Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthSeptember 10, 2018
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11min395
Gathering feedback from your target consumers was once a time-consuming or impossible chore, that often gave brands an inaccurate (or blank) picture of the people they want to attract to their products and services.
Thankfully, times have changed with the dawning of the digital age, and gathering that all-important data no longer has to be a struggle that leaves you as confused as ever about what people really think and feel when it comes to interacting with you.
Yet not all data provision platforms are the same; some just get it more than others, and it’s safe to say that Attest, based in London, has absolutely nailed it. The dynamic firm is the brainchild of Jeremy King, a CEO with the kind of resume that makes you want to pack it in and leave life to the experts.
A true scientist, Jeremy has put his passion for data into helping brands understand their target customers in a methodical manner that leads to real, effective results, with the help of his hugely enthusiastic Attest team. Jeremy took time out to talk to CXM about what Attest has achieved so far, and what the future holds for his business and those that use its services.
“Originally I was a geneticist. I worked in synthetic biology, and focussed in particular on the ecology of how baby reef fish grow up. I have a huge passion for science, empicism and for marine life in particular,” he explains.
“I was then with McKinsey, a strategy consulting firm, for nine years. I worked in 25 different countries in almost every sector, for one to three months at a time, doing all sorts of weird things, in weird places, which was really fun.
“During that time I did an MBA at Harvard Business School. Just over three years ago I started Attest. The journey to Attest was inspired by what I was doing before – it combines a love for science, data, and empiricism, with a real world problem I saw in so many countries and sectors. Businesses everywhere need to know more and guess less, and Attest exists to make that easy.”
All good businesses have a genesis – a Big Bang that begins a journey towards success, and for Jeremy, that occurred in a boardroom in the famous Windy City.
He explains: “There was a time when I was working in Chicago. I witnessed a room full of middle-aged homogenous men in the midwest of America, guessing how to do a launch for products targeted at middle-aged women in emerging markets. As a scientist I thought that was really, really stupid.
“It was not only stupid, it was offensively wrong to see this group of men guessing how Indian women, Brazilian women, and Indonesian women think. The group of men had never visited those countries, and started by assuming that women in all of those countries all behave in the same way.
“I thought there must be a better way to do that. There must be a way to interact with those target consumers. There must be a way to bring them into the business, into the room, into the decision, right away, and to do that whenever it’s useful, which as a scientist I believe is all the time – rather than just guessing or having the chance to only test one or two things a year.
“That was the incident which sticks in my mind, and ultimately led to to the creation of Attest.”
Ok, nitty-gritty time! What exactly is Attest, and what can it do?
“Attest is a platform where you can interact directly with 100 million people in 80 countries, to ask them things, show them things, understand things, ask them to make choices, ask them to tell you how they behave, what they think about their market, and so on.
“It’s about reaching the consumers you can’t naturally reach, the ones you aren’t winning, the ones you don’t understand, the ones you need to drive your next waves of growth. That’s the hard part… you know the customers you have, but what about the ones you don’t? That’s where Attest comes in,” Jeremy explains.
“The answers go directly to you and only to you, and everything is primary, with real people clicking, answering, telling, viewing – whatever you want them to do.
“The best bit is you can do this in 30 seconds and have results in the same day – sometimes even the same hour. The crucial thing is making this easy to start, and easy to iterate, and so efficient and easy that you can do this every day. That’s the bit that’s been missing until now.
“For example, this means you can test 20 different ideas in a morning, judge the results, in doing so identify five new ones, and test those new ideas at larger scale the same afternoon.
“Attest connects you to many people around the world, directly but crucially anonymously, and what that means for your business in terms of the value it creates is that where you previously had guessing or a void of data, starting 30 seconds from now Attest can fill your biggest gaps in knowledge and give you new superpowers to understand markets, consumers, products, pricing, ideas, and competition.

“Great companies put consumers and data at the heart of every decision. Attest makes that simple and open for anyone at every business, continuously, at global scale.”

