Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJuly 25, 2019
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2min786

A new report analyses the gaps between brands’ perceptions of the Customer Experiences they deliver and the reality.

Zendesk Inc has revealed insights from more than 9,000 small and midsize companies, and while results indicate differences in their ability to meet the growing expectations of customers, one discovery is consistent: fast-growing companies are more likely to take an omnichannel approach, offering a seamless and connected experience for communicating with customers across multiple channels.

Acknowledging the need to provide support over the same channels customers use to communicate with family and friends, more than two-thirds of CX leaders at both small and midsize businesses say they evaluate success based on providing multiple ways to contact customer service.

However, less than 35 percent are truly omnichannel, highlighting that many companies are failing to deliver on the Customer Experience they know is important. In fact, the midsize companies outpacing their peers in growth are nearly 60 percent more likely to take an omnichannel approach to customer service, while growth leaders in the SMB group are 41 percent more likely to be omnichannel.

Ted Smith, head of market insights at Zendesk, said: “Customers don’t think about a company’s size when they’re interacting with support. They expect to be able to reach out on the channel of their choice, and to get their issues resolved efficiently. This expectation applies to all businesses, both large and small. The recommendations in these reports can help small and midsize businesses understand what their fastest growing and most successful peers are doing to deliver the kind of Customer Experience every customer wants.”


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJuly 25, 2019
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3min714

A majority of young British customers say they would reconsider their spending behaviours if retailers were better at communicating the environmental impact of their purchases.

In new research from inRiver, 1,500 UK consumers between the ages of 16-44 were quizzed on sustainable shopping and buying preferences, and 69 percent said product information detailing the sustainability and environmental impact would make them more likely to purchase.

Meanwhile, 66 percent of people who would purchase products from abroad if they were a cheaper price said they would reconsider this if retailers shared more data and product content about the environmental impact of delivery.

This increased transparency would encourage 60 percent of buyers to reconsider the number of purchases they return. With the issue of ‘serial returners’ costing UK retailers an estimated £20bn a year, providing consumers with a greater awareness of the environmental implications of deliveries and returns could save businesses millions while having a positive impact on the environment

One-fifth of consumers said they only buy sustainable products. Overall, when assessing the key factors considered when committing to a purchase, sustainable packaging (six percent) and materials (six percent), ethical production (five percent), and carbon footprint of delivery (four percent) were all listed the most important, accounting for 21 percent in total. Unsurprisingly however, price (41 percent) and quality (25 percent) dominated consumer preference as the key purchase drivers.

Eco factors are growing in importance for consumers, as 63 percent stated they would stop using a brand due to its detrimental impact on the environment. Moreover, just under half of consumers (47 percent) would be willing to pay more for upcycled products or those made from recycled materials, such as Adidas’ 100 percent recyclable trainer. A further 43 percent would buy these products, but would be unwilling to pay more.

Steve Gershik, CMO at inRiver said: “These findings attest to the importance of environmental considerations for today’s savvy consumers. Buyers want to know that the purchases they make and delivery methods they are sustainable, and are looking to retailers to support these choices. It’s up to businesses to harness this increasing trend and ensure the product information they provide gives consumers a clear picture of what to expect and the impact it may have.”


Derek O'CarrollDerek O'CarrollJuly 23, 2019
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9min829

Are online ratings and reviews important to your business?

They should be, as the influence of online product reviews on consumers continues to grow.

Recently, Brightpearl conducted a survey of consumers, which reveals just how much we now rely on online ratings and reviews.

This shouldn’t be a surprise. Most people relate strongly to the growing review culture. These days, not many of us would book a stay in a hotel or make a reservation at a restaurant we’ve never been to before without first consulting an online review forum, checking the ratings and scrolling through customer feedback.

In increasing numbers, we are now turning to total strangers to read their customer reviews and ratings before buying. Eighty-four percent of shoppers now read online reviews and 46 percent check star ratings before committing to an online purchase – with almost nine-in-10 consumers considering them to be essential to their decision making. As we can see, the review culture is playing an increasingly important and normalised role in our purchasing behaviour, and above all else, informs our decisions on where to stay, where to eat and what to buy.

In today’s modern retail landscape we are all influencers – and we’re all ready and willing to be influenced. But not only do we expect our voices to be heard, we demand that our feedback be acknowledged and acted upon quickly. Our survey reveals that 76 percent of shoppers expect merchants to respond to reviews and one-in-five consumers believe a reply should come within 24 hours.

As connected consumers, we are not as tolerant as we used to be. Our expectations and demands are far greater than ever before and we have a voice and many platforms – from social media to online review websites – where we can express anger or dissatisfaction when we’ve had a poor experience. From the same report, almost two-thirds of us are likely to leave a negative review following a bad experience – with 60 percent having done so within the last year.

Shoppers are increasingly volatile and unforgiving and it is within this environment that some retailers are losing their grip on their online feedback. Fifty percent of retailers think that poor reviews are getting worse and 38 percent admit that they do not know how to best deal with negative reviews, according to the study by Brightpearl. It also takes just five (on average) poor recent reviews to halt most shoppers from buying from a retailer or brand, which demonstrates the sway that consumer feedback can have on potential new customers.

The other danger to merchants failing to get to grips with their online feedback is the money they are leaving on the table from lost sales opportunities. The study shows that the average difference in revenue between a 3-star and 5-star rated merchant is 33 percent. This means some businesses with average ratings are likely missing out on many potential orders which are being lost, never to be recovered. Because our trust is fragile – and the options are many – it takes very little to be discouraged from buying from an online merchant.

In today’s consumer era it has become crucial to use reviews and ratings both as a trust symbol and as valuable insight into the areas of the customer journey that require improvement. Indeed, negative reviews should be viewed as an opportunity to improve, not a threat.

Star wars: Just five poor reviews can put off customers from a purchase

Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of the Brightpearl.com study is the revelation that it’s notably the level of service we receive that attracts the most vocal negative attention from customers — whether it’s items not arriving on time or at all, to a lack of delivery updates or canceled purchases. In fact, 77 percent of all 1-3 star feedback left by customers are related to problems or issues that occur after the customer clicks ‘buy’.

It’s vital to determine the specific stages where customers are evaluating and talking about their experiences and whether there are gaps or issues that need to be addressed. Businesses then need to consider new processes, technologies, or renewed investment in their operations to fix the failures driving poor feedback. 

Without the right mechanics in place to support quick and seamless service at every touchpoint, including handling orders, shipping and logistics, or to manage hassle-free returns, businesses will continue to fumble the ball in the end zone – the operations of the business. The last impression is key, and if this isn’t optimised, businesses will continue to find themselves attracting poor feedback, driving away potential shoppers and leaving a long-lasting stain on their reputation.

It’s not all bad news though. The technology now exists to not only be able to capture all those reviews and ratings but to also enable the whole organisation to act upon them, closing those gaps and improving the entire Customer Experience.

As Brightpearl’s report shows, a positive review – or 30 – can make a huge difference in the choices consumers make when it comes to selecting a brand or retailer. More positive reviews enhance a brand’s reputation with buyers above the competition, leading to increased conversion, retention, and spend.

