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21min613

The following interview was originally published on MarTech Advisor, official partners of the 2019 UK Digital Experience Awards.

 

Research by Walker suggests that Customer Experience will overtake cost and product as the main differentiator for a brand by 2020.

Thirty-four percent of companies, according to SmartInsights, have a digital transformation program in place, while 31 percent are looking to begin their digital transformation operations soon.

Staying ahead of the tide, the UK Digital Experience Awards (UKDXAs) recognises exemplary performances of marketing teams who have managed to successfully conceptualise and execute digital transformation journeys that enable winning Digital Experience. MarTech Advisor checked in with three of the UKDXA nominees to discuss the role UX plays in building a compelling brand experience, and how data and analytics guide Customer Experience decisions.

Interview with Elliott Prince, Head of Solution Design Geeks Ltd on Digital Experience Strategy

Elliott Prince is Head of Solution Design, Geeks Ltd, where he is responsible for creating engaging experiences for their customers. He also designs software to improve business processes through automation.

 

Dominic Vye is Head of Commercial Development, Customer Management, and Digital Services at JT Group, and has over 15 years of experience in operational and strategic roles.

 

Marc Hetherington is Senior Digital Consultant at Three UK, who loves using data and analytics to solve tough problem statements.

What role does UX play in building a compelling brand experience for customers across digital platforms?

Elliott: UX design can help businesses go beyond merely creating a recognisable visual identity, to creating interactions that signify a brand. A simple example of this is Apple moving the close window “X” icon from the top right to the top left. When I see that I’m immediately in no doubt that I’m using an Apple OS.

Dominic: The objective of providing a compelling brand experience is to differentiate your product or service from others. This differentiation helps to build on our customer’s satisfaction and grow their loyalty. It’s so important to try to understand each customer journey and were possible tailor each Digital Experience to it, making it intuitive, simple, and rewarding.

At JT, we’ve recognised our customers are using new ways to interact with us, preferring digital platforms such as smart apps, online shops, instant chat, or email to the more conventional channels such as the retail store or our contact centre. With this proliferation of customer touchpoints, the importance of a seamless UX across multiple areas cannot be underestimated.

Marc: Testing with users to discover what they want to use the app/site for rather than what Three wants to push while they’re trying to accomplish a different goal. Three could improve at this. UX design helps enhancing the clarity of information and consistency of interactions across various touchpoints, within separate customer journeys. By combining quantitative data from analytics with qualitative data from usability testing, we manage to acquire a holistic view of what our users truly need and address these needs accordingly, either by introducing new solutions or improving existing ones.

What have you learned the most about leveraging UX to deliver the larger Digital Experience?

Elliott: The biggest thing I’ve learnt is that however much you think you’ve empathised with users; they will surprise you. Donald Rumsfeld was once ridiculed for saying there are things we know we don’t know, and there are things we don’t know that we don’t know. What I don’t know is if that applies to other disciplines, but when it comes to UX he was 100 percent right. People will fail to understand a workflow you thought was crystal clear or miss a call to action that looks to you like an enormous neon sign you put in the middle of your design.

So, list all your assumptions and validate them with real users, then test again, and test one more time for good luck. By doing this we can be sure what we’ve created is a truly enjoyable and engaging Digital Experience for everyone, not just the team that delivered it.

Dominic: Listening to our customers and understanding their behaviours was the biggest insight into what our app would be used for, by whom, and why. Our customers shared their motivations and trigger points for using the app and the logical journeys that flow from those trigger points. We learnt that friendly user trials only go so far in helping to design a compelling user experience. It’s vital to continue qualitative research with real customers, to understand their needs and meet their expectations.

Marc: Bounce rates, content, and bottom line. You can entice people through a seemingly useful call to action, say an offer, but if where they land is difficult to use or has poor content/inventory, then positive traffic is wasted and creates negative brand experience. Removing existing pain points and blockers our users struggle with is the first step in improving Digital Experience. This means ensuring users can go through and complete different journeys or find the information they are looking for, more efficiently.

In what ways can data and analytics guide Customer Experience decisions for measurable business results?

Elliott: There’s a simple answer to this one – look for lemmings. Analysing your sales funnel will help you see where potential customers are dropping off before they buy. This tells you where in your customer journey you need to focus your UX efforts. It won’t tell you how to fix something, but it can tell you what to fix. The goal here is to steer the lemmings away from the cliffs and to the checkout!

Dominic: Research-driven insights from customers have been essential in developing the right Customer Experience for JT customers using the smart app from prioritising the development of app functionality, understanding the logical customer journeys, and triggers for using the app and optimising the navigation and overall user experience.

We started with an analysis of the most frequent queries for which our customers contacted our call centre. These were used to guide the priorities about which functionality was implemented first in the app. For example, ‘bill shock’ was one of the key drivers for calls (following launch of 4G and FTTH services) and itemising usage was prioritised above adding a value-added service.

