulfilling sector for women professionals was inspired by, among others, Maya Angelou, the hugely influential writer, poet, and civil rights activist, who Clare says taught her to “constantly bring my authentic self to everything I do”.

Clare says: “I founded my own consulting business on design thinking, and have seen it work in practice for every shape and size of organisation. Design thinking enables you to truly put people at the heart of everything!” 

2020 looks set to be another exciting year for Clare, with a new book in the pipeline, among other projects, while CMXperience goes from strength-to-strength thanks to Clare’s dedicated team and her valuable past experience at the forefront of CX strategy delivery for various organisations.

Click here for profiles of our Number 6 Professionals and Influencers.

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJanuary 10, 2020


Customer Experience Magazine is profiling the top 10 Professionals and Influencers from our Top 50 CX Stars list.

Here we look at Number 6 in each category. Christina Liciaga of HSBC, is today’s featured Professional, and our Influencer is Nicola Millard.

We welcome feedback on our CX Stars list, and all correspondence should be sent to


Number 6

Christina Liciaga

Head of Customer Service at HSBC UK Retail Bank & Wealth Management

Christina Liciaga oversees customer service at one of the most recognisable, and trusted, names in banking.

Her role places her at the heart of the brand’s complaint handling strategy, which has led to industry recognition at events including the UK Complaint Handling Awards, where last year HSBC secured Gold wins in categories including Innovation in Complaint Management and Product and Service Improvement.

Christina joined HSBC in 2011, and before her current post was involved in High Net Worth business development, advising large corporates on people-first post-merger integration opportunities.

She also advised on restructuring multinational global portfolios, developing client segmentation strategies, designing and delivering digital lifestyle solutions, and building and leading the global award-winning wealth proposition, Jade by HSBC Premier.

Describing her vital current role, Christina describes how she oversees “complaints and service recovery, root cause analysis and customer insight, as well as being the customer advocate who drives initiatives and interventions to make our customers better off everyday”.

Her expertise has also been shared through a speaker role at Awards International’s Winning With Complaint Handling Conference.

An ambitious professional with a global outlook, Christina has experience in emerging and mature markets across Asia, Europe, Latin and North America.

Under her guidance, her teams embrace innovation, embed change, and deliver commercial growth, truly translating strategy into reality.

Christina says: “I’m a passionate leader who builds and transforms teams through authenticity and curiosity, whether a team of 10 or over 500.”

Outside of her HSBC role, Christina – a passionate advocate for human rights – is Executive Director and Board of Trustee Member for non-profit organisation JUSTICE, which aims for fair and efficient legal support for all who need it.


Number 6

Dr Nicola Millard

Dr Nicola Millard is one of the UK’s most analytical authorities on Customer Experience, and is currently a Principal Innovation Partner with BT – a brand that has enjoyed well-deserved success at events including the UK Customer Experience Awards in recent years.

A true CX pioneer, Dr Millard has been involved in co-ordinating the brand’s customer contact strategies since the early 1990s, and has held posts including CX Consultant for BT Global Services, and until last year was Head of Customer Insight & Futurology for BT’s Global Innovation Team.

Her current role at the cutting edge of knowing what customers are thinking and feeling “combines psychology with futurology to try and anticipate what might be lying around the corner for both customers and organisations”.

Dr Millard has been behind a number of innovations at the telecommunications giant, including the first application of artificial intelligence in BT’s call centres.

She was also involved with the brand’s initial experiments with home working, and helping to develop BT’s Net Easy score, to better measure Customer Experience.

Her foresight remains as valuable as ever before as BT and the wider business world continues to explore the advantages and opportunities that lie in the digital workplace of the future – whether that’s in an office, or an employee’s home.

Nicola says: “Any innovation we put in front of customers needs to make their life easier.”

A prolific writer, blogger, speaker, and familiar media face for many, Dr Millard is the first name that comes to mind for anyone seeking to understand what a customer is thinking and feeling, and what an organisation can do to appropriately adapt.

Her impressive list of achievements includes the Outstanding Industry Contribution award from the UK Contact Centre Forum.

Click here for profiles of our Number 7 Professionals and Influencers.

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJanuary 9, 2020


Customer Experience Magazine is profiling the top 10 Professionals and Influencers from our Top 50 CX Stars list.

Here we look at Number 7 in each category. Iain O’Connor of Aegon UK, is today’s featured Professional, and our Influencer is Nick Meinertzhagen.

We welcome feedback on our CX Stars list, and all correspondence should be sent to


Number 7

Iain O’Connor

Senior Manager of Customer Experience & Insight at Aegon UK

CX culture is now long-established in the UK’s insurance industry, and among the professionals making a significant impact on behalf of customers is Edinburgh-based Iain O’Connor.

Since 2014, Iain has helmed CX duties at Aegon UK, following a 10 year-plus career at Royal Bank of Scotland, where he held posts including Customer Experience Manager and Marketing Manager – Customer Experience Insight.

Since joining Aegon, Iain has pushed NPS scores significantly northward, and most notably has established a remarkable feedback system that has transformed how the firm utilises valuable customer insight.

Known as Aegon Cares, and borne of the firm’s in-house CX Lab, the closed-loop feedback system allows the brand to establish and ultimately solve customer concerns sooner, which leads to higher NPS ratings. The inspiring initiative has led to recognition in the UK and beyond, including being shortlisted for a My Customer Award last year, and of course, his inclusion in the Top 50 CX Stars list.

“Of everything we have achieved at Aegon, the success of Aegon Cares is hard to beat,” he explained.

We have introduced Aegon Cares across all operational teams and typically achieve NPS swing of +100 points when comparing before and after an Aegon Cares intervention. As well as an effective closed loop feedback tool, Aegon Cares has expanded onto social media and customer feedback from Aegon Cares interactions there is also exceptional.”

Iain says: “To drive loyalty in a competitive environment is difficult and so it’s important to understand what the customer needs almost before they do, and to help them achieve an outcome above and beyond their expectations.”

