Lindsay McEwanLindsay McEwanMay 24, 2019
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7min71

Mastering the balance between exceptional Customer Experience and data protection legislation isn’t easy, and many businesses are unintentionally teetering on the edge.

Ironically, in a bid to meet customer needs with hassle-free digital services, some companies have missed the regulation mark with 200,000 reported GDPR breaches and fines totalling €55.9 million, so far. Walking the line between compliance and delivering great customer experience takes skill – brands must identify and stick to the perfect middle pathway; starting with a clear understanding of the factors that can send them off course. 

Top-heavy convenience impedes privacy

Efficient services are vital in the digital age; customers want experiences to be fast, simple, and streamlined. In fact, 26 percent will abandon online checkouts if processes are too complex. But companies focusing solely on convenience are putting themselves at risk of not only breaching regulation but also losing the trust of their customers.

While convenience matters, it shouldn’t surpass compliance and choice. A recent investigation by brand comparison site Which?, found a number of potential regulation breaches in e-receipts. By providing opted-in paperless proof of purchase, brands sought to improve customer experience, providing an instant buying record that enables easier returns or exchanges. However, the inclusion of unwanted marketing messaging in the emailed receipts, for which retailers had not received consent, meant many were breaking the rules of GDPR law and seemingly ignoring customer preferences.

Impenetrable defences dissuade customers

Following laws such as the GDPR is non-negotiable if firms want to avoid sizeable fines and reputational damage. The companies that embrace regulations will reap the rewards by demonstrating their dedication to protecting consumers’ data and will have a much greater chance of building lasting confidence and relationships: 84 percent of consumers cite good data security as a central factor in spending decisions. However, the introduction of safety measures and privacy protection can sometimes become obstructive itself.

As noted by Jeff Bell, Forbes Technology Council member and CEO of LegalShield, “excessive regulation leading to poor customer service” is high on the list of potential unintended GDPR consequences. For example, trying to mitigate all consent issues by installing a different opt-in widget for every single cookie is more likely to leave consumers feeling exasperated than empowered. Not to mention causing disruption to their journey that could result in negative brand perception.

And it almost goes without saying that extreme action such as blocking EU site visitors is a one-way ticket to loss of audience; the Chicago Tribune, for instance, has blocked all European readers from seeing its content since the GDPR arrived, an approach that can be seen used across a variety of US publishers and ecommerce sites.

Usability is the key lesson here. Companies must aim to build robust data defences that effectively mitigate privacy risks, without making it impossible for customers to get through.

Equilibrium: the answer to the ultimate Customer Experience

The value of CX is self-evident; amid increasingly tough competition and rising acquisition costs, success belongs to those who forge the deepest personal connections. But recognition of the most critical element remains limited: maintaining a consistently even balance. If businesses want to create memorable journeys and impactful interactions that fuel positive results, they need to provide the right blend of speed, simplicity, and data security.

Of course, the ideal mix varies for each brand. Among the best examples of current leaders is IKEA; despite famously poking fun at the GDPR, the company still sent out opt-in emails to ensure sustained contact with existing customers, and continuously uses data well. Drawing on fully consented membership insights, it highlights genuinely relevant discounts and provides unexpected yet impactful bonuses, such as in-store café freebies.

What every organisation must remember is that while convenience might attract customers, measured compliance is what makes them stay. So, there should always be two core components in place: clear and efficient data options that are easy to use, and holistic insight management. Only by unifying the information customers share can companies gain the full 360-degree view needed to define each individual’s ideal experience and deliver it.


Oliver GuyOliver GuyMay 24, 2019
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7min71

Imagining a world whereby stock isn’t tracked and managed is barely worth thinking about.

We’d miss out on sales, end up with too much stock to store in a back office – or even worse, suffer from increased costs as a result of missing a shipment or rescheduling one. To avoid stockout and maximise return on investment, retailers rely on a robust inventory management process. However, the problem is that retailers are drowning in a sea of inventory.

The more the sea rises, the harder it is to stay afloat. On the other hand though, should the water levels decrease, the boat encroaches on further danger. It’s important for retailers to find the middle ground – and sail by calmly.

