Hilary StephensonHilary StephensonJanuary 17, 2019


In today’s digital-by-default society, inclusive design has never been more important.

From healthcare to food delivery, many of our regular administrative tasks are now completed online which – overall – makes people’s lives easier and more efficient. However, those with ranging abilities are often left out; unable to use these platforms (and therefore access the services and information they need) due to poor design practices.

This is particularly relevant following news of a landmark case won against Domino’s Pizza – which must now take steps to ensure its mobile app is fully accessible to all.

Addressing this issue needs to be a priority for businesses – not just in terms of sales lost by not taking advantage of the £212m “purple pound” – but morally, too.

But how to do it? Here is our top tips:


  • Invite users with ranging abilities and needs to take part in usability sessions throughout the site’s design process. This will help assess how effective certain features are and highlight areas that need to be improved.


  • Include features such as adjustable text size, optional visual effects, close-captioned or signed videos and links in which the clickable area is larger than the surrounding text.


  • Constrain choices and actions so that people aren’t overwhelmed by too many options.


  • Make content easy to understand. Try to use the language that people use day-to-day.


  • Make design choices in the typography and use of colour that make your content more legible, easier to digest, and scan quickly.


  • Consider the digital skills of those accessing the website or app, to remove any barriers to engagement. Ask them for feedback regularly.


  • In navigation, give people quick routes to the information they need, and minimise the number of steps needed to complete an action so that people can achieve their goals quickly and easily.

Ian McVeyIan McVeyJanuary 17, 2019


Across almost every sector, businesses are using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to improve their products, streamline their services, and drive higher levels of customer satisfaction.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the Customer Experience (CX) space, with Gartner expecting CX to represent the lion’s share of AI’s $1.2 trillion business value by 2020.

But just what exactly is the opportunity that AI represents? In answer to this question, here are 10 ways that AI can supercharge CX:

1. Being there for customers at all times

Incorporating chatbot tools into websites has moved customer service into the 21st century. Gone are the days of customers having to put up with restrictive call centre opening times, annoying hold music and the impersonal “your call is important to us” automated response. Incorporating increasingly advanced AI-powered chatbots allows businesses to solve any problems their customers might have, whenever the customer needs; all day, every day.

2. Creating ‘breakthrough’ customer experiences

Done the right way, AI allows organisations to combine ease of use with speed, essentially creating memorable ‘wow’ moments for customers. For example, Domino’s Pizza allows customers to order through Facebook Messenger, using AI to interpret demands and even order in the form of emojis. This creates a genuinely memorable experience for customers.

3. Enabling CX teams to understand their customers better

CX teams have always had surveys, customer reviews, and call centre logs as part of their arsenal. AI adds an additional layer to this toolkit, enabling teams to extract meaning from the millions of words written by previous, current, and potential customers.

AI allows CX teams to create appropriate automated responses to negative social media posts, meaning issues can be dealt with quickly and effectively. It can even extend to understanding the overarching themes within messages, the categories that responses fall into, as well as the sentiment behind customers’ words. In the end, understanding what the customer is feeling and being able to respond to it appropriately means the customer gets a better overall experience.

4. Brands can become more customer-focused

With cumbersome, costly, and time-consuming manual data collections a thing of the past, time and price are no longer restrictions to acting quickly and effectively on customer feedback. AI moves quickly, gathering and processing data so fast that it leaves companies with no good excuse to ignore their customers’ opinions and feedback. Using this data to get things ‘right first time’ empowers businesses to do their best work and to deliver their best experiences.

5. Making the most out of big data

For years, CX professionals have talked about the benefits of big data. Without AI however, this data hasn’t been able to deliver the value expected when it comes to Customer Experience. Now, thanks to AI, brands are able to analyse customer data faster and at greater volume, turning their customer data into instant actionable insights.

6. AI creates unique experiences for the customer

Using AI, brands can personalise experiences for each customer based on their past data and previous behaviours. For instance, brands can offer the most relevant promotions, product recommendations, or tailored homepages. By customising content in this way, CX professionals can drive up brand loyalty and customer satisfaction, ultimately creating a more enjoyable and memorable experience.

