CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamFebruary 13, 2019


Analysis of the UK’s top 250 retailers has found a 19 percent year-on-year increase in the number of brands offering the option to pay in international currency.

The figure forms part of an annual performance index carried out by leading ecommerce and digital agency Visualsoft.

The report examined the sector’s biggest names and found that 81 percent of these retailers are offering customers the option to pay in non-sterling alternatives. This was an increase on the 62 percent of retailers that offered international payments in 2017. The majority of these are Euros and USD, with one percent of retailers offering Yen.

The increase is likely to be a reaction to Brexit-related uncertainty in the lead-up to 29th March.

The research also found that the prevalence of innovative payment methods is increasing. For example, after only being in the market for little over a year, Amazon Pay is already being used by 10 percent of top retailers – showing clear movement towards a more diverse spectrum of payments offered.

A further one-in-10 of retailers analysed offer finance products from lenders such as Klarna – up from almost nothing in 2017. Research has found that around three-quarters (78 percent) of consumers would consider purchasing through retail finance, with the average spend of £620, so offering this type of payment could prove a fundamental avenue for future growth.

However, this appeared to be having a detrimental impact on basic payment methods. A quarter (23 percent) fail to offer a payment choice other than a mainstream credit or debit card. This has worsened by four percent year-on-year.

Dale Higginbottom, head of CRO at Visualsoft, said: “These figures suggest proactivity in the lead-up to Brexit and adoption of new payment trends, which is great to see. However, we know that up to a quarter of consumers also abandon their transactions at checkout because the retailer doesn’t provide their payment method of choice.

“Offering a wide range of options is an important way for retailers to maximise their sales potential, but too many are still not doing so – with 23 percent neglecting an offer outside of traditional cards. This inability to get the basics right could prove crucial as we move into 2019.”

CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamFebruary 8, 2019


The Customer Experience Professional Masterclass led by international CX consultant and author Ian Golding, is going from strength-to-strength in 2019 with more satisfied participants than ever.

The two-day class – which is followed by an opportunity to take the CCXP exam following a preparation workshop – sees participants learn the skills and knowledge needed to move a business towards full customer-centricity.

Featuring interactivity, discussions, case studies, and more, Ian, author of Customer What? The honest and practical guide to customer experience, is helping shape the CX landscape in the UK and beyond, empowering a new generation of professionals ready to put customer centricity at the heart of their organisations.

The recent February CX Masterclass was a huge success, and saw eager participants arrive in Stevenage from across the UK – and further afield – to engage.

Speaking of his experience, Ben Washburn, a CX Manager with legal software firm Hyperlaw, said: “I had a fantastic few days at the CX Masterclass. Customer Experience is such a crucial area of business that often doesn’t get the attention it deserves. If deployed properly, it is key to any successful business.

“A huge thank you to Ian for the eye opening insight and all the other attendees for a thoroughly enjoyable two days.”

Mary Geoghegan, a Senior Global Customer Service Leader with the national College of Ireland, said: “I was very impressed with Ian’s delivery of training, his passion, and his support to go above and beyond with his mentoring. Having completed the class I feel re-energised, re-focused, and totally positive that this is the area of business I want to be in and one in which I can make a difference.”

Customer Experience Leader with Bupa Global, Dean Arcan, flew in from Copenhagen to take part and was thrilled to learn from Ian, who also applies his knowledge in judging panels for various CX awards events such as the UK Customer Experience Awards.

“Ian is one of the most inspirational leaders I’ve ever met,” he said.

“He is extremely knowledgeable, passionate, and humble. He is a true example of a leader with purpose and integrity, who is committed to adding value to people.

I feel as though this Masterclass has been a milestone event in my career. I’ve learned so much I’m almost bursting with enthusiasm – even more than usual!

“Under Ian’s guidance I know I will be able to channel this a lot more effectively going forward. Keep doing what you are doing Ian, you are changing lives!”

Meanwhile, Sophie Rugg, a Customer Insight specialist with Wakefield and District Housing, described the Masterclass as “hands down the best training I have ever attended.”

She continued: “Ian is an absolute CX expert and delivers the class with clarity and an infectious enthusiasm. He has an incredible knack for dealing with complex topics with simplicity. I have come away from the class glowing and buzzing with new ideas. I can’t recommend tit highly enough.”

