Lindsay McEwanLindsay McEwanMay 24, 2019
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7min69

Mastering the balance between exceptional Customer Experience and data protection legislation isn’t easy, and many businesses are unintentionally teetering on the edge.

Ironically, in a bid to meet customer needs with hassle-free digital services, some companies have missed the regulation mark with 200,000 reported GDPR breaches and fines totalling €55.9 million, so far. Walking the line between compliance and delivering great customer experience takes skill – brands must identify and stick to the perfect middle pathway; starting with a clear understanding of the factors that can send them off course. 

Top-heavy convenience impedes privacy

Efficient services are vital in the digital age; customers want experiences to be fast, simple, and streamlined. In fact, 26 percent will abandon online checkouts if processes are too complex. But companies focusing solely on convenience are putting themselves at risk of not only breaching regulation but also losing the trust of their customers.

While convenience matters, it shouldn’t surpass compliance and choice. A recent investigation by brand comparison site Which?, found a number of potential regulation breaches in e-receipts. By providing opted-in paperless proof of purchase, brands sought to improve customer experience, providing an instant buying record that enables easier returns or exchanges. However, the inclusion of unwanted marketing messaging in the emailed receipts, for which retailers had not received consent, meant many were breaking the rules of GDPR law and seemingly ignoring customer preferences.

Impenetrable defences dissuade customers

Following laws such as the GDPR is non-negotiable if firms want to avoid sizeable fines and reputational damage. The companies that embrace regulations will reap the rewards by demonstrating their dedication to protecting consumers’ data and will have a much greater chance of building lasting confidence and relationships: 84 percent of consumers cite good data security as a central factor in spending decisions. However, the introduction of safety measures and privacy protection can sometimes become obstructive itself.

As noted by Jeff Bell, Forbes Technology Council member and CEO of LegalShield, “excessive regulation leading to poor customer service” is high on the list of potential unintended GDPR consequences. For example, trying to mitigate all consent issues by installing a different opt-in widget for every single cookie is more likely to leave consumers feeling exasperated than empowered. Not to mention causing disruption to their journey that could result in negative brand perception.

And it almost goes without saying that extreme action such as blocking EU site visitors is a one-way ticket to loss of audience; the Chicago Tribune, for instance, has blocked all European readers from seeing its content since the GDPR arrived, an approach that can be seen used across a variety of US publishers and ecommerce sites.

Usability is the key lesson here. Companies must aim to build robust data defences that effectively mitigate privacy risks, without making it impossible for customers to get through.

Equilibrium: the answer to the ultimate Customer Experience

The value of CX is self-evident; amid increasingly tough competition and rising acquisition costs, success belongs to those who forge the deepest personal connections. But recognition of the most critical element remains limited: maintaining a consistently even balance. If businesses want to create memorable journeys and impactful interactions that fuel positive results, they need to provide the right blend of speed, simplicity, and data security.

Of course, the ideal mix varies for each brand. Among the best examples of current leaders is IKEA; despite famously poking fun at the GDPR, the company still sent out opt-in emails to ensure sustained contact with existing customers, and continuously uses data well. Drawing on fully consented membership insights, it highlights genuinely relevant discounts and provides unexpected yet impactful bonuses, such as in-store café freebies.

What every organisation must remember is that while convenience might attract customers, measured compliance is what makes them stay. So, there should always be two core components in place: clear and efficient data options that are easy to use, and holistic insight management. Only by unifying the information customers share can companies gain the full 360-degree view needed to define each individual’s ideal experience and deliver it.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthMay 24, 2019
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3min62

The demand from hotel guests to be able to order in takeaway food from outside sources could eat into the profits of hotels who fail to listen to customers, it has been warned.

Industry thought-leader, EP Business in Hospitality, along with guest experience management firm HGEM, has jointly hosted a thought-provoking business forum made up of world class hoteliers, to question how external food delivery services such as Deliveroo and Just Eat are impacting hotels and food service today.

The debate was triggered by new consumer research conducted by HGEM, which revealed that 67 percent of millennials are more likely to make room reservations with hotels that are prepared to accept third party food deliveries ‘in-room’.

