CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamFebruary 10, 2020
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8min2314

Customers are truly the heartbeat of any business – treat them well, and the rest of your business ticks.

Treat them otherwise, by failing to satisfy their pain points, and they have no problem bad-mouthing your brand. And guess what – bad-mouthing is just the least of your problems when you deliver a poor Customer Experience to your audiences.

In this highly competitive world, customers have no problem jumping on the next moving train – your competitors – when you don’t give them the best of experiences, or at the very least, an equivalent of what your competitors are offering.

I’m pretty sure no business owner wants that. So to avoid that, it is imperative that you understand the concept of customer experience perfectly well. To this end, here are a few tips to get you started on that front.

Know your customers

Take it or leave it; a business isn’t only about delivering products or offering your services – instead, it is as much about your offerings as it is about the manner in which you’re going about it.

Even if you have the best of solutions to the pain points of your target audience, you still won’t be able to convince anyone to keep patronising you if you don’t offer them an awesome Customer Experience. And the first step you need to take to achieve that is by understanding your customers.

I know you’ve probably read that somewhere before, but trust me, there is no giving anyone an awesome experience if you don’t understand what exactly appeals to them. Do you have a customer base that appreciates visual and not audio communication, or a base that hates long queues, or perhaps your customers are the type that fancy engagement?

Whatever the case may be, trying to decipher the nature of your customers is absolutely a great step in the right direction.

Enhance the experience you’re offering by going multichannel

It is true that we now live in a digital age serviced by social media.

As such, your customers are most likely scattered on the different platforms of social media. To enhance the experience they’re getting from you, try to interact with them on the platforms they enjoy most. Even though you cannot afford to be present on all social platforms, at least being active and engaging on the most popular ones should do your customer base a whole lot of good.

Creating a profile on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Youtube, etc., will go a long way in addressing issues, complaints, worries, and solving problems as soon as customers demand it.

This tip is not only essential for businesses looking to build a loyal customer base, but also for existing businesses with an already established base – especially if you’re in dire of a larger revenue generation to combat your business debt.

Use Customer Experience innovation to raise the bar

Look at the Customer Experience of Apple, Disney, and Tesla – what are they doing differently?

They use innovation in their approach to Customer Experience to connect with their customers and stand out from the rest. Innovative solutions are not only authentic and effective, but they are also cost-efficient as well.

Little wonder why we constantly see these brands enjoying great profit margins, and not having to worry too much about common business issues like how to resolve debt, or what an IVA’s ability is in combating debt or how to stop bailiffs from disrupting visiting their companies.

Develop a CX management program

Customer experience management (CEM) is the art of controlling, tracking, and designing customer interactions at all touchpoints to meet or exceed customer demands. There are many benefits of CEM, such as increased loyalty, engagement, and positive word-of-mouth marketing, all of which ultimately leads to greater revenue generation.

Work on developing an active CEM program in your business to proactively improve the Customer Experience at every step along the customer journey. Additionally, in the event that your business becomes burdened with debt and you need debt help like Moorcroft , this strategy can help you generate as much revenue as you may need to settle your debt.

Let your customers help themselves with self service

Modern customers don’t want you to help them – ideally, they would want to help themselves.

According to a recent study, 45 percent of companies offering web or mobile self-service reported an increase in site traffic and reduced phone inquiries. Post resources, books, and FAQs on your website to help customers service themselves and look for solutions to their problems.

Think about it, what would you rather do – wait in line for an agent to answer your query, or browse a forum to look for the answer?


CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamFebruary 5, 2020
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7min1844

2019 was a milestone year for IBM, marking its 30th year as official supplier of information technology and consultant to the All England Club and The Championships, Wimbledon.

Wimbledon is the long-standing jewel in the crown of IBM’s live projects. Every year, behind the scenes, IBM analyses millions of live data points that continuously drive Wimbledon’s iconic pursuit of greatness – from match and player statistics to weather forecasts, cyber security events, and website visits.

All this is key to ensuring flawless delivery of the world class Championships and its connected fan experience.

Challenge

IBM’s global agency of record and partner for over 25 years, George P. Johnson (GPJ) was last year tasked with creating an experience that raised awareness of IBM’s ground-breaking work on the tournament through innovation.

The experience marketing agency needed to create a tech installation that brought IBM’s involvement in Wimbledon to life – increasing brand awareness by surprising and provoking intrigue amongst the general public, complimenting wider Wimbledon IBM client hospitality activities, and ultimately increasing the brand’s sales pipeline.

Solution

Building on the Wimbledon theme of ‘Tennis in an English Garden’, GPJ created the IBM Technology Garden, a unique real-time data activation.

Complex data sets captured by IBM were translated into mesmerising data visualisations in the form of digital flowers. These interactive visual representations of IBM’s impact on the game, the fan-experience and global media allowed visitors to read, experience, and understand how IBM brings The Championships to life through innovation.

Enticing, inspiring, and designed to encourage interaction, each visualisation constantly evolved and transformed to surprise the audience – enhanced by every serve, shot and point of the Wimbledon Championships. 

The spectacle centred on watching the flowers grow as they were ‘fed’ IBM’s tournament data, made possible by GPJ’s longstanding partnership with IBM, which allowed the agency to utilise the real-time data collected for the installation.

Power flower: The IBM Technology Garden at last year’s Wimbledon Championships

Every flower was uniquely created based on live data and structured using biological building blocks, beautifully brought to life and nurtured in the Technology Garden.

The forms were driven by the concept of morphogenesis; a biological process that causes an organism to develop its shape. GPJ perceived this as a metaphor for the flexibility of IBM’s software offering, that can constantly change and adapt to the rising challenges imposed by Wimbledon and our ever-growing data-driven world.

Designed to reveal IBM’s hidden story, the Garden acted as a catalyst to conversations with customers at the official Championships. Whilst live data drove the activation, the focus was on demystifying and simplifying complex data sets for the audience. These were captured across five areas throughout the day with different IBM solutions:

  • Fan Engagement – IBM Cloud and AI
  • Match data – IBM Cloud and AI
  • Weather data – IBM Watson Analytics
  • Cyber Security – IBM Security
  • Website visits – IBM Cloud and AI

GPJ used colours from both the IBM brand guidelines and the shades of UV light photography, a technique used by scientists to expose patterns visible only to insects; like bees that can see a wider spectrum of light than humans, to echo that there’s more to IBM’s role in the Championships than meets the eye.

To support the installation, GPJ designed an interactive iPad app that allowed audiences to navigate the live datasets, showing both the raw numbers and how they influenced a given flower.

The digital activation was built with reuse in mind, allowing highlights of the 2019 Championships to be replayed and relived. Firstly, travelling around the UK to multiple IBM events and then finally taking centre stage at IBM’s UK client centre – increasing the value of its creation for IBM by using it across multiple events throughout the year.

Verdict

Across two weeks, GPJ created 2,000 unique versions of the installation, with approximately 20,000 people experiencing the IBM Technology Garden.


CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamJanuary 30, 2020
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11min2737

Contact centres have become as synonymous with scripts and targets as meerkats are with price comparison websites.

So what happens when you rewrite the rule book and take a completely different approach to customer service?

CXM spoke with Caroline King, Director of Sales and Service at insurance firm Ageas, about how challenging the status quo and switching to a systemic approach has reaped benefits for customers, staff and the company’s bottom line.

