Ben ScogginsBen ScogginsSeptember 22, 2020
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5min344

When people talk about ‘the agency of the future’ they’re really pointing out what needs to change with ‘the agency of the present’. It’s particularly pertinent in times of great change, and a global pandemic is about as big a catalyst for change as we’re likely to see in our lifetimes.

So, with that in mind, what do agencies need to do to better serve clients? Here are five assertions:

The agency of the future isn’t ‘digital first’, it’s ‘human-first’

By definition, marketing is fundamentally about understanding people and satisfying their wants and needs. Too many agencies peddle clever tech solutions without much attempt to understand the consumer. What makes this especially problematic is that we live in a world where tech advances have made purchase behaviour and patterns more complicated than ever. This means that in order to better connect with audiences, clients need more help than ever to understand their consumer’s motivations and the behaviour behind the – often complex – purchase decisions that they make.

The agency of the future will be leaner

Marketing clients will continue to in-house and automate marcomms functions in order to save money and time. While some agencies (and their holding companies) will kick against it, those who embrace change will find opportunities to monetise new processes and ways of working. Smaller agencies with nimble and talented freelance networks will gain traction. Training and coaching clients (particularly in tech and performance marketing) will become a legitimate agency function. And agencies developing their own proprietary technologies to help clients work smarter will become ‘a thing’ in its own right.

The agency of the future will be faster

Perhaps more accurately, agencies will better bring energy and intensity to bear on marketing challenges. In tech companies, they call it ‘velocity’ – the idea that moving faster not only gets you there sooner but also gets a better-quality outcome as a result of more focused effort.

Agencies will find ways to deliver quality more quickly – be that through improved structures, clearer processes, the application of new technologies, or changes to how teams are motivated and incentivised.

The agency of the future will be able to better frame problems

Marketing academics and scholars lament the fact that most marketing professionals aren’t well schooled enough in the fundamentals. Whether you agree or not, you’d be hard pressed to find a marketer willing to boast that they’re a master of all facets of modern marketing – there’s just too much to know. The result is that marketing clients increasingly need more than just ‘solutions’ from their agencies – they need help to know the right questions to ask.

Agencies will therefore be expected to play an even more consultative role, providing an expert understanding of appropriate technologies within the context of consumer behaviour.

The agency of the future will double-down on creativity

As process and automation become more commonplace across all aspects of marketing, it’s the agency’s ability to creatively solve problems that will come to the fore. AI can already write poems, songs and even jokes but genuine emotional connection is difficult – it’s hard to measure, it’s hard to articulate, and it takes humanity to craft and hone.

A lot of my work involves digital transformation; helping clients to better understand and apply technology in order to create better marketing. But it’s important to remember that as agencies we are largely about emotionally engaging and connecting with people and, while that can be facilitated through technology, it’s still reliant on people and creativity to make it effective.


Sandra RadlovackiSandra RadlovackiSeptember 15, 2020
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2min488

DeviceBits, a leading artificial intelligence (AI) software provider, and ResultsCX (formerly The Results Companies), a premier customer experience partner to Fortune-100 and 500 companies worldwide, announced the two companies will be uniting to enhance customer assisting software solutions under one brand.

The union will merge what was formerly a suite of individual solutions offered by DeviceBits into one product known as SupportPredict. DeviceBits was acquired by The Results Companies last year and the two have combined under a new brand, ResultsCX.

DeviceBits has been instrumental in changing the way customer service representatives interact with customers through self-service, predictive and interactive experiences. The SupportPredict digital platform will redefine call center agent-support and self-service environments based on machine-learning and cross-channel user behavior data. SupportPredict will consist of Agent AI, Self-service and Bots Software.

JC Ramey, President of Tech Enabled Services at ResultsCX: “Our platform was designed to guide customers through a predictive, self-learning system that alleviates customer service representatives and benefits businesses with measurable impact ondriving sales, customer retention and support accuracy.”

“Uniting with The Results Companies helps to strengthen our service offerings and deliver more targeted technology solutions that enhance experience with both our existing and future customers.”

The merger of the two organisations will help brands to offer the right balance of human and digital interaction for their customers. The SupportPredict software suite helps grow revenue, reduce costs and differentiate customer experience for all organisations in their digital transformation journey.


Lana BusignaniLana BusignaniSeptember 14, 2020
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7min729

The swift and dramatic impact of COVID-19 has created tough challenges for brands but keeping consumer relations on ice isn’t a viable solution.

As carefully laid strategies and plans continue to be derailed, brands must remember that the way they respond and interact with consumers today will affect perceptions and performance far into the future.

While the world waits to see the full impact of the pandemic on businesses, the next steps marketers take are what will separate the wheat from the chaff for brands. Being remembered for the right reasons is going to mean adopting the right set of smart and flexible tactics.

Here are four of the biggest factors they need to consider:

1. This is no time to put a stop on advertising

Even as the clouds are beginning to lift, there is still a temptation to hold off on advertising until the crisis has passed entirely. But with this approach comes a strong probability that brands will fall behind competitors.

Nielsen analysis has shown that brands typically reap almost half (47 percent) of the rewards their marketing efforts generate after one year. As a result, those cutting advertising now may face significant negative effects downstream. Alongside smaller market share, it’s likely their long absence will mean advertising messages are less impactful when they do hit the restart button, making it harder to capture attention and drive sales.

To maintain their position and place on the consumer radar, brands must resist the urge to stop all advertising spend. Instead, they should be seizing the opportunities current turbulence brings. For example, the decline in CPMs triggered by the outbreak offers a chance for brands to engage new audiences at a lower cost. The added advantage being that as well as amplifying their immediate reach across varied digital media, harnessing reduced CPMs will increase the likelihood of greater long-term returns.

2. Sudden change can create greater opportunities

The huge disruption to everyday life has fuelled massive changes in normal habits, especially media interaction. With many consumers homebound, consumption levels have soared for both online and offline media.

For brands this shift creates greater scope than ever to bolster exposure and build deeper consumer ties through meaningful advertising; particularly as a high proportion of consumers already plan to make their new behaviours permanent. But it’s also worth noting the potential to evolve standard practices.

By reassessing their usual media channels and spend allocation in line with changing viewing patterns, brands can uncover new opportunities to connect with target audiences. Put another way, they can break the cycle of ‘same as last year’ marketing and cover new ground; whether that’s moving into TV or leveraging premium video-on-demand platforms.

3. Navigating a crisis requires careful messaging

No matter what their sector, most brands have had to swiftly adjust marketing strategies and messaging in the face of COVID-19. Unsurprisingly, this has largely meant an uptick in activity based around the pandemic; according to Nielsen data, 90 percent of all Q1 ads referencing coronavirus occurred at the end of March, with the number of mentions growing particularly fast across the UK, Germany, Italy, and Spain.

But as brands continue to re-orientate, it will be crucial to do so with care. Consumers want the ads brands deliver to not only provide much-needed stability, but also authenticity and real empathy. Broadly, this involves creating ads to fit one of five central themes: assistance for frontline workers, charitable donations, championing public health advice, promoting the benefits of the business’ digital reinvention, and supporting consumer needs.

4. Every good campaign needs a firm data basis

Guiding decisions with precise insight has never been so critical, which makes analytics an essential investment. Nielsen’s own modelling data has shown analytics platforms more than pay their way in the long run; with the right mix of reliable data, sound methodology and activation, the returns platforms produce average at seven times their initial cost.

Accurate analysis of data is particularly important in today’s unpredictable climate, which has seen the value of agility soar. Opting for analytical tools capable of rapidly evaluating diverse new data is vital to drive rapid yet well-informed pivots, if needed. Better still, implementing platforms with the ability to use custom insights will enable brands to gain even more granular insight into what the next best move is to achieve their specific goals.

The future has been permanently changed by the pandemic, with many more changes are still to come. Advertisers that strive to continue building and implementing thoughtful and effective marketing plans will maintain awareness for the right reasons, placing them in a powerful position in the long term. By understanding the opportunities of the current situation and relying on a strong data foundation, brands can weather the storm and come out the other side stronger than they were before.


Sonja KotrotsosSonja KotrotsosSeptember 8, 2020
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10min659

It is impossible to build a cutting-edge skyscraper with a hammer and a box of nails. Modern construction projects call for modern tools designed for the job. And the same is true for a content strategy.

Businesses can’t deliver the experiences that modern markets expect using tools designed for a different era. But because technology and content marketing evolve fast, businesses often face legacy tools and methods from a bygone era without even realising it. And at the enterprise scale, chances are the business is being held back by misaligned goals and knowledge silos that make it difficult to adapt.

So how can businesses create a modern content strategy that makes the best use of emerging technology?

Take stock: Find the weak spots in the current content strategy

As technology and marketing practices have evolved, so has content strategy. But there are always weak spots – typically tactics and tools that once worked, but have been kept well past their expiration date.

