Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJanuary 17, 2020
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9min418

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

Here we conclude our list with a look at the well-deserved Number 1 in each category. Amanda Riches of  is today’s featured Professional, and our Influencer is Ian Golding.

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

Amanda Riches

Director of Professional Services at Medallia/Founder of Enrich Associates

CXM’s first Number One Professional CX Star is Amanda Riches, who heads CX Consulting for management software firm Medallia’s Professional Services division.

There she helps organisations operationalise customer feedback programmes in order to deliver maximum impact, and London-based Amanda is putting her valuable years of CX experience into the role, to magnificent effect.

Fellow CX pros will know Amanda for her inspiring work in years gone by establishing the service formula for Premier Inn through her role as Head of Brand Excellence and Director of Customer Service. Her success in the role saw her go on to become Head of Quality and Guest Insight for the hotel chain’s owner Whitbread, where her skills continued to grow through a range of successful Customer and Employee Experience projects, including innovations such as creating an ‘e-panel’ of hotel guests to harvest and better utilise feedback.

Confidence in her skills pushed Amanda towards creating her own CX consultancy, and in 2008 she founded Enrich Associates with partner and Employee Experience expert Fiona Tweedie, and the firm promises – and delivers – “No fluff, just simple, clear, engaging programmes,” for clients.

Meanwhile, at Medallia Amanda continues to help firms make significant and lasting changes to their CX offering, including Fidelity International, which took not one, but two Gold category titles at the 2019 UK Customer Experience Awards (UKCXAs).

Fidelity’s wins for Use of Insight & Feedback – Customer Satisfaction and Financial Services in partnership with Medallia have been cited as among Amanda’s proudest career moments, as she has worked closely with the firm in previous years.

Speaking of awards, Amanda is in high demand for judging roles due to her expert eye, and along with appearances on panels at the UKCXAs over the years, she has also judged at the Patient Experience Network National Awards. Patient Experience is an area very close to her heart, and Amanda has set up workshops to improve experiences for those using NHS services, among other worthy initiatives.

Amanda says: “Successful customer-centric organisations must relentlessly search for actionable insight and improvement opportunities. Listen, learn, prototype, test, iterate, validate, repeat!”

She tells CXM that her biggest inspiration is the frontline CX workers across all sectors who contribute in many ways, big and small, to making memorable and lasting experiences every single day.

Amanda is herself one of the UK’s most inspiring CX professionals, and a role model for everyone working towards greater customer centricity. We look forward to seeing Amanda’s influence reach exciting new heights in 2020.

James Dodkins

The face of a new generation of CX influencers, James Dodkins is the founder of Rockstar CX,  a consultancy which promises “fast, heavy, powerful customer experience transformation” for progressive firms unafraid to think outside the box.

The energy, enthusiasm and stage presence of James has its roots in his time as an actual, honest-to-goodness rock star, and now instead of wielding a guitar in front of heaving crowds of heavy metal fans across the globe, he is bringing a vibrant new take on Customer Experience to an audience of thousands in the form of bestselling books including Foundations for Customer Centricity, videos, and speaking engagements.

A savvy social media star, engaging fans through now-traditional platforms such as Facebook, and even emerging ones such as TikTok, 2019 also saw James make the move towards a new realm for Customer Experience influencing – television.

His This Week in CX show was launched on Amazon Prime, and offered a snappy weekly round-up of CX news, pulling no punches with his assessments of big name brands and where they were going right, and wrong, with customers.

James brings his signature style to every aspect of his influencer role – a poster for his upcoming ‘Disrupt CX’ UK Tour looks for all the world like a flyer for a series of gigs, but instead of head-banging in the mosh pit, delegates will be jumping head-first into the Rockstar method of CX delivery, while learning from James’ own experiences working alongside some of the planet’s biggest and best-known brands.

These include Disney, Mercedes, Adobe, Nike, Microsoft, and Lego, to name but an impressive few.

Meanwhile, alongside his Rockstar CX duties, James acts as a Principal Consultant for Customer Experience and Process Management firm BP Group.

James says: “Knowing your customers at a deep level allows you to understand their Successful Customer Outcomes and associated needs, and then allows you to design ideal experiences that achieve those outcomes.”

Globetrotter James is the one rock star hotels are happy to welcome – instead of throwing TVs out the window into the swimming pool, he’s more likely to be found engaging with staff on ways to make guests’ stays more memorable.

With an incredible few years already under his studded belt, 2020 looks set to see more businesses than ever before benefit from a blast of the CX Rockstar’s passion.

We say rock on James!

Click here for profiles of our Number 2 Professionals and Influencers, and here for the full Top 50 CX Stars list.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJanuary 17, 2020
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4min492

Customers are turned off by a 100 percent fully automated service, while high levels of customer service are more “essential” for B2B customers than B2C, a new report into CX expectations has revealed.

Leeds-based Romero Insurance Brokers have released their Customer Experience Report 2020, for which they surveyed hundreds of UK professionals to gauge their stance on CX expectations,

The report asks what the future of customer service will look like, how digitalisation will affect the customer service landscape, and whether upcoming generations will change the way businesses handle customer service.

As expected, Customer Experience is a key differentiator, with 96 percent of purchasers stating that high customer service levels are very important when making a business decision, while 34 percent labelled it absolutely essential.

The research shows customers expect a great level of customer service, but the majority of the time less than 75 percent of business purchases provide an exceptional Customer Experience.

Meanwhile, 45 percent of respondents would be more likely to choose a vendor that had digitalised their customer service offering, citing speed and ease of service.

However, although digitalisation is increasingly growing in popularity, no consumers are prepared to deal with a 100 percent automated service. Instead, customers prefer to choose from a wide range of communication methods depending on their personal situation. For example, 49 percent would choose real-person communication to resolve a more complex query.

There is a notable correlation between CX expectations and age. Twenty-nine percent of those aged 65 and over say they have never received customer service below their expectations, compared to just seven percent from other age ranges. This could demonstrate that younger generations expect more from businesses.

The report also shows the correlation between age and the importance of more personal and personalised customer service. For example, 85 percent of 18-24-year-olds feel access to good sales people is very important, compared to just 60 percent of those aged 25 and over.

A larger percentage of younger purchasers also feel a personal relationship with a vendor, a personalised buying experience, positivity and enthusiasm of sales staff, and empathy are very important. Businesses can ensure consistent, empathetic service by investing in staff training and ensuring they have an engaged, passionate team. This enthusiasm and care is then naturally passed on to customers.

Simon Mabb, Managing Director of Romero Insurance Brokers, said: “Our research shows the real value of quality customer service. It’s clear that the future of customer service lies in choice, flexibility and personalisation. Customers want to decide how they communicate with a business, and expect an empathetic, personal experience whether they’re chatting to an adviser on the phone or typing out their query on a website live chat.

“Customer service should be all about people, and genuinely connecting with each customer.”

Click here to read the full Customer Experience Report 2020.


CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamJanuary 16, 2020
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16min905

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

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

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

The popularisation of the subscription economy

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

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

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

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

Go the extra mile

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

Jon Lucas

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

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

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

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

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

Tom Needs

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

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

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

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

Paul Zuidema

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

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

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

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

Reap the benefits of data

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

Krishna Subramanian

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

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

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

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

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

Tulin Green

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

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

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

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

Keep security threats at bay

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

Jan van Vliet

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

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

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

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

Nir Polak

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

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

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

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

The future in the cloud

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

Liam Butler

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

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

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


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJanuary 16, 2020
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7min421

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

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

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

 

Number 2

Nick McFarlane

Head of Customer Experience at Sky Spain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Number 2

Ian Golding

If you have even the slightest grasp of what it means to be customer-centric, then Ian Golding should need no introduction. Without doubt the UK’s number one Customer Experience consultant, Ian’s influence has grown exponentially in recent years as he coaches the CX stars of the future not just in the UK, but across the world.

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

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

With his coaching in such high demand, the CX world knew it was a matter of time before Ian entered the book market, and his 2018 debut work, Customer What?: The honest and practical guide to customer experience has since become the key text for not just budding CX professionals, but any business owner with a desire for success in an era when the customer is calling the shots.

So who inspires a man cited as the inspiration for so many CX professionals in the UK and further afield?

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

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

One thing we can be sure of in 2020 is that Customer Experience will continue to shape the modern business landscape, while Ian himself will continue to shape our understanding of Customer Experience.

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


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJanuary 15, 2020
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7min516

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

Here we look at Number 3 in each category. Jo Mayes of Business Stream is today’s featured Professional, and our Influencer is Adrian Swinscoe.

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

 

Number 3

Jo Mayes

Director of Customer Operations at Business Stream

The award-winning Jo Mayes is coming up to a decade of working in Customer Experience, and having breathed new life into the CX strategy of Standard Life, in 2016 she joined utilities firm Business Stream, where she has spearheaded a hugely successful shift towards customer centricity.

Following her appointment as Director of Customer Operations, Business Stream has enjoyed a raft of industry honours, including gongs at the UK Customer Experience Awards (UKCXAs), the European Contact Centre and Customer Service Awards, and the International Customer Experience Awards, to name but a few.

Jo herself was named CX Professional of the Year at the 2019 UKCXAs, taking the title in what was one of the most competitive years to date for the coveted category.

Her success is down to an instinctive understanding of what customers want from a brand, and she has been an advocate of robust measurement programmes and redesigns through co-creation with end-users from the beginning of her CX career journey. These techniques helped her previous employer appear in the KPMG Nunwood CEE Top 100 list for two consecutive years.

Jo says: “A key element for strong leadership is to set out for your people why delivering CX is important – good context setting and goal alignment create the focus and drive to deliver.”

Her inspiration in recent years include leading consultant and author Ian Golding, and KPMG Nunwood’s Director of Customer Experience David Conway; it’s safe to say that as far as professionals go, Jo Mayes will soon be cited as the inspiration for others as they follow in her footsteps and aim to transform businesses and place the customer at the heart of what they do.

