Lindsay McEwanLindsay McEwanJuly 16, 2018


Journeys aren’t about one moment.

Take, for instance, holidays. While for most of us, fun starts after check in, the holiday begins long before. From the first flight or hotel search, travellers set off on a path to the main event that includes many interactions. Each of which provides an opportunity for brands to offer relevant, engaging experiences.

The issue, however, is that delivering such experiences requires deep understanding of the route travellers take. It might be simple enough to define where bookings are made – research shows 85 percent are confirmed on PC or laptop, 23 percent via tablet, and 20 percent using smartphones – but to maximise the impact of messaging at every stage of individual journeys, brands need a holistic and consistent picture of activity.

So, how can this view be obtained? In short, brand marketers must follow the data trail customers leave as they traverse multiple channels. The long answer involves a closer look at current challenges and how data can be converted into actionable insight, while respecting consumer privacy.

Divided insight: The key performance block

With 8 billion connected devices in use, data generated by digital consumers – be that from browsing rental sites like Airbnb or reading reviews via the Tripadvisor app – is plentiful. And the potential of this insight to fuel personalised experiences hasn’t escaped marketers; nine in ten agree data management is a key priority.

But using it isn’t proving easy. According to recent research by Royal Mail Data Services, many brands are grappling with data legislation and assessment difficulties. One-quarter named General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance as their biggest concern and 28 percent felt customer data analysis was the greatest performance issue.

Although not the only cause, the central driver of both challenges is disjointed data. More specifically: the common tendency to gather, process, and store insight from different channels and devices separately.

By persisting with this siloed approach, marketers are not only making GDPR adherence harder – attempting to check the accuracy, privacy protection, and consent levels of fragmented data sets is no mean feat – but also inhibiting campaign effectiveness.

With crucial information about consumer interactions held in isolation, it is near impossible to obtain a complete, joined-up view of individuals or their journeys. And this, in turn, means messaging is likely to be irrelevant and even irritating. For example, say a tennis fan searches for hotels in Wimbledon on their smartphone but later books with a laptop.

Without knowledge of this vital link, the hotel brand may attempt to reignite the interest of this ‘potential’ customer (who has already booked) with retargeted offers, unaware they are causing frustration.

Evidently, better data organisation is critical if marketers want to create experiences that drive customer happiness. And this means they must adopt methods that swap silos for synchronisation: it’s time to embrace data orchestration.

What is data orchestration?

Put simply, data orchestration is a term applied to the procedure of consolidating information from numerous sources. The result of which is a real-time view of individuals that spans activity across multiple devices and channels.

How it works is more complex. The key factor to note is that success depends on covering all core phases of the data lifecycle: collection, transformation, enrichment, audience association, and ownership. So, the technologies involved in the process ideally need to follow a set adoption path, which includes several essential stages.

First, it’s important to start by amassing data from every source, such as travel agents to sites, chat bots, and apps. Then information must be re-ordered, which means cleansing, merging, and translating data into a single language and layer. At the same time, stage three will already be in play; whereby stitching of cross-channel data begins to build a comprehensive picture of individuals and fresh insight – such as smartphone interactions – is immediately integrated.

How does it help brands?

When these stages are complete, marketers should have complete real-time consumer profiles that allow them to precisely personalise messages. And, because profiles are continually updated, they can be sure that messages strike the right chord however unique journeys twist and turn.

Furthermore, bridging silos and bringing data together can also pave the way to GDPR compliance. With all data relating to specific individuals amalgamated in one pool, marketers can quickly evaluate security measures – and implement additional protection if needed – and whether individuals have given consent, and that’s not to mention the reassurance that data is up-to-date and access request can be rapidly fulfilled.

Most marketers are already aware that data is the key to providing extraordinary customer experiences and building lasting relationships. But understanding of how it should be used is still limited. To make the most of the information produced by smart devices, marketers must recognise that each screen and channel is an integral element of an individual’s journey. Consequently, messages will only achieve great results if they are based on a comprehensive understanding of individuals and their activity as a whole.

Much like their holidays, today’s consumers expect every experience to be the journey of a lifetime.

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJuly 13, 2018


The winners of the 2018 UK Digital Experience Awards have been revealed at a glittering Finals event in London.