In addition, although a further 80 percent of consumers expect hotels to have an on-site restaurant only 72 percent will use it, and only for breakfast. Even though many hotels offer a room service menu, which also spans ‘out of hours’ a resounding 81 percent of hotel guests say they would never use room service. Yet the appearance of external pizza delivery drivers turning up at luxury hotels to deliver food ordered by guests directly from their rooms is becoming far more commonplace today. In fact, external in-room deliveries are predicted to rise by 83 percent in the future.

Many are questioning if there is a business opportunity for hotels to allow delivered-in services from external providers or if it is simply case of if you can’t beat them, join them? The debate is forcing many operators to re-evaluate their guest service options to decide whether the ‘delivered-in’ model should become a natural extension to those services already on offer, or perhaps a natural extension to a more luxurious service.

Chris Sheppardson, CEO at EP Business in Hospitality, said” “It’s a fascinating topic for our industry, interestingly the initial thinking was that hoteliers would be resistant to third-party food services delivering food to their guests, but that wasn’t the case. Many believe it is now a guest expectation to be able to have food delivered in from outside providers and that refusal could alienate future generations of customers. Boutique hotels in particular, believe that this can actually work to their advantage in terms of add-on sales for beverages to accompany the deliveries and also building relationships with local restaurants, which can be effective and authentic.”

 


Rory OConnorRory OConnorMay 23, 2019
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3min88

Experience is everything for the digitally empowered customer, and delivering online goods from factory to front door is an integral part of the sales experience. 

Getting that delivery function right means frictionless online sales that will ultimately result in a solid, loyal customer base, but what exactly is a good delivery experience?

A good delivery experience is contextual – it differs from individual to individual as well as the locale in which the delivery is taking place.  The speed of delivery has become an evolving battleground for retailers, with a 28 percent increase in the UK from 2016 – 2018 on the number of next day delivery orders placed. However, even next day deliveries are becoming obsolete with more people now looking for same day delivery.

As a retailer, there are four key things that need to be done to ensure the Customer Experience is positive. The most important thing is to not only review your data but analyse your date to find trends and exceptions. Secondly, create direct and meaningful connections with customers offering consistent and trustworthy communication and tracking. Thirdly, where possible, automate and use AI and chatbots to deliver more speed efficiency and productivity. Lastly, carrier automation is key to operational efficiency.

Having different delivery options can make a huge difference at the level where people abandon their baskets during an online shopping experience. The key to securing a shopper that does not abandon their baskets are convenience, speed and price. Again, the context of the individual is important with every transaction, so having different delivery options to offer is key. Most online shoppers expect free delivery without a minimum spend, which puts pressure on delivery providers and can severely impact customer experience.

Failed deliveries are a large problem when choosing your delivery provider. The cost of getting a delivery wrong is detrimental, as a lost delivery can cost the company up to £150. Not only can it cost money on-the-spot, but worse, it can cost future sales as the customer that is not having a successful experience with the company is more likely to choose a different provider next time. A company is only as good as their last delivery, so each delivery has to be perfect for a customer to continue using that company.

Experience is now everything for the digitally empowered customers and the future of delivery relies upon successful customer experiences. Carriers have seen that providing an experience to the consumer is very important and have focused their energies on the creation of apps and brand recognition, amongst other things.


Pete ChampionPete ChampionMay 23, 2019
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13min107

For generations, pubs have been at the heart of community life in the UK; our TV soap operas revolve around fictional, but iconic, locals: The Rover’s Return, The Queen Vic, and The Woolpack.

These exist at the hub of community life; the venue to gather and share all life’s joys and dramas. But in reality, all is not well with ‘the local’. The British people’s relationship with pubs has changed, manifesting a trend that’s similar to the impact on our high streets, from retail to banking and restaurants. The traditional pub is under threat and a range of pressures are forcing closures and transforming the very nature of what a pub actually needs to be in order to remain relevant.

The notion of ‘social’ is now inseparable from ‘media’, so that in this digital age online communities to many have become as, or more, important than the tangible experience of ‘society’. In addition, the places or hubs that we now favour to gather in, across all regions in the UK, have shifted towards the likes of ‘third-place’ coffee shops such as Starbucks, Costa, Caffe Nero, and other independent cafes.

In urban centres, newer bars are becoming preferred over pubs for social get togethers, underpinned by the craft beer and gin revolutions. At the same time, younger generations – although not without their contradictions – are generally leaning less than their forbears on alcohol as an essential part of their socialising, striving for healthier lifestyles overall.