7. Preventing problems before they occur

One of the most innovative ways CX professionals use AI is through predictive models designed to identify potential issues before they occur. Dubbed ‘invisible CX’, this is a method of steering customers away from predictable problems that the data can see coming, and they can’t.

8. Making every interaction smarter

AI can turn each customer interaction into a rich data set, which joins itself to millions of other interactions. This enables the business to see a complete 360-degree view of their customers and recognise those issues that couldn’t be identified by viewing a single customer’s data in isolation. Using this view, CX professionals can generate positive improvement actions and streamline their overall CX approach.

9. AI enables customers to get what they want

AI has led to revolutions in image recognition, a technology which is indispensable for industries such as retail. Using this technology, customers can take a photo of the item they want to buy and share it with a sales person or an e-commerce site. Using image recognition, the item can be immediately found and ordered, increasing sales and creating a more streamlined experience for the customer.

10. Facilitating human interactions at key touchpoints

AI is superb at taking on the more mundane, repetitive tasks that certain jobs require. By resolving the issues that come up repeatedly and answering questions that get asked continuously, AI can create more time for workers to concentrate on the tasks that require a ‘human touch’. Rather than losing out to AI, handing over these elements of the job allows for crucial human interactions to be more focused and meaningful to customers.

Daniel TodaroDaniel TodaroJanuary 16, 2019


Looking ahead to some challenging conditions in 2019, retailers will need to address two flawed strategies: discounting and an over-reliance on technology at the expense of customer service.

What used to be one off days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become a month-long slog with retailers falling over themselves to better their rivals’ discounting. This approach has been jet fuelled by continuing uncertainty over Brexit, with bigger and earlier discounting, tempting cautious consumers.

However, the race to the bottom leaves no one at the top. Certainly, the simplistic narrative of high street woes versus online success has been exposed recently with the disappointing performance reported by ASOS. The share price tumbling was as a result of being forced to slash prices to mimic its rivals with the obvious implications for profitability.

Meanwhile, store closures have become the norm alongside the replacement of people with technology with 80,000 jobs lost in the first half of 2018. As Mike Ashley puts it in his inimitable style, retailers face being “smashed to pieces”.

So, what can retailers do? The belief that more technology instore is the answer has been exposed by recent consumer research we commissioned. Our study found that 81 percent of UK shoppers claim the personal touch has disappeared from retail customer service in modern Britain, with almost a third (32 percent) blaming an over reliance on technology for this decline.

While the retail media gets very excited about the potential of new technology like smart mirrors, our research showed just 21 percent of consumers want them and only nine percent welcoming robot assistants.

Customers are suspicious about why new technology is constantly being deployed, with 50 percent thinking it is because retailers want to save money and 49 percent to employ less staff. Only 22 percent think they are using technology to create a better Customer Experience.

When asked what makes a great shopping experience, 49 percent of those said it was down to having good staff, staff that know the products (49 percent) and that go the extra mile (47 percent). Despite retailer addiction to discounting, promotional offers were only favoured by 34 percent.

The customer focus and experience is a well-oiled John Lewis strategy, and it is no coincidence that they have been able to keep their head above the water, and in December 2018 reported strong sales amidst a poor picture for other retailers. John Lewis reported a 4.5 percent year-on-year increase in sales in final weeks of 2018.

Another interesting success story is Angling Direct. The fishing retailer reported a 31.5 percent increase in sales to £14.6m and record Black Friday trading. Chief executive Darren Bailey has emphasised their continued investment in its stores and overall Customer Experience. As he put it in a recent interview: “Customers want specialist service and advice, and you can’t get that from Amazon.”

Our survey backs this up, with a third of Brits stating that the personal touch is more likely to encourage them to make a repeat purchase, and more than a fifth (22 percent) saying they always spend more money in a shop if they are served by a good assistant. Coupled with this, over a third (34 percent) of shoppers stated that a poor experience has driven them to buy from another retailer – not great in the current climate as retailers need to hold onto every customer.