Following the initial design phase, a series of qualitative and quantitative methods were used to optimise user experience; friendly user trials were held to test the prototype. These helped to inform navigation around the site and iron out any bugs in the coding. A series of representative customer groups carried out beta testing with the app and this helped map out much more clearly the links between different customer triggers for using the app, relevant and intuitive customer journeys, associated navigation, and user experience.

Following the launch, we used Google analytics to validate and refine user interfaces with features such as page ranking, customer journey tracking, average time taken on app, and repeat visits.

Through backend reporting via session logs we were able to track individual users and understand frequency of use and purpose of use. For example, the post-paid app is accessed six times a month, with the biggest trigger being the itemisation page. Customers can feedback using the live chat function or leave their comments on the app with suggestions for improvement.

Marc: Utilising data and analytics effectively is fundamental in driving the right outcomes for both your customers and the business. At Three, we view data and analytics as core ingredients in helping to understand what our customers think of us whilst using our products and services. It’s used to tell us what our customers like, what they love, but just as importantly (and maybe more so) the things that they find difficult, annoying, or confusing when dealing with us.

That’s why at Three we place a great amount of emphasis on generating rich insights from our data and analytics and ensure that we act from them. We invest in the best tools and build strong relationships with our partners such as Adobe (marketing cloud), Medallia (Voice of the Customer) and Clicktale (session replay). We invest in our people, by providing extensive training on how to get the most out of these tools. We use data and analytics to help define our product team’s development roadmap, we measure the impact both pre and post any change to understand the impact that this has had on driving the right outcomes for both our customers and our business KPIs.

What are the top three most crucial aspects of building a winning Digital Experience?

Elliott: 

1. Know your audience: You’re never providing a good or service. You’re providing a solution to a problem. Know what your user’s problems are and tell them how you’ll solve them.

2. Make it look good: People will rate a pretty thing that works OK better than an ugly thing that works perfectly.

3. Communicate in line with your brand: Develop a voice and stick to it. If you’re going for serious and stable don’t have comic error messages, it undermines your credibility.

Dominic:

1. Customer insight: This is the single most important factor in developing an excellent Customer Experience. Without proper customer research, the key questions of ‘who? (who is the customer), ‘why? (what triggers their usage), and ‘how?’ (how do they want to interact with the app) can’t be answered.

2. User experience design aligned to customer insight: Using wireframes and storyboarding, each customer journey (inform, transact, manage, add device) was mapped out into a logical intuitive sequence. Interlinked journeys were identified, and navigation flows were optimised. Post launch the team used Google Analytics to increase app interactions.

3. Change management: Ensuring the business is behind the digital change is key. Developing a new channel into JT necessitated the alignment of many teams within the business. The contact centre and retail teams needed to be able to respond to queries on the app, and recommend the app to customers who had a query. Marketing teams were key in working across multiple departments to ensure a consistent user and brand experience across multiple customer touchpoints.

Marc:

1. Putting the customer first: Create features that customers want in ways they can use them, not business only-led features which make it difficult for the customers achieve what they want, but we don’t necessarily want them to do. Doing lots of A/B testing, having a culture and way of working in an iterative way, where quick change can be made based on the learnings from customers or tests. Not being afraid to fail is also important. If we aren’t trying different things and pushing the boundaries which perhaps have never been done before, you are likely going to fail, and it’s important that that’s ok.

2. The experience needs to be seamless: It needs to be personalised and relevant to the customer at the right time, based on what we know about the customer (so offering a personalised upgrade because we know the value of the customer versus offering a generic upgrade to a customer who joined us last week).

3. Having the right people and organisation set-up is important: This will ensure that people are listening to customers, can iterate quickly, it’s seen as ok to fail, etc. Being able to measure what the experience is that you offer your customers and gather new insights to improve it and improve it quickly.

What should marketers be prioritising?

Elliott: The key here, in my opinion, is consistency. Whatever platform, device, or channel I’m using to interact with a brand, the UX design should leave the customer in no doubt as to who they’re interacting with.

Dominic: The shift to digital has led to an explosion in channels and has brought brands in contact with customers across multiple touchpoints away from traditional bricks and mortar to apps, online websites, social media, and interactive chat amongst others. Departments often have different understandings and perspectives of what the Customer Experience should be. Acting as the CX glue between departments, marketing has a vital role to set a holistic view on what the customer experience should be helping to drive a consistent user and brand experience across multiple customer touchpoints.

Digitisation has led to a rich source of customer data across many platforms. Marketers need to prioritise building richer customer insight by harnessing data from multiple touchpoints into a single customer view. For example, by combining customer emails, interactive chats, and notes from customer phone calls into one view has given JT a much better understanding and a more personalised view of our customers.

Customers now expect a personalised experience based on their behaviours and history. Marketers need to embrace new technologies such as AI and cloud computing to build personalised recommendations to customers based on insights from multiple interactions.

