Sylvia JensenSylvia JensenMay 20, 2019
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9min190

The one-year anniversary of the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is now fast approaching.  Since its introduction in May 2018, we as a nation have become more ‘data aware’ than ever before. The maximum fine for not complying with GDPR legislation is 4 percent of global annual turnover, meaning businesses simply cannot afford to take any risks when it comes to data consent. GDPR has proved an all-round inconvenience and challenge for organisations.

On the other hand, consumers have now also become more vigilant about organisations who use our data, and why they are doing so. When it comes to marketing and the customer experience (CX), organisations are faced with a double-edged challenge. Customers want personalised experiences from brands… but just 26 percent of UK consumers are comfortable with brands having information about them that they’re not aware is being collected. For this reason, many marketers have considered GDPR to be among the most influential pieces of legislation in recent years.

Despite having more than two years to prepare for GDPR, companies are continuing to flounder. Many marketers, IT and legal departments are still faced with  the difficult task of determining how best to move forward in an age when data is as much a liability as it is an asset. However, it’s not all doom and gloom from a marketing and CX perspective.

 

Why marketers have an opportunity to use data as a strong selling point

While compliance is crucial, it’s also important to understand how brands’ use of data makes customers feel. Today’s consumers want more personalised experiences, but at the same time have genuine concerns about the way brands are collecting, storing, and managing their data. The arrival of GDPR has presented marketers with an opportunity to start building trust with their customers by allowing transparency through communication about data strategies, and how an organisation is going to use the customer’s data.

Now is the perfect opportunity for marketers to have that open and honest conversation with themselves and consumers about how they manage data. In doing so, the long-term benefits are clear -and marketers can take advantage of this when it comes to sales. Ultimately, customers will want to buy into organisations where they can trust their data will be used in the right manner.

Customers and brands shouldn’t just transact – they should be forging a relationship. Luckily for marketers, they now have this platform to start forging these new strong relationships. A brand’s connection with customers is a delicate and evolving partnership that must be nurtured continually. That emotional connection is essential for customers to keep coming back.

Take a stand and evaluate how your own CX is performing within the context of UK audiences’ expectations and the broader market. If it’s not performing, use transparent communication around how you’re looking after data to start that relationship.

 

How marketers can strike the right balance with transparency,  trust and data management

The key for successful CX is striking the right balance with transparency, trust, and data management. 75 percent of UK consumers feel like they’re treated as generic customers, rather than as a known individual in online interactions. What’s more, 64 percent of customers said brands that should know them well, don’t. For marketers, it’s important to be aware of these concerns and be ready to meet them with transparency, IT security solutions, and a clear plan for what data is collected and how it will be used.

Companies need to ensure they are focusing on getting the CX right, as the need for clarity and transparency with the customer is paramount. There is a clear way forward, and it comes down to establishing trust with your customers, something that can be accomplished through a mix of transparency and data management.

Firstly, businesses should ensure they are safeguarding their consumers’ data. Partnering with internal IT and security teams is necessary to ensure data compliance standards like GDPR are being met. Businesses should also embrace opt-in methods, so customers are aware and in agreement of their data being used. There should be no surprises.

Furthermore, for whatever data customers have agreed to share, businesses should provide something in return. For instance, if you’re collecting data on your website visitors, they should understand why they’re in a journey you’ve created. It should feel welcoming and relevant, and they should understand why you’ve brought them there. By creating ways to engage and show that you have their best interests at heart, you will create that much needed element of trust.

Lastly, it’s all about managing data efficiently and appropriately. Customer and prospect relationships shouldn’t be treated any differently. When meeting a new person, you might ask their name but not their birthday and email address straight away. Be cautious of crossing into unknown territory and being too forward. Once transparency and trust are established and the customer sees the benefit, then it’s OK to push for additional data – in a respectful manner of course.