The firm won Gold in the Contact Centre Large category at the 2019 UK Customer Experience Awards last October, which topped off a three-year “transformational journey”.

Caroline said: “I’ve spent my entire professional life running contact centres and there’s always been an industry-wide perception that people are just there to answer the phones and complete the transactions. That’s it.

Listening to customers: Ageas’ Caroline King

“I suppose there’s an element of truth in there, but we wanted to change that at Ageas. We exist to make insurance easy and actually a pre-requisite to that is really listening to the customer, to understand their needs, rather than complying with a pre-prescribed script.

“How can you truly help someone if you’re not listening, how can you truly listen if you’re confined by a set of standard questions and how can we meet each customer’s nominal value with set processes too rigid to cope with the inevitable variation humans bring to conversations?”

In a world where consumers are bombarded with more information and data than ever before, Ageas’ focus is to make insurance easy. It’s one of the largest insurers in the UK and offers a range of general insurance products to around five million customers through its direct brands Ageas and Rias, and through brokers and high-profile brand partners.

Ageas’ sales and service operation is based across three sites: Bournemouth, Gloucester, and Stoke, and its team of more than 780 deals with four million calls every year.

“We knew a transformation project of this scale would be a big undertaking,” said Caroline.

“We had to help hundreds of people understand their job isn’t to answer the phone, it’s to make insurance easy for our customers. For anyone to go from transaction to a purpose-driven function is a big change. As leaders it is our job to create the culture that allows delivery in this way to thrive. That means letting go of some of the ingrained beliefs and biases that exist in all of us, which is easier said than done.”

Ageas’ transformation programme was driven by its ambition to grow in the increasingly competitive general insurance market.

The company’s senior management team knew it needed to tackle the competitive market challenges in order to grow. But rather than taking the traditional answer to contact centre performance – setting higher targets – it set about creating a cultural change that would ultimately engage its people, improve customer service, increase income and lower costs.

“The first step was getting people on-board and ready to take that journey with us,” Caroline continued.

“We called it ‘Destination Brilliant’ and developed the ‘Ageas Way’, which states our customer purpose and focused on nine redesign principles which describe the future of service delivery – the destination if you like. We created the mechanisms for everyone to test every action against our purpose and those principles and decide if it was the right thing for the customer.

“We changed so many things that are synonymous with contact centres. When you think about it, it’s bizarre that contact centres take these vivacious, energetic people then train them to follow a script and turn them into robots. Consumers don’t like robots, they like other humans.

“So we threw away the rulebook and started to trust our people to have more open conversations with customers. We removed unnecessary complexity, measured the outcomes in a different way and allowed them to really listen to what the customer wanted and deliver on whatever that need was. Of course being in the heavily regulated financial industry, there are some instances where we still have to use scripts but on the whole we’re so much more flexible.

“We were then able to educate our teams to understand and call out failure demand and waste and involved them in designing those things out.”

The Ageas team collect their trophy at the UK Customer Experience Awards in Wembley Stadium

Another huge change for Ageas was removing target-driven bonuses.

“I can see how, from the outside, it could be considered a big gamble,” said Caroline.

“It’s definitely a switch from the status quo. But it’s really worked and we’ve found staff are happier. What we’ve said to our consultants is: ‘We’ll trust you and take away the ambiguity of what you might earn each month’. Now they get a flat bonus up-front.

“We’ve redefined a good day’s work. Now it’s not how many products they’ve sold, it’s the feedback from customers that matters.”

Ageas has stopped measuring contact centre success solely through sales volumes and replaced it with what’s important to customers. It now provides consultants with real-time feedback from customers on experience and ease of service.

The results of Ageas’ transformation programme have been, perhaps unsurprisingly, transformational. The company’s net promoter score has increased by an impressive 14 points to 40.

Customer retention has increased, processing time for all customer account functions has reduced from days to minutes and Ageas’ Trust Pilot score is now 4.5/5 (excellent).

Operating costs have reduced and first contact resolution has improved by seven points – meaning 100,000 less calls to the Bournemouth site alone every year.

Caroline said: “What’s been really rewarding is to see the impact on our teams. 94% of employees believe the programme has made a positive difference to their role and we’re seeing unprecedented low levels of employee absence and attrition.”

Looking ahead, Caroline says she refuses to rest on her laurels.

“You can never take your foot off the pedal. This is not a sprint, this is a long distance marathon and we’ve got to keep doing more of what we’ve done.

“Across the whole customer service industry, no matter what sector you’re in, it’s the same – customer expectations are changing. What we all need to do to give good customer service and excel.

“In insurance, particularly with the rise in price comparison websites, there’s not much differential in price so standing out in terms of service is even more important. Customers tell us their number one priority is ease of business and luckily for them we’re not just good at making insurance easy; it’s everything we stand for.”


CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamJanuary 21, 2020
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9min1908

The first annual sales drop since 1995 is a blow to British retail, but it’s only the latest in a series of setbacks.

In the past 10 years, high street institutions such as BHS, and Barratts and Maplin have toppled like dominos, with Mothercare UK the latest to enter administration in 2019. Now, the news that retail is suffering its leanest time in decades comes as more confirmation of the obvious than a reason to hit the alarm bell.

Blame for this decline is typically laid at one door: ecommerce. Offering limitless choice, low prices and greater convenience, online shopping has rapidly won consumer hearts and purchases. But while it accounts for a sizeable slice of spend, ecommerce doesn’t have a monopoly – accounting for 19 percent of UK sales.

So, why is retail struggling?

According to the experts, the industry’s current plight isn’t just about online versus offline; it’s also about the evolution of consumer habits. To survive, retailers must adapt their strategies and experiences to the new world of multi-media shopping.

CXM spoke to industry experts to gauge their thoughts on what’s next for retail…

Sandra Loeffler, Regional Vice President, EMEA, Nielsen Marketing Effectiveness

“Amongst political and economic uncertainty, rising competition from ecommerce, and a new generation of hyper-connected consumers who are making fewer trips to bricks and mortar locations, the current challenges facing the retail sector are understandable.

“At Nielsen we have been surprised to see that some marketing strategy is still being driven by perceptions and old school metrics rather than hard data, leading to budget waste and missed opportunities. But in today’s highly competitive world, this approach won’t provide brands with the insight they need to uncover the consumer decision process, which is influenced by many factors long before the shopper sets foot in the store. 

“Tapping into data generated from consumer-brand interactions, online and offline, enriched by meaningful and actionable analytics is critical to not only understand shopping habits and improve marketing effectiveness, but to also make more informed decisions in areas such as forecasting products with higher return, optimising retail assortment, improving customer loyalty, and securing the right store location. 

“Retailers who smartly analyse and adapt to the purchase behaviour of consumers – anticipating their wants and needs, offering the right product, in the right place, at the right time, and for the right price – will have a better chance to withstand the challenges.”

Andrew Morsy, Managing Director International at Peer39

“Last year’s poor retail performance, particularly during the festive months, is further reason for e-commerce and all retail brands to focus on placing their seasonal ad campaigns in the right environments. Customers are increasingly cautious with their purchasing habits, which means retailers need to be certain their offerings are highly relevant to consumers – reaching them at the right place and time to drive a sale.