Today customers are increasingly empowered to make their own choices. They understand their commercial value and are less sensitive to traditional forms of advertising. The brands that can provide the most compelling, personalised user experience in a self-service environment will drive the best customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Marc: I’m no marketer, but I would say that data driven campaign strategies and personalisation would be where I would be hedging my bets. Probably not the most creative of answers, and certainly nothing new, but I think the organisations that are getting this right are the ones that are leading the way, such as Amazon, Netflix, and Spotify. I’d also put Sky Sports and BT Sports into this category.

 


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8min567

Work on the internet requires a high level of data security, and setting up a VPN connection to the server will effectively solve this problem and ensure absolute confidentiality on any network.

Nowadays, this technology is actively used by both large companies and individual users, since it fulfils its task one hundred percent.

Key features of VPN technology

A virtual private network is technology that provides the creation of one or more tunnels, located on any other system when connected to the internet. The tunnel  is secured using robust cryptography algorithms, and according to VPN-review.com, such means as authentication, protection against a repetition of data, encryption, and critical public infrastructure are used.

Depending on the settings, a VPN provides a connection of three different types:

  • network-to-network
  • network-to-device
  • device-to-device

The network-to-network VPN connection is straightforward for clients and controlled by the framework manager on the server.  However, its fundamental disadvantage is the absence of encryption inside the system.

VPN compatibility with various operating systems

Creating and configuring a VPN connection is possible based on the most common frameworks. At times, you simply need to download and run a special program. For this situation, the VPN connection will be made with the servers for which the utility was made.

Protocols bolstered by working frameworks are involved in VPN connections with corporate systems. PPTP is utilised in Microsoft Windows customer and server versions. When using Linux, PPTP-Linux customer and PPTP server are required. Independently, an MPD server with PPTP and L2TP backing is executed.

For gadgets running Mac OS or Android, no outsider applications are required because the capacity to use VPN is incorporated into them. Installation and setup of VPNs should be possible not just on PCs or smartphones. As of late, L2TP and IPSec conventions are made by Cisco routers (from OS form 11.3T). Likewise, the capacity to utilise a VPN is available in individual firewalls.

Benefits of using a VPN connection

Connecting to a server through a VPN has several economic advantages. Since the work does not need a dial-up connection, there is no need for modems or a dedicated line. It’s enough for a user to have a device with Internet access to easily connect to his corporate network. The general availability of data does not mean that they are not protected. A VPN connection is a secure shield that protects all information from unauthorised access or interception.

The global development of the internet makes it possible to use limitless amounts of information present on various resources. The Virtual Private Network makes it possible to reduce the costs of internal corporate communications and make the transmitted and received information more secure and confidential.

Among the options for implementing a VPN are software and hardware products. A ready application installed on a computer refers to a software solution for VPN. Many companies offer to use this service by connecting to servers that belong to them. Some developers supply VPN packages that interact with software firewalls and operate on different operating systems.

Software products are relatively inexpensive. The hardware method of using VPN implies the presence of a computer, a private operating system, and specialised software. It has high performance, but its cost is also high.

The VPN device is located between the internal network and the web at the end of the connection. During transmission, data disappears at the point of origin. It is then encrypted and appears only at the destination. For guaranteed access to the data of individual users only, the private network can be amplified by an appropriate authentication protocol.

Moreover, VPN is often used by providers to control network access. Simply put, the user connects in the usual way, and then starts the VPN client for further work online. It helps to protect the connection from hackers and organise personal access.

Not all VPN services are equally useful

With free VPN services, you can save a lot of money, but only at the expense of your security. Other VPN services may have the most advanced security system and low connection speed (the more complicated the encryption, the lower the speed). Of course, this service is not well suited for those who want to work online and want to finish a job fast.

Therefore, be careful when choosing a VPN provider.


CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamJune 24, 2019
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3min909

Global CX and call centre tech leader Genesys has been revealed as the Gold Sponsor for the 2019 UK Customer Experience Awards.

Taking place in London’s Wembley Stadium on October 10, the awards celebrate the country’s best CX strategies, transformations, and innovations, and there are now just days left before the entry deadline.

The new partnership with Genesys – creators of the world’s most trusted Customer Experience platforms – will elevate this year’s ceremony to new heights as it marks its tenth anniversary.

More than 11,000 companies in over 100 countries trust Genesys to help them connect effortlessly with consumers across any channel, be it voice, text, web chat, or social. The company offers both cloud and on-premises solutions that enable businesses to deliver the hyper-personalised experiences today’s always-on consumers demand, while producing targeted business outcomes such as increased revenue, lead conversion, and customer satisfaction.

“Sponsoring the UK Customer Experience Awards is a natural fit for us,” said Senior Director at Genesys, Brendan Dykes, who will be among the judges scrutinising entries at this year’s event.

“We are laser-focused on helping brands create lasting relationships with their customers. This is a tremendous opportunity to shine a light on the businesses that are setting new standards for delivering exceptional customer experiences in innovative ways. We are thrilled to serve as a Gold sponsor and help celebrate their successes.”

