Paul MaguirePaul MaguireJune 30, 2020
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9min1152

There has never been a more critical moment to get automation right. As businesses brace for a rough road ahead, simply using technology as a means to streamline manual processes, cut costs and reduce human errors is no longer enough.

While that gave organisations a competitive edge in the past, companies must now take their use of automation to the next level to achieve maximum competitive advantage. That means using automation technologies to drive revenue growth and service improvement by creating new customer experiences that win brand loyalty.

Automation has been quietly transforming the way companies interact with their customers for some time now, but often with mixed results.

A recent survey of large organisations across the United States and Europe conducted by IDG found that most businesses are already using some form of technology to automate business process and customer interactions – ranging from AI (56 percent) to chatbots (53 percent) and Interactive Voice Response (55 percent) to Robotic Process Automation (45 percent).

Many more survey respondents reported that they plan to deploy those technologies in the next 12 months. Yet worryingly, only 41 percent of respondents believed that the way their organisation is using automation helps them to meaningfully forge stronger customer relationships.

Clearly, companies are switched-on to the fact that automation has the potential to upgrade their customer relations, but effective implementation with positive business outcomes is proving a challenge. So where are businesses tripping up? The IDG survey results offer some pretty big clues.

Off-the-shelf software – not such a bargain after all

Firstly, let’s make one thing clear: when it comes to customer service, automation shouldn’t just be about swapping out human workers with bots. While chatbots and Interactive Voice Responses (IVR) are useful for answering straightforward requests quickly, forming that human connection with customers and delivering a higher-value service is something only well-trained human employees can do.

We’ve all experienced, at one time or another, the frustration of being caught in an endless automated loop with an unsympathetic bot when all you want is to get through to a real person. That kind of experience damages a brand’s reputation while causing customer and revenue loses.

Instead, automation should be a mean for employees to better serve customers and create new experiences. It should connect them to relevant data that will help them to build a complete picture of their customer to both reactively handle requests but also identify unmet needs and anticipate future wants. Unfortunately, that’s exactly where many organisations are falling short.  

The IDG survey found that fewer than a third of respondents felt their organisations’ tools greatly help them understand customers, empower them to fix problems and think or act strategically. Why? Well, 65 percent reported that the applications their organisation uses are only somewhat effective at best at providing all the data and context they need to have a full picture of their customers. 

Commercial Off-The-Shelf-(COTS) Software has long been a popular choice for organisations (particularly smaller, more budget-conscious ones) looking for a light-touch, quick application that can automate certain homogeneous tasks and streamline processes. Such products can be good for that. But what they lack is flexibility. In most cases, these COTS software need to be customised to suit each organisation and their unique use cases, thus driving up implementation time and costs. The packaged software cannot adapt to each company, changing business requirements and market needs quickly or easily.

And survey respondents agreed – a shocking 85 percent indicated that their organisation had experienced one or more negative impacts from using packaged software. They reported feeling limited by what the software was capable of and that it even made tasks more complicated. 37 percent said such applications had a negative impact on customer satisfaction.

That’s unsurprising when you think about the sheer amount of different processes that take place in each department of each company every day. Every company will have its own unique processes that are forever changing. A one-size-fits-all solution is never going to work when the need to adapt, evolve and change is imperative in today’s environment. 

Where low-code software comes in

Building custom applications goes a long way to addressing that problem but takes a lot of time and money. That’s why low-code software is transformative. It removes the manual-coding usually required in software development so developers can build multiple high-quality custom applications and automate workflows quickly. It also means that rather than spending months working on one big product that will be out-of-date when completed, developers can make an application that can constantly evolve to meet changing demands.

To put this into perspective, insurance provider Aviva has created 32 new applications using the Appian low-code platform in three years. That’s around 10 new insurance applications per year. And each application has helped improve the way their employees interact with and service their customers.

Over the course of 20 years, Aviva had inherited 750 other insurance companies, along with their systems, data and processes. As you can imagine, that was a challenge for their call centre agents trying to shift through legacy systems to get to the information they needed – far from ideal when there’s a customer waiting on the other end of the line. By using one way low-code automation, Aviva was able to unify 22 different systems under one custom platform, giving operators 360-degree view of their customers and speeding up customer service response times by nine times. 

With organisations flung into new and unprecedented challenges, many will understandably hope that automating processes will drive down costs. Ultimately, it will be effectively engaging new customers and retaining existing ones that will deliver the greatest material benefits in the long run. That’s what must be kept in mind when they consider deploying automation.    


Sandra RadlovackiSandra RadlovackiJune 26, 2020
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5min1257

The current situation made it inevitable for many organisations to shift their work to home in order to stay operating.

From universities transferring to online learning, to restaurants having to offer only online order and delivery, the digital environment has seen a swarm of new occupants joining in during the time of emergency, which put to test all brands that weren’t investing enough into their digital presence.

The new normal poses many challenges to brands, the biggest one being having the capacity to thrive in sudden reality turnover. As the whole world moves to the digital, understanding digital experience management will be of key importance in staying afloat in the current climate. Businesses that can satisfy consumer needs through digital channels will be the ones to survive the crisis.

The rule of three

By focusing on three key digital outcomes, you can foster a sustainable and differentiating experience:

  • How did the interaction make the customer feel? Pay attention to emotion.
  • Did the customer have any trouble achieving their goal? Keep track of the effort customers have to put.
  • Was the customer able to achieve the goal? Was the interaction successful?

Let’s discuss one by one:

1. Emotion

In today’s uncertain world, conveying meaningful emotion through digital channel presents a significant challenge for brands. By finding the right balance of listening and speaking, you can establish an empathic connection with your customers. Understanding what are the priorities of your customers, employees and partners alike can help you deliver a complete service founded on trust and confidence.

2. Effort

It is paramount to eliminate any potential obstacles on your customers’ journey. The customers should struggle as little as possible – if at all, in achieving their goal. Try to simplify the process and make it easier for your customers to make decisions. The task itself should not be challenging, as the seamless flow and connection of your brand’s digital channels are crucial for fulfilling customer expectations. Make your messages clear and effective, and above all timely. The current climate is unpredictable and changes could be happening when you least expect them. By tailoring communication to the place and time of the situation you can ensure customer loyalty and keep customer churn at the minimum.

3. Success

When it comes to the third and final element of digital experience, the customer can either successfully complete the task or not. It is how much trouble they went through until completing the task that counts. Ask yourself what you can incorporate to make a difference in approach to your digital experience. Analyse your strong and weak points and finetune them to make your customers successful in each of their experience with your brand.

How do others do it?

An Australia based media company leverage verbatim feedback to adapt to their customer’s needs quickly. The company learned that their pricing blocks were too loud when reporting on COVID-19, and in accordance with that, they managed to change and adapt easily and rapidly.

The Covid-19 has turned the world upside down. Isolation and hardships of many can give your brand a chance to excel your digital experience with a refreshed and empathic sense of purpose. What you do now is what will differentiate your brand in the post-COVID -19 world, as the one who went above and beyond when it was needed the most.


Sandra RadlovackiSandra RadlovackiJune 19, 2020
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3min1051

The finalists for the 2020 UK Digital Experience Awards have been announced, and the line-up promises an exciting day of insightful presentations and tough decisions for judges.

The event is celebrating its sixth year of honouring the British organisations that offer customers a truly unique Digital Experience while using their technology, websites, and apps.

On July 16, those shortlisted for the finals will present their best initiative before an expert judging panel via video conferencing platform. Among the names that have made it to the finals this year are Greenwood Campbell, Ascenti, BT Enterprise, EE and Refinitiv. For a full list of categories and finalists click here.

The Panel of Judges gathers experts from the digital field, featuring names like Jo Boswell, Director of Sentio-B, Clive Hilton, Delivery Director at Contino, Sharon Reeves, Director of CX at Pendragon PLC; and many more.

The finalists will compete for 14 category titles, before an Overall Winner is crowned at an online ceremony. Categories this year include Best AppBest Digital Change & TransformationOnline User Experience, and SEO Strategy, among others.

Meanwhile, official awards partners this year include children’s charity Barnardo’sProfessor Malcolm McDonaldMartech Advisor, and Cranfield School of Management.

Hosting the event is Awards International, holders of a Gold Standard Awards Trust Mark from the Independent Awards Standards Council.

Speaking of the 2020 UKDXA finalists, Awards International CEO Neil Skehel said: “The standard of entries this year has been nothing short of fantastic, and the projects and initiatives that will be judged on the day are incredibly exciting. A huge congratulations to all finalists, and we look forward to welcoming them to at the LIVE online event and celebrating their outstanding digital achievements.”

For further details and to book seats for the awards, click here.