The next CX Professional Masterclass will take place at the Business & Technology Centre in Stevenage on April 23-24, with the CCXP Exam Workshop on the 25th. Click here to register.

For all Masterclass queries, please contact Antonija at


CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamFebruary 7, 2019


CXM has partnered with the Customer & User Experience Expo, which is making its debut at the London ExCeL on the 27th & 28th March 2019, and is running alongside four other unique industry shows at Europe’s best marketing event.

The event will equip you with the tools, techniques, and systems to revolutionise your Customer Experience, pathing your journey to success.

Over 100 experts will be on hand to enlighten visitors with the very best Customer and User Experience guidance available, while an array of the industry’s biggest brands and most innovative suppliers will be showcasing the solutions shaping the future of CX and UX, all under one roof.

Among these industry professionals are the best-of-the-best to advise, educate, and influence the development of your CX plan for your business.

Keynote speakers include:

Daniel Ord – Founder of OmniTouch International

Daniel will share multiple examples from his work on Contact Centre Mystery Shopper programs, to highlight that it may be time to reinvent your approach to quality. He will also provide practical suggestions for doing so.

Nikki Patel – Head of Evaluation for Digital Development at NHS England

This presentation will take a look at developments in digital technology in the NHS and the direction of travel for the future, to ensure new opportunities can be grasped and citizen experience improved.

Nick Iron – Lead UX Designer at John Lewis

In this talk, Nick will use principles of heuristic traps in skiing and mountaineering to illustrate some of the mistakes that are commonly made in UX and UI design, and demonstrate how, whilst rarely fatal, they can be highly damaging to our careers or business success.

For all this and more, the 2019 free ticket for the Customer & User Experience Expo will also give you unprecedented access to the Call & Contact Centre Expo, B2B Marketing Expo, Marketing Technology Expo, and Sales Innovation Expo; with a combined lineup of 1,000 cutting-edge exhibitors, 500 educational seminars, and 200 interactive masterclasses, this is going to be a show like no other.

Visit the website today to secure your limited FREE ticket.

CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamFebruary 5, 2019


Customer Experience professionals are preparing to gather in Dublin for the 2019 European Insight Exchange event.

Taking place in the Irish capital on March 13-14 at the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, the conference is hosted by the CXPA and is one of Europe’s premier events for sharing best practise and highlighting skills in Customer Experience.

A fantastic networking opportunity, the European Insight Exchange features workshops, a thought leader panel, and unique ‘Show & Tell’ sessions with professionals revealing inspiring details of successful CX initiatives that you can adapt for your own organisation.

Also taking place will be ‘Unwound Sharing’ forum sessions that bring attendees together for brainstorming and to receive valuable feedback on ideas. Topics covered here will include: Implementing Customer Focused Change; Going Beyond Surveys – Other Methods for Gathering Perceptions and Insights; Aligning Culture, CX and EX; Developing an Experience-Centric Culture; Measuring Customer Emotion; and Articulating the Value of CX.

The event – the theme of which this year is ‘Where is the Human in CX? – will also provide an opportunity to sit the CCXP Exam for attendees who pay the fee by February 13.

A spokesperson for the event said: “CXPA Members designed their annual Insight Exchange events to be like no other conference. These events offered in both Europe and the United States are planned, organised and executed by member volunteers just like you.

“These events are meant to be intimate gatherings with opportunities for fearless sharing and chances to learn from people who are walking in your shoes. Whether or not you’re a member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA), and no matter where you are on your CX journey, the 2019 European Insight Exchange is the perfect opportunity to expand your network and your knowledge with more than 150 Customer Experience professionals.”

Two additional free workshops with a value of €1,000 are also included for those who register. To find out more about registering for the event, click here.

CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamJanuary 28, 2019


Mark Seemann is a UK tech pioneer and telecommunications trailblazer who is now CEO of StaffCircle, a firm providing a work platform that improves internal communication and feedback for employees.

StaffCircle digitises sentiment, awards, communication, training, ideas, tasks, holidays, and directory and delivers it to staff via the smartphone in their pocket. This reduces staff attrition and creates greater employee engagement, empowerment, and productivity.