Meanwhile, the information that an audience wants has shifted, in large part, because technology keeps providing new ways for them to access content. As a result, businesses need a content strategy that takes advantage of emerging technology, just like those markets.

In an age of the Internet, this means going far beyond a website with necessary information and a periodically updated blog –  a business must be active across other digital platforms. An effective content marketing landscape requires much more than just being present, and target audiences — no matter who that is today — expect more.

New content formats (including video), platforms such as the IoT? and advanced content management and distribution tools allow modern content marketers to share content more widely and personalise it for each customer. To be competitive, this is just the first benchmark.

Growing up beyond the SEO years

SEO is undergoing a much-needed evolution. Search engine algorithms, led by giants like Google, are continuously updated. They can now spot, and often lower the ranking of content that stuffs keywords without adding value.

The new best practice is to create high-quality, long-form content that naturally uses relevant keywords instead of stuffing them where they don’t belong. And for those businesses looking to get ahead of the curve, all of this content needs to be optimised for the coming onslaught of voice searches.

In an era of deep content saturation, businesses are trying to maximise SEO results by doubling down on content creation — using different keyword variations, of course.

However, the top search engines have learned to spot duplicate and low-quality content, which gets penalised in search rankings. Today, search engines place more emphasis on page quality and relevance, which makes it easier for people to find the information they want.

Modern best practices emphasise high-quality content on well-designed web pages that are easy for visitors to navigate. Considering that more than 90 percent of unique website visitors are using mobile devices, today, a well-designed website is a mobile-ready website. And of course, with all things mobile, the aim is to ‘go viral’.

Overcoming the race to go viral

Marketers are now obsessed with decoding the magic behind online successes, in the hopes that they will crack the formula that will draw massive traffic to their digital platforms.

However, the conditions that cause a piece of content to go viral are mostly unpredictable, and the effects can be short-lived once people grow weary of over-the-top headlines. Even if a business hits the holy grail of huge sharing and interaction, there is no guarantee that this will attract the target audience. Trying to force it only diverts energy away from creating consistently credible content that will keep people coming back in the long term.

This commercial realism is critical as businesses embrace digital platforms as a sales opportunity. This now goes far beyond just including a call-to-action encouraging people to make a purchase.

Complete digital engagement is crucial – and the great content that drives this focuses on the customer, not on the brand. Content strategy should align with the sales cycle, which includes different tactics for engaging people at the top and the bottom of the funnel. Content marketing excels at the top of the funnel, where a business can cultivate a digital following by positioning itself as a valuable and credible source of information that helps customers solve their problems.

Forward momentum: How to modernise a content strategy

Updating content strategy isn’t rocket science. It begins the same way that processes have begun for a very long time — by documenting it. Gartner’s research shows that nearly two-thirds of the most successful marketing leaders have a documented content strategy versus only 14 percent of the least successful.

Clarifying the goals of a content strategy

Content marketers can only create compelling content if they know what the company needs that content to achieve, and the answer isn’t always obvious.

This demands in-depth discussion with internal stakeholders to learn about their priorities. Once they are clear on the overall direction that sales and leadership teams want to go, marketers can develop a content strategy that delivers.

Equally important are the buyer personas that underpin any content and this is another opportunity to consult with colleagues to ask some key questions and refine the understanding of the target demographic(s) and the associated buying habits.

This will inevitably lead to a content audit that must balance the invested energy (and money) of maximising a return on existing content, with cutting irrelevant or inaccurate material. Any inventory of content needs to include not just its topics, but also the personas they speak to, the type of content, and – critically – how well it performs.

The goal is to identify those pieces that still align with business goals and buyer personas, then emphasise this best-performing content, or look for opportunities to update older material. While revisiting and removing old content might seem counterintuitive to developing a new content strategy, editing and auditing are essential to the content lifecycle management process.

Identifying new content

Whilst businesses can often reuse old content, the chances are that an audit will reveal gaps to fill, not just in the substance, but also the type of content. This demands new content creation.

Marketers love to brainstorm new ways of delivering content and any portfolio that develops will likely include =visual assets like infographics and video, long-form content like case studies and ebooks, or even a series of email campaigns to follow up with people who purchase specific products.

Because modern consumers trust a variety of different content types, website and application analytics, social media listening, SEO research, and even discussions with customer service and sales teams can inform which topics should be covered.

Going omnichannel

The final consideration is that today’s customers expect to have a seamless experience no matter where they engage with a brand. An omnichannel distribution plan allows a business to reach the target audience wherever they prefer to be, increasing the chances of meaningful engagement.

As part of persona research, businesses must learn where a target audience spends their digital time. Using this information, the creation of tailored content for each audience on each channel is made much more simple.

Managing all this demands a modern content management solution that eliminates the need to recreate content by separating content creation and storage from how the content is published. Application programming interface (API) technology is then used to locate the right content module, run it through whatever personalisation and optimisation platforms that have integrated (such as CRM, translation, A/B testing, etc.), and then distributed to the chosen channels – no more hammers and nails.


CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamSeptember 3, 2020
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5min697

New data collected from an omnichannel marketing automation platform, dotdigital, reveals the UK leads the way in omnichannel marketing, as 31 percent is scored by UK retailers against key success market, compared to the global benchmark of just 18 percent.

Despite these advances, retailers and brands are still missing out on opportunities to optimise their ecommerce operations, meaning they could be missing out on revenue.

The research published in the Hitting the Mark report benchmarks the digital marketing tactics adopted by 100 ecommerce brands worldwide, shows that while UK brands are making headway tapping into customers’ demands for easily accessible communication, they are missing the mark when it comes to the basics.

The retailers could be missing out on sales at a time when demand for ecommerce is blooming. The disruption caused by Covid-19 has accelerated the uptake of ecommerce globally, with ecommerce sales predicted to increase by up to 40 percent across all retail in the UK in 2020.

Customer data is the oil that fuels excellent customer experience (CX) online, with demand for personalisation in digital shopping journeys rising 123 percent in the last 6 months. However, more than two years on from the introduction of GDPR regulations, only 37 percent of UK brands had clear consent criteria – running the risk of encountering serious legal issues.

With cart abandonment rates averaging 70 percent across the ecommerce industry, inspiring shoppers to follow through with their purchases is more challenging than ever. Despite this, only 40 perceb of UK brands surveyed sent an abandoned cart email even though this key revenue-generating automation should be a central part of every brand’s strategy. The UK figure is 20 percent lower than ecommerce businesses in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region, which sent the most cart recovery emails globally.

Matchesfashion.com, which was ranked the top brand globally in the report, set the bar for abandoned cart communication sending a personalised, concise cart recovery email within 30 minutes of the purchase being paused. Boohoo.com is also commended for its efforts in utilising abandoned cart emails as a selling opportunity and giving shoppers a reason to return.

Whilst the UK lockdown has seen a shift back to desktop sales, it is predicted in the long-term that mobile traffic and transactions in the UK will continue to grow at a rate of 16 percent annually and will eventually overtake desktop sales by 2023. Set to capitalise on this shift, UK retailers topped the poll when it came to communicating with customers via SMS, with 40 percent of UK retailers utilising this channel to communicate with shoppers on the go.

In spite of the high uptake in m-commerce, UK retailers are still not utilising the full potential of this channel with 95 percent of messages being transactional and just one brand sending a promotional SMS message.  Younger brands targeting the millennial generation, who demand brands be available on the channels they want, are leading the SMS charge. The report highlights both Gymshark and boohoo.com as clear winners in this category, both having experienced unprecedented growth because they’re successfully meeting these demands.

Mark Jervis, Marketing Director at dotdigital said: “It’s great to see iconic British retailers leading the way in improving customer experience. However, UK brands aren’t committing wholeheartedly to a customer-centric strategy. The ultimate customer experience – the one that delights shoppers and drives sales – is created when brands combine customer data with omnichannel journeys and user experiences.”

“UK brands are working hard to gain customer confidence and acquire data, but they’re stumbling at the final hurdle. Data drives relevancy which improves experience and keeps shoppers engaged and UK retailers are still missing out a large chunk of revenue potential in the market and, as a result, customer loyalty remains fickle,” Jervis added.


Paul BidderPaul BidderAugust 31, 2020
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7min793

At the beginning of the year, the retail industry was focussed on providing customers with the best possible experience to entice them in-store. We saw interactive windows, smart mirrors and VR showrooms deployed to improve efficiency.

However, the pandemic put a stop to this, ushering in irreversible changes to the way we shop. In response, retailers have had to redraw their roadmaps to ensure they can drive growth post-pandemic.

Our research has revealed that Covid-19 has put the focus on digital as a key business priority. With more people shopping online than ever before, 62 percent of UK retailers have now named eCommerce as a cornerstone of future investment. Companies are now looking for ways to improve their customer engagement strategies and provide more seamless buyer journeys.