Attest is an innovator’s dream, thanks to the ability to gain unlimited intelligence and entirely new input to see if an idea has wings, or is destined to crash and burn. It can also be used in many different scenarios. Jeremy speaks of a hedge fund manager he knows who uses the platform to understand retailers and get an “information edge” on how consumers perceive them.
But what next for Attest? Well as you would expect from such a futuristic firm, the future looks bright…and busy!
“We have just added video capabilities as well as audio capabilities, and we have seen a lot of demand around podcast and radio advertising – previously there was no scalable way to test those types of assets,” he says.
“We build Attest to fill in all of the gaps in knowledge, for the people that have the most valuable gaps to fill…those who need the data but don’t have a way to get it. In terms of the future, we are looking to really expand access. In most companies, it’s one percent of people have access to big data, market research, consumer insights, and the reports that they need.
“We build Attest for everyone else, the 99 percent of people who need to know more and continuously wish they could be testing, learning, uncovering, and improving. That’s why we build it the way that we do – to make it easy to start, easy to repeat, simple and efficient, so that you can use it every day.
“We want to reach many more people in many more markets. Different types of companies, different levels of seniority, and making data available to more people everywhere – that’s fundamentally our mission. We have a bunch of really cool stuff in development right now – things that make the impossible seem ridiculously easy – things that help more people gain more intelligence and edge, far more often, always from the consumers you value most. It’s a big promise, and we intend to fulfil it.”

Vanessa WalmsleyVanessa WalmsleyAugust 28, 2018
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7min718

Emerging technologies have allowed consumers to connect their smartphones in almost any area of their life.

Mobile apps that were once built for simple daily chores such as text messaging can now be connected to smart homes, wearable technology, and virtual reality devices. This innovation has been driven by the ability to share and connect data in real time, and it is estimated that the mobile market will grow to $189 billion by 2020.

Retailers have largely already addressed the first stage of mobile integration, through developing apps which consumers can make purchases through, but are now looking at new ways to further innovate and take full advantage of emerging mobile technology to better serve their customers and stand out from competitors. However, most of the traditional brick and mortar retailers are still struggling to innovate, as they are also being pushed by the speed of innovation coming from technology giants such as Amazon.

It should come as no surprise that digitally-focused technology companies such as Amazon and ASOS have been at the forefront of developing successful, intuitive apps for mobile devices, while the traditional brick and mortar retailers have lagged behind, weighed down by legacy systems.

While some high street retailers, such as John Lewis, have made progress developing e-commerce platforms, the real challenge for most brick and mortar retailers is to use data and mobile technology to connect consumers with their products and services in store.

To build an omnichannel retail offering, connecting the offline and online experiences, retailers must look beyond straightforward e-commerce apps selling consumers their products, and explore how they can use mobile technology to enhance the Customer Experience in their stores and improve services in real time.

One example of an innovation that can achieve this heightened Customer Experience is mobile ticketing. With retailers increasingly looking to deliver seamless CX, those with multiple queuing points may be able to reduce the friction that consumers experience through placing them in a virtual queue.

With an app or QR codes placed around the store, customers can open a web page on their phone, select the service they require, then join a virtual queue. They can then browse the store, safe in the knowledge they will be notified when it is their turn to be served. This can help to improve the overall Customer Experience and potentially increase sales. It’s a great example of how the online and offline experience can be integrated into one combined journey.

This leads to better customer satisfaction, which means that consumers are more likely to come back and recommend the services to friends and family.

In-store customers retrieving their online order are another area in which innovative mobile technology can enable retailers to offer a seamless experience. The convenience of selecting items and paying online, then picking up the goods at a time and location of their preference without the hassle of waiting for a delivery or queueing in a busy store, appeals to a growing number of online consumers.

In addition, technology developments for store services such as click and collect can allow consumers to check in either by a self-service kiosk or mobile-enabled staff member at the door who can ‘quick serve’ their needs. This check-in notifies staff in-store so that their order can be located and retrieved ready for collection.

Similar to the mobile ticketing solution, consumers can browse the store, while the system informs them through text messages, offering directions to the collection area or equivalent when the order is ready to be picked up. This can open the possibility and convenience of a seamless and connected shopping experience, again without the hassle of waiting for a delivery service or queuing during a busy period at a store. In addition, it also allows consumers to collect their goods at their convenience whenever and almost wherever they want.

