Merje ShawMerje ShawSeptember 13, 2018
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5min416

Over the years we have seen that the fastest, most efficient way of diagnosing Customer Experience issues is talking to your customer-facing teams. Here is a quick primer on what to ask them.

Having started my career in customer support myself, I know how many real customer issues frontline staff come across daily. Quite often, these insights stay in the frontline staff’s heads or get buried in paperwork during “business as usual” which seems like a big waste. If your organisation is starting to look more closely at their Customer Experience, tapping into this resource will be a quick and (hopefully) easy way of gaining insight into your customer base and their needs.

Here are five questions to ask:

1. What is the number one thing customers complain about?

Understanding what the biggest issue your customers feel strongly enough to complain about is will tell you how to remove the largest obstacle from customer satisfaction, and provides a good starting point for researching pain points within your customer journey.

2. Which channels do most queries come though?

This will be limited by the number of channels on which you allow them to contact you but will give you a good place to start looking at trends. After all, your customers are likely to try and contact you by the channel that is most convenient from them. If these don’t include social media, it would be wise to also review how your company is being discussed in these channels as that can be very enlightening.

3. If you could improve one thing about the service/product what would it be?

Your customer service staff talk to the customers every day and solve a myriad of issues for them. Because of this, they will develop a pretty good gut feeling on the issues causing the biggest trouble for your customer base and will be able to pinpoint the most urgent ones.

4. Which internal document is helping you most in answering customer questions?

Knowing which documentation they find the most helpful when dealing with customer queries will help you gain an understanding of the kind of content you should be putting in front of your customers during their usual journey.

5. What tool or process would help you to do your job better?

Internal tools and processes used by frontline staff can often make or break the customer’s experience of the company, so ensuring they have the things they need to be as efficient as possible is key to improving experience.

These are just a starting point to improving your Customer Experience; ideally you would follow this insight up by conducting first-hand research directly with your customers.

Not only will this way of engaging with your staff enable you to gain a deeper understanding of your customers but it will also go a long way towards making your frontline staff finally feel heard, and we all want happy people to help our customers, right?


Konstantin SelgitskiKonstantin SelgitskiSeptember 11, 2018
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5min432

In today’s incredibly competitive marketplace, it is more difficult than ever before for companies to retain customers.

Therefore, it is crucial they do what they can to maintain and engage effectively with existing and potential customers. One way of staying ahead of the game and putting your company at the forefront of competitors is by offering a great Customer Experience.

Customer service builds trust and ultimately, loyalty. So, it is no surprise that customers rate it incredibly highly. Research by Gartner states that when making a purchase, 64 percent of people find Customer Experience more important than price.

Understanding your customers

When it comes to interacting with your customers, understanding their preferred methods of engagement is essential. In order for a company to be successful, it needs to be able to allow its customers to get in touch when they want and via the desired channel they want. Marketers agree that omni-channel strategies ensure higher revenues because a company will not be losing out on customers who are present on channels they are not offering.

In the past, getting in touch via the telephone was the only way to interact with a company. Now, in an increasingly digital era, this has changed. Research by McKinsey & Company states a staggering 86 percent of B2B executives prefer using self-service tools for re-ordering, rather than talking to a sales representative. In recent years, live chat and social media have also become popular methods for engagement, especially amongst millennials. Other channels companies should consider include email and SMS.

A customer is much more likely to choose a company that has a reputation for great customer service, as well as being known for offering a simple and personalised experience. A survey by Salesforce revealed 74 percent of people are likely to switch brands if they find the purchasing process too difficult. This reinforces the importance of simplifying the customer service experience and offering multiple platforms for engagement.

According to the Institute of Customer Service, some of the best companies at this include Amazon, Waitrose, John Lewis, and M&S Food. Other popular brand names known for their great customer service and experience include Netflix, Aldi, Mini, and of course Disney.

A happy customer is a repeat customer

Research by NewVoiceMedia reports that after just one negative experience, 51 percent of customers will chose never to do business with that company again. This demonstrates the importance of providing a consistent experience across all platforms.

Whether you have thousands of customers and are running a global e-commerce platform, or you are a local business with a niche audience, it is important to offer a choice of communication tools to accommodate your audience. Everyone has different preferences and understanding what those are and being able to offer them to your audience, is the key to success.

Customer satisfaction is no longer enough

It is no longer enough to just satisfy your customers. Companies must go above and beyond to attract and retain new and existing customers. So, whether you are a small local start-up or well-established global e-commerce business, make sure customer service is top of the agenda and ensure you are going that extra mile to encourage repeat business.