“The best way to optimise ad placements is by ensuring they appear in the right environment. As an example, when individuals consume online content about holiday destinations, in that moment they are more likely to be responsive to brands offering airline tickets, travel insurance, or accommodation. Understanding and analysing context and sentiment is key to targeting consumers, and for marketers to determine the most relevant environments for digital campaigns. With effective placements, retailers can be sure to not miss out on revenue during the prime months when consumers are looking to spend.”

John Squire, CEO at DynamicAction

“While 2019 saw bright spots for customers, with free shipping more available than ever and delivery times cut dramatically, this didn’t translate into success for retailers. In addition, initial indicators are showing that vital Christmas profits have also taken a hit, with returns in 2019 starting as early as November (up an average of 11 percent 17th of Nov through the end of 2019), kicking off the ‘Retail Vortex’ of increased returns, higher marketing costs, and inventory concerns.

“Retailers continued to up their marketing spend per order during the ever-earlier ramp up to Christmas, offering incentives of free shipping and discounts that monumentally impacted their already thin margins. 

“These factors highlight retailers’ increasing efforts to compete with retail giants like Amazon and innovative DTCs like Birchbox. But attempting to emulate its offerings without understanding the value to your unique shopper can be costly. Retailers must ensure they balance the rising costs of luring in customers with the significant impact of high promotions and numerous returns. 

“The retailers who are going to survive are the ones that understand the key elements eroding their profit, allowing them to steer away from the “Retail Vortex” and create strategies to understand the tactics that will truly drive profit. To achieve this, retailers in 2020 must move away from the antiquated goals of the high street’s heyday to embrace the necessities of the digital age.”

Jeff Pfefferkorn, Head of UK Sales at MainAd

“The biggest decrease in retail sales in 25 years is disappointing and highlights a disconnect between consumer spending and brands’ marketing budgets, as the latter has remained stable in the past year. For retailers, this strongly suggests their marketing strategies could be improved to be more effective at generating conversions.

To recapture consumer attention and counteract this dip in sales retailers should adopt highly tailored, dynamic targeting methods to deliver impactful digital ads, and strengthen their brand message across their wider marketing channels. They should also turn to alternative platforms, such as in-app advertising, which have the potential to reach a more receptive consumer and produce a greater response.” 


CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamJanuary 16, 2020
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16min3004

Ever since the introduction of the internet, and online shopping in particular, the relationship between customer and vendor has had the potential to become impersonal, distant, and in some cases strained.

As consumers find themselves bombarded with marketing emails as soon as they make an online purchase, and vendors are relied on to provide as many communication channels for customers as possible, both sides are under pressure.

To mark the first Get to Know Your Customers Day of 2020 we spoke to nine industry experts for their advice on how businesses can keep customers sweet.

The popularisation of the subscription economy

“The subscription economy is booming,” explains Martin Taylor, Deputy CEO at Content Guru.

“Whether it’s movies, music, groceries or even razors, consumers are increasingly turning their back on traditional ‘one time’ purchases in favour of forming long-term relationships with trusted brands.

“As such, it is absolutely critical that all organisations understand how to nurture happy long term relationships with their customers. The demand for ‘as-a-service’ offerings across all sectors is clear, and now the key differentiator for businesses is not just understanding how to reach the right customer, but how to implement a consistent, successful and tailored journey across their entire customer base.

“Organisations at the forefront of today’s subscription economy rely on sophisticated customer engagement technology, such as AI-driven Natural Language Processing, to ensure they can meet changing customer demands as quickly, smoothly and effectively as possible. Increasingly delivered through the cloud, the importance of these contact centre technologies only grows as customers not only expect an attentive and efficient long-term relationship, but one that can take place seamlessly across every channel.”

Go the extra mile

“How many businesses can honestly say that they really know and understand their customers?” questions Jon Lucas, Co-Director of Hyve Managed Hosting.

Jon Lucas

“And by ‘really understanding’, we’re not talking about an annual customer survey or the occasional check-in – genuinely knowing your customers is about being able to anticipate their needs, solve their problems and help them to succeed.

“Obvious? Perhaps, but for just about every business, taking it seriously comes down to a conscious choice about how important customers are. Ultimately, any organisation of any size that wants to live by a strong customer service philosophy needs to make a commitment – both financially and culturally – to go the ‘extra mile’.

“The alternative would be a business that just ‘survives’ despite customer churn, thinks that winning new business is cheaper and easier than keeping customers really happy, and where reputation is ‘nice to have’, rather than a daily imperative.”

Tom Needs, COO at Node4, furthers this point, stating:

“For any organisation it’s important to always validate the customer service part of the equation, but this is especially the case from a managed service provider (MSP) perspective.

Tom Needs

“With the MSP market continuing to grow, it’s vital that MSPs keep pace with changing customer needs and preferences, pairing them with the best technology to champion the type of exceptional service that ensures a customer’s business stays successful.”

“One way of doing this is to own the service level agreements (SLAs) and end-to-end infrastructure, because this gives partners and customers control, visibility, and better service levels. However, the most fundamental element is the customer relationship – knowledge of unique needs and preferences comes with constant engagement. If an MSP can act on that knowledge to deliver a better service that works in line with the objectives of the customer, can anticipate their future needs and do a first-class job should something go wrong, satisfaction is going to remain high.”

Paul Zuidema, Managing Director EMEA at Ergotron explains how it’s not just technology that businesses should be thinking about, but also those products that affect work environments:

“The business world is ever-evolving, but one constant that anchors any business is its customer base,” he says.

Paul Zuidema

“Knowing them and anticipating their needs and preferences is key to business continuity.

“For us, employees working in desk-based, seated office environments are our end-user customers.

“As experts in designing and producing kinetic work environments, it’s important that we understand how to support their health and wellbeing while they’re at work, and promoting better physical and mental wellbeing through the use of the right ergonomic furniture, in the right kind of work environment.

“In a similar way, businesses would do well to also regard their employees as a type of internal customer base, providing the appropriate support and working conditions that will ultimately elevate their business bottom line.”

Reap the benefits of data

“Organisations are continually working to better understand their customers and efficiently deliver tailored services that meet the individual needs of every customer,” explains Krishna Subramanian, COO at Komprise.

Krishna Subramanian

“To do this successfully, a business needs to be able to store its customers’ data efficiently and cost-effectively, and extract relevant knowledge from this data.

“Typically, this isn’t too complicated for transactional structured data, but it is often much trickier with unstructured data (such as videos, genomics files, IoT data, etc).

“Increasingly, the majority of a business’ customer data is unstructured, and it’s growing very rapidly. Businesses are now in need of data management solutions that help them understand, successfully manage, and extract value from this overwhelming amount of unstructured data, to keep customers happy and confident in the business storing their data.”

Tulin Green, Senior Director, EMEA Marketing at Commvault agrees.

“In this digital era, customers of nearly every business will interact with them online in some way, creating a data trail. Strong data management is therefore integral to the operation of any business, especially with the increase of technologies that utilise personal customer data to provide personalised experiences online,” she says.

Tulin Green

“After all, the business that connects with potential customers best will stand out from the competition.

“However, the increase in customer data being collected and stored also comes with an increased risk. Companies that fail to prioritise data privacy and protection for their business assets – including customer data – will risk not only severe damage to bottom line profits, but to their brand reputation and customer loyalty too.

“To avoid this fate, businesses should prioritise their ability to securely manage all data, and ensure that comprehensive recovery measures are in place.

“In the instance that security measures fail, being able to resolve the issue and get data protection back in place quickly is crucial.”