Innovative mobile technology can also enable retailers to monitor their services much more accurately, for example if they see several people joining a virtual queue, they can allocate more staff to that service and make sure the customer service is seamless and as effective as possible, rather than reacting to a rush hour when it happens all at once. It also allows retailers to get direct feedback from customers much more easily. This in return helps retailers to improve their services when an issue arises in real time.

In order to offer a seamless and integrated journey, retailers must look beyond the omnichannel experience and see each consumer journey as integrated experiences, across online and offline channels and platforms. Emerging mobile technologies and the speed at which they are developing present a significant opportunity for the retail industry to flourish in.

It reflects a new era of speed and convenience, which the traditional brick-and-mortar retailers can adapt to by shaping their offerings to meet consumers’ individual and personalised needs at the right place and at the right time.


CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamAugust 20, 2018
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2min684

Virgin Experience Days is still soaring high thanks to their recent win at the 2018 UK Digital Experience Awards with their groundbreaking virtual reality technology.

The firm won Gold in the Best in Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality category at the event, which was held in London this summer. Their immersive VR4D Skydive experience clinched the award, with judges blown away by the concept.

The world exclusive virtual reality sky dive experience uses a combination of VR technology, a wind tunnel, and weighted parachute to simulate the physical sensation of free-falling. Skydiving experts have also backed it, with the British Army’s Red Devils saying it was “as close to the real thing as you can possibly get”.

Head of Marketing, Liam Howard Jones, explained:

We’re always looking for new experience trends and identified the growing interest in VR back in 2016. We knew there was an opportunity to enhance the Virgin Experience Days collection and use the technology to create incredible, immersive experiences for our customers.

Indoor Skydiving is a firm customer favourite. We developed the VR experience alongside our indoor skydiving partners, Twinwoods, and tech business Tunnel Vision VR, who created the integrated helmet technology alongside fully interactive, customised software.

Customers can now jump over some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world, including California, Hawaii, Dubai and an Alaskan glacier, from the relative safety of a wind tunnel in the UK.”


Pini YakuelPini YakuelAugust 8, 2018
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7min804

A seasonal temperature just 1°C higher or lower than average typically causes a one percent fluctuation in sales, according to recent research.

With the UK retail sector being valued at roughly £300 billion, this equates to a potential loss of £3 billion caused simply by the weather. Weather-affected sales account for around 4.5 percent of overall sales, a number that could determine a profit or a loss for many retailers.

Most obviously, weather has a marked influence on what consumers buy: items such as sunscreen and hay fever medication tend to fly off the shelves in summer, whilst rain jackets and umbrellas quickly sell out when the weather takes a turn for the worse. It has also been proven that after exposure to sunlight, consumers are more willing to self-indulge, meaning they are likely to pay more for goods and services.

Weather also impacts consumers’ decision to postpone or fast-track their purchases. During a mild autumn, for example, many will delay buying winter clothing, whilst during an unseasonably warm spring, consumers will commonly fast track their purchases of gardening equipment.

Weather also has an impact in terms of the channel shoppers use, substituting high street shops with online stores and shopping centres when the weather is bad. When temperatures drop, the general trend is that an increased number of consumers stay indoors and shop online. However, each city in the UK reacts slightly differently to temperature elevation in regards to their purchase behaviour.

This data again suggests that the impact of weather on online sales is geo-specific and dependent on the weather patterns usually experienced within these locations, as well as the attitudes and culture of consumers.

However, predictability of weather is not a trait the UK processes, and the British weather gods don’t hesitate to make the dramatic swing from ‘ice creams to umbrellas’ within a matter of hours. It is not just a matter of whether the weather is hot or cold, sunny or cloudy, wet or dry – the critical issue is how quickly and efficiently retailers can align themselves to dramatic changes or unseasonal weather.

In order to ensure that this doesn’t dampen sales, retailers need to adapt quickly, and the more insight they have into customers’ needs the better. Customers will respond well to recommendations that match their requirement and mood which, as discussed above, may be largely influenced by weather.

Truly effective personalisation results in improved customer engagement, loyalty, and spend; but only 30 percent of customers feel that they are getting their desired level of personalisation. While many businesses are putting a greater emphasis on data collection, they are not effectively employing the data to understand customer preferences and implement truly tailored messaging.

