Chaman MaharajChaman MaharajAugust 7, 2020
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12min381

Customer Experience has been a buzz word amongst C-Level executives for some time now and for good reason too. In fact, the term has extended its reach beyond the boardroom and is used just as frequently by tactical and operational teams alike, but what does it mean?

Customer-facing teams in sales and service-orientated environments embrace the concept. Marketing teams use it to get to know their customers, to personalise their brand reach and encourage brand loyalty. Finance teams do not particularly enjoy the first two to three years of most customer experience initiatives, but it is not too long before they are raving fans. Legal divisions have had to adapt their speech to be more understandable and much like the IT industry, consumer and data protection laws have completely disrupted their space. This list goes on.

Ask five different people what customer experience means to their brand and you would probably get twice as many correct, but different answers. The truth must be told. Customer experience means a plethora of different things to different people.

Customer experience is not the same as customer satisfaction or customer service and whilst there are some good guys doing some great work in the field of customer success, customer experience is quite different.

Customer satisfaction describes how happy customers are, after using a specific product or service. Satisfaction can then be broken down into perceived value – how customers expect to benefit from using that product or service versus what they actually experience, post-purchase.

Customer experience is most commonly misunderstood as customer service which refers to the types of assistance, advice, and levels of engagement customers endure before, during, and after a sales transaction. Customer service is managed by divisions within an organisation and results in inconsistencies in delivered experiences across the customer journey. For example, you may receive different levels of customer service from a contact centre service representative than you would from an in-store service representative at the same company. These inconsistencies in delivered experiences are the differences between customer service and customer experience.

Customer success is centred around making it easy for customers to achieve a specific goal such as purchasing a specific product or signing up for a new service. Leaders in this field have generally embarked on digitally transformative campaigns to allow for instant fulfilment such as internet-orientated and app-based self-help facilities.

Customer experience is all of these and so much more. From customer satisfaction, we have learned that customer expectations can be managed, met and exceeded. Customer service has thought us that there is much more to a ‘transaction’ and customer success inevitably reduces customer effort, making it easier for customers to transact.

Comprehensive customer experience ecosystems create customer memories that narrate specific brand stories. Underpinned by a rock-solid customer experience strategy, deliberate and differentiated customer experiences deliver business results by growing brand loyalty organically, by focusing on customer success, customer effort and customer emotion.

According to world-renowned expert in experience management and co-founder of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA), Bruce Temkin defines customer experience as,

 “The perception that customers have of their interactions with an organisation” – Bruce Temkin.

Let us unpack that a little.

We know that customers connect and interact with an organisation’s technologies, people, products, and processes across a variety of online platforms, through dedicated customer contact centres and at physical brick and mortar locations. Across this wide array of customer touchpoints, customers perceive a brand holistically and not the individual business units that make up the organisation.

Whilst these interactions are micro-moments in the end-to-end customer journey, customer perception may not be reality but is an undeniable belief system that belongs exclusively to its bearer. Perceptions will vary from customer to customer, based on their own unique experiences and are formed primarily on personal preferences and the human emotions customers experience when they interact with a specific brand.

It is no surprise that customers who enjoy dynamic and inspiring experiences often share the details of these exciting moments with their friends and family, on social media and by word of mouth. These brand ambassadors are willing to try, buy and recommend new products and services – often at a higher price for that heightened experience and are also far more likely to forgive you should something go wrong.

Premium or paid membership loyalty and rewards programs such as Discovery Health’s Vitality make a strong point here and according to a 2019 Customer Loyalty Report, 47 percent of South African’s conclude purchases that earn rewards or benefits at least several times a week.

On the back end of these loyalty programs, organisations have access to customer information that they harvest to deliver targeted products and services to a tailored audience. Whilst this may tick the personal preferences checkbox, we are not suggesting that a loyalty program will solve all your customer experience problems.

Customer experience ecosystems are complex and multifaceted with multiple moving mechanisms across many organisational silos – each with their own set of values, beliefs and key performance indicators. Customer experience synchronises and steers these cross-functional efforts towards a common goal – the customer.

