Sean RusinkoSean RusinkoOctober 4, 2019
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12min2898

Today’s Customer Experience doesn’t begin or end with a visit to a store or a website.

Customers shift between channels and devices depending on where they are and what’s convenient for them. In order to offer consumers exactly what they want, on the platform of their choice, brands are increasingly offering services such as personalised product offerings, discounts for loyal customers, and subscription models.

In part, this has been fueled by the ‘Amazon effect’, whereby popular online brands have set a precedent of using customer data they collect to offer personalised, quick, and consistent customer experiences. On top of this, many consumers also expect their shopping experiences to be made as convenient and fun as possible, with brands there to support, advise, and entertain them throughout the purchase journey.

Therefore, in order to acquire and retain customers, brands need to deliver against these expectations. Here, we not only discuss the five customer demands made of today’s retailers, but how brands can meet them and ensure they offer the experience that is desired. 

1. Make it easy for me

Frictionless journey navigation, easy access to products and information, and lighting fast speed make for happy consumers who are more likely to purchase.

According to the The new retail ecosystem report from PwC, fair prices are the most important factor for customers when shopping offline, with 64 percent basing their purchase decision on a good price. However, when shopping online in particular, customers rank convenience as the most important factor. Therefore, brands looking to improve Customer Experience should make the online experience as convenient as possible, giving the shopper all the necessary information needed to make a purchase decision.

More specifically, the KPMG International Global Online Consumer Report found that the flexibility to shop when they want, the convenience of not having to go to a store, and free shipping offers are all in the top ten reasons that consumers shop online. In fact, stores such as Walmart are using their brick and mortar presence to meet this demand. For example, in 2018 Walmart installed click-and-collect kiosks in 500 of their stores to offer quick, simple and convenient collection for customers.

Another convenience trend is ‘Try now, Pay Later’ services, which encourage consumers to try a larger assortment without having to pay upfront. For example, Sitecore customer ASOS use a ‘Pay Later’ capability, and Amazon’s ‘Prime Wardrobe’ gives customers seven days to try clothes at home and only paying for items they decide to keep. 

2. Assist me

As well as having the flexibility to collect their purchases from a store of their convenience (or have it delivered), consumers also expect to be assisted throughout the entire purchase journey. Many brands are meeting this expectation with personalised experiences, which includes individual product offerings, using data collected about each customer to tailor the messaging, offers, and experiences each receives.

And they are right to do so – research from Econsultancy found that 93 percent of companies see an uplift in conversion rates from personalisation. 

Nemlig.com, an online supermarket in Denmark, has used Sitecore’s platform to personalise customer journeys, and has reaped the benefits. It uses customer data around product preferences and buying histories to personalise the front page, category pages, and search results for each shopper, and engages customers with individual messages throughout the site, via email and text messages.

Since doing so, the number of site visitors has grown by 55 percent, the average basket size has increased, and turnover has risen by 28 percent.

However, it is also worth being mindful on how data is being used to target customers. The Consumer Perceptions of AI Survey from Rocket Fuel found that while consumers are open to being targeted based on product interest, search, and purchase history, they don’t want to be targeted with ads using their name, sent urgent notifications that a certain item is low in stock, or reminders to make repeat purchases of the same product. 

3. Reward me

The battle for winning brand-loyal consumers is extremely difficult, but the benefits are equally rewarding to the business. PwC’s The new retail ecosystem report found that more than 70 percent of people are staunch brand-loyal shoppers, and less than a third are willing to try new offerings. What’s more, many also respond well to loyalty programs and appreciate brands showing that they value customers. 

However, it is no longer enough to offer a one-size-fits-all offering, such as the generic discounts or specific free products offered by brands in the past. Today, a personalised loyalty program, where different promotions are offered based on individual customer data and preferences, is needed to meet customer expectations. One company which has created a successful personalised loyalty program is Ulta Beauty Inc., which uses customer data to offer a wide variety of products to test, personalised birthday gifts and a tiered system of rewards based on levels of loyalty. As a result, 90 percent of its sales are now driven by loyalty program members.

4. Inspire me

Virtual and augmented reality (VR & AR) experiences are increasingly welcomed by customers. However, while in-store experiences such as VR mirrors previously just showed how customers would look in an item of clothing and were merely an entertaining addition to the in-store experience, they now offer added value and convenience to the customer.

For example, AR can allow those browsing online to visualise how a product will look on them before they make a purchase, allowing them to be better informed and removing the inconvenience of returning undesired products. L’Oréal has used AR and face mapping technology in its mobile app, allowing customers to try out different styles, such as hair colours, and lipstick shades, before making a purchase.

VR can also enhance the experience of using retail mobile applications. Fashion brand H&M is using its Image Search tool within the H&M app to allow consumers to upload an image of a similar product into the app. The app then presents several similarly looking, instantly purchasable items from the H&M catalog – moving the consumer closer from the moment of inspiration to a purchase.

5. Convince me

Finally, consumers do not take what message a brand puts out there as fact – they base their purchase consideration on what everyone else has to say about the brand and its products. When Amazon pioneered and implemented ratings and reviews, their business transformed overnight.

One way to convince customers to choose your brand over others is through user-generated content. In fact, research from Stackla found that 79 percent of consumers say user-generated content such as product reviews and ratings both on the brand’s own website and on other listing pages, is highly influential in increasing their propensity to buy.

Also, although social commerce has grown in popularity in recent years, with many consumers starting their search and even completing purchases on social channels, user generated content still remains more impactful than influencer content published on social media. In fact, according to Stackla, consumers find user generated content almost ten times more impactful than influencer content when making a purchasing decision.

Today, customers are more demanding than ever, expecting an experience that goes above and beyond just the available products. In order to offer quality experiences, build brand loyalty, and remain competitive, brands must consider these five main demands and put tools in place to meet them, from the use of effective personalisation to quick, reliable delivery services, through to providing loyalty programs and investing in VR and AR technologies.


Audelia BokerAudelia BokerSeptember 30, 2019
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9min1593

You’d think it would be easy for airlines to provide a good Customer Experience for those seeking to purchase tickets online or via a mobile device. 

After all, every customer follows the same path: insert dates and destination, choose the shortest or least expensive flight, and complete the purchase. Nevertheless, bad CX is a common complaint from airline customers and often leads to defections.

In the 21st century, the air traveler’s journey begins on the airline’s website or mobile app. It is absolutely crucial that the company’s digital channels be highly responsive, user-friendly and fully optimised for any device the traveler might be using. Nevertheless, airlines struggle time and time again to keep potential customers from growing aggravated and heading to a competitor’s site.

The digital Customer Experience issues most often faced by aviation consumers include:

Failure to complete or revise a booking

As unbelievable as it may seem, some airlines still haven’t worked out the bugs in their online ordering system, leaving hopeful travellers frustrated and angry when, after spending 20 minutes filling in personal details, they are unable to complete their booking. Airlines lose tens of millions of dollars in revenue to this problem, as well as driving countless potential customers to their competitors’ sites.