Machine learning, AI, and pattern recognition can help marketers in a variety of ways. One of the biggest challenges facing retailers is how to personalise messaging to individual prospects and customers so that it most strongly resonates with the recipient.

By tapping into AI and machine learning, retailers can remove the guesswork involved and introduce dynamic, instant personalisation according to the weather in each location. For example, an email widget can be used to display a range of different promotions, each responsive to the weather data available for each customer’s location at the time.

Machine learning and AI should be seen as essential tools that enable truly granular and predictive marketing, promising more engaged customers, better conversion rates, increased sales and the ability to be agile, even in the face of changing weather.

The technology can optimise weather-specific campaigns by providing the right target audience for each campaign, the specific times to reach out to them and measuring their true impact. If a specific campaign is underperforming, AI will automatically detect areas of concern and re-adjust existing actions, allowing for quick reactions to changing customer needs. Once enough data has been collected on a certain campaign, the technology can recommend turning on its self-optimising feature to automatically decide the correct customer mix for each campaign action.

Until the ideal match between every campaign and customer segment can be found, businesses are potentially missing out on improving brand awareness and increasing sales opportunities. This is where continuous testing bridges the gap, as it enables businesses to maximise the effectiveness of their messaging.

The correlation between weather and sales offers great potential for retailers. Using the right tools, retailers can not only tailor their marketing campaigns according to the changing weather, they can also react quickly to the change. AI creates the agility marketers need in order to tailor campaigns according to the constantly changing weather. If the sun makes a surprise entrance during the latter half of the day, companies can instantaneously roll out messages on sun-screen or even a really cool pair of sunglasses.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthAugust 7, 2018
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10min696

Cris Beswick is among the UK’s foremost innovation specialists, and one of the pioneers behind an exciting plan to change how digital media is consumed.

That vision is The Future Shapers, a roadmap to bringing quality content and thought leadership pieces directly to readers through a ‘pay-as-you-read’ model closer in style to Netflix than the more traditional methods of paying for this content, such as intrusive adverts or hefty annual subscription fees.

In an exclusive interview with Customer Experience Magazine, Cris – the author of The Road to Innovation – discusses how the plan has the potential to return value ‘back to knowledge’, and how you can get in on the ground floor to help make it happen…

Hello Cris, tell us how the idea for The Future Shapers came about

Well, I’ve written for various publications over the last 10 years, such as magazines and newspapers, and of course for online platforms also.

In the innovation space, myself and TFS co-founders felt there was still room for another platform, one that’s online, to try and do something a little bit different.

The idea was to try and focus on quality actionable content for readers.

When it comes to what’s already available, I was frustrated by things such as monetising through intrusive adverts that diminish or dilute the fact that a site should be about thought leadership and great content. As a result of feeling this way, a friend said to me to put my money where my mouth is, and so The Future Shapers was born.

We have been live for 18 months now, with the mantra of returning value back to knowledge, for the reader and the thought leaders (the contributors).

Tell us how this plan can become a viable business model for the likes of online journalism

The innovation space is an interesting one. There are a lot of genuine experts, and the innovation space is dominating a lot of conversations – such as when asking how do businesses innovate etc. The need for innovation is right at the top of the strategic agenda for a great many people.

Our intended readers are typically senior leaders, change makers, HR directors, heads of innovation and the like. We know they are struggling to find great content around the challenges they all face when it comes to innovating.

The Future Shapers’ core aim is to ultimately become the go-to place for these people, and many others. You might say ‘we are struggling with understanding how we build an innovation strategy’, so the answer would be to go to TFS and find the content around that strategy.

Also, doing this will pinpoint thought leaders who are contributing the most when it comes to content on strategy, so there’s a secondary potential for our contributors to be directly engaged by those clients.

The original business model was: how do we monetise access to that content without going down the advertising route and filling sites with banners, or asking for annual subscriptions?

How do we value the people who provide the content that people desire? There simply aren’t many sites in the innovation space that genuinely compensate the providers of the content for what they create, yet these same sites often make significant revenue because people visit to read that very same content.