Natalie CrampNatalie CrampJune 18, 2020
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10min1335

The phrase ‘unprecedented times’ has been used so much in reference to the Coronavirus that it can seem like an empty cliché.

We have after all been presented with new extraordinary circumstances on a daily basis for months on end. Now, with lockdowns easing and the retail industry opening back up, we can be forgiven for thinking the unprecedented times are now at an end. However, this could not be further from the truth.

All of us, and particularly retailers, are entering uncharted waters. Many businesses are moving from the relative clarity of being fully shut or online only to the more complex position of trading under restrictive and unique circumstances. Navigating this new normal is going to be very difficult but it can be made easier by collecting and using data to make more informed decisions.

The biggest question facing retailers is how will consumers react to the easing of lockdown. We saw in the first week of non-essential shops opening up queues around the corner for some outlets.

Undoubtedly, as the weeks go on we will get plenty of news reports indicating whether there has been a complete bounce back, a steady increase, an initial glut followed by a sharp drop off or a worryingly flat response. The reality is that these industry wide stats will take months to give us even a general picture of what is happening. For individual retailers, this will be too late to react and adapt.

Retailers need to take control of the situation by having a proactive strategy underpinned by data. The exact approach will vary markedly between businesses, however, for SMEs right up to large chains, there are overarching principles that I believe will help frame their response:

Identify the data you have

Website analytics, sales data, marketing and social media engagement stats etc. are available to nearly every business and will provide the bedrock for understanding how conditions have changed and (most importantly) could change in the future. If you don’t currently collect this data, it is absolutely critical to set up processes that will store it in a manner in which it can be easily analysed.

Identify the data you don’t have

Often the biggest knowledge gap retailers have is in store. Beyond simple transaction data, retailers are blind to footfall, customer journeys around the store, connecting in store customers with online identities, how and why sales are abandoned and the general sentiment of customers. Add to this incomplete information on online customers and many businesses can be surprised by how little they actually know about their customer base.

This data dearth can manifest itself in low marketing engagement stats, inaccurate predictive modelling for sales and, most visibly, an inability to answer simple questions – for example, ‘which of my customers are vulnerable?’. Recognising what you don’t know is an essential step towards getting the data you need to know.

Define the questions you want to answer

There are dozens of metrics that can be collected and fed into data science algorithms, however, more data isn’t necessarily better. Not all data points are created equal, nor is it practical or wise to attempt to collect everything you can – it is a pointless and time-consuming exercise.

The best approach is to first think about the questions you want and need answers to now. For example, how does in store footfall compare to pre-lockdown? How many customers are not making purchases due to queues because of restrictions? Are the in store customers new or online customers that prefer to now shop in physical locations? From your list of questions, you’ll be able to work with your data specialists to determine the exact data points you need and therefore what new information you need to collect.

Create a plan to collect the data

This is where businesses can often get bogged down in complexity. Dreaming up cunning marketing or engagement strategies to get customers to part from their data may look good on paper, but when time is of the essence and money is tight they are far from practical.

Companies often approach data collection with a near-fatal misconception that customers need to be duped into providing their data. The reality is that many people are happy to provide information directly if they approached in a transparent manner and can see the clear benefit of doing so.

Asking customers questions via in store surveys or online polls is often the most effective strategy. With conditions as they are, most will understand why you would need to know their thoughts and feelings.

For information that can’t be easily obtained by direct questioning or observations from your in store staff (e.g. on footfall), technology can provide assistance. One example is using fintech software that captures and collates card data from purchases, helping you to link in store and online identities.

Analyse the data – quickly

The depth to which a business analyses data is of course dependent on their resources. There will also be large variations in the approach that will work best – updating existing models, creating new algorithms, looking at how data is integrated into the existing enterprise software and Business Intelligence platforms etc..

However, with the retail environment likely to be highly volatile, the key will be to ensure that the insights gained are updated as regularly as possible – ideally in real time. It is also worth noting that getting assistance from data scientists isn’t as expensive or daunting as it sounds.

Often they can work with a business to quickly set up the models that are needed and, with the right data architecture in place, they can, with a little training, be run by any member of staff to continually provide insights.

Ensure your teams understand it

This is worryingly so often missed. There is little point in having a plethora of data or indeed any insight if it cannot be acted upon. This should not be the purview of a data science team but something that every team member across the business is confident to do. They need to understand the insight relevant to their role, its limitations and be able to take quick action – be that switching off a customer marketing campaign, or influencing decisions on ordering from your supply chain.

Test, learn and adapt

Exactly how to ‘act’ will not necessarily be clear – we are after all in uncharted water – however a scientific approach can help to mitigate risk and light the way forward. This is a perfect time to test strategies and retailers need to be bold in doing so, and adapting quickly from the data they get. If, for example, you’re presented with data that in store sales conversions are very low, you can test different solutions to identify which is the most effective. A good data scientist will be able to assist you by stripping out other variables to tell you exactly which factors are moving the numbers.

I know for a lot of businesses data collection and analysis will be far from top of their list of problems to tackle in a post-lockdown world. Nevertheless, I can’t stress enough how important it is to make business decisions based on facts rather than emotion or ‘gut feeling’. Any data that helps to illuminate these unprecedented times may be enough to give your business the edge that helps it not only to survive, but also to thrive.


Sam HoldingSam HoldingJune 17, 2020
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5min1273

Just a 5 percent increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability by 75 percent; and for most marketers, this is not news.

Customer experience and loyalty have lately been brought into the epicentre of marketing operations, as the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting economic impact affect critical business KPIs at organisations across a variety of industries and geos.

Many businesses are redirecting their strategy to focus more on customer experience, from both a proactive standpoint and a reactive one. During a crisis, like the current pandemic, it all comes down to customer communications.

For most industry sectors, email marketing is pivotal to customer experience and loyalty, and not without a good reason. Email is a truly powerful tool:

  • It follows your customers everywhere: on laptops, smartphones, tablets, watches, etc.
  • It’s friendly and easy to use for consumers, and cost effective for businesses
  • It’s a rich medium that supports a wide range of content type, design assets, and engagement tools

Using email marketing effectively can have a direct, positive impact not only on sales, but also on customer engagement and loyalty. So, how can organisations develop a good email practice? Here are a few tips to help transform the ability to educate and inform, minimising frustrations for both marketers and customers during challenging times.

Make it relevant

Like most of us, your customers probably receive hundreds of emails every day. Each morning they go through their inbox and choose what’s for reading and what’s for the junk folder, or prioritise those emails that appeal to them most.

Content that’s relevant to your customer base, which is brief but well-written, is more likely to be read. If your audience is large and diverse, perform some segmentation and adjust your content to match each group’s interests and needs. Another good practice is to use geographical criteria in order to help your customers connect with other customers, service providers in their area, or the local community.

Make it clear

During a crisis, it’s more important than ever to understand and use customer data. Knowing where customers are in their journey can help organisations identify needs and create opportunities for proactive message development.

By offering helpful information to customers, brands can effectively evangelise their customer-first approach, while demonstrating their ability to understand customer needs by merging data with communications and thoughtful messaging.

Make it transactional – but be human

According to Experian, transactional emails are opened 8 times more often than typical marketing emails. But even when it’s generated automatically, the email is still a communication stream and, like any other type of communication, it can bring together all the characteristics of human interaction.

Emails come packed with expectations. People expect your emails to follow the usual norms and principles of social interactions. Particularly during the lockdown, It’s essential to keep in mind that your audience is made up of real people – so be friendly, be candid, and use normal language.

Invest in proactive outreach to lighten customer service backlogs

While ramping up a customer service workforce takes time, strategising email marketing to mitigate the burden on customer experience is something that can be done with speed and efficiency, and provide rapid return. Clear, informative messaging has the ability to proactively address future confusion and allow for self-troubleshooting.

Tightening your messaging strategy and content makes it easy to further support your customer-facing workforce by maintaining consistency and minimising confusion as the team engage with customers.

These “front-line” interactions hold a lot of weight for the overall brand and can be the difference between well-informed, satisfied customers and confused, dissatisfied ones.

Ask for feedback

No matter how good you are, or how closely you are following your well-designed strategy, there’s always room for improvement. By asking your customers for feedback you can maintain a healthy, open, two-way communication between your organisation and your target audience while showing that you are willing to adjust and cater to their needs.

Bonus: collecting feedback frequently will help you remain relevant to your customers’ needs and interests.


Paul ElworthyPaul ElworthyJune 16, 2020
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12min1340

Companies are now under intense pressure to review what they do and how they operate, which for many includes big technology shifts, including, better use of digital channels, automation and cloud technologies.