 

Number 3

Adrian Swinscoe

An experimental CX thought leader and visionary, Adrian Swinscoe has been helping businesses reconnect with customers for 20 years, and is not afraid to take chances when it comes to innovation.

The well-known consultant has a solid business background, and his previous experience as both an economist and a teacher has provided him with the necessary skills to lead others to success, and he has found an eager audience through his in-demand coaching and consultation services, and his writing in blog, article, and book form.

Many CXM readers will no doubt own a copy of his 2016 book How to Wow, which offers 68 precise methods for CX transformation, while his new work, Punk CX, is an unconventional, yet exciting take on transforming CX in the vein of the radical 1970s punk rockers who pushed back against the overblown, over-technical prog rock that had previously dominated the music world.

In true punk fashion, Adrian designed the book to rebel against the mainstream of conventional business tomes, and the end result has an incredible aesthetic similar to the self-published fanzines that fearlessly promoted the punk scene in its heyday.

His methods encourage out-of-the-box thinking that reward businesses for daring to be different, and alongside the colourful new book, Adrian produces a Punk CX newsletter to further stimulate ideas and new wave Customer Experience practices.

Adrian says: “I help people and organisations achieve greater potential and results through building better relationships with those people around them whether they are leaders, team members, or customers.”

Adrian’s global experience has also earned him a regular contributor slot with Forbes, where he brings practical CX insight to a wider business audience.

Click here for profiles of our Number 4 Professionals and Influencers.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJanuary 14, 2020
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7min576

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

Here we look at Number 4 in each category. Andrew McGuigan of Microsoft is today’s featured Professional, and our Influencer is Naeem Arif, founder of NA Consulting.

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

 

Number 4

Andrew McGuigan

Worldwide Leader of Deployment Services at Microsoft

Andrew McGuigan has enjoyed a career that has placed him in strategic positions for brands including Virgin Media, Vodafone, and now Microsoft, where he currently oversees global deployment services.

Before this role, Reading based-Andrew was Microsoft’s Director of Worldwide Customer Service Strategy – a vital post for a brand that has been at the forefront of IT since the heady days of the personal computer revolution.

His drive for customer centricity began with senior call centre roles at British Gas and Thames Water, and after joining Vodafone in 2010, he worked his way towards two major posts at the telecoms giant – Head of UK Customer Services and eventually Head of Consumer Customer Care.

Andrew’s instinct for call centre management has shaped his love of quality Customer Experience, and he has shared his wealth of knowledge at events including the 2018 Future is CX Conference, hosted by Awards International, where he discussed with delegates methods to turn customers into brand advocates and how to maximise the potential of data science when drawing up a CX roadmap.

When the future of contact centres and how customers will interact with these crucial touchpoints is being considered, so too should Andrew’s vision, given his unrivalled experience and eye for improvement.

His keynote speaking engagements continue to keep the industry abreast of CX and call centre thought leadership.

Andrew says: “I’m passionate about leading people and driving operations to focus on the customer – setting targets, managing information and delivering change programmes to continually improve.”

We look forward to seeing what we can learn from Andrew’s insight in 2020 as contact centres continue to evolve to meet the needs of tech-savvy customers.

 

Number 4

Naeem Arif

Naeem Arif is fast becoming one of the most influential voices in British CX, and has forged his skills in the fires of retail, hospitality, manufacturing, and more.

Among his business success stories is the Birmingham entrepreneur’s leadership of United Carpets Group, and his experience has guided him to prominent positions of influence including Chair of the Midlands Retail Forum.

In recent years, CCXP Naeem has steadily grown as an CX influencer, and has established his own firm, NA Consulting, to bring his expert eye for customer satisfaction to a growing list of clients – from larger established firms to budding SMEs – across the UK.

Naeem will also be familiar to many business leaders thanks to his impressive back catalogue of books, including the highly influential and bestselling Customer First, which provides valuable insight into converting and keeping loyal customers through CX initiatives.

His excellent contributions have also engaged readers of prestigious titles, including the Wall Street Journal and of course the UK’s first-stop for CX thought leadership, Customer Experience Magazine!

Naeem is also carving out a position as a pundit on customer issues for broadcast media, including the BBC, which has approached him to gauge his thoughts on major issues facing UK retailers – from the rise of Black Friday to the impending impact of Brexit.

Keynote speaking engagements are also bringing his insight to ever-larger audiences – in 2015 for example, he addressed over 2,500 conference delegates in Las Vegas, and the future looks certain to bring a host of further opportunities to preach his clear and effective techniques on customer care.

Naeem says:Don’t chase turnover, chase satisfied customers. If you can create satisfied customers, then the money will come itself.”

Look out for Naeem’s contribution to the recently published Customer Experience book featuring best practise strategies from 22 global experts.

Click here for profiles of our Number 5 Professionals and Influencers.


Komal HelyerKomal HelyerJanuary 14, 2020
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7min747

With January comes the opportunity to refocus and set goals for the year ahead – even more so when this coincides with the start of a new decade.

For independent retail brands, delivering a better experience to customers will be front and centre in 2020 and beyond. The pressure remains fierce for brands to ensure they are one step ahead at outshining their competition and demonstrating a deep understanding of their customers through hyper personalised interactions every stage of the journey.

With that in mind, we’ve looked at how independent brands can hit the mark when it comes to the customer experience in 2020.

Make yourself useful

Whilst consumers are in the lucky position of being spoilt for choice in the retail environment, the always connected and ever-busy customer can also be left feeling a little overwhelmed when it comes to making purchase decisions.

Whilst consumers are going to engage with the brands that are relevant to them at that moment and demonstrate a rich understanding of them, they are also in search of ways to make their lives easier. For independent brands, being considered useful in the eyes of the consumer can be hugely beneficial to growing a successful relationship. Our recent study revealed that almost three quarters of consumers like it when brands remind them via email that contracts or subscriptions are coming to an end. In a similar vein, we discovered that 63 percent of consumers want more brands to give them the option of receiving a notification when an item that is out of stock becomes available again at their local store.

These are just two examples of how smaller retail brands can provide convenience to the customer, and ultimately give them one less thing to think about. 

Don’t neglect the opportunities to personalise

No matter what the brand or product, there is no longer space for delivering a generic experience to a customer. One of the main reasons a consumer might opt for shopping with an independent brand over a larger, more established store is due to the expectations that they will receive a better experience.

A Pure360 study found that 43% of shoppers would consider buying from an independent over a larger retailer to feel treated like a valued customer rather than just a number. Smaller brands should remain mindful of this in 2020, and recognise that they can serve a real purpose in the lives of the consumer and the retail experience they provide to them.

Whether it’s through the exemplary customer service, making product recommendations that are hyper relevant for that individual or sharing important information about a customer’s local store, there are now endless ways to make an experience more memorable.

Consider how Brexit might impact customer behaviour

The Brexit deadline might have moved on more than once occasion during 2019, but it looks as though the UK will now be leaving the EU on January 31. For retail brands of all sizes, consideration must be given to how this could impact consumer behaviour so they can adapt quickly and avoid potentially negative consequences.

We found that for almost a third of consumers, there is an expectation for brands to make the country of origin clearer for the items they are buying – particularly online – so they avoid paying additional taxes on their purchases. Delivery times are another consideration for consumers, with a quarter wanting clarity around the country of origin when they are making purchases after Brexit.

For homegrown independent brands, Brexit could actually create a real opportunity to build deeper relationships with existing and new customers. Putting transparency at the heart customer experience will be critical, so that consumers have clarity around areas like taxes and delivery times, and have the confidence to make a purchase.

As the new year begins, it brings opportunities for small, independent retailers to refresh their marketing strategies to ensure customers are treated to the best possible experience in 2020. From finding new ways to deliver more personalised interactions to adapting to the possible impacts of Brexit, independent brands that can create experiences that are relevant and contextual to customers, their behaviour and the world around them will reap the rewards in the months ahead.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJanuary 13, 2020
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7min1179

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

Here we look at Number 5 in each category. Alison Lawrie of AkzoNobel, is today’s featured Professional, and our Influencer is Clare Muscutt, founder of CMXperience.

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

 

Number 5

Alison Lawrie

Head of Customer Experience at AkzoNobel

Oxford-based Alison Lawrie has enjoyed a fantastic few years, which has seen her earn her Certified Customer Experience Professional qualification, and take home one of the most sought-after honours at the UK Customer Experience Awards in 2018 – Professional of the Year.

Alison is Head of Customer Experience, Quality & Continuous Improvement at AkzoNobel Decorative Coatings – the firm behind the world’s best-known paint brands, including the iconic Dulux.

Responsible for guiding the firm along its Customer Experience transformation roadmap, Alison lends her instinct for customer centricity to AkzoNobel’s full multi-channel experience, ensuring the Voice of the Customer remains at the centre of what they do.

Her talent was solidified during a successful, lengthy stint as the firm’s Customer Service Manager, before she moved up to the current role that led to awards success. Alison’s influence also ensured recognition in another category at the 2018 UKCXAs, with AkzoNobel winning the Bronze title for Best Business Change and Transformation at that same event.

Meanwhile, before Alison and colleagues were collecting gongs at Wembley Stadium with fellow UKCXA finalists in 2018, they were enjoying well-earned awards success at the British Coatings Federation Awards 2017.

At that event, Alison helped secure a win in the Customer Service Award for Transformation of a Paints Business category, which recognises the growing importance of customer service as a differentiator in the coatings industry.

Alison says: I am hugely passionate about Customer Experience and truly believe it to be the single biggest differentiator a brand or business can have.”

Motivated and inspiring, Alison continues to place the customer at the heart of AkzoNobel’s operations, at a time when doing so is more important than ever before.

 

Number 5

Clare Muscutt

It’s been a rapid – but well-deserved rise to the top for Clare Muscutt, who two years ago turned the skills honed in senior CX leadership roles at big-name brands including Sainsbury’s towards founding and developing her own consultancy, CMXperience.

