Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthDecember 6, 2018
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4min358

New research has revealed that 37 percent of consumers buying telco products are persuaded to opt for cross-sell opportunities such as TV and broadband packages after seeing deals online.

However, the findings by retail & telco technology experts Conversity show this figure stands at just eight percent for purchases made in-store when customers receive advice from a sales representative. This underlines how there is room for improvement in this area across all sales channels, and indicates a clear opportunity for retailers to empower their staff to deliver an omni-channel experience in a more effective manner.

In particular, the survey – which polled 1,000 consumers from across the UK – found that when focusing purely on millennials, the number of people persuaded to make additional purchases rose to 40 percent, and up to 42 percent for those in four-person households. This further underlines where physical stores should focus their efforts, and the opportunity to make a difference in this area, especially given the dominance of these demographics.

Laura Arthurton, CEO at Conversity said: “Selling mobile phones and contracts might be the bread and butter of any telco, but cross-selling related products and services – particularly persuading customers to choose a quad play bundle – is the holy grail. If you can cross-sell effectively and pull market share away from the established players, the potential for further growth can be massive.

“Our research shows that there is still room for improvement across the omni-channel when it comes to cross-selling. Retailers must empower their staff and they must be able to offer a unified experience across the omnichannel in order to maximise results, especially given the eagerness of larger households and younger generations to take advantage of these options.”

To support this point further, almost three quarters of consumers (74 percent) consider in-store sales associates taking time to understand their needs as important. This indicates a clear desire for personalised guidance as part of the in-store customer experience.

Alongside comprehensive training for staff to help them make the most of customer interactions, technology such as intelligent guided selling technology can be used to encourage more informative, productive dialogue between customers and sales staff. Having this technology to hand enables staff to deepen the relationships they have with the customers who value human contact the most.

Arthurton added: “It is clear that consumers are now often spoilt for choice when making complex buying decisions – therefore persuading customers to consider TV or broadband packages alongside mobile phone purchases is about going that extra mile to make sure consumers are given the right guidance at every stage of the buying decision. While online inevitably plays a crucial role in consumers’ everyday life, it is clear from our research that the human connection still has a crucial role to play.

“By embracing a more comprehensive approach to guided selling and personalisation, telco retailers can make sure that they are able to offer the right products and services to the right people, at the right time, which reduces the chances of them jumping ship to a competitor, and increases the chances of telcos being able to compete on much more than just mobile phones and contracts.”


24 724 7December 5, 2018
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6min423

In a world where customer experience is now as important as – or even more so – than the product itself, brands can no longer compete based just on price and functionality.

They need to be relevant and they need to provide value. In order to do that, they need to understand their customers’ needs and preferences like never before.

In this article, we take a look at why brands need to focus their efforts on the rise of subscription-based purchases, making sure customers get value that goes beyond the product, and on technologies such as AI and the IoT that will play a key role in shaping our in-store and online experiences in 2019.

More brands will move to subscription – based business models in 2019 – and the automotive market will see a huge transformation here

Many brands, from apparel through to health, are already adopting subscription-based services, but the automotive market will see the most dramatic change in 2019 in order to reflect shifts in consumerism. With car subscription, customers will no longer be restricted to traditional car buying and leasing methods.

Essentially, consumers will pay a monthly fee to a manufacturer for access to several vehicle models in a lineup. This fee would also cover the cost for insurance, maintenance and road assistance of the car.

Volvo Cars is one carmaker that is a step ahead, having announced its focus on subscription-based services with its Care by Volvo programme, which will completely change the perception of car ownership. In fact, its CEO recently suggested that half of the company’s revenue by 2025 would come from consumer subscription services.

Why is this relevant to Customer Experience? The customer of today prefers omnichannel offerings and more personalised experiences that are convenient and make them feel supported, informed and in some cases, entertained. Therefore, every organisation should be reviewing their business models in 2019 to ensure it reflects these shifts in consumerism.

Experiences will overtake price and product in 2019

Next year, we’ll see a drastic shift in focus from product and price to an emphasis on customer experience. Recent studies suggest that millennials spend more money on doing things than on buying products. Yet, they aren’t the only age group that puts a high value on experiences over goods. When it comes to in-store Customer Experience, baby-boomers prefer the human touch that comes with a twist of technology innovation, such as expecting store staff to carry smart devices to assist with their inquiries.