But, there’s a problem. It seems as though many digital change and transformations have been more than underwhelming when it comes to value realisation. Probably not a surprising point for many of us who work with organisations, helping them adapt to shifting customer expectations and market conditions. Look at the stats…

  • 73 percent of enterprises failed to provide any business value whatsoever from their digital change and transformation efforts, according to an Everest Group report;
  • Accenture have found that, out of 1,350 global players, 78 percent struggled to see results;
  • KPMG have reported that one in three CEOs (34 percent) say their organisations have failed to achieve the value they anticipated from previous transformation initiatives.

Why are so many transformations failing to deliver real return?

Change is a complex thing, particularly for organisations that are in themselves complex, with inflexible legacy systems, manual processes and ways of working, all getting in the way. There are lots of issues to contend with – but three big hairy problems, probably worth highlighting:

  1. A desire to ‘get on with it’ and make change happen can be great to encourage momentum, but it also can result in programmatic leaps, particularly between initial strategic intent and end solution development, resulting in key design and planning work, to define the exact problem and business needs, being missed out or squeezed. The result? Solutions being built, that don’t work and don’t answer the right problem.
  2. A monolithic ‘all or nothing’ approach is adopted, with delivery plans failing to release business value incrementally, resulting in inefficient resourcing, cumbersome work packages and poor ROI;
  3. The underlying culture and ‘ways of working’ are poorly aligned to the job in hand, such as lack of engagement from leadership; a delivery team that wants to be ‘agile’, but isn’t; limited capability to adapt to evolving business needs; misalignments in objectives and priorities across business line; all ultimately creating a drag on engagement and value release across the organisation.

Of course, these are pretty knotty problems, and there’s no single fix, but having seen many of these challenges myself and discussed key issues with clients and other consultants in the field, there is one common link that gets a common mention. That link is the gap in how business strategy is defined and applied through the deployment of the programme and new technology solutions.

This doesn’t actually sound that straightforward a problem to resolve, but it is a problem where a combination of good Business Design and Business Architecture can be a big help.

A key missing link – Business Design and Architecture

How do I come to that conclusion? Well, let’s first of all understand what Business Design and Business Architecture actually are.

The role of Business Designer (BD) was originally established by the design agency, IDEO, who describe the role as the job of applying “a human-centred approach to innovation and applying the principles and practices of design to help organizations create new value and new forms of competitive advantage”.

Business Architecture (BA) is an integral part of Enterprise Architecture and according to TOGAF (Open Group Architecture Framework) “defines the business strategy, governance, organization, and key business processes”.

Whilst BD tends to focus on innovation, business and product modelling within a service design agency setting, and BA tends to be integrated into a CIO strategy or Enterprise Architecture function, both disciplines, at their core, work to similar goals. They both aim to understand and describe strategy, capability, stakeholder motivations (which includes customers), plus aid the design of new approaches and innovations.

With a primary focus back into the business, but capable of being a key strategic link into technology, combined disciplines are perfectly placed to ensure that digital change and transformation activities don’t simply become technology led activities, but remain strategically focused on delivering against a business outcome-based set of requirements.

In doing so, they can help close the gap in value realisation which clearly exists in many programmes today.

10 ways in which Business Design and Architecture can help

1. By defining clear and compelling vision and strategy for change.

Although a vision and set of strategies exist within most programmes, they are not always clearly translated into value for customers and stakeholders. The process of vision definition is something that Business Designers can help deliver through stakeholder co-creation and strategic assessment of the business, its value proposition, operating model and market.

2. Double-checking that your change is feasible.

This means establishing a solid understanding of what needs to change, how it will be done, and associated value return ahead of any detailed design. If gaps between vision, objectives and solutions are only exposed later on, it can be much harder to change course. Because both BD and BA are focused on defining the key building blocks to change upfront, this risk can be mitigated.

3. Making sure everyone’s role is understood.

BAs, in particular, are able to develop a focused view on what changes are needed in organisational capabilities, services and functions, so that there is a clear view of how each part of the organisation will contribute to overall realisation of change.

4. Aligning financial forecasting and change planning.

I’ve seen many instances where businesses and change programmes become derailed either through underestimation of effort, overestimation of benefit or misalignment between traditional budgeting processes versus agile (incremental) delivery. Both BD and BA approaches help businesses establish value driven plans which are more likely to realise value in line with business expectations.

5. Following the thread from strategy to solution.

Continuous alignment of strategy with solution roadmap is key to ensuring longer programmes of work remain true to meeting business goals. It’s also crucial that the course of action can be re-set, in response to changing conditions. In their ‘bridging’ role, BDs and BAs can be key to maintaining alignment across various stakeholder groups (e.g. technology, PMO, operation and business).

6. Delivering business transformation not digital transformation.

Because the BD and BA view is customer and business centric rather than technology centric, the design processes and governance approach used, ensures solution design focuses on realising business value drivers not what the latest shiny tech promises.

7. Doing systems thinking not siloed thinking.

Simply taking an ‘analogue’ process or function and making it ‘digital’ may not be a sound approach. Organisations are systems and change in one place of an enterprise can impact adversely elsewhere. Equally it may be better to simply maintain ‘analogue’ processes if value return from converting to automation is poor. Applying a ‘systems thinking’ approach is something BDs and BAs do, helping ensure joined up business functions, experiences for customers and clear value return.

8. Bringing innovation into change.

Introducing a new automated process to reduce operating cost may be a great idea – but if that automation doesn’t deliver a better experience for customers it may not deliver the full value desired. Taking a user centred design approach, that comes with BD, will help test the quality of solution, drive innovation and ensure change delivers maximum value return to all key stakeholders.

9. Making roadmaps, value led.

It’s vital that all key value drivers are well defined and aligned to delivery increments. Understanding, maintaining and adapting a view across the programme of the key motivations, value streams, tactics and associated deliverables (whether defined through epics, features and stories) are key competencies within BA – and will go some way to ensure that business expectations and technology delivery remain on track.

10. Staying true to core goals – getting rid of ‘pet projects’ and distractions.

It is vital that everyone understands and remains engaged in the reasons for change and how it is to be implemented. If priorities are not well set and continually maintained, there can be a proliferation of demands, priorities become confused, and ‘pet projects’ get spun up that might meet an assumed need, but don’t contribute to the primary goals of change activity. Good BA and BD planning can help minimise this risk.

OK, lots of significant opportunities, but let’s be honest, just by dropping a dose of Business Design and Business Architecture capability into your change and transformation work, is no guarantee of a fix.

However, with so many change and transformations failing to deliver real value, often because of disconnects between business and tech domains, it seems sensible to me to have strong Business Design and Architecture support, as part of your change armoury. That’s if you want to avoid more big value gaps in your CX and digital transformation work.

 

Paul is a Judge at the UK Digital Experience Awards 2020.

 


Sunil TanukuSunil TanukuJune 11, 2020
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5min1894

We are in the early stages of witnessing the convergence of voice-enabled technology into business.

The technology has already entered our households in the last decade of sorts and there is tremendous growth to capitalise on that by several companies with their Internet of Things (IoT) devices. The surge of demand to figure out how voice-enabled technology can be used in Business is the next big thing. The evolution of voice-enabled technology for Enterprise is currently in the first wave of transformation.

There are companies already out there investing into the realm of figuring out how can it be used, what are the early nuances that can be built in, how can it improve efficiency, what are the accelerators that can provide ROI etc. This is changing the paradigm of things and making voice-enabled technology the forefront of discussion in the technology sector.

From amplifying customer experience, improving labour productivity, driving efficiency, and augmenting human aptitude to name a few, there is a multitude of several benefits that can be offered to the needs of a successful enterprise.

Today’s workforce spends a lot of time on non-value-added activities that are very administrative in nature leaving them less time to focus on value-added activities. Voice-enabled technology can reduce or eliminate the non-value-added activities through automation built in the form of accelerators so the workforce can spend more time to come up with solutions meaningful for the company and their business thereby driving more revenue.

Data Heuristics built into deep learning can augment human aptitude to deliver solutions with speed to market, reduced operational costs and better profitability. Digital transformation provided new avenues to connect between producers and consumers enhancing the scale at which providers can personalise the experience for their customers. Deep learning combined with predictable algorithms can drive consumer behaviour to a successful outcome for the producer to amplify customer experience and increased revenue.

Business operations can be repetitive but important to be done. Simple tasks like setting up meetings, sending emails, office management, ordering supplies, centralising invoices and several other tasks can be efficiently done today driving efficiency and streamlining processes with improved controls.

As businesses integrate themselves with systems even more, voice-enabled technology can serve as common denominator through seamless integration and availability uncovering synergies around business models and coming up with relationship hierarchies.