In an interview with CXM, Mark discusses the future of employee engagement, and why that future is the here and now…

Tell us about StaffCircle and what the company does

StaffCircle is an Internal Communications and Performance Management Platform. It is designed for organisations needing to have two-way communications and feedback with their office-based employees and also their non-desk-based digitally disconnected workforce.

As the relevance of the Customer Experience concept rises, how important is Employee Experience in this new era?

It’s crucial! Engaged employees deliver a better service and ultimately, happier customers. Employee Experience spans a number of areas, and one of them is Digital Experience which is why we created StaffCircle – to help companies open up the feedback loop between business leaders and the entire workforce.

What are some common failings of firms when it comes to employee engagement?

Most non-desk employees aren’t digitally connected to their companies. One-way communication prevails usually through email or paper.

Companies lack the systems and capability to deliver a consistent Employee Experience across both desk and non-desk-based employees because current systems are not designed for the modern smartphone-centric workforce. This disconnect can cause disengaged employees and information silos.

What are some simple steps organisations can take towards improving employee engagement?

Listen to your employees using surveys or internal workshops. Companies need to create faster feedback loops, opening up a digital information flow with their employees at scale. Take a look at the new technology now available, such as StaffCircle, to see how companies can engage digitally with employees with a Company Information Feed, One2Ones, Learning, Appraisals, and Polls.

What is the future of the relationship between firms and employees as technology and other factors continue to make an impact on that relationship?

Organisations need to engage in structured two-way communications rather than one-way unstructured comms (eg: email or paper).

Organisations need to listen to their employees using digital tools enabling faster feedback and greater information flow. Millennials use advanced digital technology (smartphone apps) at home and on the go; it’s time organisations mobilised their technology stack and opened it up to all of their employees.


CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamJanuary 25, 2019


SDL, a global leader in content creation, translation, and delivery, has outlined six recommendations for companies looking to unlock the strategic power of an intelligent content supply chain in 2019, giving them the ability to engage with anyone, anywhere, in their own language and device of choice.

A November 2018 Forrester Consulting study, Today’s Content Supply Chains Prevent Continuous Customer Journeys, commissioned by SDL, revealed that companies need to develop a Global Content Operating Model (GCOM), a framework that aligns people, technology, and processes across a company, helping them mature the way they create, translate, and deliver content to their customers. This helps brands handle the growing volume and velocity of content required to engage with worldwide audiences.

The study also found that brands rely too heavily on disjointed technologies including a collection Web Content Management Systems, network drives, and document management systems, supported by poorly orchestrated human translation, to build customer experiences on a global scale. Internal organisational silos also add to the complexity involved in providing continuity across the pre-sale, sale, and post-sale phases of the customer journey.

“To reach the desired end state of intelligent content, companies need to build for the future today,” according to the Forrester study. “They need to rethink their current processes, technology, and organisational structures to be prepared for a future where the strategic value of content continues to grow and determines the difference between company success and failure.

Peggy Chen, Chief Marketing Officer at SDL, said: “The result of organisational and technological disconnects is poor, fragmented experiences and frustrated customers. At a time when customers are turning online dozens of times a day, that’s an enormous missed opportunity. By commissioning this study from Forrester Consulting we have uncovered the key problems and developed a set of six recommendations that outline a path for brands to consider in 2019 when evolving their content supply chain.”

1.Take control of your content supply chain

The volume and velocity at which brands create content is out of control, and it’s only going to become more complex. Ninety-three percent of brands say they will produce more content in the next two years. Half estimate the volume of content will increase by more than 30 percent (and a third estimate by more than 40 percent), according to the Forrester Consulting study.

The answer to fixing this is to regain content control across the organisation. The GCOM can help brands achieve this, moving from a manual operating model towards automated and even autonomous for global content creation, translation and delivery.

2. Explore intelligent content platforms

Only about one third of brands believe they provide customers with a continuous customer experience, according to the study. Brands looking to deliver meaningful and consistent customer experiences, across multiple channels and languages, will need vast amounts of content – more than it’s possible for marketing teams to create. Companies will require an intelligent, flexible and AI-driven architecture. Applying intelligence to a content ecosystem will help companies automate tasks, and reduce the cost involved in managing extreme amounts of content.