To avoid the stormy seas, retailers need to prepare to face difficult journeys along the supply chain.

Avoiding the stormy seas

The retail supply chain used to be simple. From supplier to distribution centre, distribution centre to the store, and store to the customer – it has barely changed in 150 years. Yet, today retailers face a stormy journey. As consumer expectations continue to change, and rapidly. The need to fulfil these increasing demands across multiple new channels driving up inventory.

In fact, according to Gartner, 54 percent of retailers say that fulfilling online orders from store increases store inventory by 10 percent. Essentially, even the best run retailers could be having issues with increasing inventory as they expand across channels.

However, what’s more, it’s quite likely that the inventory is covering up issues, not just with the production system, but with issues with the overall omni-channel fulfilment system. These issues can include poor sales forecasts, problematic inventory placement decisions, supplier delivery delays, missing process orchestration, data silos and inefficient manual processes.

Finding the middle ground

To avoid these bumps in the supply chain and to improve the process, retailers need to implement the right technology to facilitate necessary data flows. This applies to both inside and outside of the organisation.

The best place to start is in finding out what the source of these issues is. In doing this, the inventory can then be controlled.

When it comes to inventory and visibility, a great starting point is real-time inventory visibility. This offers instant insight into stock. Think about it. It’s 11am and you’re expecting a bulk delivery, but you have no idea where it is. A real-time inventory visibility solution can help every retailer to overcome this with real-time insights that can make it possible to meet the demands of customers and planners through any channel. By understanding real-time inventory status across all your locations, you can determine the most beneficial way to use the inventory at any specific time to maximise sales and profits. This, whilst also ensuring customer satisfaction.

Increased visibility over the supply chain is crucial in maintaining an updated view of inventory, regardless of the number of systems any retailer has.

A calm sail

We live in a more digital world than ever before. This means consumers are far less patient when going into a store when it comes to finding a certain product they are looking for. If a retail assistant were to walk over to a shelf to see if the product is still in stock, the customer might not wait. The ability to check the online systems is therefore key to giving accurate and up to date information to a customer regarding the location of an item – or alternatively, when the next shipment is due.

This doesn’t just apply to retailers. But, to the customer too. Today’s customers are no longer just going to traditional brick-and-mortar stores. They are shopping online via mobile devices, iPads and tablets. This means they expect to be able to check whether or not a certain product is in store – or if in fact, it’s stocked in a store nearby.

Whilst implementing real-time visibility into the inventory process may take time; it’s easy to understand. This is why it is important that retailers take their time to find the best solution for them.  The retail industry is as its most competitive yet. To stand out in an already crowded space, customer experience must be at the centre of everything we do. This means ensuring every customer is satisfied, with the products they want – as available as they can possibly be. Managing stock efficiently and effectively is crucial to facilitating a top-quality Customer Experience – and in ensuring return purchasing.

 


Rory OConnorRory OConnorMay 23, 2019
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3min89

Experience is everything for the digitally empowered customer, and delivering online goods from factory to front door is an integral part of the sales experience. 

Getting that delivery function right means frictionless online sales that will ultimately result in a solid, loyal customer base, but what exactly is a good delivery experience?

A good delivery experience is contextual – it differs from individual to individual as well as the locale in which the delivery is taking place.  The speed of delivery has become an evolving battleground for retailers, with a 28 percent increase in the UK from 2016 – 2018 on the number of next day delivery orders placed. However, even next day deliveries are becoming obsolete with more people now looking for same day delivery.

As a retailer, there are four key things that need to be done to ensure the Customer Experience is positive. The most important thing is to not only review your data but analyse your date to find trends and exceptions. Secondly, create direct and meaningful connections with customers offering consistent and trustworthy communication and tracking. Thirdly, where possible, automate and use AI and chatbots to deliver more speed efficiency and productivity. Lastly, carrier automation is key to operational efficiency.

Having different delivery options can make a huge difference at the level where people abandon their baskets during an online shopping experience. The key to securing a shopper that does not abandon their baskets are convenience, speed and price. Again, the context of the individual is important with every transaction, so having different delivery options to offer is key. Most online shoppers expect free delivery without a minimum spend, which puts pressure on delivery providers and can severely impact customer experience.