There’s a clear picture emerging for the future of brick and mortar retailing in the UK – customers are looking for expertise and customer service rather than just a strategy of following the herd discounting. So retailers need to take heed: employ great people and train them well so that they genuinely care about the customers and the products they are  selling; don’t rely on new technology to reverse your fortunes; create a retail experience that’s the best it can be in every store not just flagship stores so create a model that can sustain this strategy and restore the pride in our retail stores in 2019.

Amanda RichesAmanda RichesJanuary 15, 2019


Whether you chose to set New Year resolutions or not, January is a good time to reflect on the year before and grasp the opportunities of a new beginning.

I’ve been reflecting on what successful CX leaders we partner with at Medallia are doing, and have identified five key actions to ensure success in 2019…

1. Start with the end in mind – build an impact plan

Visualise where you want to be at the end of this year. What will make you say this is the best year ever for your Voice of Customer programme? If you wrote your company report now, what would you want it to say about your Customer Experience?

Clients with truly successful programmes have an impact plan. They know what outcomes they are targeting and then set programme priorities to really drive impact. For example, retailers targeting increased basket size in-store may use their programme to instil and track behaviours that link to spending, such as assisting customers and inspiring them to buy.

Companies wanting to improve and increase digital transactions can collect insight online to quickly fix site errors or identify self-serve opportunities (look into how Western Union use digital insight). Think about what your C-Suite care about. What business outcomes are you looking to drive? What three programme priorities should you implement in the next 100 days to drive these outcomes?

2. Engage your leaders with a clear list of asks

Visible leadership is the number one priority for a successful programme, but getting consistent CX leadership can be difficult. Provide them with tools to help them, and focus on the tangible things they can do to support the programme.

Ask your leaders to:

  • Schedule feedback at the start of every key meeting
  • Ensure their teams feel empowered to take action
  • Regularly recognise people based on positive customer feedback or actions they’ve taken to improve the experience
  • Participate visibly in closed loop conversations. For example, a CEO of a Telco client of ours meets with two detractors (0-6 on the NPS® scale) every fortnight. He finds this extremely rewarding and insightful, but it also sends a clear cultural message that recovering detractors and fixing their issues is of paramount importance

Usually you can find at least one leader who is absolutely committed to delivering amazing CX. Not those who are simply supportive; I mean those who really do ‘walk the walk’. They live it – they put their own reputations on the line to drive programme success. How can they help you engage other leaders in doing the same? If you’re a leader and your customers are your number one priority, then what are you waiting for?

3. Make it easy for your customers to give feedback – anytime and anywhere

Take an honest look at your programme – are you really covering all the touchpoints or journeys that are important to your customers? Do you have a comprehensive view of your Customer Experience? Have you mapped out your Customer Experience to highlight the potential gaps? And do you give your customers the flexibility to choose where and how they want to give feedback?

Whilst an email to web/mobile survey is often core to programmes, ensure you give your online customers the opportunity to tell you why they abandoned their basket or perhaps never even put something in their basket because the descriptions or photos were unclear.

Think about how you can solicit feedback through new interaction channels like mobile messaging. Place tablet surveys accessible in physical locations.

4. Encourage others to join the party

Too often I see programmes get stuck with the core CX team or one or two others analysing results, themes, and driving action. You will not drive change from what you centrally control – you have to engage and enable the whole organisation.

This shouldn’t be just operational, call centre, or sales champions. Make sure you provide tools, reports, and training to support your wider teams, e.g. HR, IT, Finance, Legal, Buying, Marketing etc. Set expectations with them about how they should contribute to CX, and make the focus about finding improvement opportunities.

5. Forget about the number and become a storyteller

In 2019, concentrate less on the numbers, and actively communicate stories across your organisation. Don’t get me wrong, numbers are important to pinpoint areas to investigate further, but an over-focus on scores is unhealthy.

We should all spend our time driving action on the things that matter to customers rather than worrying about – or worse still, challenging the numbers. Humans are motivated by stories. Communicating how one business unit saved thousands of call centre hours by implementing SMS claim status updates helped a leading global insurer energise other markets to find similar impactful improvements.

