CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamSeptember 4, 2018
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4min866

Virgin Trains has partnered with Vodafone and OpenMarket to become the first company in the world to roll out the latest RCS-based ‘Chat’ service as a customer communications channel on a commercial basis.

Hailed as ‘Text Messaging 2.0’, ‘Chat’ transforms the way in which companies communicate with customers. RCS-based Chat messages carry much more information than an SMS message, enabling Virgin Trains to send photos, videos, audio, and messages containing easy-to-select buttons to customers.

Initially the technology will be used to provide onward journey information to its London Euston-bound passengers. Chat messages are sent to customers’ smartphones around 10 minutes before they arrive into the station and provide the latest updates for London Underground services.

Customers can simply tap a button within the message to find out more detailed information from Transport for London (TfL) – providing simple information to help with their onward journey.

John Sullivan, Chief Information Officer at Virgin Trains, said:

We’re proud to be the very first company in the world to use RCS-based Chat actively with our customers to enrich their communications experience with Virgin Trains. We always strive to lead the way and with a proud record of digital innovation, we’re very excited to be investing in new technology that will transform the way we communicate with our customer. It has been great working with Vodafone and OpenMarket to introduce this new type of messaging, which is incredibly user-friendly.

Chat messaging provides lots of opportunities. This is just the start and we look forward to developing our Chat service to further enhance the overall journey experience for customers.”

Jonathan Morgan, CEO at OpenMarket, added:

Text Messaging 2.0 has finally arrived. Chat is text messaging for the smartphone age, and it gives customers a richer, smarter, more app-like experience – all from their SMS inbox. There are three specific reasons why consumers will find the Chat service a significant improvement on regular text messages.

First, it makes completing even complex tasks such as providing feedback as easy as tapping a button. Second, there is no need for third party apps as Chat adds functionality in the native messaging inbox that consumers already use frequently. Third, message branding and verified sender information provide consumers with increased peace of mind when they receive Chat messages.”

The introduction of Chat messages is the latest digital initiative to be rolled out by Virgin Trains, who earlier this year became the first transport company in the world to sell tickets through Amazon Alexa. Other innovations that set Virgin Trains out as industry leaders for technology include the launch of BEAM (on-board entertainment portal), m-Tickets across all routes as well as Automatic Delay Repay.

Currently, these Chat messages can be received by any Virgin Trains customer using a device on the Vodafone network that is RCS-compatible; other customers will receive an SMS text message that contains a link to the TfL website.


CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamAugust 20, 2018
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2min801

Virgin Experience Days is still soaring high thanks to their recent win at the 2018 UK Digital Experience Awards with their groundbreaking virtual reality technology.

The firm won Gold in the Best in Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality category at the event, which was held in London this summer. Their immersive VR4D Skydive experience clinched the award, with judges blown away by the concept.

The world exclusive virtual reality sky dive experience uses a combination of VR technology, a wind tunnel, and weighted parachute to simulate the physical sensation of free-falling. Skydiving experts have also backed it, with the British Army’s Red Devils saying it was “as close to the real thing as you can possibly get”.

Head of Marketing, Liam Howard Jones, explained:

We’re always looking for new experience trends and identified the growing interest in VR back in 2016. We knew there was an opportunity to enhance the Virgin Experience Days collection and use the technology to create incredible, immersive experiences for our customers.

Indoor Skydiving is a firm customer favourite. We developed the VR experience alongside our indoor skydiving partners, Twinwoods, and tech business Tunnel Vision VR, who created the integrated helmet technology alongside fully interactive, customised software.

Customers can now jump over some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world, including California, Hawaii, Dubai and an Alaskan glacier, from the relative safety of a wind tunnel in the UK.”


CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamAugust 9, 2018
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5min793

Experts in background music and technology experiences for the retail and hospitality industries, Startle International has seen outstanding growth since beginning trading in 2015.

A start-up moulded by its team members and an employee-first culture that translates across all operations, the company adopted a remote-working model from the start. Aside from the vast employee benefits of no commuting cost or stress, flexibility, and more control over time, this meant that Startle had significantly low operating costs, allowing more to be invested in the development of the business.