To help get the most out of online reviews, businesses need to consider solutions which allow them to fulfil the modern expectations of customers – from same-next day delivery options to real-time shipping and incredible response times. With a great reviews strategy and the right technology in place, firms can focus on earning the five-star feedback needed to capture the attention – and the business – of today’s online shopper.

Now back to my original question – how important are ratings and reviews to your business?


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJuly 22, 2019
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3min891

Global innovator in customer engagement software Freshworks Inc has been chosen by the UK Government to run its Find a job service.

The company has been chosen by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and will provide the support and service functionality embedded within Find a Job, allowing jobseekers and employers to request help and get their issues managed quickly and efficiently, and enabling vacancies to be filled quickly by qualified applicants.

Find a job was launched in May 2018 to provide jobseekers with access to hundreds of thousands of roles across the UK, making it easier to find and apply for different jobs. As part of the service, the team behind Find a job wanted to provide a simple and easy to use support function that would help anyone that had a problem quickly get the attention they needed. Without this support function embedded into the service, jobseekers would not be able to use the service effectively or leverage the personalised job alerts.

The team at DWP chose Freshdesk from Freshworks to provide support to those that need it, including automation of the processes to save time and reduce potential mistakes, and workflow management to allow team members to collaborate on issues as and when required. The team also use Freshdesk to provide management with information when jobseekers and employers are having problems using the service, helping the service team to redesign elements and make continuous improvements to the Find a job site.

Dally Singh, Product Support Manager at DWP, said: “Implementing Freshdesk has allowed the Find a job service team to work more effectively, as well as giving us data on where people are having problems using the service. This helps us improve and enhance the service continuously, helping jobseekers stay online and quickly find roles that are right for them. The team at Freshworks made the implementation process fast and simple for us, helping us provide an excellent customer experience to jobseekers using Find a job.”

Simon Johnson, General Manager UKI at Freshworks, added: “Running any large online public sector service means thinking about how you will support members of the public at scale. Using cloud services, automation and AI can help solve problems quickly and efficiently, making it easier to help citizens use the service and get the value that they require. Getting data out of these interactions helps everyone improve the Customer Experience over time.”


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJuly 22, 2019
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4min738

Social housing providers need to learn from organisations like Amazon and Royal Mail if they are to meet the expectations of their customers, according to a new report.

A poll of almost 6,000 social housing customers shows that more than four-in-five people (82 percent) expect the same level of service as they do from other companies; and they expect it, because they’re paying for it.

The new report, titled Great Expectations, was commissioned by social housing provider Acis, which owns and manages more than 7,000 properties across the East Midlands and Yorkshire and the Humber.

Acis joined forces with seven other housing associations – Gentoo, Midland Heart, Orbit, Regenda, Riverside, WDH, and Yorkshire Housing – in what is considered to be one of the largest studies of its kind in the UK. The report features many examples of customers wanting a service more like those delivered by organisations outside of the social housing world.

Greg Bacon, Acis Chief Executive, said: “We commissioned this research to better understand the expectations of our customers and see how we might be able to adapt to meet those expectations. Ultimately, we want our customers to be happy with the service they get from us.

“The message has been received loud and clear. Customers simply want to receive a good service. They want things to be done quickly and they want to be treated with respect. And while it’s important that providers continue to pursue digital methods of communication, many customers still want that face-to-face human interaction. Great service should happen irrespective of the way it’s delivered.”

The report reveals the top ten qualities of great service in social housing:

  1. Repairs
  2. Speed
  3. Maintenance
  4. Listening
  5. Communicating
  6. Problem-solving
  7. Keeping promises
  8. Timeliness
  9. Customer service
  10. Respectfulness

On the back of the findings, Acis is making a series of recommendations for itself and other providers, as well as the government, to implement, including to learn from and benchmark against organisations outside of the social housing sector.

Greg added: “Housing associations need to recognise they do not operate in a bubble – in a social-housing-only world. They need to remember that from their customers’ perspective they are just one of hundreds of organisations their customers encounter daily. There is a perception that it was accepted in the past that people in social housing should accept the level of service they get because they often get their accommodation paid for. This needs to change.”


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJuly 19, 2019
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3min689

The finalist line-up for the 2019 UK Business Awards has been unveiled, with a host of firms preparing to compete in  London for a title this November.

Hosted by Awards International, which brings events including the UK Customer Experience Awards to the capital each year, the UK Business Awards is a celebration of excellence and innovation in British business, with 18 categories that will see firms present before an expert judging panel in a bid to win.

Among those shortlisted as finalists are Manchester United FC, EDAM Group, HSBC UK, Virgin Trains, and many more. For a full list of shortlisted finalists, click here.

Categories for 2019 include Disruptive Business Model, Team of the Year, Entrepreneur of the Year, and the Well Being at Work Award.

Known as ‘The Dons’ in honour of Awards International Chairman Don Hales, the even is celebrating its fourth anniversary in 2019, and the ceremony on November 8 at the Park Plaza Riverbank is set to be the biggest to date.

All the biz: The UK Business Awards is celebrating its fourth year

Those keen to attend can take advantage of an Early Bird Discount offer until September 27

Awards International CEO Neil Skehel said: “We are all about celebrating and rewarding business excellence, and the UK Business Awards have become one of the country’s premier platforms to do just that.

“This will be the fourth year of The Dons, and will be the most significant to date, with a wide range of categories across B2B and B2C disciplines. As ever, the event itself will be a fantastic opportunity to network with business peers and share best practise, as well as celebrate our category champions, and I cannot wait to welcome our finalists and guests to London. A huge congratulations to all those shortlisted.”

 

 


Richard DaveyRichard DaveyJuly 18, 2019
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9min1216

Customer service is a vital part of obtaining and retaining business.

In fact, 73 percent of buyers indicate that Customer Experience is an important factor in their purchasing decisions. To ensure they are servicing their customers in the best way possible, many brands are looking towards Customer Recovery Loops to prevent customer churn and improve CX.

As with any new initiative, it’s important to have a clear understanding of what success would look like before getting started. As a business, you want to have smart, realistic goals in place that give you something tangible to aim for and continually measure against, to ensure genuine progress is being made.

That said, in the world of CX, some indicators of success are easier to track than others. Measuring the effectiveness of your Customer Recovery Loop may seem tricky, so here are five ways to check if your Customer Recovery Loop is working for you.

1. Repeat customers

Far too often, brands have their data siloed, meaning that they’re not getting the full picture when analysing the success of their Recovery Loop. The technology now exists to enable companies to link their customer feedback with any existing data they hold, including key things like purchase history, to provide a single view of the customer.

If you can establish that your unhappy customers have continued to buy from your business after going through a recovery loop, that’s proof of its success – and a big win for your company! Companies need to ensure they’re using all the information at their disposal when checking if a strategy is working.

2. Reduced customer churn and complaints

It’s no secret that complaints can hit a business hard, particularly those that are escalated to regulatory bodies. It’s vitally important to take preventative measures as soon as possible to stop these problems from escalating further. By intervening and taking action promptly, brands can mitigate the cost of such penalties.