Keep security threats at bay

“While living in an increasingly networked world has its advantages, it also leaves organisations vulnerable to exploitation by malware, inadvertent employee actions and malicious attacks,” points out Jan van Vliet, VP and GM EMEA at Digital Guardian.

Jan van Vliet

“For security analysts, spotting security incidents arising from within their company, which is arguably their own customer base, is particularly tricky because the attacker may have legitimate access.

“If the credentials being input are valid, the same alarms are not raised as when an unauthorised user attempts entry from the outside. Deploying data-aware cybersecurity solutions removes the risks around the insider threat because even if an adversary has legitimate access to data, they are prevented from copying, moving or deleting it. What’s important when it comes to insiders, in whatever guise, is to be able to detect malicious or suspicious activity and produce real-time, priority alerts that analysts know must be addressed immediately.”

Nir Polak, CEO at Exabeam, highlights how data science can identify unusual activity.

“Securing the network is fundamental to protecting the business and a variety of tools exist to understand traffic flow over a network and to analyse security impacts from that flow,” he says.

Nir Polak

“However, despite the capabilities of these tools, attacks and breaches continue to happen. It is time to expand the definition of network profiling to include the riskiest asset on the network: the user.

“Advances in data science, combined with computing power and applied to data already collected within most organisations, can connect the dots and provide a useful profile of network user activity.

“While data science – i.e. Machine Learning – has become an overused buzzword, in practice it can provide very useful answers in certain applications. For example, Machine Learning can discover the connections between seemingly unrelated bits of identities, to create a map of all of a user’s activities, even when the identity components are not explicitly linked.

“Other techniques can create baselines of normal behaviour for every user on the network, making it easier to understand whether each user is acting normally or not. Still other techniques can build better asset models, including which machines are likely ‘executive assets’ and at higher risk of attack. Profiling individual users enables an organisation to understand in great depth and with deep context exactly who is on the network; what they are doing; whether they should be doing it; and what it means to an organisation’s risk and security posture.”

The future in the cloud

“The cloud has brought analytics back into the hands of business users, particularly in HR,” Liam Butler, AVP at SumTotal comments.

Liam Butler

“In the ‘old days’, business analytics tools were shrouded in secrecy and owned by IT and MIS as part of the on-premise ERP system. Analytics are now part of our daily life, being used to enable insightful decision-making and to predict business outcomes.

“For example, the linking of workforce management data with training data allows manufacturers to predict workforce capacity planning issues in advance of a product launch, train employees prior to manufacturing demand or move shift patterns to meet demand.”

As demands from consumers grow and the technology landscape becomes ever more complicated, it’s time for businesses to ensure the customers that keep their profits rolling in are satisfied.


CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamJanuary 16, 2020
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7min1187

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

Here we look at Number 2 in each category. Nick Macfarlane of Sky is today’s featured Professional, and our Influencer is Ian Golding.

We welcome feedback on our CX Stars list, and all correspondence should be sent to paul@cxm.world.

 

Number 2

Nick McFarlane

Head of Customer Experience at Sky Spain

Nick McFarlane has been living and breathing Customer Experience since 2005 when he joined Renault UK as a Senior Customer Relations Manager, and has since cultivated his skills in CX roles at household brands Vodafone and Sky.

Reading-based Nick joined Sky in 2011 as a Senior Customer Experience Manager for their Broadband & Talk division before going on to develop the end-to-end CX roadmap in the vital role of Customer Journey Programme Manager.

He is now Head of Customer Experience for Sky Spain, and helped design the journey for Spanish customers in what was Sky’s first ever organic launch in a new country.

It’s a changing world for the pillars of traditional media, and the behemoths such as Sky have a need for laser-focussed customer insight as it adapts to new landscapes. Looking at the last two decades alone, significant changes have included a boom in digital subscribers, and the launch of services including Sky Broadband.

Dramatic evolving of services requires the skilful handling of customers, and Sky continues to be in good hands with Nick as he brings his leadership and drive to Sky’s newest market in Spain. There he has helped build an enterprise-wide CX function that gathers insight from across all touchpoints and turns it into tangible benefits.

His success with leading CX in Spain is also inspiring Sky as it look towards other overseas markets.

Nick says: “For me, great Customer Experience is all about creating a human connection and keeping it simple.”

Nick is a devotee of the contact centre, and believes it to be the nucleus of any firm’s Customer Experience delivery. In recent years he has begun preaching his vision with a busy schedule of keynote speaking engagements, from Europe to Australia, where he presents his Five Rules for Great CX to eager audiences.

 

Number 2

Ian Golding

Ian Golding’s influence has grown exponentially in recent years as he coaches the CX stars of the future not just in the UK, but across the world.

His CX Masterclass, in both the UK and the UAE, is responsible for revamping the CX strategies for countless firms, from bigger brands to budding start-ups, and through his Customer Experience Consultancy is setting the standard for other firms in the ever-growing consultancy realm to match.

Ian was the first person in the world to be authorised by the Customer Experience Professionals Association to teach the CCXP accreditation, and it is estimated that he has mentored up to a quarter of all of the world’s qualified CCXPs to date.

His 2018 debut work, Customer What?: The honest and practical guide to customer experience is a key text for not just budding CX professionals, but any business owner with a desire for success in an era when the customer is calling the shots.

Ian’s inspirations include Jeff Bezos and Satya Nadella, recognised for their pioneering work in transforming the relationship between customer and brand, but Ian admits his biggest inspiration in CX is simply the enthusiastic members of the CX community that he meets and inspires himself, on his global mission to supercharge Customer Experience.

Ian says: “Creating an emotional link with customers demonstrates the ability to identify the ‘WOW moments’ in the customer journey – the compelling brand proposition that leaves customers in no doubt as to why they keep coming back – and telling all their friends to do the same.”

In 2020, Customer Experience will continue to shape the modern business landscape, while Ian himself will continue to shape our understanding of Customer Experience.

Click here for profiles of our Number 3 Professionals and Influencers.


CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamOctober 28, 2019
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6min2417

Some say there has never been a better time to be searching for employment.

It is true that the whole process has significantly improved, especially with the growth of technology and the internet. Plus, long gone are the days when everyone needed to be in London to find a job, with other cities in the UK growing at a tremendous rate. In fact, Manchester has been the fastest growing city in England and Wales between 2002-2015. So finding jobs in Manchester with online recruiters is just as easy as getting a similar position in London.

With that being said, it can be argued that being successful at the interview stage may be one of the trickiest parts of the course. Especially with recruiters getting more creative these days when it comes to looking for their perfect candidate; which has seen digital interviews become increasingly popular.

Digital interviews, in many respects, are the ideal way to put a potential recruit to the test, so if you’re facing one any time soon, we have some fantastic tips for you.

Research

One of the first things you can do to prepare to nail a digital interview is to put effort into research. There’s a lot of things to study ahead of the conversation, but by making time you will give yourself a better chance of being successful.

Begin by researching the company, learn of the vital information. From there, study the role you’re applying for, as well as doing your homework on the interviewer.

After getting the research done, preparing how you’re going to present yourself is the next step. Research again can help here, especially if you’re able to ascertain the dress code of the company itself or the role you’re applying.

Looking smart is always a requirement, and remember, first impressions count. However, don’t be overdressed. The interviewer is more interested in what you have to say, so don’t let your appearance take their attention away from this.