So who inspires Iain the most as he continues to create exceptional change in insurance?

“It may sound corny but my team and colleagues across Aegon are 100 percent my biggest inspiration,” he tells us.

“Rarely a day goes by when I don’t learn something new and I think this type of environment and culture is crucial to delivering for our customers.”


Number 7

Nick Meinertzhagen

The founder of Experiential Consulting, Nick Meinertzhagen knows exactly what it takes to develop a successful business model from the ground up.

It doesn’t get more grassroots than establishing your very own firm from a spare bedroom armed with nothing more than a computer, a phone, and some old-fashioned dedication, and that’s exactly what Horsham-based Nick did in 2004 when he created what would become one of the UK’s largest mystery shopping businesses, 360 Perspectives.

Nick went on to sell the brand to Yomdel in 2018, becoming their CX Director before moving on to found his boutique CX consultancy.

Speaking of his spectacular success during those years, the inspiring CCXP told us: “It was amazing that some of the most exciting and dynamic brands in the UK chose to work with my company, and over a 14-year period we managed a database of over 30,000 mystery shoppers and measured over a million customer touchpoints.

Named a runner-up and ‘one to watch’ in the 2017 Sussex Business Awards’ Entrepreneur of the Year category, Nick has no plans to rest on his laurels, and alongside working with clients at Experiential Consulting, he is busy developing a new agency focusing on “advanced experiential usability and digital ethnography”.

His influence is also expanding through his contribution alongside 21 other global CX voices to a recently published Customer Experience best practise book, while plans are underway to adapt his 2019 MBA dissertation on the customer service strategies of small estate enterprises in SE England into a conference research paper.

Nick says:A dedicated customer centric CX vision needs to be carefully planned, enabled, shared and lived by all employees/partners, therefore creating a common customer focussed purpose that aligns towards the organisation’s strategic intent.”

Among his inspirations is global CX guru Colin Shaw, and his own family, of whom he told us: “I hope that I can also be a source of inspiration for them.”

Click here for profiles of our Number 8 Professionals and Influencers.

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJanuary 9, 2020


Almost a third of British firms hit by cyber-security attacks last year chose to ignore them, new research has revealed.

Thirty-two percent of UK companies said they took “no action” after an online security breach in 2019. despite this type of crime collectively costing British firms a huge sum.

Research gathered by LearnBonds shows that 61 percent of large businesses identified cyber breaches over the last 12 months, although this figure falls to 32 percent when the country’s medium-sized and small firms are taken into consideration.

UK travel money firm Travelex has faced days of disruption after a software virus attack on New Year’s Eve. The move also affected Sainsbury’s Bank, Barclays, and HSBC, among others, which all use the Travelex platform.

The money firm said it was forced to close take its site offline site to contain “the virus and protect data”.

The most common attacks are ‘phishing’ breaches, where fraudsters send emails purporting to be from reputable companies in order to tempt firms to reveal sensitive information, such as passwords or credit card numbers. Criminals sending malware and ransomware attacks were also common.

The average cost of these attacks for large firms was £22,700, though when medium-sized and small firms are taken into consideration the mean costs falls to £9,470, according to data from Ipsos Mori for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport in November.

The department added that the “costs of cyber-security breaches can be substantial”, adding: “Things like lost productivity or reputational damage tend to be overlooked. This means that when organisations reflect on their approaches to cyber-security, they may be undervaluing the true cost and impact of cyber-security breaches.”


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJanuary 8, 2020


Customer Experience Magazine is profiling the top 10 Professionals and Influencers from our Top 50 CX Stars list.

Here we look at Number 8 in each category. Sharif-Paul Anton, of Samsung Electronics is today’s featured Professional, and our Influencer is Michelle Ansell of Douglas Jackson .

We welcome feedback on our CX Stars list, and all correspondence should be sent to


Number 8

Sharif-Paul Anton

General Manager Customer Support at Samsung Electronics

With over 20 years of experience in customer support and contact centre roles in sectors including retail, travel and gaming, Sharif-Paul Anton is a CX Star with an eye for recognising talent, which has aided him in his roles over the years on awards judging panels.

The Watford-based professional is no stranger to awards success of his own, with his contact centre excellence in particular bringing himself and colleagues to victory and finalist positions in numerous industry honours events over the last 12 years.

Following success in senior global outsourcing roles, Sharif-Paul joined Samsung in 2013, where his skill for client-side relations could shine in his initial post as UK and Ireland Contact Centre Manager. He then moved to the position of Senior Manager, Customer Support, before accepting promotion to his current post last year.

A Six Sigma Green Belt, Sharif-Paul told CXM that his biggest inspirations to date in his career are those he works alongside and under over the years, displaying a commitment to teamwork and trust within the workplace, to the ultimate benefit of the customer.

“All have taken chances on me and given me opportunities which I will always be humble and extremely appreciative for,” he explained.

Sharif-Paul appreciates honesty, and is a staunch believer in keeping promises to customers.

Sharif-Paul says: “It is critical to treat each and every customer as an individual and to put yourself in their shoes.”

His instinct for customer care and promotion of personalisation is at the very heart of his CX strategy , and Samsung consumers are in safe hands as the ever-popular brand moves into an exciting new decade of electronics innovation.


Number 8

Michelle Ansell

As many working in the UK’s recruitment field will tell you, Michelle Ansell is one of the most highly regarded professionals there is, and her work in the last 15 years has brought the Customer Experience and contact centre sectors to a whole new level with her appointments for numerous firms.

That same skill in identifying top talent for her clients in her work at Douglas Jackson has been successfully transferred to awards judging roles, including the National Awards for Quality Planning and Insight and the UK Customer Experience Awards.

A true influencer, Michelle continues to share her knowledge and expertise in her prolific writing, contributing to blogs and online publications and providing insight and practical tips on everything from contact centre management to finding and retaining the very best employees.

Need advice on transferring customer ‘success’ to Customer Experience? Michelle’s got it covered. Want to know how the best questions to ask a potential customer service team leader in a job interview? You can bet Michelle has blogged on it.