Non-functional aspects like performance, reliability, portability and maintenance are some of the foundational elements for artificial intelligence with scope of improvement. However, other non-functional aspects like interoperability should be defined with varying levels of flexibility for each service provisioned through this technology. The amount of security that needs to be built in, the choices for multiple technology solutions on the same product, conversational AI and the usage of it will have to be bundled together to deliver the business a value-driven experience to invest for the future.

The evolution of this technology in Business can be classified into waves where wave 1 of companies are called “discoverers” who would like to explore to see the possibilities that can be offered and make plans as part of their strategic initiatives. Wave 2 of the companies are called “followers” who would like to jump into it if there is a definitive value case. We are currently in wave 1 of the equation. While the progress in the discoverers wave is not as swift as expected, the progression will be slow before wave 2 picks up.

Today, the role of voice-enabled technology in Business should be considered as something that will slowly be adopted but the gains and efficiencies that it can bring in will be worthwhile.

 

Sunil Tanuku is a Judge at the International Customer Experience Awards 2020.


Peter BarkerPeter BarkerJune 5, 2020
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6min1518

It’s proven that intuitive personalisation deepens customer engagement and improves conversion rates.

Therefore, against the background of ever-growing content estates and increasing customer expectations, a robust content strategy is paramount to successfully achieving this level of personalisation.

Why the cornerstone?

We’ve seen a continual trend in businesses taking a journalistic, storytelling approach to conveying their value. In the professional services sector, customers are looking to buy knowledge, understanding and deep specialism.

Being able to demonstrate this to a prospective client in a very contextually relevant way is key to achieving conversion. And this is true across all industries, though the product may differ, the benefits of a well-executed content strategy remain the same. Indeed, 92 percent of marketers reported that their company views content as a business asset.

Your audience, their individual challenges, their place in the customer journey, when and how they are served the content all play a huge part in the success of your business. With so many moving parts, how can you build an effective content offering? Where do you start?

It’s time to get personal

We know that people now expect to be known by brands and it’s been proven to increase customer engagement – in fact, 74 percent of customers feel frustrated when website content isn’t personalised. But to plan and design a successful personalised content strategy you’ll need to understand your user’s journey and then bake it into your content creation.

Start with what you do know and build from there. You’ll have access to explicit data points like geographical location and so on. From this, you can start to uncover more implicit data based on user interactions and behaviours. This is the foundation for segmentation, which will ultimately decide the kinds of content you serve and should inform how you brief and create content.

This knowledge will help you create a clear taxonomy and tagging strategy, which is key for fulfilling the technological requirements of content personalisation.

Clear taxonomy at the heart

To create this a robust personalisation platform, you need to build profiles from all your customer behaviour: explicit user activity and data, CRM and other sources. That allows for unified profiling – combining data sets to pattern match your content taxonomy. This can all be done through a platform such as Sitecore or Episerver. You can then create a taxonomy based on your profiles and tag content to be served to the right users. Once established, you can test and optimise in real time to see what’s working, what’s not and feed new interactions and content quickly.

It’s an approach Rufus Leonard recently deployed for a leading global professional services client. Architected on a high-performing Azure PaaS solution design, we consolidated and re-platformed two global sites into a central Sitecore platform; geared towards accelerating new customer acquisition and building loyalty.

Content was king for the new site, with over 30,000 articles to navigate in multiple languages. So the new site features complex dynamic UI delivered to double accessibility requirements and content management across the huge multilingual content estate, extensive taxonomy and Azure search integration.

The next step is to automate

Fortunately, the last couple of years has seen artificial intelligence-led automation being introduced to reduce the workload in both understanding your customer segments and their likes and dislikes.

In addition, we can now also use intelligent auto classification of content, where the system understands where content fits in your taxonomy and what profiles or segments will respond to it best. So get a system that you can feed initially and which will learn some rules and be able to curate your digital estate with less work.

The future of content

People now expect personalisation so much, they may only notice it by its absence. Start small, build on what you know, test and optimise continually. A personalised content strategy and platform requires investment, effort, data aggregation and an organisational mindset shift to really be effective in driving engagement, but the benefits to your business and your customers will be exponential.

Rufus Leonard is a winner at the UK Digital Experience Awards 19. 

There is still time to take advantage of the Early Bird Discount at the UK Digital Experience Awards 20!


Sandra RadlovackiSandra RadlovackiJune 4, 2020
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2min957

A new research revealed the majority of UK consumers feel most comfortable using traditional passwords over biometric options.

Users are still sticking to tradition despite technology finding its way into people’s lives through their phones and bank accounts.

The research conducted by security solutions firm Specops Software shows that people in the UK are hesitant to use biometric authentication methods such as iris or face recognition, fingerprint or retina scan, as 78 percent rather use a traditional password.

The token method comes a close second, with 72 percent of people feel most comfortable using it. SMS authentication, signature and voice recognition are further down the list, with 66 percent, 53 percent and 44 percent of people comfortable using them.

Hacking is one of the primary reasons behind people’s reluctance towards biometric authentication methods. However, following tips on keeping private information safe, such as staying away from public Wi-Fi networks when logging into important accounts or implementing multi-factor authentication, can leave little room for doubt about the level of the security.

Click here for the full release.


Rebecca BrownRebecca BrownJune 4, 2020
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9min1238

Author: Rebecca Brown

Moving with the times, innovating or keeping up with the Joneses when it comes to customer experience is never easy.

Sometimes it can feel like it’s made even harder by the array of options open to businesses. Being spoilt for choice in an era where decision fatigue is high and the pressure is on to evolve or cease to exist, can leave you more than just confused. It can feel outright overwhelming, especially when it comes to your online presence.

AI has been leading the way when it comes to online innovation, with sophisticated chat-bots that can actually replicate conversation, and automated marketing campaigns that learn from your customer behaviour.

A top ten list of successfully deployed chat-bots was published this week, which talked about a bot that had been programmed to answer questions as Albert Einstein. Suddenly that question of who would you invite to a dinner party, past or present, takes on whole new possibilities…

That said, for every successfully deployed intuitive chat-bot, there are many that haven’t worked so well, leaving customers feeling angry and frustrated at the lack of human assistance. A great example of a bot that’s just missed the mark completely is InspiroBot – a bot that’s sole purpose is to generate inspirational quotes with an image behind it. Whilst I’m sure it’s still getting a fair hit rate based on the occasional blooper is spot on my LinkedIn feed, it’s safe to say that it’s neither appropriate or inspirational when a bot populates the statement ‘There’s no excuse for being Dumb’ as its best effort.

So you might think it’s safest to just do what everyone else is doing? Think again.

Dominos Pizza released an app that enabled the user to order their previously saved pizza by simply opening the app. No swiping, clicking or frantically searching for payment cards that your toddler may or may not have tucked down the back of her mini oven. Just instant, easy ordering. So impressive, that it almost makes you want to try and replicate it doesn’t it? Only here is the issue – it really can’t be applied to the vast majority of brands.

It can be so tempting to look at what other businesses are doing (or what your competitors are doing) when considering how to move your business into the next generation, but even that isn’t guaranteed to work.

Your competition may have different brand values, a different customer base or different systems that they plug into. There can be no one size fits all approach to maximising the potential of your website whether it’s one page detailing your services or a complex web estate.

So, what are your best options?

Call in the experts

As a CX practitioner, I would never try to pass as a surgeon. I wouldn’t be very good and I’m incredibly squeamish. So why try to perform the functions of a web designer or user experience expert? Leaving the innovation to UX professionals who’ve trained, who keep up to date with the latest technologies and can do the relevant customer research required to build an effective solution is by far the best way. If you can’t afford to hire someone permanently then there are some great contractors or agencies out there, doing really exciting things!

Don’t try to be like everyone else

Speak to your customers, find out their frustrations with your online presence and fix what irritates them the most. Your customer’s frustrations will be unique to their experience with you, so implementing a solution that worked for others will leave you just as likely to fail as succeed if you haven’t done the relevant research.

Don’t assume that innovation has to mean gadgets and AI

Sometimes the most innovative thing you can do is listen – actually, properly listen – to your customers. As long as you have sufficient technology in place for your customers to contact you when they want, this innovation comes from changing the way your business and its people think, feel and behave – not from buying the latest Content Management System or implanting speech analytics.

If you listen to what your customers have to say, make it as easy as possible for them to say it and then take positive action to not only respond, but to learn as an organisation so that your next customer doesn’t have the same problem, then that’s more innovation than a lot of businesses… Get the basics right, and you’ll see customer loyalty soar. Then if you want to dabble a little with AI – why not?