With that in mind, it’s best practice for companies to take note of their typical customer churn rates, complaint numbers and, if applicable, regulatory ratings. From there, it’s possible to set goals for improvements and give yourself targets to aim for. Half the battle with analysing the success of your Customer Recovery Loop is simply understanding the key metrics that represent success and tracking improvement against them. If you can track trends in the data that show customer churn or complaints are decreasing since your Recovery Loop was implemented, that’s a sure-fire sign it’s working.

3. Scoring higher

There are lots of different metrics that companies will use to judge success across different aspects of the business. Often, these will differ depending on the industry or business you’re working in, the people you’re reporting in to or even the stage of the customer journey you’re monitoring. Regardless of what your preferred metric is, what matters is to take note of the numbers when you first decide to deploy a Recovery Loop.

Ultimately, what’s important to everyone in the business is seeing those scores go up – whether they’re Customer Satisfaction or Net Promoter Score matters not; improved scores will positively impact the bottom line.

4. Reducing cost

One of the main considerations when justifying any business decision is cost – companies want to see a return on their investment. While it needn’t be expensive, a Recovery Loop is still an investment, and customer service teams will still want to see the financial benefits of their decision. Cost per contact and call handling times can be significantly reduced by capturing feedback in real-time, proactively keeping customers informed, and putting preventative measures in place for reoccurrence.

By empowering frontline staff with the right information and the tools they need to assist customers effectively, they can reduce the average handling time and cost of each call. Over time, this could lead to fewer calls and greater savings.

5. Better-engaged employees

The key to great customer service is that happy employees lead to happy customers and vice-versa. So much so, that McKinsey & Company has reported that companies that make a concerted effort to improve their CX also see employee engagement rates rise 20 percent on average. Frontline call centre staff will often be who a customer first engages with, so it’s important to get it right. First impressions are everything. If customers are coming to the brand with a problem, they need to be greeted with empathetic and knowledgeable staff to help them – but it’s up to the business to arm them with the tools they need!

At the beginning of your journey, capturing the voice of your employees as well as your customers in real-time can often add meaningful context to your customer feedback. For instance, if a customer complains that their payment was taken late, whilst your employee flags that the billing process is manual and time consuming, you have some context. This information can be used not just to improve the customer experience but to help out staff as well. Measuring employee satisfaction scores, staff retention, and productivity can help to see if the changes you’re making are having the desired impact. If not, you are then in a position to tweak accordingly.

In summary, checking whether or not your Customer Recovery Loop is working comes down to planning and metrics. You need to get a sense of the key metrics that measure the success of a Recovery Loop for your business. From there, you’ll have the base stats to compare and a benchmark to aim for, so that you can confidently say your Customer Recovery Loop is effective.


Ben FettesBen FettesJuly 17, 2019
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10min1024

Personalisation is now firmly engrained in every marketer’s vernacular.

From the simple ‘salutation’, right through to more complex behavioural tracking for subsequent ‘predictive offers’, but despite great inroads in data and technology capabilities that can drive relevant and personalised experiences, many brands are still falling short of reaching their true potential to connect with their customers.  

Here we take a look at five common personalisation mistakes brands make, and how we can shift our mindset to see personalisation as a ‘product’ in order to connect with customers in more meaningful ways – at scale. 

 1. The merry-go-round of ‘use case’ and ‘purpose’ 

One of the key challenges many companies face today is struggling to understand what personalisation really means to their company. This creates a merry-go-round of diving into the ‘use case’ and the ‘purpose’ and inevitably, the brand always ends up at the same point.  

It’s time we strip it all back. Forget about customisation and individualisation. Forget about the use case of personalisation and the ‘single customer view’. Instead, in this era of unprecedented change, we can start thinking about personalisation as a product.  

So what does “personalisation as a product” actually mean? It’s about taking an iterative approach to the delivery of various experiences to the market, via activating all channels with contextual relevancy. Getting it right means it enables you to scale, pivot, and deliver more meaningful experiences to your customer, while testing and learning faster than before. 

2. Focusing on the definition opposed to the capability 

The concept of personalisation is a lot more fun and glam as opposed to its hardcore capability. Coming up with concepts around ‘moments that matter’ is great, but it’s also expensive, time consuming and has absolutely no relation to the capability that you have. 

Feel free to define what it is to you – moments that matter, connected customer, audience first – and even drop the money on shiny new branding and design. But these steps should not be done at the expense of ignoring your current personalisation capability and the future capability you require. “But what if I don’t know what capability is needed?” Great question, that means you are….  

3. Creating a use case opposed to a product 

The biggest difference with seeing personalisation work is the mentality between seeing personalisation as a tactic and personalisation as a product. Feel stuck understanding which tactics define what personalisation is to your brand? Then unfortunately you’re going to go around in circles and struggle to expand it beyond that one tactic. 

Looking at it from a different lens, a product manager’s role is to connect the customer with the product, regardless of delivery or channel. Their sole focus is to scale an experience. So, if you put your focus on treating personalisation as a product, then you: 

a. Build the foundations for scale – regardless of the use case. 

b. Stop caring about the tactics, because your baseline product is already enabled the organisation. 

c. Enable the organisation to take a collective stance on owning the tactic. 

 4. Focusing on details as opposed to scale 

But what about if a customer signs up, deletes the cart, then logs in six times and then the session ends? 

Well, personalisation is about delivering contextual relevancy, not edge-case fringes of the experience. An experience should always be contextual to the recipient’s current actions, then heightened by the relevancy that the messaging exchange is providing. 

Think, “I want to bring my product, which is personalisation, to market, regardless of the channel. I then want to be able to iterate on my product in a cycle of optimisations.”

Now that’s called scale.  

5. Putting the channel before the customer 

In a customer-centric digital ecosystem, if you find yourself incessantly talking about channels, then you’re in the wrong conversation. Personalisation when treated as a product, with capability and scale in mind, reduces the conversation about channel to a conversation around the iteration or delivery.  

This is because channel is just a given. When everyone knows that it is possible to achieve regardless of channel. This shifts the conversation from “what about email and social” to “we have just delivered a next best product model to all the channels, and are testing with the site and email capability to then extend it to display and social – as we believe this will impact the customer the most”. 

It all starts with a mindset shift and taking the tactical measures to bring the focus back to personalisation as a product. Because it’s only then when we can start to really focus on organisational enablement, to deliver context to a customer with the right brand communications. At the same time, we’re using data and technology capabilities to drive scale – regardless of the tactical iteration on the baseline product.  

Where to start?  

 In summary, here’s a checklist of tips to help marketers start shifting towards a ‘personalisation as a product’ mindset: 

  • Integrate channels: ensure that an experience can be triggered from any entry point, e.g. If a customer start’s their journey from an email, start the experience there. If they come direct, then start the experience there. 
  • Don’t focus on purely defining what it means for your organisation: shift your focus to activating various personalisation products, as there is never one experience to rule them all. 
  • Focus on how that personalisation product will be delivered to the customer.  
  • Make sure that the use case can hit the masses to achieve the best result: if five percent of your audience are known on the APP, it will be hard to scale. 
  • Deliver data points to all channels: this will enable all channels to act on core data points – and actually build the capability for personalisation within your organisation. 