 

CX technology post-GDPR

Technology alone, at least in the form of most of today’s available CX platforms, isn’t the solution. 77 percent of marketers feel that technology has made it more difficult to deliver personalised experiences. From a technical standpoint, brands are moving forward at a slower pace than desired. 91 percent of marketers feel that if they better understood customer data, they could effectively automate parts of their experience. Yet 85 percent of marketers reported that customer data is captured in multiple systems and lives in different silos. As a result, it’s difficult to drill into that information for insights and create real-time feedback loops that impress your customers.

Marketers are some of the toughest critics of CX and have big visions for what’s possible with the right people, technology, and data in place. Delivering a top customer experience is no small challenge – and in today’s landscape, high expectations and data concerns leave little room for error. Marketers want their technology working together to create one cohesive experience, and to ensure they’re fully compliant with regulations post-GDPR.

Trust is the new currency in the digital age. Marketers have an opportunity to use data as a strong selling point, by addressing UK consumers’ concerns about how they’re collecting, storing, and managing individual data head-on.


Alex BlackAlex BlackMay 17, 2019
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8min248

Organisations of all shapes and sizes are looking to migrate from traditional PBX telecoms platforms to unified communications (UC) environments, integrating their contact centre for greater collaboration. The market is growing robustly. A recent report by Global Market Insights estimated the Unified Communications and Collaboration (UCC) market size at over US$32 billion in 2018, with a CAGR of 8% from 2019 to 2025.

The rationale for businesses to move to UC environments is certainly clear.  Businesses increasingly understand the limitations of the traditional PBX model around scalability, complexity and having a single point of failure. They increasingly appreciate the benefits of moving to UC around faster return on investment, greater collaboration, lower total cost of ownership; streamlined operational processes and enhanced productivity. And they see all this as key to their digital transformation.

They know too that in the context of the contact centre, the enhanced collaborative functionality that migration can deliver will allow them to provide a consistently outstanding customer experience around the clock, make life easier for hard-working agents and employees and sweat their investments and save money on management.

Yet while many customer-facing businesses have undertaken the journey to unified communications and collaboration, many still hold back. Some have installed solutions like Microsoft Skype for Business or even Microsoft Teams but are running them in the background and are still using traditional PBXs as their primary telecoms switch.

So what is deterring these organisations?  Some pause on their journey waiting for new solutions or upgrades to be introduced by the leading platform vendors. Many others are concerned about the risk involved in migrating systems and moving from old infrastructure to new. And that is making it difficult to set out on the migration path at all. They have ruled out a big bang approach due to sweating down existing assets and they want flexibility and choice across the whole journey.

That’s why they need the peace of mind and reassurance that comes from working with solutions providers and implementation and support partners that are vendor and platform-agnostic; can integrate with all leading UC platforms –  from Microsoft to Avaya to Cisco –  and have migration at the heart of their strategy. Working alongside its partners, Enghouse Interactive is well-suited to achieve all this.

Driven by the need to achieve digital transformation and the desire to use it to deliver enhanced customer engagement, more and more businesses are looking to work closely with customer communications experts to help them assess their possible migration paths, choose the best option, then transition them smoothly and with minimal disruption to their existing operations. The approach needs to be open and flexible.  Whether organisations are looking to move from premise to premise, or premise to cloud, or thinking about migrating from one vendor to another, or one UC product to another within a single vendor environment, solutions providers and their channel partners need to be able to take customers on their digital transformation-driven  journey and ensure they reach their desired end destination.

That removes some serious headaches for customer-facing organisations, of course. Instead of fretting and worrying about their communications journey, they can let their solutions and implementation provider partners concern themselves with building a UC environment and connecting the contact centre. That in turn leaves the business itself free to concentrate on its overall network environment strategy, content in the knowledge that its migration journey to digital is being managed and de-risked.

Enghouse recommends and implements a phased migration for its customers. In any migration to a new telecoms infrastructure it is important to have the old and the new platforms running simultaneously (and both connected) so that if a technical problem occurs with the new system, or if there is a mis-configuration, for example,  agents can be quickly, although temporarily, moved back to the old infrastructure desktop.