2019 will be a pivotal year for brands and retailers to focus their efforts on making sure customers get value that goes beyond the product. When buying online, customers expect relevant and valuable interactions from the brand they’re buying from.

In fact, eighty percent of consumers would voluntarily reveal personal information in exchange for these interactions. When this works, strong relationships between the brand and the customer are formed, with the brand moving from being a product provider to a trusted advisor with a purpose.

We’ll see an increase in high-street stores using shopbots for better Customer Experience

With the advent of Industry 4.0 we’re going to see a big rise in the number of online intelligent agents helping with customer queries not only online, but also in-store. The use of AI and IoT to improve the in-store experience is becoming more desirable by customers – a recent survey suggests that 27 percent of millennials would be keen to be helped by robots in-store and 20 percent of baby-boomers would like to have technologies available to them in-stores in order to find items easily.

While we will always expect that human touch in-store, the role of shopbots can complement this experience. For example, shopbots could help customers easily locate items in store or point them to similar items if the ones they are looking for are out of stock. By entering their email addresses or signing up with their fingerprint on the shopbot, customers could be targeted with individusalised ‘Offers of the Day’, based on the personal information they’ve already shared with the retailer.

Many high-street brands will be adopting shopbots for their e-commerce platforms as well to provide an experience where customers will be targeted with individualised deals and ‘inventory’ which has been created by the bot, based on that person’s previous interactions with the brand.

In 2019 marketers will need to revisit their CX strategies to find new ways of providing value to customers as a good product just isn’t enough anymore.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthDecember 5, 2018
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2min250

A new survey reveals that more than half of restaurant customers would eat food made by robots – if it tasted good.

The Refuelling Rituals survey – published by London-based international customer experience and branding agency I-AM – states that 56 percent would consider robot-made food. Fifty-nine percent also said they would be happy to see more technology in restaurants if it meant an improvement in the dining experience.

Whilst people are still eating out and ordering take-aways, 49 percent of them say they are now cooking at home more than they used to, making this a key growth area – especially in the realm of meal-kit services. Some 54 percent cite the main benefits of meal-kits as a good way to learn new recipes while 40 percent favour them as a less wasteful option. Meanwhile, 74 percent of those surveyed say eating out inspires them to cook at home more.

The survey of 2000 18 to 45-year-olds living in UK urban areas reports that ‘dining is about’: being social (76 percent); getting away from the kitchen (73 percent); special occasions (69 percent); eating something unable or unwilling to cook (64 percent); and eating something new (62 percent).

Jon Blakeney, Group Managing Director at I-AM, said: “As technology-powered ordering systems become ubiquitous, restaurants and other eateries are beginning to think about automating the back end. Like retail, automating parts of restaurants can mean more profits and more efficiency. In a landscape where margins are tight, it means more breathing space to offer better service, more interesting recipes and entertainment.”


Steve MartinSteve MartinDecember 5, 2018
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7min397

Brands vs retailers – a battle that has rumbled on throughout the ages.

They’ve competed for our attention, money and loyalty from the High Street boom of the 1860s through to the golden age of the 1960s. The contest is even more magnified now in the digital age with the internet playing host to online discount retailers as consumers look for the cheapest bargains, fuelled by the rise of price comparison sites.

Retailers embrace shopping change

It would appear that retailers are leading the way when it comes to winning custom. When once upon a time, consumers would buy into a brand’s message, style and values, the tables have now well and truly turned. Millennials have embraced a DIY approach to shopping, with a wealth of choice and information at their fingertips, especially peer reviews which are increasingly powerful drivers of purchase decisions.

Recent research has shown that only seven per cent of millennials identify themselves as brand loyalists, while 75 percent are influenced to shop during a retail sale or promotion. It could be argued that brand loyalty is dying a slow death as it heads towards the canvas.

So, what can be done from a brand perspective to ensure they can remain relevant in today’s volatile climate? After all, it can be argued that retailers need brands to survive – because without them, they won’t have products to promote and sell.