Virgin Trains were named Overall Winners at the ceremony, which was held by the banks of the Thames in the Park Plaza Riverbank Hotel

Hundreds gathered for the event, which saw finalists present details of their Digital Experience initiatives to judging panels consisting of the UK’s foremost DX specialists, before the winners were named at a gala luncheon.

The Overall Winner success of Virgin Trains followed the firm’s Gold Award win in the Digital Team – Digital marketing category.

Other significant winners included EE, which took Gold in the Personal Entertainment and Telecoms category; Octopus Energy, which topped Best Mobile Strategy; and Sky UK, which won Gold in the Data Analytics and Insight category.

Certain categories at the event, which is hosted annually by Awards International and partnered by children’s charity Barnardo’s, featured Silver and Bronze winners that were agreed by judges using scoring criteria approved by Cranfield School of Management.

Other partners which helped make the awards the huge success were Malcolm McDonald Consulting and Usability 24/7.

Following the event, Awards International CEO Neil Skehel said:

This was the fourth year of the UK Digital Experience Awards, and has been the most significant to date. We are in the middle of an era of significant developments with digital technology, and it is inspiring to see how organisations such as the finalists here today are using these advances to improve services to customers.

These DX pioneers are more than deserving of the credit they have received, and on behalf of Awards International I would like to offer a wholehearted congratulations to all finalists and winners, who have proved themselves true digital leaders.”

For a full list of winners click here.

Meanwhile, the countdown is now on for the 2018 UK Customer Experience Awards in London on October 11. Click here for table booking details.

CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamJuly 12, 2018


The following might be considered a controversial statement, but in true pioneering spirit, the founders of The Future Shapers – the global network of thought-leaders and innovators – want you to hear it anyway: the current news media model is well and truly broken.

How so? Well, an unhealthy reliance on advertising has forced media outlets to focus on chasing clicks, rather than creating real value for consumers.

The result? Fewer stories of importance are told or heard; less cutting-edge thought leadership is communicated to audiences that value such content. Consequently, the amount of available, actionable insight fails to meet demand in today’s ideas-driven world.

However, a plan has emerged to change this, with The Future Shapers innovation thought-leadership platform,


The potential for blockchain technology to disrupt content rights distribution is already noticeable in the music business. Streaming services such as Spotify and Deezer require an additional layer of intermediaries to ensure the artists’ rights management process is conducted fairly.

As a result, content creators need different contracts in each jurisdiction, often via multiple intermediaries, to protect copyright and enable distribution of their content.

However, putting content on a blockchain and having the connectivity for peer-to-peer transactions via a digital currency such as Bitcoin – or a smart contract such as Ethereum – allows complete transparency and automation of execution, as well as direct payments to copyright holders.

New start-ups such as Choon, Jaxx, and Voise propose utilising blockchain to simplify digital rights management through bypassing the usual intermediaries. This enables micro-payments from fans buying music directly from the artist themselves – essentially reconnecting value directly to the content creator.

Likewise, The Future Shapers are taking the strengths and disruptive capability of blockchain in order to ‘return value back to knowledge’.

The immutability and trustless nature of blockchain means it can be used in instances where record-keeping and auditable data is key, such as when thought-leadership content creators need different contracts in each jurisdiction to protect copyright and enable distribution.

Putting content on a blockchain with the connectivity for peer-to-peer transactions via a smart contract such as Ethereum allows complete transparency and automation of execution, as well as direct payments to copyright holders.

With these aims, it’s no surprise The Future Shapers are ardent advocates of the proposed updates to the EU Copyright Law and Digital Single Market, and take a similar view to the Copyright for Knowledge cross-sectoral body which aims to work with government at both a UK and EU level to achieve a balanced copyright regime in Europe. The Future Shapers believe such changes have the potential to stimulate creativity and innovation with the opportunity for a wider, more competitive platform environment.

The recent Copyright Directive vote in the European Parliament will be revisited in September, and as this once-in-a-generation opportunity to create a new balance in the online world reverberates through the digital world, The Future Shapers are primed to ensure its contributors, partners, and stakeholders get a fair share of the value they create.

The Future Shapers’ Co-Founder, Cris Beswick, explains:

Building ‘The Future Shapers’ has been, and continues to be, somewhat of a personal crusade, one which I liken to when the late Steve Jobs was being interviewed and asked why iTunes had been so disruptive. In answering the question, he said: ‘When we created the iTunes Music Store, we did so because we thought it would be great to be able to buy music electronically, not because we had plans to redefine the music industry’.

