CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamDecember 7, 2018
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7min328

Part of the reason why it’s so exciting to work in e-commerce is because it’s an ever-evolving industry.

Technology is always advancing in leaps and bounds – and with it, users’ relationships to the internet and their mobile devices. This, in turn, fuels changing e-commerce preferences from online shoppers. Savvy internet retailers must be able to understand what customers want so they can keep up with demand and continue to deliver an excellent user experience.

So, we’ve already established customer preferences are changing – but how? A recent report from Dotcom Distribution has some quality insights for sellers.

What customers expect from e-commerce brands

Material Handling & Logistics quotes the CEO of Dotcom Distribution on the findings of their annual e-commerce study on what factors impact where people choose to shop: “Two years ago, it was quality packaging and fast delivery. Today, while those factors are valued, a brand’s opportunity to reach, retain and extend customers’ lifetime value lies in giving them what they want, how and when they want it.”

What can we learn from these findings? Well, delivery is getting faster across the board. Offering speedy delivery is no longer enough to set you apart from the pack; it’s an expected option at checkout by now.

A few years ago, customers saw this as a great perk – reason enough to choose one seller over another. But now they’ve moved beyond quick order fulfilment. Buyers are seeking to build meaningful relationships with the brands to which they’re loyal.

The importance of extending customer lifetime value (LTV)

Increasingly, success in e-commerce hinges on building loyal relationships with customers. Yes, conversions matter. The very definition of e-commerce is simply conducting transactions online. There’s no such thing as a ‘bad sale’.

However, e-commerce stores get the most bang for their marketing buck when they attract customers who do more than make an isolated p urchase -they stick around to engage with the store in meaningful ways over time.

The metric that will help you gauge the value of your relationship with shoppers is called customer lifetime value (LTV). This metric predicts the revenue you can expect from an average customer at your online store, meaning it’s highly useful in assessing customer loyalty.

Determining the true LTV for your e-commerce store oftentimes requires complex calculations. Here’s a simplified way to get an idea of your LTV. Start by calculating average order value (total sales divided by number of orders) and purchase frequency (total orders divided by total customers).

Then determine “customer value” by multiplying your average order value by the purchase frequency. Finally, you can take this customer value metric and multiply it by the average customer lifespan to determine your LTV.

What makes e-commerce customers stick around?

Finally, it’s time to examine which factors can boost LTV by fostering brand loyalty in shoppers.

The obvious answer here is designing a loyalty program offering rewards customers actually value. One way to find out what incentivises your best customers is to simply ask them: what do you want to see in your inbox?

What kind of promotions make them want to hand over their hard-earned money?

It’s also important to make sure your store values align with those of your target customer. As Econsultancy reminds us, “people are more attracted to brands that share the same values and beliefs that they do.”

More than half say this is the primary reason why they have a relationship with a given brand. Take some time to examine your brand values and how you’re conveying them. Make sure you’re targeting people most likely to appreciate the values of your store.

Staying attuned to changing e-commerce preferences is key for e-commerce stores aiming to stay competitive and build long-term relationships with customers.


CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamNovember 15, 2018
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5min927

There are five key habits that successful CX professionals have in common, according to the newly published State of Customer Experience 2018 report.

The study is one of the most comprehensive global surveys of CX practitioners and was carried out by Confirmit in partnership with Engage Business Media. The resulting report analyses the factors that define leaders and laggards in CX across different industries, and across B2B and B2C markets. The results show that leaders share common attributes which are critical in driving CX success, increased investment and customer-centricity.

Claire Sporton, SVP of CX Innovation at Confirmit, explains: “Unlike other studies, our report defines a CX Leader in terms of specific business outcomes, rather than those organizations that simply achieve the best CX metrics. Our experience shows that the proof of any program is the value it delivers across an organization and as such the most successful programs are seeing significant increase in investment.

“The report makes for fascinating reading, particularly when compared to our findings from last year. We’re seeing a clear maturity curve in terms of the sophistication of responses, which is reflected in the fact that nearly 60 percent of respondents have more than four years’ experience in CX. While this is great, there are also some red flags for us to consider, particularly around how companies are investing in actually driving change based on their CX programs.”