That love of skill sharing was inspired by figures including recruitment legend Sir Alec Reed, who she met numerous times earlier in her career, and whose desire to educate others saw him found his own business school.

Michelle says: “Often, the fundamentals of Customer Experience can be missed or even forgotten. Money gets spent on new tools or technology, but your most powerful resource is your people.”

As a Managing Partner at Douglas Jackson, Staffordshire-based Michelle has assisted brands ranging from global players to disruptors and start-ups in their quest to fill vital roles and create supportive environments for their customers, and 2020 looks set to be another busy and highly successful year for her.

Click here for profiles of our Number 9 Professionals and Influencers.

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJanuary 7, 2020


Customer Experience Magazine is profiling the top 10 Professionals and Influencers from our Top 50 CX Stars list.

Here we look at Number 9 in each category. CCXP Marion Ellis, of BlueBox Partners and the Women in Surveying Network, is today’s featured Professional, and our Influencer is globally-renowned consultant and author Nick Hague .

We welcome feedback on our CX Stars list, and all correspondence should be sent to


Number 9

Marion Ellis

Managing Director at at BlueBox Partners

Marion Ellis is the first name that will come to mind for most when considering Customer Experience in the world of property surveying.

It was while working for a large surveying firm undertaking valuations and surveys that her understanding of the importance of CX in the field was cemented, and Milton Keynes-based Marion has since went on to achieve her CCXP accreditation and bring her instinct for customer centricity to her own firm, BlueBox Partners, an alliance of experienced valuers and surveyors committed to supporting the professional development, and personal well-being of other valuers and surveyors.

Marion also sits on the Governing Council of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, and is the founder of the Women in Surveying Network, which aims to help surveyors as they navigate and become established in the field.

Events including the online Sisterhood Summit have provided valuable female perspectives on the industry, and the influence of Women in Surveying continues to grow thanks to Marion’s dedication to providing opportunities and a platform for peers.

Among her inspirations is fellow Top 50 CX Star and the UK’s top CX consultant, Ian Golding, whose mentorship she has used to help her inspire and guide others beginning their journey in Customer Experience.

Marion says: “Kindness – just allowing ourselves to use the word in business is significant. You can still have tough contracts, robust processes, and make difficult commercial decisions, and yet still be kind.”

Meanwhile, Marion is a firm advocate of keeping kindness at the centre of business strategy – a refreshing take in corners of today’s business world, where cutthroat tactics are often lauded.

A professional through-and-through, Marion’s ambition knows no bounds, and is one to watch for further success in 2020.


Number 9

Nick Hague

A name likely familiar to anyone even with a passing knowledge of customer centricity, Nick Hague is an original founder of market research experts B2B International and over the last two decades has assisted over 500 business-to-business firms measure and improve the experience they deliver to clients and customers.

Many CXM readers will no doubt have a copy of his bestselling book B2B Customer Experience to hand, and if you don’t – but run a B2B business – then do yourself a favour and make the purchase.

The book – which was shortlisted in the 2019 Business Book Awards – was co-authored by Nick’s father Paul Hague, himself a co-founder of B2B International and one of the UK’s leading authorities on the art of market research and helping companies achieve their strategic goals.

Nick cites Paul as his biggest inspiration in business and the world of Customer Experience, and describing the journey they have taken together, he told us: “We built B2B International with just three of us in Manchester in 1998, and now we employ over 120 staff across 10 offices around the world. The secret sauce to doing this has been through building an internal culture and engaged workforce that understands that the customer is king. You need to practice what you preach!”

Nick says: “The one essential component to delivering excellent Customer Experience is to make your company easy to do business with. This is always a company-wide challenge.

Like father-like son, Nick shows that a love of helping businesses achieve their full potential for customers is something that runs in the family. A truly global CX Star, and one of the first names you should consider if a rise in NPS scores is on your agenda for 2020.

Click here for profiles of our Number 10 Professionals and Influencers.

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJanuary 6, 2020


As last year drew to a close, Customer Experience Magazine presented our list of our Top 50 CX Stars, in which we ranked our selection of the UK’s top 25 CX Influencers – those consultants, coaches, authors, and guiding lights who inspire customer centricity – and our top 25 CX Professionals.

Having established a shortlist of candidates for both lists, we began ranking our final order, from number 25 to number one, primarily based on publicly available information, and our own considered, professional judgement.

For our CX Professionals, we looked into backgrounds and achievements including industry impact, awards success, and their influence both within and outside of their respective organisations – influence earned through activity including published written articles.

Our CX Influencers were ranked on the scale of said influence. Our methodology saw us compare published books, articles, social media activity – even television appearances, among other visible and influential pursuits within the UK CX realm.

We presented our final list as Christmas arrived, and here CXM begins a series of profiles of our Top 10 CX Stars in both Professional and Influencer categories.

We welcome feedback on our CX Stars list, and all correspondence should be sent to



Number 10

Phil Durand

Director of Customer Experience Management at Confirmit

Software firm Confirmit is now the premier name in feedback analysis, and at the helm of UK CX within the operation is Phil Durand, a professional with over two decades of experience in agency and client-side roles.

His wealth of knowledge has led to his key role in Confirmit’s CX consulting team, overseeing the design and implementation of cutting-edge programs for a wide range of B2C and B2B organisations.

Phil is a firm advocate of designing CX with the end-goal in focus from the beginning, and one of his inspirations is the late Apple magnate Steve Jobs, who famously said: “You’ve got to start with the Customer Experience and work back toward the technology – not the other way around.”

Words to live by, professionally, and Phil does just that.

In creating this list, we learned of how one of his clients, who had unfortunately suffered a challenging history of customer engagement, has since adopted a “what would Phil have said?” attitude to solving problems.

An attitude that will certainly pay off!

Although one of our CX Professionals, Phil is an influencer in his own right, sharing his knowledge in articles for a range of publications. Customer Experience Magazine is both fortunate and proud to have provided a platform for his writing in recent years, while he is also increasingly in demand for his judging skills and eye for expertise at events including the UK Customer Experience Awards.