Data is king

One big topic that harmonises the two is data. We already know the power it can give both brands and retailers – insights on customer behaviour, purchasing patterns, and where and when they like to shop. The rise of online shopping combined with the social media boom has opened up a host of new channels and platforms for brands and retailers to promote their message, which in return, leaves them with a mountain of actionable customer data.

Making sense of this data and acting upon it has proved a blessing and curse for marketers. Done right, it can help retain new customers, target and convert new ones, and ultimately boost sales. Done wrong, customers will turn their back on you, spread the word among their peers, and head off to a leading competitor.

Worse still, if data is not handled correctly you can now be landed with a huge fine following the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) earlier this year. There is a greater responsibility for how data is used, and this has a bearing on people-based marketing. Data partners will need to know where the data is coming from and how it was consented.

A second-party strategy

So if retailers and brands have the same end goal – winning and retaining custom – why can’t they work things out and operate together to help achieve this? Surely the combination of two sets of data on a single customer is better than one? But how do brands and retailers set about doing this? The answer lies in what is known as second-party data.

Second-party data is essentially data that customers aren’t giving you directly, but that you’re obtaining via a relationship with another entity. Take any supermarket and Coca-Cola for example. The brand (Coca-Cola) is responsible for developing the product but arguably knows little about the end-user given the majority of sales come through the retailer (the supermarket).

It is therefore within the interests of the brand to work with the retailer to obtain customer data that enables them to tailor their product marketing for current audiences. For example, targeting paid media to lapsed buyers and measuring the in-store sales impact of that paid media. In addition to a potential new revenue stream, the benefit for the retailer is a more engaged brand that invests more in paid media and brand-funded promotions.

Co-marketing opportunities

In addition to brand-retailer second-party use cases, brands can also explore brand-retailer-brand opportunities. Imagine a world were brands can instantly understand how users buying their products in a given retailer are transacting with other brands in the same retailer. This opens up the opportunity for non-competitive brands to identify partners to drive co-marketing opportunities without costly market research.

For example a soft drink brand may identify which alcoholic beverage brand they can approach to develop a coupon discount partnership. Brands working together in this way could even create combined audiences for paid media targeting and measurement.

A long-lasting relationship

As shopping patterns and behaviours continue to evolve, the future will always remain somewhat uncertain for both brands and retailers. The next big phenomenon is always just around the corner and ready to shake up the industry once again. With this in mind, instead of competing against each other, like they have historically, brands and retailers need to recognise that they can actually overcome many hurdles in the change in landscape, if they forget their differences and work together.

Second-party data is a powerful tool if handled and actioned correctly. It’s how brands and retailers can work in harmony to build relationships with their customers and ultimately remain relevant and profitable.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthDecember 5, 2018
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3min293

Customer Experience Magazine is partnering with the Call & Contact Centre Expo, Europe’s largest and most comprehensive event connecting industry professionals with the tools, techniques, and systems revolutionising the world of customer engagement.

Coming to London’s ExCeL on March 27 – 28, the event will see experts from the likes of Microsoft, BT, SAP, EA, Oracle, and IBM on hand to enlighten visitors with the very best CX guidance available, while an array of the industry’s biggest brands and most innovative suppliers will be showcasing the solutions shaping the future of the contact centre.

We are also very excited to be partnered with the newest member of the Call & Contact Centre Expo family, the Customer & User Experience Expo. Making its London debut this March, the show will offer all the tips, techniques, innovations, and strategies you need to take your customer centric CX strategy to the next level.

Tickets to the event are available for free on the website, and Event Director Paul Webb said: “Your free ticket to the Call & Contact Centre Expo will also give you unprecedented access to the Customer & User Experience Expo, as well as the B2B Marketing Expo, Marketing Technology Expo, and Sales Innovation Expo; with a combined lineup of 1,000 cutting-edge exhibitors, 500 educational seminars and 200 interactive masterclasses, this is going to be a show like no other.”

For Call & Contact Centre Expo exhibiting and sponsorship enquiries, email Paul.Webb@prysmgroup.co.uk.


Russ PedderRuss PedderDecember 4, 2018
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9min424

Winning and retaining customers is a big deal – brands want to paint their company in the best possible light to attract customers, and it shows.