3. Rethink how content is constructed

The popularity of video, chatbots, virtual assistants, and other emerging channels are on the rise. Brands expect these to significantly grow over the next two years, yet only 29 percent say that they are very satisfied with the ability of their tools to engage with customers across these channels, and deliver a continuous experience, according to the study.

Rethink how content is constructed and shared across teams so that it can be adapted for these new delivery models with minimal rework and maximum impact. This will help brands deliver content faster across different channels, languages, and audiences.

4. Be ready to adapt content for any channel

Customers want content, across multiple channels, at any time of day. Therefore, how do brands create enough content to meet demand? Little more than half of firms have a centralised and standardised toolset for the creation (51 percent), translation (54 percent), and delivery (56 percent) of content across regions and languages. Bringing systems together to increase the delivery of easily consumed content, ensures its consistency across all stages of the buying cycle.

5. Realise that customers want product information

Buyers and users want the details about products and services not just after the deal is done, but during the buying cycle to understand their investments and make more informed decisions. Brands understand this trend. Three-quarters (77 percent) admit that keeping product information relevant and up-to-date is critical to a good Customer Experience.

They also agree that improving access to product information would have the single greatest positive impact on Customer Experience – more so than any other type of content. Brands need to be ready to deliver everything from production manuals, videos, and spec sheets to customers, in their own language and to the highest standards.

6. Leadership should drive change

According to the study, 82 percent of firms agree content is critical to their company’s success in achieving top business objectives. Despite this, three quarters (80 percent) believe that current content supply chain challenges impede their ability to deliver on top business objectives.

The Vice President and C-level executives should be the driving force behind digital change. They have the advantage of seeing cross-departmental, global activities, and may be in a better position to spot broken or redundant processes.

Improved content supply chains lead to robust departmental and business-wide benefits. Companies gain improved productivity, higher customer engagement, increased conversion rates, and increased customer satisfaction, among other benefits.

CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamJanuary 25, 2019


Professional salaries in the UK will remain relatively flat in 2019, as Britain’s pending departure from the EU impacts employee confidence and business willingness to spend.

The findings come from the annual Salary Survey produced by global recruitment consultancy Robert Walters.

“Uncertainty around Brexit has created a fear of ‘last in first out,’ which in turn has meant that employees are less willing to move roles as swiftly as they would have in previous years,” states Chris Hickey, CEO of the UK, Middle East & Africa at Robert Walters.

“As a result, despite there being high demand for specialist and highly skilled professionals, companies are finding themselves contending with a UK-wide candidate shortage across most disciplines.”

The news will not be met with a warm reception, as almost half (46 percent) of professionals currently believe that companies do not offer a competitive enough salary, according to recent Robert Walters survey.

However, in-spite of Brexit there will be pockets of intense hiring activity and salary increases within banking and financial services – driven by demand for skills such as compliance, risk, and audit.

In fact, salaries in Internal Audit are expected to rise by as much as 20 percent across all levels. For those in the Risk sector, starting salaries (1-3 yrs’ exp) will see a five percent growth, with this increasing at each level to 8-10 percent for those with 7-10 yrs’ exp.

It seems it is a good time to be a professional in the West Midlands, with qualified accountants expecting a 10-20% rise, and HR professionals expecting a 10% rise in salaries this year.

As one of the fastest-growing markets across the whole of the UK – growing at three times the rate of the main economy – tech seems to be the shining light for the North West, in particular in Manchester where IT salaries in the region have increased by 20 percent.

Despite employees becoming risk averse, Robert Walters data shows that it has been ‘business as usual’ for companies, with the number of jobs being advertised remaining unchanged.

“Whilst trade may be consistent, freezes on spending have been commonplace for most companies, making it difficult for hiring managers to lure candidates into job offers without an increase in pay,” said Chris.

“To counter this, businesses have been investing in themselves and their own infrastructure, in order to become a more all-round appealing place to work.”

According to Robert Walters research, 75 percent of Millennials consider an engaging and fun workplace an important part of their job.