Phil says: “The goal for anyone aiming to deliver a great Customer Experience should categorically be to design the programme with the end in mind. It’s about creating an experience that meets the needs of your customers first and foremost.”

In terms of his own awards success, last year saw Phil nominated for the CXPA’s CX Impact Awards, and he will no doubt continue to make waves in 2020 as Confirmit and its tech solutions grow in scale and scope.



Number 10

Claire Boscq-Scott

Businesses throughout the UK and beyond will know Jersey-based Claire Boscq-Scott as the Busy Queen Bee of Customer Experience, whose energy, enthusiasm, and sheer love of seeing a business perform to its best of its abilities is evident in her videos, writing, and speaking engagements.

CXPA Claire’s passion for customer-centricity is fed through her membership of the Mystery Shopper Providers Association and the Encouraging Women into Franchising body.

Awards under her belt include 2014’s Director of the Year award from the Jersey branch of the Institute of Directors, and she has also received nominations for plaudits including the Forward Ladies Women in Business Awards.

Claire’s instinctive CX skills are founded in her former roles in the hospitality sector, where as a hotelier she worked at the coalface of customer centricity. There are few sectors more suited to honing Customer Experience nous, and Claire is committed to sharing those skills with a whole new generation of enthusiastic entrepreneurs.

Her two books: Thrive With the Hive and Thriving By Caring are both highly recommended reads, featuring simple and practical steps that can help bring immediate positive results to your business.

Meanwhile, as far as branching out goes, you won’t see many CX gurus with their own perfume brand! But Claire’s instinctive passion for personalisation saw an idea to add scent to business cards grow into her very own perfume, EAU d’abelle.

That’s what we call a nose for branding innovation!

Claire says: “The Queen Bee is at the centre of her community, without her the hive wouldn’t exist – she cares for her bees and their environment so they can deliver that delicious honey.”

Whether she is creating buzz in the UK, her native France, or in speaking engagements and workshops all across the globe, Queen Bee Claire remains one of the industry’s hardest working influencers, and we can’t wait to see what 2020 has in store for her.





Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJanuary 3, 2020


More staff in customer service roles will seek new employment this month than in any other, with new research showing that almost two-fifths of workers in these positions will seek to leave their post in January.

A seasonal slump in engagement and motivation is believed to be behind the spike in dissatisfied staff, and a survey by quality assurance improvement platform EvaluAgent found that 40 percent of customer service employees are less happy in January than any other month, leading to 39 percent actively searching for a new role.

The financial impact of this employee churn is considerable – based on the average customer service worker’s annual salary of £21,000, each departure costs businesses at least £6,300 due to recruitment expenses and reduced productivity.

The report estimates that around five percent of customer service workers will actually leave their jobs in January, so with 640,500 people currently in customer service roles across the UK, this could mean businesses stand to lose around £201,757,500 in January alone.

The survey also revealed that employers seem to be underestimating the issue, with 70 percent of workplaces not believing that staff are more likely to change jobs in January than in other months.

Fortunately, according to the research there are a number of engagement strategies that would successfully prevent customer service employees from starting their January job hunt.

According to the research, financial incentives such as salary increases and bonuses alone are an ineffective solution, with 47 percent of those surveyed saying that money would not affect their decision as to whether to stay or leave their company in January.

This was especially true for younger workers, with 59 percent of 18-24 year olds saying that money is not an effective motivation.

Instead, the research showed that businesses should be utilising a full spectrum of tools to boost employee engagement, including regular and timely feedback, which was deemed as effective as a cash bonus by 54 percent of employees.

Non-financial reward schemes were almost as popular, with 44 percent of employees saying these would prevent them from looking for a new job at the start of the year, while more than a third (36 percent) said employee benefits such as healthcare and flexitime would encourage them to stay.

Goal-based objectives can be an effective way of improving motivation, by increasing the sense of purpose and pride in a person’s work. Twenty-four percent said that this would be enough to make them reconsider looking for a new role.

Jaime Scott, co-founder and CEO of EvaluAgent, said: “High employee turnover in January is a real problem for many businesses, and can cause significant problems when it comes to productivity and customer satisfaction levels.

“Our research clearly shows there is a direct link between employee engagement and turnover, suggesting that businesses need to be making far more effort to engage their workforce at this time of year if they are to prevent the annual surge in departures.”

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJanuary 2, 2020


Banks and credit card companies in the UK faced over a million complaints in the first half of 2019, new data has revealed.

The research conducted by found that of this total, current account holders registered the highest number of complaints.

The complaints lodged with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) indicate that the number of complaints against current accounts was 590,663, while credit cards and repackaged accounts registered 354,806 and 99,600 complaints respectively. Complaints regarding arrears stood at 39,542.

Most of the complaints originated from administration and customer care services with a record 744,863 complaints, while clients who were unhappy with charges and product performance stood at 243,426. Elsewhere, some 129,838 customers had issues with advising, selling and arranging of banking and credit card products.

As per the report, UK firms must report complaints from eligible complainants in regards to activities conducted from the firm’s establishment.

The data was compiled after reviewing the total number of opened, closed and upheld complaints, the amount of redress paid, the type of firm the complaint was about, the type of product the complaint was about, and the reason why the complaint was raised.

The report states: “The complaints data is used to assess how financial institutions within the UK are relating to their customers while focusing on how their performance changes over time.”

Click here to access the data.

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthDecember 20, 2019


We are in the midst of an age in which instant information is creating ever more savvy consumers.

As we enter a new decade, customers are ever more influenced by their experiences of a brand when considering a purchase. The role of Customer Experience as a profession, therefore, is so much more important than it has ever been before.

Meanwhile, for businesses to really get to know how customers behave, think, and feel, there are a growing number of CX influencers who continue to coach, guide, and inspire both company executives and the next generation of professionals to return customer centricity to the heart of their operations.