Failed deliveries are a large problem when choosing your delivery provider. The cost of getting a delivery wrong is detrimental, as a lost delivery can cost the company up to £150. Not only can it cost money on-the-spot, but worse, it can cost future sales as the customer that is not having a successful experience with the company is more likely to choose a different provider next time. A company is only as good as their last delivery, so each delivery has to be perfect for a customer to continue using that company.

Experience is now everything for the digitally empowered customers and the future of delivery relies upon successful customer experiences. Carriers have seen that providing an experience to the consumer is very important and have focused their energies on the creation of apps and brand recognition, amongst other things.


Pete ChampionPete ChampionMay 23, 2019
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13min108

For generations, pubs have been at the heart of community life in the UK; our TV soap operas revolve around fictional, but iconic, locals: The Rover’s Return, The Queen Vic, and The Woolpack.

These exist at the hub of community life; the venue to gather and share all life’s joys and dramas. But in reality, all is not well with ‘the local’. The British people’s relationship with pubs has changed, manifesting a trend that’s similar to the impact on our high streets, from retail to banking and restaurants. The traditional pub is under threat and a range of pressures are forcing closures and transforming the very nature of what a pub actually needs to be in order to remain relevant.

The notion of ‘social’ is now inseparable from ‘media’, so that in this digital age online communities to many have become as, or more, important than the tangible experience of ‘society’. In addition, the places or hubs that we now favour to gather in, across all regions in the UK, have shifted towards the likes of ‘third-place’ coffee shops such as Starbucks, Costa, Caffe Nero, and other independent cafes.

In urban centres, newer bars are becoming preferred over pubs for social get togethers, underpinned by the craft beer and gin revolutions. At the same time, younger generations – although not without their contradictions – are generally leaning less than their forbears on alcohol as an essential part of their socialising, striving for healthier lifestyles overall.

The pubs that have successfully responded to this dangerous shift, have as a dominant movement done so through food-driven re-positioning – shifting from their original purpose as a default and ad-hoc community gathering place focused on the bar, to become pre-defined ‘let’s eat out’ destinations. Inspired by lesser or greater degrees by the notion of ‘Gastropub’, they have become restaurants surrounded by the peripheral trappings of what used to be a local pub. But for traditional ‘locals’ wanting to stay true to the notion of pub-first, the challenge is even more complex.

We wish to understand if there is an experiential ‘formula’ to what made pubs such wonderful communal experiences in the past. If so, could this be modified or updated to keep them as an important thread in the fabric of our evolving society? 

How can pubs continue to play a relevant role in our new and future social landscape? 

There will always be demand from consumers for warm, hospitable, and well-considered venues to socialise, eat, drink, and get together. From bars, brewery and craft beverage concepts, members clubs, and cafes, it is the experience, the sense of community, the integrity of product and an environment that responds and relates to the lifestyles of its audiences that make them an attraction and destination choice.

Here are some high-level conclusions for principles to consider that may help:

The Experience

Stand for something: Whether it is a discovery of the local brews, a premium service, the pub garden to end all pub gardens, or the best sausage rolls for miles – define what makes your pub uniquely different and special. Think of the ways you can better engage or attract the audience you are targeting and what specifically, you want your pub to be famous for.  Then make it the best it can be.

Be a genuine community venue: Integrity matters in order to create an authentic, meaningful, living and breathing experience.  Building meaningful links to the local community and being creative as a venue to highlight your local features as well as being a comfortable place for people to gather, can populate the physical space of the pub. The fabric of ‘community’ is being fragmented – but humans are social animals and we want reasons to gather and great places to do so. A programme of events oriented around and celebrating local life could enhancing the pub experience now and into the future, in a way that makes sense in light of the role they have played throughout their history.

Become an all-day, all-year place to be: It’s not too difficult now to serve coffee and pastries every bit as good as the high street icons, or independent cafes – create an ambience that suits a wide range of occasions and social groups, throughout the day, from the coffee  morning gossip sessions through afternoon business chats to the great moments & occasions throughout the year.