From its humble beginnings in her kitchen in Hackney, CMXperience has grown to become a trusted name in customer service transformation, while Clare’s own profile has also increased, with many recognising her as the inspirational CX Nomad, who blogged about her experiences traversing the globe as a digital nomad running a successful consultancy.

This, along with her popular social media output and keynote speaking engagements has led to Clare becoming one of the most prominent and valued millennial voices in CX today.

A winner of numerous awards over the years, including UK Customer Experience Professional of the Year, Clare is someone who believes in giving back, and in true millennial ‘pay it forward’ fashion, is helping more women follow her lead through free coaching.

That desire to help make CX a welcoming and fulfilling sector for women professionals was inspired by, among others, Maya Angelou, the hugely influential writer, poet, and civil rights activist, who Clare says taught her to “constantly bring my authentic self to everything I do”.

Clare says: “I founded my own consulting business on design thinking, and have seen it work in practice for every shape and size of organisation. Design thinking enables you to truly put people at the heart of everything!” 

2020 looks set to be another exciting year for Clare, with a new book in the pipeline, among other projects, while CMXperience goes from strength-to-strength thanks to Clare’s dedicated team and her valuable past experience at the forefront of CX strategy delivery for various organisations.

Click here for profiles of our Number 6 Professionals and Influencers.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJanuary 10, 2020
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6min612

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

Here we look at Number 6 in each category. Christina Liciaga of HSBC, is today’s featured Professional, and our Influencer is Nicola Millard.

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

 

Number 6

Christina Liciaga

Head of Customer Service at HSBC UK Retail Bank & Wealth Management

Christina Liciaga oversees customer service at one of the most recognisable, and trusted, names in banking.

Her role places her at the heart of the brand’s complaint handling strategy, which has led to industry recognition at events including the UK Complaint Handling Awards, where last year HSBC secured Gold wins in categories including Innovation in Complaint Management and Product and Service Improvement.

Christina joined HSBC in 2011, and before her current post was involved in High Net Worth business development, advising large corporates on people-first post-merger integration opportunities.

She also advised on restructuring multinational global portfolios, developing client segmentation strategies, designing and delivering digital lifestyle solutions, and building and leading the global award-winning wealth proposition, Jade by HSBC Premier.

Describing her vital current role, Christina describes how she oversees “complaints and service recovery, root cause analysis and customer insight, as well as being the customer advocate who drives initiatives and interventions to make our customers better off everyday”.

Her expertise has also been shared through a speaker role at Awards International’s Winning With Complaint Handling Conference.

An ambitious professional with a global outlook, Christina has experience in emerging and mature markets across Asia, Europe, Latin and North America.

Under her guidance, her teams embrace innovation, embed change, and deliver commercial growth, truly translating strategy into reality.

Christina says: “I’m a passionate leader who builds and transforms teams through authenticity and curiosity, whether a team of 10 or over 500.”

Outside of her HSBC role, Christina – a passionate advocate for human rights – is Executive Director and Board of Trustee Member for non-profit organisation JUSTICE, which aims for fair and efficient legal support for all who need it.

 

Number 6

Dr Nicola Millard

Dr Nicola Millard is one of the UK’s most analytical authorities on Customer Experience, and is currently a Principal Innovation Partner with BT – a brand that has enjoyed well-deserved success at events including the UK Customer Experience Awards in recent years.

A true CX pioneer, Dr Millard has been involved in co-ordinating the brand’s customer contact strategies since the early 1990s, and has held posts including CX Consultant for BT Global Services, and until last year was Head of Customer Insight & Futurology for BT’s Global Innovation Team.

Her current role at the cutting edge of knowing what customers are thinking and feeling “combines psychology with futurology to try and anticipate what might be lying around the corner for both customers and organisations”.

Dr Millard has been behind a number of innovations at the telecommunications giant, including the first application of artificial intelligence in BT’s call centres.

She was also involved with the brand’s initial experiments with home working, and helping to develop BT’s Net Easy score, to better measure Customer Experience.

Her foresight remains as valuable as ever before as BT and the wider business world continues to explore the advantages and opportunities that lie in the digital workplace of the future – whether that’s in an office, or an employee’s home.

Nicola says: “Any innovation we put in front of customers needs to make their life easier.”

A prolific writer, blogger, speaker, and familiar media face for many, Dr Millard is the first name that comes to mind for anyone seeking to understand what a customer is thinking and feeling, and what an organisation can do to appropriately adapt.

Her impressive list of achievements includes the Outstanding Industry Contribution award from the UK Contact Centre Forum.

Click here for profiles of our Number 7 Professionals and Influencers.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJanuary 9, 2020
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8min627

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

Here we look at Number 7 in each category. Iain O’Connor of Aegon UK, is today’s featured Professional, and our Influencer is Nick Meinertzhagen.

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

 

Number 7

Iain O’Connor

Senior Manager of Customer Experience & Insight at Aegon UK

CX culture is now long-established in the UK’s insurance industry, and among the professionals making a significant impact on behalf of customers is Edinburgh-based Iain O’Connor.

Since 2014, Iain has helmed CX duties at Aegon UK, following a 10 year-plus career at Royal Bank of Scotland, where he held posts including Customer Experience Manager and Marketing Manager – Customer Experience Insight.

Since joining Aegon, Iain has pushed NPS scores significantly northward, and most notably has established a remarkable feedback system that has transformed how the firm utilises valuable customer insight.

Known as Aegon Cares, and borne of the firm’s in-house CX Lab, the closed-loop feedback system allows the brand to establish and ultimately solve customer concerns sooner, which leads to higher NPS ratings. The inspiring initiative has led to recognition in the UK and beyond, including being shortlisted for a My Customer Award last year, and of course, his inclusion in the Top 50 CX Stars list.

“Of everything we have achieved at Aegon, the success of Aegon Cares is hard to beat,” he explained.

We have introduced Aegon Cares across all operational teams and typically achieve NPS swing of +100 points when comparing before and after an Aegon Cares intervention. As well as an effective closed loop feedback tool, Aegon Cares has expanded onto social media and customer feedback from Aegon Cares interactions there is also exceptional.”

Iain says: “To drive loyalty in a competitive environment is difficult and so it’s important to understand what the customer needs almost before they do, and to help them achieve an outcome above and beyond their expectations.”

So who inspires Iain the most as he continues to create exceptional change in insurance?

“It may sound corny but my team and colleagues across Aegon are 100 percent my biggest inspiration,” he tells us.

“Rarely a day goes by when I don’t learn something new and I think this type of environment and culture is crucial to delivering for our customers.”

 

Number 7

Nick Meinertzhagen

The founder of Experiential Consulting, Nick Meinertzhagen knows exactly what it takes to develop a successful business model from the ground up.

It doesn’t get more grassroots than establishing your very own firm from a spare bedroom armed with nothing more than a computer, a phone, and some old-fashioned dedication, and that’s exactly what Horsham-based Nick did in 2004 when he created what would become one of the UK’s largest mystery shopping businesses, 360 Perspectives.

Nick went on to sell the brand to Yomdel in 2018, becoming their CX Director before moving on to found his boutique CX consultancy.

Speaking of his spectacular success during those years, the inspiring CCXP told us: “It was amazing that some of the most exciting and dynamic brands in the UK chose to work with my company, and over a 14-year period we managed a database of over 30,000 mystery shoppers and measured over a million customer touchpoints.

Named a runner-up and ‘one to watch’ in the 2017 Sussex Business Awards’ Entrepreneur of the Year category, Nick has no plans to rest on his laurels, and alongside working with clients at Experiential Consulting, he is busy developing a new agency focusing on “advanced experiential usability and digital ethnography”.

His influence is also expanding through his contribution alongside 21 other global CX voices to a recently published Customer Experience best practise book, while plans are underway to adapt his 2019 MBA dissertation on the customer service strategies of small estate enterprises in SE England into a conference research paper.

Nick says:A dedicated customer centric CX vision needs to be carefully planned, enabled, shared and lived by all employees/partners, therefore creating a common customer focussed purpose that aligns towards the organisation’s strategic intent.”

Among his inspirations is global CX guru Colin Shaw, and his own family, of whom he told us: “I hope that I can also be a source of inspiration for them.”

Click here for profiles of our Number 8 Professionals and Influencers.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJanuary 8, 2020
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6min806

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

Here we look at Number 8 in each category. Sharif-Paul Anton, of Samsung Electronics is today’s featured Professional, and our Influencer is Michelle Ansell of Douglas Jackson .

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

 

Number 8

Sharif-Paul Anton

General Manager Customer Support at Samsung Electronics

With over 20 years of experience in customer support and contact centre roles in sectors including retail, travel and gaming, Sharif-Paul Anton is a CX Star with an eye for recognising talent, which has aided him in his roles over the years on awards judging panels.

The Watford-based professional is no stranger to awards success of his own, with his contact centre excellence in particular bringing himself and colleagues to victory and finalist positions in numerous industry honours events over the last 12 years.

Following success in senior global outsourcing roles, Sharif-Paul joined Samsung in 2013, where his skill for client-side relations could shine in his initial post as UK and Ireland Contact Centre Manager. He then moved to the position of Senior Manager, Customer Support, before accepting promotion to his current post last year.

A Six Sigma Green Belt, Sharif-Paul told CXM that his biggest inspirations to date in his career are those he works alongside and under over the years, displaying a commitment to teamwork and trust within the workplace, to the ultimate benefit of the customer.

“All have taken chances on me and given me opportunities which I will always be humble and extremely appreciative for,” he explained.

Sharif-Paul appreciates honesty, and is a staunch believer in keeping promises to customers.

Sharif-Paul says: “It is critical to treat each and every customer as an individual and to put yourself in their shoes.”

His instinct for customer care and promotion of personalisation is at the very heart of his CX strategy , and Samsung consumers are in safe hands as the ever-popular brand moves into an exciting new decade of electronics innovation.

 

Number 8

Michelle Ansell

As many working in the UK’s recruitment field will tell you, Michelle Ansell is one of the most highly regarded professionals there is, and her work in the last 15 years has brought the Customer Experience and contact centre sectors to a whole new level with her appointments for numerous firms.