The pubs that have successfully responded to this dangerous shift, have as a dominant movement done so through food-driven re-positioning – shifting from their original purpose as a default and ad-hoc community gathering place focused on the bar, to become pre-defined ‘let’s eat out’ destinations. Inspired by lesser or greater degrees by the notion of ‘Gastropub’, they have become restaurants surrounded by the peripheral trappings of what used to be a local pub. But for traditional ‘locals’ wanting to stay true to the notion of pub-first, the challenge is even more complex.

We wish to understand if there is an experiential ‘formula’ to what made pubs such wonderful communal experiences in the past. If so, could this be modified or updated to keep them as an important thread in the fabric of our evolving society? 

How can pubs continue to play a relevant role in our new and future social landscape? 

There will always be demand from consumers for warm, hospitable, and well-considered venues to socialise, eat, drink, and get together. From bars, brewery and craft beverage concepts, members clubs, and cafes, it is the experience, the sense of community, the integrity of product and an environment that responds and relates to the lifestyles of its audiences that make them an attraction and destination choice.

Here are some high-level conclusions for principles to consider that may help:

The Experience

Stand for something: Whether it is a discovery of the local brews, a premium service, the pub garden to end all pub gardens, or the best sausage rolls for miles – define what makes your pub uniquely different and special. Think of the ways you can better engage or attract the audience you are targeting and what specifically, you want your pub to be famous for.  Then make it the best it can be.

Be a genuine community venue: Integrity matters in order to create an authentic, meaningful, living and breathing experience.  Building meaningful links to the local community and being creative as a venue to highlight your local features as well as being a comfortable place for people to gather, can populate the physical space of the pub. The fabric of ‘community’ is being fragmented – but humans are social animals and we want reasons to gather and great places to do so. A programme of events oriented around and celebrating local life could enhancing the pub experience now and into the future, in a way that makes sense in light of the role they have played throughout their history.

Become an all-day, all-year place to be: It’s not too difficult now to serve coffee and pastries every bit as good as the high street icons, or independent cafes – create an ambience that suits a wide range of occasions and social groups, throughout the day, from the coffee  morning gossip sessions through afternoon business chats to the great moments & occasions throughout the year.

The environment

From stale to fresh: That stale-beer sticky carpet feeling might hold some nostalgia for some of us of a certain age, but it’s just not attractive to most. Think about the ways you can avoid the negative trappings of the fusty old local, without losing the essence of everything  wonderful about a traditional pub atmosphere. The interior should also reflect the nature and history of the pub and the unique local character it sits within; but there are opportunities to be more creative in bringing these aspects to life visually.

Layering & texture: What can a pub do better than its newer rivals? Pub interiors will appeal if they feel layered, complex, characterful – and anything but formulaic. The design analysis should be more about the universal ‘anchor point’ principles of what makes a wonderful, relevant and compelling pub experience – rather than focused on overly proscribed styling or décor rules. The warmth of the open fire, the cosiness of the settle, a wonderful garden, the games etc.

An approachable space: The pub is essentially a casual venue for people to gather, therefore even if you elevate the experience through its design, do not forget that it has to be welcoming and approachable. Some pubs have evolved so much that they have more of a restaurant layout, be aware when developing your pub concept to not lose the authenticity of the local and the essence of this institution – yet avoid that feeling of intimidation famously portrayed by The Black Dog in An American Werewolf in London. Pubs, when done well, can uniquely provide in a small footprint, the communal experience of a great bar, with the intimacy of small groups at individual tables or booths – whatever mood, mindset or group, a great pub has a range of spaces from social to solitary.

The offering

Product offer: It’s a fact, people are drinking less, and your offer should reflect that, whether offering non-alcoholic, low-alcohol options, or drinks that can cater to trending dietary requirements. If you are going to hold certain events for the community, follow and cater to their taste and interests.

Community strengthening initiatives: Member’s clubs maintain events teams, because their initiatives are a huge pillar of their strategy when it comes to building a sense of community and bringing like-minded people together. Pub initiatives could be similar, even with less resources, perhaps partnering with other pubs for larger events, and offering a platform to various audiences within their locality. Also, by measuring the success of certain initiatives, pubs can then create recurrent events that people can associate with them and attend regularly.