No way to get questions answered

Booking travel can be complicated, and many people – especially those using an airline’s site for the first time – have questions as they work their way through the booking process. Unfortunately, airline customer service departments are notoriously difficult to reach in the digital age, and the web sites don’t always make it easy to find the answers.

Inability to compare different flights 

When planning leisure travel, customers are generally not tied down to a specific arrival and departure date, so they like to compare prices for different options. Some also have two or more local airport choices to choose from. However, for some reason, airline sites often make it incredibly complicated or even impossible to make these comparisons.

The solution: CX analytics

Identifying the key challenges is one thing, but how can airlines solve them? How are they to know when a customer is experiencing difficulties on their site or app? Luckily, there are now many CX monitoring and analytics tools to provide guidance.

For example, session-replay technologies enable airlines to view the customer’s entire journey through the company’s website or mobile app (with private data hidden, of course). They can therefore see for themselves exactly why a customer has failed to complete a ticket order. 

Was it due to a site error? Did they click through to seat selection and discover that the only seats left were next to the bathroom? Or did they feel blindsided by all the extra fees and taxes piled on top of the ticket price?

By discovering the exact point on the site at which the booking was abandoned, airlines can determine whether changes can be made to prevent future customers from giving up at the same point. In addition, if a site error is to blame, this first-hand data eliminates the need to try and ‘recreate’ the error; airlines see exactly what is at fault so that they can fix the issue immediately.

The problem of customers being unable to get their questions answered can also be addressed through analytics, thanks to the chat boxes now present on most airline sites. Chat box data analytics provide a wealth of information on CX issues that airlines don’t even know they have. For example, if customers are using the chat box to ask simple questions that are already addressed elsewhere on the site, clearly the information is too hard to find. Airlines can also use chat box data to discover frequently asked questions whose answers need to be added to the site – preferably on a clearly-marked ‘FAQ’ page.

Finally, customer journey analysis enables airlines to see for themselves the frustrations of customers who must keep clicking back and forth between different flights and airports because there is no easy way to compare them. Armed with this knowledge, the airline can address the difficulties and create a more user-friendly experience.   

Counting the cost

The reason that many of these sites are still so confusing and difficult may be that airlines don’t realise how much money they are losing due to CX issues. Thankfully, today’s most advanced analytics tools enable them to calculate the revenue lost due to a site error or other CX problem. 

This means that the problem is no longer abstract; airlines can visualise exactly how much money they’ve already lost and how much more they are likely to lose if they do not identify and fix the issue immediately.

This type of data is crucial for IT resource allocations. For example, if an airline sees how much revenue it is losing due to booking errors, it can make a better decision about whether to take the site off-line and correct the issue, or provide a quick work-around and develop a permanent fix in the background.

The bottom line is that airlines are throwing money away and many don’t even realise it. By using big data analytics, they can collect invaluable information on the actual workings of their digital channels, and take a giant step towards maximising customer satisfaction and revenue.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthSeptember 27, 2019
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3min1811

Insurers are the least trusted companies in the UK and are unable to answer over half of routine customer questions successfully, according to new research.

Digital Experience firm Eptica has released its 2019 Eptica Insurance Digital CX Study, which found that the insurance sector could answer just 46 percent of all queries asked via the web, email, and social media, trailing other industries (food retailers, fashion retailers, banking and travel) evaluated in an overall Eptica study.

Insurers still seem to be struggling to match customer expectations, although overall performance had risen by 10 percent from 2017. Only 20 percent successfully answered a basic question sent via email, despite 49 percent of consumers identifying it as their primary or secondary channel for finding information.

By contrast, with a 65 percent success rate, Facebook came top, but a mere eight percent of consumers said they wanted to use it to find information from insurers.

All of this points to a growing disconnect between what customers want and what is being provided by insurers, which undermines CX and trust. Trust begins with delivering on basic promises – 59 percent of consumers ranked giving satisfactory, consistent answers as a top factor in creating trustworthiness, while 63 percent rated making processes easy and seamless as key.

As well as email, chat also fared badly. Despite 49 percent of consumers voting it as their first or second preferred channel to find information, and 30 percent of insurers advertising it on their websites, just 10 percent (one company) had it working when tested.

Given these results, it is unsurprising that just three percent of consumers ranked insurance as the sector they trusted most, putting it joint last of 15, alongside airlines, the automotive industry, technology and telecoms.

Olivier Njamfa, CEO and Co-Founder, Eptica, said: “Insurers are facing a perfect storm of increased customer expectations, rising costs, and market disruption. The Eptica Insurance Digital CX Study shows that the majority are simply failing to cope, being unable to deliver adequate customer service on consumer’s channels of choice.”

“As we explain in the report, Insurers need to act quickly and do two things if they are to safeguard current and future revenues. First, they need to embrace processes, technology and knowledge to help them deliver the service that customers expect. Second, they need to listen to consumers and use this Voice of the Customer insight to drive continual CX improvement to ensure that they successfully compete moving forward.”


Andy CoryAndy CorySeptember 27, 2019
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5min1359

Customers have long had the option to ‘checkout as a guest’, offering a frictionless payment that avoids annoying emails or having to remember your password.

It also provides browsers, with no intention of sharing their contact information by setting up an account, a convenient path to purchase.

However, by doing so both customers and retailers are losing out. Retailers can’t collect valuable user data, preferences, or information that could help them deliver a more personalised, competitive user experience. By not logging in, shoppers also miss out on personalised suggestions and better deals. They also can’t pick up or resume ‘abandoned baskets’, and they can’t find things they previously viewed on a different device.

Retailers need to make the password and checkout process as simple as the ‘check out as a guest’ option, by offering a smooth, satisfying, and secure Customer Experience. To do this, they need unrivalled visibility into the customer journey and a strong process for data-driven decision making.

The customer is always right

A crucial part of the Customer Experience is freedom of choice. A customer should be able to choose the channel and payment method that best suits them. If they can’t use their preferred method of payment with one retailer, then can simply take their business to a competitor.

Retailers, then, shouldn’t work to remove the guest checkout option, but strive to make signing up and checking in so seamless and easy that it becomes customers’ first choice. Achieving this, however, will need brands to take a cold, hard look at their customer intelligence and engagement strategies.

The customer view has become fundamentally fragmented over the last few years. Consumers have changed, becoming more mobile, and can no longer be relied on to use only one channel. It’s now common for a customer to interact with a brand across multiple touchpoints – in-store, desktop, mobile, and app – over the course of a single purchase.

Retailers have courted this new breed of customer by investing heavily in online platforms. Where they’ve fallen short is ensuring the entire omnichannel experience is joined-up. The reality of signing in to complete a purchase on your phone only to need to do it again hours later on your desktop is eye-rolling, but all-too-common.

Get connected, get competitive

The solution to a fragmented online experience is a connected customer engagement strategy. Seeding unified communication and collaboration tools within your touchpoints will help deliver meaningful customer experiences, giving you access to more customer insight, and agility to move at their speed.