Bring your customers on the journey with you

Change can be scary. As a society we’ve just undergone a monumental change to the way we live our lives without prior warning, without getting a say and at a whiplash-inducing pace. To a lesser extent, customers feel the same effect when one of their suppliers changes.

To offset this, we need to ensure that any period of reflection and subsequent change is communicated loud and clear to our customers, well ahead of anything actually happening – ideally with a consultative approach. If you believe in making your business the best it can be, and having that reflect in your online offering, then you probably want to make it clear that in your eyes the work will never be ‘finished’.

Continuous improvement is what customer experience is all about, so position that carefully with your customers. State it on your website, in your surveys, on your calls – something as simple as ‘We care about the journey our customers have, so we are committed to consistent improvement across all our services. We might ask you some questions from time to time to help us make sure we get it right, and you may see some changes along the way.’ This is enough to cover most bases, whilst reassuring your customer that they are – and always be – at the heart of everything you do.

 

Check out the previous instalments of Bill and Doug:
Experience Isn’t Enough – You’ll Need a Map Where You’re Going!
Easy as ABC: Employee Recognition and How To Do It Right

Richard WheatonRichard WheatonJune 3, 2020
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9min1076

The rise of mobile as a primary tool for shopping is an inexorable trend – indeed, it is projected that mCommerce will double from 2019–2023 (Eamarketer), ultimately accounting for three-quarters of total e-commerce.

In this new ‘mobile-first’ world, speed is perhaps the most important criteria for good customer experience. Yet, too many brands have been slow to adapt to this new reality. Despite offering a great experience in other ways, they haven’t viewed speed as a KPI that will positively impact business performance and ROI.

We know instinctively as consumers that mobile digital experiences that are responsive and tailored to our needs have a direct impact on the brands we choose to interact with. Research from Salesforce reveals that 83 percent of customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services.

Additionally according to a study by Forrester 70 percent of consumers admit that page speed impacts their willingness to buy from an online retailer.

To investigate these broad assumptions, Google commissioned Fifty-five and Deloitte Digital to embark on the most comprehensive site speed study to date, ‘Milliseconds makes Millions’, that for the first time quantifies the impact of speed on four specific metrics conversion rate, bounce rate, page views per session and average order value.

Surprisingly a study across a range of brands with similar buying intent had not previously been published, presumably due to the challenges of accessing a sufficient quantity of comparable data across several sites to generate statistically robust findings.

Milliseconds make millions

Over a four week period, we analysed mobile site data from 37 retail, travel, luxury and lead generation brands across Europe and the US. It was based on 30 million unique user sessions. Even a small improvement to mobile speed can have a positive effect on business results for brands.

One of the challenges in discussing site speed is that the range of terminology, metrics and dimensions can be confusing for busy executives and digital managers to digest and use to make decisions.

Fifty-five’s goal was to unearth some golden nuggets of insight to make sure that progress can be achieved swiftly. Fifty-five monitored over 30 individual metrics, and reduced them down to a concentrated list that has the most measurable impact on commercial performance. The four specific site speed metrics referred to below are, to give them their technical names, Max Server Latency, First Meaningful Paint, Estimated Input Latency, and Observed Load. These metrics, according to the data, provide some indication of the most valuable areas to investigate.

Our analysis shows that a mere 0.1s change in load time in these four key metrics along the user journey dramatically increases conversion rates. In the retail sites, conversions grew by 8 percent, and in travel by 10 percent on average. With a 0.1s improvement in site speed, we observed that retail consumers spent almost 10 percent more, while lead generation and luxury consumers engaged more, with page views increasing by 7 percent and 8 percent respectively.

The conclusion is abundantly clear. There is a great opportunity to increase sales by making your mobile pages more responsive. And conversely, brands that aren’t focused on speeding up page downloads could be missing out in millions of lost revenue.

The study reveals clear evidence that site speed improvements have a measurable impact on customer engagement, conversions and ultimately a brand’s bottom line.

Adopting a mobile-first mindset

So how should brands react? There is a clear need to make site speed a priority across the organisation by introducing it as a KPI.

They need to introduce the right processes and allocate resources to constantly monitor and optimise their site speed. And we’ve identified seven key steps brands should take to meet the challenge of delivering a truly speed-centric customer experience. These are:

1. Understand the speed status

In order to choose where and how to invest in speed, brands need to know how their site is currently performing. This is both in a stand-alone context and also in comparison to your competitors. Tools such as Google Test My Site enables brands to understand, measure and benchmark your mobile site speed. The Lighthouse is another useful tool which allows you to understand your site speed in the context of different devices.

2. Be clear on the potential impact of mobile site speed on the bottom line

Being equipped with this data will help quantify the impact that site speed changes have on your customer flow, to help you prove the validity of considering speed as a primary performance metric and, ultimately, sell more.

3. Adopt a mobile-first strategy

Mobile-first is essentially a design strategy, more appropriate for satisfying today’s consumers than a purely responsive approach. The mobile-first approach considers mobile users’ needs first and foremost, and its best-practices natively consider site speed and responsiveness as crucial elements of the user experience.

4. Identify speed as one of the primary performance metrics

It’s essential to build consensus to make speed a priority KPI and performance metric. Site owners, designers, strategists, developers and suppliers need to keep speed top of mind when undertaking any mobile site improvements or overhauls.

5. Introduce page speed budget to project teams and clients

Page speed budget or web performance budget is a set of constraints that project teams can use to ensure the mobile site meets performance standards and loads quickly across devices and platforms. It’s easy for a website to grow in size with new functionalities, content and design items but it’s essential to understand the impact on customer time and bandwidth.

Performance, especially speed, should never be compromised for an aesthetic or functional site addition. By introducing a speed budget, the impact of each site amendment or update can be assessed to understand the positive or negative consequence. Anything that does have a negative consequence should be reconsidered.

6. Use the right tools in the right way

All of the above assumes you have the means to report on the status and the effect of site speed at the right level of granularity. It is crucial to use the right tools for both measurement and reporting. Your analytics package needs to be set up correctly, with a strong focus on conversion point, funnels and appropriate KPIs.

7. Create the right culture with the right people

Data & good visualisation need to be embedded within the organisation to establish a performance-centric culture for decision-making. Then, people throughout the business – leadership, strategists, developers, designers, content practitioners and project managers – will have better insights into what is at stake when making decisions around site decisions, and speed will then become a priority metric.

By following this plan brands can ensure that customer experience is being led by the key priority of the end user. Investing in speed is the best route to delivering a truly first-class customer experience.


Sandra RadlovackiSandra RadlovackiMay 25, 2020
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3min1035

A 0.1 seconds improvement in site speed can lead to 10 percent growth in retail sales, according to new research.

The findings of the latest research report ‘Milliseconds make Millions’ reveal the dramatic impact of mobile site speeds on consumers’ willingness to spend money and engage with brands online.

The in-depth report was compiled by global data company fifty-five and Deloitte Digital, and commissioned by Google. It is based on 30 million user sessions on mobile websites of a variety of brands across a number of sectors.

Fifty-five analysed mobile site data from 37 brands from the retail, travel and luxury sectors across Europe, over a four-week period.

The results were surprising as a mere 0.1 second change in website load time can influence the next step of the user journey, ultimately affecting conversion rates.

The findings of three key sectors show:

Retail

Improvement in site speed of one millisecond across four site speed metrics made a striking increase, with consumers spending 9.2 percent more. The findings of 20.5 million sessions across 15 retail brands show that speed on product pages is essential, 3.2 percent increase from Product Listing Page to Product Detail Page and a 9.1 percent increase in progressing to Add to Basket.

Luxury

The data shows that luxury consumers seem to be the most sensitive to speed improvements. The clicks to key pages (e.g. “Contact Us”) are majorly increased, by staggering 20.6 percent, when the key site speed was improved by 0.1 seconds. There was also a 40.1 percent increase in users moving from product detail to add to basket and resulting in overall longer sessions. These findings are based on 2.1 million user sessions across 10 luxury brands.

Travel

The findings based on 7.4 million user sessions across six brands showed steady growth, culminating in a 2.2 increase in check-out completion.

Richard Wheaton, Managing Director at fifty-five London comments: “As the most comprehensive site speed research report ever completed, this is a wake-up call to brands to adopt a mobile-first mentality. The benchmarks we’ve created in this report will help brands move beyond being inwardly focused, and identify wider measures of performance that may be putting themselves ahead or behind their competitors. Brands really need to re-think their digital processes and KPIs in this mobile-first world, to ensure that site design and technical enhancements are generating the positive ROI, and not actually unintentionally harming sales by driving customers away.”


Lindsay LucasLindsay LucasMay 15, 2020
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9min1841

The telecoms industry is one of the richest in terms of data, but many are struggling to realise its true value and potential.