Meanwhile, Neil Skehel, CEO of event hosts Awards International, said: “Genesys is a prestigious global organisation and commands great respect in the industry. Having them involved further goes to show that anyone who’s anyone in Customer Experience will be at our awards.”

Click here to learn more about the 2019 UK Customer Experience Awards.


CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamJune 11, 2019
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3min1147

Entel, one of the largest telecommunications companies in Chile, has implemented Genesys AI-powered orchestration capabilities to seamlessly connect and manage native and third-party artificial intelligence (AI), resulting in significant efficiency gains.

Now, its customers smoothly transition between automated systems and employees for truly effortless journeys.

Entel has worked with Genesys, the global leader in omnichannel customer experience and contact centre solutions, for several years to help meet their goal to deliver the best experiences to customers as well as optimise the company’s processes.

“Our customers have changed the way they interact with us. They are much more focused on digital and want anytime, anywhere service on the channel of their choice,” explained Pablo Oyarzun, Customer Experience divisional manager of Entel.

“Without our AI, bots and automation tied together using Genesys AI, we couldn’t deliver this kind of service.”

Entel leverages the Genesys Customer Experience Platform at their contact centres in Chile and Peru to support all of their agents and telemarketers. In addition, Genesys provides the common data framework for Entel’s many AI integrations with other vendors.

For example, the company uses the Genesys integration with Google Cloud for its text-to-speech capability to transcribe automated conversations. Genesys AI then sends that data to IBM Watson to determine the customer’s intent and identifies the next best action.

Oyarzun continued: “The new orchestration capabilities powered by Genesys AI provide us with more knowledge about customers, enabling us to take new approaches to address their evolving expectations. With the help of Genesys, we can improve our customers’ satisfaction.”

Entel is sharing its success using Genesys AI at Xperience19, its signature annual customer-focused event. Hosted by UK Customer Experience Awards sponsor Genesys, Xperience19 unites more than 2,000 industry experts in Denver from June 10 to 13.


CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamJune 11, 2019
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9min3784

Genesys has introduced new orchestration capabilities powered by AI that connect native and third-party technologies to enable the most comprehensive customer journey management available today.

Currently, businesses are adopting an increasing number of artificial intelligence (AI) point solutions to solve specific challenges. However, businesses are failing to realise AI’s full potential to improve customer and employee journeys because data remains fragmented across the end-to-end experience. As a result, AI’s ability to impact business outcomes remains limited.

New orchestration capabilities from UK Customer Experience Awards sponsor Genesys make it possible for multiple AI applications to work together harmoniously in real-time from marketing to sales to service. By leveraging all relevant data throughout the customer’s entire journey, Genesys AI can orchestrate, measure and optimise processes at every touchpoint. This enables businesses to tailor automation, communication channels and marketing and sales offers for individual customers, introducing new levels of personalisation.

AI innovation at your fingertips

Genesys makes it easier for businesses to flawlessly connect and manage native and third-party AI across voice and digital channels. With its simple centralised orchestration, Genesys AI enables customers to map complex business logic, perform various back-end system integrations and swap AI providers. Businesses can move their AI technologies into production quicker by building once and deploying across all channels, leveraging microapps to reduce development time by 90 percent and improving analytics, resulting in 40-60 percent faster time to value. This enables businesses to leverage existing AI investments and buy a future-proof solution.

Both on-premises and cloud customers around the world are realising additional advantages. An example is Entel, one of the largest telecommunications companies in Chile. In just six months, Entel has increased revenue by five percent, decreased costs and improved customer satisfaction by using Genesys AI to orchestrate all customer interactions with technology from Google Cloud and IBM Watson.

Other Genesys customers, such as DNB, are achieving additional benefits including improved accuracy leading to better predictions and faster responses to customer inquiries. In speaking about the benefits of this advanced orchestration capability, DNB Head of Technical Operations and Customer Solutions, Anders Braten said: “Genesys sews everything together to make the perfect customer journey.”

Breaking down AI silos to realise value

“In customer service alone, on average, nine out of 10 enterprises deploy AI for six distinct uses, such as automated self-service, chatbots in instant messaging and IVR support,” said Peter Graf, Genesys Chief Product Officer.

“Genesys AI is an elegant solution that masterfully links underlying technologies and synchronizes data and event streams as needed. These AI capabilities are delivered by Genesys Cloud, the company’s high-velocity innovation platform that provides new ways to optimise customer and employee journeys.”

With hundreds of technology applications integrated with its Customer Experience platform today, Genesys is the only company in the industry able to orchestrate any AI for self and assisted service. This includes Kate, the customer and employee virtual assistant powered by Genesys AI, as well as third-party AI solutions such as Amazon Lex, Google Cloud Contact Center AI, Nuance and IBM Watson.

Dan Miller, lead analyst at Opus Research, said: “Genesys has stepped up to provide a framework for enterprises to support conversational engagements that helps businesses leverage existing investments in AI resources more fully. Genesys AI enables them to integrate natively developed elements of AI along with offerings from recognized, leading third parties.”

