Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthApril 10, 2019
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3min240

Failing to build trust undermines customer loyalty and damages revenues, with over three quarters of consumers saying they’ll leave a supplier that they don’t trust. 

At the same time, focusing on getting customer service basics right and listening to consumers will help brands more than advertising, with 63 percent of consumers ranking easy processes as a top three factor in building trust.

These are the headline findings of the 2019 Eptica Digital Trust Study, which surveyed 1,000 consumers on their attitudes to trust, as part of wider research into the Customer Experience offered by top UK brands.

If trust breaks down, 79 percent of consumers said they would switch from a brand, with nearly half (49 percent) doing it immediately. A further ten percent said they remain but would spend less. Just four percent said they would continue to buy from a brand at the same level. Men are faster to switch, with 52 percent moving to a rival immediately, compared to 45 percent of women.

Demonstrating the importance of customer service to trust, 59 percent of consumers said ‘giving satisfactory, fast and consistent answers’ to their questions was vital to loyalty. Respondents trusted recommendations from friends and family (52 percent) above review sites and social media (28 percent). Over a third (35 percent) said good advertising was the least important factor in building trust.

Certain industries are more trusted than others, according to the research. Food retailers were trusted most (ranked first by 21 percent of respondents), followed by government (16 percent) and banks (12 percent). When asked who they least trusted, the top sectors chosen by consumers were automotive/garages (16 percent), tech/social media (15 percent), and insurance and government (both 10 percent).

CEO and Co-Founder of Eptica, Olivier Njamfa, said: “Brands need to build trust if they want to create strong, long-term relationships with consumers. If trust breaks down, customers have no qualms in switching to rivals, making it vital that brands start by getting the basics right and start to listen. They need to act and deliver on their promises if they want to be successful in meeting rising consumer expectations.”


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthApril 10, 2019
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3min245

The axing of UK social media accounts by cosmetics giant Lush could lead to more retailers turning their backs on the channels and embracing live chat, it is predicted.

The high street favourite, which has over half-a-million followers on Instagram, over 400,000 ‘likes’ on Facebook, and over 200,000 followers on Twitter, has urged customers to contact them only by email, phone, or through its website via a live chat system.

The move is the result of the firm being “tired of fighting with algorithms”, and a spokesperson said: “We don’t want to limit ourselves to holding conversations in one place, we want social to be placed back in the hands of our communities – from our founders to our friends.”

However, Lush North America has confirmed its social media channels would remain in operation, while the UK company has said it will look at a new approach to social media communication through use of hashtags and influencers.

The decision has been described as a “bold move” by Sandra Schroeter, the Senior International Product Marketing Manager at LogMeIn, who said it was in line with current consumer trends.

“It also highlights the many benefits of choosing live chat to support customer engagement,” she said.

“In fact our recent survey found that 71 percent of businesses believe online chat with either a human agent or a chatbot will be among the most common channels used by customers in three years’ time. Live chat enables retailers and businesses alike to respond to customer queries with speed and in real-time. Perhaps more importantly, it enables businesses to own the conversations and speak to customers directly.”

She added: “Lush’s bold move in the UK should inspire more retailers to embrace live chat to connect with customers more directly.”


Daniel TodaroDaniel TodaroApril 9, 2019
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7min335

Retail is buoyant, exciting, and transformative, so what better sector to be in right now?

This was the counterintuitive conclusion of a recent white paper produced by Retail Week in partnership with Manhattan Associates. Based on in-depth interviews with 25 senior retail executives, it showed that despite current obstacles affecting retail, 64 percent expected sales in 2019 to be flat or slightly better than last year. Twenty percent even estimated that sales will be much better than the past year.

Coupled with this, when questioned about the balance they are seeking between cutting costs and driving growth in order to achieve profitability, more than 50 percent cited ‘mostly growth’, indicative of a sector confident in its ability to progress. With 80 percent of shopping still happening on the high street  (ONS December 2018) not over the internet, now’s the time for retailers – especially brick and mortar – to define their future.

There’s been so much conversation about what’s driving retail strategy; innovation in technology driving back and front of store; data driven omnichannel insights providing a single view of the customer; experience rather than transactional stores. But if 80 percent of shopping still happens on the high street, there’s one area that’s being left behind and that’s the ‘people’ strategy to improve customer centricity and drive sales. 