That same skill in identifying top talent for her clients in her work at Douglas Jackson has been successfully transferred to awards judging roles, including the National Awards for Quality Planning and Insight and the UK Customer Experience Awards.

A true influencer, Michelle continues to share her knowledge and expertise in her prolific writing, contributing to blogs and online publications and providing insight and practical tips on everything from contact centre management to finding and retaining the very best employees.

Need advice on transferring customer ‘success’ to Customer Experience? Michelle’s got it covered. Want to know how the best questions to ask a potential customer service team leader in a job interview? You can bet Michelle has blogged on it.

That love of skill sharing was inspired by figures including recruitment legend Sir Alec Reed, who she met numerous times earlier in her career, and whose desire to educate others saw him found his own business school.

Michelle says: “Often, the fundamentals of Customer Experience can be missed or even forgotten. Money gets spent on new tools or technology, but your most powerful resource is your people.”

As a Managing Partner at Douglas Jackson, Staffordshire-based Michelle has assisted brands ranging from global players to disruptors and start-ups in their quest to fill vital roles and create supportive environments for their customers, and 2020 looks set to be another busy and highly successful year for her.

Click here for profiles of our Number 9 Professionals and Influencers.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJanuary 7, 2020
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6min985

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

Here we look at Number 9 in each category. CCXP Marion Ellis, of BlueBox Partners and the Women in Surveying Network, is today’s featured Professional, and our Influencer is globally-renowned consultant and author Nick Hague .

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

 

Number 9

Marion Ellis

Managing Director at at BlueBox Partners

Marion Ellis is the first name that will come to mind for most when considering Customer Experience in the world of property surveying.

It was while working for a large surveying firm undertaking valuations and surveys that her understanding of the importance of CX in the field was cemented, and Milton Keynes-based Marion has since went on to achieve her CCXP accreditation and bring her instinct for customer centricity to her own firm, BlueBox Partners, an alliance of experienced valuers and surveyors committed to supporting the professional development, and personal well-being of other valuers and surveyors.

Marion also sits on the Governing Council of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, and is the founder of the Women in Surveying Network, which aims to help surveyors as they navigate and become established in the field.

Events including the online Sisterhood Summit have provided valuable female perspectives on the industry, and the influence of Women in Surveying continues to grow thanks to Marion’s dedication to providing opportunities and a platform for peers.

Among her inspirations is fellow Top 50 CX Star and the UK’s top CX consultant, Ian Golding, whose mentorship she has used to help her inspire and guide others beginning their journey in Customer Experience.

Marion says: “Kindness – just allowing ourselves to use the word in business is significant. You can still have tough contracts, robust processes, and make difficult commercial decisions, and yet still be kind.”

Meanwhile, Marion is a firm advocate of keeping kindness at the centre of business strategy – a refreshing take in corners of today’s business world, where cutthroat tactics are often lauded.

A professional through-and-through, Marion’s ambition knows no bounds, and is one to watch for further success in 2020.

 

Number 9

Nick Hague

A name likely familiar to anyone even with a passing knowledge of customer centricity, Nick Hague is an original founder of market research experts B2B International and over the last two decades has assisted over 500 business-to-business firms measure and improve the experience they deliver to clients and customers.

Many CXM readers will no doubt have a copy of his bestselling book B2B Customer Experience to hand, and if you don’t – but run a B2B business – then do yourself a favour and make the purchase.

The book – which was shortlisted in the 2019 Business Book Awards – was co-authored by Nick’s father Paul Hague, himself a co-founder of B2B International and one of the UK’s leading authorities on the art of market research and helping companies achieve their strategic goals.

Nick cites Paul as his biggest inspiration in business and the world of Customer Experience, and describing the journey they have taken together, he told us: “We built B2B International with just three of us in Manchester in 1998, and now we employ over 120 staff across 10 offices around the world. The secret sauce to doing this has been through building an internal culture and engaged workforce that understands that the customer is king. You need to practice what you preach!”

Nick says: “The one essential component to delivering excellent Customer Experience is to make your company easy to do business with. This is always a company-wide challenge.

Like father-like son, Nick shows that a love of helping businesses achieve their full potential for customers is something that runs in the family. A truly global CX Star, and one of the first names you should consider if a rise in NPS scores is on your agenda for 2020.

Click here for profiles of our Number 10 Professionals and Influencers.


Olga PotaptsevaOlga PotaptsevaJanuary 7, 2020
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6min1201

When Satya Nadella took over Microsoft, he didn’t begin with a focus on the competition or restructured product portfolio; rather he set out to rebuild the company’s culture starting with redefining the mission of the company.

He engaged all its employees to recommend the new mission for the company, and with its new north star, the firm’s stocks prices tripled since he became CEO. This just illustrates the importance of employee engagement, with the objective to inspire the company to serve its customers in deeper, meaningful, and more purposeful ways.

To drive employee engagement with the Customer Experience agenda, companies should persistently focus on these four broad categories…

Leadership

Establish a CX vision and ‘walk the talk’: A CX vision creates clarity around a company’s intended experience and helps all employees understand how best they can contribute to provide better customer experiences. Alan G Lafley, the man who transformed Procter & Gamble, would make it a point to visit the retail stores around the world and observe the shopping behaviour of the customers, thereby exhibiting the behaviours for his leadership to follow.

The top leadership needs to be trained and inspired in driving CX across the organisation by taking tangible steps to remove blockers like long approvals hierarchy, short-term profit chasing, and toxic employee behaviours.

Ways of working

Cross functional collaboration: Fortune 500 companies are improving collaboration through internal hackathons that involve having people from different functions problem solving together in groups. IBM holds internal hackathons called Cognitive Build, where employees from across the world participate in the competition by forming teams of different people from different countries and different functions, aligning their perspective on CX and sharing customer knowledge.

Agile transformation & design thinking: Methodologies are being used to continually adapt to changing customer preferences, as it allows you to quickly test your hypothesis with customers and co-create solutions with them.

Developing emotional intelligence: This is the ability to understand how customers feel and take this into account when solving business issues at any level. It is only recently that emotional intelligence has become a topic of significant importance, and the one that gives a real competitive advantage in the current environment. 

Customer immersion

Customer immersion programs: These help employees empathise and walk in the customer’s shoes. At Airbnb, every new employee goes on a trip and documents the entire customer journey, which will then be presented and shared with the entire company as insights, pain points, challenges, and opportunities.

Customer immersion is not limited to journey mapping, and involves continuous learning about customers’ needs and wants, as well as understanding your ability to meet them. Each employee in different parts of the organisation should be able to relate to how his role and department create value to the company’s customers.

Employee listening and involvement

CX governance: Listen to customer feedback though the employees, and establish an empowerment and escalation system whereby no customer problem goes unnoticed. In my work at a UK insurance company, I developed an employee feedback system for customer issues and within weeks we started receiving up to 4000 suggestions a month.

Sixty percent were addressed within the same month by addressing operational errors quickly, fixing broken processes, and preventing complaints resulting in cost savings. It also delivered continuous improvement in customer satisfaction with the contact centre (+5% over the course of the year).

Employee experience: Companies like Coca Cola and SCB Bank are using design thinking and employee journey mapping to transform their employee experience globally, focusing on employees’ daily journeys. Shifting the organisational focus from process to people creates more engaged and loyal employees able to deliver your CX strategy.

Recognition and reward system: This should encourage the behaviours creating value to customers. If courtesy and speed of service are of paramount importance to your customers, like it is to Hertz’s, these should be targeted and rewarded based on the customer feedback.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJanuary 6, 2020
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8min994

As last year drew to a close, Customer Experience Magazine presented our list of our Top 50 CX Stars, in which we ranked our selection of the UK’s top 25 CX Influencers – those consultants, coaches, authors, and guiding lights who inspire customer centricity – and our top 25 CX Professionals.

Having established a shortlist of candidates for both lists, we began ranking our final order, from number 25 to number one, primarily based on publicly available information, and our own considered, professional judgement.

For our CX Professionals, we looked into backgrounds and achievements including industry impact, awards success, and their influence both within and outside of their respective organisations – influence earned through activity including published written articles.

Our CX Influencers were ranked on the scale of said influence. Our methodology saw us compare published books, articles, social media activity – even television appearances, among other visible and influential pursuits within the UK CX realm.

We presented our final list as Christmas arrived, and here CXM begins a series of profiles of our Top 10 CX Stars in both Professional and Influencer categories.

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

 

 

Number 10

Phil Durand

Director of Customer Experience Management at Confirmit

Software firm Confirmit is now the premier name in feedback analysis, and at the helm of UK CX within the operation is Phil Durand, a professional with over two decades of experience in agency and client-side roles.

His wealth of knowledge has led to his key role in Confirmit’s CX consulting team, overseeing the design and implementation of cutting-edge programs for a wide range of B2C and B2B organisations.

Phil is a firm advocate of designing CX with the end-goal in focus from the beginning, and one of his inspirations is the late Apple magnate Steve Jobs, who famously said: “You’ve got to start with the Customer Experience and work back toward the technology – not the other way around.”

Words to live by, professionally, and Phil does just that.

In creating this list, we learned of how one of his clients, who had unfortunately suffered a challenging history of customer engagement, has since adopted a “what would Phil have said?” attitude to solving problems.

An attitude that will certainly pay off!

Although one of our CX Professionals, Phil is an influencer in his own right, sharing his knowledge in articles for a range of publications. Customer Experience Magazine is both fortunate and proud to have provided a platform for his writing in recent years, while he is also increasingly in demand for his judging skills and eye for expertise at events including the UK Customer Experience Awards.

Phil says: “The goal for anyone aiming to deliver a great Customer Experience should categorically be to design the programme with the end in mind. It’s about creating an experience that meets the needs of your customers first and foremost.”