To this end, brands had previously developed new apps in a bid to supplement traditional sales channels with digital equivalents. That said, app fatigue has now arrived, and investing large sums of time and effort into app development seems counterproductive.

Progressive web apps (PWAs) could likely be the contender to succeed apps, allowing brands to take a proactive approach to customer engagement – but how can this be done?

The power of our smartphones

PWAs have the potential to be a real game-changing moment for mobile shopping, disrupting the very foundation that mobile commerce sits on. They represent an opportunity to create a better, more stable, smoother mobile shopping experience. Not only this, but they also work well on low-quality networks and have full functionality when loaded, meaning shoppers can now even checkout offline. Current mobile experiences struggle to meet ever-changing consumer expectations, and PWAs represent the next evolution in mobile-driven commerce.

But why is this so important?

We’ve reached a milestone when it comes to internet traffic across the globe, with over 50 percent now generated through mobile devices. Almost every third person now owns a smartphone, and this is set to grow by several hundred million in the next few years which will have huge implications for both PWAs and mCommerce.

Almost three-quarters (73 percent) of all retail eCommerce is expected to be generated through our mobile devices by 2021, and so it’s clear how the development of PWAs will sit at the heart of this development.

What’s more, from a business perspective, PWAs have the potential to reduce the burden of maintaining both a mobile website and a mobile app. They’re already beginning to replace standard websites since retailers have been using them to generate more conversions – with conversions seen as the lifeblood of eCommerce, this means we’ll likely see uptake rise over time. They also have the potential to cut costs compared with developing a new native app, since PWA code works across all platforms – desktop, mobile and tablets, along with every browser.

PWAs applied to business

PWAs were announced back in 2015 as “experiences that combine the best of the web and the best of apps.” While the technology is still developing and maturing, a group of early adopters has showcased the transformative change the technology stands to bring to business.

The UK clothing brand George is a shining example of what can be achieved by upgrading a website to a PWA – after making the move, the retailer saw a 31 percent increase in conversion on its mobile site. Other quantifiable benefits included:

  • 3.8 x – Faster average page load time
  • 2 x – Lower bounce rate
  • 31 percent – Increase in conversion rate
  • 20 percent – More page views per visit
  • 28 percent – Longer average time on site for visits from the home screen

Elsewhere, PWAs have helped Debenhams deliver a 40% increase in mobile revenue and a 20 percent rise in conversions; Tinder has cut load times down from 11.91 seconds to 4.69 seconds; and Trivago saw a 150 percent increase in customers adding it to their home screen along with a 97 percent rise in clicks onto hotel offers.

Going beyond app stores

Clearly, PWAs can help brands across every industry generate substantial ROI, but one issue which needs to be overcome is distribution and consumer behaviour.

Once a PWA is designed, it’s uploaded straight to a web server like any other web app – users can then interact with them as soon as they visit the website, providing they’re signposted well.

It follows that a major issue for PWAs is a proven way of distribution. If companies fail to establish and spend money to notify consumers on how they can be accessed on the internet, they are unlikely to go mainstream. Consumer awareness needs to build for this new type of app.

A first mover advantage?

A lot of the noise around PWAs has focussed on their use within mCommerce strategies, but their impact could be far wider-reaching. They represent the first time in a single app can be used on a smartphone, voice channel, watch, or the rest of the multi-channel pantheon of offerings.

Early adopters are beginning to scratch the surface of what can be achieved through PWAs. Taking them to the next level will require other progressive brands getting involved to further prove the benefits they bring to business. There are many factors brands must consider before implementing PWAs, but we’ve already seen pioneers like George, Debenhams and Trivago make a compelling case for others to follow suit.


Scott TurtonScott TurtonAugust 27, 2020
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9min1439

The coronavirus has fundamentally changed customer experience. Consumers’ attitudes, shopping habits and budgets have all been impacted severely. The only way organisations can survive this tumultuous time is to adapt fast and re-connect with their customers so that they are providing their audience with what they need most. In order to bounce back, CX leaders should consider the following.

Understanding your customers

You no longer know your customers. While this may seem like a rash statement, it is clear that what your customers wanted pre-COVID aren’t necessarily top of their wishlist currently. What are their post-pandemic hopes, fears, and attitudes? Does your brand purpose resonate as much now as it previously did and is it authentic? Do you have a good understanding of the role your products and services play in people’s lives and how will they consider, buy and consume them in the future? Answering these questions is hard and you’ll need the ability and culture to harvest data, hypothesise, test, learn and iterate as you go.

For CIOs, this a real test. Becoming truly agile, design-led and highly automated are ambitions that were already being pursued in many organisations (like BP, Scottish Water and British Gas, for example) well before the pandemic.

As markets become less certain and the focus on cost out and value up intensifies, these initiatives are becoming imperative. Speed to market and relevance are key and CIOs need to partner with parts of the business that own the customer interface (marketing, customer service, sales teams) and drive together towards a new way of delivering digital products and services into the hands of customers and those that serve them.

Mastering your data

It’s also a big test of data mastery and your Customer Data Platform arrangements. It’s critical to be able to liberate, aggregate and interpret what you know about customers so you can reach them at the right time, through the right channel, with the right offer.

You need tools to be able to execute on this insight. Technology is there to help agents decide on their next best action depending on the customer’s circumstances, to help track and intelligently manage and schedule customer contacts, to automate marketing communications based on meaningful triggers.  Such solutions need to be well chosen, integrated and adopted.

Content is king

It’s equally a test of your story. The importance of pushing great content down a variety of marketing and engagement channels to really connect with your audience can hardly be overstated.

Many businesses like Chipotle and WhatsApp, for example, have been effective in striking the right tone, targeting their audiences and strengthening affinity to their brand during the pandemic. They’ve done this through a combination of practical support, honest dialogue and helpful new services.

Maintaining this connection as we exit the pandemic will maximise the enduring value of their engagement in these difficult times.

Do you have content and digital asset management solutions in place to get your new messages out in a compelling and personal way at scale? And is your organisation geared up to leverage it?

Adapting the store experience

Adapting the in-store shopping experience to accommodate a global pandemic is tough. Keeping up sales and standards of service whilst maintaining social distance, avoiding excessive touching of products and surfaces and the handling of cash has left many retailers scratching their heads.

Contactless payment and self-service checkout are increasingly expected by consumers. Beyond this, the pursuit of a truly “Phygital” experience is receiving increased attention. AR and VR initiatives will gather pace for some businesses looking to achieve product and brand immersion without human contact, both in the store and at home.

Many will be watching leading lights, like Amazon Go and Nike Live for inspiration, but with a keen eye on working out what will work for them and make a genuine difference to customer experience and value. Those without a well-researched and considered omnichannel strategy could fail to act and lose out or be seduced by a new idea that misses the mark.

The ramp-up of ecommerce for bigger businesses has been a feature of the pandemic that will endure for many. For those not inclined to invest in enterprise commerce platforms, this means an acceleration of a trend towards “composable commerce”, modular, open architectures that give businesses flexibility as their needs evolve.

Customer service at a distance

Companies that provide customer services in the field have really wrestled with social distancing. The pandemic has shined a new light on ways of working that require pen and paper (likely to force employees and customers to be in closer proximity) or on processes that require staff to retreat to office computers as they lack the ability to capture and retrieve data on the move. Those with stronger solutions in this space are more inclined than ever to pursue AR and VR solutions to help with field service training or increasing their rates of first-time fix. These technologies also increase the potential of remote assistance, bringing field agents and contact centre staff together to provide the optimum service.

Contact centres have faced their obvious challenges, needing to either close or embrace distributed working. Continuing down the path of greater flexibility for staff may give them competitive advantage in the new world but their systems and data become increasingly critical once the safety net of co-located teams is removed.

Conclusion

Many of the strategies business are considering in this ‘new normal’ are broadly unchanged and represent modern practices that optimise the customer experience and enable business to survive and thrive. The Covid-19 pandemic simply brings this into greater focus, accelerating some of the prevailing trends in the market. This represents the perfect moment to step back and reflect on your brand’s purpose, your offer to your customers and whether you’re in a good position to fulfil that promise. In the post Covid world, it is important to recognise that failure to act could have dire consequences.

Starting small is always an option and CX initiatives have the potential not only grow the top line but also to drive out operating costs in the near term. And, of course, if a business does not fulfil its customers’ need, someone else will.


Libby Duane AdamsLibby Duane AdamsAugust 26, 2020
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9min1333

Rapid advancements in technology mean consumers now have the power to dictate the rules and control their relationships with brands.

Chief Customer Officers (CCOs) must ensure their companies are able to keep up with these expectations about quality and speed of service, in addition to the data that arises from these behaviours.