How Genesys AI orchestrates the cest Customer and Employee Experience

Genesys AI provides the common data framework for all AI integrations so systems are not working in silos. It captures, processes and analyzes third-party data in the same way as its own AI applications, such as Genesys Predictive Routing, Altocloud Predictive Engagement, and Automated Forecasting and Scheduling. In addition to delivering advanced orchestration, Genesys AI enables real-time predictions, speech and text analytics, self-service automation and more.

An example is the coordination between Genesys AI and chat and voice bots. When a customer begins an engagement with a bot, Genesys AI can detect if escalation is needed. It can then use Predictive Routing to identify the employee deemed the best match and pass the inquiry to that individual with full context for resolution.

Advanced AI orchestration kicks off summer innovations

The company announced its new orchestration capabilities at Xperience19, its signature event taking place this week in Denver. Genesys is also introducing a new analytics dashboard, enabling businesses to better understand customer intent, visualize containment rates and optimize bot usage in a single view.

The new dashboard and Genesys AI’s advanced orchestration capabilities are available now among a broader collection of the company’s Summer Innovations.  The Innovations are comprised of multiple feature enhancements across the Genesys PureCloud®, PureConnect™ and PureEngage™ solutions and delivered via Genesys Cloud.

Register for the Genesys Summer Innovations webinar on June 26 and 27 for a closer look at what’s new and coming next from the leader in Customer Experience.


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4min868

Employers are risking alienating millennials by treating them as if they are a different ‘culture’, a hospitality industry forum has heard.

Hosted by industry thought-leader, EP Business in Hospitality, in partnership with online learning specialist Upskill People, the event in London highlighted that continually referring to millennials as though they are a different ‘culture’ or ‘nationality’ is both patronising and short-sighted and puts businesses that do not place compassion and people at the top of their agenda at risk of alienating future talent altogether.

In an industry clearly changing at speed, core messages emerging from the session included the need for a modernised learning culture that seeks to understand all perspectives while embracing shared knowledge across all genders, ages, and job titles.

Different goals: Millennials require a fresh approach when it comes to employee engagement

CEO at EP, Chris Sheppardson, explained:  “It’s becoming more apparent that the younger generations do have a different perspective and agenda on work and life. They are less focused on getting onto the housing ladder and being saddled with a lifetime mortgage, and are instead living more ‘in the moment’ with a genuine interest in environment and society – arguably to a higher degree that many business leaders. As businesses we must build a stronger connection with our people and change our approach to developing talent.”

The debate also reinforced the harsh reality that talent today doesn’t remain with one employer long-term and will move around more regularly, suggesting that employers need to embrace and even support this concept in the future. Leaders also agreed that to develop talent successfully today, there is a greater need for stronger coaching-led approaches.

Chris added: “Empowerment has almost become an old-fashioned concept and re-engagement is needed here. Too many companies try to control and limit any risk. Too many decisions on people are based on spread sheets and figures. Talent looks to embrace culture, compassion for people and communities in work. People are still the greatest asset of a business and young people today expect companies to play a meaningful role in society as well as in business.”


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13min703

Throughout our careers, we experience many different personality types that influence our behaviours and professional personas.

These encounters can often shape who we become as leaders, but have you taken the time to reflect on your management approach and considered how your team view your performance as a manager? Whether you consider your leadership style as autocratic, democratic, transformational, or laissez-faire, your ultimate aim is to keep your business running smoothly; which includes keeping your staff happy.

Love Energy Savings recently conducted a study on employee satisfaction, investigating how UK employees would rate the performance of their managers. The statistics were largely positive, with almost 50 percent of respondents rating performances as good or excellent.

However, 20 percent of respondents claimed that they work with an inadequate manager. This would indicate that some managers are struggling to build a rapport with their employees, which could have an impact on staff loyalty, retention, and ultimately affect their company’s bottom line.

The data collected in the survey revealed the following key findings:

  • 49.9 percent of respondents think positively about their manager’s performance
  • 33.5 percent of respondents think negatively about their manager’s performance
  • 16.5 percent of respondents feel their manager is satisfactory
  • Men aged 18-24 are most likely to rate their manager as inadequate
  • All other age brackets, for men and women, are most likely to rate their manager as good or excellent

Common mistakes managers can avoid

To better understand why so many workers are dissatisfied with their company’s management, we need to take a closer look at the root causes. There are many common issues that can be easily avoided, and if approached properly, can empower staff to perform to the best of their abilities.

1. Give your staff space to excel

When you have a lot of responsibilities as a manager, it’s only natural to want to get stuck in and make sure things are running smoothly. The danger here is that there’s a thin line between taking care and taking over.

Nobody likes to be micromanaged, and by doing so you’re advertising the fact that you don’t trust your team enough to let them do their jobs without supervision. By taking a step back and showing your employees that you trust them, they’ll feel empowered – after all, you hired them for a reason.