Rather than moving the whole operation over to the new system straightaway ,  the organisation concerned could move a single department over initially: the IT helpdesk, for example, and then if all goes well, move another  shortly thereafter. If something goes wrong they can simply move that individual department back, effectively de-risking and removing the friction from the whole process.

It is important to remember, though, that the migration journey is not just about infrastructure, essential though that is. Scalability is key in supporting the overall approach and ensuring that the business always has the right level of capability to support its needs at any given time. A fully scalable migration strategy can support a modular by design approach. As the organisation grows, new channels, apps and bots, for example, can be added as and when required. It is also crucial, however, that the journey can go forward and back – and with this kind of methodology, businesses can scale back their capability when strategic drivers or external circumstances dictate.

Partnering for Success

Any organisation looking to migrate its contact centre and communications infrastructure to a new platform is in a sense stepping into the unknown.  It is likely to be a completely new experience for them. They know that by making the migration they want to tap into the benefits around enhanced flexibility and productivity, increased efficiency and customer satisfaction and explore new market sectors but they are apprehensive about the journey that needs to be undertaken to help them to achieve these goals.

That’s where Enghouse and its partners can really help in reducing the risk and friction for them and guiding them on that journey to unified communications that will in turn enable them to build a more collaborative interactive and efficient contact centre and communications environment to the benefit both of their customers and themselves.

Download our latest ebook to learn more

https://enghouseresources.com/contact-centre-migration-the-collaborative-journey/?URLQueryString=CXM

 

 


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthMay 14, 2019
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3min264

Bombarding customers with irrelevant marketing messages is costing retailers conversions and customer loyalty, new research warns. 

A study of 1,000 UK shoppers by marketing tech firm BounceX found that customers want relevant, timely email communications from retailers. Almost two fifths (37 percent) of respondents said they would be more likely to make a purchase if they received a personalised notification about a product they have already looked at online, while over a quarter (28 percent) find onsite overlays helpful, as long as they are personal and enhance their user experience.

Both of these statistics demonstrate the impact of showing the right message to the right shopper at the right time in order to increase conversions, BounceX has suggested.

Robert Massa, General Manager of BounceX EMEA, said: “The need to know your customers and provide personalised marketing messages of value is becoming vitally important for brands and retailers. By enabling retailers’ to recognise site visitors on a unique basis, they have greater clarity of where each individual customer is on their individual buying journey which allows them to trigger relevant emails or overlays to deliver the online personalisation that customers now both demand and expect.”

With 269 billion emails received globally each day in 2017, and the number expected to rise to 320 billion by 2021, being able to identify and understand a shopper’s digital buying behaviour, across channels and devices, in order to serve them the most relevant message at the right time and frequency, will be an increasingly critical capability.

Meanwhile, 70 percent of consumers feel they receive too many marketing emails from brands, with a third (34 percent) regretting giving their email address to a brand. Over half (57 percent) of shoppers say that receiving too frequent marketing messages would cause them to unsubscribe from a retailer’s database entirely, meaning in their efforts to engage their customers, retailers could in fact be turning away the very audiences they are trying to influence. In fact, a third (32 percent) of shoppers would be more likely to make a purchase if a retailer did not bombard them with marketing messages.

“As the research shows, timing is everything and knowing when not to communicate with your customer can be just as important as knowing when to communicate with them,” added Robert.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthMay 13, 2019
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4min291

Wolverhampton is the seemingly unlikely “testbed” for a new physical store from eBay, which aims to reinvent the high street.

The new concept store recently opened its doors to customers as part of a scheme that seeks to merge online and brick and mortar platforms. The ‘Retail Revival’ initiative was launched last year after research revealed 25 percent of small retailers do not have an online presence.

The new venture involves 40 local businesses in Wolverhampton selling their goods in the pop-up store, located in the city’s Railway Drive.

Vice-President of eBay in the UK, Rob Hattrell, said at the store’s recent opening: “The small retailers taking part in Wolverhampton’s Retail Revival have already shown that physical and online retail can survive – and thrive – together.