Practise

So, now not only do you know the company, your potential role, and the interviewer you’ll face, you also know how you’ll present yourself too. Now it’s time to call on a friend or two, as you’re going to need to practice ahead of the real thing. Practice digital interviews are essential, especially when using multiple people, as they allow you to refine your approach and work on areas that perhaps need a bit of improvement ahead of the upcoming interview with the employer.

The great thing about practice digital interviews is that they can be recorded and then watched back. It will allow you to get to grips with how you’re presenting yourself, the way you answer questions and everything else which will prove to be prominent on the day. Having the opportunity to have practice runs will give you the chance to perhaps pick up on overusing words or phrases or talking too fast, or too slow.

Rest

Now it’s on to the eve of your digital interview. A good night’s sleep will be needed ahead of the event, as not only will you look more presentable, your cognitive function will also be better too. Therefore, you’ll be able to think quicker, provide better answers, and remain calm too. A shower after walking up is essential also, as this will help refresh and relax you, and again have a positive effect on both your appearance and state of mind.

If you use all the tips we’ve provided above, you should be well on your way to nailing your digital interview. Remember, stay calm and focused, and most importantly of all, be yourself and enjoy.

It is your chance to impress.


CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamOctober 24, 2019
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2min2547

A new e-book on successfully implementing tried-and-tested Employee Experience initiatives is available for free from the World Employee Experience Institute (WEEI).

Ben Whitter is the founder of the WEEI, and the world’s foremost expert on Employee Experience. Successfully leading the Employee Experience (EX) Masterclass, Ben has also authored what has become the go-to guide for helping organisations maintain staff productivity, Employee Experience: Develop a Happy, Productive and Supported Workforce for Exceptional Individual and Business Performance.

Now a new publication is available as a free download, based on research carried out with Holistic EX Practitioner and CCXP Robert Pender.

Ben Whitter (left) and Robert Pender

In it, readers will learn practical tips on establishing EX foundations and specific considerations for EX practitioners to implement. Full of tips and valuable EX insight, A Practical Guide to Implementing and Succeeding with Employee Experience is essential reading, and available absolutely free of charge.

 

 

 

 


CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamOctober 18, 2019
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10min2380

A new book by Daniel Bausor and Chris Adlard explores how businesses are adapting to growth in the age of customer centricity.

The Customer Catalyst: How to Drive Sustainable Business Growth in the Customer Economy is available now, published by Wiley.

In this exclusive book excerpt for Customer Experience Magazine, the authors explores why CEOs must embrace the new customer economy, or face extinction…

Catalysts for change: Authors Chris Adlard (left) and Daniel Bausor

 

Being customer-led is not a new concept.

The difference today, however, is that being customer-centric is no longer an option – it is a necessity for survival and growth. And, as the principle of customer-centricity has existed for a long time, it has taken many forms, having been reinvented on many occasions to suit the zeitgeist. Same person, different attire.

For example, when Levitt argued in the 1960s that the essence of marketing was all about satisfying the customer, the marketing purists would, in turn, claim the higher ground that sales was short-term, and that marketing was all about building a sustainable business. Hence, today, marketing professionals and leaders still claim to be the ultimate customer champions within any organisation – even if they are viewed upon as a mere executor of product and solution-led communication campaigns. And even, in the worst-case scenario, when marketers have very little customer interaction at all!

Later followed the CX movement, championed by the likes of Don Peppers, where the idea of satisfying customer needs rather than gaining market share for products and solutions became the ‘new’ mantra. Ultimately, this movement spawned today’s huge global community of CX evangelists and experts, including the likes of Jeanne Bliss, Shep Hyken, Annette Franz, the Temkin Group, the CXPA, etc. Also, it gave rise to many voices in the customer communities and the net promoter system (NPS), pioneered by Fred Reichheld, Bain and Satmetrix. It also led to the seminal book by Kerry Bodine et al., titled Outside-In.

In addition to the CX community, there is also a sizeable contingent of Customer Advocacy professionals who champion the cause that a referenceable client base is key to company growth. Bill Lee, author and founder of the Centre for Customer Engagement, rightfully claims the moniker of ‘Customer Advocacy & Engagement King’, a concept which even now is being reinvented and repackaged by technology vendors such as Influitive who are looking to create a new market category under the theme of the ‘Customer-Powered Enterprise’.

Finally, and most recently, is the Customer Success movement, created and championed by the Customer Success platform vendors – first and foremost Gainsight (whose COO wrote the book on Customer Success), but also its competitors such as Totango and consultancy organisations such as TSIA (the Technology Services Industry Association). The Customer Success movement is impressive, amassing thousands of Customer Success professionals at annual conferences in the United States, Europe and Asia. The majority of Customer Success professionals come from a technical support background but have been rebadged and repositioned as customer champions of many organisations, especially in the B2B technology/SaaS world.

In reality, there is a significant overlap between all of these concepts, ideas and customer communities. By way of example, Annette Franz, CX thought leader, wrote an article in October 2018 to describe the difference between CX and Customer Success. She curated quotes from Customer Success thought leaders such as Gainsight and the Customer Success Association in an effort to compare and contrast the two disciplines. After dissecting the two concepts, she concluded as follows:

“It makes me question if the Customer Success role and discipline are really necessary. What do you think? Customer Experience is the umbrella. Get the experience right – listen to customers, understand the problems they are trying to solve, innovate, and design and deliver a better experience – and Customer Success management becomes obsolete, no? After all, it’s all about the customer.”

We have seen this before with the crossover between VoC (Voice of the Customer) and Customer Advocacy professionals. VoC teams state that the golden NPS question – likelihood to recommend – is their raison d’être. At the same time, the ultimate goal of Customer Advocacy professionals is to deliver a referenceable client base to advocate at every step of the customer journey. So, what is the difference?

The simple answer is that all of these communities present valid arguments and have important contributions to make when it comes to helping their company drive customer-led growth. Yet, no single community on its own has the silver bullet when it comes to achieving this. In truth, it is the combined set of activities that will help a company achieve its vision for customer-led growth. To coin a phrase, it is a war on all fronts. And, as we mentioned in the introduction, it is no longer a recommendation, it is a necessity.

As CX leader Claire Sporton puts it, “Investors now look for sustainable growth, not short-term wins each quarter. The M&A community are recognising that a commitment to customer centricity is a leading indicator of sustainable business growth.”

The Angora Rabbit: Why do customer-led transformations often run out of steam?

According to Sporton, “The challenge is that no one would say that the customer is not important – just like the rabbit, every-one will give it a stroke. But when it comes to looking after it, people quickly get bored. And then the fox (the maniacal pursuit of short-term revenue gain) eats the rabbit.”

Sporton makes the key point that the pursuit of customer-centric growth needs to be deeply embedded in the organisation: “There’s no business growth unless people change their behaviours. Two-day change programmes don’t work. Executive leadership must rigorously champion customer-centric values all the time, ensuring that actions are made, and impact is measured. CEOs must create sustainable, viral change.”

CX leader, Shep Hyken builds on this point: “One of the most important factors in driving growth is to establish a simple, clear and easy-to-remember customer vision statement. And then repeat it over and over again, so that everyone across the company knows it and applies it in their day-to-day activities. Leadership must set an example and constantly defend the culture. Whether it’s training, workshops or simply leading by example, the customer vision must be continually re-enforced.”