The environment

From stale to fresh: That stale-beer sticky carpet feeling might hold some nostalgia for some of us of a certain age, but it’s just not attractive to most. Think about the ways you can avoid the negative trappings of the fusty old local, without losing the essence of everything  wonderful about a traditional pub atmosphere. The interior should also reflect the nature and history of the pub and the unique local character it sits within; but there are opportunities to be more creative in bringing these aspects to life visually.

Layering & texture: What can a pub do better than its newer rivals? Pub interiors will appeal if they feel layered, complex, characterful – and anything but formulaic. The design analysis should be more about the universal ‘anchor point’ principles of what makes a wonderful, relevant and compelling pub experience – rather than focused on overly proscribed styling or décor rules. The warmth of the open fire, the cosiness of the settle, a wonderful garden, the games etc.

An approachable space: The pub is essentially a casual venue for people to gather, therefore even if you elevate the experience through its design, do not forget that it has to be welcoming and approachable. Some pubs have evolved so much that they have more of a restaurant layout, be aware when developing your pub concept to not lose the authenticity of the local and the essence of this institution – yet avoid that feeling of intimidation famously portrayed by The Black Dog in An American Werewolf in London. Pubs, when done well, can uniquely provide in a small footprint, the communal experience of a great bar, with the intimacy of small groups at individual tables or booths – whatever mood, mindset or group, a great pub has a range of spaces from social to solitary.

The offering

Product offer: It’s a fact, people are drinking less, and your offer should reflect that, whether offering non-alcoholic, low-alcohol options, or drinks that can cater to trending dietary requirements. If you are going to hold certain events for the community, follow and cater to their taste and interests.

Community strengthening initiatives: Member’s clubs maintain events teams, because their initiatives are a huge pillar of their strategy when it comes to building a sense of community and bringing like-minded people together. Pub initiatives could be similar, even with less resources, perhaps partnering with other pubs for larger events, and offering a platform to various audiences within their locality. Also, by measuring the success of certain initiatives, pubs can then create recurrent events that people can associate with them and attend regularly.

Conclusion

We would love to see a burst of creativity across the landscape of pubs in the UK. There is no inevitability in a slow death of the local, leaving us only with a bunch of restaurants in the guise of what used to be a pub, offering us a place for our Sunday roasts. There is inspiration to be found in other sectors where the best principles of strategies for the creation of wonderful experiences, have been used to create new life.  We believe in People Inspired Experiences – pubs have always been just that – we’d like to see them continue to be so for many years to come.


Leigh MoodyLeigh MoodyMay 22, 2019
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4min151

In today’s age of instant gratification, consumers are used to getting what they want, when they want.

Every interaction we have with a brand is expected to be quick, seamless and personalised for our convenience. Despite this, the average Briton can spend up to 235 days waiting in a queue or line to be serviced over the course of a lifetime. Whilst clichés would suggest the British are content with queueing – in reality this could not be further from the truth and today’s queueing culture is actually having a detrimental effect on business’ bottom line.

Customers that are made to wait for a long period of time are less likely to repeat their business with a company, which could have dire financial implications. In fact, the average person in the UK is now unwilling to wait more than six minutes for a service.

Business mobility will be key

Most queues or long wait times are a result of manual processes and outdated legacy systems that often use traditional payment systems, contributing to slower service. But because of the Amazon effect, consumers now expect an enhanced experience around the clock. Businesses must act fast to take advantage of technology such as digital signage, tablet scanners, mobile point-of-sale (mPOS), and self-checkout terminals to remain competitive.

As new technologies rapidly enter the market, there is a correlating increase in the number of channels through which businesses interact with customers, adding to the complexity and cost of those interactions. It is therefore more important than ever to recognise how a mobility strategy can help to anticipate customer needs, tailor business processes to better serve customers, and improve the efficiency of a business.

Creating an omnichannel Customer Experience

By implementing a dedicated mobility strategy across both online and offline operations, unnecessary queueing will become a thing of the past in retail. By streamlining the value chain and creating an omnichannel Customer Experience, workers will be empowered to multi-task more effectively, and ultimately provide a higher level of customer service.