“They have achieved more than £2 million in sales as of March and many have employed more staff as a direct result of the partnership. This pop-up store aims to take that growth, and the value of this programme, to the next level.

“It will explore how stores of the future could combine technology with that vital human connection to powerful effect – whatever the size of the business.”

Retail Revival participants have already made £2 million in sales, and benefit from training and support covering eBay selling basics, as well as digital skills.

An admirer of the scheme is David Nicholls, Retail and Hospitality CTO at Fujitsu, who said: “This latest move from eBay to open a concept store is a great testbed for it to see how the physical world can come together with the digital word to build bigger more connected market for small local retailers. The first phase of creating this cohesive experience began last year and set out to help local physical retailers build a digital presence and help them to better tap into their local market and increase their profile with the wider customer base online as Ebay found that 25 percent of small traders don’t have a web presence.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthMay 10, 2019
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4min310

New research reveals that over 80 percent of businesses are talking about the benefits of a customer-first approach, but few of these are turning talk into action.

A global research report from Optimizely that surveyed over 800 purchasing decision-makers from marketing, product and IT teams in the UK, US, and Germany, reveals that over half (51 percent) of respondents said customer centricity isn’t focused on enough in their organisation, despite the rhetoric.

The Digital Experience Economy report uncovers the keys to success in the new age of Digital Experience and reveals the cultural and structural barriers that are holding back innovation.

The findings show that employees from different departments across organisations need to be empowered to have a meaningful impact on Customer Experience. According to 79 percent of business leaders, the CX would benefit if the product, marketing, and IT/engineering teams worked together more closely.

Ninety-one percent of respondents claimed that their organisation’s employees are capable of delivering a constant flow of new ideas focused on improving the Digital Experience. However, over a third (34 percent) say that organisational structures make it too difficult to turn an idea into reality and team members don’t have the time to focus on developing new ideas. Thirty-two percent say silos cause issues, as responsibility for delivering new ideas is kept locked down in one team within an organisation.

Currently one-in-five organisations (20 percent) still have a culture where failure is not an option, but this could change soon. In the past three years alone, 68 percent of executives have altered their attitude to change, with 94 percent of these claiming their organisation has become more open. It is leaders who are driving this trend, as 43 percent of decision-makers embrace failure more than less senior employees.

Dan Siroker, co-founder and Executive Chairman at Optimizely, said: “Innovative organisations such as Amazon and Google have consistently embraced failure as a part of their culture. Being able to experiment and fail fast allows organisations to innovate, and stay in touch with the ever-changing Digital Experience Economy. A business-changing idea can just as easily come from the customer support desk as it can from the board room. For this reason, organisations need to ensure they have a culture that allows all employees to have a voice when it comes to Customer Experience initiatives.”

 

 


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7min581

Each year, analysts predict trends that will determine the course of the advertising, media, and digital industry in the near future.

Year after year, we see the same predictions about the importance of video content, new approaches to SEO optimisation, growth of mobile internet penetration, and related advertising tools. However, it seems that a lot is going to change in 2019. So let’s take a closer look at the new revolutionary solutions and approaches that are going to shake the market this year.

1. Personalised marketing

Personalisation is a key trend in many business areas. The idea of ​​delivering a personal message to the client, taking into account the characteristics of his or her behaviour, personality, and sociography is not new. However, such an approach becomes a reality thanks to the introduction of artificial intelligence (AI) technology. Even if a person uses hidemyass, it will be still possible to track his online actions.

The love of marketers for digital is largely due to the possibilities of fine-tuning the targeting for advertising, but now more advanced personality recognition mechanisms are being tested. Thus, Amazon uses AI-based solutions that combine user data from various sources, such as transaction archives, trending sales, competitor information, CRM data, and information from social accounts. At the latter point, the machine predicts the desires and capabilities of the user. As a result, a company is able to formulate and prepare a 100 percent personalised offer, which will hardly be refused.