Startle recently took home the award for Employee Engagement – Growth By Design in the 2018 UK Employee Experience Awards, showcasing how the business has made ‘working from home’ work exceptionally well for them. With some of the team now based in North America, a common question asked is how Startle will maintain its highly-regarded Employee Experience reputation and build on their remote-working culture as they continue to grow.

Founder and Head of Operations, Adam Castleton, advised that, while there are certainly challenges in working as a remote team, he is confident that the business will continue to benefit from doing so. He explains:

Operating remotely has been our plan from the beginning, and we’re proud to do things differently! Our team members embrace this, and we continue work on the challenges of communication while benefiting from Deep Work, enabled by fewer distractions. Expanding internationally means we’ve already faced complexities of time-difference and have had to invest more in building relationships with our American colleagues, we’ve always found ways to innovate and make this work in our favour.”

In the next year, Startle plans to implement a host of initiatives to improve team communication, productiveness, and subsequently, happiness.

The first of these is to arrange local satellite hotdesking areas for each employee, allowing them somewhere to work from outside of their homes if they want a change of scenery or prefer to meet face-to-face with a colleague. These spaces will be offered for employees to use as much or as little as they wish, giving more flexibility and everyday support.

Secondly, while Startle has always treated its team to fun-filled Christmas getaways (including an all-expenses-paid trip to a German theme park last year, for which the US team were flown over), the company has now introduced what will be an annual Summer ‘retreat’.

A mixture of company workshops and social activities, these whole-team getaways help to strengthen relationships, brainstorm ideas for growth, and importantly, celebrate success. The theme for this year’s retreat was The Customer Journey, which was entirely broken down, analysed, and re-mapped to create what the team will now collaborate towards in the months to come.

Along with a personal development programme that steers team members towards progression as Startle grows, and a share scheme that means all employees are owners of the business, these initiatives signify a forward-thinking business that, as described by Employee Experience expert, Ben Whitter, has “thrown out the tatty old rule book” and “created their own rules through experience and innovation”.

In the coming months, Startle hopes to acknowledge and celebrate its achievements further at the 2018 International Customer Experience Awards, for which the whole team will be flown to Amsterdam. But, shhh!…they don’t know that yet!


CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamJuly 12, 2018
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10min869

The following might be considered a controversial statement, but in true pioneering spirit, the founders of The Future Shapers – the global network of thought-leaders and innovators – want you to hear it anyway: the current news media model is well and truly broken.

How so? Well, an unhealthy reliance on advertising has forced media outlets to focus on chasing clicks, rather than creating real value for consumers.

The result? Fewer stories of importance are told or heard; less cutting-edge thought leadership is communicated to audiences that value such content. Consequently, the amount of available, actionable insight fails to meet demand in today’s ideas-driven world.

However, a plan has emerged to change this, with The Future Shapers innovation thought-leadership platform, www.thefutureshapers.com.

 

The potential for blockchain technology to disrupt content rights distribution is already noticeable in the music business. Streaming services such as Spotify and Deezer require an additional layer of intermediaries to ensure the artists’ rights management process is conducted fairly.

As a result, content creators need different contracts in each jurisdiction, often via multiple intermediaries, to protect copyright and enable distribution of their content.

However, putting content on a blockchain and having the connectivity for peer-to-peer transactions via a digital currency such as Bitcoin – or a smart contract such as Ethereum – allows complete transparency and automation of execution, as well as direct payments to copyright holders.

New start-ups such as Choon, Jaxx, and Voise propose utilising blockchain to simplify digital rights management through bypassing the usual intermediaries. This enables micro-payments from fans buying music directly from the artist themselves – essentially reconnecting value directly to the content creator.

Likewise, The Future Shapers are taking the strengths and disruptive capability of blockchain in order to ‘return value back to knowledge’.

The immutability and trustless nature of blockchain means it can be used in instances where record-keeping and auditable data is key, such as when thought-leadership content creators need different contracts in each jurisdiction to protect copyright and enable distribution.

Putting content on a blockchain with the connectivity for peer-to-peer transactions via a smart contract such as Ethereum allows complete transparency and automation of execution, as well as direct payments to copyright holders.

With these aims, it’s no surprise The Future Shapers are ardent advocates of the proposed updates to the EU Copyright Law and Digital Single Market, and take a similar view to the Copyright for Knowledge cross-sectoral body which aims to work with government at both a UK and EU level to achieve a balanced copyright regime in Europe. The Future Shapers believe such changes have the potential to stimulate creativity and innovation with the opportunity for a wider, more competitive platform environment.