Let’s face it, it’s the one part of retail that often seems the weak link. If you are over 40 you may remember the days of ‘are you being served?’. Although somewhat exaggerated it was a real indicator of retail customer centricity – personal, caring, and over the top.

According to the survey, investment in customer service and experience is top alongside ecommerce strategy as a priority for execs in 2019. It is the only differentiator a business has to entice customers into their store environment if they don’t want to buy online and the product is widely available.

Businesses that started online, such as Misguided, are appearing on the high street and brick and mortar retailers are realising the unique benefits of their physical space and making plans to optimise it accordingly – whether that’s a lifestyle destination or concept store. Over the last decade, staff have been like a forgotten tribe: transient, paid the minimum wage, and left to roam the shop floor with little, if any product knowledge or customer training. 

But retailers seem to be going full circle in realising the importance of a ‘people-first strategy’. In brick and mortar retail, the team on the floor are the most important asset, they are the ‘brand ambassadors’, the ones face to face with customers who can deliver a personal experience, explain products, give specialist advice, encourage a sale, and give customers that warm, cuddly feeling. But if it’s so important, realising it is not enough – retailers need to invest in and execute a people-first strategy. 

So what does a people-first strategy entail? To start with, let’s ditch the word sales assistant – it has a very transactional connotation. Sixty-two percent of execs said one of their biggest challenges is finding the right people with the right skills, and if this doesn’t change, nor will retail.

We’re in new territory where sales assistants are the custodians of the customer’s brand experience and I think we’re getting somewhere here. If you search for sales assistants on job boards, many are being advertised as Customer Experience assistants. And whilst you may think this is a nuance, it’s a huge step forward in transforming the way people think about roles within retail and how retailers recruit.   

Face-to-face retail isn’t going anywhere; it’s just changing, mainly driven by the expense of being on the high street, rather than people just buying online. This is presenting a multitude of opportunities for retailers – store within a store, click and try/buy, personalisation, and home delivery. Retailers just need to make sure they can capitalise on those opportunities.

Retail must put people and pay before profit, training before transactions, and nurture talent before staff turnover. This way you’ll have a people first strategy that will entice customers to come and enjoy discovering what it is you have on offer – an experience online can’t replicate. This way, retailers may give themselves a fighting chance of remaining profitable.

  


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthApril 9, 2019
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3min257

UK Complaint Handling Awards winner Capita has joined forces with innovators Artificial Labs to deliver disruptive insurance tech that digitises the end-to-end insurance lifecycle, reducing manual processes and making insurance frictionless.

Artificial provides digital solutions to clients across the insurance sector, enabling them to leverage new technology to improve their internal processes, price more accurately, and deliver exceptional user experience.

Following extensive due diligence by Capita – which at the recent UK Complaint Handling Awards in London won titles including Best Customer Relations and Remediation (pictured above) – tasked its corporate venture unit, Capita Scaling Partner, with selecting Artificial for investment.

Capita will provide a dedicated business development team to enable Artificial to scale rapidly and deliver their digital solutions to retailers and insurers globally.

Jon Lewis, CEO of Capita, said: “Artificial are at the forefront of tech innovation in the insurance market. We want to use our strong presence in insurance and retail to tap into that growth potential and deliver better outcomes for our clients and their customers. This partnership reflects our commitment to bring innovation to our clients.”

Artificial’s digital solutions strengthen Capita’s existing insurance offering, and opens new distribution channels for clients to increase provision across customer bases.

The solutions create a digital customer journey with straightforward purchasing and claims processes. It harnesses machine learning to increase the accuracy of risk pricing, and enables rapid claims resolution through automation. The company is run by a world-class team of data scientists, software engineers, and insurance industry experts with a strong delivery track record.

Damian Arnold, CEO of Artificial, said: “Everyone at Artificial is excited by our strategic partnership with Capita and the potential opportunity we will create together. We believe our partnership will dramatically increase the scale and pace of change we can deliver.

“The insurance sector is undergoing significant change and our exceptional team has developed proven digital solutions which deliver tangible benefits to our customers from day one. We are continuing to invest in our machine learning capabilities, which will provide our customers with a competitive edge in the future.”

 


CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamApril 9, 2019
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6min196

Do you want to grow your business? Well, if your answer is yes, then you need to understand a simple rule: most products are just commodities for users.

If the product addresses the issue of the customers, then two different companies offer the same value to the customers.