In celebration of these CX Stars operating here in the UK, Customer Experience Magazine presents a list of our Top 25 CX Influencers and Top 25 CX Professionals of 2019.

These are the people making a significant impact in Customer Experience, and who deserve to be celebrated. They will be the ones to watch as we enter 2020.

Some of our stars you will know, and others you certainly will know soon, as they continue on their career paths. Our researchers have ranked these CX Stars based on criteria including their achievements, industry activity and their influence within the UK CX sphere.

In the New Year, we will profile our Top 10 Influencers and Top 10 Professionals in more detail, offering you further insight into the amazing work they do. As CX matures from a buzzword to a vital professional realm, we are proud to be able to acknowledge those who are pioneering and making a difference. We can’t wait to see how these inspirational CX leaders grow, and look forward to discovering who will emerge to join them as CX Stars in 2020!

Directly below is our Top 25 CX Professionals list.

Scroll down further or click here to jump directly to our Top 25 CX Influencers



Name: DeAnna Avis

Role: National Customer Experience Manager at Solus ARC

Solus Accident and Repair Centre, owned by Aviva, has enjoyed a phenomenal year capped by taking the Overall Winner title at the 2019 UK Customer Experience Awards in October. Central to that success is DeAnna Avis, the firm’s National Customer Experience Manager, whose holistic approach to CX includes a focus on customer insight and employee engagement.





Name: Salman Sharif

Role: Senior Advisor, EMEA at Forrester

A former UK Customer Experience Awards judge, Salman works with senior CX leaders from FTSE 500 companies across the EMEA region.

He offers direction on how to help their company become more customer-centric by leveraging a combination of his own experience, Forrester’s research and analysis, and unrivalled peer insight.






Name: Hannah Louise Cox

Role: Executive Search Consultant at Douglas Jackson

Hannah identifies talent within the Customer Experience space to engage with for specialist roles, in order to shape business strategies and transform cultures. A passionate blogger and industry awards judge, Hannah earned the Outstanding Contribution to Judging gong at the 2019 UK Digital Experience Awards.






Name: Matt Currall

Role: Client Portfolio Director at Capita

An industry acclaimed CX leader, Matt is responsible for all aspects of customer delivery across a varied portfolio of Capita partnerships, including Tesco Mobile, The National Trust, and Vauxhall Finance. 

Matt is best known for his award-winning work on the use of psychological motivation theory to stimulate emotional commitment in employees to drive customer excellence.





Name: Stuart Bishop

Role: Director of Service at Cheshire Datasystems Ltd

A Companion Member of the Institute of Customer Service, Stuart specialises in transforming teams and creating a focus on the customer.

At leading UK tech company Cheshire Datasystems, he is exploring the potential of tech including AI and machine learning, and how to combine it with a human element for superior CX.







Name: Emma Donnelly

Role: Former Head of Customer Relations at CrossCountry Trains

Emma is an all-rounder, whose leadership skills ensured CX success for one of the UK’s best-known rail franchises.

In 2018, she enjoyed a prize year, being named Inspirational Leader of the Year at the UK Business Awards, Leader of the Year at the UK Complaints Handling Awards, and Professional Woman of the Year at the UK Customer Experience Awards.





Name: Sabrina Gross

Role: Customer Success Director at Vizolution

With global experience and a passion for customer centricity, Sabrina leads a team which engages with customers from pre-sale stages and right the way through the entire journey.

This ensures they can maximise the full value of the tech solutions offered by Swansea-based Vizolution.





Name: James Hardwick

Role: Industry Director for Gaming at Oracle CX

James is a recognised thought leader and advisor for CX in the Gaming and Gambling industry.

With a decade’s experience under his belt working with both start-ups and long-established brands, James has also been recognised for his achievements through various awards.






Name: Sarah Sargent

Role: Director of Customer Experience at Radian Group

Sarah Sargent became the first Certified Customer Experience Professional in Yorkshire in 2018, and has carved a successful career in both customer service and CX leadership across Financial Services and Telcos.

She is currently reinvigorating CX in social housing at Radian Group.







Name: Nick Lygo-Baker

Role: Founding Director at Paradigm CX

Having founded Paradigm CX in 2018, Nick Lygo-Baker’s passion for delivering CX strategies for organisations was seeded in Mystery Shopping and Customer Satisfaction research. Previously, Nick lead CX research teams in the UK and EMEA working with a wide range of SaaS technologies. As a CCXP and Certified member of the MRS Nick has built some of the most innovative customer measurement programmes across HoRECA, Retail, Telco and Financial Services.




Name: Chloe Woolger

Role: Commercial Director CX at Kantar

Chloe Woolger joined Kantar this year and is developing its CX strategy for clients including Bupa, Virgin Atlantic, and Nationwide.

A solid background in marketing has placed her in pole position to help build relationships that will ultimately benefit customers.






Name: Claire Sporton

Role: Senior Vice President, Customer Experience Innovation at Confirmit

Claire Sporton lives and breathes CX, and began her Confirmit career in 2011 before being appointed to her current crucial role in 2018 – a year that saw her land a CX Impact Award, given by the CXPA to “recognise individuals that exemplify excellent customer experience and make a profound impact on their organisation and its customers”.






Name: Jamie Thorpe

Role: Head of Experience Management at Ipsos MORI CX

With over 20 years behind him as a foundation for his expertise, Jamie Thorpe has long recognised the need for brands to be connected with customers, and the customers’ realisation of their own value.

Before bringing his vision to Ipsos MORI, Jamie worked with Kantar’s Customer Experience division, holding roles including CX Deputy Managing Director.






Name: Tiffany Carpenter

Role: UKI Head of Customer Intelligence Solutions at SAS UK

Tiffany has spent over 20 years helping organisations transform CX across their sales, service, and marketing operations.

In her current role at SAS, she guides firms in the application of advanced analytics and artificial intelligence to harness customer insights and deliver relevant one-to-one experiences.