In some ways I feel the same about what we’re doing with The Future Shapers. When I started this journey, I simply wanted to give people better access to actionable content around innovation and provide a better platform for thought leaders to share their expertise and build their credibility as genuine experts.

Yet there is now a sense that the technology we are building will genuinely disrupt the online media industry, or at least contribute to redefining it. We may not quite put Steve’s ‘ding’ in the universe, but if we deliver on our mantra to ‘return value back to knowledge’ we will have done something genuinely significant – we will have shifted the needle and helped shape the future!”

The Future Shapers’ exciting proposals for generating revenue for online publishers has piqued the interest of those at the coalface of the industry, including Neil Skehel, proprietor of the UK’s premier CX portal, Customer Experience Magazine.

Referencing the well-known challenges faced by publishers in a period of unprecedented upheaval, he said:

News International created a pay wall so you can only read a few lines of The Times, and I am not sure they would tell you it has really worked. There are a few other models in the online news and content industry, such as The Guardian’s appeal to readers to pay voluntarily for quality journalism.

However, Cris, Richard and their fellow Future Shapers are creating a technology based on real innovation, which will enable every single provider of valuable content to monetise it in a new customer-friendly way.

This is a value innovation – a game changer! Think Netflix for online content! My honest prediction is that this will be nothing short of massive.”

The vanguards of any industry are the ones shaping the future. To join the front runners, visit The Future Shapers current equity crowdfunding page and help return value back to knowledge.

Lorraine GannonLorraine GannonJuly 11, 2018


Who isn’t deeply entrenched in the technical details of their app, software system, and SAAS product?

We have all marvelled at our own skills in our projects and tasks, but it can be particularly challenging to overcome the technicalities of hooking together APIs, methodologies, and languages.

Very often we lose sight of the fact that our consumer doesn’t care. Quite frankly, they are not impressed, which is a shame when so much effort and energy goes into these problem-solving issues.

However, it’s also a complement for our products. If our customers can marvel at the way something just works; how it saves them time; avoids manual processes; saves duplicating data; and any additional boring repetitive tasks, then this is a huge success. 

Our customers don’t have a lot of time or attention; it’s harder than ever for your product to stand out and to hold anyone’s attention for any period of time.

In today’s world it is easy to miss the new developments in technology.

Customers need to know with certainty the benefits of your product, so design should be really clear about those benefits. With a million distractions, our customers can be overwhelmed, so it’s important to engineer in the benefits and outcomes first. The marketing differentials need to be ‘baked in’ from the beginning.

That’s why I believe we should all be running our projects with end-user feedback and not just that of key stakeholders.

You will need to recognise that the end-user will have two sets of feedback:

1. What they think they want while the product is being designed?

2. What they actually do with the product once it is created?

The difference is the social behaviour in using the product. It’s why the bluetooth headset was a great idea but didn’t look cool enough to survive the market. It’s why Apple Airpods are now dominating the market with 85 percent of wireless headset sales in the USA in 2017.

When a project enters real life, it’s your job to get the real life feedback and not be frustrated by it, but embrace it, for it’s feedback that will make your product engagement levels significantly higher. 

Users will want things they don’t need and need stuff they don’t want. Its your job to design beautiful screens and dashboards that get the user engaging in the product every day.

If you look for these two sets of feedback then your product has every chance of getting traction in the market. With an end-user mindset you will be grounded to the output and the outcomes of your solution.

Our users will always over or underestimate the significance of their wants and desires.

Our only truly scare resource is time; if we can focus on creating the wonderful assets and maximising our return from our developers and project team’s time, there is an opportunity for our customers to be delighted at the results.

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJuly 9, 2018


New research from UK Customer Experience and Digital Experience Award winners Capgemini shows that artificial intelligence is no longer alien to customers, who desire AI to become more ‘human-like’.

Capgemini’s Digital Transformation Institute have released a report showing that close to three-quarters (73 percent) of surveyed customers interacted via AI, with 69 percent of those being satisfied with those interactions.