2. Voice services

There are some technologies that burst into our lives suddenly. Voice assistants are one of them. At first, users limited themselves to comic dialogues with smartphones; with time, they began using voice assistants for their intended purpose. Siri, Google Now, Alice, Amazon Alexa, Cortana, and others teach users to use the voice dialogues with the software. Markets are saturated with Voice Search Tools, Amazon Echo, Google Home, and others.

According to NPD Group, by the end of 2019, sales of ‘smart speakers’ will grow by 50 percent, and the market volume will reach $2.7 billion. This technology is in the trend of marketing integration with services and applications for delivering food, calling a cab, searching for the right locations, and other things. Just like vpn services were popular a few years ago, voice assistants are on the peak now.

3. Communication automation & chatbots

According to Gartner, 85 percent of user interactions with companies will occur without human participation by 2020. Nowadays, many companies use chatbots in social networks and instant messengers to simply communicate with their audience. In the future, scripts will become more complex, and the bot will be able to imitate a live seller or manager, saving companies’ resources.

4. Augmented reality (AR)

According to the estimates of the Harvard Business Review, global investments in the development of the AR sector will exceed $ 60 billion by 2020. The research centre MarketsandMarkets states that market growth will exceed 75 percent over the next five years. In 2022, it can reach an estimate of $120 billion.

The largest technology brands have seized upon this promising technology because it is extremely interesting to the end user and does not force it to acquire new products. Everything works on your favourite smartphone. AR is used in education, medicine, and, of course, marketing solutions, especially in a retail segment. The investment volumes are impressive, and we will see a lot of interesting consumer variations using augmented reality in the coming year.

5. 5G

Standards for deploying fifth-generation mobile networks are still in development, but individual elements are being tested by operators around the world. 5G networks will create new opportunities for users, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), as well as broadband media services and real-time communication in areas of natural disasters or mass events.

Final Say

According to many experts, we are now entering the era of digital technology, which will mostly depend on the introduction and development of artificial intelligence (machine learning) and all the consequences associated with it. The incredible development of the digital environment over the past ten years (social media, improved search technologies, the AppStore, and PlayMarket, cybersecurity, streaming video, etc) will not slow down, but go to a new level.

In 2019, marketers will need to prepare for constant experimentation with new technologies. Only a continuous stream of testing new ideas will allow you to be on the success wave.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthMay 9, 2019
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3min459

Capgemini, the digital transformation firm behind major wins at the UK Customer and Digital Experience Awards, has signed a contract with EDF Energy to revamp its CX offering.

Through its cloud contact centre solutions brand, Odigo, Capgemini will offer a Contact-Center-as-a-Service (CCaaS) solution, as part of EDF’s wider Customer Experience transformation initiative. The energy supplier aims to use innovative technology to optimise the service it delivers to its 3 million customers.

Odigo will replace the existing on-premise contact centre platform with a cloud-native solution, enabling EDF to deliver a quicker, simpler, and more effective service to customers; have greater autonomy over the ongoing maintenance of the solution; and access to a full suite of features for future innovation.

As part of the multi-year deal, the Odigo CCaaS system will deliver a range of services, including routing inbound/outbound interactions, real-time monitoring, workforce optimisation, and secure card payments.

Niels Roberts, Digital, Automation and Process Excellence Director at EDF Energy, said: “Not only does Odigo have the tools and functionalities to help us deliver a great experience for our customers, but it also offers a flexible, cloud-based commercial model to allow us to continually adapt to our customers’ needs. We are excited to work with Odigo over the coming years as part of our CX transformation journey.”

Erwan Le Duff, Managing Director of Odigo, added:”Building on Capgemini’s long-standing relationship in the UK, we are delighted for Odigo now to be implemented at EDF Energy; together we will transform its contact centre telephony and support the realisation of its customer experience vision. In an age of instantaneous digital communication, effective customer touchpoints are critical to the success of an organisation – we believe Odigo’s CCaaS offering will give EDF Energy the tools to build strong customer relationships, both now and in the future.”

 


Ryan FalkenbergRyan FalkenbergMay 7, 2019
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6min574

Ask the leadership of any reasonably-sized company what technology they’re looking to implement and they’ll almost invariably mention artificial intelligence (AI).