More than 10 years on, I still mention the customer from my first hotel CX programme who raved about how their child’s lost teddy was sent back to them in a makeshift bed in a box with tiny holes so that “Teddy could breathe fresh air on his journey home”. The action of this housekeeper inspired so many others to find ways to surprise and delight their customers.

Drive quick wins, work with your committed leaders to innovate and test improvements, look under every stone for success. Then build your own stories and shout about them!

CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamJanuary 15, 2019


UK Customer Experience Award winner Feefo has revealed its top five CX predictions for 2019.

The firm is a leader in reviews and customer insight technology, and last year won Silver in the Best use of Insight & Feedback – Solution or Programme category at the UKCXA finals in London’s Wembley Stadium.

Here, four members of the Feefo team offer their thoughts on the Customer Experience landscape for the year ahead, in which they predict further advances in technology, and the full establishment of an already domineering trend – CX, and not price, becoming the main reason to choose a particular brand.

AI will become so much more than just a buzzword

Matt West, Feefo CEO

In 2019, AI will be more prevalent in everyday business but with a greater focus on ROI and tangible results. In Customer Experience, business leaders will understand how it can predict where customer enhancements are urgently required that will bring increased loyalty and revenues.

Flexibility and agility are critical attributes that AI will develop in customer-facing businesses. Brands will realise they must be able to react quickly, and in some cases in real-time, to their customers’ views and responses. It could be as simple as learning which sale to put on and at what time and how to market it to individuals.

Spending and learning with the right partner will be the key to making successful use of amazing innovations now available.

Brands will understand how consumers become brand advocates

Matt West, CEO

The power of consumers to make or break a service, product, or brand by expressing their opinion on the web or via social media will increase.

The smarter brands and organisations will recognise they must use AI to extract insights from thousands of customer opinions to achieve more personal and more meaningful engagement.

A more holistic view of the entire customer journey will be a vital requirement, as brands seek to provide a compelling experience, not just a completed transaction. That is when consumers will sing the praises of brands online and become their advocates.

Quality of experience will overtake price and product as brand differentiators

Steph Heasman, Director of Customer Success 

Further CX investment will be a key feature of 2019, both in terms of headcount and technology. As Customer Experience increasingly overtakes price and product as the primary brand differentiator, the business case for technology will become totally convincing.

Organisations will see that they must have deeper customer insight and sentiment analysis if they are to build loyalty and get ahead of competitors. There will not be any alternative to having access to the right data and the right technology to extract the customer-engagement riches that lie within it.

Clever investment in smart tech will yield the best returns

Richard Sawney, CFO

Tightly focused strategic thinking will be necessary as currency fluctuations in the wake of Brexit make the waters choppy. Although the Euro may strengthen against Sterling, later in the year, I’d fully expect Sterling to improve. Business leaders should seize the opportunity to deliver extra value for their customers as finances become more available.

Recruitment is going to be a real challenge in the customer service industry and personal job security will be important in the short-term. This may lead to overall better planning strategies for CX leaders because they will have their skilled team in place with reduced risk of departures.

The right tech and better use of data will transform CX strategies

Paul Greatbatch, Technical Director 

Technological development will move to using a greater variety of sources to create a clear view of true customer sentiment towards a business’ products or services.

With so many varying sources of content and the accessibility of affordable or open source APIs, it will be important to ensure brands get the combination right.

AI will prove to be the key that unlocks a wealth of statistical analysis for businesses. The smart ones will use it to make highly significant improvements in customer service that give them a real competitive edge. Put simply – better use of data means better customer service and bigger revenues.

To register your interest for the 2019 UK Customer Experience Awards, click here. Entries for the awards open on February 14.


Amjid RasoolAmjid RasoolJanuary 14, 2019


In 2017 at Tesco Bank, we embarked on a redesign of how the bank handled complaints with the help of design practice and innovation consultancy Modern Human.

From the work we identified what we believe are five important aspects underpinning successful service design.

The first of these is the need to consider both the internal and external perspective. From the very beginning we were clear that while the ultimate goal was to improve the Customer Experience, to do so we had to examine and understand the colleague experience. We wanted to turn more customers who had complaints into strong advocates, but this could only be done if the issues, concerns, and pressures colleagues faced when dealing with complaints were understood. Complaints and indeed any service must be seen from both sides.