Craig SummersCraig SummersSeptember 3, 2018
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5min529

The summer might have just ended and Christmas may seem a million miles away, but as is customary in the retail world, brands far and wide will be setting up their plans to survive the busiest time of the retail calendar.

However, as the high street continues to evolve – despite claims it is dying – social shopping and e-commerce continue to boom and consumers are more demanding than ever. Let’s face it, peak season is not as we once knew it!

The key peaks

Peak is no longer confined to the high street, nor the months of November and December. The more than pleasant weather, the hype around this year’s World Cup, and other spikes in national activity such as the royal wedding have all played a part in the ups and downs of this year’s retail trends.

All of these factors, coupled with the emerging use of technology in retail, means that brands must now take learnings from the entire year to help them manage any peak, not just the one that happens around Christmas.

An analysis on last year’s festive period will no longer be enough; peaks are now based on culture, lifestyle, weather and even political change. Retailers should have their businesses set up for this throughout the year so they won’t need to worry about how they manage the traditional peak, as it will just be classed as another busy period.

Survival kit

The key retail survival tactic during traditional peak season is often to hire a plethora of Christmas temps to help deal with demand and then let them all go in January. The admin headache and cost implication is a nightmare and most of the staff are not as efficient or knowledgeable as they could be as they have a very quick onboarding period.

Instead, retailers should arm themselves with tools that combine the traditional workforce with the workforce of the future: technology. Gone are the days of clunky, eye-watering updates, which take up time and put systems on hold – retailers don’t have to put up with this anymore.

The best cloud-based tools can be flexed to accommodate busy or quiet periods at any time of the year without having to panic-hire an army of new staff, allowing both man and machine to work together and better manage the resources available.

It also means that retailers don’t have to dread the IT blackout that often occurs when stores and online channels can’t cope with an increase in demand. Simply put, the retailers that are still running on their own physical servers are falling behind, especially when it comes to managing peaks. By adopting the latest cloud technologies, retailers will open up a new found flexibility to seamlessly manage an increase in demand whilst still driving a better Customer Experience all year round, without risking brand damage or impacting revenues.

Surviving the climb

The challenges faced around any peak in demand or sales can spell disaster when not managed correctly. But those retailers that take note of customer behaviour, key trends, and the kinds of demands that are being made throughout the year, will be the ones that handle Christmas peak without a concern. In today’s ever demanding environment it’s no longer just about surviving the peak, it’s about learning from the entire climb.


Jo UpwardJo UpwardAugust 31, 2018
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10min931

With the Institute of Customer Service recently warning that the “survival of the fittest will be driven by how well customers are served” and 33 percent of Americans say they’ll consider switching companies after just a single instance of poor service, there is no doubt that Customer Experience continues to be a main concern for organisations big and small.

Even though Customer Experience transformation has been a focus of most organisations now for going on 10 years, how many of those transformation programmes still have the energy, focus, and effectiveness that they had when they were first created?

Just as times have changed politically, economically, and financially over the last decade, the process of keeping the customer at the heart of what you do needs to evolve. Here are five tips on rebooting your Customer Experience Transformation programme; CX 2.0.

Dedicate a space

Organisations have long felt the benefit of bespoke sales suites where they can engage with better, more strategic conversations with their enterprise customers. However, few have a dedicated space for engaging with customers around the experience they provide, a place where you and your customers can co-create future experiences. 

We are starting to see organisations bringing traditional sales thinking into customer experience transformation.  Creating Customer Experience Test Centres where you bring customers (both consumer and enterprise) to review touchpoints, identify drop outs or poor experience and help you to design the ideal future. This signals to the organisation the important and focus you are placing on getting customers’ experiences right. 

Embedding the brand ethos and promise, you can make it a comfortable place to bring customers and other stakeholders where they feel able to be honest and constructive about improvements they would like to see. Combine the comfort with analytic tools that can help redesign key experiences and to help test preferences to make the space as effective and efficient as possible.

Open Up

Customer Experience mapping and process analytics is often done behind closed doors with internal project teams mapping experiences, identifying drop outs and re-engineering processes. Changes are then made to product, services and processes, expenditure incurred in IT, training, marketing and so on to support the changes then launched and measured to see if the desired effect on improving customer experience has been achieved.

Often these changes produce unintended consequences, creating, for example, challenges in the contact centre, delays in process flow and problems for the supply chain.

What better way to stop this unnecessary domino effect – and save your organisation time and money – than open up the process up to customers; who better to help you shape a truly customer-centric service for the future? But also, to other stakeholders – contact centre staff, for example, have a wealth of knowledge and feedback that may not make its way to the transformation team. 