Customer-centricity can be relatively difficult to achieve, particularly in larger organisations when non-customer-facing individuals are not entirely cognizant of their contributions within the end-to-end customer journey. Customer experience is disrupting this malpractice by breaking down internal barriers between front-line and back-office employees. Never before has so much emphasis been placed on external factors from inside an organisation and this outside-in approach can be great for your business too.

By unearthing the potential of customer intelligence, brands are now able to understand customer behaviour, predict customer wants and needs, and as a result, deliver personalised products and services to a completely tailored audience.

Frequently used customer experience metrics like net promoter score* are deployed to measure delivered experiences and the combination of solicited and unsolicited customer feedback guides ongoing improvements in customer engagement.

Through human-centred experience design, product and service-related teams are able to eliminate common pain points in the customer journey and this coincidentally, has a tremendous knock-on effect on enabling customer-facing teams to operate more efficiently, be more productive and still deliver dynamic and inspiring customer experiences consistently.

The result, engaged employees understand their roles in the end-to-end customer journey and deliver empathy-rich customer experiences that are fluid, highly personalised, and intricately designed using the six core competencies of customer experience to exceed the growing expectations of all customer segments and grow brand loyalty, organically.

 “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

With this, Maya Angelou parted onto us what could possibly be one of the greatest pearls of customer experience wisdom.

At Being Human, we do not intend to redefine customer experience and whenever we are asked, we explain customer experience as, “The product of all your customer’s interactions with your brand are stored in their hearts and minds as memories, and the thumbnails of their experiences are the emojis of how you made them feel.”

We help organisations engineer extraordinary experiences through the application of human-centred experience design to create dynamic, inspiring and memorable moments of magic at every touchpoint of your customer’s journey with your brand.

Which emojis are your customers using to remember their experiences with your brand?

What are they telling their friends and family about you?


Sonja KotrotsosSonja KotrotsosAugust 7, 2020
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6min338

In today’s omnichannel business environment, the best and smartest content in the world might as well be invisible if it can’t be delivered to consumers correctly. 

This means in the context demanded by the customer, personalised to them, and via the device or channel of their choice. That’s a job for intelligent content — but what it sounds like is not exactly what it is.

 What is Intelligent Content?

Intelligent content is a content management technique in which content is structured as a modular, format-free, and semantically-rich business asset. This practice makes it easy for the content creators and users to find and reconfigure for various occasions.

Does A Business Need Intelligent Content?

What business and which content creators wouldn’t benefit from content that’s well-structured, usable, and all-around intelligent?

But to be more specific, intelligent content is essential for businesses that:

  • Produce more content than can be reasonably managed manually
  • Sell products or services with enough commonality that you can reuse content among them
  • Have omnichannel delivery requirements
  • Are using or will use chatbots or similar automated content delivery methods

The Benefits of Intelligent Content

From making content more usable to empowering sales teams to close more deals to boosting SEO efforts — the benefits of intelligent content are huge for businesses.

Firstly, it makes content more reusable across channels and platforms.

When content is removed from the context of presentation (such as a web page) and stored in modules that are labelled with semantic metadata (which is data that describes other data), it’s much easier for business users to both find and implement as needed.

This metadata enables marketers to create content just once, refresh it, and then republish it across any channel or digital device without rewrites or reformatting — saving time and increasing consistency. In other words, intelligent content enables the creation of omnichannel shopping experiences for consumers, which is a powerful differentiator for businesses in the modern age.

Intelligent Content also empowers sales teams to take advantage of more useful content.

Today, the sales funnel has more touchpoints than ever. And that means salespeople need to be able to access and deliver content that will add value and differentiate their business along the way. Because of the metadata labelling and modular storage, intelligent content is accessible for the sales team to locate in their company’s knowledge base or content management system (CMS), personalise as needed, and deliver via the lead’s preferred channel or device.

The best part is, to the potential customer, it looks like a company has dropped everything to thoughtfully develop and deliver content that has been created especially for them.

Intelligent Content also increases content discoverability to boost internal and external search results

Simply put, digital content that can’t be identified by computers might as well not exist. This is where the intelligence of metadata shines. Using metadata labels or “tags,” companies can attach additional information to their digital content to describe it in more detail. This metadata tagging makes it easier for search engines to find, identify, and display when a user is searching for a related topic.