Chris added: “It will continue to be a competitive market in 2019 and so in order to attract top talent and high-performing millennials, companies should invest in their employer brand and improve softer benefits including flexi-hours and the workplace environment.”

Career progression (91 percent), brand personality & cultural fit (58 percent), rate at which company adopts new technologies (42 percent), a sociable team culture (30 percent), and job satisfaction (25 percent) are considered the most valuable to the Millennial workforce – outside of pay.

“Our advice to businesses facing candidate shortages is to be flexible and consider hiring professionals with transferrable skills. Companies should consider taking on candidates who are ambitious and fast learners, even if they are not an exact fit for the job description, in order to support areas of growth within the business,” said Chris.

A number of companies have already started to gear up for a post-Brexit market by setting up offices in major cities within Belgium, France, Germany, and Luxembourg.

Chris said: “The UK still offers some of the most competitive salaries in Europe, however it will not surprise me to see more and more professionals move to other European countries who are known for their work-life balance and lifestyle.

“It is crucial now more than ever that employers focus on retention and maintaining headcount – variety in the job role, cross-training, secondments and lateral moves will all help retention rates with less cost to businesses when compared to introducing pay increases.”

CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamJanuary 21, 2019


The Call & Contact Centre Expo will return to London this March to once again connect industry professionals with the tools, techniques, and systems that are revolutionising customer engagement.

Taking place at London’s ExCeL on the 27th and 28th of March, the highly anticipated event will see experts from the likes of Microsoft, BT, SAP, EA, Oracle, and IBM on-hand to enlighten visitors with the very best CX guidance available.

Meanwhile, an array of the industry’s biggest brands and most innovative suppliers will be showcasing the solutions shaping the future of the contact centre.

Some of these unparalleled keynotes include:

Angela Bos – Technology Specialist at Microsoft

During this session, you will learn how Microsoft is enabling intelligence in the modern workplace.

Every day we see more and more things in our personal lives become intelligent. ​​From our homes, to personal devices, and even our cars. This intelligence is now the new norm – it saves us time and money whilst reducing complexity.

Dr Nicola Millard – Head of Customers Insights & Futures BT

This session will investigate the key trends driving consumer behaviour and how innovation can help customers “chat, tap and talk”.

It looks at why customers want an easy life; what happens when the smartphone is their window on the world; why we use the channels we use (and which channels are rising and falling in preference); what the role of chatbots are; and why data needs to be leveraged as the new currency in a ‘me-conomy’.

Free tickets

2018 saw the addition of the Call and Contact Centre Expo to the B2B Marketing Expo for the very first time. With the significance of new technology becoming increasingly dominant within the world of customer engagement, this show has become a vital part of the continuous evolution of the overall event, and will continue to bring you the very latest from the world of CX for the foreseeable future.

Your free ticket for the Call and Contact Centre Expo will also give you access to the Customer & User Experience Expo, B2B Marketing Expo, Marketing Technology Expo, and Sales Innovation Expo.

Head over to the website to grab your free ticket now.

CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamJanuary 15, 2019


UK Customer Experience Award winner Feefo has revealed its top five CX predictions for 2019.

The firm is a leader in reviews and customer insight technology, and last year won Silver in the Best use of Insight & Feedback – Solution or Programme category at the UKCXA finals in London’s Wembley Stadium.

Here, four members of the Feefo team offer their thoughts on the Customer Experience landscape for the year ahead, in which they predict further advances in technology, and the full establishment of an already domineering trend – CX, and not price, becoming the main reason to choose a particular brand.

AI will become so much more than just a buzzword

Matt West, Feefo CEO

In 2019, AI will be more prevalent in everyday business but with a greater focus on ROI and tangible results. In Customer Experience, business leaders will understand how it can predict where customer enhancements are urgently required that will bring increased loyalty and revenues.

Flexibility and agility are critical attributes that AI will develop in customer-facing businesses. Brands will realise they must be able to react quickly, and in some cases in real-time, to their customers’ views and responses. It could be as simple as learning which sale to put on and at what time and how to market it to individuals.

Spending and learning with the right partner will be the key to making successful use of amazing innovations now available.

Brands will understand how consumers become brand advocates

Matt West, CEO

The power of consumers to make or break a service, product, or brand by expressing their opinion on the web or via social media will increase.