One example where this has been implemented effectively is with the Dutch retail bank ING that included its employees in the co-creation process of a low-end life insurance product. On the one hand they had identified a younger, harder to reach target audience.

On the other hand, they had a high churn of junior advisors whose lack of experience led to more of an admin role than a commission-based sales role. Leading on from a Customer Experience workshop, it became apparent that these advisors and the target customers for the life insurance product had a lot in common and their younger, more junior advisors were better placed to understand the need, desire, and demand of this younger target audience. 

Taking this learning, the product sales process was evolved to be built around the junior advisors selling the product with the support of more senior staff. The results were startling – the revenues generated in the first two years were the highest in the life insurance division’s history and retention of their junior advisors improved significantly.

Going even broader, your supply chain can also be brought into the fold, helping to make the end to end process that makes up the experience you are designing more likely to be achievable.

Design thinking

Design thinking, with its roots in software UI and UX design, can provide some useful lessons and a deep understanding of the customer, defining the experience that will meet their needs, being creative in ideas to deliver the experience and then prototyping and testing those ideas is a much more agile approach than traditional process re-engineering.

Executing design thinking in a bespoke environment with all key stakeholders involved will ensure investment that is finally made in service improvements is tested and targeted to improve efficacy and return on investment.

Get real (time)

However, look to take Design Thinking one step further by adopting a much more real-time approach. A Customer Experience Test Centre with easy access for your customers or based on the Contact Centre floor allows you to analyse and solve experience issues as they happen. This ensures minimum frustration for customers and minimum cost to your organisation.

A great example of this is one UK-based financial service company that ensured that all front-line staff had 20 percent their time dedicated to service improvements. Staff had specialisms they focused on for improvements and built contacts and a support team within the business to allow them to direct improvements.

So, for example, if call volumes were increasing after communication to pension holders about a taxation change, the agent responsible for communications improvements would bring a team together to review the reasons for call volume increases, learn lessons and apply for communications in the future.

Visualise the experience

The final boost to your transformation programme is to get a lot more visual in the experience you are providing today and the experience you are aiming for as a result of your CX programme. This applies to the macro experience; creating a clear and understandable vision that makes sense across the organisation (and that can be communicated externally as an ambition as well as internally). It also applies to the micro; investing in digital tools that can help visualise processes that are easy to understand and easy for a range of stakeholders to contribute their valuable transformation ideas. 

In today’s world where products can be sourced cheaper and promotions undercut by competitors at the touch of a button, Customer Experience is the one strand many organisations must focus on to keep their share of the market. Ensuring that you keep listening to your customers and involve them at every step of the journey will bring them closer to your brand, drive advocacy and ultimately help transform your brand for the future.


Wayne St. AmandWayne St. AmandAugust 29, 2018
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8min799

The rise of digital has allowed brands to expand beyond the capabilities of traditional marketing and reach consumers in virtually any place, at any time.

Yet while the new era opens up a world of possibilities, the ever-increasing complexity of online marketing means marketers need to constantly refine strategies and utilise the most effective channels, devices, and tactics to reach the right audiences at scale.

Following reports of well-established high street retailers closing, the need for innovative and effective digital transformation is paramount to gain and maintain competitive advantage. What’s more, the recently introduced GDPR regulation has imposed stricter requirements on the safe handling of data, creating an additional need for businesses to adapt their marketing efforts.     

So, what steps can marketers take to embrace new ways of working in today’s diverse digital landscape?

Keep up with developments in martech

The rise of digital has turned marketing into an increasingly technology-driven function. In fact, the average brand marketer now uses more than 12 unique tools on a regular basis and some use over 31 per campaign. While these technologies provide critical capabilities for any marketing department, they also create silos that make it difficult to track, measure, and optimise all audience interactions with a brand.

Marketing effectively in today’s digital age requires more holistic measurement solutions that integrate data from disparate systems to establish a single source of truth about marketing and media performance. By consolidating and normalising data, these solutions not only enable marketers to better understand consumer behaviour, but they also align entire teams around a uniform set of business goals and marketing KPIs. Armed with this data, marketing teams can work together to efficiently test, prove, and allocate budget to the most effective channels and tactics.

Implement a people-based marketing strategy

Continuous growth in the digital space has dramatically changed the way consumers interact with brands. With access to more information and more choices, empowered consumers now place elevated expectations on every interaction they have with brands.

In fact, a recent report found that 76 percent of customers report that it’s easier than ever to switch from brand to brand to find an experience that matches their expectations. As experience increasingly becomes a key differentiator, marketers must embrace a people-based approach that puts the consumer at the centre of their marketing strategy.