This discoverability goes beyond external search engines to include a company’s CMS or internal knowledge base where an employee may be looking for customer info, product documentation, etc. Wherever the search is done — the better the metadata, the better the experience and the results.

Going Headless – How to Make Sure Content is Intelligent and Ready for the Future

Intelligent content isn’t so much about the words and images that make it up as it is about how businesses create, store, manage, and deliver the content. Luckily, there’s a tool that can set organisations up to serve intelligent content and the resulting omnichannel experience that consumers crave.

Headless CMS empowers modern organisations to create their content in entirely presentation-independent modules, organise and store it in a semantically-rich way with metadata, and deliver it to any device or channel — all thanks to the power of an architecture built on application program interfaces (APIs).

This separation of content from formatting allows content teams to create content just once and distribute it anywhere and technology teams to build the best frontend presentation without either stepping on the other’s toes.


David TruogDavid TruogAugust 6, 2020
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5min467

One of the most common obstacles to CX transformation is a misunderstanding of what CX is really about, among people who are not CX professionals.

And if you are a CX professional trying to explain it to colleagues, it can be hard to know where to start since you’re immersed in CX every day. So here’s some clarification that you might find useful either for your own understanding or to help some of your colleagues.

Let’s start with Forrester’s definition of CX, which has been widely accepted and cited since 1998 when the company launched its CX research:

  1. CX is customers’ perceptions of their interactions with a brand: Those perceptions are the reality of CX. And CX encompasses all interactions with a brand, from seeing advertisements to using products and getting support. CX has another meaning, too, which is important to be aware of:
  2. CX is a profession focused on understanding and shaping the experiences of a company’s customers and of others in its ecosystem who also influence its customers’ experiences.

What CX pros call themselves varies widely, but the activities that make up their work fall into six broad competencies:

  • Research, to understand the needs and motivations of a specific population.
  • Prioritisation, to decide which of those needs and motivations to address.
  • Design, to conceive and specify experiences that address those needs and motivations.
  • Enablement, to provide the resources required for experiences to be delivered as designed.
  • Measurement, to assess whether the experiences are producing the desired outcomes.
  • Culture, to instil the right values and behaviours in people who contribute to the experiences.

Let’s consider a concrete scenario of a company we’ll call Acme Bank applying these six competencies in sequence:

  • Research: Acme Bank digs deep into the banking-related needs and motivations of its desired customers by interviewing, surveying, and observing them — among other methods.
  • Prioritisation: It’s unlikely Acme can (or wants to) address all those needs and motivations, so it ranks them to decide which to tackle immediately and which to postpone or ignore.
  • Design: Acme invents new experiences (or refines existing ones) that it believes will address the needs and motivations it prioritised.
  • Enablement: Acme develops the resources it needs to turn the designs into customer-ready experiences — software for the digital aspects and employee training for the human aspects.
  • Measurement: Acme examines customers’ perceptions of the experiences it is delivering and compares its findings to what it intended for them to perceive.
  • Culture: Acme spreads customer-centric values and behaviours that improve and amplify the effect of employees’ activities across the other five competencies.

CX pros apply these six competencies to the experiences of all types of customers. Nothing about them is specific to traditional commercial relationships. They are equally relevant to the relationships between hospitals and their patients, universities and their students, governments and their citizens, IT departments and the employees who rely on them, and so on. The differences lie mostly in what motivates these organisations to improve the experiences of the people they seek to serve.

The key to achieving reliably good CX is to not only apply these six competencies, but do so with rigour, cadence, coordination, and accountability — the elements of disciplined CX management that are necessary to achieve real CX transformation.

If you would like to learn more, check out Forrester’s complimentary eBook ‘Capturing The ROI Of CX’ eBook.

 

David Truog is VP and Research Director at Forrester.


Daniel TodaroDaniel TodaroAugust 6, 2020
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6min557

The uncertainty surrounding the fallout from lockdown and consumers’ changed behaviour makes the task of forecasting the future a difficult one for brands. While commentators obsess about the performance of channels and the extent to which ecommerce is replacing bricks and mortar, we are in danger of missing the key factor. Namely the customer.