Take, for example, Horst Schulze, the founder of Ritz-Carlton. His customer vision statement was simple: “We’re ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.’ This statement is still used today, and Ritz-Carlton remains one of the most successful hotel chains ever.”

In summary, it is imperative that customer-centricity be hard-wired into the company’s DNA, culture, operations, processes, products, systems, etc. – ideally, from day 1; but, if that is not possible, then starting tomorrow.

 


CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamOctober 18, 2019
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14min1747

Earlier this month, Ian Golding, Founder of the Customer Experience Consultancy and leader of the CX Professional Masterclass, joined Peter Dorrington, Director of Analytics at TTEC, at a CXPA & TTEC Breakfast Workshop.

Participants explored concerning data highlighted by Forrester, which shows that Customer Experience performance has fallen flat for the third year in a row.

In a joint article for CXM, Ian and Peter explore how the advances in CX measurement can curb this trend…

 

The Past, Present and Future of CX Measurement – Ian Golding

Although companies are using a number of CX measurements and capturing details, the majority are not taking action or worse, applying them incorrectly and so they come to the wrong conclusion.

NPS and CSAT scores are cost-effective and easy ways of getting feedback from customers and an easy way for customers to provide feedback. Many would argue over time they have been shown to be valuable, credible systems for customer-focussed companies. However, many companies are failing to apply them correctly and increasingly they are being used as a tick-box to please stakeholder and shareholders.

Consumer experience is fast becoming a dominant theme for financial services and the FCA is increasingly focussed on quantifiable customer outcomes. To ensure the reliability of measures of satisfaction, they have issued a mandate that results are collected independently and widely published. Improving CX can influence people to switch supplier with the promise of getting better customer service, but consumers need a reliable way of assessing the experience that organisations provide.

Concerned: Ian Golding

More CX measurements will be regulated if companies cannot do it accurately and continue to publish inaccurate results as part of their advertising and brand promotion.

The Voice of Customer (VOC) and Voice of the Employee (VOE) are often listened to and treated entirely separately. Organisations that run VOC and VOE programmes usually conduct them at different times, using different teams – for example VOE is often confused with Employee Engagement. What’s more, they’ll invariably have entirely different objectives and different KPIs against which outcomes are measured.   It is vital to check that your employees feel the same way about your service as customers.  VOE can provide a vital check and balance to VOC, with a wide disparity between the two being a cause for concern.

VOC and VOE results should be broadly similar.  Something is wrong if they are not.  Also ensure your Voice of the Employee surveys are anonymous and that something with the results – both programmes should provide the impetus and insight for action.

The most robust CX measurement systems are structured by correlating business processes with the customer journey. If we think of all organisations as a combination of ‘layers’, whilst the top layer is the customer journey, the middle layer is made up of business processes. It is a business’s processes that enable the customer journey to happen. The bottom layer comprises the technology that enables business processes to deliver the customer outcome. However, all too often, it is the technology that is forcing the customer process, so the customer gets whatever that manifests itself as.

For a business to be focussed on knowing what to address to improve the customer journey it must be able to measure “cause and effect”. If you measure how capable business processes are at doing what they need to do, you should see an improvement in the way customers feel about what you do. 

Unfortunately, too many companies are mapping customer journeys without measuring their experience of each touch point as it relates to customer needs.

Using Emotion Analytics to Understand What Customers Value, and Why – Peter Dorrington

“Customer experience management is the art and science of coaxing lifetime loyalty from daily transactions.” 

Steve Curtin

“Customers who are emotionally connected with a brand are 52% more valuable than customers who are just highly satisfied” 

Harvard Business Review

The above quotes show the power of emotion. 

Imagine being able to use that to not only measure how well your CX strategy is doing but to increase loyalty and revenues.

Work in the field of behavioural economics has demonstrated just how dependent on emotions we are for decision-making – even very big decisions, where we think we are acting ‘rationally’. Research into the placebo effect demonstrates just how powerful the brain is in influencing the body and decisions. Emotions are an important part of how we experience and how we make decisions and It is now possible to anticipate the emotional state of every customer, whether you are in an active conversation with them or not.

A lot of organisations have recognised that if CX is the new competitive battleground, not only does it have to be good, but it has to be relevant and valued by the person experiencing it – and therefore you have to address their emotions; what they care about. 

TTEC’s research shows that business can make quantifiable improvements in their customer-facing decision-making if they have a way of knowing what the customer feels. At the highest level of abstraction, emotion analytics could support the design of more efficient and effective customer experiences at the strategic level – by putting the ‘relationship’ back into customer relationship management. When it knows that a customer has emotional, as well as practical needs, a business is better able to meet all their needs.

If a business could understand within customer journeys how customers feel at different stages – what might be motivating them, what might influence their decisions – then it is better able design a better experience; resulting in a better experience, higher satisfaction, and all the benefits that brings; increased revenues, lower churn and more powerful advocacy.

Get personal: Peter Dorrington

Turning CX insights into hyper personalised experiences 

One example of how this insight could be used would be in the arena of receptiveness. An organisation could convert the emotions into understanding whether a customer would be receptive to hearing from it. This would therefore influence whether they are marketed to, what is marketed to them and how it is done.

Think of upselling someone from a gold card to the platinum card. But just before we send the messaging, we do a check to see if the person is receptive and it becomes clear they are not – perhaps there has been a transactional issue, or there may be more of an emotional zeitgeist thing where banks are getting hammered in the press.

Not only should we consider emotions in the operational aspects of our business, we need to think about the role they play in the product or service itself.

Elsewhere, there are also implications for the way that inbound interactions are handled. For instance, an organisation may be able to anticipate that the customer will call and that if she calls she will be upset, so the company can put her through to a senior handler who is better at dealing those kinds of conversations (i.e. have high EQ).

The use of emotional insights could also extend into the world of bots and AI, enabling organisations to choose which script to use and which tone of voice to adopt. And the evidence shows that people will pay a premium to those organisations that they believe will make them feel the way that they want to expect to feel as well as which actions could be taken to cost-effectively strengthen the relationship.

Not only should we consider emotions in the operational aspects of our business, we need to think about the role they play in the product or service itself: as well as considering the functional needs of the customer, think about their (changing) emotional needs as well; it affects everything they do and research shows that customers will pay a premium to organisations they think will meet their emotional needs better. And our own research shows that customers are more loyal towards companies that meet their emotional needs.

Finally, TTEC’s research also shows that customer don’t always need a ‘better’ Customer Experience, preferring that the experiences they have predictable meet their expectations on a consistent basis. The implications for organisation is this; it is often better to maintain the level of the experience, but focus on aligning it to customer expectations and reduce the cost and complexity of delivery.

Companies must upgrade their CX measurements to capture customers’ emotions. How customers feel about their experiences with a firm can damage – or improve – their perception of the overall experience and the brand!

  


CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamOctober 9, 2019
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4min2474

Most UK employees anticipate a positive impact from artificial intelligence (AI) in the workplace, a new report from Genesys has revealed.

The global leader in omnichannel Customer Experience and contact centre solutions studied the evolving relationship between employees and technology in the workplace. They found that 64 percent say they value AI, but the exact same percentage believe there should be a legal requirement for companies to maintain a minimum percentage of human workers and for relevant bodies to implement regulation around it. 

The survey also found that while employees welcome new technological tools, a significant majority (86 percent) expect their employers to provide training for working with AI-based tech, as less than half of all respondents say they possess the right skills.