The report, The Secret to Winning Customers’ Hearts  with Artificial Intelligence: Add Human Intelligence reveals that 55 percent of consumers prefer interactions enabled by a mix of AI and humans, and 64 percent want AI to be more human-like.

These human-like qualities can generate significant goodwill and drive a greater propensity to spend for nearly half (48 percent) of consumers. However, many organisations are failing to take consumer pain points and preferences into account when applying AI technology to their Customer Experience, focusing more on traditional metrics such as the cost of implementation and expected return on investment.

The report, which surveyed 10,000 consumers and over 500 companies across 10 countries, found that 63 percent of AI-aware consumers like AI because of its 24/7 availability and how it provides greater control over their interactions. Consumers are also opening up to the possibility of digital alter egos – 48 percent say the opportunity to be able to delegate tasks to an electronic personal assistant is exciting, with another 46 percent believing it will enhance their quality of life.

Consumers want human-like, not human-looking AI

Consumers’ growing comfort in using AI is also increasing their reassurance in AI having human-like attributes. More than three-in-five consumers are comfortable with human-like intellect. Forty-nine percent say they would have a higher affiliation to a company if their interactions enabled by AI were more human-like. Surprisingly, this preference transcends the generations – across all age groups between 18 and 55-plus years, consumers prefer interactions to be enabled by a mixture of human and AI.

However, customers want their AI to be heard, and experienced, but not seen. While they are keen for AI to have a human-like voice (62 percent) and the ability to understand human emotions (57 percent), physical features are deemed ‘creepy’. Over half (52 percent) of customers are not comfortable when AI is set up to look like a person.

The report also finds that two-thirds of consumers (66 percent) would like to be made aware when companies are enabling interactions via AI.

Mark Taylor, Chief Experience Officer, Digital Customer Experience Practice, at Capgemini said:

It is somewhat ironic that natural language processing and machine learning provides organisations with the opportunity to build deeper, more human relationships with their customers. By focusing their AI implementations to reimagine, streamline and simplify customer interactions, organisations can boost customer spend and loyalty. To see the biggest bottom-line boost, firms need to make both artificial intelligence and customer experience a strategic priority.”

Yaron MorgensternYaron MorgensternJuly 9, 2018


Artificial intelligence (AI) technology presents businesses with an unmissable opportunity to deliver positive digital experiences to their customers, but in order to do so – regardless of sector – organisations must first understand their digital audience and how their digital channels are performing.

The way to do this is through data collection and analysis, both of which are growing at an exponential rate; by 2025, the global datasphere is predicted to grow to 163 zettabytes – ten times the 16.1 ZB of data generated in 2016. This ever-growing quantity of data will unlock new business opportunities, and customer experiences, by enabling organisations to understand more about customer behaviour and identify potential pain-points and areas of improvement.

However, this volume of data comes at a cost in terms of management and agility. Traditional models of web and data analytics are no longer viable in this new and expanded digital ecosystem. The vast and ever-growing amount of data captured has the potential to obscure the valuable and timely insights that might be gleaned from them, causing business leaders and data analysts to fail to identify solutions to key issues relating to Customer Experience.

Thankfully, this is where AI steps in. Alongside machine learning, these technologies form the basis of a new generation of digital analytics solutions. Put simply, AI is a process that enables computer systems to be able to perform tasks that would previously require human cognitive ability and interaction. Machine learning is a subset of AI that denotes the way in which computer systems can automatically learn and improve from experience, without being programmed to do so.

By linking these capabilities to the issue of data collection and analysis, keeping in mind the size of the current and future datasphere, organisations can convert data sets into actionable insights that reveal customer online behaviours and improve digital experiences.

Every click, mouse movement, swipe, keystroke, and dead link can be captured, indexed, aggregated, and analysed. And thanks to machine learning, anomalies can be recognised in real-time and flagged to IT teams, business executives and customer service representatives. Moreover, these anomalies can be correlated to business impacts, and IT fixes can be prioritised according to the revenue loss attached to them.

Compared to the state of digital analytics today, these advances are revolutionary. Current processes are efficient in data collection; however, extracting actionable and valuable insights from this data still requires human intervention. The same is true for alerts to anomalies in the digital customer journey.