The tremendous power of people-based marketing is the ability to target real people versus generic buyer personas. It’s made possible using a privacy compliant persistent identifier that links a person to his or her browsers and devices.

People-based marketing allows brands to understand the path to purchase across digital and mobile channels, as well as addressable offline channels like direct mail where individual, user-level data is available. By understanding who their customers and prospects are and how they behave, marketers can improve the relevancy of their marketing and advertising at every stage of the consumer journey – ultimately improving the experience and building greater affinity for the brand overall.

Go further with multi-touch attribution

A people-based approach that tracks the end-to-end customer journey is vital to a complete understanding of how consumers interact with a brand. However, people-based marketing relies on a new kind of measurement that is also people-based.

Just because a marketer knows who a user is and what devices they use doesn’t mean they know which marketing and advertising tactics will drive conversions, retention, customer lifetime value, and other key business metrics. In a multi-channel, multi-device landscape, a multi-touch attribution measurement approach is essential for accurately understanding which marketing touchpoints along the consumer journey influenced a desired business outcome.

By unifying people-based insights with multi-touch attribution, marketers can see which creative messages, content, and other tactics drive the best results for each audience segment across all channels and devices. They can then apply this insight to optimise consumer experiences and make smarter investment decisions within and across channels.

Optimise opportunities using real-time insight

Digital has created the need for different levels of insight at different speeds. While CMOs may only need to understand how to best allocate their budgets at the channel level on an annual or quarterly basis, individual channel owners need to know how to optimise at tactical levels and on a daily basis within the channel itself.

For example, online display managers must pinpoint which publishers, placements, creatives and frequencies are driving success while campaigns are still in-flight, so they can replicate what’s working and improve what’s not.

Multi-touch attribution provides marketers with granular, near real-time insight to optimise opportunities and drive results. By helping marketers make quicker decisions that influence consumer behaviour, these near real-time insights and optimisations can have significant impact on marketing efficiency and ROI.

In these challenging times, brands must embrace the latest digital marketing techniques to stay ahead of the game. By keeping abreast of new developments, implementing a people-based approach, employing multi-touch attribution, and optimising campaigns based on near real-time insight, brands can make the most of the new digital era to reach consumers with meaningful marketing that really drives results.   


Vanessa WalmsleyVanessa WalmsleyAugust 28, 2018
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7min718

Emerging technologies have allowed consumers to connect their smartphones in almost any area of their life.

Mobile apps that were once built for simple daily chores such as text messaging can now be connected to smart homes, wearable technology, and virtual reality devices. This innovation has been driven by the ability to share and connect data in real time, and it is estimated that the mobile market will grow to $189 billion by 2020.

Retailers have largely already addressed the first stage of mobile integration, through developing apps which consumers can make purchases through, but are now looking at new ways to further innovate and take full advantage of emerging mobile technology to better serve their customers and stand out from competitors. However, most of the traditional brick and mortar retailers are still struggling to innovate, as they are also being pushed by the speed of innovation coming from technology giants such as Amazon.

It should come as no surprise that digitally-focused technology companies such as Amazon and ASOS have been at the forefront of developing successful, intuitive apps for mobile devices, while the traditional brick and mortar retailers have lagged behind, weighed down by legacy systems.

While some high street retailers, such as John Lewis, have made progress developing e-commerce platforms, the real challenge for most brick and mortar retailers is to use data and mobile technology to connect consumers with their products and services in store.

To build an omnichannel retail offering, connecting the offline and online experiences, retailers must look beyond straightforward e-commerce apps selling consumers their products, and explore how they can use mobile technology to enhance the Customer Experience in their stores and improve services in real time.

One example of an innovation that can achieve this heightened Customer Experience is mobile ticketing. With retailers increasingly looking to deliver seamless CX, those with multiple queuing points may be able to reduce the friction that consumers experience through placing them in a virtual queue.

With an app or QR codes placed around the store, customers can open a web page on their phone, select the service they require, then join a virtual queue. They can then browse the store, safe in the knowledge they will be notified when it is their turn to be served. This can help to improve the overall Customer Experience and potentially increase sales. It’s a great example of how the online and offline experience can be integrated into one combined journey.

This leads to better customer satisfaction, which means that consumers are more likely to come back and recommend the services to friends and family.

In-store customers retrieving their online order are another area in which innovative mobile technology can enable retailers to offer a seamless experience. The convenience of selecting items and paying online, then picking up the goods at a time and location of their preference without the hassle of waiting for a delivery or queueing in a busy store, appeals to a growing number of online consumers.