You have to understand that the key to getting a sale is to offer the best Customer Experience. The benefit of this practice is that it will help to increase the revenue of your company. Plus, you will be able to add profit to your business.

The essential aspect is that you need to audit the various customer experiences within the business. As a result, you will be able to improve the way your business interacts with the customers.

The audit will also offer insight into your vendors and inventory. The best approach is to hire professional help to conduct retail audits for you. For example, you can seek the assistance of the brand name in retail audits that is Assosia.

However, it is essential that you understand what retail audits are all about, and the different aspects that get judged.

The Aspect of Brand Awareness

The essential aspect of judging is what the customers think of your brand. The brand is a crucial aspect that separates your company from its competitors. What you need to keep in mind is that the brand sets the expectations even before the customer steps into your store.

You need to audit this aspect. For this, you will need to survey the current customers. Secondly, you need to put some questions to the customers. For example, what they think of your company, and they should give this answer in one word.

Evaluation of the Shopping Experience

The shopping experience is yet another aspect that gets judged in retail audits. Some customers prefer to shop in-store rather than online because they feel that they get good advice from the staff. However, you will need to provide relevant training to your staff in this regard. They should be able to empower the customers to make decisions.

If you want your retail audit to bring up positive feedback, then it is vital that as a business owner you should work with your staff for some time. The advantage is that you will get an idea about the floor operations and how the staff deals with the customers.

When you want to audit the shopping experience, observe when customers enter the store. Look at what the customers buy. You may get hold of some mystery shoppers as well and get their opinion on the shopping experience by making them fill forms.

Look into the Return Policy

The return policy is yet another crucial aspect that gets judged in retail audits. Many of the retailers are reluctant to provide a return policy for all those products that cannot get resold with ease. As a business owner, you need to fight this reluctance and show confidence in your products.

You should review the customer complaints on a positive note. When you know the complaints, you will have a chance to bring about improvements in your products, and convince the unhappy customer to become a loyal customer.

For retail audits, the first thing you need to know is to analyse the return rate and look at the reasons due to which the products come back. It is also important that you should calculate the LTV of the customers from time to time.

Remember these essential aspects if you plan to have a retail audit conducted soon.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthApril 8, 2019
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2min240

UK Complaint Handling Award winner Thomas Cook has extended its partnership with customer review tech experts Feefo to cover the UK travel giant’s sporting experience brand, Thomas Cook Sport.

Building on a three-year relationship with Feefo – which in 2015 won a UK Digital Experience Award – Thomas Cook Sport will deploy their AI-powered, invitation-only insight platform. Feefo’s solution enables customers to post real reviews about the experiences they have had at some of the world’s greatest and most glamorous sporting events, such as the Wimbledon Tennis Championships or Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix.

Rob Slawson, Head of Thomas Cook Sport, said: “As a company dedicated to giving our customers amazing experiences, we value transparency and openness above all else, which makes Feefo the perfect partner. Our customers will now be able to share hugely valuable and real opinions with us and fellow sport-lovers because of Feefo. We always listen to our customers and this gives Thomas Cook Sport an opportunity to gather actionable insight that will be used to improve Customer Experience.”

Feefo stands apart from other review platforms through its transparent, invitation-only approach and the power of its disruptive technology. Only real customers can post reviews, whether good or bad, providing a wealth of analytics that fuel smarter business decision-making.

Feefo CEO Matt West added: “We are thrilled to be partnering with such an exhilarating brand. Our technology empowers brands to engage more smartly and more intimately with their customers than ever before. Through the agility of our smart technology, we extract the true value of customer opinion, increasing a brand’s reputation for trustworthiness and transparency.”

The 2019 UK Digital Experience Awards are taking place in London’s Park Plaza Riverbank on July 12. 

 


Naeem ArifNaeem ArifApril 5, 2019
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8min443

The focus of many marketers and CEOs is to ensure they are getting the attention of their target customers.

Most of them are spending most of their time and effort on this activity, without thinking about the other related activities. Once you have the attention of your target market and you have them highly engaged in all the content you are producing…what next?

Well hopefully, they will buy from you now; they will accept that you are good at what you do and you align with their own personal values. Up until now, it is all based on you issuing a promise to your prospect that should they follow-through and make that purchase, this is the outcome you will deliver.