The very nature of the telecoms industry means that it is a data-rich environment. It, more than almost any other, has a huge amount of regular data streams, often containing valuable data.

Understanding what this data is, where it sits and how it can be used intelligently, in-line with regulations and customer’s expectations, is going to be absolutely key for the industry over the next few years.

Not seeing the wood for the trees

The amount of data collected every day is remarkable. For example, an operator serving 8 million prepaid mobile subscribers generates around 30 million call data records daily, equalling 11 billion records annually. If that operator also provides post-paid and fixed-line services then the data increases exponentially.

Undoubtedly, the potential of this data is huge. Adding to this, payment and contract details, trends in usage, mobile data, insurance, app downloads, Geo locations and on and on, it is easy to see how this data has the potential to add to a company’s knowledge of its own customers and allow it to take data-driven decisions around customer communication and the reduction of churn.

The collection, storage and dissemination of data are in most cases, already built into the everyday operations of most telecoms companies. However, gaining an understanding and getting a grip on the sheer amount of data that telecoms companies handle is one of the major areas of frustration for them.

Growth through acquisition adds to this. The reality is that systems will not have been merged or consolidated so that the data is coming through one system in the same format. So now you have huge amounts of data coming through in potentially different formats in different systems. If identifying the most accurate, useful data was a challenge before, it is a near impossible task now.

What challenges can data help telcos overcome?

The fact that the data telcos hold can add huge value to companies is nothing new. Understanding that data can help with the consistent challenge of customer churn is also widely recognised.

Roughly 75 percent of the 17 to 20 million subscribers signing up with a new wireless carrier every year are coming from another wireless provider and are therefore already churners. This is a huge amount of money and people, so retaining just a small percentage of these customers using data that you already have just makes sense.

Much of this churn is a result of poor customer experience. The latest UK Customer Satisfaction Index from January 2020 is at its lowest levels since 2015. The Telecommunications and Media sector is rated at 74.8 placing it in the bottom four sectors (along with local public services, utilities and transport).

Therefore, improving customer service is absolutely key to reducing churn, keep customers happy and retain that income. The old adage of it costing five times as much to attract a new customer as it does to keep an existing one remains true.

This competitive landscape is not getting any easier. The established telco companies across the sector are being challenged by smaller, more agile, new firms that are able to offer the customer experience expected by consumers immediately. They are not weighed down by legacy systems or poorly integrated infrastructure from acquired companies.

Competitive landscapes have also seen prices squeezed like never before, adding more pressure on telco companies. Margins are minimal which brings its own challenge, but again is one that can be helped by a better understanding of the data that resides within companies.

More telco companies are turning to data maturity assessments in order to find out where data is being held, how it is being used and by who. This full picture is the crucial first step in using the data more intelligently. Without this companies can never have a clear understanding of what data is available to them and how they can use it.

What challenges does data itself present telcos?

The sheer volume of data, as has been discussed, is in itself causing a real issue. It is not just the data collected by the telecoms company itself. Many have to interface with supply chains and suppliers such as BT Openreach. Therefore, the data is coming from multiple places, not just in-house systems.

Alongside this, when data is collected, stored and managed by different business units within the organisation there can be real confusion.

More often than not each business unit is storing and using the data in different formats, most of which cannot communicate with each other. Add to this the third-party data and other systems incorporated via acquisition, the picture is one of data confusion.

The other issue confronting telecom companies is one of an increasingly complex regulatory landscape.

In order to secure adherence, and more importantly, remaining secure, telecoms companies have to ensure that they understand where their data is coming from, how it is used and where it is stored. Without this information, companies are risking laying themselves open to possible breaches.

Overcoming the challenges and making data a key asset by understanding your data maturity

Identifying and understanding your organisations data maturity can be overwhelming.

However, telcos are turning to data maturity models designed to help businesses along the way. Turning to third party solutions takes away the resource pressure of beginning to tackle the huge amount of data held by telecom companies.

The automated process means large amounts of data can be analysed, giving companies an understanding of how their data is collected.

It can gather data across the entire company, from disparate systems and formats. This gives an indication as to where the valuable data is held and how it can be used to allow companies to make informed decisions as to future strategy.

Data undoubtedly continues to cause issues for telecom companies, but the benefits of leveraging it are huge. This has been recognised by many in the industry for years, but now is the time for companies to act.

Data maturity assessments play an important role in taking the first step for a better understanding of the data held within companies. Without this first step, most companies are unable to gain the insight they need to start to address the key issues impacting the sector.

 

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Sonja KotrotsosSonja KotrotsosApril 29, 2020
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8min1801

The extent of change in the retail industry has been remarkable. People are talking to personal shopping robots, storefronts are morphing to mirror passers-by, and consumers are using hand-held computers to digitally try on clothes from the comfort of their own homes.

As a result of these changes, the evolution of traditional operational models and other trends that will present significant opportunities for digital retailers fall into 5 broad categories.

1. Options for Shopping Channels and Devices Will Continue to Grow

Omnichannel retailers use technology to tie together shopping channels to “…create a unified shopping experience across every single device and channel that a consumer uses to interact with their business.”

This approach to retail provides consumers with a seamless and continuous flow at every touchpoint regardless if they’re researching or making a purchase. And, omnichannel retail product and content delivery is practically a requirement for brands that want to remain modern and competitive.

The average digital consumer has five profiles across various online channels. And the majority of them expect consistent interactions across every profile they use to shop and interact with retailers.

What’s more, omnichannel shoppers spend an average of 4% more on every in-store shopping trip and 10% more online. Compared to single-channel shoppers, omnichannel shoppers visit their favourite retailers’ 23% more often and have a 30% higher lifetime value. Yet, 55% of shoppers still say their retail experience is “disjointed” when switching between channels, and only 22% of North American retailers consider omnichannel retail a priority.

There is a significant disconnect between today’s shoppers and retailers—which presents a critical opportunity for ecommerce businesses that can provide seamless products, content, and experiences across channels.

2. Shoppers Will Use Augmented Reality to “Interact” With Digital Products

Augmented reality (AR) technology enables shoppers to use cameras on their smart devices to display digital elements in the physical world. Brands like IKEA and Converse are setting the standard for how brands can take advantage of AR to enable their shoppers to get a “feel” for products before purchasing them online.

IKEA enables shoppers to use their smartphones to virtually “place” furniture in their homes so they can visualise how certain products will fit into the space before making a commitment. Converse’s smartphone app helps shoppers virtually try on shoes and share their AR-enhanced pics on social media!

3. Facial Recognition and Device Tracking Will Become The Norm

In 2020, retail businesses will hone in on omnichannel marketing and sales by integrating data gathered in-person with online customer profiles. This type of tracking is possible using radio frequency identification (RFID)-enabled beacons and WiFi to track devices, sensors to monitor movement, and cameras and facial recognition software to identify specific consumers. Retailers will finally be able to understand how shoppers interact with their physical stores the same way they use analytics tools to tell what’s happening in their digital ones!

Bringing together web, mobile, social, and now in-person data will put retailers in a position to provide 360-degree customer experiences in 2020.

Using smart cameras and sensors, Eyewear retailer BonLook can tell you how many glasses-wearing women in their target age range walk by any one of their shops, at any given time, on any given day.

Furthermore, they can break down how many of those people came into the store and how many completed a transaction. Using this information, BonLook was able to grow their conversions overnight just by updating their storefront advertising to better appeal to the group of passers-by whom they wanted to convert.

4. The Advertising Model Will Morph Into Something New

Google, Amazon, and the big social media networks like Facebook, Instagram and YouTube dominate digital commerce advertising. Google and Facebook combined take in 61% of all digital advertising spend in the U.S., on average.

Over $270 billion was spent globally on digital ads in 2018 alone. Americans are exposed to between 4,000 and 10,000 advertisements every single day—and at least 75% of them engage in at least one form of ad-blocking. Consumers are overwhelmed, jaded, and less and less likely than ever to click on traditional, “interruption-based” ads.

Hence in 2020 and beyond, we’ll see advertising become more non-traditional, experiential, and naturally embedded in everyday experiences. A great example is Procter & Gamble’s Bare Skin Chat YouTube series, which features relevant celebrities in entertaining videos that are both engaging and informational—and has millions of views. In 2020, digital commerce advertising  will be driven by creating experiences that consumers want.

5. Voice-Based Digital Commerce Will Generate Billions

Smart speakers are no passing trend. In 2018, there were 2.5 billion voice-enabled devices. Predictions are that by 2023 there will be 8 billion of them.