The smarter brands and organisations will recognise they must use AI to extract insights from thousands of customer opinions to achieve more personal and more meaningful engagement.

A more holistic view of the entire customer journey will be a vital requirement, as brands seek to provide a compelling experience, not just a completed transaction. That is when consumers will sing the praises of brands online and become their advocates.

Quality of experience will overtake price and product as brand differentiators

Steph Heasman, Director of Customer Success 

Further CX investment will be a key feature of 2019, both in terms of headcount and technology. As Customer Experience increasingly overtakes price and product as the primary brand differentiator, the business case for technology will become totally convincing.

Organisations will see that they must have deeper customer insight and sentiment analysis if they are to build loyalty and get ahead of competitors. There will not be any alternative to having access to the right data and the right technology to extract the customer-engagement riches that lie within it.

Clever investment in smart tech will yield the best returns

Richard Sawney, CFO

Tightly focused strategic thinking will be necessary as currency fluctuations in the wake of Brexit make the waters choppy. Although the Euro may strengthen against Sterling, later in the year, I’d fully expect Sterling to improve. Business leaders should seize the opportunity to deliver extra value for their customers as finances become more available.

Recruitment is going to be a real challenge in the customer service industry and personal job security will be important in the short-term. This may lead to overall better planning strategies for CX leaders because they will have their skilled team in place with reduced risk of departures.

The right tech and better use of data will transform CX strategies

Paul Greatbatch, Technical Director 

Technological development will move to using a greater variety of sources to create a clear view of true customer sentiment towards a business’ products or services.

With so many varying sources of content and the accessibility of affordable or open source APIs, it will be important to ensure brands get the combination right.

AI will prove to be the key that unlocks a wealth of statistical analysis for businesses. The smart ones will use it to make highly significant improvements in customer service that give them a real competitive edge. Put simply – better use of data means better customer service and bigger revenues.

To register your interest for the 2019 UK Customer Experience Awards, click here. Entries for the awards open on February 14.


CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamJanuary 14, 2019


This article is co-authored by Amjid Rasool, Head of Service Design at Tesco Bank, and Paul-Jervis Heath, Founder of Modern Human.



In 2017, we embarked on a redesign of how the bank handled complaints. From the work we identified what we believe are five important aspects underpinning successful service design.

The first of these is the need to consider both the internal and external perspective. From the very beginning we were clear that while the ultimate goal was to improve the Customer Experience, to do so we had to examine and understand the colleague experience. We wanted to turn more customers who had complaints into strong advocates, but this could only be done if the issues, concerns, and pressures colleagues faced when dealing with complaints were understood. Complaints and indeed any service must be seen from both sides.

In our work, customer service representatives were interviewed about their day-to-day experiences, in parallel to listening to various complaints and the customers involved in them. From the two sets of interviews and perspectives, connections could be identified on where improvements could be made.

A key approach is to actively involve front-line colleagues in service design and avoid simply imposing solutions on them. To do this, we brought together customer service representatives in a series of workshops, where together we explored and developed changes to process, systems and culture.

The second aspect is being aware of the importance of psychology. This is true of any customer interaction, but it is striking how much neuropsychology is at play during a complaint. It is a stressful situation for both customers and complaint handlers. Stress invokes an autonomic physiological response: the body releases adrenaline and cortisol.

This creates a fight or flight response in which problem-solving capability and lateral thinking, the very things key to successfully handling a complaint, become severely restricted. Having two people whose logical reasoning is potentially impaired and who are under significant cognitive load is not conducive to successfully resolving it. Therefore, reducing the cognitive load is one of the key priorities. An important step is a focus on simplifying processes and systems to enable more effective customer conversations.

Third is the need to draw on a wide range of expertise across an organisation. While we were focused on the work of customer service representatives, it was crucial to involve wider colleagues and functions that directly or indirectly support them.

We created a pop-up design studio in the contact centre and brought together a multidisciplinary team from across the bank. By utilising a very diverse range of expertise and insights, we were able to identify and address broad areas for improvement, not just those confined to the customer complaint area. These included the experience of the customer; the bank’s systems and processes, the culture, and the physical working environment of the contact centre.