 


Sandra ThompsonSandra ThompsonJuly 16, 2019
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8min789

Whether you’re looking for a qualification to validate your existing experience in the field, or you’re starting out in a CX role and want to attend a course to help establish your career, the Applied Customer Experience Course could be perfect for you.

“My expectations were met and surpassed on this course. It is collaborative and very applicable,” says Laura, Applied Customer Experience participant, 2018.

Hear more of what our participants had to say about the course.

The way we’ll learn

The Applied Customer Experience course provides participants with three core ways to learn.  

  • Robust theory: We’ll debate relevant theories in neuroscience, behavioural science, psychology, and business strategy through interactive seminars and workshops, to ensure you have the knowledge to make effective decisions.
  • Guest speakers: Senior CX practitioners and authors share their experiences each week, reinforcing the course curriculum with practical examples.
  • Learning resources: Each week participants are invited to complete topic pre-reading and follow up materials are available to everyone who wants to learn even more. Two core books are also provided. 

The topics we’ll cover

We cover the following eight topics on the Applied Customer Experience course:

  • Psychology in Customer Experience
  • Culture and leadership
  • Emotional intelligence and Customer Experience
  • Compelling business cases
  • Meaningful customer journey mapping
  • Plotting your own map
  • Effective Voice of the Customer programmes
  • Self-awareness in Customer Experience
  • Employee engagement (and organisational structures)
  • Actionable measurement of Customer Experience

The Guest Speakers

The following speakers will be among those sharing their experiences and giving participants some invaluable CX advice throughout the course:

  • Tony Berry, Visitor Experience Director, National Trust,
  • Nicola Langley, Customer Experience Development, Volvo
  • Sam Johnson, Head of Customer Experience, Engie
  • Adrian Swinscoe, author of Punk CX and How To Wow
  • Richard Chattaway, Vice President of BVA Nudge Unit (behavioural science)

Accreditation

Upon successful completion of the end-of-term assessment, you will be accredited with the Pearson Business School Professional Certificate. Pearson Business School is a part of Pearson, the global learning and FTSE 100 company, giving this certificate both academic and commercial credibility.    

 Your course facilitator 

The Applied Customer Experience course was founded and is facilitated by Sandra Thompson. In 2019, Sandra published her first academic paper on Emotional Intelligence and Customer Experience. She is also the owner of a CX agency founded in 2010 called Exceed all Expectations, having worked on CX projects with brands such as Vodafone, Arsenal Football Club, and Waitrose.

The details

Where: Pearson Business School, Holborn, London

When: September 25

Duration: 10 weeks (Wednesday evenings)

Places on the course are limited and an Early Bird rate is available. For further information just get in touch. 

Find out more: https://www.pearsoncollegelondon.ac.uk/cx

Email: shortcourses@pearsoncollegelondon.ac.uk. 

Let’s talk: 0203 441 1303

Try before you buy?

Join our next webinar on Psychological Safety in Customer Experience on August 13 to hear about the power of psychological contracts and how to test psychological safety within your business. We’ll be joined by a CX practitioner and a Chartered Psychologist.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJuly 15, 2019
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3min708

Another group of passionate Customer Experience professionals has benefitted from a Masterclass with world-renowned consultant and author Ian Golding.

Held this month in the Stevenage Business & Technology Centre, the CX Professional Masterclass saw attendees from across the UK attend the two-day intensive training with the country’s foremost authority on customer centricity, and the first person in the world to be authorised by the CXPA to teach the CCXP accreditation.

As a result, Ian – whose book Customer What? The honest and practical guide to customer experience has become one of the most respected texts in the industry – has personally mentored around one quarter of the world’s CCXPs to date.

You too can learn from the very best at the next two-day CX Professional Masterclass on September 16 & 17, and a special Early Bird Discount offer is in place for those who book their place before August 16. The Masterclass will be followed by a one-day CCXP Exam Workshop on September 18, for those who wish to prepare for, and undertake, the exam.

Sharpening skills: Attendees of the July CX Professional Masterclass with Ian Golding (second from right)

Following the recent Masterclass, participants spoke with CXM to describe what they gained from attending.

Muss Haq, Strategic Customer Insight Manager at TSB, said: “Meeting Ian and networking with people who are as passionate and enthusiastic about CX as I am, was a fantastic experience.”

Meanwhile, Chris Durnford, Customer Experience Director at London Stone, described the Masterclass as “easily the best training course I have ever attended”. He added: Ian was a great host and really made the course interesting and informative. The time flew by, and the stories and videos were very memorable.”

Click here to book your place at September’s CX Professional Masterclass.

 


Nan RussellNan RussellJuly 12, 2019
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9min1753

As CX professionals, it’s our job to understand and predict the needs of customers and to present experiences that fulfil those needs.

Unfortunately, the reality of our role is rarely so simple.

According to a study from Bain & Company, 80 percent of businesses believe they are delivering a “superior” Customer Experience, and yet, only eight percent of customers feel they’re receiving such an experience. Clearly the realities of CX don’t match the stories that we as CX professionals tell ourselves.

Given this disconnect, it’s hard not to wonder what other common misconceptions we as CX professionals hold. Even more importantly, what are the steps that we can take to overcome these myths in future?

With that in mind, here are four common myths to rethink in your own CX approach.

Myth 1: Loyalty is the number one priority for CX

CX professionals often emphasise the importance of customer loyalty and the role that a positive CX can play in encouraging such loyalty to the brand. These are great concepts – and when loyalty is earned it is of huge value to a business. But what do we really mean when we talk about loyalty?

Loyal and true?: Misconceptions surround attitudes to customer ‘loyalty’

Research by Forrester shows that most consumers “perceive loyalty programs as an opportunity to save money”. But ‘saving money’ isn’t loyalty. Discounting programmes aren’t loyalty programmes. In reality loyalty could refer to repeat purchase behaviours, or it could refer to intent to recommend. It all comes down to the goals of your business and what you choose to measure.

These are the types of considerations we need to account for before prioritising customer loyalty as the central goal of our CX approach. Concepts such as loyalty are only valuable if brands take the time to define these terms, hone their approach, and focus on the areas that are most important to their overarching business goals.

Myth 2: Customers need to be delighted at every interaction

‘Delighting’ customers is a notion that gets thrown around a lot in the CX world. While we obviously all want to provide our customers with positive, memorable experiences, it’s important not to get too caught up in short-term wins, rather than focusing on long-term success

Delighting dos and don’ts: Customers prefer consistency over one-off promotions

Pleasing one off experiences are beneficial, but they shouldn’t take priority over consistent positive interactions with a brand. Creating this consistency and ensuring that each of your brand touchpoints is optimised will lead to far greater long-term value and customer loyalty than a one-off promotion or event.

Myth 3: CX is all about minimising customer complaints

Complaints are painful, but minimising customer complaints should not be the core focus of a brand’s Customer Experience approach. For each complaint, there is an opportunity to demonstrate that the individual is valued by the brand. Which is why service recovery can have such a powerful, positive impact on your Customer Experience.