The recent Copyright Directive vote in the European Parliament will be revisited in September, and as this once-in-a-generation opportunity to create a new balance in the online world reverberates through the digital world, The Future Shapers are primed to ensure its contributors, partners, and stakeholders get a fair share of the value they create.

The Future Shapers’ Co-Founder, Cris Beswick, explains:

Building ‘The Future Shapers’ has been, and continues to be, somewhat of a personal crusade, one which I liken to when the late Steve Jobs was being interviewed and asked why iTunes had been so disruptive. In answering the question, he said: ‘When we created the iTunes Music Store, we did so because we thought it would be great to be able to buy music electronically, not because we had plans to redefine the music industry’.

In some ways I feel the same about what we’re doing with The Future Shapers. When I started this journey, I simply wanted to give people better access to actionable content around innovation and provide a better platform for thought leaders to share their expertise and build their credibility as genuine experts.

Yet there is now a sense that the technology we are building will genuinely disrupt the online media industry, or at least contribute to redefining it. We may not quite put Steve’s ‘ding’ in the universe, but if we deliver on our mantra to ‘return value back to knowledge’ we will have done something genuinely significant – we will have shifted the needle and helped shape the future!”

The Future Shapers’ exciting proposals for generating revenue for online publishers has piqued the interest of those at the coalface of the industry, including Neil Skehel, proprietor of the UK’s premier CX portal, Customer Experience Magazine.

Referencing the well-known challenges faced by publishers in a period of unprecedented upheaval, he said:

News International created a pay wall so you can only read a few lines of The Times, and I am not sure they would tell you it has really worked. There are a few other models in the online news and content industry, such as The Guardian’s appeal to readers to pay voluntarily for quality journalism.

However, Cris, Richard and their fellow Future Shapers are creating a technology based on real innovation, which will enable every single provider of valuable content to monetise it in a new customer-friendly way.

This is a value innovation – a game changer! Think Netflix for online content! My honest prediction is that this will be nothing short of massive.”

The vanguards of any industry are the ones shaping the future. To join the front runners, visit The Future Shapers current equity crowdfunding page and help return value back to knowledge.

https://www.crowdcube.com/companies/the-future-shapers/pitches/qay2mq


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4min847

Voice of the Customer experts Confirmit, headline sponsor of the 2017 UK Customer Experience Awards, is now giving a voice to students in schools across the globe.

Independent schools group Cognita has implemented a dedicated Voice of the Student (VoS) programme across its 69 schools using the Confirmit Horizons platform.

Cognita is responsible for the care and education of over 35,000 students worldwide and is using the VoS programme to focus on student wellbeing. The programme has now been implemented across all Cognita schools in Europe, Latin America and South-East Asia.

Using Confirmit Horizons to run the programme, Cognita is able to gather detailed feedback about how safe and secure students feel in each environment. Confirmit Active Dashboards is then used to share insight with head teachers, safeguarding advisors and education directors, all of whom can access data on demand, whenever they need to and wherever they are located.

Stephan Hogenbirk, Customer Experience Programme Manager at Cognita, explained:

We want to be confident that all our students feel safe in school and, most importantly, that they know who to talk to if they have worries. The feedback we gather has allowed us to improve our curriculum and programmes to focus even more on student wellbeing, as well as enabling individual schools to more clearly identify and address the needs of the different age groups we cater for.”

Cognita has already proven the value of feedback in the education sector, having established programmes for the Voice of the Employee (VoE), capturing feedback from school directors, teachers and support staff, and Voice of the Parent (VoP), a tailored customer experience programme that uses parental feedback to drive consistency and improvement around the world.

The VoS programme gathers feedback from students in eight countries and supports four languages, which means the platform Cognita selected had to be capable of supporting multi-lingual, multi-region surveys. Confirmit Horizons allows Cognita to capture information from all students and then deliver data in a consistent format and common language for reporting and action.

The Horizons platform also delivers real-time alerting, allowing Cognita to act directly on alerts triggered from the survey and engage in conversation with the individual student if necessary.