In terms of his own awards success, last year saw Phil nominated for the CXPA’s CX Impact Awards, and he will no doubt continue to make waves in 2020 as Confirmit and its tech solutions grow in scale and scope.

 

 

Number 10

Claire Boscq-Scott

Businesses throughout the UK and beyond will know Jersey-based Claire Boscq-Scott as the Busy Queen Bee of Customer Experience, whose energy, enthusiasm, and sheer love of seeing a business perform to its best of its abilities is evident in her videos, writing, and speaking engagements.

CXPA Claire’s passion for customer-centricity is fed through her membership of the Mystery Shopper Providers Association and the Encouraging Women into Franchising body.

Awards under her belt include 2014’s Director of the Year award from the Jersey branch of the Institute of Directors, and she has also received nominations for plaudits including the Forward Ladies Women in Business Awards.

Claire’s instinctive CX skills are founded in her former roles in the hospitality sector, where as a hotelier she worked at the coalface of customer centricity. There are few sectors more suited to honing Customer Experience nous, and Claire is committed to sharing those skills with a whole new generation of enthusiastic entrepreneurs.

Her two books: Thrive With the Hive and Thriving By Caring are both highly recommended reads, featuring simple and practical steps that can help bring immediate positive results to your business.

Meanwhile, as far as branching out goes, you won’t see many CX gurus with their own perfume brand! But Claire’s instinctive passion for personalisation saw an idea to add scent to business cards grow into her very own perfume, EAU d’abelle.

That’s what we call a nose for branding innovation!

Claire says: “The Queen Bee is at the centre of her community, without her the hive wouldn’t exist – she cares for her bees and their environment so they can deliver that delicious honey.”

Whether she is creating buzz in the UK, her native France, or in speaking engagements and workshops all across the globe, Queen Bee Claire remains one of the industry’s hardest working influencers, and we can’t wait to see what 2020 has in store for her.

 

 

 

 


Tracy RyanTracy RyanDecember 23, 2019
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8min1209

Those who have been watching Channel 4’s gameshow The Circle will know that the programme gives players the opportunity to ‘catfish’ each other; in other words, pretend to be someone else.

Doing so is easy because players’ interactions always take a text-based form. This means the true sentiment behind a message can often be manipulated or warped and as a result, misunderstood by the recipient.

In recent years, catfishing – luring someone with a fake persona online – has increased dramatically. It is usually associated with social media romance scams or dating sites. But as more and more businesses are opting to communicate with customers via the likes of chatbots and live online chat – could we see similar ploys enter the commercial world?

Cases of misunderstanding are already popping up, with a Finnish insurance company’s chatbot referring to a customer’s new born baby as an “accident”, and journalist Christopher Elliot claiming that Skyscanner’s chatbot misunderstood his requests.

Alongside a decrease in phone use by businesses, we now use our home phones half as much as we did in 2012. Messaging data demand has risen significantly during the same period. But voiceless interactions can be, and often are, void of emotion.

This has given rise to an increase in emoji use for personal interactions in order to more easily communicate sentiment. In fact, the use of emojis has been found to increase relationship success.

But for more formal communication between a business and its customers, how can interlocutors be wholly certain of the sentiment of the messages they are sending and receiving via the likes of chatbots and emails? And because of an increasing use of voiceless communication, could brands be opening themselves up to the risk of inadvertently ‘sentiment catfishing’ their customers? 

For example a brand misunderstanding that a customer is angry and responding inappropriately – or showing a lack of empathy – as was the case with the Finnish insurance firm.

Why voice should still be the front-runner

Voice is one of the best ways to build relationships with individuals and customers and should be thought of by businesses as second only to in-person meetings. It’s easy to engage and respond when we can hear and interpret tone of voice and true sentiment, which simply isn’t possible when interacting with machines that lack the ‘human touch’.

Voice communication in which emotion can be clearly communicated is therefore key for reducing the chance of misunderstandings.

A real-life agent is also equipped with the innate ability to calm someone when they have a problem. We’ve all experienced negative feelings, often anger, when struggling to resolve an issue. And the chances of this happening are only increased when interacting with a chatbot that doesn’t understand you or your feelings or isn’t able to help with your issue.

And it seems that the benefits of picking up the phone aren’t lost on us, with 55 percent of customers still valuing a human interaction when calling.

Why aren’t we picking up the phone?

A recent study by Sussex Innovation Centre found that, when calling customer service agents, 95 percent of customers felt that it took too long to get through to an agent, with 31 percent of callers stating they would hang up within one minute of waiting on hold. As a result, consumers are increasingly turning to other forms of communication which provide an easier and speedier option for resolving their enquiry or issue.

So, as businesses embark on, and continue, their digital transformation journeys, a vital piece of the puzzle is improving their phone offering. It might seem ironic, but in today’s digital age, poor customer service over the phone is often the result of a lack of new technology to work alongside agents and aid them in providing improved customer experiences.

A digital helping hand

To avoid customers opting for online or chatbot-based communication (and consequently risk misunderstandings through lack of sentiment), brands need to up their game when it comes to their phone experience offering.

Employing a telephony platform is key in doing so, offering a whole host of benefits. For example, providing customer service agents with a 360-degree view into all of a customers’ previous interactions with the brand, decreasing the time to resolution and enabling agents to spend more time building personalised relationships with their customers. Telephony platforms can also give customers the option to hang up whilst keeping their place in the queue – dramatically reducing the amount of time they spend listening to that, quite frankly, awful hold music.

With customer service experiences being a key friction point in a customer’s journey, it is vital that the process is handled in the best way possible. Brands that focus on bringing their telephony offering into the future with a cloud-based telephony platform will therefore stay one-step ahead of competitors when it comes to building relationships with the customers and maintaining loyalty to the brand as a result.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthDecember 20, 2019
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43min7331

We are in the midst of an age in which instant information is creating ever more savvy consumers.

As we enter a new decade, customers are ever more influenced by their experiences of a brand when considering a purchase. The role of Customer Experience as a profession, therefore, is so much more important than it has ever been before.

Meanwhile, for businesses to really get to know how customers behave, think, and feel, there are a growing number of CX influencers who continue to coach, guide, and inspire both company executives and the next generation of professionals to return customer centricity to the heart of their operations.

In celebration of these CX Stars operating here in the UK, Customer Experience Magazine presents a list of our Top 25 CX Influencers and Top 25 CX Professionals of 2019.

These are the people making a significant impact in Customer Experience, and who deserve to be celebrated. They will be the ones to watch as we enter 2020.

Some of our stars you will know, and others you certainly will know soon, as they continue on their career paths. Our researchers have ranked these CX Stars based on criteria including their achievements, industry activity and their influence within the UK CX sphere.

In the New Year, we will profile our Top 10 Influencers and Top 10 Professionals in more detail, offering you further insight into the amazing work they do. As CX matures from a buzzword to a vital professional realm, we are proud to be able to acknowledge those who are pioneering and making a difference. We can’t wait to see how these inspirational CX leaders grow, and look forward to discovering who will emerge to join them as CX Stars in 2020!

Directly below is our Top 25 CX Professionals list.

Scroll down further or click here to jump directly to our Top 25 CX Influencers

25

 

Name: DeAnna Avis

Role: National Customer Experience Manager at Solus ARC

Solus Accident and Repair Centre, owned by Aviva, has enjoyed a phenomenal year capped by taking the Overall Winner title at the 2019 UK Customer Experience Awards in October. Central to that success is DeAnna Avis, the firm’s National Customer Experience Manager, whose holistic approach to CX includes a focus on customer insight and employee engagement.

 

 


24

 

Name: Salman Sharif

Role: Senior Advisor, EMEA at Forrester

A former UK Customer Experience Awards judge, Salman works with senior CX leaders from FTSE 500 companies across the EMEA region.

He offers direction on how to help their company become more customer-centric by leveraging a combination of his own experience, Forrester’s research and analysis, and unrivalled peer insight.

 

 

 


23

 

Name: Hannah Louise Cox

Role: Executive Search Consultant at Douglas Jackson

Hannah identifies talent within the Customer Experience space to engage with for specialist roles, in order to shape business strategies and transform cultures. A passionate blogger and industry awards judge, Hannah earned the Outstanding Contribution to Judging gong at the 2019 UK Digital Experience Awards.

 

 

 


22

 

Name: Matt Currall

Role: Client Portfolio Director at Capita

An industry acclaimed CX leader, Matt is responsible for all aspects of customer delivery across a varied portfolio of Capita partnerships, including Tesco Mobile, The National Trust, and Vauxhall Finance. 

Matt is best known for his award-winning work on the use of psychological motivation theory to stimulate emotional commitment in employees to drive customer excellence.

 

 


21

 

Name: Stuart Bishop

Role: Director of Service at Cheshire Datasystems Ltd

A Companion Member of the Institute of Customer Service, Stuart specialises in transforming teams and creating a focus on the customer.

At leading UK tech company Cheshire Datasystems, he is exploring the potential of tech including AI and machine learning, and how to combine it with a human element for superior CX.

 

 

 


 

20

 

Name: Emma Donnelly

Role: Former Head of Customer Relations at CrossCountry Trains

Emma is an all-rounder, whose leadership skills ensured CX success for one of the UK’s best-known rail franchises.

In 2018, she enjoyed a prize year, being named Inspirational Leader of the Year at the UK Business Awards, Leader of the Year at the UK Complaints Handling Awards, and Professional Woman of the Year at the UK Customer Experience Awards.

 

 


19

 

Name: Sabrina Gross

Role: Customer Success Director at Vizolution

With global experience and a passion for customer centricity, Sabrina leads a team which engages with customers from pre-sale stages and right the way through the entire journey.

This ensures they can maximise the full value of the tech solutions offered by Swansea-based Vizolution.

 

 


18

 

Name: James Hardwick

Role: Industry Director for Gaming at Oracle CX

James is a recognised thought leader and advisor for CX in the Gaming and Gambling industry.

With a decade’s experience under his belt working with both start-ups and long-established brands, James has also been recognised for his achievements through various awards.