You should have in place the infrastructure to track where your customers go in-store and online, what they interact with most, and what channel they move to next. Collecting this data and ensuring it is easily accessible at every stage of the customer journey will avoid any breaks or unnecessary disruptions.

Having this data to hand will also rapidly speed up the sign-in process. Instead of asking the customer to enter one or more passwords or security questions, your authentication system will be able to sign them in based on device, location, and behavioural data. Sign-in becomes passive and automatic, providing a truly frictionless but secure online experience.

The proof is in the profit. Those with a strong omnichannel customer engagement strategy retain an average of 89 percent of their customers, compared to 33 percent for companies with an unstructured approach.

Ultimately, to stay competitive, retailers need to double down on data, becoming more responsive and integrated. Arm yourself with the technology, tools and expertise to create measured, streamlined experiences built on a solid strategy of understanding the customer journey and its individual pitstops.

 


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthSeptember 26, 2019
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3min1304

Customers using smartphones to shop has skyrocketed by 141 percent in 12 months, according to new research.

Insights tech firm Feefo has published results of a study that shows the use of laptops and desktop computers has plummeted at the same time as smartphone shopping has increased. The findings have prompted a warning for firms to catch up, or risk “disappearing”.

Exploring the habits of 2,000 UK adults, the research reveals 53 percent of shoppers are now most likely to use their mobile for online shopping, compared with only 22 percent in Feefo’s research last year. And whereas 59 percent of respondents mostly used laptops and desktops for online shopping 12 months ago, this year the figure has crashed to 31 percent.

In another indicator of the future, the research revealed a big increase in the percentage of consumers buying through social media. More than four-in-ten (42 percent) have bought through an advert on a social platform, compared with only 30 percent in 2018.

CEO at Feefo, Matt West, said: “Huge tectonic shifts are rapidly changing how UK consumers shop. Retailers need to react swiftly or risk being undermined faster than a home built over a sinkhole. Unless you understand exactly how your customers’ habits are changing, you’ll lose out to a competitor who does. You may simply disappear.”

The research reveals significant differences between sexes and age-groups in shopping. Shopping online with a smartphone is more popular among women (the favourite method of 64 percent) than men (41 percent).

The research also found that more than four-in-ten consumers (42 percent) prefer to shop by researching and buying products or services online when they are at home, up from 38 percent last year. And with this, retailer websites and marketplaces such as eBay or Facebook Marketplace are identified as the most frequent shopping sites.

Matt added: “Any business of any size needs a mechanism to understand customers as quickly and intimately as possible. It’s all about Customer Experience. Consumers’ habits are changing so rapidly that unless your business has a feedback mechanism, you stand little chance of spotting trends and staying ahead of the pack.”


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthSeptember 19, 2019
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5min1882

Global leader in omnichannel CX and contact centre solutions Genesys has announced the creation of two business units, Genesys Cloud and Genesys Core.

The firm, which is sponsoring the 2019 UK Customer Experience Awards, is enhancing support for its diverse, global customer base, which includes organisations of all sizes, spanning private and public cloud, hybrid, and on-premises deployments.

Customers will benefit from faster delivery of targeted portfolio enhancements and artificial intelligence-driven applications at scale. The Genesys Cloud division will unify the company’s next-generation public cloud solutions and services by combining the PureCloud and workforce engagement management (WEM) groups. The second unit, Genesys Core, is comprised of PureEngage and PureConnect on-premises and cloud.

The company has appointed two general managers to lead the business units: Olivier Jouve takes the helm of Genesys Cloud, and Barry O’Sullivan heads up Genesys Core. Both executives report directly into Genesys CEO Tony Bates. The company also announced that Peter Graf was appointed Chief Strategy Officer.

Tony Bates said: “This new structure enables us to provide even greater value to our customers and partners by rapidly delivering innovation across our market-leading product portfolio. I want to acknowledge the tremendous work Peter and his team have done to deliver AI-powered, cloud-based common services that make this new structure possible.

“I look forward to his contributions as our new Chief Strategy Officer as well as those from Olivier and Barry to drive our future growth and disruptive vision of hyper-personalisation.”

As general manager of Genesys Cloud, Olivier Jouve adds to his existing responsibilities as Executive Vice President of PureCloud, the company’s leading Software as a Service (SaaS) solution.

In addition to continuing to head its operations, product strategy and commercial activities, he will take on ownership of the company’s WEM business. Since joining Genesys two years ago, Olivier has been instrumental in continuing to drive the triple-digit revenue increases PureCloud has experienced since its launch, furthering its hypergrowth. His career spans more than 30 years and includes senior executive roles for IBM, such as vice president of offering management for IBM Watson IoT, among others.

Meanwhile, Barry O’Sullivan moves from the Genesys operating committee and joins the company as Executive Vice President and General Manager of Genesys Core. In this role, Barry will leverage his extensive industry, AI, and unified communications knowledge, along with his intimate understanding of the business, to take the Genesys Core division to the next level.

Previously, Barry founded and served as the CEO of Altocloud, the cloud-based customer journey analytics provider acquired by Genesys in 2018. Earlier in his career, Barry was senior vice president and general manager for Cisco Systems, leading several multi-billion-dollar divisions including Collaboration, Unified Communications and Voice over IP.

“We’re extremely fortunate to have executives of Olivier’s and Barry’s calibre leading our business units. With their extensive experience, strong leadership and incredible business vision, they are each ideally suited to help us continue to solve our customers’ toughest challenges and further propel our ongoing momentum,” added Tony Bates.

In addition, Peter Graf will transition from Genesys Chief Product Officer to a new role as Chief Strategy Officer. He will be responsible for developing, communicating, sustaining and executing the Genesys strategy, and will also assume responsibility for strategic alliances, mergers and acquisitions, business operations and disruptive innovation for the company.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthSeptember 18, 2019
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2min1525

Customer engagement software firm Freshworks Inc. has been named in the Forbes Cloud 100 list for the third year running.

Compilers describe it as “the definitive list of the top 100 private cloud companies in the world”, and Freshworks has moved up the list to number 40, having first entered in 2017 at number 95, before climbing to 60 in 2017.

The Cloud 100 Judging Panel, made up of public cloud company CEOs, reviewed the data to select, score, and rank the top 100 private cloud companies from all over the world. The evaluation process involved ranking companies across four factors: market leadership (35 percent), estimated valuation (30 percent), operating metrics (20 percent) and people & culture (15 percent).

Freshworks CEO and founder, Girish Mathrubootham, said: “Providing simple yet powerful customer engagement software has always been our main focus, and the market continues to embrace our approach. As our 2019 momentum continues, our latest jump in the Forbes Cloud 100 List completes a trifecta of analyst, customer and investor recognition we’ve received this year. Forbes’ just-released ranking comes on the heels of our technology landing in three Gartner Magic Quadrant reports and recognition from peer review platform G2 Crowd.”