The findings of the research identify the five habits of highly effective CX professionals which should be adopted and cultivated by a CX team aiming to have an impact across their company:

Habit 1: Define goals and drive the right ownership

Rather than focusing solely on CX metrics, successful practitioners are able to talk in the language of the wider business and define outcomes that make sense to all employees. Fifty-seven percent of leaders in the report agree strongly that stakeholders across the business are strongly invested in the goals of their programs, compared to just 25 percent of laggards.

Habit 2: Think innovation and action

The most successful CX practitioners understand that programs must drive innovation and real action, both of which must be tangible and communicated across the business. Fifty-one percent of leaders strongly agree that their programs drive measurable innovation or change within their organisation, compared to just 16 percent of laggards.

Habit 3: Listening to more voices collectively

While an increasing number of companies surveyed are actively capturing both the Voice of the Customer and the Voice of the Employee in their programs, questions still linger over whether the feedback gathered is integrated and therefore useful in its combined form. Only 31 percent of organisations strongly agree that their programs combine multiple sources of insight. Leaders are those that work to drive integration between customer and employee voices – as well as those of partners, suppliers and other stakeholders, and other forms of data such as operational and financial.

Habit 4: A focus on customer-centricity

Respondents to the report stress the importance of driving a customer-centric culture across their organisation for CX to be successful. This means that employee engagement needs to be high across all levels of the organisation, from the front line to board level. Again, this relies on a strong communication strategy, which is something 57 percent of leaders already have in place, while only 35 percent of laggards say the same.

Habit 5: Continuously re-think

The report shows that the most experienced CX practitioners aren’t necessarily those who run the most successful programs. It is easy for CX programs to go stale and get into bad habits, meaning constant innovation, re-evaluation and adjustment is critical. Sixty-seven percent of leaders in the report agree strongly that their program has driven significant investment in change, compared to 27 percent of laggards, supporting the view that continually asking ‘what’s next?’ is a key step in delivering long term CX success.

The full report investigates each of these habits, providing detailed insight and analysis that provides learning points for individuals and teams across the CX industry. To learn more, the full State of Customer Experience 2018 report is available for download here.

 


CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamNovember 12, 2018
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6min434

Travel experiences are among the most memorable we have, but too often we remember airports for the wrong reasons.

Now a leading interior design expert is urging airport operators to change that by learning from the hospitality industry.

Chris Radcliffe, head of interiors at Top 100 architecture practice maber, has advised hundreds of clients in the retail, travel, hotel, and leisure sectors.

He thinks airports of the future will have to be much smarter to compete for passengers, whose demands will not only include better customer service but also a commitment to the environment and other contemporary issues. He says the key to doing this could be in emulating the strategies employed by top hotels and restaurants.

“The hospitality industry, with its insistence on superb customer service at every customer contact point, shows the direction where airports should be going,” he says.

“The hospitality sector’s attention to detail, and above all its focus on cleanliness, illustrate how airports should be positioning themselves, not just with their customer service but in the terminal architecture and interior design of their buildings.”

Chris points out that the travelling public are increasingly concerned about issues such as the environment, sustainability, health and wellbeing, and says airports ignore these hot subjects at their peril.

“Hospitality businesses globally are already tailoring their offers to address these issues. This is more than a marketing angle to be exploited, it is a fundamental shift in our society that responsible businesses are addressing, and it has the potential to be a huge driver for change across the world,” he explains.

At first glance, an airport’s role is all about managing the movement of passengers and luggage through the terminal to or from aeroplanes. While Chris acknowledges that this will always be paramount for airport operators, there is much more to take into consideration when designing and running terminal buildings.

He urges management to think about the customer journey: “It begins with your arrival at the terminal building, complete with luggage and perhaps friends, family or colleagues to see you off. They, of course, are another kind of customer that airports should be considering.

“Entrance into the terminal building is a kind of ceremony. Then there is the journey through the terminal to the check-in counters, then to the concourse beyond the screening checkpoint and finally to the departure gate. The route through the airport for departing passengers can be stressful and complicated, and this alone is potentially the difference between a poor experience that is memorable for the wrong reasons and a great experience for the right reasons.”

Chris advises airport operators to seek to bring, order, clarity and even beauty to that journey, creating what should be “a positive sensory experience”. This will be affected by the colour, texture and illumination of the space and even by smells, which could be pleasant such as fresh coffee and baked bread or unpleasant such as cleaning fluids and toilet odours.