Tim Hannington, EVP at Confirmit, added:

Cognita is a shining example of a forward-thinking organisation that understands the value of feedback and the impact it can have for improvement across the board. Giving students a voice in the same way that customers have a voice in other sectors is a real innovation, and has already proven its value for Cognita through metrics such as enjoyment of school and better teacher-student engagement. We look forward to continuing our work with Cognita across all their feedback programmes and demonstrating how successful organisations can be when they listen to the combination of voices that drive them.”


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2min729

A new survey of senior HR professionals  has revealed a number of concerns they are facing, relating to business productivity and employee engagement.

The survey by MintCentral, an employee engagement app provider, showed that an ageing UK workforce and increasing numbers of millennials entering the workplace are seen as the biggest threat to workplace productivity in the next five years, while employee apathy and remote working were cited as the main factors influencing the effectiveness of internal communication.

When analysing the factors affecting workplace productivity, 63 percent of participants ranked an ageing UK workforce and increasing numbers of millennials as more significant than the impact that Brexit will have (21 percent), or stagnating wages (14 percent). This suggests that organisations have a very real and pressing set of age-related concerns to tackle the evolving workplace age demographic.

When the survey asked about the factors that influence the effectiveness of internal communication, employee apathy and distance were jointly ranked in first place. This is indicative of a geographically disparate UK workforce which is not fully engaged.

A MintCentral spokesperson said:

Seventy-one percent of respondents said that online surveys are the most effective technology used to measure staff engagement. Interestingly, company intranets were ranked as the least effective technology for measuring staff engagement. This questions their continued use when the average UK workforce is increasingly non-desk bound. The inability to engage with employees through their intranet was cited by one respondent as why they ranked it as least effective.
When asked about the alternatives to their current employee engagement technologies 35 percent of respondents said that an internal communications app would help boost productivity and improve staff morale. The ability to measure staff engagement was ranked as the next most desirable feature of alternative staff engagement solutions.”


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4min618

2017 UK Customer Experience Awards sponsor Confirmit has launched a new solution designed to help stakeholders in B2B organisations understand the health of their account portfolios, and manage revenue risks from the frontline through to executive management.

The solution directly addresses the toughest challenges facing Account Management and Customer Success teams in B2B organisations. These groups typically manage large client portfolios, work to aggressive targets and are inundated with data against a backdrop of competing deadlines. Account Health collates and analyses multiple data sources to guide the decision making process.

According to Forrester in The Forrester Wave: Customer Feedback Management Platforms, Q2 2017: “Confirmit’s strengths lie in surveys, analysis, and guidance, especially for B2B firms.”

Confirmit counts many leading B2B organisations amongst its client base including: Amadeus Hospitality, Hyundai Capital America, LexisNexis and Siemens Building Technologies. The key benefits of Account Health, which is built upon this proven expertise, include:

1. Complete visibility: Confirmit Account Health provides a unique CX “headlines” feed, highlighting the impact of CX on the most important KPIs such as revenue-at-risk. Uniquely, the solution combines feedback from Account Management teams internally with insights from customer feedback.

2. Identify risk: The solution offers unmatched flexibility for calculating the many risk factors related to account health, based on all available customer, employee and business data sources, so stakeholders can make smarter decisions about how to improve account health.

3. Resolve with guidance: By linking to key business metrics for B2B organisations, such as revenue renewal rate, lifetime value, user adoption or engagement, stakeholders are guided to take actions that significantly improve business outcomes.

“Businesses that sell to other businesses have unique needs – the business proposition is typically multi-faceted, the purchasing cycle longer, the customer journey more complex, and many more stakeholders are involved than in the B2C journey,” explains Claire Sporton, Senior Vice President for CX Innovation, Confirmit.

According to research by PwC, the majority of organisations agree that empowering the frontline makes for better decisions and mitigation of risk, but few are actually able to do this. With Confirmit Account Health, everyone from the frontline to the executive team can reduce revenue risk through accelerated change, driving a culture that is focused on continuously improving customer experience.

“The stakes are high. Individual client relationships can be worth millions, so businesses need to enable the frontline to prioritise resources across their portfolio by quantifying loyalty and risk and acting on it. This is where Confirmit Account Health comes in,” Claire said.