 

 

 


17

 

Name: Sarah Sargent

Role: Director of Customer Experience at Radian Group

Sarah Sargent became the first Certified Customer Experience Professional in Yorkshire in 2018, and has carved a successful career in both customer service and CX leadership across Financial Services and Telcos.

She is currently reinvigorating CX in social housing at Radian Group.

 

 

 

 


16

 

Name: Nick Lygo-Baker

Role: Founding Director at Paradigm CX

Having founded Paradigm CX in 2018, Nick Lygo-Baker’s passion for delivering CX strategies for organisations was seeded in Mystery Shopping and Customer Satisfaction research. Previously, Nick lead CX research teams in the UK and EMEA working with a wide range of SaaS technologies. As a CCXP and Certified member of the MRS Nick has built some of the most innovative customer measurement programmes across HoRECA, Retail, Telco and Financial Services.

 


15

 

Name: Chloe Woolger

Role: Commercial Director CX at Kantar

Chloe Woolger joined Kantar this year and is developing its CX strategy for clients including Bupa, Virgin Atlantic, and Nationwide.

A solid background in marketing has placed her in pole position to help build relationships that will ultimately benefit customers.

 

 

 


14

 

Name: Claire Sporton

Role: Senior Vice President, Customer Experience Innovation at Confirmit

Claire Sporton lives and breathes CX, and began her Confirmit career in 2011 before being appointed to her current crucial role in 2018 – a year that saw her land a CX Impact Award, given by the CXPA to “recognise individuals that exemplify excellent customer experience and make a profound impact on their organisation and its customers”.

 

 

 


13

 

Name: Jamie Thorpe

Role: Head of Experience Management at Ipsos MORI CX

With over 20 years behind him as a foundation for his expertise, Jamie Thorpe has long recognised the need for brands to be connected with customers, and the customers’ realisation of their own value.

Before bringing his vision to Ipsos MORI, Jamie worked with Kantar’s Customer Experience division, holding roles including CX Deputy Managing Director.

 

 

 


12

 

Name: Tiffany Carpenter

Role: UKI Head of Customer Intelligence Solutions at SAS UK

Tiffany has spent over 20 years helping organisations transform CX across their sales, service, and marketing operations.

In her current role at SAS, she guides firms in the application of advanced analytics and artificial intelligence to harness customer insights and deliver relevant one-to-one experiences.

 

 

 


11

 

Name: Laura Bowyer

Role: Head of Customer Excellence, UK and Ireland at KFC

CCXP Laura has transformed customer service teams for family favourite brands KFC and PizzaExpress, through the introduction of  VOC programmes and by creating effective training programmes for front-line teams.

Laura is also a former Secretary of the Inter Company Consumer Affairs Association.

 

 

10

 

Name: Phil Durand

Role: Director of Customer Experience Management at Confirmit

Confirmit has positioned itself firmly at the forefront of Voice of the Customer solutions, and Philip Durand’s expertise is ensuring they will stay there.

An advocate for customer insight and ‘keeping it simple’ for consumers, Philip recently judged at the UK Customer Experience Awards.

 

 


9

 

Name: Marion Ellis

Role: MD of BlueBox Partners

Marion Ellis began her CX career at Countrywide Surveying Services, which carried out mortgage valuations and home surveys.

Now a CCXP, Marion is creating an alliance of experienced residential valuers and surveyors committed to supporting the professional development of other valuers and surveyors through the Surveyor Hub online community.

 


8

 

Name: Sharif-Paul Anton

Role: General Manager Customer Support at Samsung Electronics

Sharif-Paul has 20 years of experience in CX, contact centres, and outsourcing.

He has worked with a number of leading brands, onshore and offshore, across numerous verticals including Banking, Consumer Electronics, Travel/Tourism, Gaming, and Retail.

 

 

 


7

 

Name: Iain O’Connor

Role: Senior Manager of Customer Experience & Insight at Aegon UK

Iain O’Connor is responsible for implementing a CX culture at Edinburgh insurance, pensions, and investment firm Aegon UK.

His work has included the development of in-house CX Labs, a CX Academy, and the creation of closed loop feedback and social media channel Aegon Cares.

 

 

 


6

 

Name: Christina Liciaga

Role: Head of Customer Service at HSBC UK

Christina has led HSBC’s customer service team since 2017, and oversees complaints and service recovery, root cause analysis, and customer insight.

She prides herself on being “the customer advocate who drives initiatives and interventions to make our customers better off everyday”.

 

 

 


5

 

Name: Alison Lawrie

Role: Head of Customer Experience, Quality & Continuous Improvememt at AkzoNobel

Alison Lawrie is  responsible for implementing the CX Strategy and Transformation Programme at AkzoNobel, the firm behind Dulux Paint.

Her dedication was recognised at national level in 2018 when she was named Professional of the Year at the UK Customer Experience Awards.

 

 


4

 

Name: Andrew McGuigan

Role: Director of Worldwide Customer Service Strategy at Microsoft

Before taking up his hugely influential role at Microsoft in 2017, Andrew spent four years at Vodafone, where he headed the UK Customer Services division before taking the role of Head of Consumer Customer Care.

At Microsoft, Andrew is leading the charge in placing the customer at the very centre of one of the planet’s most recognisable brands.

 

 


3

 

Name: Jo Mayes

Role: Director of Customer Operations at Business Stream

A former Head of CX at Standard Life, Jo Mayes is now making transformational changes in the water retail sector with Business Stream, and was named 2019’s CX Professional of the Year at the UK Customer Experience Awards.

Under her leadership, Business Stream has developed its ambitious Customer First Strategy, which has helped to transform its CX offering.

 

 

 


2

 

Name: Nick Macfarlane

Role: Head of Customer Experience at Sky

Currently Head of CX for Sky in Spain, Nick has a long and storied career in Customer Experience, including several years delivering world class digital customer service solutions for Sky’s International OTT customers.

Nick has also judged at the UK Customer Experience Awards, while Sky has also reached the finals of the event – most recently in 2019 when the brand was shortlisted in categories including Customers at the Heart of Everything.

 


1

 

Name: Amanda Riches

Role: Director of Professional Services – CX Consulting at Medallia

Topping our Professionals list is CX expert and Net Promoter certified associate Amanda Riches, who has enabled leading multi-sector organisations to drive customer-centric change delivering measurable business results over the last two decades. 

Previously Head of Quality & Guest Insight at Whitbread, Amanda established the successful service formula that sits behind Premier Inn, the award-winning leading hotel chain, before setting up Enrich Customer Consultancy in 2008. Now Director of Professional Services at Medallia, she continues to help large organisations operationalise the voice of their customers, employees, and partners, engaging senior and frontline teams to drive action on the things that matter most.

 

25

 

Name: Ben Philips

Role: Global Head of Customer Experience at Neilsen

Ben Philips is, in his own words, living his “dream role”, and travels around the world working to ensure clients are becoming fully customer-centric.

A passionate speaker, Ben also spreads his CX knowledge through his writing, including contributing to a new book on CX best practise alongside 21 other global influencers.

 

 


24

 

Name: Paul Weald

Role: Director of Multichannel Customer Experience Ltd

Paul is known by peers as the Contact Centre Innovator, and is the founder and Director of his consultancy firm Multichannel Customer Experience Ltd.

An inspirational speaker and prolific writer, Paul has also judged at numerous industry awards events over the years.

 

 


23

 

Name: Chris Little

Role: Founder of BeyondCuriosity

Having successfully established BeyondCuriosity, a specialist insight and strategy consultancy for innovation, CX and growth, Chris Little has championed customer thinking for over 30 years, starting with the customer facing revolution at Barclays in the 1980s. He has been actively involved in CX measurement and strategies since.

 


22

 

Name: Olga Potaptseva

Role: Founder of the European Customer Consultancy

CX mentor Olga has offered expert consulting around the world, and reaches a wide audience through motivational speaking roles.

Making use of her customer-centric employee engagement framework, she leads companies in multiple industries to transform their processes, policies, and products through her European Customer Consultancy. Olga was Chair of Judges at the 2019 UK Customer Experience Awards.

 

 


21

 

 

Name: Karen Swindells

Role: Director at Jigsaw Customer Solutions

Karen Swindells has developed her strong skillset over three decades in customer service environments, including contact centres.

Her background as a Operations Manager with Ombudsman Services led to her becoming one of the most respected judges at the 2019 UK Complaint Handling Awards.

 

 

 


20

 

Name: Peter Evia-Rhodes

Role: Director of Customer Value at The Times (News UK)

In his role at The Times and The Sunday Times, Peter is responsible for increasing and maintaining subscribers for one of the most respected titles in British newspapers.

His CX approach, based on innovative speech analytics supported by award-winning data science, has been shared with audiences through Peter’s role as a keynote speaker and writer.

 

 


19

 

Name: Jo Boswell

Role: Founder/Director of Sentio-B

Jo is the brains behind Sentio-B, a consultancy firm specialising in CX transformation. Before this, she honed her skills at British Airways with a series of high-flying roles including Head of Customer Value Management.

She was the driving force behind the airline’s ‘Know Me’ initiative, a successful transformation programme that embedded personalisation at scale into their CX and service strategy.

 

 


18

 

Name: Chris Garthwaite

Role: Managing Director at CGA Experience

The MD of consultancy CGA Experience, Chris is a 35-year CX industry veteran. After a successful career driving Customer Experience transformation, including early-stage e-commerce launching Woolworths Direct and e-Kingfisher, he set up CGA in 2001.

Over the past 18 years, CGA has led the way in creating value through transforming customer journeys into compelling and commercial experiences.

 


17

 

Name: Ben Smithwell

Role: Director of Comotion – a Freeman Company

CX and service design consultant Ben Smithwell will be a name familiar to many in Customer Experience roles, both here in the UK and further afield.

Having founded his own Nottingham-based CX agency, Ben is also Director of Comotion, a Freeman company, while in 2015 he even delivered a powerful TEDx talk on how to tackle bullying.