In addition, technology developments for store services such as click and collect can allow consumers to check in either by a self-service kiosk or mobile-enabled staff member at the door who can ‘quick serve’ their needs. This check-in notifies staff in-store so that their order can be located and retrieved ready for collection.

Similar to the mobile ticketing solution, consumers can browse the store, while the system informs them through text messages, offering directions to the collection area or equivalent when the order is ready to be picked up. This can open the possibility and convenience of a seamless and connected shopping experience, again without the hassle of waiting for a delivery service or queuing during a busy period at a store. In addition, it also allows consumers to collect their goods at their convenience whenever and almost wherever they want.

Innovative mobile technology can also enable retailers to monitor their services much more accurately, for example if they see several people joining a virtual queue, they can allocate more staff to that service and make sure the customer service is seamless and as effective as possible, rather than reacting to a rush hour when it happens all at once. It also allows retailers to get direct feedback from customers much more easily. This in return helps retailers to improve their services when an issue arises in real time.

In order to offer a seamless and integrated journey, retailers must look beyond the omnichannel experience and see each consumer journey as integrated experiences, across online and offline channels and platforms. Emerging mobile technologies and the speed at which they are developing present a significant opportunity for the retail industry to flourish in.

It reflects a new era of speed and convenience, which the traditional brick-and-mortar retailers can adapt to by shaping their offerings to meet consumers’ individual and personalised needs at the right place and at the right time.


Daniel MullinsDaniel MullinsAugust 20, 2018
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14min1284

As consumers we are used to fast, easy, and convenient digital experiences from the likes of Amazon, Netflix, and Uber. Unfortunately, similar experiences in our B2B lives are few and far between.

While many B2B companies now have customer-centric strategies in place to deliver a decent Customer Experience, they still lack a digital maturity that would see them compete with their B2C counterparts and deliver a truly great or exceptional Customer Experience.

B2B companies need to embrace digital transformation and start to redefine the Customer Experience and how they create and deliver value.

The Six Pillars of Great Customer Experience

So what does a great or exceptional Customer Experience look like? B2B Customer Experience experts Nick and Paul Hague, authors of the recently published B2B Customer Experience: A Practical Guide to Delivering Exceptional CX, believe it’s built around six key pillars:

  • Commitment: being enthusiastic about satisfying customers and making them feel valued
  • Fulfilment: understanding and delivering on customer needs
  • Seamlessness: making life easier for the customer
  • Responsiveness: Timely response, delivery and resolution
  • Proactivity: Anticipating customer needs and desires and striving to resolve issues before the customer feels pain
  • Evolution: continually seeking to improve the Customer Experience

A digital-first approach to Customer Experience can go a long way to helping a b2b brand perform well against these pillars. A great digital experience is seamless from start to finish and across all touchpoints. It delivers relevant and personalised content at exactly the right time in the journey. And it provides instant, real-time access to all the information and support that might be needed.

Create a seamless digital customer journey

B2B buyers are completing around 60 percent of the purchase process before engaging with suppliers. The vast majority of this initial research is happening online and more importantly, on a smartphone. In fact, Google data shows that 50 percent of B2B search queries today are made on smartphones1.

The growing influence of mobile on the B2B buyer journey is creating a big opportunity for digitally mature brands to deliver a far superior Customer Experience than competitors.

The leading brands take a mobile-first approach when designing the Customer Experience; developing a fully-optimised mobile website, creating mobile-friendly content, and using mobile search queries to inform content creation.

To make life easier for customers ready to purchase, technology can be used to optimise the ordering process. Online product configuration tools can be designed, as well as simple self-service tools for reordering products.

Integrating other touchpoints such as social media, review websites, mobile apps, and location data into the customer journey will also add to a seamless Customer Experience.

Deliver relevant and personalised content

Advancements in technology mean it is now easier than ever before to gather masses of customer data from multiple sources. Collating this data gives marketers the ability to build a more complete, holistic view of individual customers and accounts than was previously possible and therefore deliver highly personalised and targeted content and campaigns.

For example, content can be personalised on an account or individual level, or by industry sector, geography, specific personas or stages in the buyer journey. These smaller, segmented lists can be used to send highly targeted email campaigns, to serve dynamic landing pages to website visitors, and to create personalised user journeys to guide prospects through the buying process.

Data-driven marketing tactics such as personalisation and account-based marketing (ABM) will benefit hugely from the emergence of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the coming years by automating the process of data collection, content creation, and audience targeting. This will help brands deliver what customers need at the moment they need it, creating value and enhancing the Customer Experience.