In our work, customer service representatives were interviewed about their day-to-day experiences, in parallel to listening to various complaints and the customers involved in them. From the two sets of interviews and perspectives, connections could be identified on where improvements could be made.

A key approach is to actively involve front-line colleagues in service design and avoid simply imposing solutions on them. To do this, we brought together customer service representatives in a series of workshops, where together we explored and developed changes to process, systems and culture.

The second aspect is being aware of the importance of psychology. This is true of any customer interaction, but it is striking how much neuropsychology is at play during a complaint. It is a stressful situation for both customers and complaint handlers. Stress invokes an autonomic physiological response: the body releases adrenaline and cortisol.

This creates a fight or flight response in which problem-solving capability and lateral thinking, the very things key to successfully handling a complaint, become severely restricted. Having two people whose logical reasoning is potentially impaired and who are under significant cognitive load is not conducive to successfully resolving it. Therefore, reducing the cognitive load is one of the key priorities. An important step is a focus on simplifying processes and systems to enable more effective customer conversations.

Third is the need to draw on a wide range of expertise across an organisation. While we were focused on the work of customer service representatives, it was crucial to involve wider colleagues and functions that directly or indirectly support them.

We created a pop-up design studio in the contact centre and brought together a multidisciplinary team from across the bank. By utilising a very diverse range of expertise and insights, we were able to identify and address broad areas for improvement, not just those confined to the customer complaint area. These included the experience of the customer; the bank’s systems and processes, the culture, and the physical working environment of the contact centre.

Fourth, any service design should be focussed on the needs and actions of human beings. An analysis of technical processes was important, but the human interactions were key. We followed an ethnographic approach to understand how peoples’ relationships, beliefs and values drove their behaviour and attitudes.

By uncovering the nuances of colleagues and customers’ frustrations and motivations, improvements could be identified and developed. An example in our work was giving customer service representatives the flexibility to independently apply emotional intelligence to the way they handled each complaint to make the experience more personal for customers.

The final aspect is applying an evidence-based approach. Our research produced a huge number of findings and potential solutions. To ensure all the opportunities were analysed and the best ones identified, we embarked on an iterative design process.

This approach enables any new ideas to be piloted and their impact measured. Based on this, ideas could then either be developed further or shelved. As well as being able to test concepts, in our work the pilots enabled us to identify any internal issues or barriers that could impact the successful roll out of the new service. The benefit of this approach is that it means that all developments are based on solid evidence and have been rigorously tested, to inspire trust and confidence in end users.

Service design should be focussed on putting customers at the heart of a service but also empowering staff to take ownership and be fully involved in the process. Ultimately, it is about making a positive human connection to build long lasting relationships with customers. To do this, a blend of ethnographic research, evidence-based approaches, psychology, and engagement, in and outside any organisation is required.  

Jeremy PayneJeremy PayneJanuary 11, 2019


In recent weeks, drones have caused significant disruption at two of the UK’s major airports, Gatwick and Heathrow, halting operations and causing chaos for customers.

Reported sightings of drones at Gatwick in the run-up to Christmas, one of the busiest times of years for airports, led to several days of chaos at the airport and left thousands of people stranded. In high-emotion, stressful situations such as these, airports and airlines experience spikes in calls and service volumes as for answers about the status of flights and want the most up-to-date information on the unfolding situation.

At times like this, therefore, keeping customers informed and customer service up and running are a major priority. Fortunately, technology is becoming more and more capable of providing a viable solution during these periods.

Increasingly, contact centres are choosing to opt for self-service options, such as web and voice interaction, to provide anxious callers with access to information, status updates, and to steer priority calls quickly to the right advisor. Modern voice interaction systems have taken what used to be traditional IVR to a whole new level of sophistication. Leveraging mobile devices and visually driven menus alongside AI-enabled bots working in harmony with human agents helps provide streamlined intelligent interaction handling that can scale easily.