 

 


16

 

Name: Donna O’Toole

Role: CEO of August Recognition

Donna O’Toole is a a Customer Experience champion through-and-through.

A writer and thought-leader, Donna now heads August – The Awards Company, where she guides business leaders and teams in improving their own CX and preparing them for awards recognition at various industry events.

 

 


15

 

Name: Simon Green

Role: Founder/Director of 3RM

The power behind 3RM Digital Marketing Strategy, Simon Green integrates communications and advertising into Customer Experience, intrinsically linking it with ‘Brand Experience’ for the benefit of large UK and global brands.

CCXP Simon helps organisations see the end-to-end consumer process as starting from brand advertising and digital personalised communications, and running throughout the cycles of pre-purchase, sales, consumption, customer service, and repeat sales.

 


14

 

Name: Marie Cross

Role: Co-founder of First Impressions Training

Marie is the co-founder of First Impressions Training (FIT), and a passionate CX influencer.

Through her on-the-ground role as FIT’s Training Director, Marie leads large-scale culture change projects for clients, developing the talent of front-line teams and leaders, in order to enhance CX, increase employee engagement, and improve operational efficiency.

 

 


13

 

Name: Caroline Cooper

Role: Trainer/Consultant at Naturally Loyal

An author, speaker, and trainer, Caroline is a life-long advocate of customer centricity, and regularly writes on a range of Customer and Employee Experience topics.

Caroline is the go-to authority on Customer Experience in the Hospitality industry, helping create loyal customers who will return again and again thanks to excellent service inspired by her.

 

 


12

 

Name: Stephen Parry

Role: CEO/Founder of Lloyd Parry

A name familiar to many readers, Stephen is a multi-award winning international leader and strategist on the creation of service enterprises that are adaptive, innovative and engaging.

London-based Stephen is the founder of consultancy Lloyd Parry, and has a global reputation for passionate leadership and creating organisations with superior service climates by changing the way employees, managers, and leaders think about the business.

 


11

 

Name: Mark Conway

Role: Founder of Contact Centre Partners

The driving force of Contact Centre Partners, Mark has been recruiting senior talent within the customer contact and CX industry since 2007.

Over the past 12 years, he has successfully placed hundreds of influential professionals across a wide variety of industry sectors, many of whom are multi-award-winning industry leaders.

 

 

 

10

 

Name: Claire Boscq-Scott

Role: Founder of The Busy Queen Bee Ltd

Known as the Busy Queen Bee herself, Claire Boscq-Scott is a global guru for brands dedicated to improving both customer and employee experience.

A Member of the Professional Speaker Association, Claire has toured the world to spread her enthusiasm and presented before thousands of people. She has also authored two books: Thrive With the Hive and Thriving by Caring.

 

 


9

 

Name: Nick Hague

Role: Co-founder of B2B International

As an original founder of B2B International, Nick has been at the centre of assisting some of the world’s biggest business-to-business companies design, implement, and track their CX strategy based on the grounded research B2B International carry out.

Through his work as a research practitioner, Nick knows what works and what doesn’t in getting change within an organisation and his first-hand experience led him to publishing his bestselling book, B2B Customer Experience in 2018.   

 


8

 

Name: Michelle Ansell

Role: Managing Partner at Douglas Jackson

Michelle is based at specialist recruitment and executive search consultancy, Douglas Jackson. She has worked with many award-winning business and brands, as well as start-up and disruptor companies, placing individuals who have gone on to make significant impacts.

Her skills have served the contact centre and burgeoning CX industry for over 15 years.

 

 


7

 

Name: Nick Meinertzhagen

Role: Founder of Experiential Consulting Ltd

CCXP Nick Meinertzhagen is a passionate CX strategist, management consultant, and entrepreneur.

In 2004 he founded one of the UK’s largest mystery shopping businesses 360 Perspectives, which he sold in 2018 to Yomdel.

Nick currently runs his own CX management consultancy, Experiential Consulting Ltd, where he designs customer-centric solutions that aligns to his clients’ commercial objectives.

 


6

 

Name: Dr Nicola Millard

Role: Principal Innovation Partner at BT

UK Customer Experience Award winner BT has benefited hugely from the oversight of its former Head of Customer Insight and Futurology, Dr Nicola Millard. Now a Principal Innovation Partner for the brand, she has been responsible for developing human-centred innovation thought-leadership for BT Global Services’ Innovation team.

A speaker, writer and thought-leader, Nicola got her PhD from Lancaster University in 2005 on motivational technologies in contact centres, & published her first book in 2009.

 


5

 

Name: Clare Muscutt

Role: Founder/Director of CMXperience,

Entrepreneur Clare Muscutt is recognised as a leading millennial voice in CX, and founded her own consultancy firm, CMXperience, from her kitchen in Hackney, London.

Now a global influencer, public speaker, and soon-to-be author, Clare is aiming to bring the CX skills honed at brands including Sainsbury’s, M&S, British Airways, and Premier Inn to a whole new audience in 2020.

 

 


4

 

Name: Naeem Arif

Role: MD at NA Consulting

Alongside running successful national flooring firm United Carpets Group, CCXP Naeem Arif has founded his own consultancy firm, NA Consulting Ltd, and has penned a whopping six books, including the hugely influential Customer First.

Birmingham-based Naeem has an unrivalled knack for business leadership and a dedication to customer centricity that is making waves in the UK.

 

 


3

 

Name: Adrian Swinscoe

Role: Influencer, consultant, podcaster, author, and founder of Punk CX

The author of books including How to Wow, Scottish-born Adrian Swinscoe is an influential consultant, speaker, and coach, who says his driving passion is “helping create, develop, and grow businesses that take care of their customers in the best way possible, and create the great teams that are required to do that.”

A man of many talents, Adrian’s new Punk CX book is a radical departure from the often-dry tomes found on business shelves.

 

 


2

 

Name: Ian Golding

Role: Founder of the Customer Experience Consultancy

No stranger to CXM readers, nor anyone with even a passing interest in Customer Experience, Ian Golding is among the UK’s foremost CX experts, whose thoughts on customer centricity are sought the world over.

Along with imparting his wisdom through CX Masterclasses and in-house training, he has penned one of the most influential books in the industry to-date, Customer What? The honest and practical guide to customer experience.

 

 


1

 

Name: James Dodkins

Role: Founder of Rockstar CX

Topping the charts for CX influencers is the man known to many as the ‘Customer Experience Rockstar’, James brings his passion for CX to a global audience through his energetic speaking engagements.

As his image implies, James has corralled the energy and enthusiasm from his days in a rock band, and turned it towards the world of Customer Experience

From writing CX books, and even launching his own line of Rockstar CX-inspired clothing, James is bringing customer centricity into an entirely new era. Among his latest projects is presenting the This Week in CX show, currently streaming on Amazon Prime.

 

Coming soon: CXM will profile our Top 10 Stars in both Influencer and Professional categories. Congratulations to all those who made it into this year’s Top 50 CX Stars!

 


Lindsay WillottLindsay WillottDecember 10, 2019
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7min1873

Love it or hate it, when December hits there’s one thing as sure as mince-pie overload – it’s also the time of year we all get our crystal balls out and start predicting what’s on the horizon for the coming year.

The last ten years have seen a rate of change in customer service faster than the last 100 years combined. Salesforce have dubbed it the ‘fourth generation’, where boundaries between the physical, digital, and biological worlds have started to blur. It’s fundamentally changed what consumers have come to expect from brands. No wonder that 80 percent of customers consider their experience with a company to be as important as its products.

However, despite these raising expectations, only 49 percent of U.S. consumers say they’re getting a good customer experience from companies. This disconnect was echoed in Forrester’s Customer Experience Predictions 2020, which warns “consumers continue to move faster than businesses.”

The upshot here is that businesses are still clearly missing a trick in how to differentiate their brand and delight their customers base – but will next year be any better? Well there’s huge scope for improvements, but ironically the ones that may fair best are the ones that focus on the basics over buzzwords.

And we all know the buzzword of the moment – artificial intelligence (AI).

It’s had by far the lion’s share of the word of mouth this year but there is still confusion as to the role it can play, especially in complex environments, as well as the consumer acceptance of it.

Looking ahead: 2020 trends being predicted include improved feedback provision

There’s also lessons to be sought given the changes taken place in the cyber security market. Even the least savvy of Internet user has seen the furore over election manipulation, foreign state hacking and increasingly credible phishing and social engineering attacks. This has influenced strategy because providers operating online channels have had to enhance the protection of data with pin numbers, confirmation codes, captcha boxes and two factor authorisation. The problem is that these things make for a terrible customer experience.

I can also see huge scope for improvement when it comes to receiving customer feedback, which is instrumental for CX programmes to succeed.

According to Microsofts’s 2018 State of Global Customer Service Report, nearly all customers (90 percent) have a more favourable view of brands that give them the opportunity to provide feedback. However, less than a quarter (24 percent) of customers are given the opportunity to provide feedback regularly.

In 2020, I think that the traditional ‘long format’ survey will become largely obsolete. I was speaking to a major retailer last week who said they had sent out 3,000 surveys and had just two responses.

Social media listening is useful, but they are a very self-selecting audience in terms of response. Forward-thinking brands will need to embrace the concept of “react with a gif”, “react with an emoji” and seek out more seamless ways of embedding feedback options into their day to day customer interactions.

Lastly, I believe the concept of gratitude from providers towards their purchasers and audiences will be really important. The “got to have this” type out outbound and social marketing we see has led to a purchase frenzy especially amongst beauty and fashion and lifestyle brands, but I often wonder if many consumers do not feel that their loyalty is rewarded.

Forrester’s report explains this well: “Consumers will evolve from recipients of a brand experience to participants in it.”

As we look ahead, deeper relationships between brands and consumers, with genuine rewards for staying loyal, feel like they will become important. It’s the modern equivalent of the corner shop throwing an extra item in with your shop because they know you – personal service, to delight and reward each customer.