By some estimates, as many as half of all searches may be done by voice in 2020. And how about the voice-powered shopping market, specifically? Estimates are that the market is going to exceed $40 billion by 2022. If businesses are not optimizing the products and content on a website or app for voice search, then 2020  will see them upgrade.

The need for consistency

To drive consistency across this scope of technologies, a flexible and scalable CMS is paramount.  A headless content management system (CMS) is a key tool in empowering retailers to create content once and publish it everywhere.

Because a headless CMS has no built-in front-end system that determines how or where content will be displayed, content managers can serve consistent content experiences across websites, apps, chatbots, connected home devices, voice assistants, and more.

It is entirely possible that to span the most basic customer journey, a business will need AR app integration that allows shoppers to interact with digital products, facial recognition and smart software gathering in-person data.  The new reality of retail is not just the old adage that retail is detail but that detail is now in the highest of definition from multiple sources.


Morten IllumMorten IllumApril 22, 2020
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5min1231

As we are a few months into a new decade and look back at what we’ve achieved in just 10 years, I’m in awe of how much we’ve managed to accomplish in such a short space of time.

Not only has the last decade given us ubiquitous smartphones and Wi-Fi, plus the introduction of 5G networks, it’s also rolled out the Internet of Things (IoT), the cloud, edge computing, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning and Mixed Reality.

This was the decade that saw former Fortune 500 companies going spectacularly bust because they failed to keep up with the changes created by technology. On the flip side, it also saw basement-born start-ups using technology to completely transform trillion-dollar industries.

It’s clear that this past decade has been one of the most disruptive, yet productive periods of history ever.

And at the very heart of all this progress is one crucial element. Data.

Data is the new oil, but better

Just as steam, electricity and electronics propelled the three revolutions that preceded it, data – and in particular the sheer volumes created by IoT – has been the driving force behind what’s become known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

To give you an idea of scale, at the beginning of the last decade, the world produced about 1.2 zettabytes of data. By 2025, the IDC says worldwide data will grow 61% to 175 zettabytes, and 90 zettabytes of this data will be created on IoT devices.

There’s no doubt that data truly is the new oil, but better, because unlike oil, data is easily extracted (with the right technology in place of course), and its supplies are infinite. What’s more, we can use data numerous times to gain new insights and unlock new value.

It’s D-Day for data at the Edge

Data has ushered in a new digital era for businesses, society and individuals – one that’s revolutionising customer and employee experiences, creating more dynamic, responsive, and personalised business models, and even sparking entirely new industries. Importantly, however, it is also an era that has seen activity move increasingly to the edge of the network.

As we have entered a new data-driven, decentralised decade, this will bring fresh challenges. For example, while the growing use of IoT is providing organisations with new data to make intelligent decisions about business operations, it’s also opening more and more doors all over the network for malicious actors to exploit vulnerabilities. Securing these devices and this data will be critical this year and the years to come.

Failure to prepare is preparing to fail

The biggest lesson I’ve learned from the past decade is that it would be reckless not to plan for the eventuality of further disruption. With data set to drive the next decade of that disruption, business must act now to leverage the massive amounts of data they continue to generate.

This will require businesses to implement highly reliable, secure and accessible infrastructure at the core, and innovation and intelligence at the edge. It will require stakeholders to embrace uncertainty and ambiguity, and it will also require an understanding that some risk-taking will be needed.

Because we don’t know what this new decade will look like. We don’t know exactly what obstacles we will encounter and what opportunities we will embrace. But we do know that data will be at the centre of it all.


Sandra RadlovackiSandra RadlovackiApril 16, 2020
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3min1474

Capita Consulting announces adoption of the OutSystems low-code platform to improve the solutions offered to their government, financial services, healthcare and utilities clients.

Low-code software development approach replaces thousands of lines of complex code and allows faster delivery of application, as well as building complete applications with modern-user interfaces.

Developers can easily skip all the infrastructure and re-implementation of patterns and go to the unique 10 percent of an app which enables swift distribution of software solutions to clients adapting to fast-changing business needs.

Ismail Amla, Chief Growth Officer at Capita Consulting, says: “At a time of unprecedented disruption for businesses, employees, and customers, Capita Consulting is working with our clients to accelerate their critical digital transformation initiatives,”

“The world, now more than ever, needs to leverage the power of technology to respond in delivering solutions to help society.  In an environment where online is truly the only way to go and speed of response can make all the difference, Capita Consulting is excited to leverage a proven low-code platform to rapidly deliver real business results for our clients.”

“This strategic partnership gives Capita the ability to rapidly develop and deploy apps for their clients, then manage them through their entire lifecycle,” said Peter Dunlap, Vice President, OutSystems. “This partnership empowers them to be agile and responsive and deliver custom solutions to their clients at scale.”

Garry Larner, UK Regional Director at OutSystems comments: “Capita Consulting has a very clear vision of partnering with clients to help them transform using digitally-enabled technologies.”

“What OutSystems offers is not only the ability to deliver software and applications faster and more efficiently than ever before, but to be able to help them create new services and engage with customers in new ways. We’re currently working closely with the Capita Consulting team to develop and co-design short lead-time projects, as well as looking at longer-term engagements with some of its larger clients.”

For more details about the partnership, visit this link.


Tiffany CarpenterTiffany CarpenterApril 15, 2020
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8min1556

For brands, a huge benefit of a customer’s digital footprint is it provides them with a better understanding of the customer as an individual.

The plethora of online user data that brands collate – combined with offline data – is supposed to facilitate a more consistent and tailored consumer engagement. Yet, how do consumers really feel about their ever-growing data trail?

Our recent Experience 2030 research suggests that the gathering and use of personal data is being met with a strong sense of concern by consumers. While 46 percent of respondents are willing to trade personal data for free products and services, 73 percent felt concerned about how brands are using their data. So, how do brands turn the tide and win back their trust?

A concerned customer

The volume of data available to organisations opens up a world of possibilities within the customer experience, for both the consumer and the brand. However, most brands are not delivering on this potential yet. Instead, their approach has left consumers cold, with 71 percent believing companies shouldn’t even be allowed to share their data with other brands. This is likely to stem from the fact that 73 percent of customers are questioning exactly how brands use their data. Unless you’re able to take this data, apply analytics to drive better decisions and execute those decisions in the moment, you aren’t going to keep up with the competition when it comes to customer experience.

This uncertainty has manifested into a feeling of distrust amongst consumers. It’s now reached a point where 61 percent feel that they have no control over the level of privacy they need for themselves, their family or their children.

A combination of recent data scandals and widely publicised hacks may have contributed to this feeling of concern. However, it’s also worth considering that many consumers may also feel they aren’t getting a fair exchange when they share their data.

So, what are brands doing wrong? Why is it that despite access to so much valuable data and significant investments in analytics and data science, customers are still not receiving the type of tailored and personalised experiences they expect in exchange for sharing their data.

Unfortunately for most organisations, the process of filtering through vast amounts of data, spotting patterns in customer behaviour and then using this information to drive decision-making is a painstakingly slow process. By the time the insights are deployed into customer interactions, they lack the relevance and context required to engage customers, leading to frustrating customer experiences and limited business value.

Showing customers products and services they’ve just purchased from you, or that they’re no longer interested in, is a sure-fire way to annoy customers and lose their trust.

Brands must find a way to bring their operational structure in line with their vision of a customer-centric future and create a customer insight process that accelerates the time from data to insight to decision to impact in a rapid, repeatable and scalable way.

You’ve got to make that change

To achieve this, organisations need a way to rapidly bring together a complete view of their customer.

This covers what they have done across all channels, past and present, and predicting what they may do in the future. It involves combining online data, offline data and even third-party purchased or collected data with data quality processes that ensure that your customer data is trustworthy, valuable and ready for analysis.

 

Analytics needs to be democratised with marketers given access to advanced analytics delivered to them in an uncomplicated, easy to consume way. Analytical decision helpers should be deployed to embed real intelligence directly into the marketing process to support marketers in crafting messages, offers and content across channels.

Predictive analytics and machine learning should ensure that accurate insights are delivered at the right time, dramatically increasing the reach and value of data and enabling brands to make evidence-based decisions at every stage of the customer journey.

Finally, this all needs to be operationalised, so it becomes an ongoing, dynamic process, embedded directly into the customer interaction.

Insights derived from self-learning customer and behaviour analysis must be fuelled by real-time contextual data from every customer interaction, to dynamically refresh every customer recommendation, offer or message and deliver instant experiences that are highly relevant.

By providing such a personalised service, consumers will have greater visibility into how their data is being used, giving them a greater incentive to share.