Conclusion

We would love to see a burst of creativity across the landscape of pubs in the UK. There is no inevitability in a slow death of the local, leaving us only with a bunch of restaurants in the guise of what used to be a pub, offering us a place for our Sunday roasts. There is inspiration to be found in other sectors where the best principles of strategies for the creation of wonderful experiences, have been used to create new life.  We believe in People Inspired Experiences – pubs have always been just that – we’d like to see them continue to be so for many years to come.


Leigh MoodyLeigh MoodyMay 22, 2019
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4min150

In today’s age of instant gratification, consumers are used to getting what they want, when they want.

Every interaction we have with a brand is expected to be quick, seamless and personalised for our convenience. Despite this, the average Briton can spend up to 235 days waiting in a queue or line to be serviced over the course of a lifetime. Whilst clichés would suggest the British are content with queueing – in reality this could not be further from the truth and today’s queueing culture is actually having a detrimental effect on business’ bottom line.

Customers that are made to wait for a long period of time are less likely to repeat their business with a company, which could have dire financial implications. In fact, the average person in the UK is now unwilling to wait more than six minutes for a service.

Business mobility will be key

Most queues or long wait times are a result of manual processes and outdated legacy systems that often use traditional payment systems, contributing to slower service. But because of the Amazon effect, consumers now expect an enhanced experience around the clock. Businesses must act fast to take advantage of technology such as digital signage, tablet scanners, mobile point-of-sale (mPOS), and self-checkout terminals to remain competitive.

As new technologies rapidly enter the market, there is a correlating increase in the number of channels through which businesses interact with customers, adding to the complexity and cost of those interactions. It is therefore more important than ever to recognise how a mobility strategy can help to anticipate customer needs, tailor business processes to better serve customers, and improve the efficiency of a business.

Creating an omnichannel Customer Experience

By implementing a dedicated mobility strategy across both online and offline operations, unnecessary queueing will become a thing of the past in retail. By streamlining the value chain and creating an omnichannel Customer Experience, workers will be empowered to multi-task more effectively, and ultimately provide a higher level of customer service.

For customers, easy-to-use self-service tools such as contactless payment and automated ordering services not only have a tremendously positive impact on customer satisfaction, but ultimately a business’ bottom line.

These business mobility technologies have the power to combine people, processes and technology to not just manage mobile devices, but also derive true business value from the digital age. Whilst a business mobility strategy can be complex to implement, effective execution can have a direct impact on both customer satisfaction and retention, putting brands miles ahead of the competition.


Jamie AcuttJamie AcuttMay 21, 2019
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10min289

New technologies are transforming businesses at a rapid pace and elevating the services on offer to consumers.

In the past ten years alone, the way consumers select and receive services has changed dramatically thanks to developments in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and omnichannel service. Today’s consumers can order a taxi and purchase their groceries with equal ease from their smartphones, opt for same-day or even same-hour delivery, receive personalised updates on their delivery status and access virtual customer support for instant resolution.

This change is being spearheaded by innovators such as Amazon and Uber, who are making bigger and better experiences by which customers now set their standards.

New era of consumer expectation

The result is a new-age of consumer accustomed to fast, simple and tailor-made services everywhere from retail to transport. Brands must now go beyond price and product when it comes to securing customers; they must deliver a complete customised experience which reflects the value they place on the consumer.

It is perhaps unsurprising that 75 percent of customers today demand a response within five minutes of contacting a business online and a recent PwC report found that customer experience is a crucial element in 73 percent consumers decision to purchase.

The impact is especially visible in retail. Facing pressure from ecommerce competitors, physical stores are looking to create in-store experiences which entice digital consumers. For example, Nike launched its flagship ‘House of Innovation’ store in New York last year, which includes an exclusive floor for Nike Plus members where they can customise products. Underpinned by the Nike App, the store encourages a seamless and rewarding shopping experience.

Meeting the Customer Experience bar

Customer-obsessed brands not only set the expectation standard, they encourage consumers to push the bar upwards for other companies. For this reason customers expect the same high-level service from a hotel as they do from their insurance provider. Businesses are no longer competing in their own crowded sector but across industries to win customer satisfaction and loyalty.

The question is, how can businesses ensure that the reality matches increasingly great expectations for customers?

For businesses to succeed in today’s competitive climate, they must turn customers’ cross-sector experiences to their advantage. If customer expectation is shaped by other companies, then businesses too can mould their customer approach according to the practices employed in other industries.