Provide access to instant, real-time information

Responsiveness is one of the most frequently mentioned reasons behind excellent customer service. B2B buyers want immediate responses to enquiries across a variety of mediums. They want quick deliveries with real-time tracking. They want regular status updates on orders. By investing in digital transformation, B2B brands can add these capabilities to the customer journey and deliver a superior Customer Experience.

Social media sites such as Twitter have emerged as vitally important channels for customers to get in touch with suppliers to request information and support. The time it takes to reply and the quality of the solutions provided can make or break the Customer Experience. Leading brands will employ well-trained staff to respond quickly and efficiently from early morning through to late evening, and invest in social listening tools to make sure they’re not missing a conversation.

For those buyers who want quick support but don’t want to pick up the phone or use social media, instant chat facilities on a supplier’s website may be the answer. Unfortunately, while common in the B2C world, there are far fewer examples of instant chat support in B2B.

So, B2B brands willing to invest in the technology will gain a big advantage over competitors and be able to deliver a far more helpful Customer Experience. For the best possible results, it’s important to make sure there are real people behind the chat who have the power to resolve problems and offer solutions quickly, rather an automated bots who just point people in the direction of FAQs or the contact page.    

Build an online community for support and feedback

B2B purchases can involve a lot of money being spent on products and services of high strategic importance to the organisation. B2B products also tend to be more complex than consumer products. So, the ability to access support and helpful resources not only in the buying process but also post-purchase is important to B2B customers.

Developing an online resource centre or customer portal gives B2B brands the opportunity to create added value for customers and enhance the Customer Experience. A portal can include support forums where customers can easily share best practice and ask for help from other customers.

They can also provide an open innovation platform for customers to give feedback and suggestions on how the supplier can improve their products, services or Customer Experience. By responding directly to feedback from customers and documenting the actions taken, B2B brands can show that they are striving to understand and deliver on customer needs and continually seeking to improve the Customer Experience.   

Deliver proactive product support and maintenance

Along with Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Things (IoT) is another emerging digital technology which B2B brands can use to transform the Customer Experience and create a significant competitive advantage over rivals.

The IoT is simply a network of devices connected via the internet. This allows them to communicate with each other by sending and receiving data. Sensors can be placed in almost any device to connect them to a network and make them ‘smart’.

Manufacturers can take advantage of IoT by placing sensors in products to collect usage data. This data can be used to predict when maintenance may be needed and to monitor performance in order to provide the customer with support and advice on how to maximise efficiency. IoT can also be used to send software updates and improved configurations to products over the internet, giving the customer peace of mind that their product is always up-to-date and running as efficiently as possible.

Conclusion

Digital transformation is a powerful opportunity for B2B brands willing to invest the resources required to create added value for tech savvy B2B buyers and deliver a superior experience across the entire customer journey. Brands looking to perform well against the six pillars of Customer Experience need to embrace digital and design a seamless mobile-optimised journey, deliver highly relevant and personalised content, provide instant real-time access to support and develop a ‘smart’ product ecosystem that monitors usage data and keeps products working to their full potential.

It’s important to remember that digital transformation doesn’t remove the need for human interaction. Given that many B2B products are complex and highly-customised, customers will always require expert sales and product staff to help them make the best decision and offer support where necessary.

The best customer experiences will use digital to improve human interactions and combine it with digitally-enabled services and fully-automated self-service tools where necessary. B2B brands that tailor the journey to the unique needs of their customers will deliver the best Customer Experience.

To learn more about the six pillars of Customer Experience and how to deliver an exceptional B2B Customer Experience, B2B Customer Experience: A Practical Guide to Delivering Exceptional CX, written by Nick Hague and Paul Hague and published by Kogan Page, is out now. Find out more about the book here.

 

[1] https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/intl/en-154/insights-inspiration/industry-perspectives/b2b-marketing-reshaping-growth/


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10min1099

Many organisations recognise the need to change the way they do business, embrace customer-centricity, and develop a more compelling Customer Experience.

So, what should the ideal organisation look like and what does this mean in terms of leadership priorities and the new behaviours decision makers need to adopt to ensure that digital transformation and cultural change deliver the right outcomes for the business?

Leading organisations show unique characteristics that enable them to break through commoditisation and stagnation, run rings around competition, or disrupt markets with new operating models that resonate with the market they seek to address.

Often it is the behaviour of their leaders that challenges and provokes the expectations they have of their employees. We see this at companies like Amazon, Apple, and Salesforce, where employees go the extra mile on a daily basis to deliver a superior brand experience.