“These are all things that will contribute to a person’s recollection of the environment. Every vertical and horizontal surface communicates something about the experience,” Chris says.

Chris praises airport building and interior design that provides clear lines of sight, views and vistas that enable people to navigate to all the services they need. The list of these services is long: travel information, check-in points, meet and greet hubs, centres of retail, food and beverage, toilets, baby change and feed areas, accessible facilities, security personnel points, currency exchange, smoking areas, and prayer rooms.

There are also design aspects that can make the experience more enjoyable, including internal landscaping and greenery, views of the sky and viewing lounges

When it comes to terminals, size matters, as Chris explains: “Because of the scale of airport buildings, they must be well designed and considered holistically, not only in two-dimensional space but also in volumetric terms.”

Another key aspect that he forecasts will become increasingly important is integrating technology into buildings: “Equipping social and functional spaces with enabled technology will play a major role in the customer experience. Designing versatility into spaces that allow for connectivity while on the move will be an important differentiator.”

As the most globalised part of the transport sector, he believes the air travel industry has a duty to develop its offer to make fit the varying demands of the world’s diverse cultures. Gender and ethnicity, with sometimes competing sensitivities, must be catered for to avoid discrimination. Meanwhile, other factors such as age, physical and cognitive conditions that affect a person’s ability to comprehend information must be considered too. That means thinking about user and visitor demographics when deciding how to present eye-level data.

Chris concludes: “Ultimately, all of this is about thinking about the needs of customers first, designing places that improve their travel experience and making a commitment to manage customer service to the highest standards. Technology, diversity and other issues make this more complicated, but they also present opportunities to take airport experiences to a new level.”


CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamNovember 1, 2018
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4min764

UK brands are adopting Artificial Intelligence (AI) as they race to make sense of customer data and deliver more relevant, personalised experiences, while staying on the right side of GDPR, according to new findings.

Adobe research, to be published in a report entitled Context is Everything, reveals an overwhelming majority (91 percent) of UK businesses view personalisation as a priority, although fewer than one third (30 percent) said they are currently delivering the required level of personalisation.

Current levels of personalisation are behind key competitor markets (42 percent in Germany, 35 percent in Switzerland and France), meaning there is clearly still work to do and more effective data management must be a priority.

More than half (59 percent) of UK brands surveyed said they cannot process data quickly enough at present, while 52 percent said that they collect too much data from too many sources. GDPR also adds another layer of complexity to brands’ personalisation strategies. Over two-fifths of UK businesses (43 percent) said the EU’s new data protection regulation had held them back to some degree in the drive towards personalisation.

AI promises to give brands greater control of their data and a greater capability to analyse it. The research shows UK companies have an aggressive timeline for the implementation of AI for business and customer data analytics. Just under three quarters (70 percent) of UK respondents plan to have implemented AI for business and customer analytics by 2019, going up to 92 percent by the end of 2020.

Bridget Perry, Vice President of Marketing at Adobe EMEA said: “UK companies are acutely aware that they need to get closer to their customers, and provide more personalised services if they are to stay relevant. The level of analytics required for effective personalisation at scale may have seemed impossible just a few years ago, but AI has made it a reality, allowing companies to quickly gain vital customer insights from huge volumes of data.”

The need for skills and a culture of responsibility

To ensure their investments in AI prove successful, UK brands have a clear focus on hiring new talent and training their current workforce:

  • 71 percent are hiring new staff to ensure they have the skills needed to benefit from AI
  • 74 percent are training their current workforce
  • IT skills (58 percent), data analytics skills (50 percent) and ethical skills and understanding (48 percent) are the top three areas UK companies are hiring
  • Ethical skills and understanding (68 percent) is the top priority for the training of current employees, followed by marketing skills (64 percent) and customer service (64 percent)

Perry added: “UK brands don’t just see AI as a technology issue. They are focusing on a wider set of skills, including skills to help them manage the improved customer experience and skills to ensure they take an approach that is ethically and culturally right for them and their customers.”

 


CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamOctober 31, 2018
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11min478

There is an article on PeopleHR.com that will give a manager food for thought.

Despite the scrapping of nursing bursaries, student nurses in the NHS  are still motivated to stay within the profession. In the 2017 NHS staff survey, the staff was asked a series of questions which were translated into an index.