Terry Lawlor, Executive Vice President, Product Management adds:

“Confirmit’s software is used to run the world’s largest customer experience programmes, and is uniquely suited to support the complex and varied needs of multi-national B2B organisations. We are looking forward to working with more of our customers to help them empower and inspire their employees to drive improvements in customer experience that help them achieve their desired business outcomes.”


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4min1023

Customer Experience specialist Ian Golding, author of new book Customer What: The Honest and Practical Guide to Customer Experience, today begins a new feature in Customer Experience Magazine, in which he offers his expert insight to help businesses improve their CX offering.

To ask Ian a question on how to boost the Customer Experience provided by YOUR business, please email your question to editor@cxm.world. The best questions will be featured in future instalments…

“As the owner of an SME with limited resources, how can I keep up with the level of CX that today’s customers expect? What are some simple and cheap methods of providing it?”

Every organisation has a Customer Experience, and always has had. Size and scale of the company is irrelevant – it is as important to understand the basic fundamentals as a company of two people, as it is in a corporation of thirty thousand.

In principle, the smaller the company, the ‘easier’ it should be to have everyone in it working towards delivering an experience that meets (and sometimes exceeds) customer expectation. The key is to ensure you have absolute clarity and focus. Large organisations struggle with both of these things – yet so do smaller ones. To ensure that you have the clarity and focus needed, you should make certain you are able to answer the following questions at a minimum:

Do I know who my customers are?

Not just as an account number, but as real people. To do this, everyone in my company must understand what customers want from us, what their challenges are, and what they value most.

Do I know what my company should be doing for my customers?

What experience do you want them to have? The best way for a small company to answer this question is with three more questions! Inspired by the Golden Circle methodology created by Simon Sinek:

a) why does my company exist in the first place – what is its purpose?

b) how can I make the purpose a reality?

c) what products/services do my clients actually need?

Every employee MUST know the answers to these questions and be continually focused on delivering the experience you want your customers to have.

Does every employee know the role they play in delivering the experience you want your customers to have?

Ensuring they have clarity on this, coupled with giving them the ability to think and act in the interests of the customer, should enable your purpose to live and breathe.

Ensuring that your whole organisation understands these questions and knows the role they play, is not expensive to do. The secret is to keep it simple. Simplicity of the message combined with a never-ending commitment to delivering it, will be the difference between a truly customer-centric organisation and one that is not.

Start every day reminding your people of it – a five minute meeting is not difficult to do, but will suffice to make sure that your purpose is at the front and centre of everyone’s minds – every single working day.


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7min865

New findings from a study by Veritas Technologies, a leader in multi-cloud data management, indicate that many organisations will be inundated with requests for personal information from UK consumers, with two in five (40 percent) already planning to take advantage of their data privacy rights within six months of the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into force on May 25, 2018. 

Under the new GDPR, European Union (EU) residents will have greater control over their personal data. Currently, EU residents already have the right to ask a company what personal data is held on them (e.g., gender, age, location, sexual preference, religious beliefs, passport/ driver’s licence information, etc.) and beginning May 25, 2018, they will also have enhanced rights to ask to have their data deleted (‘right to be forgotten’). Businesses will be required to sufficiently respond to these requests within one month of receiving the request.

A new study, commissioned by Veritas and conducted by 3GEM, surveyed 3,000 adults, including 1,000 in the UK. It reveals that consumers are most likely to target the following industries with personal data requests:

  • Financial services companies, including banks and insurance companies (56 percent)
  • Social media companies (48 percent)
  • Retailers (46 percent)
  • Former, current or potential employers (24 percent)
  • Healthcare providers (21 percent)

The findings come as consumers reveal an increasing need to regain control over their personal data as trust in businesses to protect data fades, and as more and more consumers express a desire to put organisations to the test to understand whether they value consumer rights.

“In light of recent events surrounding the use of personal data by social media, and other, companies, consumers are taking much more of an interest in how their data is used and stored by businesses across many industry sectors,” said Mike Palmer, executive vice president and chief product officer, Veritas.

“With a flood of personal data requests coming their way in the months ahead, businesses must retain the trust of consumers by demonstrating they have comprehensive data governance strategies in place to achieve regulatory compliance.”