Business’ are undergoing a customer-centric transformation

Amongst the variety of economic schemes Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak has initiated, he has recently proposed a government grant to small businesses per trainee they recruit. This initiative is mutually advantageous to the government as they prepare for the economic burdens that increased unemployment stimulates, but also facilitates an opportunity for innovation as businesses look to prosper.

Now more than ever, with enhanced customer expectations and emerging technologies, the CCO must pave the way for organisations to champion customer-centricity through the momentum of digitisation.  Nonetheless, this innovation requires the combination of democratising data, automating business processes, and leveraging human ingenuity to allow businesses to undergo a positive transformation.

According to a recent McKinsey report, customer-centric transformation entails an entire rethink of a business model. A fundamental change of mindset focusing on the customer can generate a 20-30 percent uplift in customer satisfaction, a 10-20 percent improvement in employee satisfaction and economic gains ranging from 20-50 percent depending on a business’s specific objectives, according to the firm. Although such fundamental changes may seem daunting, the benefits are palpable to those who undertake the journey.

Listening to customers and learning from what they tell you is vital for success in 2020 and beyond. But, to enjoy this success, businesses big and small must ensure that data analytics is central to identifying, responding to, and developing communications with the customer – allowing a mutually prosperous relationship to blossom.

At present, when data is used it’s often used in a descriptive way – condensing data sets into short summaries to reinforce gut decisions.

While this may provide decision-makers with a level of reassurance, the information provided can lack insight from across the organisation and often arrives too late to prove actionable. Sadly, this is a trap many businesses have fallen into time and time again.

They understand the need to put customers first but fail to fully embrace a data-driven approach to support this business strategy.

It’s time for the CCO to be heard and their focus supported. With the help of data analytics, the CCO can play a leading role in a company’s digital transformation efforts, championing customer-centricity during this change.

Championing technology in Age of the Customer

Forrester calls this “The Age of the Customer” – and for good reason. Customers are savvier than ever and have never had so many options for how to spend not just their money but their attention. Customers have an unprecedented ability to inform and express themselves across a wide variety of channels – and they also have an unprecedented desire for authentic relationships with brands.

CCOs are responsible for channelling customer desires within the business. Technology has had a substantial impact on how customers interact, build relationships and expect loyalty to be rewarded. For CCOs, ensuring that the business can keep up with this change is integral; through responding to and shaping innovation as a result of customer feedback is the foundation of recognising the “Age of the Customer”. When a customer provides feedback, that means they care.

The problem, of course, can often be in the monitoring of these interactions. Quantifying these interactions unlocks a myriad of valuable data that can, when analysed, tell you something about how to improve the customer experience to maintain confidence and ensuring loyalty.

From text analytics to simply reviewing the sentiment of social media or survey responses, analytics can be harnessed and utilised in numerous ways that require little effort yet have a huge impact to the wellbeing of your customer base. Such insights are invaluable in informing the delivery of products and services and most importantly, ensure that the customer is the thumping heart of any business-critical decision.

The reality is, when an organisation acts upon feedback we, as customers, feel that they care for us too – and loyalty is enhanced.

Hesitation allows opportunity to be lost

With the pandemic amplifying the shortcomings of many businesses, many now wish they had embraced data analytics sooner. What once was the season of beachwear for high-street retailers, quickly became loungewear as lockdown forced the nation into more comfortable clothes as their staple. Those data savvy were able to recognise this shift in demand very early and reflect it in their products and services. Take fitness apparel and accessories brand, Gymshark, for example.

Lockdown meant a big change for Gymshark’s core customer base of gym-goers, forced to reconfigure workouts to reflect the sizes of their living rooms. It also meant the fitness brand was attracting a whole bunch of new customers, enticed into healthy living by the surge in home-workouts available across social media. Using Alteryx, Gymshark were able to alter their website strategy quickly based on data insights. They could see what categories and products were performing well among different segments of shoppers, and tailor their website homepage to boost visibility. These insights were also shared with the marketing and sales teams, who then tailored products and services to further capitalise on customer demand. Unlike many others in the market, Gymshark’s early adoption of data analytics has allowed it to thrive – providing the and responsiveness needed to weather the turbulent storm that is Covid-19.

Unfortunately, the success of Gymshark has experienced during the pandemic has been few and far between for others. And as conditions toughen further in certain markets, we are beginning to see an “analytical divide” emerge between those embracing the full force of data analytics to stay one step ahead and those not.

CCO’s keys to the kingdom

The CCO has a significant responsibility of encouraging business leaders and C-Suite executives to fully utilise data and analytics to improve their legacy systems. The consequences of neglecting data-driven insights can be devastating, as I’ve seen time and again, businesses that remain stagnant will eventually cease to exist as customers will divert their valuable attention elsewhere. Fear encourages resistance, which inhibits innovation, which naturally causes the demise of many companies.

Now more than ever, business must confront their fears and innovate in response to the “Age of the Customer”. Although many businesses will shy away from innovation and seizing the opportunity for growth, due to the uncertain economic landscape.

One fact remains certain, that data and analytics provide certainty amidst uncertain times. Empirical evidence is invaluable in determining business objectives and maintaining customer loyalties. It is crucial to deliver exceptional customer responsiveness at each and every stage of their experience, to initiate a mutually beneficial relationship. Through understanding ourselves as customer advocates and contributing to the digital transformation process, we simultaneously dispel both customer and business fears whilst also, embedding customer-centricity into business objectives.


Sandra RadlovackiSandra RadlovackiAugust 26, 2020
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8min729

93digital, the London-based WordPress Agency, specialising in the design & development of WordPress websites celebrated their win at this year’s UK Digital Experience Awards, securing Gold in the category for Best Website.

93digital in partnership with Mitie swept the virtual floor at the UK Digital Experience Awards which were truly digital, taking place online from start to finish. The winners were thrilled to win a Gold in what they do best – creating and designing websites.

Once the dust settled on an amazing event, 93digital told CXM about the challenges they had while preparing the initiative, what adapting to changing customer need required and their experience after the awards…

Tell us a bit about your company and the work you do.

93digital is the London WordPress Agency. We work with clients globally to deliver UX, design and development, specialising in working with the WordPress CMS.

We work with ambitious marketing and content teams, often in B2B and technology businesses, to deliver the websites that sit at the heart of our client’s digital marketing. We view the websites we deliver as marketing machines – aligned with the B2B buyer journey, primed for lead generation, optimised for conversion, heavily influenced by SEO research from the beginning and ready to be fueled with great content.

We only ever take on strategic projects where there is a combination of strategy, design and development. On a personal level I’m driven by making an impact for clients, and really seeing the needle move in a positive direction. So great design and great development are important, but how they both fit into the bigger picture is the most important thing for me.

 

 

What does winning a Gold Award for the Best Website in the UK mean to you? 

Winning the top award in the Best Website category for our work in partnership with Mitie has meant a lot for all of our team. Delivering a project like this takes a huge amount of work across lots of people, both on our team and our client Mitie’s team. There is lots of unsung heroes in a project like this, from our project managers who are really on the front line, to our UX & design team navigating complex stakeholders landscapes to our development team delivering enterprise grade work.

The Gold Award is testament to the hard work on both sides, but most of all to the impact of the project. Ultimately great digital experiences are about real world business impact, demonstrated in a language that an entire business can understand. As marketers we can talk about time on site and bounce rates and other often slightly irrelevant indicators all day. This project might look like ‘just another website’ but it’s a great example of how a strategic research-driven project, UX focused approach and the CMS agility of enterprise grade WordPress can come together to make a huge impact. The impact in terms of lead generation and pipeline generation has been significant, to the point that they have completely shifted horizons on what is possible from digital.

 

 

What would you highlight as the challenge during the development of your initiative?

Delivering a project like this, particularly when it creates so much change as it progresses, can be challenging from a stakeholder perspective. Ultimately a website like this is far reaching in how it touches all parts of a business, far beyond just the marketing and communications team.

The pressures of timelines and budgets need to be carefully balanced with stakeholder engagement, and making sure everyone comes on the journey. Taking a research driven and evidence-based approach to the UX and design process for the project really helped with this, along with lots of regular meetings and workshops involving key stakeholders on both sides.

Our primary stakeholder at Mitie, Head of Strategic Communication David Wiggin, was also instrumental in ensuring that the wider Mitie business was consulted with and were part of shaping the project and contributing to its success.

How is 93digital adapting to evolving customer trends?

The marketers we work with need to move faster than ever before. The response to COVID-19 has been a good example of this in practice, but even before that, it’s been important.

For our clients to be able to provide great digital customer experiences to their customers, they need to be able to move with flexibility and agility, without being held back by hard to use legacy technology platforms, and long and costly development lifecycles. Technology should exist to empower our clients, not restrain them.