 

 

‘My’ customer is also ‘your’ customer

The basic principles of customer experience apply across the board: reliable and personalised services which create value, whether that is in healthcare or financial services.

Bricks-and-mortar organisations for instance are already learning from ecommerce and investing more in digital transformation, to provide mobile services which suit the needs of busy consumers. Driven by a demand for convenience, the NHS has been developing a suite of apps which allow patients to easily schedule appointments, quickly access health information and make prescriptions.

Similarly, firms such as Lloyds Banking Group are investing heavily in AI to create more intuitive, efficient online banking for customers. Consumers will walk from companies who fail to provide fast digital service, as illustrated by the 1,076 banks and building societies which closed over last year.

Hospitals and high-street money lenders ultimately share the same customer, one whose expectations have been heightened by customer-centric service enjoyed in other industries. While retailers, financial services and healthcare have traditionally relied upon physical consumer interactions, the appetite for mobile experiences confirms that these sectors can and must evolve for customers.

The key for businesses is to look at the wider, cross-industry picture of their customer. Once businesses understand their customers in this universal context, it becomes easier to deliver the services and experiences which delight and engender loyalty.

Leveraging consumer insight

Implementing techniques borrowed from other customer-centric brands can reap great rewards for businesses. Still, the success of this depends critically on the company’s own customer knowledge. Those innovative brands who excel in customer experience do so because they have an ingrained sense of what their customers want now and will want later.

This is made by possible by taking a scientific approach to your data. Amazon’s famous customer obsession model hinges upon data and using innovative technologies to process this information, with the company’s Prime service being one result. Prime’s one-day delivery service anticipated the desire for faster and easily-tracked deliveries and has since expanded to include film, music and audiobook streaming services which add value to the customer experience.

Consistently analysing consumer behaviour reveals exactly what makes that person tick and above all, what makes them spend. Each customer interaction with a business, from the products they regularly purchase to whether they prefer SMS or email communication, builds a rich customer identity. This insight enables brands to tailor their services and anticipate customers’ changing expectations, helping to determine the best product offer vouchers for one customer or to time insurance renewal mail for another more effectively.

Importantly, these insights allow your company to provide an overall enhanced customer service which builds lasting relationships and repeat revenue. Delivering on great expectations is about making customers feel connected to, and valued by, the brand they use.

Consumers are changing, so you should too

In the digital age consumer expectation knows no boundaries or limits. While this creates something of an uphill battle for businesses, they have the power to meet consumers’ evolving demands each step of the way. By looking at the customer through a wider lens and understanding how their behaviour is shaped by external industries and brands, businesses can more effectively respond to their needs, using consumer insights as the tools to enact change.

Jamie Acutt is Head of Marketing and (UX) Design at Equiniti Data and Equiniti Cyber Security. Driven by a passion for creating great experiences through data and design, Jamie has experience in Digital Marketing, User Experience Design and Consultancy, as well as Product Management and Independent Research. Equiniti Data is an award-winning data and insights solutions provider for public and private sector organisations.


Chris ProctorChris ProctorMay 20, 2019
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9min285

The very nature of social housing means customer service in the sector can be a more complex affair than in others. In a market which spans local authority homes and independent housing associations, what is the benchmark for customer experience in the industry?

The New Deal for Social Housing Green Paper was presented last summer and explored ways to instil a customer service culture within social housing whilst highlighting the fact that customer experience remains poor for residents. Similarly, The Hackitt Report highlighted customer service as a flaw and asked questions around what was needed to further encourage the professionalism in housing management to deliver a good quality service.

Creating a comprehensive standard for customer experience in an industry which straddles the ‘public’ and ‘private’ spheres is a challenge because it has never encountered competition. In other consumer-facing services, crowded markets mean that companies must elevate their standards to secure customers. A lack of commercial incentive in social housing, however, does not typically breed a customer centric outlook and arguably leads providers to simply follow the standard set by fellow providers. When you consider the non-competitive dynamics of the sector, it is clear that change is needed.

For the industry to transform its customer service, social housing organisations can no longer operate in a microcosm and must appreciate the wider social and demographic context in which their customers exist.