2. Show you value your staff
As a manager, your staff are your greatest asset. However, too many people take their employees for granted. Thinking of your business as a well-oiled machine may be a good way to visualise your day-to-day operations, but your team are more than just cogs.

Lucia Knight, a career satisfaction coach, explained: “Many of the individuals I work with feel that no one really cares about their career within their organisation, just what’s needed from them.”

She goes on to offer a simple solution to this: “A ten-minute real listening exercise can really nip some small problems in the bud before they become big problems in the future.”

By understanding what makes your team tick, you’ll be able to help them overcome any issues and excel in their careers.

3. Leave your ego at the door

When working in a position of authority, it’s crucial to make sure you’re not abusing your power. It can be all too easy to assume that you know best…after all, you are the boss.

Not only will staff morale plummet in the shadow of your ego, but you’ll lose your objectivity, which could lead to poor business decisions. Recognise that you have teams of intelligent and enthusiastic employees at your disposal, giving you a pool of expertise to put to good use.

Sue Andrews, Business and HR Consultant at KIS Finance, recognises the importance of listening to and understanding your team. She says: “Empathy is not always at the top of the list of characteristics that people see as essential in a good leader. But without the ability to place themselves in others’ shoes, and see the wider picture, leaders run the risk of taking an autocratic approach, which may eventually prove unpopular with those around them.”

What can managers do to inspire their staff?

Although managers can fall into bad habits, there are a number of ways to make sure you’re appropriately managing your employees. Here is some guidance on how you can ensure you’re enabling your employees to flourish.

1. Invest in your staff

Your employees are your strongest commodity, so it’s only right that you invest the time into helping them grow and develop their skills. Without proper attention, you’ll find your team will quickly stagnate if they’re not pushed to achieve their highest potential.

Let your staff get their hands on an exciting new task to flex their creative muscles and break the day-to-day monotony of their regular work. This will give them something new to try, as well as show them that you have faith in their abilities. It’s also crucial to make sure you put personal development plans into place – giving your employees the chance to have a say in how they want to progress and giving you the chance to say how you’ll help them achieve it. By investing in your staff, you’re helping to shape the future leaders of your organisation.

Mireille Harper, PR & Communications at Catalyst Collective, believes that a business’ success rests on how well it can adapt to new ideas. “In today’s rapidly changing and dynamic world, our companies need the value that diversity brings. Good leaders seek to find, promote, develop and champion those who’ve historically been excluded from leadership in the workplace,” she said.

“Strong leaders can handle the ambiguity and creative tensions that come with diversity, and still foster an environment of inclusion, value and respect, where each person can show up at their best.”

2. Be transparent

If you want your employees to respect you as a manager, you need to be open and honest with them. By creating a culture of communication, you’re empowering your staff to ask more questions and gain a better understanding of the direction of your business. Showing your team that you’re all in it together is the quickest way to create a real connection – rekindling their sense of purpose and reminding them why they’re there.

3. Be a leader who inspires their team

Actions speak louder than words. Think about your own performance and how you’ve managed situations in the past. Take the time to reflect on your experiences: could you have seen better results if you had reacted differently to the situation? Every failure and success story should be used as a learning experience to help your team reach new heights and avoid mistakes. Self-reflection helps you and your team develop and shows that you’re all working towards shared targets.

Bob Bradley, Managing Director and Founder of MD2MD, knows how inspiring your staff can help your business reap the benefits. He said: “Business leaders have three choices. They can try to command hierarchical power, expert power, or respect power. The latter is the most effective for an organisation.

“Leaders must have the ability to create willing followers. Naturally, in order to do this, they must create something tangible to follow: a shared vision, a common goal, a culture, and a way of working.”

Suzanne Haughton, Recruitment Consultant for Love Energy Savings, added: “Making sure people feel involved and listened too is something that filters from the top down in our organisation and is a responsibility that every manager takes seriously. Our CEO, Phil Foster, is a great example of this. He’s currently in the middle of a project called ‘Food with Phil’; hosting sessions and bringing together teams from different departments, breaking down silos, and learning about the organisation from the people on the front line and buying everyone lunch in return. Staff feel empowered, the business benefits, and everyone gets fed.”


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7min913

Working with people is great, but taking care of a whole team requires much more work than you can imagine.

Thankfully, we live in a time when employers pay a lot of attention to making their employees happy, satisfied, more productive, and motivated. Trends come and go, but there are ones proven to deliver results, no matter the kind of company being discussed.

Check out these five motivation ideas, and help provide your team with the boost they may need to achieve success.

1. Team exercise

Starting the day with exercise is a proven method that boosts creativity and strongly motivates employees. A study researched the so-called Köhler effect, which explains the correlation of increased motivation when exercising in groups. They came up with the most interesting results…

“An inferior team member performs a difficult task better in a team or coaction situation than one would expect from the knowledge of his or her individual performance. Results suggest that working out with virtually present, superior partners can improve persistence motivation.”

This is just one of the reasons why you should implement group workouts with your team. It can be early in the morning, or before or after lunch. Challenges are very efficient for the entire group – the exercise might last only 10 minutes, but will do so much good for overall productivity.