Marketers these days are expected to deliver results quickly, so we’ve been seeing lots of demand from marketing teams who are fed up with being held back by the slow, clunky, expensive and hard to use technology and website content management systems they have been lumbered with.

What advances will 93digital be making in the coming years in terms of Digital Experience?

We’re always thinking about how we can build out what I refer to as the ‘intelligence layer’ that sits on top of our projects. WordPress is a powerful content management system which gives our clients the foundations to do a lot, but we’re working on how we can more closely integrate WordPress into the wider MarTech stack.

That includes everything from more native integrations with marketing automation platforms that we work with regularly (like HubSpot, Pardot and Marketo) through to CRM integrations, personalisation, multilingual deployments, AI-driven content recommendations, more intelligent security, powerful ‘content hubs’.

These internal investments we’re making will be a central part of driving faster and more effective digital experiences over the years ahead.


Adam PowersAdam PowersAugust 19, 2020
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6min1295

None of us volunteered for it, but we’ve all been a part of a global customer experience prototyping exercise. Locked down in our homes, with severely limited or zero physical interaction with other humans. All the while digital platforms or services increasingly became a lifeline rather than just a pastime. 

How would we all cope?

As the lead of Tribal’s CX practice, I have spent the past few years espousing the ever-increasing importance of considering the convergence of physical and digital experiences that shaped our clients’ businesses. Only to be confronted with a situation where those physical experiences were pretty much eradicated.

Obviously, circumstances were different for key workers and those that had little choice but to continue going out to work. However, I think all of us have had pause for thought about connecting and communicating with other people, about how we use digital services and about our relationships with businesses and brands both locally and further afield. The regular person on the street might not have considered it as such, but I believe we have all been compelled to evaluate the balance and quality of human and digital touchpoints.

In the UK, many who had never considered buying anything on the internet were looking to buy their weekly shop online. Those who had online grocery accounts felt pretty smug there, for a minute, until they saw that every delivery slot was booked for weeks ahead.

Online grocery specialists OCADO received an unprecedented adrenaline shot, “as a result of Covid-19 we have seen years of growth in the online grocery market condensed into a matter of months; and we won’t be going back,” said Ocado chief executive Tim Steiner, in an interview with CITY AM.

One could see that for every business that had only dabbled in digital, the ability to transact online was now an urgent consideration, not an experiment. There is no going back. Digital touchpoints, that may have been considered enhancements, can no longer be viewed or invested in as secondary workstreams.

At a local level particularly, I have witnessed first-hand as business models were reinvented and new partnerships formed. Within a week or two of lockdown, a local restaurant set up a table outside their premises selling basic groceries like flour and eggs – leveraging their trade suppliers who saw their B2B clients rapidly shutdown and loyal staff committed to keeping the business afloat and their jobs alive.

News got around and villagers quickly formed a line, relishing the human interaction of those inventive staff; at 2 metres of course. A week later, they had adapted the website, which had historically been just a simple online menu, to enable a click-and-collect service. The next week, they went further and started home delivery of meals. They have repeatedly evolved ever since. Their determination to develop digital touchpoints and leverage a passionate brigade of staff has also transformed the standing of this business in the community.

Just Eat have only a handful of restaurants in my village. Their service reported 33 percent growth in online order YOY in April and May. In the tiny instance I’ve described, neither a big brand with massive ad campaigns nor a monolithic software giant was involved, but this was truly iterative customer experience innovation all-the-same. A hyper local example of successfully balancing human and digital touchpoints.

The best instances of this balancing act see technology enhancing and supporting humans, and humans enhancing digital experiences. As an example of the former, we have developed a whole suite of digital tools for Volkswagen UK retailers connecting them with their customers online activity and making a much more satisfying dealership experience as a result.

Noel Lyons of Barclays talks compellingly about their digital assistant and how identifying when and how the hand-off to human call centre staff has been critical to overall success. Using the tools and technology available to create the optimal total experience is something customers are increasingly coming to expect, even if that is as simple as an app-based chat function rather than sitting on hold to make a minor change to their bank account. This then has the dual benefit of freeing up call centre phone lines to deal with the most urgent or complex customer requests.

Digital experiences are constantly improving and the love affair with them continues for many of us, with smartphones now one of the most prolific pieces of technology in history. However, I’m inclined to think the importance of human touchpoints is in the ascendant. And with metres and masks between us all, they will need to be completely re-evaluated and reimagined.


Sonja KotrotsosSonja KotrotsosAugust 7, 2020
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6min1092

In today’s omnichannel business environment, the best and smartest content in the world might as well be invisible if it can’t be delivered to consumers correctly. 

This means in the context demanded by the customer, personalised to them, and via the device or channel of their choice. That’s a job for intelligent content — but what it sounds like is not exactly what it is.

 What is Intelligent Content?

Intelligent content is a content management technique in which content is structured as a modular, format-free, and semantically-rich business asset. This practice makes it easy for the content creators and users to find and reconfigure for various occasions.

Does A Business Need Intelligent Content?

What business and which content creators wouldn’t benefit from content that’s well-structured, usable, and all-around intelligent?

But to be more specific, intelligent content is essential for businesses that:

  • Produce more content than can be reasonably managed manually
  • Sell products or services with enough commonality that you can reuse content among them
  • Have omnichannel delivery requirements
  • Are using or will use chatbots or similar automated content delivery methods

The Benefits of Intelligent Content

From making content more usable to empowering sales teams to close more deals to boosting SEO efforts — the benefits of intelligent content are huge for businesses.

Firstly, it makes content more reusable across channels and platforms.

When content is removed from the context of presentation (such as a web page) and stored in modules that are labelled with semantic metadata (which is data that describes other data), it’s much easier for business users to both find and implement as needed.

This metadata enables marketers to create content just once, refresh it, and then republish it across any channel or digital device without rewrites or reformatting — saving time and increasing consistency. In other words, intelligent content enables the creation of omnichannel shopping experiences for consumers, which is a powerful differentiator for businesses in the modern age.

Intelligent Content also empowers sales teams to take advantage of more useful content.

Today, the sales funnel has more touchpoints than ever. And that means salespeople need to be able to access and deliver content that will add value and differentiate their business along the way. Because of the metadata labelling and modular storage, intelligent content is accessible for the sales team to locate in their company’s knowledge base or content management system (CMS), personalise as needed, and deliver via the lead’s preferred channel or device.

The best part is, to the potential customer, it looks like a company has dropped everything to thoughtfully develop and deliver content that has been created especially for them.

Intelligent Content also increases content discoverability to boost internal and external search results

Simply put, digital content that can’t be identified by computers might as well not exist. This is where the intelligence of metadata shines. Using metadata labels or “tags,” companies can attach additional information to their digital content to describe it in more detail. This metadata tagging makes it easier for search engines to find, identify, and display when a user is searching for a related topic.

This discoverability goes beyond external search engines to include a company’s CMS or internal knowledge base where an employee may be looking for customer info, product documentation, etc. Wherever the search is done — the better the metadata, the better the experience and the results.

Going Headless – How to Make Sure Content is Intelligent and Ready for the Future

Intelligent content isn’t so much about the words and images that make it up as it is about how businesses create, store, manage, and deliver the content. Luckily, there’s a tool that can set organisations up to serve intelligent content and the resulting omnichannel experience that consumers crave.

Headless CMS empowers modern organisations to create their content in entirely presentation-independent modules, organise and store it in a semantically-rich way with metadata, and deliver it to any device or channel — all thanks to the power of an architecture built on application program interfaces (APIs).

This separation of content from formatting allows content teams to create content just once and distribute it anywhere and technology teams to build the best frontend presentation without either stepping on the other’s toes.


Sandra RadlovackiSandra RadlovackiJuly 29, 2020
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3min1028

Global provider of financial market data and infrastructure Refinitiv announced today the acquisition of assets from Advisor Software Inc. (ASI) to enhance its digital functionalities. Refinitiv’s Wealth Management will be improved with digital advice capabilities and digital portfolio analysis.

ASI’s technology will be integrated into the recently launched solution Refinitiv Digital Investor, thanks to its with interoperability and cloud enablement.

The latest acquisition adds to Refinitiv’s transformation within the wealth management industry. The company is committed to better the digital experience of customers, including digital communication with advisors, an option for which there has been an increased demand within the market.

Some of the ASI’s assets Refinitiv will benefit from are tax-aware portfolio rebalancing, Monte Carlo-based progress-to-goal tracking, cash flow and portfolio analysis, investment modeling, and proposal generation.

ASI also offers a series of lean, portable APIs that are customisable and fully-brandable to enable a wealth management firm to construct its own digital advice experience. With these tools financial institutions, wealth managers and advisors can deliver advice in a more flexible, efficient and scalable way.