In theory, that’s great, because AI has the potential to fundamentally change the way a businesses operates and creates a great Customer Experience. The longer the business uses an AI application, the better the experience should get. Given enough time, the system can collect enough data on each individual customer to provide meaningful, hyper-personalised experiences.

Implemented badly, however, AI can be a total disaster. Rather than feeling like the business they’re dealing with cares about them, they’re left with the impression that customer service has been handed over to a bunch of dimwitted machines.

Let’s talk about chatbots

The easiest way to illustrate how varied the AI experience can be is to look at chatbots. They’re the kind of front-facing AI that more companies are using and which an increasingly large body of customers are familiar with. Trouble is, most companies are terrible at implementing chatbots.

Apart from a few forward-thinking exceptions, companies tend to put a chatbot on their website in the hope that that it will learn from each interaction it has with a customer and that its answers will become more nuanced over time. They also operate in the belief that customers will tell the chatbot when it’s wrong, helping to train it further (hands up if you’ve ever done this willingly).

That would be great…if the chatbot was actually equipped to do so. However, for the most part, chatbots are simply going through the company’s existing knowledge bases and serving you with a document (or, in the worst cases, multiple documents) to try and help. It’s essentially a slightly smarter form of search.

As anyone who’s tried to use the search function on a corporate website will tell you – that’s not particularly helpful, especially when you’ve got a specific query. Let’s say that I want to know if I can insure my sunglasses. I don’t want to have to scour through insurance agency documents to try and figure out the answer. I just want the answer.

Contextual, hyper-personalised, relevant

As long as chatbots rely on a flawed architecture that depends on the existence of relevant documents containing the needed information, they won’t be able to provide that answer.

If you’re going to use AI to improve CX, you need to take a different approach. If you want to operate in the digital era and want to drive logic through data then you need to start it in data. That means looking beyond your existing documentation and CX architecture and integrating insight into customer behaviour across digital and offline channels.

This approach will, ultimately, allow you to offer customer support that is hyper-personalised, relevant, and compliant.

A chatbot built on this kind of framework understands what you’re asking and can answer specific questions according to what you actually need. While that’s just one small part of CX, anyone who’s cursed a company for failing to provide useful information, will know how important it is.

The aim of AI

That said, this approach shouldn’t be limited to chatbots. Consistency – in style, tone, and content – is one of the most important factors in successful CX.

It’s therefore imperative that any organisation turning to AI to improve CX apply a data-first architecture across every customer-facing channel. So, whether I make a query using a chatbot, the search function on a website, or a call centre, I should get the same – relevant – answer.

However, if this is going to happen, businesses need to stop trying to bolt AI onto their existing architectures and take an approach that allows it to reach its full potential.

 


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthMay 1, 2019
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3min351

International CX management firm Assist Digital has acquired world-leading consultancy IG Group UK Ltd.

In a move which positions the company favourably in the rapidly growing global Digital Transformation market, Assist Digital is looking to widen its skills base and strengthen its presence in the UK and wider European markets.

With its headquarters in Italy, and a presence in France and Germany, Assist Digital plans to take advantage of IG Group’s impressive client portfolio of leading global brands. IG Group’s expertise spans a broad range of complementary capabilities, including an accomplished data analytics department, extensive business transformation experience, and a contemporary CX practice.

The purchase follows the recent acquisition by Assist Digital of French UX design company Attoma.

Speaking of the company’s latest acquisition decision, Enrico Donati, Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of Assist Digital, said: “Our focus as a company is on the whole Customer Experience management process. The complexity of today’s digital and multichannel reality requires ever greater design capabilities to offer customers simple, effective and intuitive solutions. The IG Group’s significant global customer base, knowledge and strength in analytics gels perfectly with our existing skill sets.”

Matthew Ellis, Managing Director of The IG Group UK Ltd, added: “This is a defining moment for our company and one we’ve been building towards for the past decade, which has seen us focus on enabling clients to make strategic sense of their data.