Name: Laura Bowyer

Role: Head of Customer Excellence, UK and Ireland at KFC

CCXP Laura has transformed customer service teams for family favourite brands KFC and PizzaExpress, through the introduction of  VOC programmes and by creating effective training programmes for front-line teams.

Laura is also a former Secretary of the Inter Company Consumer Affairs Association.





Name: Phil Durand

Role: Director of Customer Experience Management at Confirmit

Confirmit has positioned itself firmly at the forefront of Voice of the Customer solutions, and Philip Durand’s expertise is ensuring they will stay there.

An advocate for customer insight and ‘keeping it simple’ for consumers, Philip recently judged at the UK Customer Experience Awards.





Name: Marion Ellis

Role: MD of BlueBox Partners

Marion Ellis began her CX career at Countrywide Surveying Services, which carried out mortgage valuations and home surveys.

Now a CCXP, Marion is creating an alliance of experienced residential valuers and surveyors committed to supporting the professional development of other valuers and surveyors through the Surveyor Hub online community.




Name: Sharif-Paul Anton

Role: General Manager Customer Support at Samsung Electronics

Sharif-Paul has 20 years of experience in CX, contact centres, and outsourcing.

He has worked with a number of leading brands, onshore and offshore, across numerous verticals including Banking, Consumer Electronics, Travel/Tourism, Gaming, and Retail.






Name: Iain O’Connor

Role: Senior Manager of Customer Experience & Insight at Aegon UK

Iain O’Connor is responsible for implementing a CX culture at Edinburgh insurance, pensions, and investment firm Aegon UK.

His work has included the development of in-house CX Labs, a CX Academy, and the creation of closed loop feedback and social media channel Aegon Cares.






Name: Christina Liciaga

Role: Head of Customer Service at HSBC UK

Christina has led HSBC’s customer service team since 2017, and oversees complaints and service recovery, root cause analysis, and customer insight.

She prides herself on being “the customer advocate who drives initiatives and interventions to make our customers better off everyday”.






Name: Alison Lawrie

Role: Head of Customer Experience, Quality & Continuous Improvememt at AkzoNobel

Alison Lawrie is  responsible for implementing the CX Strategy and Transformation Programme at AkzoNobel, the firm behind Dulux Paint.

Her dedication was recognised at national level in 2018 when she was named Professional of the Year at the UK Customer Experience Awards.





Name: Andrew McGuigan

Role: Director of Worldwide Customer Service Strategy at Microsoft

Before taking up his hugely influential role at Microsoft in 2017, Andrew spent four years at Vodafone, where he headed the UK Customer Services division before taking the role of Head of Consumer Customer Care.

At Microsoft, Andrew is leading the charge in placing the customer at the very centre of one of the planet’s most recognisable brands.





Name: Jo Mayes

Role: Director of Customer Operations at Business Stream

A former Head of CX at Standard Life, Jo Mayes is now making transformational changes in the water retail sector with Business Stream, and was named 2019’s CX Professional of the Year at the UK Customer Experience Awards.

Under her leadership, Business Stream has developed its ambitious Customer First Strategy, which has helped to transform its CX offering.






Name: Nick Macfarlane

Role: Head of Customer Experience at Sky

Currently Head of CX for Sky in Spain, Nick has a long and storied career in Customer Experience, including several years delivering world class digital customer service solutions for Sky’s International OTT customers.

Nick has also judged at the UK Customer Experience Awards, while Sky has also reached the finals of the event – most recently in 2019 when the brand was shortlisted in categories including Customers at the Heart of Everything.




Name: Amanda Riches

Role: Director of Professional Services – CX Consulting at Medallia

Topping our Professionals list is CX expert and Net Promoter certified associate Amanda Riches, who has enabled leading multi-sector organisations to drive customer-centric change delivering measurable business results over the last two decades. 

Previously Head of Quality & Guest Insight at Whitbread, Amanda established the successful service formula that sits behind Premier Inn, the award-winning leading hotel chain, before setting up Enrich Customer Consultancy in 2008. Now Director of Professional Services at Medallia, she continues to help large organisations operationalise the voice of their customers, employees, and partners, engaging senior and frontline teams to drive action on the things that matter most.




Name: Ben Philips

Role: Global Head of Customer Experience at Neilsen

Ben Philips is, in his own words, living his “dream role”, and travels around the world working to ensure clients are becoming fully customer-centric.

A passionate speaker, Ben also spreads his CX knowledge through his writing, including contributing to a new book on CX best practise alongside 21 other global influencers.





Name: Paul Weald

Role: Director of Multichannel Customer Experience Ltd

Paul is known by peers as the Contact Centre Innovator, and is the founder and Director of his consultancy firm Multichannel Customer Experience Ltd.

An inspirational speaker and prolific writer, Paul has also judged at numerous industry awards events over the years.





Name: Chris Little

Role: Founder of BeyondCuriosity

Having successfully established BeyondCuriosity, a specialist insight and strategy consultancy for innovation, CX and growth, Chris Little has championed customer thinking for over 30 years, starting with the customer facing revolution at Barclays in the 1980s. He has been actively involved in CX measurement and strategies since.




Name: Olga Potaptseva

Role: Founder of the European Customer Consultancy

CX mentor Olga has offered expert consulting around the world, and reaches a wide audience through motivational speaking roles.

Making use of her customer-centric employee engagement framework, she leads companies in multiple industries to transform their processes, policies, and products through her European Customer Consultancy. Olga was Chair of Judges at the 2019 UK Customer Experience Awards.






Name: Karen Swindells

Role: Director at Jigsaw Customer Solutions

Karen Swindells has developed her strong skillset over three decades in customer service environments, including contact centres.

Her background as a Operations Manager with Ombudsman Services led to her becoming one of the most respected judges at the 2019 UK Complaint Handling Awards.






Name: Peter Evia-Rhodes

Role: Director of Customer Value at The Times (News UK)

In his role at The Times and The Sunday Times, Peter is responsible for increasing and maintaining subscribers for one of the most respected titles in British newspapers.