Formerly, business analysts would be required to know what constituted a ‘normal’ customer journey, and be aware of thresholds that, when breached, would trigger pre-defined alerts and processes. In an AI-enabled ecosystem, business analysts can rely on technology to alert them to customer pain-points and system anomalies. The ability for technology to do so comes down to AI and machine learning, which learn what ‘normal’ customer journeys look like.

These alerts are essential in improving customer experiences, as issues on the webpage or mobile app are flagged with the IT team, which can then correct the problem, and customer service representatives, who are able to provide up-to-date advice and reassurances to any customers who get in touch.

At Glassbox, we have set up a five-stage process for automating the detection of anomalies using AI:

Collect metrics at scale

Data granularity is essential when it comes to setting up automatic alerts; the larger the number of metrics a business can collect, the more permutations its AI-enabled system will be able to analyse. In order to correlate technical issues affecting servers with CX issues affecting digital channels, a successful digital analytics solution must be able to collect metrics from both the client and server side.

Understanding normal data behaviour

It is essential for digital analytics to be set up to account for seasonality. No matter the industry, seasonality will affect data patterns on digital channels, and so effective analytics systems need to identify this seasonality in order to avoid sending unnecessary alerts each time there is a peak in one of the metrics. This is an area in which machine learning comes into its own by learning to take into account daily, weekly, monthly and yearly patterns.

What does abnormal behaviour look like?

For an anomaly detection system to operate correctly, it has to reduce the noise and only draw attention to the important issues. It is recommended to assign a score to each anomaly, for instance grading them on a scale of one to 100 based on the level and duration of the deviance, thereby allowing organisations to focus only on the anomalies that matter.

Correlate between metrics

Since the datasphere is growing larger and larger by the day, it would be time – and labour – intensive to manually check each and every metric when an anomaly is found in one of them. An automated anomaly detection system will analyse the context of an anomaly by correlating the metrics.

Provide feedback

Finally, to constantly improve the process, provide feedback to the detection system by telling it whether an alert was helpful or irrelevant. In doing so, businesses are able to help the system improve and become more intelligent and attuned to the needs of the organisation.

Advancements in AI go further than enabling businesses to collect and harness more data; they bring tangible improvements to the digital customer experience. By automatically detecting anomalies throughout all digital channels, AI-enabled systems can deliver priceless insights that become smarter and more accurate over time.

The usefulness of this cannot be overstated, especially when you consider the unprecedented rate of growth of the global datasphere.

Melanie JensenMelanie JensenJuly 6, 2018


Mobile has evolved for life on the go, making our lives faster, easier and more convenient. 

Therefore, retailers’ mobile commerce offering needs to also align to this, aiming to bring relevant and convenient offerings to us, and fast. With nearly a third of online shopping across all retail sectors now occuring on a mobile device, it’s clear mobile is a platform that plays a key role in the customer shopping journey, and as a result, is one that cannot be ignored.

While some retailers aim to offer fun or ‘cool’ experiences, such as making digital outfits or virtually trying clothes on, if these experiences are too complicated or require a large proportion of time to work out, they will be quickly forgotton as customers choose simplicity over novelty.

Here are five ways for retailers to make sure that their mobile offering is up to scratch:

Remember that not all smartphones are created equal

Retailers should consider different types of smartphones that customers may be using, whether it’s Apple, Android, Windows Phone or other. All of these have immediately noticeable differences – such as the size and shape of the screen – which should be accounted for when designing a website or app that is mobile-optimised.

However, there are also less noticable aspects of the devices, which might only be understood by frequent users. For example, where the ‘back’ button is, where the search function is or where push notifications appear on the screen. These seemingly minor differences can have a massive affect on sales.

If the ‘checkout’ button is where an Android user’s push notification appears onscreen, the customer might get distracted by a text message and accidentally abandon their order, or the lack of clarity in the checkout process can result in a customer giving up entirely on a purchase – the last thing retailers want.

Fix the little things

There are common design mistakes that every mobile website or app will make – and are usually easy to fix. For example, on a mobile site’s smaller screen, it could be difficult to remove items from the shopping basket. It’s these tiny problems that grind on users, and will ultimately lead them to stopping visiting your mobile site.

The secret to a good mobile commerce stategy is making the user’s experience as simple and seamless as possible, and that means fixing the little things as soon as possible.