While the technology, product performance, and personal service can account for game-changing operating models, we also see that speed, flexibility, agility, personalisation, and personality are increasingly important factors. Adoption of new technology and processes are often important enablers, yet employee behaviours and approaches to decision making are still key to building customer-centric leadership.

Becoming customer obsessed to improve emotional connections and responsiveness

It takes a certain mindset from employees to rachet up growth and profitability through relevance and responsiveness to customers. So what are the ingredients to successful culture change that can bear this fruit?

We have heard of customer obsession – putting the interests of customers first in order to build deep relationships with them – but what are the specific behaviours that will cultivate this? How can organisations develop a customer-obsessed culture that enables employees to win customers and keep them by delivering superior customer value?

Organisations often use assessment frameworks to look at culture holistically or as part of good conduct and regulatory compliance, such as the Denison Culture Model or the Banking Standards Board Framework in the UK.

However, few of these models focus on the behaviours that link leadership and employee decision-making directly to customer outcomes and what is needed to embrace customer-centricity and foster a customer-obsessed culture.

Customer obsession is increasingly emotionally charged and includes a sense of urgency to address customer expectations as well as the ability to resolve customer issues in real-time.

The Market Responsiveness Index (MRI)™ is part of a framework designed to accelerate organisational behavioural change that benchmarks performance relative to a database of over 420 customer-centric organisations, such as Amazon, Apple, Blackrock, Salesforce, and Starbucks, providing clarity on how customer-centric the culture is in being proactive on addressing external influences as well as encouraging internal enablers to success.

The program also includes a range of initiatives and interventions to accelerate improvement and embed behaviours that lead to success.

MarketCulture Strategies developed the MRI after conducting research on business performance that culminated in the book, The Customer Culture Imperative: A Leader’s Guide to Driving Superior Performance. Their research identified eight key dimensions, of which five are external disciplines (that is, outward facing) and three are internal enablers (inward facing), for leaders and decision makers to embrace as an integral part of the organisation and how it affects day-to-day business.

Extensive analysis of what differentiates high performing and low performing companies shows that these eight dimensions are directly linked to stronger levels of customer satisfaction, innovation, new product success, sales growth, profitability, and profit growth.

By benchmarking performance on these eight disciplines of customer obsession against a growing database of leading international companies, organisations can gain a much more objective view on how their behaviour is encouraging effective decision-making with focus on the areas that really count.

Each of the eight disciplines incorporated in the Market Responsiveness Index™ has a set of underlying behaviours and activities that determine how well employees are applying capabilities to gain impact and create value. By measuring their performance, organisations can benchmark against best practice and prioritise improvements that will accelerate adoption of customer-centric behaviour at all levels.

An assessment of performance on these measures can be subjective; often senior leaders think each of these disciplines are in hand, yet specific divisions or front-line teams often feel that parts of the organisation are out of touch with what is really happening.

Application of a framework to capture these different viewpoints sharpens the ability of the organisation to be honest with itself on how well it is performing, and what changes are needed to respond to the business environment and improve on specific strategic objectives like innovation or customer retention.

Delivering impact on customer outcomes and business performance

Vodafone is a global organization based in the UK that is rebooting its culture to become customer obsessed. After seeing NPS score flatline, Vodafone CEO, Vittorio Colao, had the MRI assessment conducted with 3,600 leaders across 28 markets, and the ‘We CARE’ initiative came out of this to shift the organisational mindset towards customers.

Their latest customer service initiative based on learnings from customer insight? A 30-day cool-off period for new pay monthly contracts so that customers can join Vodafone with peace of mind, knowing they can leave with no penalties if they are not happy. As Vodafone develops a new set of capabilities and services as part of the 5G roll-out, they plan to differentiate offerings with a customer-centric culture that puts customers’ best interests first.

Blackrock is the world’s largest fund manager, with an increasingly dominant presence across the globe. A large proportion of its clients are institutional investors. Some of these enterprise customers complained that reporting deliverables were consistently late and of poor quality. Internal operations leaders didn’t appreciate the extent and urgency of the problem and front-line Account Managers were frustrated and unable to influence the operational functions to make the necessary changes.

An MRI showed a significant gap in cross-functional collaboration on resolving customer issues, and improvements following a ‘Customer Immersion Program’ lead to an increase in customer retention of around ten percent, with increased investment from existing clients over the 12 months following the MRI.

Organisations are under pressure to change. The key question is: what do they need to become in order to succeed? By developing a customer-obsessed culture, leaders can focus effort in the right places and bring about a step-change transformation to become well differentiated and highly responsive to the changing needs of customers.


CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamAugust 9, 2018
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5min682

Experts in background music and technology experiences for the retail and hospitality industries, Startle International has seen outstanding growth since beginning trading in 2015.

A start-up moulded by its team members and an employee-first culture that translates across all operations, the company adopted a remote-working model from the start. Aside from the vast employee benefits of no commuting cost or stress, flexibility, and more control over time, this meant that Startle had significantly low operating costs, allowing more to be invested in the development of the business.

Startle recently took home the award for Employee Engagement – Growth By Design in the 2018 UK Employee Experience Awards, showcasing how the business has made ‘working from home’ work exceptionally well for them. With some of the team now based in North America, a common question asked is how Startle will maintain its highly-regarded Employee Experience reputation and build on their remote-working culture as they continue to grow.

Founder and Head of Operations, Adam Castleton, advised that, while there are certainly challenges in working as a remote team, he is confident that the business will continue to benefit from doing so. He explains:

Operating remotely has been our plan from the beginning, and we’re proud to do things differently! Our team members embrace this, and we continue work on the challenges of communication while benefiting from Deep Work, enabled by fewer distractions. Expanding internationally means we’ve already faced complexities of time-difference and have had to invest more in building relationships with our American colleagues, we’ve always found ways to innovate and make this work in our favour.”

In the next year, Startle plans to implement a host of initiatives to improve team communication, productiveness, and subsequently, happiness.

The first of these is to arrange local satellite hotdesking areas for each employee, allowing them somewhere to work from outside of their homes if they want a change of scenery or prefer to meet face-to-face with a colleague. These spaces will be offered for employees to use as much or as little as they wish, giving more flexibility and everyday support.

Secondly, while Startle has always treated its team to fun-filled Christmas getaways (including an all-expenses-paid trip to a German theme park last year, for which the US team were flown over), the company has now introduced what will be an annual Summer ‘retreat’.

A mixture of company workshops and social activities, these whole-team getaways help to strengthen relationships, brainstorm ideas for growth, and importantly, celebrate success. The theme for this year’s retreat was The Customer Journey, which was entirely broken down, analysed, and re-mapped to create what the team will now collaborate towards in the months to come.

Along with a personal development programme that steers team members towards progression as Startle grows, and a share scheme that means all employees are owners of the business, these initiatives signify a forward-thinking business that, as described by Employee Experience expert, Ben Whitter, has “thrown out the tatty old rule book” and “created their own rules through experience and innovation”.

In the coming months, Startle hopes to acknowledge and celebrate its achievements further at the 2018 International Customer Experience Awards, for which the whole team will be flown to Amsterdam. But, shhh!…they don’t know that yet!


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthAugust 9, 2018
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4min817

The future of the booming Customer Experience sector is the focus of an upcoming conference in which attendees can gain valuable insight from some of CX’s biggest names.

Hosted by Awards International at the Reading HQ of Microsoft on October 3, The Future is CX will feature 10 presentations from industry leaders, who will discuss award-winning CX strategies that have revamped the paths to success in both B2B and B2C environments.

Chairing the conference is Ian Golding, international CX specialist and author of the book that has this year ignited a new drive towards customer-centricity, Customer What: the Honest and Practical Guide to Customer Experience.

Ian will introduce a range of speakers, including representatives of firms that have enjoyed significant success in the UK Customer Experience Awards.

They will reveal the strategies that pushed them not only towards awards recognition, but also a new level of customer-centricity that has revitalised their relationship with consumers and clients alike.

The speakers include Jo Mayes of Business Stream, who led her team to victory at the 2017 UK Customer Experience Awards thanks to a hugely successful partnership with consultants Capgemini, who will also be represented at the conference by Principle Consultant Karen Thompson.

Together, they will reveal how utilities have learned from other industries when it comes to much-needed digital revamps of customer service provision.

Meanwhile, Bluesky’s Managing Director Sally Earnshaw will present on the need to keep ‘people power’ a focus in an era of ever-increasing digital dominance, while Andrew McGuigan, Microsoft’s Director of Worldwide Customer Service Strategy, will outline a range of successful strategies, including turning customers into advocates, and the importance of data science.

Other guests include Director of The Henley Centre for Customer Management and Professor of Strategic Marketing at Henley Business School, Moira Clarke; Digital Learning Specialist at clothing giant River Island, Mike Collins; VP of Consulting and Innovation at Forrester, Qaalfa Dibeehi; Maria Bourke of Let’s Get Healthy; and the founder of CXellence Consulting, Manuela Pifani.

For further details and to reserve tickets for this unique event, click here, where details can also be found on a special early bird offer that can save 35 percent on booking costs.




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