His CX approach, based on innovative speech analytics supported by award-winning data science, has been shared with audiences through Peter’s role as a keynote speaker and writer.





Name: Jo Boswell

Role: Founder/Director of Sentio-B

Jo is the brains behind Sentio-B, a consultancy firm specialising in CX transformation. Before this, she honed her skills at British Airways with a series of high-flying roles including Head of Customer Value Management.

She was the driving force behind the airline’s ‘Know Me’ initiative, a successful transformation programme that embedded personalisation at scale into their CX and service strategy.





Name: Chris Garthwaite

Role: Managing Director at CGA Experience

The MD of consultancy CGA Experience, Chris is a 35-year CX industry veteran. After a successful career driving Customer Experience transformation, including early-stage e-commerce launching Woolworths Direct and e-Kingfisher, he set up CGA in 2001.

Over the past 18 years, CGA has led the way in creating value through transforming customer journeys into compelling and commercial experiences.




Name: Ben Smithwell

Role: Director of Comotion – a Freeman Company

CX and service design consultant Ben Smithwell will be a name familiar to many in Customer Experience roles, both here in the UK and further afield.

Having founded his own Nottingham-based CX agency, Ben is also Director of Comotion, a Freeman company, while in 2015 he even delivered a powerful TEDx talk on how to tackle bullying.





Name: Donna O’Toole

Role: CEO of August Recognition

Donna O’Toole is a a Customer Experience champion through-and-through.

A writer and thought-leader, Donna now heads August – The Awards Company, where she guides business leaders and teams in improving their own CX and preparing them for awards recognition at various industry events.





Name: Simon Green

Role: Founder/Director of 3RM

The power behind 3RM Digital Marketing Strategy, Simon Green integrates communications and advertising into Customer Experience, intrinsically linking it with ‘Brand Experience’ for the benefit of large UK and global brands.

CCXP Simon helps organisations see the end-to-end consumer process as starting from brand advertising and digital personalised communications, and running throughout the cycles of pre-purchase, sales, consumption, customer service, and repeat sales.




Name: Marie Cross

Role: Co-founder of First Impressions Training

Marie is the co-founder of First Impressions Training (FIT), and a passionate CX influencer.

Through her on-the-ground role as FIT’s Training Director, Marie leads large-scale culture change projects for clients, developing the talent of front-line teams and leaders, in order to enhance CX, increase employee engagement, and improve operational efficiency.





Name: Caroline Cooper

Role: Trainer/Consultant at Naturally Loyal

An author, speaker, and trainer, Caroline is a life-long advocate of customer centricity, and regularly writes on a range of Customer and Employee Experience topics.

Caroline is the go-to authority on Customer Experience in the Hospitality industry, helping create loyal customers who will return again and again thanks to excellent service inspired by her.





Name: Stephen Parry

Role: CEO/Founder of Lloyd Parry

A name familiar to many readers, Stephen is a multi-award winning international leader and strategist on the creation of service enterprises that are adaptive, innovative and engaging.

London-based Stephen is the founder of consultancy Lloyd Parry, and has a global reputation for passionate leadership and creating organisations with superior service climates by changing the way employees, managers, and leaders think about the business.




Name: Mark Conway

Role: Founder of Contact Centre Partners

The driving force of Contact Centre Partners, Mark has been recruiting senior talent within the customer contact and CX industry since 2007.

Over the past 12 years, he has successfully placed hundreds of influential professionals across a wide variety of industry sectors, many of whom are multi-award-winning industry leaders.






Name: Claire Boscq-Scott

Role: Founder of The Busy Queen Bee Ltd

Known as the Busy Queen Bee herself, Claire Boscq-Scott is a global guru for brands dedicated to improving both customer and employee experience.

A Member of the Professional Speaker Association, Claire has toured the world to spread her enthusiasm and presented before thousands of people. She has also authored two books: Thrive With the Hive and Thriving by Caring.





Name: Nick Hague

Role: Co-founder of B2B International

As an original founder of B2B International, Nick has been at the centre of assisting some of the world’s biggest business-to-business companies design, implement, and track their CX strategy based on the grounded research B2B International carry out.

Through his work as a research practitioner, Nick knows what works and what doesn’t in getting change within an organisation and his first-hand experience led him to publishing his bestselling book, B2B Customer Experience in 2018.   




Name: Michelle Ansell

Role: Managing Partner at Douglas Jackson

Michelle is based at specialist recruitment and executive search consultancy, Douglas Jackson. She has worked with many award-winning business and brands, as well as start-up and disruptor companies, placing individuals who have gone on to make significant impacts.

Her skills have served the contact centre and burgeoning CX industry for over 15 years.





Name: Nick Meinertzhagen

Role: Founder of Experiential Consulting Ltd

CCXP Nick Meinertzhagen is a passionate CX strategist, management consultant, and entrepreneur.

In 2004 he founded one of the UK’s largest mystery shopping businesses 360 Perspectives, which he sold in 2018 to Yomdel.

Nick currently runs his own CX management consultancy, Experiential Consulting Ltd, where he designs customer-centric solutions that aligns to his clients’ commercial objectives.




Name: Dr Nicola Millard

Role: Principal Innovation Partner at BT

UK Customer Experience Award winner BT has benefited hugely from the oversight of its former Head of Customer Insight and Futurology, Dr Nicola Millard. Now a Principal Innovation Partner for the brand, she has been responsible for developing human-centred innovation thought-leadership for BT Global Services’ Innovation team.

A speaker, writer and thought-leader, Nicola got her PhD from Lancaster University in 2005 on motivational technologies in contact centres, & published her first book in 2009.




Name: Clare Muscutt

Role: Founder/Director of CMXperience,

Entrepreneur Clare Muscutt is recognised as a leading millennial voice in CX, and founded her own consultancy firm, CMXperience, from her kitchen in Hackney, London.

Now a global influencer, public speaker, and soon-to-be author, Clare is aiming to bring the CX skills honed at brands including Sainsbury’s, M&S, British Airways, and Premier Inn to a whole new audience in 2020.