Joe Mrak, Global Head of Wealth Management at Refinitiv, said: “In what continues to be an eventful year for Refinitiv’s Wealth Management group, I am pleased to share the news of our acquisition of ASI. The digital capabilities that ASI brings to our existing Refinitiv Digital Investor platform perfectly complement our growing suite of widgets and APIs. We remain focused on delivering enhanced digital offerings to the Wealth Management industry and our clients as the digitalisation and personalisation of Wealth Management continues.”

Ashley Longabaugh, Wealth Management Senior Analyst at Celent, said: “A superior client experience is a true differentiator for wealth management firms and platforms in today’s highly commoditised and digital world. Today, the client experience is about creating a proactive and engaging relationship between the client and the advisor. Refinitiv’s acquisition of ASI demonstrates Refinitiv’s focus on strengthening the client-advisor experience by addressing the needs of the digitally-inclined client and advisor.”

Refinitiv is the overall winner of the UK Digital Experience Awards 2020.


Laurence ParkesLaurence ParkesJuly 28, 2020
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6min1259

Never before has the digital realm been so fundamental to how a brand delivers its unique brand promise. In a world of accelerating disruption, organisations are looking for ways to rapidly create sustainable competitive advantage.

Unfortunately, while 80 percent of companies believe they deliver ‘superior experiences’, only 8 percent of customers agree (Bain & Co.). The strive towards CX best practice, where competing brands solve customer problems in the same way, has created a market of digital sameness.

But dependency on CX best practice is not the only challenge to overcome. There is also platform fragmentation, organisational silos, and a lack of business logic ownership to contend with.

Become consumer-centric but brand-led and technologically inspired

Balancing the primacy of the consumer versus technology or brand thinking is difficult to achieve but highly rewarding when unlocked. In other words, define your visionary experience based on insightful user needs, hung from a clear brand strategy. Actionable considerations:

  1. In the face of increasing complexity, a clear sense of purpose (inspired by your brand story) can both simplify and pull together disparity when designing your digital ecosystem. Distil your consumer research, competitive analysis and brand strategy into well-defined experience principles.
  2. Find strength in a blended team of strategists, designers and technologists, all with an equal ‘voice’. This will help you find the right balance between consumer needs, brand experience, and the technology that enables it.
  3. Your brand hero moments are what shape the distinctive experiences that matter to your customers. Use key audience needs and motivations to identify the pain points that need improving but overlay your brand promise, values and personality to identify the brand hero moments that will deliver the greatest short- and long-term commercial impact.

Connect what customers want with what technology can do

There is growing tension between consumer understanding and technological possibilities. To drive your differentiating digital experience, you need to connect them. Fundamentally, connecting your brand purpose with your tech stack. Actionable considerations:

  1. By connecting and powering the experiences your CMO craves, with tools and systems from your CIO, you can deliver differentiation. Bring your CMO and CIO together by aligning around your brand vision to help focus and prioritise.
  2. With technology enabling the efficient creation of value to customers, increasingly the tech platform is the business. Your Experience Services Architecture should be containerised and portable, so you own your business logic – releasing you from having to use a particular vendor. This way your brand’s experience roadmap is not tied to that of an uncontrolled third party.
  3. Plan for future innovations with your cloud-based Experience Services Architecture. This will accelerate your innovation pipeline as you’ll have control over a critical component of your digital infrastructure. Enabled by this technology, our client was able to add a brand-new channel to their experience ecosystem in a matter of weeks, with our Omnichannel Experience API.

Support your vision with a clear and convincing business plan

A powerful business case will push action through an organisation. Even better, an Experience Playbook will create an inspiring blueprint that outlines the impact of hero moments on the bottom line as well as the technical infrastructure needed to deliver them; becoming a tool that translates business strategy into meaningfully differentiated customer experiences. Actionable considerations:

  1. Establish a backlog of ideas and experience concepts to explore, rationalise and prioritise. Assessing potential impact versus required effort to implement, identify the quick wins and immediate actions, and sequence the rest into a roadmap.
  2. ROI is key in these times. You can measure the potential commercial impact of your experience concepts at a conversion and brand equity level. Conversion level example: calculate the lost revenue from unnecessarily abandoned shopping carts. Brand equity level example: estimate the likely increase in brand perception and future purchase intent from a best-in-class experience.
  3. Align your technology roadmap and ensure the requirements are a joint responsibility between both your CMO and CIO. This is another important opportunity to align the organisation.

Your key takeaway

These guides are useful regardless of if you’re a large, established brand struggling with legacy issues or a nimble scale-up trying to keep pace with your rapid growth. To differentiate with digital, you must look holistically at your organisation’s complete ecosystem, encompassing the four engines of difference: brand, services, people and technology.

From this, you’ll deliver meaningfully different experiences because they are consumer-centric, brand-led and technologically inspired.


Christopher ColleyChristopher ColleyJuly 22, 2020
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8min2173

As technology has advanced, it has become possible to digitise an increasing number of organisations’ interactions with customers, making the customer journey simpler and more streamlined while also cutting operational costs.

The benefits of such solutions have inevitably prompted organisations to invest heavily in the digitalisation of customer experience strategies over the past couple of decades.

To succeed, however, organisations need to strike an effective balance between digital and human interactions, in order to foster lasting customer loyalty. This is an important consideration, particularly as we come through a global pandemic that has resulted in more interactions taking place online than ever before.

Creating a balanced journey

The key principle behind bridging the digital/physical divide is understanding the moments in the customer journey when a human touch may be more appropriate. Here, we must take two factors into consideration.

First, which approach will minimise the amount of effort required by the customer? For example, routine events in a customer’s journey, such as resetting their password or tracking a delivery, can – and should – be digitised. This makes such processes quick and easy for the customer, while reducing operational input for the organisation. It’s a clear win-win – and a quick and meaningful one at that. Indeed, many of the most customer-centric organisations have identified the link that exists between improving the worst experiences and driving significant bottom-line impact.

For instance, as part of its push for digitalisation, a telco customer decided to focus on ‘low hanging fruit’. Tasks like managing payments and checking usage were moved online. As you might expect, this led to better customer perception metrics. But it also led to a significant reduction in calls into its contact centre, with the high-volume tasks now being fulfilled via self-service instead.

In fact, in this case, digitising the worst experiences led to a 38 percent decrease in callbacks – together with the corresponding saving in man hours, meaning that employees could now be assigned to other tasks.

Humanising the interaction

The second factor to consider concerns those moments in a customer journey where the customer is either seeking advice or experiencing strong emotions. This is where an organisation should think about investing in human interactions and personalising the service. For example, when a customer buys a car online, there should be a human interaction at the close of the transaction, such as at the point of delivery. In this way, the company can show they recognise and appreciate the significant investment the customer has made, while celebrating this special moment with them.

Even more critical, though, is introducing a human element when something goes wrong. At such moments, the customer needs reassurance. Robotic, automated services can have no place here.

In banking, for example, when a customer misplaces their credit card or falls victim to identity theft, they will likely want to talk to a human and be reassured that the company will take on the responsibility of finding a solution. Making customers feel they are being heard can be a determining factor in whether they will stick with you for the long term.

Introducing advanced technology

As the industry continues to move beyond such blunt instruments as traditional satisfaction surveys, customer-centric technologies are stepping up to help humanise digital interactions. Video as a tool has a unique ability to record customers’ thoughts, sentiment and opinions.

Enabling the capture of this authenticity and emotion humanises the process of providing customer feedback in the first place, while also offering a way of amplifying the customer’s voice across the business. Customer Experience leaders can use video as part of wider voice-of-customer (VoC) programmes. It provides a means to convey emotive stories that drive change in their customer operations, while enabling actionable insights to be derived.

Businesses have easy access to video technology, and the expansion in remote collaboration encouraged by the global pandemic has helped ensure that being on camera is now quite normal for many. The crisis has also accelerated the rate at which companies are adopting video across the board. As a result, there has never been a better time to leverage video as an integral part of a customer experience strategy, using it to discover what customers want, and acting on this insight to keep them coming back.

Building omnichannel interactions

The fact that customers are becoming more accustomed to using technology such as video in their everyday lives can be turned to great advantage – but it also needs to be easy for customers to switch between digital and human processes as and when they feel the need. This is especially true if the customer has already tried to use an automated service, such as a chatbot, and failed.

Consequently, organisations should move towards designing omnichannel interactions – balancing the speed and efficiency of new technologies with additional ‘human’ channels – in order to provide customers with the flexibility they need for great customer experience.

It remains true that today, certain customer demographics within an organisation’s customer base may still prefer human interactions. Yet coronavirus has shown us just how quickly organisations and customers can pivot when the need arises. And it goes without saying that the upcoming generations of digital-native customers have very different expectations to those of their forebears. Forward-thinking organisations should be cognisant of tomorrow’s customers, as well as other groups who would be willing and eager to adopt new channels of communication. Investing in omnichannel interactions is a sure-fire way to ensure your company can continue to innovate while continuing to drive customer loyalty.