The decrease in motivation index is relatively tiny, from 3.92 to 3.90. Why is this so? The hours are long, staff is overstretched, and there has been a pay freeze for several years. By rights the drop should be more, yet motivation is still strong across the board.

Could it be that money is not always a motivator?

We all work for money. At its most basic level, employment is a financial transaction. It illustrates that in order for the effort to be expended, employees need to be paid. 

How often do we hear colleagues saying out loud in frustration “I am not paid enough for this” or “This job is way above my pay grade”? This also seems to indicate that if paid enough, we can be motivated to accomplish certain tasks; and if we are not paid enough, we will not feel motivated.

Money is the answer to some of the questions

The gender pay gap has been a contentious issue for some time but it is gaining traction lately due to several high profile cases. Mark Wahlberg was paid a cool $1.5 million to reshoot a few scenes in a movie whilst his female co-star received an extra $1000. 

Claire Foy, the lead for Netflix’s successful series The Crown was reportedly paid £10,000 less per episode compared to her male co-star, a backpay of some £300,00. Then there was the BBC, which was in hot water when the salary lists of its presenters was leaked and it showed that males were paid a lot more.

In the cases above, it is not so much about the amount of money, but the principle behind it. Such a huge disparity illustrates the disrespect for the talent and all the hard work that the women put in. In a more “real-life” situation, salary is a thorny issue. In general, people like to be treated in a fair, equitable way. Any news of a discrepancy between staff may cause friction and will cause demotivation.

The function of money as a motivator is complicated

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs illustrates that on various levels from the base of the pyramid to the apex, a person has needs that should be met. Money falls at the base. Without money, it is unlikely that a person could meet basic needs such as food and shelter. 

Once these are met, a person moves up a level and different motivating factors come into play. Higher up the pyramid, getting more pay is not as strong a motivator. Employees at this stage of the pyramid crave other things like recognition for their expertise or self actualisation. While the move up the pyramid looks linear, it has to be noted that a person’s needs could change at any time. A major life event may have a strong impact and their needs may regress downwards, instead of upwards.

Herzberg’s Theory of Hygiene Factors offers another slant. A person’s salary has always been considered one of the hygiene factors, but in the parameters of this theory, money is not a good motivator. While a good salary can initially motivate the employee, over time he will get used to it. 

When it becomes a standard, the motivational effect will wear off. In certain cases, having money as a motivator can have the opposite effect. For example, if employees are used to a five percent increase in pay year-after-year, it becomes an expectation. They are likely to be very disappointed and demotivated if they subsequently receive less.

In an article in Harvard Business Review, Dr. Tomas Charmorro-Premuzic touched upon intrinsic and extrinsic motivators and discussed how money is an extrinsic motivator. He argues that the effect from an extrinsic motivator, such as a pay raise, is likely to be brief and then goes on to explain how our relationship with money can also have an effect on motivation. Besides what is termed the “psychological symbol” of money, the individual’s income goal also plays a factor on motivation.

So what really motivates us to work?

Dr. Tomas also discussed how intrinsic motivation, such as having a sense of purpose or meaning, is likely to have a more lasting effect. Perhaps this will go some way in explaining why nurses and doctors are still dedicated to the NHS.

What is interesting in both the NHS survey and Dr. Tomas’ article, is that the quality of leadership plays a huge role in employee motivation. In the NHS survey, the staff is more satisfied with support they are getting from their line managers. They found the quality of appraisals and training better, and their confidence in raising issues was also good. In his article, Dr. Tomas also mentioned that incompetent leadership will lead to staff disengagement.

In view of the above, a leader has a big role to play in employee’s motivation

What is also clear from the various motivational theories, is that one size does not fit all. Different employees will have different motivating factors – not all of them money. Thus motivating should begin at an individual level. A leader should be able to identify the different factors that drive the individuals and work out the best way to motivate and gain their commitment. 

For example, a team member who is starting on his career could be motivated by the provision of training that would upgrade his skill set while a more experienced team member could be motivated by giving him a mentoring or coaching role that would recognise his experience and skills.  

Tailoring motivating techniques according to each individual is a huge task. It will mean the leader will have to invest time in getting to know his staff – a very worthwhile venture bearing in mind the benefits that will come. Often motivation changes depending on the individual’s situation. 