Design ‘mobile-first’

The key differences between online and mobile offerings might seem obvious, yet it’s shocking how many retailers fail to get it right. Most online retailers now offer shoppers the option to watch a catwalk video of an outfit, or zoom in to examine the fabric of the item. However, on mobile devices, these functions often don’t work or are tricky to use. The best way to combat this is for retailers to adopt a ‘mobile-first’ strategy, where online visuals are initially designed for mobile, then scaled up for desktop.

Leverage loyalty

According to the 80-20 rule, 80 percent of a retailer’s revenue is generated by 20 percent of its customers. This rule highlights the importance of building a loyal customer base, and a great way to do this is through mobile.

Loyalty apps offer an exciting opportunity to allow consumers to self-serve – checking stock levels, setting up click-and-collect delivery options, reading reviews and having access to additional product information – all at their fingertips. Retailers can offer a personal touch by combining data gathered both in-store and online to offer timely and relevant content and offers.

Understand that life on the go doesn’t stop

The work doesn’t stop once you have optimised your mobile offerings to meet the demands of customers. Retailers need to stay relevant, interesting and useful across all channels, and mobile is no exception. Retailers need to constantly reinvent their brand and their offerings, whilst ensuring they are still getting the basics right.

Once the basics have been grasped, it is time to start thinking what will make your mobile site or app stand out from competitors. Retailers should always ensure that they are finding a balance between fun and simplicity, and are always putting Customer Experience at the centre of decision-making.

Dharmesh MistryDharmesh MistryJuly 5, 2018


Banking software expert Dharmesh Mistry is a judge at the upcoming UK Digital Experience Awards, which take place in London on July 12. Here he discusses how customers increasingly judge a bank not by how easy it is to pay a bill, but by how many of life’s hassles it can manage for them…

Too many senior bank executives still think a good user experience (UX) is synonymous with a great user interface in a cool mobile app. I’ve got news for them – the game has changed and new digital banks are ahead in mastering it.

The UX has become something much bigger, deeper, and more complex than how the customer interacts with the bank through a screen. As the Internet of Things – including data analytics and voice apps such as Alexa and Siri – handles more aspects of our lives, banks will have to follow suit. Great UX will be defined not only by how banks manage their customers’ money, but by how they help with planning for life’s big decisions – and much more besides.

Banks are beginning to provide some of these services. Barclays recently introduced voice-recognition software for phone customers, eliminating the need for multiple security questions and passwords. Santander has an app that allows customers to voice questions about their transaction history rather than have to search manually for the data.

BBVA’s Valora goes further still. A home-buying app, Valora helps customers work out what they can afford in terms not just of borrowing but also running a home. It will even check the sale prices for similar properties to stop customers from being fleeced, help them get the right kind of insurance and find a builder for any renovations. There’s a similar one for showing how much having kids costs.

BBVA’s service represents a radical change. It encapsulates the idea of banks as life-service providers, using data analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning to help customers understand the financial implications of life’s big milestones, like buying your first home or having children. It helps customers make the best decisions about their money and more besides. It’s open banking – and if banks are to remain open they need to take note because customers like it.

Digital banks that offer these kinds of new services are signing up customers at enviable rates. For example, Tandem Bank, which allows customers to track all their accounts on one app, hit 100,000 within five months of launching. 

Meanwhile, BBVA, with its array of digital life-enhancing apps, saw profits grow 20 percent in 2017. Its Chief Executive, Carlos Torres Vila, acknowledged the role the whole UX had to play, STATING: “As soon as the customer becomes digital, the satisfaction level increases, the engagement with the bank grows and it leads to more revenue.”

At Temenos, we understand that the scope for providing good customer experiences is so broad that we, as a vendor, cannot do all of it on our own. Instead we work with third parties – fintechs, regtechs, and service providers – to create ecosystems that help banks deliver what customers want: a great experience.

As data and analytics underpin more of a customer’s life, so the need for a digital banking core will become ever more vital. Our software is as open as possible to third parties, so our customers’ IT systems can take APIs from the widest spectrum. Being open eliminates the need for months of integration work and means the customer journeys are easily adapted to deliver innovation at speed. Functionality can be unlocked quickly and efficiently to allow banks to hook up with new partners and provide hitherto unthought-of new services and products.

 Banks, like people, must have solid foundations to get the most out of life.