 The driving force behind a rise in data privacy requests

The forthcoming GDPR will impact any organisation that gathers, processes or stores the personal data of individuals in the EU. The research shows UK consumers welcome their enhanced privileges. Of those that intend to exercise their rights, two-thirds (65 percent) plan to request access to the personal data a company holds on them, while the majority (71 percent) intend to exercise their right to be forgotten under the new regulations.

The key drivers for exercising their data privacy rights are:

  • Increased control over personal data: over half (56 percent) of respondents don’t feel comfortable having personal data sit on systems that they have no control over.
  • A clearer understanding of what data companies hold on them: over half (56 percent) want to understand exactly what personal information companies hold on them.
  • Data breaches increase the likelihood of receiving requests for personal data: nearly half (47 percent) of respondents will exercise their rights to request personal data and/or have that data deleted, if a company that holds their personal information suffers a data breach.
  • Businesses are not trusted to protect personal data: over a third (37 percent) intend to exercise their data privacy rights because they do not trust companies to effectively protect their personal data.
  • Consumers want to put companies to the test:over a quarter (27 percent) want to test businesses to understand how much their consumer rights are valued before deciding whether to continue doing business with them.
  • Consumers want to get revenge:  eight percent will exercise their data privacy rights simply to irritate a company that they feel has mistreated them.

Under the new GDPR, this influx of personal data requests will need to be answered by organisations within a one month time limit. But meeting this timeframe may be difficult as many organisations have limited visibility into what data they have and where it is located.

Most consumers do not expect organisations to be capable of fulfilling their requests under the new regulation. The majority (79 percent) believe that organisations won’t be able to find and/or delete all of the personal data that is held on them, and a fifth (20 percent) believe that businesses will only be able to deliver up to 50 percent of the personal data they hold.

“It’s imperative that businesses embrace technology that can help them respond to these requests quickly, with a high degree of accuracy. This means having the ability to see, protect and access all of the personal data they hold regardless of where it sits within their organisation. Businesses that fail to recognise the importance of responding effectively and efficiently to personal data requests will be putting their brand loyalty and reputation at stake,” added Palmer.


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4min848

The results from a recent study published recently by field marketing agency Gekko entitled ‘Smart Home Shopper’ reveals that more than half of Brits have purchased smart technology for their homes – but have little idea how to use it.  

The study which investigated smart home purchasing behaviour found that 56 percent of adults have bought the latest must-have smart home tech, including WIFI controlled security cameras, heating systems and speakers – but have been left scratching their heads when they get them home.  In fact, three in ten consumers regretted buying at least one or more items of smart home technology because it proved so difficult to get up and running.

Nearly a third of adults say they never read instructions or manuals when they buy a new piece of kit, while 21 percent admit that although they have a love of tech, they are intimidated by the complexities of it.  Thirteen percent of consumers who have invested in smart home technology said they couldn’t get all their devices to connect – which is the whole point of having a ‘smart home.’  More than one in ten have used a piece of smart home tech once and never again.

The trickiest bit of kit to install was security equipment (45 percent), including app-controlled doorbells, motion sensors and CCTV, however 28 percent couldn’t get their smart lighting to work and 35 percent came unstuck when installing their smart heating system. Twelve percent claimed poor WIFI connection made installation difficult and 15 percent confessed to lacking any technical ability.

Surprisingly and despite its current popularity, 30 percent of adults that have purchased a smart speaker such as the Amazon Echo or Google Home don’t understand all its functionality.

Those people that bought their smart home tech from a brick and mortar retail store did so to play, touch and feel the product (40 percent), get advice from sales staff (30 percent) and a demonstration (30 percent).

Daniel Todaro, MD, Gekko comments:

“It’s clear from our study that smart home tech is popular, but people don’t know how to fully utilise the devices to meet their lifestyle needs – whether that’s convenience, money saving, leisure time or learning.    

This is a great opportunity for retailers, especially brick and mortar to improve the customer experience within the smart home tech category by having an environment where consumers can ‘play’ and a retail team that understand each product in detail and can match consumer need to product performance.    By solution selling it’s a win win for the customer and the retailer – the retailer can enrich the sale by demonstrating the whole product portfolio and functionality and the customer gets a product that’s fit for purpose. 

Traditional retailers have never been under so much financial pressure to adapt to today’s market conditions, so they must use what they’ve got to make every customer visit worthwhile.”




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