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthSeptember 4, 2019
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3min2390

Over three-quarters of IT teams don’t understand the buzzwords that marketers use, causing concerns over how firms handle their Digital Experience (DX).

A new report from content management system (CMS) provider Magnolia, Straight talking content management, incorporates a survey of over 200 IT professionals and 200 marketers across both the UK and US and garners unique insights into the DX landscape and the attitudes both groups hold in relation to their peers.

It reveals that the emerging field of DX has become swamped with buzzwords and jargon, which has led to a huge disconnect between marketers and IT teams.

The research found that almost a quarter (23 percent) of IT teams believe that marketers use too many buzzwords, with 21 percent saying they don’t know what marketers mean when they ask for ‘omnichannel’ content, and 24 percent saying they don’t know what a ‘call to action’ is online.

Furthermore, with 80 percent of marketers collaborating with their IT team on a weekly basis – and 46 percent interacting on a daily basis – it’s crucial that both teams can communicate with one another effectively.

Commenting on the research, Rasmus Skjoldan, CMO at Magnolia, said: “In order for brands to create great content, both IT teams and marketers must work together to understand each other’s unique pressures and objectives. Talking in technical jargon and marketing buzzwords isn’t helping, if anything it’s just causing more frustration for both groups.

“Too many CMS brands add to this problem, expanding rather than bridging the divide. As an industry we need to focus on developing straight-talking solutions that work for everyone across the business – from marketers, to developers, to customers and IT teams.”


Brian StraussBrian StraussAugust 28, 2019
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9min2503

In the not too distant past, a few brave companies adapted their chat products for use within a sales context and produced some startling results against some marquis ecommerce KPIs.

The conversion rate of customers who engage in a chat has increased. In addition, the revenue per engaged customer has seen 5x – 10x growth. With numbers like these, it wasn’t long before many other companies were moving chat from the back office, where it was used primarily in a service context (to save money over phone calls), into the front of the store in hopes of driving sales gold.

While some have realised their chat gold rush dreams, several companies ran into a few economic stumbling blocks along the way, and have been skittish to reattempt widespread ecommerce engagement.

1. Chatting during a sale eats into precious sales margin and can erase profits for many retailers and travel companies, and increases the cost of acquiring new customers for all verticals.

Many etailers and travel companies – that compete on price and service – don’t make a lot of money per transaction as it is. Adding the cost of a chat to a transaction can negate the gains realised from the conversion and order value boost. In short, when you chat you may sell more, but you’re making less or nothing at all in profit (siting feedback from Newegg, United Airlines, Walmart.com, and Expedia). Companies that have been successful with sales chat typically are lifestyle brands – companies that hold exclusivity over their goods, and control all of the means production, distribution, and marketing – and can command higher sales margin.

2. Chatting in a sales context drives up chat volumes and the related supporting costs.

Sales chat volumes often rise to levels that rival or eclipse the amount of service chats that an organisation receives. This puts significant operational pressure on these companies to hire and train significant numbers of additional agents. Some companies are able to endure this and become successful, but may have resisted doing this because of the lack of profit realised in the exercise. 

3. Reach is a challenge.

Even the companies that engage in Sales chat and realise the often incredible boosts to conversion and revenue, are only able to scale up to engage about one to two percent [1-800-flowers engages 0.81 percent of their sales traffic) of pre-sales visitors. Since every chat requires a live agent, the average busy retailer would need many hundreds if not thousands of agents live an available at all times to engage a more significant number of customers.

This is just not feasible for many online companies. In addition, more and more studies show that many customers – particularly those in the ever-growing mobile demographic, don’t start ecommerce journeys expecting to talk to you on the phone or on chat! They want to self-serve. 

So this conundrum exists where the many customers don’t want to engage, and companies are not incented to talk to their customers. Was the whole promise of customer engagement merely fool’s gold? Or is there another way to turn digital engagement into real profits by overcoming many of the key limitations of the format?

There is another way, and the solution is Guided Digital Commerce.

Digging into the challenges a bit more, it turns out that if you can address two key realities, you can pump profit back into digital engagement, reduce costs like never before, increase customer satisfaction and retention, and reach customers that never would have engaged with you previously.

Reality 1: Repetitive Contacts are a huge problem. It turns out that as customers we’re not as unique as we’d like to think – at least in terms of our shopping and engagement patterns online. The customers who do engage companies via the phone, email, or chat tend to be asking about the same four or five things relative to where they are in the customer journey.

Go ask a contact centre agent. They know the top five reasons why someone gets in contact with them like the back of their hand. And these repetitive topics can sometimes make up the overwhelming majority of the total contacts. In financial services, password lock out issues alone can make up 70 percent of total contacts.

In retail, “Where is my order” (known by it’s nickname, WISMO) can make up more than half of all contacts. However, our phone, chat, and email solutions do absolutely nothing to deflect contacts on these topics. Not only do these contacts drive up costs, but they increase the wait time for everyone, and lower customer satisfaction.

Reality 2: Just because large segments of customers don’t want to talk to you during a sales or service journey, that doesn’t mean that they don’t need help. It just means that customers want to self-serve.

They want to find the answers to their questions on their own, but often the answers to the most common questions are tucked away on some FAQ page, or are hidden away under some tab – in short, the keys to overcoming the most common struggles and hesitations are not easily available to the customer where and when they need them.

Guided Digital Commerce takes the answers to the most common questions and puts them in front of the customers when and where they need these questions most. This is achieved by understanding where the customer is in the journey and offering a timely contextual and proactive solution to what they are struggling over. As in: “I see you’re struggling with that expired coupon code, here is one that works.”

This also means giving the customers who do like to or feel the need to live engage, an opportunity to find the answer to their question faster than they could with a live engagement. This can mean intercepting chat requests with common solutions first, as in: “Checking on your order? Give us your order number and we’ll give you the latest information.”

The key to Guided Digital Commerce is proactive automation for the majority of contacts and preserving your live channels for your more unique and complex inquires. If you can give the customer the right answer to their concern the overwhelming majority of time, you can deploy a profitable engagement solution that can reach all of your customers instead of just a few.

This doesn’t mean that chat and email completely fall by the wayside, but it means that while automation is handling the majority of contacts, your chat and email practice can focus on the more unique customer use cases, escalating profit, reducing costs, increasing satisfaction and reaching more customer than ever before.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthAugust 15, 2019
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2min1666

It has been a sizzling summer of success for digital marketing agency Receptional, which landed two prestigious titles at the 2019 UK Digital Experience Awards.

From their headquarters in Bedford, Receptional is at the forefront of search marketing, and its exceptional work with two UK firms earned two Gold awards at the fifth annual UKDXA finals last month in London, hosted by Awards International.

The first gong was in the Best Digital Marketing Campaign/Project category for their work with UK holiday park operator Away Resorts.

Their UK’s Most Instagrammable Forest campaign was brought to life by Receptional’s talented team, and inspired many to get back to nature and experience the delights of the country’s precious woodlands.

Meanwhile, Receptional’s second gold award was for Best SEO Strategy in partnership with mobile app development agency Tappable, which guided a successful rebrand and site development.