Fourth, any service design should be focussed on the needs and actions of human beings. An analysis of technical processes was important, but the human interactions were key. We followed an ethnographic approach to understand how peoples’ relationships, beliefs and values drove their behaviour and attitudes.

By uncovering the nuances of colleagues and customers’ frustrations and motivations, improvements could be identified and developed. An example in our work was giving customer service representatives the flexibility to independently apply emotional intelligence to the way they handled each complaint to make the experience more personal for customers.

The final aspect is applying an evidence-based approach. Our research produced a huge number of findings and potential solutions. To ensure all the opportunities were analysed and the best ones identified, we embarked on an iterative design process.

This approach enables any new ideas to be piloted and their impact measured. Based on this, ideas could then either be developed further or shelved. As well as being able to test concepts, in our work the pilots enabled us to identify any internal issues or barriers that could impact the successful roll out of the new service. The benefit of this approach is that it means that all developments are based on solid evidence and have been rigorously tested, to inspire trust and confidence in end users.

Service design should be focussed on putting customers at the heart of a service but also empowering staff to take ownership and be fully involved in the process. Ultimately, it is about making a positive human connection to build long lasting relationships with customers. To do this, a blend of ethnographic research, evidence-based approaches, psychology, and engagement, in and outside any organisation is required.  

CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamDecember 31, 2018


A study conducted this year by Accenture found that two-thirds of large companies currently face high levels of industry disruption.

We’ve already seen supporting evidence for this finding: Toys R Us, Homebase, Maplin and Mothercare all went into administration in the last 12 months after struggling to compete with more innovative online companies.

There are a number of reasons these companies found themselves in dire circumstances. Recent studies show that when it comes to making a purchase, 64 percent of people find customer experience more important than price (Gartner), and Millennials are willing to spend up to 21 percent more to get great customer service (American Express).

Although competitive pricing will always remain a factor in a company’s success strategy, great service clearly matters more to today’s customers.

If you want your business to rise above the rest in 2019, you need to provide the best possible customer service. Here are five key ways you can harness technology and innovation to ensure your customer service stands out for the right reasons.

1. Make it easy for customers to get in touch

In 2018, businesses really started taking notice of messaging services. And it’s not hard to see  why: research shows that chat is by far the preferred support channel of Millennials, who are now the most important retail demographic (Com100). Facebook and Whatsapp even launched apps and integrations specifically designed to help businesses connect with their customers via instant messaging.

In 2019, businesses that don’t offer live chat services will be in the minority. They face losing a significant number of their customers who don’t want to wait on hold or watch their inbox for a resolution to their problem. Many newer companies and start-ups even offer in-app messaging to make getting in touch as easy as possible.

The good news is that live chat is now easier to implement than ever before. Take a look at the options available to you and consider how you can integrate it with your current customer satisfaction strategy.

2. Use AI to ease congestion

In 2018, it became commonplace to hear businesses talk about how they use machine learning to provide personalised deals and experiences for customers. Going into 2019, the next buzzword that’s on everyone’s lips is AI – and it’s going to become vital if you want to keep customers satisfied.

AI is so advanced now that it can be used to converse with customers to help identify their problem and provide customer service representatives with the information they need. That way, every second of the customer’s time is used properly.

That’s good news when you consider that the majority of people (66 percent) feel that the most important thing a company can do to provide a good online customer experience is valuing the customer’s time (Forrester).

Gemma Harding, Head of Client Services at leading UK call outsourcing specialist CALLCARE, says that AI has become a foundational element in how her team provides customer service.

“As Live Chat has become a more and more important service for our clients, we now use AI to alleviate pressure on our operators while using a customer’s time more efficiently,” she said.

“By addressing a customer’s enquiry straight away with our AI systems, all important information is gathered for when our operators handle the enquiry at hand. Our operators can then step in and use their emotional intelligence to resolve the problem at heart. It’s better for everyone involved and has helped us deliver even better results for our clients.”

3. Focus on staff satisfaction

In the year when mindfulness apps and the four-day working week took centre stage, we learnt a lot about the importance of employee wellbeing.

Despite fears about how Brexit might hit the job economy, unemployment rates in the UK were the lowest they had been since 1975. That’s created a competitive job market that means employers have to step up to retain their best staff.