As the global population responds to the coronavirus pandemic, key trends are emerging, reshaping the consumers priorities and spending outlook in the UK. The real dividing line is between those who respond and offer a great customer experience with those who don’t.

A changed context: New patterns of behaviour established

Every aspect of our life has been impacted. This ranges from the focus on the preservation of health & wellbeing to the renewed focus on the connection with family and friends to cope with the impact on personal safety and security.

Meanwhile, new behaviour patterns for work & play have emerged. We are staying at home to reduce travel and human interaction. This is, in turn, is changing spending habits as consumers adapt and fill their time in new ways.

While we are spending more of our lives at home and digitally, concerns remain around a spike in cybersecurity threats. Recent YouGov research indicated that 51 percent of consumers cite data protection as a concern. The exposure of personal data is growing in proportion to the rapid shift towards online shopping.

Brands have had to find a new raison d’etre and are discovering new ways to communicate that emphasise empathy for employees and customers as they go into overdrive to overcome the downturn.

eCommerce can’t offer a true brand experience

While we have remained at home ecommerce has thrived and will be of growing importance. However, the evidence shows online sales will not completely replace lost revenue from traditional retail which needs to be examined.

Online retail sales share increased to 30.8 percent in May and June, however it is forecasted to decrease by 9 percent as stores open. The fact remains customer experience in considered purchases remain important as online can’t offer a true brand experience. Customers still long for the human interaction and advice that comes as part of the bricks and mortar shopping experience.

This was born out by a study we carried out last year that indicated 59 percent of people would always rather speak to a person than an automated system to find out more information about a product. Meanwhile, 73 percent preferred dealing with a human when trying to get a refund.

Innovation tackling safety concerns

So what lessons can retailers and brands take? The circle needs to be squared of people wanting an in-store experience when they are less likely to go to a shop. They also need to have their safety concerns considered when they do venture out.

Innovation in retail is going to provide a large part of the solution. This will include customer-centric digital and mobile as part of the experience at the point of purchase. Smart booking and appointment systems can be deployed to make instore visits COVID safe and efficient for nervous customers.

Interactions can be managed and ideally, some element of browsing can already have been delivered.

Bringing the shop floor to the digital realm

For those more nervous about venturing out, innovative technology can deliver the desired customer experience. For example, Ikea has acquired AR startup Geomagical Labs, driving shoppers to purchase more big-ticket items without needing to visit a store. Geomagical Labs’ key product allows users to scan a room using a smartphone, render that into a panoramic 3D picture, remove all the furniture currently in it and then change the layout of items around the room by adding new items to scale.

This type of innovation and AR more generally will create more engaging digital experiences to help customers accurately visualise their home with new furniture. The same could apply to a whole range of product categories. Smart brands and retailers will be able to gain an advantage through differentiation of this kind.

It’s good to talk

While this may replicate the ‘show’ part of the in-store experience, a gap remains for the ‘tell’ part led by an expert. Retailers need to consider new ways of delivering human interaction, often required with higher ticket items. For example, instore advice can be replaced by training staff in call centres which could replicate the expert advisor instore. The human advice so desired by customers can be given but at a safe distance. This could range from product advice to refunds.

The focus should be a seamless experience delivered across all touchpoints, instead of obsessing about the false divide between online and offline. Retailers and brands need to put the customer’s needs front and centre and understand the need for a human touch. This is the best way of preparing for an uncertain future.


Rebecca BrownRebecca BrownAugust 5, 2020
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12min541

In your office there will be rules; standard operating procedures that help with inducting new staff, training long-term staff and ensuring the smooth running of day to day business.

Sometimes those rules are well documented in step-by-step guides, and sometimes they are handed down verbally like a long-standing family tradition or folktale. Often, which style your business adopts will come down to your company values and your culture. Neither way is wrong and both have their advantages.

What about those elements of culture that are harder to define? Those elements that are just ‘understood’ to be necessary and are far harder to document in a handbook?