Name: Naeem Arif

Role: MD at NA Consulting

Alongside running successful national flooring firm United Carpets Group, CCXP Naeem Arif has founded his own consultancy firm, NA Consulting Ltd, and has penned a whopping six books, including the hugely influential Customer First.

Birmingham-based Naeem has an unrivalled knack for business leadership and a dedication to customer centricity that is making waves in the UK.





Name: Adrian Swinscoe

Role: Influencer, consultant, podcaster, author, and founder of Punk CX

The author of books including How to Wow, Scottish-born Adrian Swinscoe is an influential consultant, speaker, and coach, who says his driving passion is “helping create, develop, and grow businesses that take care of their customers in the best way possible, and create the great teams that are required to do that.”

A man of many talents, Adrian’s new Punk CX book is a radical departure from the often-dry tomes found on business shelves.





Name: Ian Golding

Role: Founder of the Customer Experience Consultancy

No stranger to CXM readers, nor anyone with even a passing interest in Customer Experience, Ian Golding is among the UK’s foremost CX experts, whose thoughts on customer centricity are sought the world over.

Along with imparting his wisdom through CX Masterclasses and in-house training, he has penned one of the most influential books in the industry to-date, Customer What? The honest and practical guide to customer experience.





Name: James Dodkins

Role: Founder of Rockstar CX

Topping the charts for CX influencers is the man known to many as the ‘Customer Experience Rockstar’, James brings his passion for CX to a global audience through his energetic speaking engagements.

As his image implies, James has corralled the energy and enthusiasm from his days in a rock band, and turned it towards the world of Customer Experience

From writing CX books, and even launching his own line of Rockstar CX-inspired clothing, James is bringing customer centricity into an entirely new era. Among his latest projects is presenting the This Week in CX show, currently streaming on Amazon Prime.


Coming soon: CXM will profile our Top 10 Stars in both Influencer and Professional categories. Congratulations to all those who made it into this year’s Top 50 CX Stars!


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthDecember 11, 2019


Customer engagement software specialists Freshworks has shed light on how customers interact with AI tech such as chatbots in an insightful new report.

In AI in Customer Service: A Survey Report from Europe, responses from 6,000 customers and 800 senior business leaders across the continent were analysed to provide answers on what consumers think of the growing technology.

The research reveals that 41 percent of European consumers “see no benefit of chatting with a bot”, while 29 percent said answers from bots “did not help solve their problem”.

For brands, Freshworks has found that 25 percent are currently using artificial intelligence solutions to improve customer service.

The research was commissioned to highlight the disconnect between what brands believe they are providing, and what exactly customers themselves say about the services.

Among the experts providing insight in the report is CX advisor and author Adrian Swinscoe. He said: “There’s been a significant gap in brand and customer perception of the type of service being delivered and received for some time.

“The addition of new technology and new channels, in many ways, is exacerbating the situation, as customer expectations increase, and businesses have to manage more ways of communicating than ever before.”

Click here to download the full report.







Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthDecember 9, 2019


Office workers in the UK would ‘fine’ colleagues for rude or offensive behaviour the most out of a list of pet peeves.

Commercial property agents surveyed 1,466 UK office workers to find out which unprofessional actions they would fine their colleagues for and what ‘rate’ they would set the fine to for each misdemeanour.

The poll follows reports that Chelsea FC head coach Frank Lampard fines players for a list of fouls including being late for training sessions (£20,000), and their phone ringing during a team meal or meeting (£1,000).

Office workers unprofessional actions/behaviour

The percentage of UK office workers who would fine their colleagues for ‘offence ‘

The average fine UK office workers would charge their colleague each time ‘offence’ is committed 

Unnecessarily being rude/offensive



Not meeting an agreed/set deadline



Not turning up at all to a scheduled/arranged meeting



Making/taking multiple personal phone calls during working hours



Taking a longer lunch break than allocated



Showing up more than 5 minutes late to a meeting



Agreeing to come to a work social but then not turning up at all



Showing up more than 5 minutes late to work



Dressing inappropriately/sloppily



Personal phone ringing during a meeting



Darren Best, Managing Director of, said: “Working in an office can be fun as well as challenging. It’s an environment where people don’t have control over who they necessarily work with but should make every effort to be respectable and professional at all times. But unfortunately, this does not always happen, and people’s actions/behaviour in an office can be aggravating.

“This research highlights the unprofessional actions/behaviours that office workers most have grievances with, certainly enough to fine their colleagues considerable amounts for committing them.”

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthDecember 9, 2019


It’s the end of an era for the great British railway network as Virgin Trains catered to passengers on the franchise’s final run.

The award-winning brand operated long distance services on the West Coast Main Line since March 1997, and last Saturday saw passengers at London Euston board the service for the final time, bound for Wolverhampton.

Virgin Trains, co-owned by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and Stagecoach, has ferried almost 500 million passengers over its 22-year history, and had aimed to continue, but a row over pensions led to the Department for Transport disqualifying the brand’s bid to keep operating the line.

Routes operated by Virgin Trains are now by Avanti West Coast.

Good knight: Sir Richard joins Virgin . Train staff to say farewell to the 22-year-old service

The phenomenal work of Virgin trains staff was celebrated by Virgin Group boss Sir Richard Branson, who tweeted: “A huge thank you to all our wonderful people at @VirginTrains – it’s down to all of your incredible work every day that Virgin Trains has been the UK’s longest running and top-rated rail franchise.”

Just this year, Virgin Trains enjoyed success at the UK Business Awards, where it won Silver in the Innovation of the Year category, and was a finalist in the Team of the Year category.

In 2018 meanwhile, Virgin Trains won Gold at the UK Business Awards for Digital Team – Digital Marketing Campaign, before going on to win the biggest accolade of the day – Overall Best Digital Experience.

The Virgin Trains official Twitter account summed up the mood of the weekend with a characteristically humorous, but poignant tweet: “When leaving the train, please mind the gaping hole I’ll leave in your life.”


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