This means looking at the full picture of the resident profile. Some industries bodies are making moves towards this, taking note of language and talking about homes rather than houses and people instead of tenants. However, it must extend much further to be truly effective. Residents are individuals as well as consumers. The same people who rent and buy social housing also purchase products and services from a multitude of other sectors such as retail, banking and automotive.

 

Rising standards

Cross-sector interactions and technological innovations are constantly raising customer expectations which mean customers want faster, more efficient and on-demand services from brands. As a result, the social housing customer is always comparing their different brand experiences. Consumers expect the same level of attentive service from their local café as they do from their credit provider, and if they have a query or complaint, customer helplines, virtual online assistants and social media platforms make it easier than ever to engage with brands and share reviews online.

It is up to social housing to look to other industries and learn how consumers behave in these frameworks to establish a benchmark for customer experience. For instance, small steps, such as offering short appointment windows in which residents do not have to wait in all day or establishing ways to better maintain their wellbeing and safety to provide reassurance, could make great strides towards delivering a more customer-centric service.

This is not to say that all other industries are successfully transforming their customer experiences. Each sector, from transport to financial services, certainly faces unique challenges which makes customer satisfaction an ongoing process. However, they all recognise that customer experience is the essential differentiator if they are to increase customer satisfaction and retention.

Traditionally customer-oriented, competitive sectors such as retail have long been developing best practices in customer experience led by game changers like Amazon who have it embedded in their culture. Many brands now have CXOs (Chief Experience Officers) to enact this change and are looking to disruptive technologies to better understand and enhance customers’ service. 35% of Amazon’s sales come from personalised customer recommendations, a testament to the power of customer knowledge.

While not all these methods will directly function in social housing, the logic still applies. Social housing providers can embrace the same levels of customer obsession that retailers and others display, whilst utilising the latest technologies to better understand and anticipate customer expectations.

It is this difference which explains the root challenge for the social housing sector. Unlike retail, the growth of their business is not directly reliant upon reducing customer ‘churn’ and achieving customer excellence. However, if you expand your view of the outcome that customer satisfaction can achieve, perhaps customer experience should be the measure of success in the housing sector. With the customer at the core, the entire workforce will relate to the person who lives in the home they are repairing and with a better understanding of the individual they are serving, greater care will be taken and working standards will increase.

Many providers will agree that if they were to ask a team member their view on having to fill in a survey to prove they have completed their compliance obligations, they are likely to grumble and complain that it’s a nuisance. If customer-centricity is ingrained throughout the organisation, however, they would not only consider the completion of that survey as an essential element of the service excellence they deliver – they would also recognise the importance of keeping every person and every home safe. In this way, corners will not be cut and the customer will always come first.

 

Next steps for the social housing industry

If the industry is to make customer-centricity core to its approaches, it must begin by analysing its customer demographic. All customers expect reliable products from providers which they can have faith in. Personalisation, customer support, value-for-money, proactive not reactive service – this is what consumers are accustomed to receiving from services now, and social housing needs to evolve to meet demand. Indeed, the lack of an accepted definition of what customer centricity looks like in the social housing industry is a major barrier.

An industry-wide discussion and agreement of a definition of customer centricity is crucial as a starting point for benchmarking success. Without this, the disparate nature of customer experience within the sector will remain and very little can be achieved whilst that is the case. Learning from the technologies and techniques used in other sectors and harnessing the wealth of tenant data available will inform a comprehensive standard for better customer experience which increases satisfaction, and loyalty.


Sylvia JensenSylvia JensenMay 20, 2019
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9min188

The one-year anniversary of the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is now fast approaching.  Since its introduction in May 2018, we as a nation have become more ‘data aware’ than ever before. The maximum fine for not complying with GDPR legislation is 4 percent of global annual turnover, meaning businesses simply cannot afford to take any risks when it comes to data consent. GDPR has proved an all-round inconvenience and challenge for organisations.

On the other hand, consumers have now also become more vigilant about organisations who use our data, and why they are doing so. When it comes to marketing and the customer experience (CX), organisations are faced with a double-edged challenge. Customers want personalised experiences from brands… but just 26 percent of UK consumers are comfortable with brands having information about them that they’re not aware is being collected. For this reason, many marketers have considered GDPR to be among the most influential pieces of legislation in recent years.