One of those elements is the ability to inspire confidence in your brand. It’s crucial that, if you want to attract, retain, and grow your loyal customer base, everyone in your business understands the term ‘inspiring confidence’.  There are many little aspects of their day-to-day role that can either contribute to the overall customer confidence in the brand or detract from it.

Every action we take has the ability to do one or the other, and shifting towards deliberately inspiring confidence in everything you do has the ability to transform the customer experience.

So, what does inspiring confidence actually mean?

A quick search will tell you that inspiring confidence means to make people feel confident because they trust your ability.

This extends deep into the heart of your business and every staff member can shape the impression a customer has of your brand. Your ability to inspire confidence can be made or broken in the space of just a few minutes.

What can you do to take control and make sure that everyone in the organisation deliberately tries to inspire confidence with all they do?

Well, that is the hard part. This isn’t about training for grand gestures, or wow moments. Inspiring confidence is a quiet, gentle, and steady thing and it’s crucial that it is embedded in the values of your team if it is going to consistently build trust.

That said, here are some examples that might help get you started reviewing your own customer interactions.

1. Pause before you speak and consider the words you choose.

Inspiring confidence in the brand is really just another way to say – will this make us look good, reliable, trustworthy, and like someone that a customer would want to buy from?

It’s always good to try and place yourself in the customer’s shoes when you ask this question.

You can try saying it out loud and always include “I the customer” in the sentence.

So:

Would I the customer be filled with confidence in our brand if someone answered the phone and said ‘Sorry it took so long to answer, it’s been so busy all day – the phones haven’t stopped ringing, we’ve been absolutely manic with new customers!’?

Let’s deconstruct the sentence and see what happens:

Does this message inspire confidence? No – it more likely sends the message that things are out of control, unplanned for, and hectic. These are all ingredients that make it likely for elements of great service to be overlooked, forgotten, or not considered in the first place. It doesn’t send the right message at all.

Try to think of a better way to convey your message; one that inspires confidence. For example – you could say: ‘Thank you for waiting, I’m sorry for the unusual wait and I really appreciate your time. We’ve just had a great response to our new advert and have been busier than usual – but you have my full attention so how can I help today?’

2. Ask yourself the question.

Get into the habit of asking yourself each time you make a decision, or each time you take a customer facing action – will this inspire customer confidence in the brand? To begin with it might feel somewhat strange, you might have to really consider how a customer would perceive an action, a response, or a statement. You will need to unpick sentences, play back conversations and look at documentation in a new light, but very quickly you will start to change the way you work and your output will naturally shift to one of inspiring confidence.

3. Show enthusiasm no matter the time of day

Do you greet each customer with the same level of enthusiasm, whether they are the first call of the day, or whether they just so happen to have called 30 seconds before you switched your phone off for the day EVEN if you now know you will probably be ten minutes later leaving as a result? That customer has called during opening hours and deserves to feel valued. It’s okay to feel disappointed that you might be late but it’s not okay to let the customer feel that disappointment. Try to always present the customer with a consistently positive experience.

If you find yourself regularly being late as a result then it might be worth reviewing the shift times and closing lines fifteen minutes before the last shift finishes for the day to assist with work / life balance.

4. Explain yourself clearly

Often, we think we have explained ourselves clearly. We assume there is a level of knowledge that the customer has that matches our own, when this is not always the case. Consider this example and how it applies to what you do.

Scenario A.

You walk into your office. A strange woman in there. She smiles, walks towards you, points to a chair and then guides you to that chair. Once you have sat down, she takes of your shoes and takes out a tape measure. She measures first one foot then the other – all without saying a word to you.

How would you feel?

Confused, like your space has been invaded, scared and a little upset or all of the above?

Scenario B.

Same setup –  but this time the strange woman smiles, says “Hi I’m Claire, great to meet you. Would you mind taking a seat, removing your shoes and letting me measure your feet?”

How would you feel this time?

Probably still confused – possibly less scared but unlikely to just comply.

Scenario C.

This time, she says: “Hi, I’m Claire – we haven’t met but your company has hired me to measure all their employees’ feet. They are going to provide you with new safety footwear that will help keep you safe at work, reduce the chance of foot injuries and the best bit is that it won’t cost you a penny. Do you mind taking a seat and letting me measure your feet?”