When asked whether they would use augmented reality (AR) or virtual reality (VR) for job training, more than half (53 percent) of employees said they would be willing to do so. This finding is significantly higher than those who would be open to being trained by an AI-powered robot, with just over a third (35 percent) of employees accepting this method. 

The convergence between humans and technology is increasing, as reflected by the fact 41 percent of millennials say they spend at least half of their time at work interacting with machines and computers rather than humans. These findings suggest that when it comes to implementing new technologies, employers will need to find the right balance between tech and human workers.

When it comes to how employees expect to use new technologies, 58 percent would like to use a digital or virtual assistant to support them in managing tasks and meeting deadlines. This appetite for virtual assistants suggests that the widespread use of technologies like Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri in workers’ personal lives is opening people’s minds to the possibilities that similar AI-driven assistants can bring to the workplace.

Meanwhile, almost a quarter of workers believe AI will have a positive impact on their job in the next five years, and
69 percent say technology makes them more efficient at their jobs. Forty-three percent say new technological tools in the workplace save time and allow them to focus on other things.

Mark Armstrong, interim Vice President for UK and Ireland at Genesys, said: “Employees across the UK are ready to embrace new technologies in the workplace. The research shows that UK workers understand the benefits of AI and are overwhelmingly positive about its potential impact. It is also evident that employees understand that businesses will need to leverage AI and other emerging technologies to maintain longevity, as only 21 percent believe their companies will remain competitive without it.”

To obtain the full survey report or for more information, contact genesys@whiteoaks.co.uk.


CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamOctober 8, 2019
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3min3105

An upcoming webinar will shine a light on how midsize call centres can adapt and thrive in the digital era, with expert advice from Genesys and Frost & Sullivan.

Hosted by Customer Experience Magazine, the free webinar will take place on October 17 at 11am BST, and will feature Alexander Michael, the Director of Consulting at F&S, who will be joined by Genesys’ Nick Wingrove, the firm’s VP of Solutions Consulting for the EMEA region.

The pair will deep-dive into a collaborative report, Midsized Call Centres take a Digital-first Approach, which examines how how call centres in the UK, France, Italy, Denmark, Sweden, and the Netherlands are dealing with the changes in customer engagement and their impact on business.

The whitepaper is part of a global series on how CX is the main factor in call centre operations, and explains how most call centres are taking a digital-first approach to customer engagement, with the majority considering, or utilising, cloud technology to boost performance and meet goals.

The webinar will see Alexander and Nick discuss how mid-size businesses approach CX and which technology trends will shape their operations going forward. The CX approaches of these firms will be compared with that of larger organisations, to provide insight into the most effective methods of customer engagement today.
CXM Editor Paul Ainsworth said: “Competition is fierce, no matter which industry you operate in. Mid-sized businesses face consistent pressures to define and implement strategies that will enable them to successfully acquire and retain customers.
“Knowing how your peers have accomplished this gives you an advantage. Leveraging the results from the recent Frost & Sullivan global mid-market study, you’ll get details on real-world Customer Experience initiatives.”
To register for the webinar, click here

CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamSeptember 26, 2019
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9min2684

Businesses in regulated markets don’t have to choose between satisfying their customers and regulators, because compliance and CX isn’t a zero sum game.

Yet with the right tools and focus, they can do both.

Customer expectations are perhaps higher than ever. Conditioned by the interfaces dreamed up by Cupertino’s and Silicon Valley’s finest, we expect things to just work.

And those expectations don’t exist in a vacuum – we carry them with us into other areas of our lives, demanding equally great experiences from banks, retailers, and almost anyone else who provides us with a service.

For example, Salesforce research found 74 percent of consumers are likely to switch brands if the checkout process is difficulty, while 50 percent said they’d go elsewhere if a business doesn’t anticipate their needs or provide an easy-to-use mobile experience.

On-the-go: An easy-to-use mobile experience is a must for half of all customers

Regulation

It’s a particular challenge for businesses in regulated markets who have to carry out due diligence on their customers. These kinds of checks can add friction to an onboarding experience and give already flighty customers reason to abandon sign-up and go elsewhere.

Worse still – regulation is a moving target! To stay compliant, businesses have to continually adjust their processes to keep up with changes in regulation, leading to yet more risk of friction.

In financial services, for example, businesses are currently having to deal with new anti-money-laundering rules (The Fifth Anti Money Laundering Directive), the introduction of the Revised Payment Services Directive (PSD2) and ongoing compliance with GDPR.

The consequences of failing to meet these and other regulatory obligations are serious. Those found guilty of breaches potentially face massive fines (GDPR infringement can result in fines of up to four percent of a company’s annual global turnover or €20 million – whichever is greater) and prosecution, not to mention the bad publicity and damage to their reputation.

Hefty: GDPR fines can be crippling for a company

The cost of poor CX

It’s understandable that a business faced with these challenges might err on the side of caution and in so doing, introduce the kind of friction that makes for a lesser Customer Experience.

But while the risks associated with poor Customer Experience might be less tangible, they’re no less real.

Customer Experience consulting firm Walker predicts that CX will overtake pricing and product as the key brand differentiator by next year. Meanwhile, PricewaterhouseCooper’s Future of CX report found one-in-three (32 percent) consumers in the US will walk away from a brand after just one poor experience, while 54 percent say Customer Experience needs improvement at most companies.

Clearly, there’s a big opportunity cost to getting it wrong.

Again, traditional financial services have a particular problem here. Their fintech counterparts are more agile and, without the legacy systems and infrastructures of incumbents, are better placed to create great new experiences for customers – even if they’re subject to the same regulatory requirements.

‘Difficult balance’

Cathie Hall, Customer Experience Manager at identity verification specialist GBG, said: “Every single market is being disrupted by people who want the here and now yesterday; who don’t want to wait weeks to open an account; who don’t want to wait weeks to start a service or even get a product. They want what they want now and they want it personal to them.

“And in regulated environments and in a changing landscape, it’s very difficult to get that balance between compliance and the Customer Experience.”

Businesses need to find ways of complying with strict due diligence requirements without making it a chore for their customers, as the best Customer Experiences are frictionless, fast, and intuitive.

Reducing the number of key strokes, auto-populating as much customer information as possible, and performing background checks in real-time removes the burden of onboarding from the customer and speeds up the process, leaving less time or motivation for them to abandon the process.

Using technology to anticipate your customers’ needs and show that you respect their time also makes for a slicker experience that can instil confidence and trust in your brand.

It’s common in retail and other sectors, so if you’re operating in a market that struggles with abandonment, your customers are likely to already expect the same kind of experience from you…and if you don’t provide it, they may go elsewhere.

GBG and Customer Experience Magazine are hosting a free webinar, The Compliance and Customer Experience Conundrum, on October 3 at 11am, British Standard Time. GBG’s Head of User Experience, Henry Thomas, will share insights and CX hacks to inspire attendees. 

Click here to register.


CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamSeptember 12, 2019
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2min1958

Customer engagement software firm Freshworks Inc has announced its Freshsuccess customer success management software, delivering an integrated customer view for marketing, sales, support, and success professionals.

From January 2020, all go-to-market teams can leverage unified, holistic data of both accounts and contacts yielding the most up-to-date account activity and health information to identify accounts that are either at risk or ready to buy more goods and services. 