We asked: how do we provide access to this content in a way in which people pay for what they consume, rather than through costly overall subscription methods? The flip side of that question is: how do we do this and compensate the contributors, not by paying them, for example, £200 for an article, but paying them every time the article is read? This way they get the lion’s share when it comes to revenue made through their expertise.

The Future Shapers has been compared to Netflix in terms of its business model. Could this venture be as successful as that?

The comparison is there because of the interface: a pay-as-you-view service. All you will need is an account and payment mechanism. You consume as much or as little as you want, so the ‘written content version of Netflix’ is a fair analogy.

What can people do to get involved with The Future Shapers?

The beauty of what we’re doing is that we decided not to go down the route of having a big institutional investor. We had the opportunity to be backed by a few significant investors, and we could already be up and running now in terms of having the funds to build the technology that’s going to sit behind the platform and do all of the things we talked about.

However, when it comes to the people we are building the platform for, we thought: wouldn’t it be better if they owned some of the platform as well? That is what prompted us to go down the crowdfunding route. 

Several of the current investors are also contributors. They recognise that when the tech is built it will power their ability to monetise their articles and thought pieces into content that drives a revenue back to them every time someone reads what they have written.

We kept the investing private for around four weeks, to give our community a chance to invest, but now we’re public. We want the public, as investors, to help us push on to the final goal.

We are between 20 and 25 percent funded, and over the next few weeks we want to get the other 75 percent and get us past the £200,000 mark. That will then be enough for us to build the technology we need.

People can have a look at what we’re building; we would suggest they do some research on the online media industry at the moment – how its being disrupted and how its on the verge of even greater disruption.

I’m not saying we are going to disrupt the entire industry alone, but we plan to play a part in shifting from that traditional annual subscription model into the consumption model I outlined.

I would ask your readers to feel free to log onto Crowdcube, see more of what we are about, and make an investment.

We are building the tech to power TFS, but the savvy investor will see, when they read the documents, that what we are building will be significant, and that technology is where the real disruption is. That tech will be applicable to other sectors where they require a managed, protected way to push content to consumers, so the licensing of that IP will be incredibly significant in terms of how big our revenues can be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Ally StuartAlly StuartJuly 27, 2018
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8min947

Consumers are reclaiming control of their online experience, especially on mobile.

Not only are they swiftly scrolling past any ad that doesn’t engage them with a clear and succinct call to action, but also preventing the ads from appearing in the first place; with 60% percent of global ad blocking activity – equal to 308 million devices – now taking place on mobile.

Add to this enhanced data rights under the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and it feels as though we could be entering a new age of the ‘un-interruptible’ consumer, where it will be increasingly difficult for brands to break through the noise and reach their target audiences.     

Unquestionably, the time has come to start providing a better user experience by utilising smarter advertising techniques – such as native dynamic creative optimisation (DCO) – that engage audiences without disrupting their planned journey or raising privacy concerns.

The question is: how exactly have audience attitudes towards advertising changed, and what can advanced tools do to help create a better experience for all?

The challenge: rising online expectations

Mobile marketing is in the spotlight, with the number of smartphone users forecast to rise to 2.5 billion by 2019. Additionally, where mobile was once reserved for research and browsing, it has now increasingly become the device on which customers convert, with m-commerce driving up sales for retailers.

However, this increased digital access on mobile has created greater competition between brands to win audience attention. Advertisers are still struggling to perfect the tough balancing act between delivering ads that instantly adapt to surrounding editorial content while creating minimal disruption. As a result, 11.4 million Internet users, including those on mobile, were using ad-blocking software by the end of 2017.

But the future is not bleak. A recent whitepaper from Tyntech has revealed 80 percent of consumers are more likely to engage with a brand if the company offers a personalised experience such as offers or messaging based on location preferences.

So achieving the ideal path to conversion might not be as far off as first anticipated, providing advertisers rethink their mobile marketing strategy and invest in ads that are tailored to the consumer’s interests.

The solution to reaching the un-interruptible consumer

Just because today’s consumers are more selective about the content they interact with, doesn’t mean they are opposed to ads. Brands simply need to realise that standing out from the crowd isn’t a case of serving the largest and brashest ads, or  -‘popping up’ when a consumer is busy doing something else. Instead, they must aim to offer messages that seamlessly integrate with content being viewed and the mobile landscape.