Such systems handle high volume, repetitive requests from callers extremely well, making them ideal for dealing with high call volumes during crisis situations like those experienced by Gatwick and Heathrow. This technology can also provide an instant response, which is the priority in any highly emotive situation such as this and promotes a far better caller experience than waiting in a queue. And, when used in tandem with real agents, it also provides significant business benefits by enabling call centre staff to focus on high-value, priority or emergency calls.

Self-service options online can also be effective. Airports and airlines can keep customers informed automatically updating the company’s website to display answers to the most commonly asked questions at that time. These answers can then also be updated automatically as soon as new information becomes available.

More proactively still, these organisations can make use of outbound notifications. By sending a text or email they can tell customers about the latest situation and manage expectations. This will also help to reduce the volume of calls going into the contact centre and reduce the level of traffic and demand being placed on the website.

And, when the pressure is on, as in this situation, the cloud offers businesses the peace of mind of knowing that all these service offerings can be kept up and running regardless of the situation. Cloud contact centres enable agents to connect to the technology platform and necessary applications from anywhere that has Internet access. Companies can, therefore, continue to service the client base, reducing the impact of what could otherwise have been a disastrous situation, resulting in dropped calls, negative customer experiences and lost revenue.

The flexible infrastructure this provides allows contact centres to rapidly ‘ramp up’ resource when they are experiencing a spike in customer communication. For instance, companies would be able to call on a pool of remote agents to quickly field calls for the duration of the spike and then scale back as soon as the situation is over. This is particularly useful when the duration of the crisis is unknown. While disruption at Gatwick lasted several days, at Heathrow it was just a matter of hours, meaning that the airport would have rapidly needed extra resource but for a short period of time.

Companies can always benefit from switching on an extended contact centre at any times of raised demand – whether that is planned or unplanned. Cloud contact centres allow them to do that while only paying for what they use when they use it.

If they are launching a new gadget or game onto the market, they will need to scale, particularly if there are issues with distribution or supply. If there is a sudden customer surge due to a product failure or a serious concern, as was the case with the drone sightings, they will need to be agile enough to deal with it quickly and efficiently. The latest cloud contact centre solutions allow them to do all of this and more.

But it is in unexpected situations like this, with drones causing delays and uncertainty and putting organisations under pressure to deliver the best possible customer service, that the benefits of cloud contact centres are shown in their sharpest possible focus.

Eliot SykesEliot SykesJanuary 9, 2019


Customer expectations have changed; by 2020 it’s predicted that Customer Experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator.

Consumers are on the hunt for ease, simplicity, and fast-paced results and assume there’s always a better way to access most products and services; an assumption that simply did not exist a decade ago. These days your customer automatically thinks someone else is doing what you do better and quicker. And they are probably right.

By identifying the truths behind behaviours, actions and motivations, you can create rapid and practical CX and UX plans, with the focus on delivering a positive impact quickly. Creating intuitive on and offline journeys and interfaces that are seamless, convenient and joyful should be your mantra.

I like to say there are three key parts of Customer Experience: ‘Simple, Human, and Useful’.

How can you make simple changes to your customers’ experience? Do you understand the human behind the purchase? Can you be more useful to your audience? Here are my top five thought starters for 2019.

1. Address ease, convenience, and speed first

These are your hygiene factors, the minimum a customer expects. Take simple steps. Maybe you could reduce the amount of questions you ask the customer on a form, or eliminate one stage in a process? No one enjoys, or has time, to fill out a complicated form and ideally, they would avoid a long phone call regurgitating the same information. Yes, you still need to take the time to find the relevant information to best serve your customers need, but could you draw some data from other sources and strip back a stage?

2. Appreciate the time they have taken to choose you

Customers who are making high cost or high value purchase decisions will inevitably go through a detailed consideration process. That’s why it’s important to make every step of the experience effortless, while also making the most of the peak moments of the journey. When you purchase a car, the moment you receive it is arguably the best moment of that journey to date.

At BMW, they often reveal the chosen vehicle with a great amount of ceremony, creating a theatrical experience for the customer. Actions like this create memorable moments in the journey and encourage advocacy and loyalty, leaving the door open for simple lifecycle transactions like servicing. This is often where the commercial value of the purchase exists for the brand.