Christmas ads are a significant part of large retailers’ marketing efforts. John Lewis has become synonymous with this time of year, and allegedly the Christmas ad this year cost the retailers around the £7m mark.

And yet, what do these adverts actually have to do with the brand, other than building awareness? Are they providing the right message to customers, or are they breeding unrealistic expectations, ultimately setting themselves up for their own downfall?

Elton John and grand gifts

Take the John Lewis advert as an example, the stylish advert takes us through the journey of superstar Elton John’s rise to stardom; from childhood to present day and all the fantastical moments in between. The production finishes with a picturesque shot of Elton’s family on Christmas Day as he opens the extraordinary (and likely expensive present) of a grand piano. The tagline simply reads ‘some gifts are more than a gift’.

There’s no doubt that the advert evokes an emotional response from the viewer, but by building up the significance of the experience and painting a picture of perfection, are they going too far? If the message to customers is that some gifts are worth more than just a gift, what will be the customer’s reactions should their experience fall short of what they’d hoped?

With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of customer service best practices, to help retailers identify customer’s needs and manage their expectations, in order to deliver a positive customer experience.

Empower your frontline staff

If customers are dissatisfied with their service, the call centre will likely be their first point of contact, which is an important responsibility for the agents to take on. These members of staff set the tone in terms of how the customer views the brand. A friendly and empathetic attitude is a great thing for an agent to have, but without the knowledge to back it up, customers will quickly become frustrated.

From a customer emotion standpoint, the person making the complaint will likely become frustrated if nobody has the knowledge to answer their question. If there’s a problem with a product or a delivery hasn’t arrived on schedule, the customer will rightly want to know how this has happened and what can be done to resolve the issue.

Call centre agents are always going to have to deal with problems they can’t solve, but with the right knowledge and training, there shouldn’t really be questions they can’t answer – brands have to make sure agents are given the resources to answer complicated questions. Providing they implement them thoughtfully, brands can even consider using technologies like Virtual Assistants to ease the burden of handling low-level queries, meaning agents can focus on the more challenging tasks.

Delivering on promises

Modern customers are savvy to the customer service process – they understand that when they phone a call centre, the member of staff on the end of the line isn’t going to be the one to come out and physically fix their problem. What they do know is that the agent should listen carefully to their issue and follow through with the resolution they offer (like arranging for a next-day delivery of a customer’s late order) because if they don’t, frustration is bound to follow.

Of course, follow through isn’t just for promises. If customers give feedback at the end of the process, this should be followed up too, so they know their input is making a difference. Engagement at every stage of the journey lets your customers know you’re not just listening, you’re reacting, which is definitely the right way to manage customer expectations.

Going the extra mile

If a brand can deliver value in every interaction, they will develop that trust, and if a brand can offer smooth communications, easy-to-use processes, and a frictionless customer experience, they will start to build brand advocates.  

Brands should make life easy for their customers, and employees have a huge role to play in this. While this seems like an obvious statement to make, when you start to dig into some fairly common situations, it’s amazing how many brand interactions require serious effort from the consumer – like repeatedly having to chase up a problem despite being promised a call back.

Instead, brands should always be thinking about what they can do to meet and exceed customer expectations. At a business level, this requires taking a hard look at processes to refine and improve them. But from an employee perspective, this means giving agents the tools to measure customer emotion, understand their own performance, and becoming great representatives for the company, so that they can truly go that extra mile.

Don’t give your customers reasons to leave

Brands wondering how to identify customer needs and expectations don’t have to tie themselves in knots to find solutions. They simply need to be honest in what they can deliver and attentive to customer’s needs.

Whilst some retailers may feel that one sub-standard interaction won’t cause a customer to take their business elsewhere, Accenture found that 61 percent of customers stopped doing business with at least one organisation last year due to a poor customer experience. One negative experience, is one too many.

The John Lewis advert sets the bar very high in terms of customer expectations, which leaves them – and other brands implementing similar marketing techniques – open to criticism. As such, it’s important that the customer experience that brands offer match up to expectations they’ve set, so that they’re not overpromising and underdelivering. By empowering workers to be knowledgeable, and giving them the tools they need to go the extra mile, brands can manage and even exceed customer expectations.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthDecember 4, 2018
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4min323

Leading insight agency and CX specialist Kantar TNS has agreed a new partnership with Bupa UK worth £2.5 million to support the healthcare specialist develop its Customer Experience programme.