By drawing on the value of technology such as native DCO – which allows ad content to be optimised to best suit a specific viewer in real time – brands can engage today’s mobile consumers with clear and concise messages, while still retaining the sophistication of modern techniques such as personalisation.

This empowers advertisers to replace ‘generic’, impersonal ad campaigns with contextually relevant messages that cut through the noise and safeguard the future of storytelling on mobile.

When placing content within a relevant context, advertisers not only have a better chance of reaching an audience that is interested in their messaging, but are also much more likely to engage them. Native DCO pushes this to the next level of effectiveness by allowing the content to be edited in real time to ensure it is as impactful as possible.

For example, it may be that the reader is viewing an article about the top five European holidays on a rainy day and by the time they’re on a different webpage, the next ad creative they see is focused around tackling the ‘rainy day blues’.

Additionally, ads can be optimised to suit the device the consumer is using. If ads aren’t designed for mobile, consumer frustration can be greater – particularly when it comes to issues commonly caused by large desktop ads, such as slow load times and obscured content. For instance, in the UK tech industry alone, it takes an average of 10.6 seconds to load an ad on mobile. Yet while this might be the UK norm, according to Google the recommended loading time for 2018 is under three seconds.

Mobile continues to have a great influence across the digital landscape. But the age of convenience means customers expect all interactions to suit their own needs and will be switched from off ads that don’t do this.

As we settle into Q3 of 2018, marketers need to focus on ways of adapting to the savvy digitally-focused consumer and provide small-screen solutions, such as native DCO, that add to the content experience instead of distracting from it.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJuly 24, 2018
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2min710

A “calculated risk” paid off for an award-winning design and marketing firm that has helped change how customers choose hair and beauty salons.

StrategiQ Marketing won Silver in the Customer Feedback and Review category at the recent 2018 UK Digital Experience Awards, which were held recently in London, after judges listened intently to the firms’ presentation on their partnership with salonspy, an interactive review platform for customers of salons and spas throughout the UK.

The goal of the project was to help salonspy bring in more positive reviews that assist its salon customers in building their reputation, and its execution convinced awards judges to names them as Silver winners.

James Bavington, Director of StrategiQ, said:

I’m delighted that the strategy, creativity, expertise and calculated risks that we worked together on for re-launching salonspy not only worked for their business but have been recognised by the judges at the UK Digital Experience Awards.”


Lisa Garthside Lisa Garthside July 23, 2018
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8min779

 Lisa Garthside is Senior Director of Customer Experience Management at Confirmit, and judged at the 2018 UK Digital Experience Awards

 

The longer I work in the Voice of the Customer (VoC) arena, the more I have come to believe in the importance of communication.

It’s not just about communicating with our customers – telling them that we have acted on the information they have provided – it’s about communicating with our teams as well.

It’s especially true in the world of digital Customer Experience, and I and my fellow judges at the 2018 UK Digital Experience Awards certainly found it to be the case in the three entries we evaluated in the Best Online User Experience – B2B category.

All nominees offered strong and successful examples of a new app and/or portal they had developed. Without fail, they demonstrated great business and customer value – driving high levels of take-up and therefore revenue. We learned about the great user experience (UX) and technical detail that had gone into each of the solutions, but the thing that really struck me was their use of good old fashioned communication.

The winning entrant, BMJ Best Practice, explained how it was able to create a great product by recognising where improvements needed to be made in order to reduce customer disappointment and disaffection. To get the word out there that things were changing, they proactively recruited detractors – who were typically pretty vocal on social media – into the development process. They were invited to provide input to product enhancements but, more importantly, they were also encouraged to tell everyone in their network about the improvements and how good the product now was as a result.

Large scale events – 40 workshops, over 300 interviews, across 15 countries, talking to over 1000 healthcare professionals – were also held to spread the word. The ultimate goal was obviously to understand customer requirements and to develop the product to meet expectations.

It succeeded in this aim but equally as important was the ‘word of mouth’ impact that this organisation was willing to encourage, embrace, and listen to – then do something with the information they received. The result was that the number of users has gone up dramatically.