3. Remember not all transactions are supposed to be fun

Understand the emotional state of the customer along the way. Empathy, used appropriately, will put your customer at ease. Appreciate your role, at the various stages, and optimise your communication to respond to that. Buying insurance or applying for a mortgage can be daunting and create degrees of anxiety for a buyer.

These sectors are often associated with the unknown, people fear they will get it wrong and the consequences could be significant. By adopting the right language, presenting the right information and training your frontline teams to be prepared for customers’ emotional state, you can turn stress into confidence, something your customer will appreciate and remember.

4. Being in touch with your buyer in a timely fashion can be the difference between good and great

Energy company Bulb use clear language and timely e-CRM in their switching process to help create a simple, useful customer on-boarding journey. They eliminate the need for the customer to question what is happening and pre-empt their concerns. They have challenged the standard expectation from the big providers – inefficiency and poor service. They have removed the need for the customer to have to take each next step themselves.

One extra email, timed just right, can save a flurry of phone calls, especially as 89 percent of customers are said to get frustrated because they need to repeat their issues to multiple representatives.

5. Being relevant means really understanding context

Traditional personas might help us understand ways we might appeal to a person, given certain factors in their life, but they don’t help us understand what they are trying to do, and how we can help them do it better. Service Design methods can help organisations see their customers in a new way, less as a segment – more as a series of problems to solve at the right time – regardless of the other traits of the person. Look at the needs and not the types and you will see customers in a new light.

Grant ColemanGrant ColemanJanuary 8, 2019


Endless queues, stock shortages, and unmasked frustration: this is a sight which has been all but erased by online shopping.

Gone are the days when customers would have to worry about closing hours; now customers are only a click away from ordering a product at their own convenience.

More shopping than ever is now conducted online, with figures from the British Retail Consortium indicating that almost a quarter of all non-food purchases now take place online. This poses a significant challenge not only to high street brands, who must overcome the daunting prospect of translating brand loyalty online, but also for online-only brands, as the marketplace for e-commerce becomes ever more crowded. Whether a household name or an emerging e-tailer, brands are finding it increasingly tough to cultivate brand loyalty online.

A large part of this is down to the poor quality of their online marketing efforts, according to our recent study which revealed that only six percent of consumers believe that the offers they receive are fully relevant to them, demonstrating just how far brands are from delivering on the promise of digital marketing – a personalised experience for each individual consumer. Many brands are beginning to turn to artificial intelligence (AI) to better target consumers, but are still finding their feet in figuring out how to make the most of the technology.

So how can brands get better at earning their customer’s loyalty? There are three key considerations to success:

An (im)personal experience

The equation is simple: personally relevant, value-added, individualised interactions lead to better Customer Experience and retention. Still, many brands are only now starting to find their feet in the modern world of marketing. But the reality is that consumers are demanding relevant communications from their favourite brands, so it’s essential that brands catch up quickly or risk losing customer loyalty – and fast.

Our research revealed that 61 percent of consumers want offers or recommendations from brands they regularly use to be tailored to them and their interests. But delivering this at scale can seem like a significant hurdle to overcome. This is when technology can come to the rescue. When looking at improving customer loyalty, marketers should not be afraid of implementing AI where appropriate, in order to deliver a better Customer Experience.

Consumers are also open to these techniques. When it comes to the ways in which customer experience is delivered, whether that is through email personalisation, digital advertising or targeted suggestions, consumers are not concerned about being marketed to by AI, as long as the content is personalised.

The same study also reveals that 60 percent of customers would like to receive offers tailored to their interests from their favourite brands. In fact, 84 percent of customers are now aware that AI is becoming a staple in their shopping experience, and almost half (47 percent) are happy with brands using AI, provided it improves the offers and recommendations they receive.

Rediscovering your audience

It is not just technology that is changing the marketing landscape: consumers and their shopping habits are also evolving rapidly, constantly adapting to the quickly-shifting world of retail. Shopping preferences change as surely as a brand’s customer base does, and the main challenge for marketers is using data to dig deeper into what their current and potential shoppers are most interested in. In order to establish trust and loyalty with their customers, brands must learn what exactly it is that their audience expects of them.