 

2. Gamification

Gamification is one of the latest trends when it comes to motivating employees. Turning work into a game is risky, but it sure does yield results. The only thing you have to be careful about is not to ‘over-gamify’. So start thinking of fun, exciting ways to have the team do the job through a game.

Use it once in a while, and everyone will be more creative, productive, and motivated. Every game should end with a reward for the winner – think of badges for milestones, gifts, and of course, praise!

3. Empower them with better tools

Everyone wants to work at a place equipped with the latest tools. It’s not only tech firms who need gadgets, and you can boost motivation in the workplace by purchasing some new tools that are better and more efficient compared to ones you had before.

The team will be able to get the work done much faster, and they will be stimulated to perform better. It will be an investment that brings results right away. If you are seriously thinking of implementing this tip, you can use some of these discount codes for the best prices available.

4. Attend events as a team

Enjoying social events can help a lot with team bonding and boosting motivation. People love working in companies that also pay attention to this social factor.

Spending eight hours in an office together will not help people get to know their colleagues as much as you might think. Some of the best and simplest ideas are to organise a lunch, breakfast, or dinner once a month, or to schedule a game day, cocktail night, party and more.

“Companies with engaged employees make 2.5 times more than their less-engaged counterparts. Engaged employees are a whopping 87% less likely to leave their companies.”

5. Manage employees as individuals also

Yes, you are working as a team, but every single employee is different and has a different way of communicating. Make sure that you manage them as individuals and not only as a group.

People have diverse characters, so to push them and boost the motivation you have to pay attention to each individual. Take five minutes for a quick meeting with each employee at least once a month. Get to know them well, and it will pay off for the whole team.


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7min1150

Each year, analysts predict trends that will determine the course of the advertising, media, and digital industry in the near future.

Year after year, we see the same predictions about the importance of video content, new approaches to SEO optimisation, growth of mobile internet penetration, and related advertising tools. However, it seems that a lot is going to change in 2019. So let’s take a closer look at the new revolutionary solutions and approaches that are going to shake the market this year.

1. Personalised marketing

Personalisation is a key trend in many business areas. The idea of ​​delivering a personal message to the client, taking into account the characteristics of his or her behaviour, personality, and sociography is not new. However, such an approach becomes a reality thanks to the introduction of artificial intelligence (AI) technology. Even if a person uses hidemyass, it will be still possible to track his online actions.

The love of marketers for digital is largely due to the possibilities of fine-tuning the targeting for advertising, but now more advanced personality recognition mechanisms are being tested. Thus, Amazon uses AI-based solutions that combine user data from various sources, such as transaction archives, trending sales, competitor information, CRM data, and information from social accounts. At the latter point, the machine predicts the desires and capabilities of the user. As a result, a company is able to formulate and prepare a 100 percent personalised offer, which will hardly be refused.

2. Voice services

There are some technologies that burst into our lives suddenly. Voice assistants are one of them. At first, users limited themselves to comic dialogues with smartphones; with time, they began using voice assistants for their intended purpose. Siri, Google Now, Alice, Amazon Alexa, Cortana, and others teach users to use the voice dialogues with the software. Markets are saturated with Voice Search Tools, Amazon Echo, Google Home, and others.

According to NPD Group, by the end of 2019, sales of ‘smart speakers’ will grow by 50 percent, and the market volume will reach $2.7 billion. This technology is in the trend of marketing integration with services and applications for delivering food, calling a cab, searching for the right locations, and other things. Just like vpn services were popular a few years ago, voice assistants are on the peak now.

3. Communication automation & chatbots

According to Gartner, 85 percent of user interactions with companies will occur without human participation by 2020. Nowadays, many companies use chatbots in social networks and instant messengers to simply communicate with their audience. In the future, scripts will become more complex, and the bot will be able to imitate a live seller or manager, saving companies’ resources.

4. Augmented reality (AR)

According to the estimates of the Harvard Business Review, global investments in the development of the AR sector will exceed $ 60 billion by 2020. The research centre MarketsandMarkets states that market growth will exceed 75 percent over the next five years. In 2022, it can reach an estimate of $120 billion.

The largest technology brands have seized upon this promising technology because it is extremely interesting to the end user and does not force it to acquire new products. Everything works on your favourite smartphone. AR is used in education, medicine, and, of course, marketing solutions, especially in a retail segment. The investment volumes are impressive, and we will see a lot of interesting consumer variations using augmented reality in the coming year.

5. 5G

Standards for deploying fifth-generation mobile networks are still in development, but individual elements are being tested by operators around the world. 5G networks will create new opportunities for users, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), as well as broadband media services and real-time communication in areas of natural disasters or mass events.

Final Say

According to many experts, we are now entering the era of digital technology, which will mostly depend on the introduction and development of artificial intelligence (machine learning) and all the consequences associated with it. The incredible development of the digital environment over the past ten years (social media, improved search technologies, the AppStore, and PlayMarket, cybersecurity, streaming video, etc) will not slow down, but go to a new level.