I read recently a long article on HBR that stated “highly engaged customers will become loyal customers”, and it got me thinking: this is not necessarily the case. From our own real world experience, yes the two things are linked, but not dependent on each other. Some of the best marketing campaigns do not lead to long-term profit.

If we break this down, a customer is someone who buys from you and a loyal customer is someone who repeat buys from you. So no matter how engaged they are with your content and your brand, they may or may not repeat buy. They could stay engaged in order to receive the content or information because it is educational or amusing, but will they definitely maker another purchase?

This is a separate question completely and there are an increasing number of consumers out there who consume content, but do not buy.

A key realisation will happen at the point when they consume your service. This is the moment of truth, when we will really find out if you deliver on your promises. This is the point at which they decide – does the product taste as good as the packaging?

So far it has been an emotional connection, where they feel this is a good choice for the prospect to make. Now we will see the delivery of this promise. You can either fall short of the promise and maybe lose them, or you can fulfil that promise, in which case you will retain that customer for the future.

At this point, your content marketing is irrelevant; if the product does not match the packaging it will be a failure for your objectives. So no matter how good your engagement strategy is, you will not have a loyal customer.

So a few questions you may want to ask yourself:

  1. Does your team – who are delivering the service – match the passion, drive, and standards that your sales and marketing staff possess?
  2. Are you interested in this single transaction, or are you willing to treat the customer so well that they want to come back for more?
  3. What is that little bit extra or something different that you are giving that will make you stand out and be more memorable than your competition?

If you want to get loyal customers, then you need to ensure that your operations strategy is in line with your marketing. Building loyalty is not just about a single transaction – it is about many transactions. If you only measure your team on turnover or profit, then there is no reason for them to worry about repeat business. The reality is that the returning customer will firstly buy quicker, and secondly buy bigger or more than they bought last time, because they already know and trust you.

Your team should be thinking about what your customers value, not about how much they can squeeze out of them in this single transaction. I would rather give something that is fit for purpose today, because the customer will appreciate my honesty and come back to me for more. The multiple transactions will deliver more profit to me and so I am interested in the lifetime value of this customer.

A lot of people talk about this concept, when in reality, it is something that has be measured and delivered over a period of time. You need to be ready to see the benefits over time, because you will not see them in the short term. This is why it is important that you are prepared to measure your staff on things other than sales.

If you deliver on this, you could of course exceed expectations and deliver more than what was promised, which is even better. In such cases you will probably have an advocate on your hands – someone who not only returns to you, but actually tells others to also buy your product. Make sure your team understands your strategy here and follows it through.

So if you are thinking that engaged customers will always lead to loyal customers, think again. Consider instead that delighted customers will be what leads to loyalty. 


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthApril 4, 2019
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2min569

The Customer Experience Professional Masterclass is taking place this month, and now is your chance to sign up for the two-day event led by author and international CX consultant Ian Golding.

Ian, founder of the Customer Experience Consultancy, and author of Customer What? The honest and practical guide to customer experience, will take participants on a journey of learning CX skills and strategies, with the use of relevant case studies and practical exercises.

Topics covered in this in-depth class include all core Customer Experience competencies, such as strategy and brand proposition; the role of employees in delivering the strategy; customer journey mapping; CX measurement (VOC, VOE and VOP), CX improvement; and CX culture.

The Masterclass is taking place at the Business & Technology Centre in Stevenage on April 23 and 24, while for those keen to take the CCXP exam, a preparation workshop will be held at the same venue on April 25.

Meanwhile, attendees of the April CX Professionals Masterclass will be invited to attend an evening get together at the Sala Thong Thai restaurant in Stevenage. This will take place on April 23, and attendees will be joined by Ian Golding himself, and Neil Skehel, Founder of Customer Experience Magazine.

Further CX Professional Masterclass dates are scheduled for July, September, and November.

For further details on any of the CXM Masterclasses, please email Antonija@cxm.co.uk.

 

 


Ryan LesterRyan LesterApril 4, 2019
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5min244

One of the biggest challenges for retailers is not getting customers, but keeping them.

Loyal brand ambassadors are the backbone of growth and building long-term interest in a brand is no easy feat. Customers want personalised experiences and services that makes them feel as they are the most important client. A 2018 Bond Brand Loyalty Report found that 87 percent of people say they are open to having various details of their activity monitored in exchange for more personalised rewards and brand experiences. Consumers value convenience, time saved and flexibility and they will shop around for companies that can give them just that.