Interesting links:


Sandra RadlovackiSandra RadlovackiJuly 17, 2020
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5min906

The winners of the 2020 UK Digital Experience Awards have celebrated success on Zoom, with financial markets data and insights provider Refinitiv making waves by being crowned as the day’s Overall Winner.

Created to recognise and celebrate outstanding digital achievements, the awards event is a vehicle for sharing best practice and promoting continuous improvement, learning and personal development.

In its sixth edition, the event took place completely on Zoom videoconferencing platform, welcoming over 50 finalists who presented their best initiatives before an expert panel of judges, offering insight into the digital journeys customers make when connecting with their favourite brands.

The very best across 14 categories were identified, with organisations competing to claim titles including Best Digital Change & TransformationBest Digital Marketing Campaign/Project, and Best SEO Strategy.

Refinitiv, which provides leading data and insights, trading platforms, and open data and technology platforms that connect a thriving global financial markets community, won Gold in Best SEO Strategy category, competing with BT Consumer and Receptional Limited & Bill Plant Driving School.

That category entry secured the Overall Winner title later in the day, and a spokesperson for the firm said: “This award will give our team a tremendous boost, it really validates the strategies we’ve defined. It validates how well the team’s work, we’re very much the one-team culture. We’ve got so much expertise in building performance across the Refinitiv digital ecosystem, it’s not often that we get a chance to give ourselves a pat on the back.”

The day was jam-packed with other significant wins for household name brands, including Tempcover , NewDay , Ascenti and many others. The Gold award for Best Use of Emerging Technology (AI/ VR/ AR / Chatbots) was won by Oxford VR while Incendiary Blue won Gold for Digital Agency category.

Click here for a full list of the day’s winners.

The Awards ceremony gathered more than 160 people in one virtual room, where the Chairman of the Awards Abhishek Verma delivered a keynote speech, followed by the announcements of the winners.

The event was hosted by Awards International, and along with the UK Customer Experience Awards, the UK Employee Experience Awards, and the UK Complaint Handling Awards, proudly holds a Gold Standard Awards Trust mark from the Independent Awards Standards Council (IASC).

Congratulating the day’s winners, Awards International CEO Neil Skehel said: “These awards highlight the most innovative Digital Experiences customers will come across in the UK today, and show just how vital a trusted digital journey is for today’s tech-savvy consumers.

“Well done to all who attended to present before our judges, and a special congratulations to all of the category winners, who truly deserve their success. We look forward to further exciting DX developments from our winning brands in the coming months and years, and hope to see many return to compete at next year’s UK Digital Experience Awards.”


Sonja KotrotsosSonja KotrotsosJuly 16, 2020
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9min1250

When digital customer experiences aren’t seamless, they quickly become digital inconveniences. The more technology advances, the more consumers expect it to keep up with their daily lives.

Most of us regularly use several inter-connected devices. It’s often the ease of use and personalisation that takes place during these experiences that makes or breaks how we feel about a brand. That’s the value of omnichannel.

Omnichannel Explained

Omnichannel is an approach to sales, marketing, publishing, and other business disciplines that provides a customer experience that’s integrated and seamless across all channels. There are no barriers or limitations based on whether a customer is consuming content from a mobile device or a desktop computer — every stage of the experience is linked.

By comparison, Multichannel publishing is what most businesses invest in — a beautifully designed website, engaging social media campaigns, perhaps SMS marketing. But as responsive and engaging as those channels might be, if they’re not working together, it’s not omnichannel.

Multichannel leaves a big gap in customer journeys that take place on different channels. But with omnichannel publishing, it doesn’t matter what channel or device the customer is using.

Customers expect Omnichannel

In the explosive digital era that we live in, businesses need to integrate customer-centric narratives if they want to stand out. And customers need to be able to easily experience that narrative no matter the channel or device.

Consider book publishing. While studies have shown that hard copy books aren’t going anywhere — the reality is that most traditional publishers don’t concern themselves with forming relationships with readers. They make deals with authors and leave much of the customer engagement process to their distributors.

The numbers of ebooks and self-published books grow each year. Because this trend disrupts the traditional buying process, traditional publishers now realise that they must start building relationships with readers. On the flip side, Amazon has long recognised the importance of consumer-centric marketing and puts a lot of its efforts towards understanding its users. It asks questions, recommends products based on a customer’s purchasing history and notifies readers when a favourite author has released a new book.

The lesson here is that while content might be king, consumers are close to taking the title.

Effective Omnichannel strategy

The first thing businesses need to do is develop a high-level omnichannel strategy for how to use customer data to integrate your content along different channels. To do that, they must understand why customers interact with each channel, what drives them to do so, and when they’re most likely to engage with it.

The objective is a 360-degree view of users based on how they interact with each channel. Then, build on that data to weave those preferences into every step of the customer’s journey to create a seamless and fully integrated experience.

But not all data is created equal.

There are many platforms, devices, channels, and people to consider, so the key is to identify which data is essential to success. There are significant trends in omnichannel that need to be included in any strategy:

  1. Create Adaptive Content

One of the best ways to kickstart a robust omnichannel strategy is to start creating adaptive content. Unlike static content for a general audience (if it serves everyone, it serves no one), adaptive content is highly targeted and supports personalised and meaningful interactions across multiple channels.

A customer might be browsing on their tablet but want to make the purchase from their phone — the content should change seamlessly, based on the device used, the context and the user. For example, a CTA might be “click” on a laptop, “say select” from a voice-recognition tool, or “tap” on a tablet. Every part of the user experience is adapted based on how the user is engaging with the content.

  1. Guide Customers Across Various Touchpoints

A strong omnichannel strategy predicts the customer’s needs and then provides the right content to satisfy those needs. One great example is how many retail brands have started to combine the customer’s offline and online experience.

Retail brand Oasis, for instance, makes sure that all sales associates on the shop floor carry iPads. When helping customers, they can quickly check inventory or even order an item directly to a home address if it’s out of stock. The customer will then receive a notification by email or SMS to let them know their item is on its way.

With this seamless way of shopping, the brand makes everything as simple as possible for the customer, while integrating each stage using different devices and channels.

  1. Personalise Messages and Optimise Design

Consider how Goodreads connects with users. In its weekly email newsletter, users receive book suggestions based on what their friends are reading. Instead of reading something generic like “top picks,” subscribers get personalised content in which they have a genuine interest.

Adaptive content applies to the visual elements too, and 56 percent of consumers say they would happily purchase from a brand that provides an excellent personalised experience.

Other considerations include how content will look across different platforms and on devices with varying screen sizes. How does it look on mobile, social media or an email newsletter? Content needs to go everywhere, and it needs to adjust automatically.

  1. Complete Your Omnichannel Publishing Strategy with Headless CMS

A headless content management system (CMS) works as a content hub with a central repository for all your content, and it makes it easy to integrate best-of-breed applications and microservices. This content hub enables greater flexibility than having to rely on the built-in features of a traditional publishing platform — but it also comes with another significant benefit.

Under the hood of a headless CMS, content is created and stored separately from programming and design. Not only does that mean content folks are free to create, optimise, and publish content without help from other teams; it also means that they can integrate with various business applications (such as CRM, translation services, AI tools, A/B testing applications, analytics parsing, and more) so that the same content can be easily re-optimised and re-published — indefinitely — for different audiences, devices, and channels. In short, headless CMS enables publishers to optimise and personalise content on a larger scale than ever before.

For modern businesses, an omnichannel strategy has become a necessity for winning customers and building a loyal audience. And while optimising content for multiple devices and channels may seem daunting — it doesn’t need to be.


Sandra RadlovackiSandra RadlovackiJuly 15, 2020
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2min1150

Is your organisation having trouble digitally navigating the crisis or you just need a bit of inspiration in reassembling your digital strategy?

Digital experience has and will remain the main differentiator in today’s world. Countless organisations jumped head-first into digital environment so as make their presence known in the times of uncertainty – basically that their customers don’t forget about them. Brands that haven’t been putting enough effort into digital are now trying to accelerate them to adjust to the new normal.

In these turbulent times, when changes are unpredictable and rapid, a structured but flexible approach to digital experience will be the factor that will make one stand out while the other will stagnate or even go backwards.

Digital channels that deliver technical results often don’t meet customer expectations. Keeping up with the shift in consumer behaviour requires businesses to listen and act accordingly – apply CX solutions for digital teams and move fast but careful.

Digital and eCommerce leaders have offered their advice and thoughts on the burning questions about managing today’s digital world problems.

Digitising your business strategy, moving from a channel to a revenue driver and kickstarting your digital CX programme are just some of the topics Clay Warren, Head of Digital CX at Qualtrics will be covering as a part of Qualtrics XM talks™.