Comprehending complaining: A customer complaint is an opportunity to build on their engagement

As long as a customer is engaged enough to complain, there is hope. It’s the customers who quietly disappear, unhappy, unengaged and unsatisfied that should terrify us.  Do we want to minimise the causes of complaints? Absolutely.  But the complaint itself is not the problem. As hard as it is to remember: feedback is a gift, even when it’s painful. Feedback represents hope and provides brand with the opportunity to make things right for the individual and, ultimately, right for the business in future.

Myth 4: Customers want full personalisation

While many CX practitioners see full personalisation as the Holy Grail of experience, it’s important that brands don’t burden their customers with unnecessary data collection as they strive for the perfect personalised experience.

As just one example, airline brands know a tremendous amount about each passenger. If that knowledge is spread across multiple internal systems, however, then the availability of data can make the Customer Experience worse not better.

Personalisation perils: Unnecessary data collection can cause complications for customers

If an airline already knows what flight a customer is taking and whether they have checked in a bag, then there is no reason to ask customers those questions again at the airport. It’s crucial to solve such integration gaps before making the passenger do the heavily lifting. Save the customer’s valuable feedback time to focus on the unknown: what the experience was and how to improve it.

Much of what we talk about in Customer Experience is based on inaccurate, but shared, misconceptions. Thankfully, CX is not static – and we can always improve how we deliver it and how we talk about it. By understanding the nuance of some of our core CX language, we can challenge basic assumptions in ways that free us up to maximise our full potential and deliver memorable experiences that benefit both the brand and the customer in equal measure.


Sandra LoefflerSandra LoefflerJuly 10, 2019
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7min1370

Today’s consumers want it all – freedom to research purchases using any device (66 percent), the ability to visit stores if the internet doesn’t meet their needs (49 percent), and personalised advertising offers (26 percent) – all as part of a seamless, integrated experience.

Businesses recognise these rising demands; globally, almost two-fifths (34 percent) plan to adopt an omnichannel model in the next year. Yet meeting this goal can be challenging. Ensuring consistency, convenience, and relevance requires a comprehensive view of individual journeys: insight that isn’t easy to obtain when shopping activity is highly fragmented.

With CX rivalling price and product as a factor that matters most to customers, it’s crucial for retailers to understand the always-connected consumer by adjusting their measurement approach.

The troubled status quo

Most retailers are already striving to keep up with convoluted consumer journeys: using siloed, channel-specific tools and metrics to assess the impact of online and offline marketing efforts. And these silos are only getting deeper, especially when cookies are becoming less effective, privacy regulations are imposing stricter requirements on data, and walled gardens are preventing meaningful insights into the consumer journey altogether.

As a result, retail marketers are left with fragments of insight they must attempt to piece together, making it increasingly difficult to gain a complete view of how individuals connect with their brand across touchpoints. Little wonder only seven percent of firms have successfully implemented an omnichannel approach. Clearly, measurement must evolve to match modern consumer habits. If marketers want a precise picture of where purchase paths flow, how their initiatives perform and what form strategy should take, they need the right measurement solutions at their disposal.

Making the right measurement choice

Modern marketing measurement approaches can pave the way to better customer engagement; giving retailers the means to analyse interactions across every channel and device, evaluate the impact of each touchpoint on sales, and power smarter future decisions. But different measurement models serve different needs, which means retail marketers must select the approach that matches their data, channels and goals.

For example, marketing mix modelling harnesses summary level data to provide a holistic understanding of what’s driving sales, including online, offline and external factors that can affect product demand. It looks at the historical relationships between marketing spend and business results, and is most valuable for retailers who want to inform their strategic and periodic planning on an annual, half-yearly, or quarterly basis.

In contrast, methods such as multi-touch attribution offer more frequent, granular analysis. Leveraging household and person-level data from addressable channels, it measures the influence that each touchpoint – from ad creatives and offers to placement, keyword, recency and so forth – has on consumer actions in near real-time. For retailers looking to make tactical optimisations to live campaigns, multi-touch attribution is likely to be the best option.

Comprehensive media coverage matters

It goes without saying that marketing measurement relies on a steady and comprehensive supply of data. The more complete the coverage, the more accurate the analysis will be. But amid the growing emphasis on data security, media coverage gaps are increasingly common.

Measurement providers must therefore be chosen as carefully as the models, and maximum coverage should be a top priority. Finding a partner that has strong relationships with large media platforms, ways to track data despite cookie limitations, and methods to cross-check the accuracy of data sources is key for getting as much visibility into the omni-channel consumer journey as possible. Only then can retailers dissect the complex web of factors that affect consumer decisions and make smarter, more impactful decisions.

The value of preparation

One final and often overlooked aspect of successful measurement is preparing for the future. In the wake of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and an increasing focus on digital security, the utility of cookies has significantly diminished – and with the e-Privacy Regulation (ePR) due to be enforced in 2020, its value is only set to fade further.

This makes it critical to choose a provider with the resources and ability to adjust to the ever-changing marketing landscape. Declaring intent to plan for a cookie-less world isn’t enough; providers should also be proactively demonstrating their commitment to future proofing marketers’ measurement success.

As consumer preferences for multichannel shopping grow, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for retailers to make sense of the fragmented data they leave behind and understand true marketing effectiveness. Instead of siloed tools that are at odds with the needs of always-connected consumers, retail marketers need a modern measurement approach so they can drive performance to the maximum and put their marketing investment where it matters most to their businesses.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJuly 9, 2019
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3min786

Online shopping will account for more than half of all of retail sales within the next decade, a new report predicts.

Commissioned by law firm Womble Bond Dickinson (WBD), The Digital Tipping Point claims a growth from the current rate of 19 percent will be boosted by three primary factors – the changing demographic of the UK adult population; the development of faster, cheaper, in-home deliveries; and fewer physical stores.

However there are also potential risks ahead for retailers that don’t prioritise data security when embracing the new technologies needed to thrive in a digital future, it warns.

As the UK adult population evolves over the next decade the shopping habits of younger groups will become more dominant. The research, conducted for WBD by Retail Economics, showed that 62 percent of 16-24 year olds shop online at least every fortnight (compared with just 29 percent aged over 65 years), averaging around three online purchases per month. Millennials also spend the highest proportion online currently (22.1 percent), averaging £42.32 per online transaction and spending £110.45 online each month.

The report highlights that there have been five consecutive years of net closures of retail stores and with dwindling levels of footfall across high streets, shopping centres, and retail parks this trend seems set to continue.

Richard Lim of Retail Economics, said: “It’s no exaggeration to say that the retail industry is undergoing a period of unprecedented change. Despite concurrent waves of political and economic upheaval in our midst, our work with retailers suggest this is a mere distraction from the seismic structural shifts reshaping the retail landscape.

“Successful retailers have always had to reinvent themselves to stay relevant. However, the pace of change will inevitably prove too fast for many – as shown by the number of CVAs hitting the headlines. While the impact of future technologies and consumer acceptance is highly uncertain, it definitely feels like the digital retail-revolution is only just getting started.”

 


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJuly 8, 2019
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4min967

Hotels are being forced to face up to changing customer tastes that could spell the end for room service food.

Industry thought-leader, EP Business in Hospitality, recently hosted a topical business forum featuring world-class hoteliers, alongside guest experience management firm HGEM.