For customers, easy-to-use self-service tools such as contactless payment and automated ordering services not only have a tremendously positive impact on customer satisfaction, but ultimately a business’ bottom line.

These business mobility technologies have the power to combine people, processes and technology to not just manage mobile devices, but also derive true business value from the digital age. Whilst a business mobility strategy can be complex to implement, effective execution can have a direct impact on both customer satisfaction and retention, putting brands miles ahead of the competition.


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7min191

Working with people is great, but taking care of a whole team requires much more work than you can imagine.

Thankfully, we live in a time when employers pay a lot of attention to making their employees happy, satisfied, more productive, and motivated. Trends come and go, but there are ones proven to deliver results, no matter the kind of company being discussed.

Check out these five motivation ideas, and help provide your team with the boost they may need to achieve success.

1. Team exercise

Starting the day with exercise is a proven method that boosts creativity and strongly motivates employees. A study researched the so-called Köhler effect, which explains the correlation of increased motivation when exercising in groups. They came up with the most interesting results…

“An inferior team member performs a difficult task better in a team or coaction situation than one would expect from the knowledge of his or her individual performance. Results suggest that working out with virtually present, superior partners can improve persistence motivation.”

This is just one of the reasons why you should implement group workouts with your team. It can be early in the morning, or before or after lunch. Challenges are very efficient for the entire group – the exercise might last only 10 minutes, but will do so much good for overall productivity.

 

2. Gamification

Gamification is one of the latest trends when it comes to motivating employees. Turning work into a game is risky, but it sure does yield results. The only thing you have to be careful about is not to ‘over-gamify’. So start thinking of fun, exciting ways to have the team do the job through a game.

Use it once in a while, and everyone will be more creative, productive, and motivated. Every game should end with a reward for the winner – think of badges for milestones, gifts, and of course, praise!

3. Empower them with better tools

Everyone wants to work at a place equipped with the latest tools. It’s not only tech firms who need gadgets, and you can boost motivation in the workplace by purchasing some new tools that are better and more efficient compared to ones you had before.

The team will be able to get the work done much faster, and they will be stimulated to perform better. It will be an investment that brings results right away. If you are seriously thinking of implementing this tip, you can use some of these discount codes for the best prices available.

4. Attend events as a team

Enjoying social events can help a lot with team bonding and boosting motivation. People love working in companies that also pay attention to this social factor.

Spending eight hours in an office together will not help people get to know their colleagues as much as you might think. Some of the best and simplest ideas are to organise a lunch, breakfast, or dinner once a month, or to schedule a game day, cocktail night, party and more.

“Companies with engaged employees make 2.5 times more than their less-engaged counterparts. Engaged employees are a whopping 87% less likely to leave their companies.”

5. Manage employees as individuals also

Yes, you are working as a team, but every single employee is different and has a different way of communicating. Make sure that you manage them as individuals and not only as a group.

People have diverse characters, so to push them and boost the motivation you have to pay attention to each individual. Take five minutes for a quick meeting with each employee at least once a month. Get to know them well, and it will pay off for the whole team.


Naeem ArifNaeem ArifMay 13, 2019
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10min311

A recent PWC report highlighted that 2018 saw the largest ‘net loss of retail stores’ on the high street.

We are consistently hearing about a retail ‘crisis’, and how difficult trading conditions suggest the high street is in demise. Our high streets and town centres are often the core of our communities and so we have invested a lot of resources investigating this issue.

However, we still see more than 500 new businesses form each week in the UK, so are we really seeing the demise of the high street or is something else happening?

Research by the Midlands Retail Forum (MRF) indicates that it is not all doom and gloom – there are many great examples of retailers and town centres getting it right. Experts say it’s about creating a great experience, but what does that mean in practical terms?

I recently visited the Touchwood Centre in Solihull and spent some time with their General Manager, Tony Elvin, to see how they were approaching this challenge.

Tony has an impressive CV as a former health club and hotel manager, which led to him being head-hunted to take on the challenge of managing this prestigious shopping outlet in one of the most affluent regions in the country. While many people talk about creating a great experience for their guests, a walk around the centre showed me exactly how his team were living and breathing this concept.