Phil WalshPhil WalshJuly 3, 2018


Being digital must be more than a simple desire to transform a business from a purely or partially analog concern to one that uses today’s technologies.

To become fully digital, leaders must be prepared to turn the business inside out by addressing the needs of front, middle, and back-end operations. Digital business transformation isn’t an easy task, but the end result supports maintaining current customers and acquiring new ones.

Digital transformation may be simply described as the front, middle, and back operations of any business:

  • The front encompasses the digital business and includes interactive, connected products and analytics
  • The middle covers the operations that keep the business moving forward and that the customer never sees, such as software platforms and process automation
  • The back contains the systems and technologies that keep a business humming and relevant, including IT security, engineering and modernization through the transformation of legacy systems

Digital at scale is the process of reinventing the business using digital technologies in the front, middle and end operations to make the organisation perform better, run faster, and make fewer mistakes. All of this is done with the customer in mind: How can we make their journey more enjoyable and get them where they want to go more quickly and with less effort?

What’s in a name?

It’s the first place to start. Building or re-building a business to become digital at scale means looking at the organisation from your customers’ perspective; not necessarily how insiders view the company. This includes how products and services are named. Ensure current and new customers can find you online; simple, descriptive names make that possible.

Many companies that employ esoteric names for products and services that, frankly, make no sense to anyone outside the organisation. While someone in marketing may feel good about their creativity, the fact is very few customers search online for information or products using highly-stylised names (very few companies have the worldwide name recognition necessary to successfully launch and promote product names that become part of the world’s everyday lexicon).

The vast majority of online searches are descriptive and ask how the user can accomplish a task or find a specific type of product, like “where can I get the best deal on golf balls”. 

Consider how customers find the organisation if it uses a convoluted naming structure that makes sense only to the people who created it, or if they can more effectively use keywords that describe what the product or service does. The latter is a customer-centric option. The former is the old way of doing things, and is contrary to old maxim “show, don’t tell”.

Which brings us to the front office.

The public face of the business

The front office is the public face of the company that, once discovered on the internet, for example, must immediately provide an engaging Customer Experience or risk losing business in the time it takes to click a mouse.

In the pre-digital world, the front office consisted of people working cash registers, customer service call centers, and physical point-of-sale displays. In pre-digital, you could make a sale even if your customer service and in-store experience weren’t top notch because your competition was local, not global. Customers had dressed, driven to the store, parked, and entered the building. They had committed.

For example, I’m an avid golfer and, a few years ago, I was limited to clubs, balls and other equipment sold at a handful of stores locally. When I drove to a store, more often than not, I settled with the stock on hand, even when it wasn’t quite what I wanted.

Today, I can find exactly what I want, whenever I want, wherever it is. The world has shrunk, significantly. I can have anything shipped to my home from just about anywhere in the world. I never need to leave my house, and for this reason alone it’s critical to get the Digital Experience right the first time because we shoppers are an impulsive and fickle bunch. If we don’t find what we want, we’ll be checking out the goods at a competitor’s website within a second or two.

Today’s Customer Experience is personalised, automated, and built on artificial intelligence and customer convenience. For example:

  • Instead of cash registers, organisations have different forms of instantaneous online, mobile or tethered payment options
  • Rather than people handling customer calls, companies use artificial intelligence based chatbots that communicate with customers through chat boxes on websites (in some cases, real people continue to answer questions by chat or email)
  • Point-of-sale displays are everywhere: they’re found in search engines, comparison websites, online display ads, the ads that follow users from website to website and, of course, the company’s own website. Each is available every day, all day (and night) long

The customer is always…

The customer is always there and waiting to be wowed, impressed, and otherwise pampered. While every industry has different customer types, the customer is always waiting to be wowed by a flawless experience. This is true whether your focus is B2B or B2C; this distinction, frankly, doesn’t really matter when it comes to digital transformation because while the methods used to interact with the customer may be different, a bad experience results in the loss of that customer, and, very likely, other customers through negative word-of-mouth.

When the entire business pledges itself to digital transformation, you can ensure an excellent Customer Experience. It does little good to have a user-friendly website with an easy way to capture orders if warehouse workers print out packing slips to prowl the shelves for the product.

The only way Digital at Scale becomes Digital at Scale is when the entire enterprise commits and converts.