The event focussed on the idea that the delivered-in food model could actually replace hotel room service in the near future. This follows a growing trend of millennial guests snubbing hotel food and wanting to order in their favourite takeaway brands and have them delivered direct to their room.

In a lively debate that raised a number of thought-provoking questions, leaders from the hotel industry listened to new research from HEGM’s latest consumer survey, which revealed that two thirds (66 percent) of hotel guests had used a delivery service to order food to their room.

In fact, 71 percent of guests aged between 26 and 35 years say they order-in food while staying in a hotel. This is due to a combination of personal preferences, quality, and cost, with 48 percent of consumers saying they find hotel food unappealing and 35 percent arguing that hotel food is too expensive.

The debate, which led to a heated discussion on whether hotels should embrace the offer of collaborating with external food delivery brands or risk causing embarrassment to their customer, was led by Alberto Lo Bue, Head of Business for Deliveroo, and Paul Fitzgerald, Director for Bespoke Hotels.

On the table: Could hotels soon provide dine-in space to eat takeaway food?

Suggested ways forward presented at the debate included delivery brands creating their own kitchen spaces in hotels; the provision of spaces to eat delivered food; and partnering with delivery firms to cater to guests.

Chris Sheppardson, CEO at EP Business in Hospitality, said: “This is a fascinating topic and one that has left many wondering if hotels will adjust and raise the bar of what is offered to their customers while looking at new ways to increase their profit lines. The general consensus was that this is a fast-paced evolution that is becoming an accepted norm today.  It’s a growing trend that won’t go away, in fact one of the attendees recounted how they will often ‘order in’ food in a five-star London hotel and walk downstairs in their pyjamas to collect the food, almost to make a point to the hotel of the need to diversify their services or lose their future custom.”

He continued: “This debate does however lead into a wider question as to ‘what does the customer really want?’. What will be the next stage in the evolution of what constitutes the service provided to a guest?

“It wasn’t long ago that hotels charged for wifi and other in-room services that have all been eroded – phone calls, film streaming, room service etc. One thing is clear, hotels will need to look at how they can provide new services if they are to engage and retain their guests in the future.”


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54min916

“A great experience comes easily,”…said no-one ever.

Creating and managing Customer Experience that delights and makes people spend more time (and money) with a brand is no small feat, and the stakes are only getting higher.

CX leaders, CMOs, CIOs, and CEOs seem to unanimously agree. That was my takeaway after spending two days with around 600 of them at CXNYC, one the world’s largest Customer Experience gatherings, in New York City.

Brands around the world are increasingly trying to build their reputation and appeal to consumers with the promise of a great experience. It’s no secret that people deeply care about the quality of interactions they have.

More importantly, people translate the quality of their experience almost linearly to their desire to open up hearts and wallets for the brands that create the most functional and emotional value for them. In fact, 86 percent of buyers would pay more for a better experience, and a whopping 89 percent began doing business with a competitor following a poor experience.

If the significance of stellar CX is clear and everyone agrees that it should be on top of every business leader’s agenda, then why are some of the world’s most reputable companies not making great strides in improving it? According to Forrester’s Customer Experience Index, which has scored the performance of 260 brands for the past ten years, an astounding 81 percent of them have stagnated last year, and five percent even declined.

There are three observations I made during those two days in the Big Apple, that help explain why that’s the case…

1. No one really thinks in categories anymore

We’ve established that customer expectations are rising every year. That, in itself, is no surprise. People have a tendency to expect more as they live and learn, but it’s worth pointing out that those expectations are not being shaped within a specific category.

Let me give you an example. Imagine you’re the Chief Experience Officer at a retail bank. Would you be worried if your main competitor decided to extend hours on a Saturday until 10pm? Maybe you should be.

But think again. Your customers aren’t really benchmarking you against only your peers. They’re benchmarking you against whatever they believe seems possible. Those expectations are often driven by out-of-category players. The thought that runs through your customer’s mind is: “If my local pharmacy or nearby gym are open 24 hours, then why can’t my local bank be?”

Don’t believe me? Then dive a little deeper into the ‘why’ behind decreasing scores in your next Net Promotor Score (NPS) report. Smaller, nimbler disrupters are designing, building and launching better experiences – faster. Especially direct to consumer (D2C) brands.

For example, Lemonade, a young and hip insurance company, has reinvented Customer Experience in one of the world’s most hated categories.

Fresh: Lemonade is reinventing CX in insurance

It’s easy, it’s digital, it’s fast. It speaks to you like a real human being. This will, without a doubt, raise the bar for traditional insurance players. I’m pretty sure a Lemonade customer will now also expect more from their healthcare provider. After all, if Lemonade can take the user experience from complex to simple, then why can’t our healthcare insurance do the same?

The reason why this presents challenges for Fortune 500 companies is relatively straightforward. It takes established brands with existing structures and processes much longer to adapt, implement, and scale similar experiences.

Some of the brands in most need of better CX are often simply not fast enough. They waste time and resources on improving things customers don’t actually care all that much about.

Harley Manning,VP at Forrester, has explained one of the key headwinds for large companies. She states: “Brands often lack both quantitative and qualitative customer data needed to know where to focus their efforts. Often the data they’re missing is about the underlying drivers of a good experience. As a result, they work on initiatives that are ‘nice to have’ instead of initiatives that could move the needle.”

Some industries have handled raising expectations better than others. Take financial institutions – they have been slammed in the past for providing what some may refer to as the most infuriating and clunky experience out there. Now, players like USAA and Chase claim top spots in the 2019 CX Index. What did they do to flip the experience coin on its head?

They took on the challenge that disrupters like Acorns, Mint, or Ally Bank confronted them with – the notion that a simple, no-nonsense, customer-centric experience was indeed possible.

Harley Manning confirms this vehemently, adding: “About half of the elite brands in the CX Index (that’s the top 5% of brands across all industries) are financial services brands.”

2. It’s technology and (not or) humans

Whenever you open your news feed these days, there is an ever increasingly loud call for AI and automation. Seemingly contradictory to that, people are simultaneously calling for more human experiences. What to make of that? As with everything in life, it’s about the right balance.

Harley Manning says: “Do the research to understand what experiences drive customer loyalty for your customers for any given point along the customer journey. AI is better at creating economic and functional benefits while human interaction still sets the bar for emotional value.”

I could not agree more. There is no (nor should there be) categorical “yes” or “no” answer to the question of whether advanced technology should be part of CX design.

Of course it should be, but sometimes a customer might want a certain interaction to be automated, while another customer might prefer that same interaction to be a human one. The key is to identify the moments that matter most to your most valuable customers – and then make an informed decision of whether to streamline certain touchpoints or customise them. How, you might ask? That’s why a ROI analysis was invented, one might answer.

Take, for example, &Pizza. The purpose-driven restaurant chain is emphasising genuine, human interactions in stores. Employees are referred to as ‘tribe members’ and empowered (and encouraged) to start real conversations with customers – all with the intention of fostering a sense of community.

SMS: &Pizza has embraced texting as the primary channel for customer communication

At the same time, all customer service channels have been collapsed into text messaging. No hotline, no email, no chat – just texting. The combination of deep human interaction and real-time, tech-driven communication seems to seal the deal – the brand is rapidly expanding.