Speaking of Receptional’s success, Managing Director Justin Deaville said: “This is a recognition of the dedication and innovation we’ve demonstrated over the past year, and a chance to celebrate the teamwork that made it possible.”

Well-deserved: The Receptional team pictured with their Gold Awards 


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthAugust 15, 2019
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3min1519

In a further death-knell for traditional print media, British firms are focussing their ad spend away from newspapers and magazines more so than ever before, new research has revealed.

A survey of 1,325 UK marketing professionals carried out by digital marketing agency, Marketingsignals.com, revealed that 56 percent of UK based businesses have turned their main focus away from spending on print advertising during the past 12 months.

The top reason given for this shift was the increased control companies have over their ad spend, with results being much more measurable as they are fully trackable and attributable.

In fact, 64 percent of those surveyed said that this transparency over ROI was their main reason for moving the majority of their ad spend over to digital.

In addition to being able to accurately measure ROI, almost the same number of respondents (62 percent) said that the increase in conversions – compared to traditional advertising methods – was a major reason why they shifted their budgets.

For more than half of the companies surveyed (55 percent), the ability to reach a more targeted audience (with an investment level that’s much lower compared to other traditional advertising methods) was cited as their primary reason for preferring digital advertising.

Thirty-seven percent of those surveyed said they were actively using social media advertising as a tool to acquire new customers. A strategic social media campaign can ensure that businesses are speaking to the most relevant potential customers for their products or services by building out tailored personas based on location, gender, interests and income level (amongst many others).

Completing the top five reasons why UK businesses are focussing their advertising spend on digital, was flexibility, with one-in-four (24 percent) of those surveyed saying that having the agility to change tact and strategy mid-campaign was a key reason for their increased focus on digital.

Gareth Hoyle, Managing Director at Marketingsignals.com, said: “It’s fantastic to see that in 2019, more companies than ever have become fully on board with the digital age.

“Pretty much every company has some form of online presence, as it’s almost a necessity to survive in this day and age, though it’s really interesting to see some of the reasons behind the upscaled shift in budgets being researched and published.

“In short, British businesses are fast seeing the benefits to their bottom line when their marketing departments focus their advertising spend on digital.”


Jonathan SharpJonathan SharpAugust 12, 2019
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10min1736

Technology is constantly delivering new methods of communication to the workplace in abundance.

There are so many different communication channels available, we often question which one is best to use and what for.  Sometimes, issues occur when we don’t question, and then use the inappropriate tools to communicate something. This can lead to misinterpretation, people may get offended or misconstrue what’s been said, or left feeling they haven’t received sufficient information.

We can all feel like we are drowning in digital communications and are consumed by the 24/7 digital noise. The norm is to respond to everything the instant we receive it and to check all social media updates and sink with FOMO if we weren’t invited to a party or even a meeting!

The objective of technology is make us more effective and productive and not hinder us. It is time to stop manic multi-tasking and thinking that everything has to be now and instant – take a step back, breath, focus, and learn to how to manage your digital communications so you become empowered by technology and not enslaved by it.

Phone: the Power of Voice

By speaking on the phone we can develop a personal connection with a person, understand their tone of voice, and talk in more depth therefore strengthening the connection. There is less margin for error or misinterpretation, and of course the advantage is also there are more opportunities for conversations on a personal level and for humour. Another benefit is trust and authenticity can be built more quickly in comparison to an email or text.

When to use it:

  • To resolve something urgently that is complex. It is often easier to get results face to over the phone as you can talk around the issues
  • When you are chasing someone – if a client or employee has been ignoring your emails and messages then pick up the phone and talk to them about it. It will be much quicker
  • There are times when you must deliver bad news or discuss something personal and empathy is required. This can only be achieved in a face to face meeting or on a phone call
  • A catch up – you have a business issue to chat through and also it’s been a while since you spoke to the person so you want to catch up with them

Email or ‘snail mail’

Email is still very much the most used communications tool in business. The issue is that you end up with a full inbox and people still copy you in on irrelevant emails. We send roughly 281.1 billion emails a day, a figure that is estimated to increase to 333.2 billion by 2022, according to Statista.

Therefore, we would expect that emails often get ignored, deleted, or end up in the junk box. Emails are not the most effective way to communicate and it is much easier to use other tools such as picking up the phone.

When to use it:

  • Sitting at your desk or on move from smartphones or tablets
  • To document conversations and activities
  • To send files

Video and audio conference calls

These tools are great when you want to speak with a group of people in another location without having to travel. With video you can read people’s body language and easily gage reactions to what you are saying.

When to use it:

  • For a team meeting to discuss a project or proposal
  • If there is an issue you can have a collective discussion
  • To screen share a document and go through it together

Instant Messaging

Conferencing and collaboration solutions contain instant messaging tools and you can see your colleagues’ presence, when they are available and when they aren’t. However, people expect an instant response and tend to ignore the ‘busy’ and ‘do not disturb’ signs.

When to use it:

  • When you need an instant answer to a question
  • You may need to talk to someone and ask them to call you when you are free. Instant messages are more intrusive than emails and are harder to ignore

Social media

Companies may use Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter etc to communicate to customers or other stakeholders.

When to use it:

  • To share photos or information
  • To ask questions and generate a multitude of answers
  • To answer customer complaints
  • For customer reviews

Bringing it All Together

The key is to know how and when to use the different communication tools available. Therefore using them at different times and when appropriate to improve efficiencies and productivity.

Downtime

Knowing when to switch off is vital, so if you need to focus on a piece of work or need some downtime, and don’t want to be disturbed then you could set your ‘Do Not Disturb’ or turn it all off.

Be guided by the experts

A Solutions Provider in communication solutions will advise and guide you on what communications technology you need for your business and its objectives. They will assist you with setting guidelines on how and when to use the tools, setting ‘etiquette’ rules and ‘duty of care’ policies on how to minimise interruptions utilising them to their potential.

Empower and set yourself free

Set yourself free from drowning in digital noise and instant gratification, and manage your portfolio of communication tools to empower you and not enslave you.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthAugust 5, 2019
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2min1550

A growing number of UK customers are choosing to purchase from brands using smart speakers such as Amazon Echo and Google Home, with the devices predicted to drive the next wave of ecommerce.

In a study of 2,000 adults carried out by data agency Artefact UK, six out of 10 smart speaker owners say they have used them to make a purchase in the past year, with almost a quarter (22 percent) saying they have done so within the past week of being asked.

Sarah De Martin, Managing Director at Artefact UK, says: “Voice offers a simple and spontaneous path to purchase that reflects how people behave naturally. Forty percent of our sample already owns one or more of these devices so the channel is nearing critical mass. Both Google and Amazon are offering aggressive discounts on their smart speakers and ownership grew by 79 percent last year alone.

“As an e-commerce business, it’s clear why Amazon wants to get Alexa into as many homes as possible. During its recent Prime Day event it even experimented by allowing Prime subscribers to access to some of its best offers through Alexa.”