Despite having more than two years to prepare for GDPR, companies are continuing to flounder. Many marketers, IT and legal departments are still faced with  the difficult task of determining how best to move forward in an age when data is as much a liability as it is an asset. However, it’s not all doom and gloom from a marketing and CX perspective.

 

Why marketers have an opportunity to use data as a strong selling point

While compliance is crucial, it’s also important to understand how brands’ use of data makes customers feel. Today’s consumers want more personalised experiences, but at the same time have genuine concerns about the way brands are collecting, storing, and managing their data. The arrival of GDPR has presented marketers with an opportunity to start building trust with their customers by allowing transparency through communication about data strategies, and how an organisation is going to use the customer’s data.

Now is the perfect opportunity for marketers to have that open and honest conversation with themselves and consumers about how they manage data. In doing so, the long-term benefits are clear -and marketers can take advantage of this when it comes to sales. Ultimately, customers will want to buy into organisations where they can trust their data will be used in the right manner.

Customers and brands shouldn’t just transact – they should be forging a relationship. Luckily for marketers, they now have this platform to start forging these new strong relationships. A brand’s connection with customers is a delicate and evolving partnership that must be nurtured continually. That emotional connection is essential for customers to keep coming back.

Take a stand and evaluate how your own CX is performing within the context of UK audiences’ expectations and the broader market. If it’s not performing, use transparent communication around how you’re looking after data to start that relationship.

 

How marketers can strike the right balance with transparency,  trust and data management

The key for successful CX is striking the right balance with transparency, trust, and data management. 75 percent of UK consumers feel like they’re treated as generic customers, rather than as a known individual in online interactions. What’s more, 64 percent of customers said brands that should know them well, don’t. For marketers, it’s important to be aware of these concerns and be ready to meet them with transparency, IT security solutions, and a clear plan for what data is collected and how it will be used.

Companies need to ensure they are focusing on getting the CX right, as the need for clarity and transparency with the customer is paramount. There is a clear way forward, and it comes down to establishing trust with your customers, something that can be accomplished through a mix of transparency and data management.

Firstly, businesses should ensure they are safeguarding their consumers’ data. Partnering with internal IT and security teams is necessary to ensure data compliance standards like GDPR are being met. Businesses should also embrace opt-in methods, so customers are aware and in agreement of their data being used. There should be no surprises.

Furthermore, for whatever data customers have agreed to share, businesses should provide something in return. For instance, if you’re collecting data on your website visitors, they should understand why they’re in a journey you’ve created. It should feel welcoming and relevant, and they should understand why you’ve brought them there. By creating ways to engage and show that you have their best interests at heart, you will create that much needed element of trust.

Lastly, it’s all about managing data efficiently and appropriately. Customer and prospect relationships shouldn’t be treated any differently. When meeting a new person, you might ask their name but not their birthday and email address straight away. Be cautious of crossing into unknown territory and being too forward. Once transparency and trust are established and the customer sees the benefit, then it’s OK to push for additional data – in a respectful manner of course.

 

CX technology post-GDPR

Technology alone, at least in the form of most of today’s available CX platforms, isn’t the solution. 77 percent of marketers feel that technology has made it more difficult to deliver personalised experiences. From a technical standpoint, brands are moving forward at a slower pace than desired. 91 percent of marketers feel that if they better understood customer data, they could effectively automate parts of their experience. Yet 85 percent of marketers reported that customer data is captured in multiple systems and lives in different silos. As a result, it’s difficult to drill into that information for insights and create real-time feedback loops that impress your customers.

Marketers are some of the toughest critics of CX and have big visions for what’s possible with the right people, technology, and data in place. Delivering a top customer experience is no small challenge – and in today’s landscape, high expectations and data concerns leave little room for error. Marketers want their technology working together to create one cohesive experience, and to ensure they’re fully compliant with regulations post-GDPR.

Trust is the new currency in the digital age. Marketers have an opportunity to use data as a strong selling point, by addressing UK consumers’ concerns about how they’re collecting, storing, and managing individual data head-on.


Emma FoleyEmma FoleyMay 17, 2019
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5min250

In 2015, British Telecom (BT) announced it would be switching off the UK’s legacy PSTN and ISDN networks by 2025, forcing all customers to shift to IP-based VoIP (Voice Over IP) and SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) telephony services. Rather than a chore, to me this represents an opportunity for companies in the UK to take advantage of new cloud technology and improve their customer experience at the same time.