3. The rise of values-based CX

Last, but not least, a great Customer Experience is not solely (or primarily) measured by its ability to provide functional benefits. For example, making things simpler, faster, more convenient, etc. Younger generations, in particular, expect a brand to deliver an experience that is a clear expression of the values the company claims to represent.

Here’s what that means in practice. By now, we’re probably all aware that people care about the social stance a brand takes. The purpose it articulates needs to be more than just lip service. It needs to be baked into its everyday behaviour and the interactions it creates for people.

Take Patagonia. The brand sells activewear – and could keep their experience pretty pleasant, simply by designing beautiful stores, a delightful online user experience, simple return policies, and so on.

Taking action: Patagonia is helping customers become activists

Instead, they have chosen to build a values-driven Customer Experience that goes far beyond these basics. That’s why the self-proclaimed “Activist Company” created Patagonia Action Works, participatory experience that allows customers to take action on important environmental issues and become activists themselves.

Sometimes, designing a values-based Customer Experience comes more easily to the many nascent purpose-led brands that keep popping up. It’s easier because it’s part of their DNA. Large companies sometimes confine values-based experiences to their CSR departments or their employee volunteer programs. This can be a miss – especially if you’re a company that caters and speaks to a generation of socially-conscious consumers.

So what?

If you want to get ahead of the game and become a CX innovator, as opposed to being a CX laggard, then make sure you:

  • Broaden your understanding of what a ‘best-in-class’ experience looks like beyond your immediate peers. Seek inspiration from the brands who do it best, no matter the category
  • Critically think about how to balance technology with human interaction and design an experience that works – not one that merely mirrors the latest hype
  • Explore what your organisation deeply cares about – and then allow people to participate in those values by injecting them into the CX


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJuly 4, 2019
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3min588

Global spending on Customer Experience is expected to reach over  £101 billion by 2022, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC).

Their new Worldwide Semiannual Customer Experience Spending Guide, shows that CX spending in 2018 was reported at $97 billion in 2018 and is expected to increase to $128 billion by 2022, growing at a healthy seven percent five-year CAGR.

The European industries spending the most on CX in 2019 will be banking, retail, and discrete manufacturing. Together, these verticals will absorb 33 percent of the European CX spend this year. Retail will also have the fastest growing spend on CX throughout 2022, outgrowing banking by 2021.

Customer care and support, digital marketing, and order fulfilment are the use cases with the highest spending in CX today and will continue to be a strong investment area throughout 2022. The report suggests that investing in CX represents a clear opportunity for industries to differentiate, implementing these use cases to mold a public brand perception around the customer, improving websites, social media interactions, and product and service promotions.

Looking at long-term opportunities, omnichannel content will be the fastest growing CX use case by 2022, with European companies focusing on this space to build organisational experience delivery competency, leveraging investments in content and experience design, to lower the cost of supporting new channels and ensure brand consistency. Omnichannel content reflects the core foundation of the future of CX through the optimisation of content across channels at every point in the customer journey, creating a non-linear experience around the user.

Emerging technologies – such as AI, IoT, and ARVR -and hyper-micro personalisation are fuelling investments in CX together with rising customer expectations, intensified competition, ever-changing customer behaviours, and stronger demand for personalisation.

Andrea Minonne, Senior Research Analyst, IDC Customer Insight & Analysis in Europe, said: “Customer Experience is the top business priority for European companies in 2019. Businesses are moving from traditional ways of reaching out to customers and are embracing more digitised and personalised approaches to delivering empathy where the focus is on constantly learning from customers. As a customer-facing industry, retail spend on CX is moving fast as retailers have fully understood how important it is to embed CX in their business strategy.”

 


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJuly 3, 2019
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5min749

With the summer festival season in full swing following the recent sun-drenched Glastonbury, new research reveals that pop-up commerce presents a growing opportunity for businesses.

A study by Barclaycard into the spending habits of UK festival-goers, shows that those selling at live events benefiting from increased revenue, improved customer engagement, and longer lasting loyalty.

The figures show that Brits are set to spend £1.2bn shopping in festival fields this summer, with the average attendee shelling out £67 a day on food, fashion, merchandise, and testing out experiences on-site.

With purchasing decisions driven by a desire for unique products that can’t be found elsewhere (80 percent), heightened emotions (73 percent), and open-mindedness (19 percent), merchants anticipate their sales will continue to rise. In fact, those present at live events expect their revenue to increase 12 per cent over the next five years.

Almost four-in-ten (37 percent) festival-goers now favour shopping on-site compared to online or the high street, while 31 percent consider events a better place to uncover new trends. Just under half (45 percent) also prefer the unusual product offering often found when browsing pop-up stalls.

An engaged audience (81 percent), space to create a memorable brand experience (80 percent), longer dwell times (67 percent), and a thirst for discovery (28 percent) are citied as the key factors encouraging Brits to spend while on-site. Central to this is the impact that watching live entertainment has on mood and feelings, with 73 percent of festival fans admitting this makes them more receptive to trying new products or brands.

Rock on: The festival industry is worth over two billion pounds and counting

With the festival industry currently worth over £2.46bn and 36 percent of Brits planning to attend a festival this summer, live events pose an increasingly lucrative opportunity for new and established brands. To capitalise on this, the majority of merchants see festivals as fertile ground to trial new products and ideas (84 percent), with half (50 percent) testing products that they have later rolled out online or in store.

Of those that have used festivals as a testing ground, over four in five (84 percent) put this choice down to the open-mindedness of attendees, with the ability to receive direct feedback (83 percent) also ranking highly. In response, 80 percent of businesses have developed new ranges to cater for those looking for unusual and niche products.

The unique festival environment also gives increased precedence to ‘word of mouth’ recommendations, which seven-in-ten (72 percent) merchants feel is very important for consumers when deciding what to buy.

Daniel Mathieson, Head of Sponsorship at Barclaycard, said: “Pop-up commerce is thriving across the UK festival scene, as brands compete to provide the ultimate fan experience. With more ways to engage audiences alongside demand for a deeper connection to the products they try and buy, festivals are becoming a fertile ground for all kinds of businesses to grow.

“In recent years we’ve also seen festivals start to offer dedicated event spaces to brands while providing activations on-site has also become increasingly popular. As festival spending looks set to rise, my advice to UK businesses is to explore the sales and marketing opportunities the UK live entertainment scene presents, or risk losing out to more savvy competitors.”


Andrea WilliamsAndrea WilliamsJuly 3, 2019
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8min1398

When it comes to Customer Experience, “omnichannel” has grown to be one of those inescapable buzzwords.

So, what does the term mean, exactly?

HubSpot’s definition states: “Omnichannel experience is a multi-channel approach to marketing, selling, and serving customers in a way that creates an integrated and cohesive customer experience no matter how or where a customer reaches out.”

The “integrated and cohesive” aspect is probably the most crucial element of the definition. Another major point is the fact that the experience must be the same “no matter how or where a customer reaches out”.

You might say: “Great! My customers can buy my product or service on different channels and my marketing team sends out communications in more than one way. I’ve already mastered the omni-channel approach.” 

Not so fast.