 


Richard WheatonRichard WheatonAugust 1, 2019
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9min1900

Businesses in the UK today are very focused on bringing digital tools and tech into the heart of their processes.

You are a brave Marketing or Operations Director if you say that digital transformation is not at the heart of your 12, 24, or 36 month plan.

The benefits of embracing digital are observed everywhere: customers want to browse your products online, buy them online, find your store online, have their questions answered through prompt emails and chatbots, have their returns handled online, and so on.

And there’s plenty of tech vendors selling the dream – tech that enables and automates these processes – helping you to target customers with messages and offers tailored to their needs without any messy set-up requirements, easy to operate, cheaper-faster-better, and pain-free.

Sounds familiar…yet very rarely turns out like that, right? This is because you have to build your digital tech around the way your organisation works, not the other way around.

Less is more with technology, the focus is the customer journey

The reasons for disappointment in digital transformation projects are numerous, but at its core the problem tends to be the same – if you get to the stage where your people are supporting your tech instead of the other way around, you’re in trouble.

Many of our clients ask us for advice on their digital tools and data architecture and are frustrated that they have not obtained the benefits expected from their choice of Data Management Platform, or email service provider, or analytics package. Most often, the problem is not the tech, but the way that the tech has been configured (or not configured), compounded by the fact that the client has set up the tool in isolation from the other tools in their infrastructure. Buying new tools to replace and improve upon the tools’ already there is not the solution!

The solution comes from forensically focusing on identifying exactly what it is that the client needs to execute and configuring the tech for every use case. For large companies, this can require hundreds of use cases and data sets, and that can sound daunting. But that’s what’s required, for many reasons.

One specifically being it’s the law. GDPR requires all companies that hold customer data to have documented processes for the management and deployment of each customer interaction, by channel. To be compliant businesses need to painstakingly deconstruct and document the way they obtain, store, process and deploy their data in each use case anyway.

Law: GDPR compliance can be daunting for many firms

Another reason is that, whatever the martech salespeople say, the tools do not “seamlessly and automatically interface with your other tools”, or whatever other blasé statement they make to smooth the sale.

This type of mis-selling almost led to a disaster for an international client of ours embarking on a multi-million pound marketing transformation project. As we were specifying the solution, including tools and processes, our new client told us that one of the tools at the centre of their new process was being taken out of the scope, because they had been assured by the vendor that their tool would “set all the taxonomies for the data, and if anything changed, the tool would automatically ripple through all of the changes to the taxonomy…so we don’t think we need help with that”.

Fortunately, we had the experience with the tool and the communication skills to convince the client otherwise – the tool did none of those things and had no automated interface with the large number of data sources in the project. For the client, it was a near-miss; if we had accepted the claim of the vendor that the data would be set up and reconfigured automatically, the project would have been yet another digital white elephant, with everyone scratching their heads, asking what had gone wrong.

Businesses must re-think coordination and collaboration

The final ‘problem’ causing implementations to not go as planned is people. I like to say that any transformation project involves 30 percent of the work getting the tech set up right, and 70 percent “getting people to do things differently”. I’m not advocating that people’s processes and ways of working need to be radically reconfigured.  The tools we use for digital marketing are not hard to use, and correctly configured, they should require little reskilling.

The core change that businesses need to make is around coordination: which means, getting people within and across teams to collaborate better, so that the business has a coordinated response to each customer interaction, rather than each team operating in its silo, sending emails, banners or coupons to solve each customer problem in isolation, because it is the only tool they have been given.

The key to success in deploying tools is for the business to be clear on the role for that tool and have a clear plan for how the data used by it will flow to and from other tools in the stack. You can be sure that you will be using different tools in a year’s time, so the instinct to make a decision that you can lock in for years to come is misguided.

You need a set of tools that remains flexible and focused on the tasks required, or you’ll soon find your infrastructure is out of date and not able to give your people the best available capabilities for serving customers. Tools should be just that – tools to do a job.

They should not define the job.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJuly 30, 2019
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3min1883

One of the most inspiring winners at the 2019 UK Digital Experience Awards is planning a return to next year’s event as they continue to provide businesses with innovative digital engines for customers to use.

Multinational firm Torry Harris Integration Solutions (THIS) – headquartered in New Jersey USA and with a UK base in Bristol – won Gold in the Not for Profit & Charity (Including Public Services) category.

The team also secured Silver for Best Digital Change & Transformation in partnership with energy provider Pure Planet. The ceremony, hosted by Awards International, took place in London’s Park Plaza Riverbank earlier this month.

The Gold award was presented for digital platform initiative HomeJini, which is powered by Torry Harris’ digital marketplace solution DigitMarket. It democratises digital by harnessing the power of the platform economy to connect the semi-skilled labour pool in India to employment opportunities.

THIS is it: The Torry Harris Integration Solutions team accept their Gold award at the 2019 UK Digital Experience Awards

Meanwhile, the Silver gong was awarded for THIS’ partnership with Pure Planet, which saw the tech firm build a digital ecosystem through implementing and supporting a comprehensive API portfolio. The app for Pure Planet – the UK’s first app-based energy supplier that supplies 100 percent renewable electricity, and 100 percent carbon offset gas – allows customers to track their energy use and receive bills on their smartphone.

Following the firm’s double win, THIS Vice President – Strategic Initiatives, Shuba Sridhar, said: “We are thrilled that our digital marketplace product DigitMarket™ received the recognition it deserves. We are looking to come back next year with a more innovative and impactful story of a Torry Harris-powered digital engine making a massive difference to the customer’s business. Thank you Awards International for organising such a fair and transparent scoring process and a top panel of independent judges.”


John MaddenJohn MaddenJuly 30, 2019
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6min1625

Analysts predict that spending on Artificial Intelligence in the retail sector will reach $7.3 billion by 2022, a majority of which will be poured into customer-facing conversational AI solutions like voice assistants and chatbots.

That’s not surprising, given how the power of conversation is poised to fundamentally transform Customer Experience across industries.

The use of consumer-grade digital assistants has exploded in recent years. Consumers have quickly moved beyond ‘talking’ to digital systems for basic information (weather, traffic, trivia, etc.) and now use them to engage in commerce and other activities. For example, half of respondents to a PWC survey last year said that they had made a purchase via a voice assistant, with an additional 25 percent saying they would consider doing so in the future.

While the thought of increased sales through conversational AI is sure to bring a smile to any business decision maker, one shouldn’t lose sight of this technology’s other benefits – particularly its potential to optimise all points of the customer journey.

The new journey

When it comes to locating information about a product or service, consumers are becoming more interested in simply asking for it, rather than typing or tapping to search for it. Conversational UIs offer many advantages over other digital interfaces, in that they help users to find information quickly, allow them keep their hands free for other activities, and perhaps most importantly, play on the human brain’s natural inclinations for conversation and engagement.