In addition, customers want white glove treatment should a problem arise. Even one negative experience can have a customer switch their allegiance to another firm. Efficient customer support has become a true competitive differentiator and businesses have an opportunity to stay ahead of the pack if they act quickly.

recent Vanson Bourne survey, found that less than 50 percent of customers considered their recent retail interaction to be excellent or very good, which gives retailers a new goal to meet.

With Customer Experience becoming a key success factor, businesses are turning to new technology solutions to help them quickly scale, improve responsiveness, and increase conversion rates. AI-powered chatbots, for example, are helping retailers be more responsive to requests and can even offer customers a concierge-like experience by providing personalised suggestions based on browse history, previous purchases, etc. While these chatbots are delivering highly intelligent self-service, they are also working behind the scenes for the customer service teams, gathering pertinent information about the customer and the question or issue to help the agents provide quick and personalised support from the get-go.

So how is AI helping retailers build brand loyalty today? Here’s just a few ways:

1. Offering 24/7 Service

Most online shoppers aren’t browsing during normal business hours. And when they have a question, waiting until the next business day to respond could mean losing the sale altogether. Chatbots are helping retailers be available to their shoppers 24/7 – answering the most frequently asked questions with ease and helping to ensure customers are getting what they need while they are ready to buy.

2. Creating a concierge experience

As AI continues to evolve, it’s starting to move away from handling simple questions and into acting as a customer’s personal assistant while shopping – providing personalised recommendations, reminding shoppers of sales to help them save, providing content to help with decision making, and much more. This level of proactivity means retailers don’t have to wait for the customer to engage, but can start building relationships by delivering information at the right time and in the right way.

3. Freeing up human agents

With all this talk about AI, what about the human agent? Individuals still play a pivotal role in the overall Customer Experience – but they are being leveraged in a different, more strategic way. Most customers hate waiting on hold – especially when they are having a problem. AI removes the need for customers with simple questions to clog up the human agent queue and allows customer service teams to spend more time with the customers that need them most. They are not only in a better position to resolve issues faster, but can spend the time to turn a sour experience into a positive one.

So are customers really onboard chatting with bots? The Vanson Bourne study also uncovered that more than half of customers agree that AI is changing Customer Experience for the better. I suspect this number will grow as the technology evolves and becomes more mainstream.

Today’s AI is all about delivering customers an intelligent and frictionless experience throughout their entire journey. When customers feel valued, they continue to come back again and again.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthApril 3, 2019
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3min308

2018 UK Customer Experience Awards finalist Confirmit has been recognised at a prestigious US awards event for Employee Experience.

The Tech Culture Awards recognise the “best-of-the-best work cultures within the technology sector, highlighting organisations that are committed to continuously improving the work-life balances of their employees” and this year awarded a gong to Confirmit, which is among the world’s leading SaaS vendors for multi-channel Customer Experience, Employee Engagement, and Market Research solutions.

As a seasoned technology business, Confirmit – whose Director Philip Durand also judged at the 2018 UK Customer Experience Awards finals in London’s Wembley Arena – offers the stable and secure environment of a well-established company while retaining the agility and entrepreneurial spirit of a fast-moving company.

Employees work closely together, despite being based in several offices around the world, and the company offers an excellent working culture, strong career development opportunities, and the ability to make a real impact in the organisation and with clients.

Heidi Brumbach, Executive Vice President for Global Human Resources at Confirmit said: “At Confirmit, we’re very proud of our culture of collaboration and knowledge sharing. We’re honoured to be recognised for our efforts in cultivating a flexible and enriching environment that promotes employee development and encourages innovation. Our collaborative approach internally has been proven time and time again to deliver top-notch service and reliable guidance to our customers.”

The Tech Culture Awards are hosted by TMC.net, whose Group Editor-in-Chief, Rich Tehrani, said: “The mission of these Tech Culture Awards is quite simple. We have surveyed and selected companies who are looking for the best and brightest tech talent and are willing to go the extra mile to provide what they believe is the ideal tech culture.

“Confirmit has demonstrated that they are committed to growth through providing a truly distinct and upbeat environment, rewarding employees for their contributions, and focusing on work-life balance.”

Entries for the 2019 UK Customer Experience Awards, which will be held in London on October 10 are now open, across 24 categories.




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