Matt MoodyMatt MoodyDecember 10, 2019
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7min1965

You offered discounts, expedited service, and a weekend at your summer home, but your customer dropped you anyway.

Once you finish eating a pint of Ben & Jerry’s in the bathtub, you have two options: move on forever or keep the door open for a potential return.

Even after customers leave, you can still win back their business in the future – and you should make every effort to do so. According to research consolidated by Small Biz Trends, a two percent increase in customer retention can lower costs by up to 10 percent. Further, your odds of selling to an existing customer are over 60 percent, while your odds of selling to a stranger are below 20 percent.

Customers who leave for a while still count as customers. They know your brand and your products, and despite their choice to stop paying for those products, they saw value in your services at one point. You can win them back, but to do so, you need a win-back strategy that provides consistent returns for your business.

What is (or isn’t) a win-back strategy?

Offering 10 percent off to all former customers three months after separation does not qualify as a win-back strategy. People leave for different reasons, and while a better price may appeal to some, focusing solely on price will not help you create the boost in customer lifetime value your company needs.

Ineffective win-back strategies share a few common traits. Most companies that struggle to win back customers don’t understand why those customers cancel in the first place. If you don’t collect data at the time of cancellation, all you can do is guess. Maybe they didn’t like paying so much money, but maybe they also wanted more variety in product choices or more helpful customer service.

Unless you ask, you’ll never know.

Back for good?: Improving products or services plays a huge role in winning back customers

Imagine a gym-goer who cancels her membership because she moved to a new area. Would a 25 percent off coupon inspire her to commute across town just to use her old treadmill? Probably not. A newsletter announcing new locations, however, might inspire her to find a new gym home nearer to her house.

Audience segmentation plays a role as well. Some customers will never return to your business, no matter how much you beg. Targeting those customers will only harm your brand as they tell people how annoying you are. When a relationship breaks beyond repair, don’t press the issue. Your customer won’t win his ex back by liking all her Instagram posts, and you won’t win your customer back by spamming unwanted communications.

Your business must also show consistent improvement to implement a successful win-back strategy. Customers who cancel often do so because someone else offers something better. By improving the quality and availability of your products, services, and customer experiences, you can greatly boost your odds of success in win-back attempts.

Designing a better win-back strategy for your business

Win-back strategies that consistently bring back old customers depend on timely, relevant communications. You should make your first attempt to reestablish a connection within 30 days of the separation, before your customers forget why they were paying you in the first place. Communications should get specific about why customers left to open the door for future business once you solve the issue.

To create those communications, segment your audience by departure reason. The better your segmentation, the more relevant your messages will be and the greater the odds customers will listen to you will grow. Continue to refine your segments to speak mostly to customers who are likely to return, not customers who have moved or otherwise no longer fit your business.

Identify potential win-back opportunities by using an exit survey or similar information-gathering technique at the time of departure. Relevant communication within the first month after separation will greatly up your odds of reconciliation. Discounts and promotions work well within this window, but only for customers who are more concerned about price than variety, service, or another issue.

Even if you can’t address the concerns of a departed customer immediately, keep the line of communication open to share news about new product features, customer service improvements, pricing changes, new locations, and other relevant factors.

Treat your customers like friends by keeping them in the loop. Regardless of whether you rekindle the spark with the one that got away, people who view your business favourably may tell their friends about your improvements, paving the way for a host of promising new relationships.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthDecember 9, 2019
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4min1503

It’s the end of an era for the great British railway network as Virgin Trains catered to passengers on the franchise’s final run.

The award-winning brand operated long distance services on the West Coast Main Line since March 1997, and last Saturday saw passengers at London Euston board the service for the final time, bound for Wolverhampton.

Virgin Trains, co-owned by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and Stagecoach, has ferried almost 500 million passengers over its 22-year history, and had aimed to continue, but a row over pensions led to the Department for Transport disqualifying the brand’s bid to keep operating the line.

Routes operated by Virgin Trains are now by Avanti West Coast.

Good knight: Sir Richard joins Virgin . Train staff to say farewell to the 22-year-old service

The phenomenal work of Virgin trains staff was celebrated by Virgin Group boss Sir Richard Branson, who tweeted: “A huge thank you to all our wonderful people at @VirginTrains – it’s down to all of your incredible work every day that Virgin Trains has been the UK’s longest running and top-rated rail franchise.”

Just this year, Virgin Trains enjoyed success at the UK Business Awards, where it won Silver in the Innovation of the Year category, and was a finalist in the Team of the Year category.

In 2018 meanwhile, Virgin Trains won Gold at the UK Business Awards for Digital Team – Digital Marketing Campaign, before going on to win the biggest accolade of the day – Overall Best Digital Experience.

The Virgin Trains official Twitter account summed up the mood of the weekend with a characteristically humorous, but poignant tweet: “When leaving the train, please mind the gaping hole I’ll leave in your life.”

 


Martin EllinghamMartin EllinghamDecember 6, 2019
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10min1418

As we’re all aware, PPI represents the largest consumer mis-selling scandal this country has seen.

UK lenders collectively expect PPI to cost them close to £50 billion in total, having already paid out over £48 billion in compensation and admin by June 2019. But what now the PPI claims deadline has passed?

We can be certain that the massive claims management industry that sprung out of the PPI scandal – an industry that currently employs in the region of 20,000 people – won’t be going anywhere any time soon, but it does mean that the Claims Management Companies (CMCs) will be actively seeking new targets, something that financial services businesses are extremely aware of.

One potential issue for CMCs to pursue, and a much-discussed topic at the moment, is that of customer vulnerability – in particular how financial services businesses are ensuring the appropriate levels of not only service but care for vulnerable customers. Such is its importance that the FCA has made it one of the central themes of its business plan for 2019/20.

Underpinning this focus by the FCA is the idea that firms aren’t taking vulnerability seriously enough. However, as yet, outside of their own best practice framework, there are no set guidelines for businesses to follow when it comes to dealing with vulnerable customers.

Although vulnerability as a whole can be hard to define, harder to legislate for, and even harder still to identify, many financial services businesses are taking the opportunity to review their current processes. Aside from instilling best practice across the business, for many, it’s an attempt to pre-empt any regulatory requirements that the FCA could well introduce, not to mention helping to build a robust defence should the CMCs try to pursue vulnerability as their next source of income.

A challenging task

The main challenge faced by financial services businesses is identifying vulnerable customers in the first instance. For example, in the case of a disability, not all disabilities are obvious. Also, it may be that customers don’t realise they’re vulnerable, or even if they do, they’re loath to self-identify.

Others may be experiencing transient vulnerability, perhaps as a result of a major life event or upheaval, something that hasn’t been evident before and won’t continue to render them vulnerable in the future, but for the here and now, is a real issue for that individual. Not only does this make it hard for businesses to spot vulnerable customers, but it makes it nigh-on impossible to regulate for it, such is the scope and the scale of the whole ‘vulnerable’ label.

Alarm bells: Firms aren’t taking customer vulnerability seriously enough

Another hurdle to cross is to ensure staff have the training and tools necessary to help to identify vulnerable customers, as well as empowering them to do the right thing once vulnerable customers have been identified. On the whole, front-line staff are younger people, with not as much life experience as their older counterparts, perhaps making it more difficult to empathise with customers for whom major life events or circumstances have caused them to be vulnerable. It’s difficult to train for that but with greater clarity on what makes a customer vulnerable, from the regulator and the business itself, it’s certainly not impossible for staff to increase their awareness and understanding.

Empowered employees

Aside from increasing employee ability to recognise vulnerability, a vital part of the equation is to empower these very same staff to take the necessary action that vulnerable customers require. This might be by way of a triage-type process, where those identified as vulnerable are passed on to a special unit that’s empowered to deal specifically with vulnerable customers.

Or, again, through training, it’s possible to give employees the option to side-step the rules or standard Ts&Cs when needed, not only giving them the adequate time needed to consider what needs to be done differently, but furnishing them with the knowledge needed to know how to do things differently.

The role of technology

Even if you have the most empowered employees in the industry, the crux of the issue is still successfully and accurately identifying vulnerable customers. Training is good but ultimately it still relies on people to apply things learnt in training to everyday situations, something that doesn’t always translate, and something that still risks people falling through the gaps.

Technological developments are in the pipeline though, with consumer vulnerability detection systems incorporated into customer experience software or a case management platform able to detect patterns in customer language to flag up potentially vulnerable customers. It’s not a case of trying to take control and responsibility away from employees, but more a concerted effort to ensure the obvious signs aren’t missed.

However, even this isn’t watertight. Humans aren’t always right and it’s certainly very helpful to increase automation with technology wherever possible but you still need an element of quality assurance on top. To date, it’s this quality assurance that’s led to best practice development within a good number of financial services businesses, with the opportunity to reassess and review historical cases leading the business to realise that actually, certain policies are unfair or unreasonably applied.

This benefit of hindsight has triggered many to make the necessary changes to proactively help not only vulnerable customers but the entire customer base, too.

Raising standards

Do I think customer vulnerability will be the next PPI?

No, I don’t. It’s not as black-and-white as PPI and such is the breadth and scope of potential vulnerabilities, not only is it impossible to cover all bases from a responsible business point-of-view, but even the regulators are so far unsure how to regulate on it. If any direct enforcement action is to be taken by the regulator, what’s needed is greater clarity on how vulnerable customers are defined, not to mention how they should be treated. As much as CMCs are trying to find a new hook, customer vulnerability isn’t it.

What it does represent is a real opportunity for financial services businesses to raise standards in the industry, applying sound principles to every customer interaction, treating every customer in accordance with their particular needs, and constantly reviewing their own processes to ensure the appropriate levels of service and care for vulnerable customers.

I’m sure that regulators will continue to regulate as they understand it better but so far, financial services organisations themselves are taking the issue of customer vulnerability very seriously, driving best practice, raising the bar and setting the standards required for responsible business practices for today and the foreseeable future.




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