In 2019, businesses that invest in happier staff will reap the rewards of having happier customers. Peter Doczi, Head of Customer Services at company formation agent Rapid Formations, highlights how healthy staff can boost your business. He said: “Customer service can be a high-pressure environment for employees. Work-life balance, fresh-mindedness and good mental health are key to delivering excellent levels of customer service on a consistent basis…this leads to more positive reviews, which leads to more sales.”

4. Remove rigid business structures

One of the key reasons that so many big businesses went under in 2018 was their lack of flexibility. Companies like Toys R Us and Homebase struggled to keep up with the online market, burdened rather than empowered by their long-established internal hierarchy.

2019 will be the year where businesses that can’t adapt to evolving customer needs will be left behind. Successful businesses will be those that can seek customer feedback earlier rather than later and respond to it before a real problem arises.

To stay flexible enough to try new things, businesses will need to make some bold decisions about internal structure – for larger companies, that could even mean a complete reshuffle.

Markus Stripf, co-founder and CEO of Spoon Guru – a company that uses AI to provide dietary requirement advice to catering businesses – emphasised the need to keep up with consumer demands.

“Consumer needs are constantly evolving, so, in turn, your product or service should develop alongside this. Keep informed with incoming trends and the changing lifestyles of your customers so you can anticipate the services or products they will want,” he said.

“If you keep up and continue to offer what people want before they have to ask for it,” Markus says, “your customers trust in you will only strengthen.”

5. Co-innovate to improve Customer Experience

What’s been called the ‘sharing economy’ has continued to prosper in 2018 and shows no sign of stopping. By relinquishing the need to deliver all aspects of a product first-hand and opening up to third-party providers, apps like Uber, Airbnb, and recently car-sharing app Turo have dominated the marketplace.

In 2019, co-innovation – whether it’s with vendors, logistics companies or even with your own customers – will become more important than ever before. By outsourcing some parts of your customer service to specialised professionals, you can focus on the core part of your business you know you’re good at. This way, all parts of your business can innovate at a rapid pace without impeding on one another’s progress.

Continuing to innovate is key to setting up healthy customer relationships. Alister Esam, CEO of Process Bliss, explains how ongoing tweaks to your onboarding process is key to meeting customer expectations: “Creating a great customer experience from the outset is essential to retaining that client longer term and that involves a smart and effective customer onboarding process. Getting the onboarding process right at the outset creates the flexibility and freedom to delight that customer and give them a memorable experience. Get it wrong and you will always be on the backfoot with that customer.”

2019 is the Year of the Customer

New technology is exciting, but it’ll be the businesses that use that technology to make customers’ lives easier that will really thrive in 2019. It’s about removing friction, using customer time efficiently, and going the extra mile to respond to customer needs.

CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamDecember 7, 2018


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

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

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

What customers expect from e-commerce brands

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

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

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

The importance of extending customer lifetime value (LTV)

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

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

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

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

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

What makes e-commerce customers stick around?

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

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

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

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

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

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

CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamNovember 15, 2018


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

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

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

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

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

Habit 1: Define goals and drive the right ownership

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

Habit 2: Think innovation and action

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

Habit 3: Listening to more voices collectively

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

Habit 4: A focus on customer-centricity

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

Habit 5: Continuously re-think

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

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


CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamNovember 12, 2018


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamNovember 1, 2018


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

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

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

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

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

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

The need for skills and a culture of responsibility

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

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

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


CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamOctober 31, 2018


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

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

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

Could it be that money is not always a motivator?

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

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

Money is the answer to some of the questions

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

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

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

The function of money as a motivator is complicated

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

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

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

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

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

So what really motivates us to work?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In conclusion…

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





CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamOctober 29, 2018


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Minimising an experience blackspot

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

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

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

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

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

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

CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamSeptember 4, 2018


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jonathan Morgan, CEO at OpenMarket, added:

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

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

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

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

CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamAugust 20, 2018


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

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

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

Head of Marketing, Liam Howard Jones, explained:

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

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

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

CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamAugust 9, 2018


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Royston, Herts, SG8 0EE
Company number: 6707388


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