His approach can be summarised in a single sentence: “We are always thinking about how we can create a compelling reason for people to visit Touchwood.”

Where he could have said “important” or “unique”, he uses the word “compelling”, and that tells me the exact emotion that he is trying to create in his target customer. He has two customers in mind – businesses that can become tenants, and visitors to the centre.

Most shopping centres offer free Wi-Fi, coffee shops and easy parking. What else is needed?

“We are constantly looking at finding different ways to increase the number of people who will visit and once here, we want them to stay longer. We know that the longer they stay, the more money they are likely to spend,” Tony tells me.

Visiting somewhere like Touchwood means different things for different people; an avid shopper may want to walk down aisles of stores, browsing way more than they are buying. A focused shopper may need to come in for a specific item, pick it up and leave.

What about the ‘passengers’ – the husband/wife or kids who come along for the ride? The challenge is that a visiting family may have a mix of shoppers, who all need to be entertained. The answer is not to simply have more shops – you have to satisfy all these needs.

Most centres have some form of leisure activity, and in Touchwood’s case it has a cinema, restaurants, bars, and on top of that they also run theme-based activities. Recently they held an Easter egg hunt and a chocolate-themed escape room as a way of keeping kids entertained whilst their parents were shopping.

Some upcoming projects include concept restaurants that combine casual dining with a form of leisure activity. Food is an important part of the Touchwood experience and they are actively looking to strike a balance between trusted brands and new independent eateries to keep what’s on offer fresh and exciting. Tony himself recently helped to secure the arrival of two new independent dining concepts, with the launch of Carribbean eatery Jamaya and Asha’s restaurant in the centre.

“There is a lack of leisure activities available in Solihull and we are looking at more ways to increase those opportunities within Touchwood,” continues Tony.

“If we could get a gym, mini-golf, or bowling here, then it’s another reason for someone to visit and combine some shopping with leisure activities. We were delighted that we were able to entice Jamaya and Asha’s to join the Touchwood family. I knew the owners of each concept and knew that they would offer something different, but also deliver it at the appropriate quality for Touchwood’s visitors.”

The Touchwood team look to market trends as well as conducting their own research to keep updated on what their customers want. Social trends are monitored online, while feedback and comments are seen as opportunities to learn and improve. In addition, they also take feedback from their tenants and visitors and email out surveys.

The things they want to know include:

·      Who is visiting?

·      What triggers a visit?

·      What are the habits when they are in Touchwood?

This research has allowed them to understand that customers who use a click & collect service often go on to spend more when they come to collect. If a visitor is already here, it is more convenient for them to buy additional items in person than  to do so online.

Something Tony learned from his previous experience was how reaching out into the local community can help strengthen relations. Community projects are invited into Touchwood when possible. Recently this has seen them earn a national award by working with local college students to showcase their artwork as well as hosting a Young Enterprise marketplace.

“If we are making money from the local community, then it is imperative that we get involved with that community and ensure we are doing our bit to give back as well,” Tony adds.

“As such we work with local schools, colleges, charities, and businesses as an active participant in Solihull life. Since taking on this role, I have been appointed Vice President of the Solihull Chamber of Commerce and also Deputy Chair of the Solihull BID. By working with the BID, the Chamber, and other local stakeholders there is a far better chance of delivering sustainable success for Solihull and Touchwood.”

The enthusiasm and approach of Touchwood is refreshing and it’s clear they are looking towards partnering up with their tenants and the local community for mutual benefit. While they continue with this approach, will see further success ahead, and there are definitely lessons here to be learned for other shopping centres and high street retailers.


Ian GoldingIan GoldingMay 13, 2019
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5min442

Customer Experience specialist Ian Golding, author of Customer What: The Honest and Practical Guide to Customer Experience, writes for Customer Experience Magazine offering expert insight to help businesses improve their CX offering. 

To ask Ian a question on how to boost the Customer Experience provided by YOUR business, please email your question to editor@cxm.world. The best questions will be featured in future instalments.