The four-year contract will see Kantar TNS working across Bupa UK’s insurance, health services (wellness centres, health clinics, Bupa Cromwell Hospital), care services (care homes and retirement villages) and dental care businesses to develop state-of-the-art customer feedback and engagement tools. The ambition is to use the insights gathered from this programme to continuously review Bupa UK’s offer and ensure it remains focused around customer needs, encouraging long-term loyalty and advocacy.

The programme will draw on technology provided by Kantar TNS’ software partner, Medallia, helping Bupa UK to move beyond traditional survey research methods to combine this with analysis of real-time data. One of the benefits of the Medallia platform is that it includes automatic, real-time text and sentiment analysis of customer responses, which helps to inform subsequent questions they are asked. 

This will also allow Bupa UK to build a much more detailed picture of individual experiences, customer concerns and where its services can improve. 

Representatives of Kantar TNS have been involved in judging at the UK Customer Experience Awards over the years, including the most recent gala event in London.

Tim Pritchard, Managing Director of Customer Experience at Kantar TNS, said: “The health, care and wellbeing market is booming, with new entrants trying to grab a foothold in this dynamic sector. What sets operators apart, however, is their ability to provide a first-class Customer Experience.

“Bupa UK recognises this and has invested significantly to make sure it continues to lead the market.  We look forward to working with the business in this next iteration of its CX programme, helping its teams to improve the way they track and respond to customer feedback – whether from patients, relatives, corporate subscribers or individual policy holders.”

Sean Risebrow, Director of Customer Experience at Bupa UK, added: “Our vision is to be the world’s most admired healthcare company, putting the customer at the heart of everything we do.  Listening to customers, and then acting upon what they tell us, is the key to building exceptional Customer Experience. Our partnership with Kantar TNS and Medallia gives us the CX expertise and advanced technological tools we need to ensure that we continue to respond to our customers’ varied needs. We aim to be best, delivering a market-leading Customer Experience, that helps people to live longer, healthier and happier lives.”


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthDecember 3, 2018
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4min318

The 2018 Brand Loyalty Index from Sodexo Engage has revealed that technology brands continue to dominate when it comes to customer loyalty and building those all-important relationships that promote future sales.

Promotions and giveaways, alongside product experience, have been the main drivers in how loyal consumers are. Maintaining their position from last year, Samsung and Apple take the top two spots in the Index, while Dyson and Sky TV also make it into the top 10 for the first time (5th and 10th respectively). Meanwhile, streaming service Netflix falls out of the top line-up altogether, with rival Amazon also dropping 11 places to 17.

The research also highlights that the relationships technology brands share with customers are now showing signs of maturing. Sky TV (79 percent), Apple (78 percent), and O2 (70percent) are all developing long track records with consumers. When it comes to loyalty, over half (51 percent) of Apple users and six-in-ten Dyson customers (58 percent), feel their loyalty is rewarded.

However, rising numbers of consumers report having had a poor experience with some tech brands which is a particular concern in a sector where quality counts. In last year’s Index, more than half of those surveyed said they have never had a negative experience with these brands. Today only Samsung, which tops the Index, maintains that claim.

Chris Baldwin, Director of Consumer Promotions and Loyalty at Sodexo Engage said: “The rise in negative experiences when it comes to tech products is hardly a surprise – consumers use these brands all the time. With about a third of consumers on their Apple or Sky products every day (31 percent for each), there’s much higher chance for them to encounter problems which impacts their loyalty to the product.”

Technology brands have seen the biggest drop when it comes to customer loyalty; eight-out-of-10 of the tech brands in the Index have seen declines of 10 percent or more, followed closely by Samsung and Sony who saw a decline of nine percent. More than half of customers also said they would be very likely to switch if another brand was offering a promotion, prize or freebie.

Chris Baldwin added: “With so much competition, maintaining a loyal stream of customers when it comes to a tech product is hard to achieve. These brands are often dependent on a continued cycle of quality items and services to keep their customers on board. In today’s world, loyalty is a tricky thing to hold onto, but promotions and giveaways are proven to be a major opportunity to keep consumers engaged with the product and help build a larger customer base.”