Parham SaebiParham SaebiJune 29, 2018


By 2028, the way brands deliver Customer Experience is going to look very different.

Support systems, powered by automation and next generation artificial intelligence (AI), will handle repetitive, high volume enquiries, giving consumers the instant, 24-7 customer service they are already starting to expect as standard. This leap forward will not, however, replace human customer service agents as many have predicted. Instead, employees will work with AI systems to resolve more complicated tasks that require judgement and empathy.

This will help brands provide more memorable, personalised experiences, but it will also present a significant skills challenge. To meet this head on, training and recruitment strategies need to evolve and the impact of technology must be planned for.

We’re already starting to see automation change the role of the customer service agent. Brands are integrating chatbots – text based computer programmes capable of conversing with a human – with their own web chat systems to provide fast responses to simple queries, giving employees more time to handle complex enquiries that require a human touch.

Now, in their current form, chatbots require a significant amount of agent supervision and linguistic expertise and are governed by a pre-determined set of rules. But as the technology becomes more advanced, through the integration of AI, the scope and scale of their applications will accelerate.

Eventually, this will give agents access to virtual assistants with sophisticated internal and external facing applications. These platforms will present useful information to agents, in a digestible, intuitive format, take care of increasingly complicated inbound enquiries without supervision and match representatives with the queries they’re best equipped to respond to.

An intelligent customer relationship management (CRM) system that automatically collates and disseminates customer data across an organisation will make this possible, giving agents the information they need to be more productive and deliver exceptional, tailored customer experiences.

To get to this point, brands will have to invest in new technology and lay the groundwork for its implementation. However, if they are going to realise the benefits on offer, they will also have to ensure their employees have the skills and experience to harness and manage the systems designed to support them and handle more demanding interactions that require discussion and negotiation. This will not happen overnight, but here are three strategies that brands can use to help them get there:

1. Train and recruit with digital skills in mind

In the future, customer service agents will need to have strong interpersonal and communication skills, be comfortable using technology and be agile enough to familiarise themselves with new ways of working quickly. To adapt, brands must start gearing their recruitment strategies to attract this profile today, but, in the long term, they will also need to make a greater investment in regular, targeted employee training that runs in tandem with new technologies, as they are introduced.

In addition, brands will also have to account for the broadening scope of job roles involved in the effective delivery of customer experience. Like today, customer service agents will make up the front line, but as the technology involved becomes more advanced, the provision of additional support staff will be needed to operate and manage systems.

New positions could include everything from data scientists and computer programmers, to content managers and linguistics specialists. Every brand’s individual requirements will ultimately be different, but what’s clear is planning for the financial and operational impact of an increasingly skilled workforce is now essential for any organisation that provides customer experience.

2. Use innovative training methods

When it comes to agent training, one of the biggest challenges has always been providing realistic scenarios that test employees without exposing customers to representatives that aren’t fully equipped with the right skills. In the future, as the customer interactions agents handle become more demanding, overcoming this will become even more important. The good news is emerging technology could hold part of the solution.

Virtual reality (VR), for example, can create engaging training programs that deliver effective, memorable learning experiences, by simulating realistic scenarios. Trialling VR in our own customer service teams has accelerated the development of empathetic communication and problem-solving skills, all critical competencies for the agent of the future. VR can be the perfect training tool for agents charged with handling technical queries, where they need to understand complex questions and offer step-by-step guidance.

This could be invaluable to the automotive industry, or to any other consumer facing sector where products are becoming increasingly technical.

3. Run pilot programmes

The true extent to which automation and AI will change customer experience is still evolving, but one-way brands can start getting is by implementing pilot programmes that test the impact of new technology on specific processes that only require simple, pre-determined responses to be automated. An online retailer, for example, can automate order tracking and quickly get a feel for what’s going to be required from an organisational perspective to access the wider productivity benefits new technology can offer.

On top of being a useful trial of the capabilities of different technologies, pilot programmes can also help brands see how existing customer service roles will be changed by innovation. This allows them to identify skills gaps that need to be filled through recruitment and plan training schemes that both secure employee buy in and prepare them for the future.

As we move towards 2028, technology is going to offer brands the opportunity deliver a whole new level of quality in customer experience, by looking at the skills challenge this will pose now, they’ll be well positioned to take full advantage.

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