Now how do you feel?

Not only has Claire explained what she will be doing, but she’s explained why, and she’s demonstrated what the value will be to you.

This is a far more comprehensive answer that is likely to leave you feeling happier and more reassured.

Take a look at your own customer interactions and your common responses to customer questions. Can you confidently say that for all of them you have:

  • Clearly communicated – no jargon!
  • Explained why something is the case
  • Demonstrated the value to them

5. Check back in with your customer

Do you check that you have answered your customers’ questions fully? Often a customer will present one question, and we will answer it to what we assume to be their sat/isfaction. How often though do we actually ask, “have I answered all your questions today?”? It’s a simple thing, but often the answer is no. The customer may have only had one question at the start of the interaction, but the discussion can trigger more questions. Sometimes it may just be that we missed one of their concerns or misunderstood their main frustration.

By asking this question before finishing your interaction, you can catch anything outstanding and know that when you end the call your customer is left more satisfied.

There are so many ways that you can add to (or detract from…) your customer confidence, but the key is to ensure that everyone in the team is aware of the potential for this and understand the impact it can have.

Once they are thinking ‘inspire confidence’, they can apply this to any decision-making, any documentation they send out, any questions they answer… It’s not about writing a standard operating procedure that gives them the exact answers, it’s more about training everyone in the organisation to adopt ‘inspiring confidence’ as a core value. That way they can work out the answer on their own, be more empowered, and help drive the brand forward – inspiring confidence in everything they do.

So – give it a go. Put inspiring confidence into the core of your operations and take satisfaction in the positive changes it can make.


Colin BristowColin BristowAugust 4, 2020
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7min651

Since the start of lockdown in March, businesses across the UK have faced a multitude of disruptions and had to come up with creative solutions to overcome them. Naturally, some businesses have been more successful than others.

One sector that’s had to adapt their approach quickly has been the insurance industry. There was a flurry of holiday insurance claims, for example, once travel was no longer possible and destinations shut down. On top of that, the quick transition from office-based working to remote working forced firms to cope with a significant change in a short period of time.

Perhaps the most important change, and one which some insurance firms have struggled to cope with, is how they interact with their customers now. Where before much of the customer interaction took place over the phone, especially when dealing with concerns, it’s now largely taking place over email. This has proven to be a much slower and less efficient method. However, it doesn’t have to be.

Dwindling customer experience

Claims handling staff, particularly those who work in call centres, are at the heart of the customer experience in insurance. Often, when a customer has a problem, they will be able to call and speak with an advisor who will help them with their problem directly and quickly.

However, due to both lockdown and social distancing rules, the number of claims handling staff working in call centres dramatically reduced. This means that, aside from emergency contact, many customers are being asked to contact their insurers via email instead. At the same time, there is an estimated £1.2bn in claims to be settled associated with the pandemic.

For insurers, what this means is that there is still a constant stream of customer requests and concerns coming in, but the capacity to deal with them has reduced. While this may seem more of an immediate pain point which will ease as lockdown measures relax, insurers should be and – in many cases – are looking to improve the customer experience.

Far too often, even in more regular circumstances, customers are left on hold while trying to contact the firm to resolve an issue, which leads to frustration and lost business.

While some customers may be more understanding of a less streamlined customer experience given the circumstances, this reprieve will not last for long and insurance firms must act on this gap in their customer experience.

Your request is now complete

Moving forwards, how can insurance firms improve their customer experience? The most important factor is to be able to deal with customer requests both accurately and efficiently. Having an effective online customer experience can help with this dramatically.

Currently, for many insurance firms, the online customer experience has been a pain point, particularly in recent times. The handling of claims sent in via email or online forms is currently a slow and laborious process, especially when relying solely on staff to review.

A solution to this problem would be for firms to implement text analytics to assist staff with this process. Nationwide Building Society did exactly this and to great effect.

Using AI and natural language processing, Nationwide Building Societ was able to identify elements of customer communication that could be improved. They realised that over half of all email enquiries could have been resolved by guiding customers towards digital channels.