 

Image of woman holding electricity cable above head

 

Why is BT switching off these networks?

Quite simply, these legacy systems are outdated with associated maintenance costs and limitations. PSTN (public switched telephone network) is essentially the same in setup and design as the original phone lines of the 1800s (although there have been vast improvements over the years). ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) was introduced in the 1980s, allowing both voice and data services to be delivered simultaneously.

However, the world is changing at a dizzying pace. And as the pace of change accelerates, technology has to innovate faster. While other areas of technology have advanced, our telephone solutions are lagging behind and need to play catch up.

 

Who does the Switch-Off affect?

As of early 2017, there were over 2 million businesses in the UK still with an ISDN connection according to Ofcom. All of these businesses will be affected by the switch-off—although a 2017 survey by Talk Talk showed that 25% of UK businesses were still unaware that this switch-off is even happening.

While the switch-off is still 7 years away, BT will begin a gradual phasing out of these legacy systems from next year (2020). Other telecommunications companies in Europe are already in the process of moving voice to run over IP. Orange and Deutsche Telekom aim to have all IP (digital) networks by 2020.

So now is the time to future-proof your business and consider a switch to the cloud.

 

The benefits of migrating to the Cloud

Research by Dimension Data shows there are many benefits to making the switch, including:

  • Improved flexibility/easier customization
  • Improved integration
  • Improved reliability/future-proofing
  • Increase speed to market
  • Reduced costs

In fact, 81% of users of hosted cloud solutions globally say cloud has improved flexibility, while 77% say it contributes to future-proofing their technology infrastructure.

 

Migrating with confidence

Migrating to any new platform carries risk. According to Dynatrace, 67% of CIOs globally state the top challenge of moving to the cloud is ensuring the performance of applications is not negatively impacted. Other challenges include security concerns, cost overruns, systems integration, the management of legacy infrastructure, and leadership inertia.

To overcome these risks and enjoy the benefits of the cloud sooner, I suggest following the steps below:

Baseline Your Environment

Discover your existing IVR and document your current applications

Test Your New Applications in the Cloud

Before go-live, use functional and regression testing to ensure prompts and back-end look-ups, and that voice quality meets your standards

Pressure-Test Your Cloud Platform

Before go-live, use load testing to assure your applications work under high-volume situations

Monitor Your Cloud Platform

Once in production, monitor from the customer’s perspective to ensure issues are detected and resolved before they impact customers

For best practices for moving to the cloud, listen to our webinar featuring Forrester.

 

This article was originally written by Emma Foley and published at cyara.com 


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthMay 15, 2019
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3min381

Brands in the UK and the rest of Europe are failing to meet expectations in Customer Experience, and it’s having an impact on customer retention, a new study has warned.

The findings are contained in the Experience Index Report from Adobe, which surveyed over 3,000 consumers from across Europe on their expectations of brands across sectors.

People cite an overcomplicated or time-consuming purchase process as their biggest turn-off, with consumers from the UK (43 percent), France (50 percent), and Germany (41 percent) inclined to abandon their online shopping cart following a negative experience. One in three consumers from the UK and France say they would never buy from a company again following a bad experience.

Meanwhile, a poor Customer Experience has a significant impact on a brand’s reputation, with over a third (36 percent) of people across the three countries surveyed likely to discuss a poor experience with friends or family.

The report revealed the biggest expectation among consumers is more personalisation, with over two-thirds (68 percent) of British, German, French consumers demanding personalised experiences both in-store and online. Augmented reality museum tours, loyalty programmes sending out test products, and retailers using voice activated tech in-store ranked as the experiences that impress the most.

When asked to rate brands on the Customer Experience they are currently receiving, the average score was 54 percent for UK consumers and 50 percent for those in Germany and France.

Complicated websites are the biggest turn off for consumers across the three countries, with more than two-fifths (45 percent) stating this is the biggest barrier to a good Customer Experience. Another pain point for British customers (27 percent) is brands failing to honour their returns policy.

John Watton, Senior Marketing Director at Adobe said: “Whether it’s retail, hospitality, travel, or finance, brands are now operating in a buyer’s market where one bad experience can put consumers off for good. It means that Customer Experience Management is now an imperative for brands, so that they can effectively manage experiences across all points of interaction, whether it’s digital, in-store, or via a contact centre.”




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