The answer partly lies in having impeccable data governance which regulations, such as GDPR, supports. However, the fear and reservation over data is palpable. Twenty-two percent of consumers wouldn’t be willing to share any personal information at all with an online retailer, and more than a quarter (26 percent) wouldn’t be willing to share anything with a high street retailer.

Businesses need to work hard to build trust with existing customers, ensuring the data they have is being used to delight. GDPR, for instance, enables brands to build trust, thereby offering consumers reassurance around how their data is being collected, stored and used.

It’s up to brands to demonstrate and, where needed, properly communicate with consumers how AI can help to deliver a seamless and secure experience through the responsible use of their data. Consistently delivering on this experience will build trust and ultimately convince consumers of its benefits and build longer term loyalty as a result.

Content, content, content

Picking the right channels for delivering a personalised experience is important; however, equally vital is the actual content being delivered to audiences. Brands must learn to tell their stories across a variety of channels, in order to ensure that customers are actively engaging.

What’s important to note is that marketers don’t have to become technologists – but they need to be able to focus on the content to really make a difference. That’s where the magic lies in rekindling customer loyalty – the technology simply enables them to focus on driving this creative content.

Going forward

The recipe to success is simple: innovation, personalisation, audience insight, and engagement. But in practice it’s not always straightforward to implement. Brands must not only improve the way in which they deliver personalised content on a variety of channels, but they must also become more proactive in engaging customers and gaining their investments in the brand-storytelling process.

Taking customers along on a digital journey is vital to earning their trust and loyalty. However, it is this journey which must be tailored for each customer, in line with their unique preferences and interests. By successfully combining technological innovation with a real desire to improve customer-brand interactions, marketers will finally be able to gain the loyalty of their audience.

Andrea OlsonAndrea OlsonJanuary 8, 2019


We often oversimplify what we believe a customer’s need is, often due to the fact that many organisations view customer needs through an internal lens.

“Because we sell widgets, our customer must need widgets. Our customers must want them to perform reliably, have them delivered on time, and at least meet a minimum quality standard.”

Organisations frequently view this as their organisational purpose and mission – to generate a product and sell it to as many customers as possible who might buy it. Yet this can be a self-fulfilling perspective, presuming that your offerings are addressing all the needs a customer may have.

Why is this mindset so prevalent in a lot of companies today? It usually originates at the beginning, starting with the company mission.

When you take a look at your company’s mission, what does it say? What are you in business for? Do you want to be the leader in your industry? Does your organisation plan to be the ‘best’ in whatever you do?

The more important question is, for what purpose?

When we examine how businesses make money and grow, there are a few obvious strategic factors. Sometimes it’s about having a superior product or service. Or it’s being first to market. And sometimes it’s about being the cheapest, or the most accessible.

No matter what the strategy, the common thread between all successful companies, in any industry, is understanding who you are serving (the customer) and how you can serve them in the exact way they want to be served to fulfill their needs. Each customer often has a unique set of needs, with similar ends, and every need ties to bigger picture goals.

Following is not competing

Terms including ‘best quality’, ‘on time delivery’, ‘responsive customer service’, and ‘best value’, all permeate the business landscape. But every company is saying this. Your competitors are saying this. These types of deliverables and claims are simply the baseline to even be considered as an option for a customer.

These terms are also based on an internal company perspective. For example, many organisations measure “on time delivery” based on when the product leaves the factory, not when it arrives to the customer.

The companies that focus on following their competitors, rather than engaging the customer, often struggle to differentiate and compete within the marketplace. They work on expanding their portfolio of products and services based on competitoractions, and continually find themselves behind the curve.

While traditional methods of business growth are all viable revenue sources, they are typically the same approaches the competitors are using. Unless the organisation simply plans to just do these things “faster, smarter, and better,” there’s not much real difference between you and them.

Where companies can increase the gap from the competition is by starting to understand and embrace their customers’ needs, instead of solely their own

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