Ian also leads the CX Professional Masterclass. Click here for details of upcoming Masterclass dates.

I believe my business is running smoothly, and I have had no complaints so far, but how can I test my touchpoints to identify potential problems before a customer does? 

This is a great question!

The only way to determine if your perception of your business is a reflection of reality is to ‘put yourself in your customers shoes’!

Whilst it is perfectly feasible that you are delivering a consistently good experience that is meeting the needs and expectations of customers, it is important to understand that very often, when things are going wrong, customers will not tell you about it! The only time you will realise there is a problem, is when it is too late.

So to ‘test’ the touchpoints in the customer journey, you must experience them for yourself in exactly the same way the customer does. This is an activity/exercise that should be done on a regular basis – and not just by you!

Everyone in your organisation should be experiencing the customer journey on a regular basis and reporting back observations (both positive and negative). Even if you are in a ‘business-to-business’ relationship, it is still vital to see what your customer sees’.

Too many organisations are not genuinely putting themselves in their customers shoes on a continuous basis. Doing so will enable the proactive management of the customer journey.


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7min581

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

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

1. Personalised marketing

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

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

2. Voice services

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

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

3. Communication automation & chatbots

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

4. Augmented reality (AR)

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

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

5. 5G

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

Final Say

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

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


Craig SummersCraig SummersMay 9, 2019
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4min256

Consumers are hoping for high levels of choice, convenience, and recognition in modern, omnichannel shopping.

To truly offer an omnichannel experience – selling anywhere, fulfilling anywhere, and engaging anywhere is essential, as is elevating customer service and interactions to create exceptional Customer Experience, regardless of where the customer started their buying journey.

This is the holistic world that every retailer is trying to create, but the reality for large long-established retailers is that they are not going to strip out legacy systems and create this omnichannel eco-system overnight. C-suites are having to consider the profitability of change, and the reality of implementation. What new capabilities will new technology deliver? Will true visibility be achieved? Is the investment guaranteed to deliver results?

The retail reality

Retailers have, however, taken great strides to enable their ever-more demanding customers to shop according to their personal preferences, at any time, on any channel. Physical and digital have merged to the point where the customer should no longer be impeded by the limitations of any particular touchpoint; after all, consumers do not think about or talk about channels, they simply go shopping.

Yet, growing pressure to seamlessly offer customers choice, convenience and recognition across an increasing number of touchpoints has led to new challenges. The reality is that most retailers’ systems, processes and people were never designed or trained up to handle such a diversity of selling and fulfilment demand. This has resulted in gaps between what customers want, and what retailers are able to provide.

Paving the way for future prosperity

From inventory planning to order orchestration, new fulfilment strategies and the next generation of POS, integration of capabilities will pave the way to keep up with the speed of modern day shopping. They must embrace technologies that guarantee profitable omnichannel operations.

Upgrades need to go well beyond papering over the cracks of outdated technology. Making modifications to legacy solutions will no longer be enough to protect profit margins or keep up with increasing customer experience mandates.

Cost control is front of mind, of course. But thanks to the emergence of cloud-native systems, unnecessary costs and technical limitations can be eliminated and that plague legacy commerce solutions. Cloud-native architectures, built with micro-services, are designed to enable a long list of dynamic benefits such as elastic scaling, run-anywhere functionality, easy integration, single view of the truth and seamless administration.

Engineered for what’s next

These new systems must also be future-proof. New systems may be adopted by an ambitious retailer, but three years down the line shopper behaviour may have changed again, and the software and processes may no longer be relevant. It has become essential to have architectural flexibility across evolving operations with engineered support for extensibility and customisation, with innovation at the core.

The tools to capitalise on the omnichannel opportunity by better serving digital and in-store customers alike are there for the taking. From warehouse and inventory to retail stores and contact centres, technology enables retailers to remove points of operational friction, cut costs, maximise resources and delight customers from one end of the supply chain to the other. If retailers are willing to invest in solutions engineered for omnichannel, they can reap the performance benefits of connected commerce solutions, and enjoy the flexibility to adapt to whatever the future of retail and consumer demand holds.




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