However, to achieve this insurance firms must get their ducks, or in this case their data, in a row. For the technology to work effectively, the algorithms must be fed by strong and relevant data to enable the best decisions.

Getting your ducks in a row

First thing’s first: insurance firms must ensure that they have full visibility of their data before they start implementing analytics technology. To make this a reality, customer data cannot be siloed within a variety of different environments, as is often the case. Instead, it should ideally all be accessible from a centralised cloud system so that it is all in one place.

From this vantage point, insurance firms can assess all of their data and cherry-pick the data which is strongest and most relevant. This is particularly important for insurance firms, given much of their data comes from online completed customer forms. These often have unique fields such as policy ID, customer names and dates of birth, which can be difficult to manage as the data is sometimes inconsistent or formatted strangely.

With full visibility over all this data, firms can clean up any data issues, while ensuring only the most pertinent data is fed into the algorithms which power AI and natural language processing.

However, they must also be realistic about what they aim to achieve. A manageable target would be to aim for a prioritised list of customer interactions with key data items validated and passed to other systems where appropriate. This will allow insurance firms to enjoy a similar experience to Nationwide: identifying customer concerns which can be redistributed to digital channels while prioritising the concerns which need human interaction.

While nobody could have predicted the recent disruptions and their magnitude, it has highlighted deficiencies in business models which must be addressed. Insurance firms cannot afford to leave their customers in a waiting room. Now is the time for them to properly manage their data and implement analytics to simplify and streamline the customer experience exponentially.


Susannah SimmonsSusannah SimmonsAugust 3, 2020
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8min618

I would hope that in every business that it is clear who is responsible for sales and who is responsible for post-sales service. What may not always be clear is who is responsible for what happens in between.

Who is responsible for helping the customer move from one stage to the next? Is it the sales team or is it the service team? Or perhaps there needs to be a dedicated customer onboarding team. If no one is responsible, and it is left to chance, customers may fall into the “CX Chasm” never to be seen again!

Recently a friend of mine bought some furniture from a well-known UK furniture brand. She had made her choice, placed the order with the salesperson in-store, and paid the invoice.

She was given a delivery date and all that was left to do was wait. Delivery day came, she waited but nothing arrived. She contacted the furniture company only to be told that the products that she had ordered were out of stock and no longer available. She was fuming! She had fallen down the “CX Chasm” and no one had realised. It was then up to the service team to get her out. They did their best to help and I am pleased to confirm she now has her furniture and although it was not her first choice she did get a more expensive product for the original price she paid. However, the damage has been done and she will not be recommending this company to friends and family.

There are so many things we could analyse in this case study but I want to focus on the idea of the “CX chasm”. Why make the service team’s job so much harder, and less enjoyable, when a bridge can be built across the chasm. The bridge is a framework of systems and processes, with clearly defined responsibilities, that help the customer transition from sales to service. This part of the CX journey is critical because it is the point where a customer is judging whether a company lives up to their expectations. If they don’t, the customer will be left feeling disappointed and let down and will likely take their business elsewhere.

The bridge that a company builds across the “CX chasm” will depend on the products and services it offers and its business model. For example, for low risk, impulse buys the bridge may be very short and simple. Take Starbucks, the partner takes your name and order and passes it to their service colleague. Next, they take your payment and wave you on your journey but not before setting your expectations that your order will be available at the end of the counter when it is ready. If clarification is needed, the service person communicates with the salesperson and/or the customer. When the order is ready the service person hands it over to the customer whilst double-checking the order and signposting to the milk and sugar should they be required. Whether you like Starbucks or not, you cannot deny that they have thought through their customer experience and it is probably the most consistent and efficient coffee shop experience in the world.

For more considered, high-risk purchases the bridge will be longer and more complex and the customer may need to be guided along to ensure they stay on the right path. Buying a new house is a perfect example. You wouldn’t expect to just agree on the sale and leave the rest to chance. The best property developers use a combination of human interaction and automated updates to guide their customers across the bridge over the “CX chasm” before handing them over to the customer service team. Another example would be enterprise software when the salesperson hands over to a dedicated onboarding team to guide the customer across the bridge. Once the customer has successfully crossed the chasm they will be handed over to the customer success and/or support/service team.