A recent survey found that consumers preferred chatbots over apps when it came to receiving quick answers to both simple and complex questions. The bar for human-like conversational experiences is being raised constantly through platforms like IPsoft’s Amelia, which are helping tilt consumer behaviours even further toward these types of interactions. As this trend takes hold, it would be in a retailer’s best interest to automate and optimise these engagements through conversation – not just to provide the best consumer experience, but to gain substantial competitive advantage.

Talk tech: Firms are raising the bar for human-like conversational experiences

For example, when a customer is making a purchase or asking a question, modern conversational systems – integrated and automated end-to-end to back-office systems – can tap into individual purchase histories and other data sources to organically up- or cross-sell additional items (e.g. “Hello Mr. James, thank you for purchasing your new smartphone, would you also like to purchase a screen protector as you did with your previous device?”).

Similarly, more advanced systems allow brands to scale and target marketing/messaging campaigns to very specific segments within the confines of a conversation. For example, an AI system fronted by a conversational UI could alert a 25-year-old consumer who has purchased more than $200 worth of goods in the last six months (indicating she likes the retailer’s products] about an upcoming weekend sale.

As these marketing strategies can be modified instantaneously at scale through automation, companies are free to experiment and A/B test different approaches, determining the best response – such as making the same offer to “men aged 18 to 25 in London” versus “any consumers who spent more than £100 in the last year”.

Conversational AI can also be used to enhance the conventional brick-and-mortar experience, using voice-enabled kiosks or mobile apps. These channels can provide in-store customers with instant access to helpful information such as in-store locations of various items, or enhanced services such as scheduling deliveries. When implemented on site, this new functionality benefits customers through access up-to-date information and services, and it also frees employees on the floor from answering routine customer FAQs to work in other areas.

Humans are designed to experience the world through conversation. Up until recently, this inclination was somewhat incompatible with modern consumers’ expectations for 24/7 access to goods and services, given the lack of tested and effective conversational AI interfaces. However, now that AI allows companies to automate and scale conversational engagements, they can completely reinvent the customer journey to engender consumer loyalty and generate new revenue.

Is your company prepared?


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJuly 26, 2019
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6min1576

Today’s cloud-based contact centre solutions make it easier to deliver good customer service whatever the channel. 

The real challenge is how to provide a Digital Experience that stands out from the crowd when there is so much noise and too much choice. Multi-channel or omnichannel? AI or no AI? The rapid proliferation of new technologies and buzzwords is enough to reduce even the most focused organisations to blind panic. Some rush in and digitalise simply because everyone else is doing it while others grind to a state of sluggish inertia because change is scary and ‘it’s always been done this way’ is a safer option.

How do contact centres find the happy medium? How do they build a digital CX programme that guarantees successful customer outcomes? The secret is to keep calm, stay focused and follow a few golden rules:

1. Introduce relevance into the digital equation

Don’t just introduce technology for technology’s sake. Always keep the customer at the centre of the digital design process. Think about the dialogues you have with customers, listen to your agents, become a mystery shopper and try out the contact centre to discover the channels and technology that really work. Then, back this up with the performance metrics that matter.  Customers just want fast, positive results, so align KPIs accordingly. Focus on Net promoter, Customer Satisfaction (CSat) and Customer Effort scores along with customer churn and first resolution rates rather than Average Handling Times (AHTs).

2. Blend omnichannel with AI for complete customer interactions

Exploit the latest innovations in Artificial Intelligence such as virtual assistants, digital assistants, and bots. The beauty of AI is that it offers practically unlimited capabilities to allow organisations to capture customer conversations that vastly improve service levels and even anticipate customers’ needs by up/cross-selling other products based on their previous purchase or web-browsing history – a real competitive differentiator.

The human touch counts when it comes to handling complex matters and emotionally sensitive or personal issues. Blend instantaneous, multi-channel, round-the-clock digital self-sufficiency with personal service. Just be sure to make the hand-over between virtual and live agents seamless.

3. Remove on-screen clutter

A tidy desktop equals a tidy mind and ultimately a tidy profit. However, on-screen clutter such as multiple pop-ups and different applications frequently get in the way of delivering first-class CX. It’s time to take a closer look at the latest agent applications.

These are designed to remove on-screen clutter by linking to enterprise systems, selected third parties, and knowledge bases through widgets. Customisable and flexible, widgets allow every agent to be presented with the information and functionality most relevant to them in any given situation without switching screens or resorting to pop-ups. This provides a single view of customer conversations and accelerates an agent’s ability to improve CX all in one place.

4. Invest in the right people skills

There’s no point spending time and money on the perfect digital infrastructure if your human skills fail to live up to the same exacting standards. When recruiting new agents, or training long-standing experienced team members, look for candidates with high levels of emotional intelligence.

These are the ones who instinctively understand how the customer is feeling and use that information to influence a positive result even when conversations are passed to them from a digital assistant or chatbot. They grasp the importance of bridging the digital and human worlds and their holistic approach is vital to the success of a digital and connected CX strategy.

5. Choose cloud

Maximising cloud-based integration capabilities improves efficiency and builds customer loyalty as a result of fast and highly personalised interactions. A single view of customer interactions aids decision-making and allows proactive management of response times.

What’s more, when it comes to protecting sensitive customer data, the cloud comes into its own. Using a simple web browser, a single sign-on is all that is required and the ability to switch freely between applications and payment solutions to boost security levels.

Breathe deeply, stay calm, and carry on towards the perfect digital CX strategy. Focus on the digital channels that matter to your customers, experiment with the latest AI, and join the dots with agents who effortlessly link both human and digital worlds. You’ll stand out from the crowd for all the right reasons.

 


Rory OConnorRory OConnorJuly 24, 2019
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6min1555

The scalability of online shopping is any retailer’s dream.

Any marketer will tell you that a happy and satisfied customer is your best weapon when it comes to success, but the waters are muddy in the online world and the downsides are even more slippery.

When somebody buys from your online store they get an instant dopamine hit with even more coming as the anticipation builds over the following hours or days until delivery. Every brick and mortar shopper gets the same hit initially, but by walking out with the item in hand that level of anticipation doesn’t hit in the same way. In other words, every customer that buys from your store is on a high from that moment all the way to when they are opening the package and then wearing/using the item.

This is great news for e-retailers, but the downside of this is much steeper if you get this process wrong, with customers being much more let down than by a poor in-store experience.

Positive customer experiences are an imperative for the sustained growth of a business; it builds customer brand loyalty, affinity, and encourages them to refer their friends and interact positively with your brand.

According to the American Express Customer Service Barometer, people tell an average of 15 others about a poor service experience. This means that if you’re having issues with your supply chain, deliveries, or any other part of your business you’re doing untold damage to your future sales and reputation with Forbes reporting that US companies lost $75 billion in 2018 due to poor customer service. 

On the other hand, according to Zendesk, as many as 42 percent of consumers will repeat purchase following a positive online experience.

So how might your business combat this?