Meanwhile, another entrant offered a different perspective. In this case, some customers had expressed their need for a new portal but it was regarded only as a means of delivering information, not the main product offering.  Larger customers saw no real need for this solution at all, and as a result, convincing decision makers and the business overall that they should develop the portal became the key priority and a massive challenge. The team had to make some big promises to the business and then deliver on them:

  • We will improve the experience
  • We will reduce the number of disputes (and therefore reduce costs)
  • We will increase usage (again, reduce costs)

The company decided to engage decision makers across the business and keep people informed by using a variety of approaches. They used go-to sites such as Kanban boards so that everyone could check the status of the project. They also instigated interactive sessions such as daily stand-ups and weekly demos to update teams on progress.

To ensure delivery-to-time, they held interactive sessions with the wider group to agree what was needed and what could be shelved.

Although there was less involvement with the customer, it is a great example of how a business was able to use communication to bring everyone together on the journey. It was able to launch a portal/solution that has proved extremely popular with clients, as well as the business. The value of customer-focused UX design is now recognised and the next iteration will more fully involve communicating with the customer.

The third entry we assessed added a clever feedback mechanism into the user journey. Once customers were using the training portal provided, they were encouraged to provide feedback on their experience. This has driven a high volume of both positive and negative feedback. The positive has reinforced the success of the product (increasing take-up and retention levels) and the negative has been used to drive a process of continuous improvement.

All three nominees proved there is real value in making the most of the opportunity to communicate with customers and the wider team. It’s a common feature of all feedback programmes: use the positive feedback in all marketing communications to customers and share it with the team, and turn the negative around in a “you said – we did” approach to communications – proving to customers that action is being taken on their valued feedback.

So, the next time you are planning a new digital project, don’t forget to take the team and customer with you on the journey. Communicate with them as frequently and clearly as you can…and then do it some more!

Don’t forget that in the digital world, continual improvement and feedback is not an add-on – It’s becoming more important than ever.


Dawn McGruerDawn McGruerJuly 20, 2018
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5min813

The digital world offers opportunities and benefits to all of us as individuals, professionals, and businesses.

It connects us, empowers innovation and permeates what seems like every aspect of our lives, yet the demand for digital skills continues to outstrip the supply of talent among workforces.

In January, Damian Hinds addressed the growing digital skills gap in his first public speech as the new Education Secretary, advising that schools need to prepare young people for the digital revolution. As well as traditional academic subjects and public speaking skills, digital literacy is high on the agenda as it continues to prove a fundamental requirement in a high proportion of new jobs.

A report that examined the Northern Digital Jobs Strategy stated that 712,750 digital tech vacancies were posted over the past three years, but they are more likely to remain unfilled compared to other industries – despite the average salary being 48 percent more than the median across the board.

This increased media attention only cements the importance of digital when it comes to climbing the career ladder, as well as getting onto it in the first place. Schools and employers will need to play a key role in bridging the knowledge gap and by equipping the next generation workforce with a better understanding of the benefits of digital, and businesses will reap the rewards of this too.

So, why should students, young professionals and businesses support the call for better skills and acquaint themselves and their employees with digital?

The truth about salaries

Digital doesn’t only provide opportunities for career development – the financial rewards are attractive too. The average digital salary in the UK is close to £40,000 and there are currently over 350 jobs available in the UK with a salary of over £60,000, which has grown considerably over the last year alone. The head of digital marketing at a business can expect to earn between £60-80,000.

Answer the demand

In the current job market, the demand for digital skills has never been higher – the skills are no longer a desired trait, they’re a necessity of working life. As we’ve already learnt, employers are prepared to pay more if you can differentiate yourself from those who have a limited knowledge of digital.

Being present

Knowing how to boost your online presence will help to reinforce your skills, your brand, and your business, plus what you offer to your audience – whether that’s as an employer, client, or consumer. For businesses, having the in-house skills to build a digital marketing strategy will enable you to reach more people, generate more leads, convert more sales, and help to portray exactly why you or your business is great.