OmniChannel vs Multi-channel

Omni and multi-channel are two entirely separate approaches.

Multi-channel involves reaching customers in a variety of ways, be it in-person, online via websites and social media, or on the phone. This approach is designed to unify sales and marketing processes. In other words, you’re providing customers with many opportunities to engage. It’s not necessarily about aligning all the different channels; it’s simply making them available.

Omnichannel, on the other hand, takes the “multi-channel” approach one step further. Both digital and physical channels are merged to create a single, cohesive, and seamless brand experience. The distinctions and separations between different channels disappear. Think of it as the more “customer-centric” option out of the two formats.

 A customer might begin communicating with a brand representative via live chat like Facebook Messenger or an on-site chat platform. Once the conversation evolves to a more advanced stage, it can then move to direct email or even phone conversations, retaining all the context of former conversations.

Beyond that, experiences a customer has with a brand in-store or on-site are preserved and then carried on to other digital channels. Social media reps communicating through DM, for instance, might be able to see that the customer they’re talking to has visited a local store. In an omnichannel system, complete customer histories are easily accessible. During the brand “conversation”, the customer should never have to repeat themselves.

This kind of cross-platform strategy can also be referred to as an experiential marketing campaign. You’re building an entire conversation around the experience itself, which spans not just multiple platforms but multiple talking points, as well as digital and physical interactions.

Why are omnichannel experiences so important?

Back in 2014, Gartner predicted that over the next two years (by 2016), 89 percent of companies had expectations to compete mostly on the basis of Customer Experience. That prediction was for three years ago. CX is now a differentiating factor.

When it comes to CX, without a solid understanding of omni and multi-channel concepts, business leaders are setting themselves up for disappointment.

Since an omnichannel approach is customer-focused, it means that the mindset has to be developed foundationally, starting with company culture and radiating outwards. Executives and management should set the example, with support trickling down to the service reps on the front line.

Omnichannel should be the main goal of a business’ entire digital strategy. In fact, it is one of the most crucial elements of modern digitisation, or the company’s digital transformation.

Creating a brand hub

Of course, an omnichannel approach isn’t possible unless the company brand has consistency. The message, voice, and overall user experience must feel part of the same “conversation”.

Many organisations are taking notice, consolidating their digital presence by building “communities”. Eight-one percent of companies already have an online support community in which customers can ask other customers for technical help and troubleshooting. Online communities that offer mobile and desktop experiences, shopping, social networking, learning, and even entertainment such as games are becoming the go-to brand destination. Consider that 77 percent of companies believe that an online community significantly improves brand exposure, awareness, and credibility.

What now?

Now that you understand the difference between omni and multi-channel experiences, and why they matter, it’s important to spread the message within your organisation. You simply cannot afford to put off adopting these customer-centric approaches. Find a way to incorporate them in your current processes and strategies, or else you’ll find your organisation is unable to compete.

 


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJuly 2, 2019
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2min653

The deadline to enter the 2019 UK Business Awards is fast approaching, with just days left to put your organisation forward.

Potential entrants have until this Friday, July 5 to submit entries ahead of the ceremony known across the UK business landscape as ‘The Dons’, in honour of Don Hales, chairman of event hosts Awards International.

Finalists are set to be announced on July 12, and those shortlisted will then attend the Finals on November 8 at London’s Park Plaza Riverbank, where they will give presentations before an expert judging panel with the aim of securing a win at the day’s gala ceremony.

This year’s UK Business Awards full judging line-up is still taking shape, and among those scrutinising entries will be Resolve owner/Manager Mark Ashton; Managing Director of onefourzero, Fleur Hicks; and consultant, coach and author Janine Woodcock.

Finalists will compete across 17 categories, including Entrepreneur of the Year, Best SME, Innovation of the Year, and Best New Business. The finalist with the highest judges’ score will also be crowned Overall Winner.

Speaking ahead of the entry deadline, Awards International CEO Neil Skehel said: “We are all about celebrating and rewarding business excellence, and the UK Business Awards have become one of the country’s premier platforms to do just that.

“This will be the fourth year of The Dons, and will be the most significant to date, with a wide range of categories across B2B and B2C disciplines. As ever, the event itself will be a fantastic opportunity to network with business peers and share best practise, as well as celebrate our category champions, and I cannot wait to welcome our finalists and guests to London.”

For further details on entering the 2019 UK Business Awards, click here.

 


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJuly 2, 2019
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5min605

Over reliance on marketing activities that deliver short-term sales growth is impacting the ability of businesses to lock in long-term market share growth, according to new research.

Leading data, insights, and consulting company Kantar has released its latest study, Mastering Momentum, which analysed the market share of 3,900 brands over a three-year period. The research found that fewer than six percent of brands grew market share over one year, while only six-in-ten of those sustained that gain over three years.

Meanwhile, fewer than one-in-ten (of the six percent) improved on their initial gain, leaving a small ‘One Percent Club’ of brands that have mastered the art of building sales momentum in the long term.

The analysis by Kantar – which will be represented on the judging panels of the upcoming UK Digital Experience Awards and UK Customer Experience Awards – reveals many brands could be sitting on a potential growth goldmine, with this opportunity not only reserved for small businesses; two out of five of the biggest brands managed to hold ground or grow between 2015 and 2018.

Mark Chamberlain, Managing Director, Brand, Insights Division at Kantar UK, said: “Businesses in today’s world are under enormous short-term pressure so they look for guidance from the most readily available data, such as raw searches, sales and clicks.

“This data focuses attention only on what’s happening here and now, so it’s no surprise that the activities that demonstrate an immediate return tend to win in the competition for budget. Marketeers need to be bold enough to consider the bigger longer-term picture. Our latest global BrandZ report clearly illustrates how a strong brand delivers superior shareholder returns. Identifying reliable short-term indicators of long-term success is essential to unlock the missed opportunity of future business growth.”

With only 52 percent of advertisers confident their organisation has the right balance between long-term brand building and short-term performance marketing (Kantar Getting Media Right 2018), the new report recommends marketers focus on three key points in the buyer lifecycle to create sustained growth:

  • Experience: influence repeat sales by delighting existing users, as they are the foundation upon which growth is built
  • Exposure: influence future sales by reaching out to new potential buyers and establishing meaningful difference through compelling creative and targeted media investment
  • Activation: influence immediate sales by ensuring the brand and its meaningful difference come readily to mind at the point of sale.

According to Kantar’s analysis, the brands that managed to move to the needle across all three activities achieved 65x more growth than average. The study also found that brand size significantly influences growth prospects, making it critical for businesses to balance investment across brand building and demand generation accordingly.

Commenting on the findings, Nigel Hollis, Chief Global Analyst, Insights Division at Kantar UK said: “Sustained, long-term growth is hard, but there is a huge opportunity for businesses that are willing to look beyond simply delivering the next quarter’s numbers. Brands that tailor a growth strategy relevant to their market position outperform those that only grow penetration by an average of 45 percent.

“Small brands have little choice but to focus on increasing acquisition from competitors, while market leaders need to invest in improving the experience for existing customers, and, to a lesser degree, bringing in new category buyers. Unless you have the budget to spend continuously, growth will be hard to come by if you rely only on short-term incremental effects.”


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