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthDecember 3, 2018
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3min307
Software solutions firm Aptean has joined the UK Complaint Handling Awards as a sponsor ahead of the 2019 event in the heart of London.

The global company, which helps streamline the operations of over 2,500 organisations in 54 countries, has joined a distinguished list of sponsors for the event, including Resolver, Ecoscheme, and Henley Business School among others.

Aptean is known for Respond; a tailored case management software solution which is suited to organisations of all sizes with a need for an efficient and proven method to run their customer feedback operations.

The 2019 UK Complaint Handling Awards is taking place at London’s Park Plaza Hotel on March 8 and will see Finalists representing some of the UK’s best-known businesses compete in 19 categories before an Overall Winner is announced.

Categories in this year’s event reflect the rapidly-evolving complaint handling processes and skills utilised by organisations aiming to boost Customer Experience.

These include Innovation in Complaint Management, Artificial Intelligence, Customer Insight Strategy, and Best Use of Customer Insight & Feedback.

The ceremony will also see awards presented to the Best Complaint Handling Team of the Year, and Best Complaint Handler.

Meanwhile, Finalist presentations will be scrutinised by an expert judging panel comprising of representatives from across the Complaint Handling and Customer Experience sectors. A representative of Aptean will be joining the panel for 2019, to cast an expert eye on the strategies of those hoping to secure a coveted award.

The event is hosted by Awards International, holders of a Gold Trust Mark awarded by the Independent Awards Standards Council.

Awards International CEO Neil Skehel said: “It’s an honour to welcome Aptean as a sponsor for 2019. To have an organisation with their standard of excellence involved serves to take the awards to the next level, and their participation is to the benefit of all entrants and Finalists.”

A spokesperson for Aptean said: “We are proud to be involved with the 2019 UK Complaint Handling Awards. We’re looking forward to celebrating effective complaint handling and those that have successfully used Respond to deliver exceptional customer service.”

 

 

 

 

 

 


Ian GoldingIan GoldingNovember 30, 2018
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4min477

Customer Experience specialist Ian Golding, author of Customer What: The Honest and Practical Guide to Customer Experience, writes for Customer Experience Magazine, offering his expert insight to help businesses improve their CX offering. 

To ask Ian a question on how to boost the Customer Experience provided by YOUR business, please email your question to editor@cxm.world. The best questions will be featured in future instalments.

Ian also leads the CX Professional Masterclass. Click here for details of upcoming Masterclass dates.

Can competitions, sales, and special offers be used to improve Customer Experience, without coming across as ‘desperate’? Can these methods be used to provide a ‘classy’ Customer Experience?

This is an interesting question. The answer depends on a number of factors, including what the competition or special offer actually is; if there are any associated ‘conditions’ or ‘catches’; when the competition or special offer is presented to the customer; and the environmental culture.

On the last point, environmental culture, it is important to note that in many parts of the world, such as the US, competitions and special offers are part of the expected shopping experience – shoppers want a bargain. The better the bargain, the happier the customer!

The emergence of Black Friday as a global retail phenomenon brings this topic to life perfectly. Invented in the US, most retailers have integrated a day of manic ‘discount’ shopping into their annual calendar – followed up by Cyber Monday.

From a customer perspective, if these ‘special’ days result in access to desired products at a lower price, then it is without doubt an enhancement to the Customer Experience.

Does it come across as desperate? No – yet the reality is that not participating in large scale discounting events like Black Friday could prove to be financially damaging to retailers!

At the end of the day, anything that can create and maintain engagement with potential and existing customers is critical – competitions and offers are additional touchpoints in the customer journey. As long as they are designed and delivered in a way that improves customer perception and as a result, commercial performance, then an organisation has absolutely nothing to lose. Creating excitement and interest in a brand is not desperate – it is an essential element of marketing communication.

The caveat to this though, is that if the competition or offer is not created, designed and delivered with the customer’s needs and wants in mind, then the effect is very likely to be negative. Customers do not like to be hoodwinked or lied to – discovering that the competition was not genuine, or the offer was not actually a good one, is very likely to end in tears – not just by losing the customer, but by potentially being vilified on social media and losing thousands more.




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