Productivity equals progression

It is proven that investing in digital skills will help productivity, innovation, and profitability. If you’re an individual looking to climb the career ladder, upskilling with digital will not only boost your efficiency, it will also give you the motivation you need to achieve results and progress. If you’re a business, providing digital training will have a multifaceted benefit – you will boost employee output, improve retention and keep morale high because of the investment you’re making in your team.

So what are the essential skills of today’s digital marketer?

The core skills are split across search marketing and optimisation, social selling and media marketing, email, online advertising, auditing, planning and strategy, digital metrics, and analytics and content marketing which are used to enhance Customer Experience throughout their online digital journey.


Ryan LesterRyan LesterJuly 19, 2018
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8min2583

Every customer is different – some love exploring new technology, some don’t, and some are indifferent, ready to use it when they need to.

This is why taking a one-size-fits-all approach to customer service rarely works. For example, millennials tend to be more demanding when it comes to customer experience, having grown up with everything at their fingertips. They want to seamlessly navigate channels without breaking their mental or physical strides. There’s no room for anything short of an easy and excellent experience. 

Other generations, on the other hand, may be more patient as they’ve come to almost expect customer service to be a challenge and can be resistant to new ways of communicating. 

So how can organisations serve a diverse user base, without creating massive overheads or hiring staff with specialised roles for different demographics?

Understanding the difference

Recent research produced with analyst house IDC divides people into three distinct areas when it comes to customer support, each with a different attitude to technology: tech laggards, tech compliant folks, and tech leaders.

Tech laggards aren’t particularly fond of adopting new tech, most closely identify with baby boomers, are four times more likely to report a bad experience with customer service. They generally believe that customer support teams don’t understand their questions.

Tech leaders, most closely tied to millennials, are eager to adopt new technology, and will report positive experiences with customer service. Sitting in the middle we have the tech compliant folks – they’re not in love with the idea of adopting new tech, but can they do it easily if they want to, and most closely identify with Generation X.

Research from ORC International suggests that different age groups are engaging with digital customer service differently. For example, only two percent of older generations have even heard the term chatbot, compared to 47 percent of millennials. Of those surveyed, only eight percent of older generations were favourable to the idea of chatbots, compared with 27 percent for younger generations. In fact, 39 percent of millennials believed chatbots would provide better customer service than a human operator.

Uniting the generations

It’s no easy task figuring out how to support different generations of consumers and user types, but it’s by no means insurmountable. Catering to all these separate demographics means knowing who they are, how they want to communicate and doing your best to support channel choice.  

Most customers – across the generational spectrum – engage with brands in various ways. Whether it’s through the phone, via email, on social media, live chat on the website, or a combination, it’s important for brands to be able to provide a consistent and personal experience on each of those channels individually and a connected experience as customers move from one to the next.    

These expectations don’t necessarily correlate to age as much as they do experience. Regardless of what generation you may identify with, once you’ve had a truly delightful Customer Experience with one company, you start asking yourself why ever other company have not followed suit. 

This puts companies in all industries under the microscope and increases pressure to deliver a better experience than not only their competitors, but all companies that are raising the customer experience bar. All it takes is one bad experience to drive a customer away and into the arms of the competition.

With so much riding on Customer Experience, how can companies keep up? This is where Artificial Intelligence comes into play.

The AI-transformed Customer Experience

There’s a lot of hype around AI right now, but it truly has been a game changer for CX.  On the backend, AI can effectively process and analyse the vast amounts of customer data to help identify current pain points in the customer journey and offer actionable insights that help companies optimise around those areas. 

It can quickly gather information on customer preferences and history to help agents offer a truly personalised service experience. And on the front-end, AI-powered self-service solutions like chatbots and dynamic search bars are empowering customers to self-serve where appropriate. This helps move repetitive and simple questions away from the agent and opens them up for the customers who really need (or want) – that human touch.

In the end, the Customer Experience is only as good as the people delivering it. While the generations may want to communicate in different ways, the expectations are quickly becoming the same: fast, simple, and effective service.  Whether that is delivered through a contact centre or via an AI-powered chatbot – the experience needs to be personal and delightful. Different generations may have different thoughts on what good music is, or who had it harder growing up, etc. but one thing we can all agree on is when customer service is everything we want it to be, we all win.




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