Making the impossible possible

This may well seem like a daunting task for a lot of brands, but it’s proven both feasible and worthwhile by ICA Banken. Offering financial services to Swedish customers, ICA Banken has committed to providing a personalised marketing approach to each of their 750,000 customers. As is the case with many retailers in the digital age, the brand’s interactions with their customers are largely digital.

Using SAS Customer Intelligence 360, the bank has been able to collect the customer’s data in real-time, tracking the user’s behaviour on the app and how they got there in the first place. By collating this digital behaviour, the bank has been able to gauge the core interests of each consumer and provide them with customised offers in response to this.

The impact has been immense. ICA Banken’s customer engagement increased by 70 percent and their efficiency levels have improved several times since adopting the new approach. Where it used to take them weeks to design a marketing campaign, it can now be produced in a matter of days. This is a level of efficiency which all brands can achieve by collecting, integrating and, crucially, analysing the correct customer data.

Providing data has to be a two-way street where both the customer and the brand benefit. For the customer, offering up their personal data should be the gateway to a more personal experience. This can only be achieved if brands accelerate the process of collecting data, analysing it for valuable insights and making data-driven decisions, even in real time if needed. As demonstrated by ICA Banken, the results are worth the effort.

 


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthMarch 11, 2020
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3min1462

Over two thirds of all web content published by brands still goes ‘unseen’ by consumers, according to new research.

A global study from digital experience analytics firm Contentsquare found that of all the sectors analysed, banking has the highest amount of unseen content (75 percent), closely followed by beauty websites, where 74 percent of content is rarely being accessed by visitors.

Meanwhile, technology brands are the most effective content marketers, with 40 percent of their content viewed by users.

The 2020 Digital Experience Benchmark incorporates global Contentsquare session data from some of the world’s biggest brands. The anonymised data set includes over 7 billion web sessions from over 400 websites around the world, providing insight into previously misunderstood user behaviours.

The report also found that mobile continues to be the context for most new site visits. Fifty-five percent of visitors get to a site using their mobile phone, with luxury topping the mobile traffic table (67 percent).

The energy sector, which has been lagging in the smartphone traffic boom, recorded an 11 percent increase in mobile traffic since 2019, and travel saw a five percent increase. Mobile experience is now a critical battleground in every industry, regardless of its typical purchase size,  frequency or cycle time.

Aimee Stone Munsell, CMO at Contentsquare, said: “The window of opportunity for brands who haven’t turned Digital Experience into a competitive advantage is rapidly shrinking. The good news is today, we’re able to locate with precision the stumbling blocks along the customer journey.

“Marketers and UX teams who have a granular understanding of customer behaviour can uncover simple improvements that shrink the experience gap and multiply their conversions.”


Sandra RadlovackiSandra RadlovackiMarch 9, 2020
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2min1321

Leader in contact centre solutions and cloud CX Genesys and their long-established partner nGUVU have joined forced in strengthening and bettering Genesys’ workforce by implementing gamified solutions such as machine learning and behavioural analytics.

Applying gamification to Genesys’ workforce engagement managemenet (WEM) suite allows businesses to fundamentally increase employee engagement, customer retention, and cost savings.

A well thought-out combination of advanced cloud and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies including gamification and machine learning will transform ordinary transactions into meaningful connections, reminding customers about Genesy’s central vision, which is Experience as a ServiceSM.

Examples of immediate improvement of key business metrics can be seen in the results of two companies, Carestream Dental and Senske Services. The former, a global provider of imagining systems and practices management software for dental practices, has seen an increase in employee performance corresponding to 12 new team members. The latter, a tree and pest control company, notes 15 percent higher revenue since incorporating the nGUVU solution. 

According to a prediction that two thirds of global workforce will be comprised of Millennials by 2025, turning to solutions that favour game mechanics, friendly competition, and rewards will ultimately lead to evolving workforce.

nGUVU Chief Executive Officer Pierre Donaldson said: “This marks a major milestone for nGUVU, and we couldn’t be more excited to join the Genesys team. The scalability we gain from Genesys Cloud WEM benefits our existing customers and gives organisations of all sizes across the globe a powerful gamification solution to help their employees become more effective and engaged.”


Kayla MatthewsKayla MatthewsMarch 3, 2020
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10min2064

Technology is consistently progressing through new developments that affect everyday life and business.

Customer service has seen the benefits of tech through the implementation of chatbots. But there are also challenges that come with chatbots, even as they change our methods of communication.

A chatbot is a computer program that simulates conversations with people digitally. In a chatbot, you won’t be talking to another person, but rather a piece of intelligence. Most commonly in customer service, chatbots work to understand your inquiries and respond accordingly to them.

In general, there are two types of chatbots:

  • Non-learning chatbots: These are fixed and provide limited assistance. These perform the operations that programmers equip them with. They can solve basic or repetitive questions but cannot learn from human behaviours, reactions or emotions.
  • Learning chatbots: These use artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to improve upon their functions over time based on interactions and communication with consumers. As they learn, they develop better responses and improved customer experiences.

You may see learning chatbots on the eBay or Lyft platforms. They are gaining popularity quickly, too. In fact, 60 percent of consumers used a chatbot within the past year.

While AI chatbots are the better option, they do come with some growing pains and adjustment periods.

Challenges of chatbots

A chatbot can optimise any business, but it does come with potential challenges that require attention and fine-tuning. These include:

1. Security

One of the biggest issues for any piece of tech is security. In customer service, it is especially important to ensure that customer information is safe and secure.

Many people fear their information getting lost or stolen because of unsecured networks or breaches. Companies must design clear privacy policies as well as invest in the safest security networks and programs for encrypting data.

This requires financial resources, but meeting these needs is a must. Businesses must meet any security costs if they are to incorporate chatbots.

2. Understanding customers

Although AI learns from experience, it still can run into issues regarding understanding customers. This can take a number of different forms. Since voice bots are becoming a prominent force alongside chatbots, text as well as voice understanding are both necessary.

If the chatbot cannot detect human emotions or tones, it might not pick up on the urgency of the request. On the other hand, if the AI does not understand the request itself, it can provide incorrect information or data.

These errors could lead to decreased customer satisfaction and an unproductive encounter. Although AI is an advanced form of tech, developers must still plan for fixes.

3. Real person request

While some people may enjoy talking with a chatbot, there will be others who request to speak with a real person. Additionally, if there are issues with the chatbot communication tool, the customer may need to speak with an agent.

It is important for companies to have customer service agents in addition to any chatbot services they offer. The challenge lies with having the proper balance and allowing customers to adjust to both options.

4. The right balance

One company that has implemented an efficient solution to these challenges is Wells Fargo. The bank uses AI and Facebook Messenger to provide an extension of their services.

With their chatbot, people all over the world have access to their transactions and more while requesting service or assistance. It can also offer insight and personalised guidance with financials.

Security is strict, and a customer service agent is readily available for additional assistance. AI is constantly evolving, so the issue of understanding customers will be an ongoing development. But Wells Fargo provides an efficient example of chatbots implemented well.

Benefits of chatbots

Although there are challenges that come with implementing chatbots, there are benefits too. On top of providing the newest forms of AI tech for communication, chatbots also help with budgeting, availability and user experience:

  • Availability: Chatbots are available 24/7 and are individualised for each user. This means they have no set limit and can help as many customers as needed. This can improve the customer experience at all hours of the day and night after work hours end.
  • Budgeting: If a company has budgeting restrictions, chatbots can help in the customer service department. If it is not in the budget to hire other employees, chatbots can take on some of the responsibility, resolving inquiries. Chatbots are typically cheaper to implement, too, as opposed to hiring more staff.
  • User experience: Chatbots provide readily available and fast assistance for customers. With a smooth and efficient conversation, customers leave with a solution. The overall user experience makes for more satisfied customers who are more likely to become repeat customers.

These benefits outweigh the challenges in the eyes of many businesses. They increase the success of customer service interactions and satisfaction while helping to stay on budget. As AI continues to adapt and learn, chatbots will only improve upon their ability to assist users.

UNICEF’s U-Report offers an example of optimising AI chatbots. Their chatbots allow people from all over the globe to share their needs.

With this service, UNICEF is able to assist is raising voices that otherwise do not get to speak out. While it isn’t necessarily a chatbot for talking, it does communicate by sending out polls, collecting data and publishing it within the company. UNICEF can then aid areas and people in need.

Here, chatbots not only provide benefits for UNICEF’s engagement but also for children and others in need of help. Chatbots can change the game for many lives and experiences.

Are chatbots for all businesses?

Chatbots can help any business with their user engagement and communication. More specifically, they’re a big help in service-related industries like retail, finance and travel.

The challenges will arise in any company, but taking the steps to prepare beforehand can make for an efficient adjustment period. Chatbots can then change the company for the better.




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