Clay will also be interviewing Marketing, Creative and CX Executives from Adobe, Delivery Hero and MRM and discussing how these digital leaders responded to the crisis and what challenges the organisations overcame to stay at the top even in the unfavourable circumstances. The sessions offer insights into what exactly the brands did to pivot and recentre their usual business.

Don’t miss out on an opportunity to bring your digital strategy to a whole new level, register now and gain access to all sessions.


James HarveyJames HarveyJuly 8, 2020
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5min3317

The COVID-19 pandemic is continuing to create new challenges for technologists. Businesses are under phenomenal pressure to keep applications and digital services up and running, while at the same time being asked to deliver the best experience possible for their consumers.

In normal circumstances, consumers have very high expectations for the businesses and services they interact with. This demand for flawless digital experiences has meant that organisations need to deliver high-performance and scalable services at all times to protect their reputation and stay ahead of the competition.

During the current pandemic, consumers’ demands are intensified, as they rely even more on digital services to access information, services and products. In a digital-first world, brands need to ensure their digital performance is, and continues to be, a top priority. For IT teams, end-to-end visibility into both web and mobile applications is vital for gaining the insight they need to understand the consumers’ habits, as well as the broader business.

Increasing complexity across the technology stack, however, has meant that delivering exceptional digital experiences as standard might prove challenging for organisations. So, how can businesses successfully deliver an outstanding customer experience in the current climate?

Consumer demands impact IT

In recent years, application environments have exploded in complexity. This has made it more difficult for IT teams to react quickly to application issues and resolve them ahead of time. Today, digital experiences are how consumers engage with the world and, in many cases, how customers engage with brands. As outstanding digital experiences become the norm and appetite for services is soaring, brands need to ensure they deliver personalised, intuitive customer experiences.

According to the App Attention Index, half of all consumers would pay more for products and services that deliver a better digital experience. To remain ahead of the competition, businesses need to differentiate themselves through the applications and experiences they provide.

Building a better digital experience

A visual map makes it easy to see where any issues are and flag problems such as a marked drop-off in users because of delays or lags. Through this mapping, IT teams can gain a unique advantage in delivering an exceptional customer experience, while prioritising resources.

This performance-lens view allows IT decision makers to see the bigger picture, understand how customers interact with the applications, how performance impacts these interactions, as well as resolve the right issues at the right time.

To deliver world-class digital experience, IT teams need a holistic overview of their applications. Demand from consumers has meant that IT teams need to manage application complexity whilst also navigating operational silos that make collaboration, data exchange and problem resolution challenging.

To overcome these challenges, they need a comprehensive view on how customers are interacting with the application in real-time. Visualising the customer journey gives teams the opportunity to identify paths to optimisation and deliver the high-quality experience that consumers demand. Tools like Experience Journey Map provide a visual map of the UX across the entire web or mobile application. Through journey visualisation, teams can proactively manage the digital journey and uncover any hidden bottlenecks.

Re-thinking digital transformation

Today’s business climate brings new pressures and increasing customer demands every day, Organisations must adapt quickly and ensure they have a robust business transformation strategy in place.

To achieve success and deliver outstanding digital services through these uncertain times, businesses need to have full-stack visibility across their IT infrastructure. This will enable ITOps teams to consistently and quickly improve the digital experiences for the end customer. IT has become a strategic driver of business outcomes and a proactive approach to performance monitoring has never been more important.

In the end, the businesses that are able to transform, innovate and delight their users through their digital services, will be the ones who gain advantage ahead of the competition and earn the loyalty of their customers.


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3min888

Newly published research by the Data & Marketing Association (DMA) and Pure360 reveals an overall improvement in email engagement over a five-year period.

Among the metrics measured, click-to-open rates have risen by 12 percent on average since 2015 while email delivery rates have increased from 96 to 99 percent over the same period. This can be linked to GDPR’s implementation in May 2018, as many organisations have put effort to proactively manage their email contact database lists.

The research reveals that open rates have decreased to 20 percent this year, but still remain above the averages of the previous years. The decreased might be caused by organisations mailable list sizes recovering post-GDPR, as observed in the Marketer Email Tracker 2020 research which revealed 58 percent of marketers growing their lists over the last 12 months.

Tim Bond, Head of Insight at the DMA, said: “Our latest findings provide marketers with some key benchmarks to help better understand how their email campaigns compare. To realise the full potential of your email programme, be sure to look beyond the metrics in this report and analyse both the goal of your marketing campaigns and how you can most accurately measure that. Only then will you be able to understand the real impact and return of email.”

Mark Ash, CEO, Pure360 said: “It’s perhaps no surprise to see that the email channel continues to enjoy strong engagement given consumers’ continued appetite to receive this type of communication from their brands of choice. Our experience over the last couple of months would suggest that engagement has only increased further, as consumers and brands alike have become more reliant on the email channel as the single most dependable conduit for 121 personalised communication.”

Email benchmark averages, 2015-2019

Source: DMA & Pure360

 


Sam FramptonSam FramptonJuly 1, 2020
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7min1010

Complicated-sounding terms like “machine learning,” and “sentiment tracking” are thrown around a lot in today’s marketing and customer experience circles, with new AI-powered tools being announced every week.

Though most business owners know that these types of software are important, they may be turned off by the tech-heavy language. However, you don’t need to be a professional programmer to understand the basics of text analytics and how it can drastically improve your CX efforts. We break it down for you below.

Text Analytics Definition

First things first, let’s define what text analytics actually is. Text analytics is the process of extracting quantitative data from written (qualitative) information. The goal of text analytics is to analyse qualitative feedback quickly and at scale to uncover trends and patterns. There are a large variety of ways in which this process can be useful for businesses, and we’ll outline some examples below.

What Do Businesses Use Text Analysis For?

Customer Feedback: Perhaps unsurprisingly, the main reason businesses use text analytics is to analyse customer feedback. Sending out surveys asking customers to rank responses on a numerical scale can only get you so far. The more valuable analysis usually comes from freeform responses that can be gathered through detailed customer feedback surveys, social media mentions, online reviews, and more. By using text analytics tools, businesses can cut down on the employee bandwidth needed to manually sort and categorise responses from these important feedback sources.

Risk Management: Enterprise-level companies, such as financial lenders, are starting to use textual analysis to identify risky investments or lending practices. These types of tools can quickly pull information about a specific company, including news articles and reports, and categorise this information based on a set of pre-determined rules to see if industry experts view them as a good investment.

Targeted Marketing: Text analysis can also be used to better refine audience segments for more accurate marketing. These tools can gather demographic and psychographic information about a user’s interests and buying habits online in order to build out more detailed personas that can be served with the right types of ads.

How Does Textual Analysis Actually Work?

Now that you have a general idea of what businesses use text analytics for, we’ll dive into what the AI is actually doing. This is just a basic overview to help you better understand the process, as machine learning is, without a doubt, a very complicated subject. After all, natural language processing mimics the workings of the human brain!

Step 1: Tagging and Chunking

The first step machines take to understanding language is to go through each piece of textual feedback and tag each word with a part of speech, such as noun, verb, adjective, etc. Next, the sentence is chunked into phrases based on where these parts of speech occur. These are usually categorised as noun phrases, verb phrases, and prepositional phrases. If you’re a little rusty on elementary school grammar, prepositions describe spatial relationships, for example “on,” “after,” “into,” etc.

Step 2: Parsing

Once the sentence is tagged and chunked, the bot will separate it into different elements or sections based on the defined phrases. This step is important because a single piece of customer feedback can have multiple meanings or sentiments. For example, the phrase “Love your product, but it’s a bit expensive” consists of multiple elements including “product,” “price,” “positive emotion,” and “slightly negative emotion.”

Step 3: Rule Setting and/or Topic Modelling

Now that you understand how the AI reads and categorises pieces of qualitative information, we can get into the analysis part of the process. There are two main ways to go about this: rule-setting or topic modelling. With rule-setting, the AI is going off of a pre-determined set of rules laid out beforehand. For example, the word “expensive” could have a rule attached to it that directs the AI to add this review to both the “price” and “negative emotion” categories. The pro of using rule-setting is that you can be reasonably sure of accurate results from the beginning, but the con is that the set-up time takes much longer.

Topic modelling is what’s known as “unsupervised” machine learning (whereas rule-setting is supervised) because the AI essentially learns how to categorise and analyse on its own based on recurring themes and sentiments. Just like humans, the bot will learn as it goes and gets more accurate over time. The pros and cons of this method are just the opposite of rule-setting: There is virtually no set-up involved in the beginning so you can start using the tool right away, but it can take some time before results are accurate enough to be truly actionable for your business.

Take a look at the infographic from Chattermill below for a visual illustration of these points, along with 5 more real-world examples of how companies can use text analytics to improve CX.

 

 




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