By maintaining open channels of communication, the leader can be aware of this and tweak their motivation techniques. Motivated individuals who are happy at their jobs create a positive ripple effect that will affect the whole team.  

Without motivation, an individual or a team could possibly still do the job they are tasked to do but there will be growing dissatisfaction. They will feel that their work does not matter or their efforts are not being recognised. It would be difficult for the leader to get buy-in or commitment from the team member if they feel that they are not being appreciated.

Once each individual person in the team is happy, the leader could then focus on motivating the team as a whole. 

In conclusion…

Money is not always a motivating factor. People are individuals with their own hopes and dreams. There is no one-size-fits-all and there are many other ways to motivate a team which does not involve monetary rewards. The best leaders would know how to motivate each individual member of their team and it does not necessarily mean giving them a pay rise every other month.

 

 

 

 


CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamOctober 29, 2018
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6min739

Although service providers are moving at record pace to innovate, a significant engagement channel – the bill – is often overlooked in their digital transformation strategies.

That is the findings of a study commissioned by billing and communications software provider BriteBill, and conducted by Omnisperience. It looked at 40 Tier-0 and Tier-1 service providers across EMEA, North America, and Asia, and revealed that although service providers are moving at record pace to innovate, a significant engagement channel – the bill – is often overlooked in their digital transformation strategies.

Predictably, competition is a major driver for this innovation. However, the study found that 63 percent of service providers now say their biggest challenge in the next 24 months is competing with new, non-traditional rivals. To combat these digital native industry disrupters, the strategy most service providers intend to take is to differentiate through an improved Customer Experience (88 percent), whilst also developing new products (90 percent).

Although this demonstrates a commitment to a more customer-centric business model, less than half (48 percent) of the service providers surveyed felt that their customers were currently the main beneficiaries from digital transformation efforts. This shows that while service providers are improving IT and processes, these innovations are often not directly linked to Customer Experience improvements, delaying benefit realiSation.

This is further reinforced by the fact that 50 percent of the survey respondents said they needed to increase their investment in Customer Experience.

“To capture maximum digital transformation benefits and achieve full return on investment (ROI), service providers need to harness and capitalise on both operational and customer engagement innovations,” explains Teresa Cottam, Chief Analyst at Omnisperience and author of the report.

“Service providers face conflicting investment demands, from upgrading their networks to creating new revenue streams and enhancing the customer experience, which can take years to show value. However, they’re beginning to realise that by focusing resources on customer experience blackspots such as on boarding processes and billing, they can make a more immediate impact for often modest levels of investment.”

Minimising an experience blackspot

When it comes to billing as a customer engagement channel, the study found that bills continue to be one of the most persistent Customer Experience issues. Only 23 percent of service providers currently feel their bills are a strategic asset to their company, with the majority (75 percent) saying their bills are not evolving in line with their business.

To improve the billing experience in the next 24 months, service providers are focusing on four key areas: increasing automation (100 percent), providing more clarity and advice to customers (75 percent), personalising information and offers (38 percent), and communicating the value of services delivered (23 percent).

“Service providers told us that making bills more intuitive is a necessity, with 95% believing it would significantly reduce calls to care from frustrated customers. As they bring new products to market, service providers are challenged to clearly communicate these services and their value. Failing to do this effectively puts service providers at risk of feeling the sting in the tail of their own innovation,” continues Cottam.

The research also revealed that 50 percent of service providers intend to deploy artificial intelligence (AI) to improve Customer Experience in their call centres and reduce call waiting times, but Cottam cautions this is not a cure-all.

“Billing inquiries tend to be too complex for today’s AI to deal with. It is therefore essential that service providers tackle the root cause of the problem in the shape of unclear bills,” he said.

Becky Byrne, Head of Product Management at BriteBill, added: “It’s good to see that service providers understand the importance of customer experience to their digital transformation and innovation programs. However, in the rush to transform their businesses, many have completely overlooked the bill’s role as the most common and critical customer touchpoint. Improving and innovating their customers’ billing experience is one of the most tangible ways service providers can communicate the benefits of digital transformation and innovation. This in-turn transforms bills from dull financial statements into strategic customer engagement tools.”


CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamSeptember 4, 2018
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4min1057

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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2min1014

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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5min1000

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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10min1046

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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