For online players, the key focus has to be customer-centric. Customers increasingly want next day or even same day delivery options with the ability to tailor times and locations accurately to their needs. To ensure this occurs, having integrated systems that allow you to improve all facets of the digital Customer Experience is key. These include the user interface, mobile responsiveness, and design along with clear communication methods and a way to relay real-time data across all interactions with each customer.

Not only does this ensure a frictionless process for your customers, but it ensures consistency on your end and open communication lines around all aspects of each delivery to ensure proper deliveries or fix any issues in real-time. Companies in retail or in any other industry have been traditionally poor at fixing customer issues in real time and at the customer’s convenience. This comes as no surprise that even now Harvard Business Review found that 64 percent have no dedicated system in place. All companies will have customer issues and while you should always strive to minimise these instances, those who get them right are in a strong position to keep their customers satisfied and differentiate themselves all at the same time.

ROI

Winning new customers is very difficult and expensive with the Harvard Business Review finding that it is anywhere from five to 25 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to keep a current one, yet only 49 percent of consumers say that companies provide good CX. 

PWC also found that customers spend up to 16 percent more with retailers who provide good CX and are also more willing to share data with these companies also. At this stage you would have hoped that online retailers would have gotten the memo about online CX, satisfaction, and relationships, but it appears for many there’s a lot of work left to do to keep their customers’ dopamine flowing.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJuly 22, 2019
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8min1605

The British love affair with bikes is receiving a boost from a growing number of eco-minded commuters keen to swap their car steering wheels for saddles, and a firm at the forefront of this pedal-powered revolution is Brompton Bicycle, famous for its iconic folding bike design.

The business builds over 45,000 bikes each year in its factory in London, 80 percent of which are exported globally. The brand is associated with its innovative product design and high-quality engineering for its iconic folding bikes.

Yet even a traditional, hands-on crafting company such as this knows the value of Digital Experience, and recently teamed up with Sitecore to offer customers a new way to interact online.

CXM spoke with Brompton’s Head of Customer Experience, Harry Mann (pictured below), to get an insight into the company’s impressive digital transformation journey…

What were the biggest challenges Brompton was facing when it came to Customer Experience?

Brompton has 14 stores across the world, but our customers predominantly make their purchase through our partner retailers. As a result, we found it difficult to gain insight into the customer journey and their individual needs because their data was fragmented. We knew that if we couldn’t use customer data to personalise experiences, we would struggle to build long-standing relationships and brand loyalty and wouldn’t be able to maximise sales opportunities.

In the past, customers could only demo and pick up their Brompton bike from a partner store, so their experience with our brand was often out of our hands. We introduced our flagship Brompton Junction stores and the purchase friction improved, but we still needed to understand the customer more clearly to be able to move them through the sales funnel towards a final purchase.

Our wide network of partners and multiple local websites also meant that customers were receiving a different brand experience depending on where they were in the world, and we lacked consistency across our platforms.

What were Brompton’s goals for personalisation and brand consistency?

As a brand that differentiates its offering through high quality products, we knew that investing in digital channels and providing personalised, multichannel experiences to our customers, regardless of where or how they purchased, was crucial. Brand consistency was also critical, so we chose the Sitecore Experience Platform – a CX management platform – to meet this objective.

The platform was chosen thanks to its ability to scale quickly across the entirety of our retail offering and to deliver personalisation at a local and individual level, factoring in where each customer is on their purchasing journey, based on their tracked profiles.

We wanted to be able to deliver a consistent global brand experience, catering to different audiences with locally translated websites, local content relevant to local trends and in-market behaviour, and the ability to suggest customisation of products.

How has Sitecore helped Brompton to develop a more personalised experience for customers?

For customers ready to build their bike online, Sitecore now allows us to present content that explains each feature, and ultimately leads the customer through the bike-building experience. Using the bike-builder tool, customers can experiment and put together a personalised bike to their exact requirements, choosing from 16 million combinations.

Additionally, Sitecore enables Brompton to make incremental improvements to the content served to customers. For example, we can identify through the online data we collect and analyse, if there are particular pages that are causing customers to leave or if content is ‘sticky’ and should be given greater prominence on the page as customers find it more informative or engaging. The platform’s tools enable Brompton to reconfigure the content and layout at the click of a button and react quickly to customer insights.

Quantitative and qualitative customer data presented clearly through the Sitecore Experience Platform has also played a key role in helping shape the brand’s offline strategy. For example, based on the insight gathered from search data on the website, we have been able to choose the best locations for our Brompton Junction stores.

Furthermore, Brompton can now segment our audience into key customer personas:

  • The builder: who is thinking about buying a Brompton
  • Brompton ‘novice’: who is just getting to grips with their new purchase
  • The ‘known customer’: who is using the bike to commute to work and enjoying the freedom the bike gives them
  • The super-fan: who wants to know about competitive Brompton cycling events

We can adapt the Customer Experience and content to suit the individual based on their segment. For example, the builder could be targeted with a calculator showing how the cost of a Brompton can be offset by not having to buy an annual gym membership or travel card.

What improvements has Brompton seen since implementing these tools?

It has enabled us to deliver a consistent and meaningful experience throughout the whole customer journey. The ability it gives us to own the relationship, even if a customer has bought a bike through a partner, is key for us. With a customer being able to get a bike serviced in addition to simply purchasing the bike, retailers are able to provide an overall ownership experience beyond the point of sale. This is especially important when retailers are struggling to get customers through the door in today’s difficult climate.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJuly 19, 2019
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4min1607

At this month’s UK Digital Experience Awards, the day’s biggest success story involved an online platform behind a swimming revolution taking place across Britain.

Swimtime is the largest independent swim school in the UK, and since its foundation in 1998 has helped thousands of young people take the plunge and learn to enjoy one of the healthiest activities around. The need for Swimtime was highlighted in a 2017 report by the Water Safety Review Group, which found that one-in-three children leave primary school unable to complete a length of a pool.

In a bid to boost the number of competent young swimmers, the Swimcloud platform was introduced by Swimtime, making it easier for customers to book and manage their lessons.

The innovative technology was the basis of the firm’s presentation at the UK Digital Experience Awards at London’s Park Plaza Riverbank, and judges awarded them the highest score in the Transport, Leisure and Tourism category.

That score also turned out to be the highest of the day, leading to Swimtime being named Overall Winner.

Water result: The UK Digital Experience Awards won by Swimtime

Theo Millward, Managing Director of Swimtime, said: “Our Swimcloud platform is truly groundbreaking, delivering a world-class Digital Experience to our customers and swimmers, helping us teach some 20,000 learners every week. We are the first in our sector to deploy such advanced technology including machine learning.

“To see the implementation and our results be recognised against such an outstanding field of major companies – many with vast budgets – was a true honour and something neither I or my team will forget in a hurry.”

H2 wow: The Swimtime team accept their Transport, Leisure and Tourism trophy

He added: “When the Overall Winner of the event was announced, hearing our name read out is something we’ll never forget! It was a very special day for us, and we enjoyed celebrating our victory with a well earned gin and tonic. Thank you to hosts Awards International for organising the event, and we look forward to entering next year to defend our crown.”




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