With Freshworks’ Freshsuccess, users get detailed analysis of past behaviour to create and configure customer health scores, allowing companies to grow an established customer base, identify any red flags and increase customer retention rates. In addition, Freshsuccess helps teams operationalise customer success in other important ways.

These include keeping customer success teams organised, allowing everyone to centrally manage all of their customer-related activities such as alerts, workflows, and tasks.

Users will also be able to streamline business intelligence and easily identify behavioural trends while uncovering valuable customer insights.

Girish Mathrubootham, founder and CEO of Freshworks, said: “Our Customer-for-Life vision revolutionises customer engagement to take advantage of the never-ending customer journey. Meaningful customer insight doesn’t end at market, sell, and support. You need to engage continuously to get a customer for life.

With Freshsuccess integration, businesses will be able to leverage actionable data across the entire suite of products – including Freshmarketer, Freshsales, and  Freshdesk – for predictive analytics, customer intelligence and workflow management to proactively court, close, keep, and grow customers for life.”


CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamSeptember 11, 2019
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7min4281

In the world of customer contact, the nurturing of a diverse and inclusive culture not only creates a team that reflects the market it is serving, but it generates an environment where people can bring their whole selves to work and unlock their full potential, which ultimately yields productive employees and stronger, more creative teams.

In a recent interview with Helen Gillett, Managing Director of Affinity for Business, and Petra Mengelt, Head of B2B Business Relations at Mash Group Plc, we explored the role of D&I in the world of customer contact and demonstrate how your biggest asset – your people – can set your business apart from the competition.

Here, we explore some of the key takeaways from the interviews.

Why diversity and inclusion can benefit customer contact

For many years, companies have thought of diversity and inclusion as affirmative action or box-checking, but it is everything but that. Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) is not an HR issue. Instead, it is about diverse thinking, perspectives, experiences, work styles, and cultural backgrounds, as opposed to counting heads.

Statistics show that organisations that embed D&I in their culture have a distinct advantage to their competitors. Research by McKinsey & Company shows that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams are 21 percent more likely to outperform in profitability and 27 percent more likely to have superior value creation. Additionally, the most ethnically diverse companies are 35 percent more likely to outperform the least ethnically diverse. Meanwhile, leading consultant John Bersin also shares that diverse & inclusive companies have 2.3x higher cash flow per employee than homogenous companies.

From a customer contact perspective, an environment of diverse cultures combined with individuals of different ages, genders, abilities, and sexualities creates a plethoric pool of opinions, skills, and ways of approaching challenges that work to benefit both the business and its customers. In a setting where unique challenges arise frequently, it is only favourable to have a diverse team that can share ideas and create best practices through collaboration.

How to create a culture of diversity & inclusion in your organisation

When it comes to creating a culture of inclusion, good intentions are a start, but implementation and accountability matter more. It is vital that organisations seek to cultivate a culture of D&I and make it a core part of their DNA. Here, we share three actionable steps to making a culture of D&I a reality in your customer contact centre.

1. Start from the top

Responsibility for affecting change should not be driven by HR. Instead, it starts with business leaders. Accountability is an essential factor in establishing a culture of D&I. When executive leadership incorporate talent as an active agenda item, that’s when it becomes intrinsic in the culture of the company.

2. Communicate to educate

Creating opportunities for employees to learn more about one another as people, rather than just colleagues, is a great way to build a sense of trust and community in your team. Petra encourages a culture of always asking questions to aid this, and also to dispel any negativity that may stem from misunderstandings.

“It’s important to never ever leave anything that stems from cultural difference hanging or unresolved, otherwise there is always a risk of encouraging negative stereotypes. I am always asking questions such as ‘can you explain what you mean?’ to create clarity,” she says.

3. Lead by example

It’s a well-known mantra that people don’t leave companies; they leave leaders. In order for a culture of D&I to thrive, employees must feel as if they are being coached by a leader who truly has their best interests in mind.

As demonstrated by Helen’s own comments on being honest about her journey, an effective way to do so is by leading by example. If a leader can bring their authentic self to work, their employees will feel confident enough to do the same. This can be especially important when discussing inclusion and mental health, as Helen shares: “Having leaders tell their stories lets people know that mental ill-health can happen to anyone and it’s not anything to be ashamed of – it’s ok not to be ok.”

Click the image below to learn more about how a culture of D&I can improve your customer contact experience.


CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamSeptember 2, 2019
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2min3520

Customer Experience Magazine is giving away three tickets to this month’s Winning With Complaint Handling Conference, which is taking place in central London.

This not-to-be-missed one-day event on September 25 will bring together Gold winners from the annual UK Complaint Handling Awards for a series of panel discussions that will help you improve your brand’s complaint handling techniques and strategies, and offers insight into how to bring your level of customer service to an award-winning standard.

Brought to you by Awards International, the event will be chaired by CEO Neil Skehel, who will be joined by the one-and-only Daniel Ord, founder and Director of OmniTouch International, to oversee the day’s activities, which include discussions from award winning brands including Capita, Three UK, HSBC, and more.

Held at the Park Plaza riverbank, the conference will offer unparalleled networking opportunities to help boost your complaint handling power.

Neil Skehel explains: “This isn’t just another conference – you are an integral part of this event and your priorities will shape what we discuss. It promises to be an educational and inspirational experience for everyone involved.”

For your chance to win, follow these simple steps before the closing date of this Friday September 6:

1. Follow Customer Experience Magazine on LinkedIn
2. Like the contest post
3. Complete and submit the Contest Entry Form below


CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamAugust 29, 2019
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4min2266

International event management company Westrade Group has been quick to follow up on the enormous success of its inaugural event with the forthcoming and newly branded OSX, the only outsourcing summit and expo of its kind. 

ExCel London will once again play host to the event which takes place on 1 -2 October and offers a unique opportunity for professionals to forge new partnerships that could change the way we do business.

Last October, Westrade Group welcomed over 800 delegates through the doors across the two-day conference and exhibition, many of whom had travelled from Europe and Asia to attend the highly anticipated event. 

This year, delegates can look forward to a more open and airier exhibition space which will be carefully crafted into five designated zones: Digital Disruption, which will celebrate those using digital technologies to challenge the status quo; IT Design & Development, which will focus on those developing IT services on web, mobile and CRM/CMS; Customer Experience, which will focus on the importance of delivering high level CX; Business Process Services, where you can meet providers who can help streamline your business and reduce costs; and International, where we will connect ambitious companies looking for exciting new locations to base their businesses.

OSX has already attracted leading names synonymous with outsourcing as sponsors: household names such as Accedia, Innovify, Kogific Consulting Group, and Profitnit. The ‘live’ element has always been key to the success of many Westrade signature events and OSX is no different; an incredible array of talented speakers from across the industry have already been lined up for presenting duties, including Anthony Welfare of Oracle, Rob McCargow of PWC, and Emma Hall of Domestic and General.

Kevin Lloyd, Event Director of OSX, said: “All of our businesses, no matter what the industry, are either being transformed, digitised, automated, migrated to the Cloud, buried under a heap of Big Data, or liberated by the Internet of Things. The convergence of these great domains has created a whole new ecosystem, bringing with it opportunity and challenge in equal measure. 

“We believe that OSX meets these challenges head-on and can provide powerful insights into future developments in the world of outsourcing.  It’s a meeting place where like-minded attendees come together to unlock the untapped potential in their business.”

Register for free to visit


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21min1791

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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8min2207

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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3min2311

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.




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