In 2019, marketers will need to prepare for constant experimentation with new technologies. Only a continuous stream of testing new ideas will allow you to be on the success wave.


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10min1392

Customer Experience is a global movement – across the world, an increasing number of companies are understanding the business case for focusing on the customer, and are seeking the right tools to achieve this goal.

Some countries have, however, reached a greater level of CX maturity than others. The roots of CX culture run deepest in the United States, where organisations such as Amazon have set a global standard in customer centricity.

In fact, an Ipsos + Medallia study indicated that 19 percent of US customers feel their expectations were exceeded in online retail experiences, compared to just nine percent of UK customers.

While there remains considerable variation among sectors – only 11 percent of American customers feel similarly positive about their offline retail encounters – there is also a striking difference in CX perception among countries.

             

 

In Germany, relatively few online retail customers say their expectations were exceeded – eight percent compared to 19 percent in the US.

Customer Experience in the UK lies somewhere between these two extremes; more sophisticated than in Germany, but not yet at the level of the US. Some UK sectors, such as the hotel industry, perform particularly well, with 21 percent of customers saying their expectations were exceeded. Yet the overall average across sectors is under 10 percent – well behind the US figure of 17.3 percent.

So the UK is getting there with Customer Experience, but it’s far from consistent and there is still significant progress to be made. The question at this stage is: what can UK companies do to take Customer Experience to the next level and establish themselves as the uncontested CX leaders of Europe?

1. Be smart about your surveys

There is a tricky balance to strike in Customer Experience: you want to know as much as possible about your customers, but they don’t want to spend all afternoon answering your surveys. Fortunately, a limited number of open-ended questions will typically get your customers sharing their most pressing concerns.

This is why it’s so important to get surveys right. The best time for your customers to answer questions is in the moment, when memories of the interaction are still fresh and likely to elicit the most accurate responses.

A great way of capturing these fresh opinions is by embedding surveys throughout your customer journey. These provide more granular responses than general end-of-transaction emails, and they’re a great addition to your CX toolkit.

It’s now possible to embed surveys at highly specific stages of the journey, such as when customers are watching media-heavy content or reading product pages and descriptions. You can decide which approach is best for the specific needs of your business.

2. Use real-time text analytics

Qualitative feedback is essential for gaining a more nuanced understanding of customer issues. Many companies in the UK still employ large teams of people to sift through this feedback, looking for trends, but the truth is that technology can enable your staff to make smarter, data-based decisions while saving valuable time.

For example, text analytics can identify the tone of written responses using artificial intelligence, automatically sorting them into clusters and enabling you to identify and prioritise the most important areas going forward.

This enables your team to operate at a higher level, interpreting the findings from your text analytics and putting them to good use.

3. Bring Customer Experience into instant messaging

Capturing feedback at the right time, and on the right channel, is vital. However, instant messaging integration isn’t just about feedback – you can also include targeted features that your customer will really appreciate, such as holiday or entertainment recommendations.

Using platforms like WhatsApp or Messenger also enables customers to share a wider range of media by uploading videos or sending photos while having a more convenient and frictionless feedback experience.

4. Integrate with voice technology

Abound 10 million Brits use a smart speaker, and that number is expected to grow by a third in 2019. Since this is an increasingly significant touchpoint, it’s important to measure precisely what customers think.

It is now possible to integrate surveys with Alexa and other web-connected devices through solutions such as Medallia’s Digital Anywhere.

When you combine these insights with data about how your customers interact with IoT (Internet of Things) devices, you can get a clear picture of their priorities across the whole customer journey. It’s also important to remember that Customer Experience expectations continue to rise. If your CX innovations don’t keep up with consumer trends, how do you expect to retain customers?

5. Do more to personalise

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to Customer Experience. Customers will respond differently depending on the circumstance. Being sensitive to these nuances is crucial for anyone working in CX. For instance, if a passenger’s flight has just been cancelled, that may not be the best time to ask for feedback: it will most likely serve to irritate them.

The more advanced the technology you have informing your CX strategy, the more you will be able to personalise and deliver outstanding experiences.

6. Incorporate artificial intelligence platforms

The potential for this goes far beyond text analytics, and we’re now seeing revolutionary new products using AI to optimise Customer Experience. AI-driven CX solutions can deliver targeted, precise insights about every touchpoint in your customer journey.

Beyond helping you understand qualitative feedback, these types of advanced solutions automatically assess your survey responses and can help you predict the impact of changes to your CX strategy.

What next for the UK?

Although a European leader, there remains a significant CX gap between the UK and the US. It’s only by harnessing world-beating technology that Britain will be able to deliver experiences to that same high standard.

Whether it’s collecting feedback in a smarter, less intrusive way, or using artificial intelligence to inform decisions, truly embracing the digital revolution and adopting more advanced CX capabilities is the best way to enhance Customer Experience.

 

 




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