“This exciting acquisition enables us to make our proposition even more tangible and current, helping clients to realise the potential of their organisation. It clearly strengthens both companies and provides the springboard we need to move to the next level and dominate the market still further.”


Gary E. BarnettGary E. BarnettMay 1, 2019
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8min688

Happy customers are returning customers; they are the ones that will leave positive reviews on social media websites and lift a company’s reputation.

There is no doubt about it, King Customer is ruling the roost and needs to be courted. But the game has changed – it’s 2019 and customers are aware of their privacy rights, newly reinforced by GDPR, and also of the ever-growing danger posed by hackers. Let’s look at the most important factors that have changed the face of customer service forever.

Word on the virtual-street

Brands need to understand that today’s consumers can exert an unprecedented amount of power by voicing their opinions and (dis)satisfaction via numerous communication channels. From email and phone to social media and live chat, customer engagement is at an all-time high.

However, the challenges have also increased. Complaints and less favourable reviews on sites like Trustpilot and Facebook can spell big trouble for businesses. An unhappy customer who might once have complained to the customer service desk can now tell the whole of the internet about it, and as H&M, Pret a Manger, and SnapChat can testify, negative publicity can have a terrible effect on reputation, which frequently translates to a downward direction for revenue and share prices.

It’s personal

Another sure-fire way to tarnish brand reputation is by mismanaging customers’ personal information. In 2017, 2.5 quintillion bytes of data were created each day, and the pace is only accelerating – by 2025 worldwide data is expected to grow 61% to 175 zettabytes. The potential of ‘big data’ to improve our lives by identifying health trends, predicting our lifespans, and selling us things we want to buy, is undeniable.

Considering this, it is no surprise that businesses are holding more data on their customers before. In fact, customer information is the backbone of a range of business processes. However, we need to consider why we are keeping all this data – for marketing? Or just in case? While these might have been acceptable reasons previously, under the rules of the GDPR, they no longer are.

Regulating the service

Regulations offer a great deal of protection to brands as they eliminate any ‘grey areas’. 2018 was a big year for privacy with the EU GDPR coming into force and over in the United States, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA ) was signed to come into effect in 2020. There is a lot to think about for companies taking card payments already, especially in terms of Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) compliance. For those in the financial services sector, additional regulations by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) come into play.

Protecting customers

The 2018 Cyber Security Breaches Survey found that 43% of UK businesses were a victim of a cybersecurity breach in the last 12 months, while Action Fraud reported that victims of cyber fraud lost £34.6 million between April and September 2018, an increase of 24 percent compared with the previous six months. Therefore, it is of utmost importance for a business to ramp up their cyber security to be a match for the modern fraudster. Otherwise, their customers might fall victim to so-called ‘carding’ – the theft and resale of credit and debit cards.

One report revealed that Russian hackers were offering a six-week programme for $945, teaching aspiring cybercriminals how to find legitimate credit card data for sale and hacking into PayPal accounts. The damage caused to consumers by having their credit card details stolen was £4.6bn from British internet users and  £130bn worldwide, and we don’t need to guess what that does for the customer satisfaction rating.

But it doesn’t have to get this far – businesses can take a variety of steps to avoid a data breach, including self-contained native apps to increase purchase safety, endpoint protection, anti-spyware, and antivirus software. Artificial intelligence is also bad news for cybercriminals and is getting more sophisticated all the time. AI solutions can monitor and respond to cyber-attacks in real time, enabling IT security professionals to detect threats they couldn’t before and improving their overall effectiveness.

Smiling was yesterday

While smiling is still part of the job, it is no longer enough to keep demanding customers happy. Instead, 21st Century customer service is about taking responsibility for the safety of valuable customer data. Businesses have to acknowledge that today’s customers are aware of their privacy rights, therefore data collection and storage transparency are vital to build and maintain brand loyalty. Thanks to regulations, clear responsibilities are assigned to companies, enabling them to meet customer’s demand for privacy and protection. 

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