The final point to consider is whether a company would benefit from multiple bridges. For example, my local meeting venue offers a different experience depending on the package purchased. For breakfast meeting bookings, customers receive a series of automated emails in the period between making a booking and the day of their meeting. These emails, whilst automated, are signed off by a specific member of the hospitality team. A week before the meeting this same member of the team phones the customer to confirm the final details. For half-day conferences, the process is similar, however, the emails include videos from their dedicated contact including a tour of the venue and their chosen meeting room. For full-day conferences, the human touch is increased further and includes a live virtual, or face-to-face, meeting, and a physical welcome pack with a handwritten note from the customer’s dedicated contact.

In summary, it is important to bridge the chasm between sales and service to ensure that customers don’t get lost, have a positive first impression, and have a consistent style of interaction as they make the transition from a new customer to a loyal customer. The bridge will consist of systems and processes that guide customers on this next stage of their journey.

The mix of automation and human touch will depend on the product and services offered, as will the time it takes to cross the bridge over the “CX chasm”. Investing time to view this part of the journey from the customer’s perspective, and mapping out a process that surprises and delights, could be the key to unlocking customer loyalty and increasing the lifetime value of every customer.


Kam PhullarKam PhullarJuly 31, 2020
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7min896

In times of crisis we re-evaluate what we think. Tried and tested concepts no longer feel appropriate as we turn a critical eye on brands, institutions and governments based on what they have said and done and what they will say and do.

Lockdown has forced many of us into a period of reflection from the value of human connections to the craving of familiarity and even the benefits of having a simpler lifestyle. Many have been left feeling cautious and critical which, as consumers, has upped our expectations. This new mindset needs to be taken into account if retailers are to help get the economy moving again which means the role of digital innovation in the customer experience is greater than ever.

In an ever-digitising world, risks from coronavirus are forcing us to completely reimagine retail experiences. Where once bricks-and-mortar stores turned to automation to speed up the shopping experience, the emphasis is now on reducing human contact post-lockdown. As a result, we’re likely to see more self-checkout options – Amazon Go, Jack & Jones, Hema.

Facial recognition, checkout-free stores and click and collect will grow in importance. There will also be a rise in collection-only kiosks, as we’ve already seen with Boots and Amazon, and further crossover store concepts like IKEA’s central London Planning Studio, which allows retailers with larger warehouse operations to storefront new functional brand experiences.

The impact on physical stores has created fierce competition online, in the increasingly crowded e-commerce environment. Brands entering the online space for the first time would be mistaken if they think they can copy and paste their physical retail experience without making significant adjustments for digital platforms and consumption behaviours.

Patience is scarce online, so slick and seamless digital customer experience is key at all moments – from browsing and comparing, to checkout and customer service. Showcasing inventory is a struggle for most e-commerce retailers, as consumers have to work harder to find what they are looking for, thanks to an abundance of choice.

The use of AI and machine learning can considerably help speed up the decision process, refine recommendations and predict behaviours – critical to helping keep consumers focused finding what they need, rather than losing interest and navigate to a competitor’s site. But machines don’t always get things right, which is why CRM and mapping customer behaviours is a growing area of investment and hugely important.

 

 

Online shopping naturally presents more opportunity in consumer decision consideration – the information a customer can take in – than browsing aisles. Retailers can use this to connect customers with wider brand truths and product differentiators – to capture the visual and emotive cues of physical retail, but also to drive brand recognition and salience. If done in a novel or innovative way, it can be as impactful as visual merchandising and in-store creative activations.

In an omnichannel marketing mix, this must also be reflected on mobile. Many brands still don’t invest in optimising their mobile experiences, leading to poor buyer experiences, abandoned carts and – even worse – losing customers to competitors. Brands must test and then test again, to make sure their mobile site and shopping experience doesn’t have broken links, false claims or disconnects across your desired customer journey.

As many have taken to buying online, there’s been a fascinating revival of customer service and call centres.

Providing emotional safety net is key where consumers aren’t able to see a product, hand select it, or even get more advice. There are many options: an on-site integration ‘call now’ button while signed into your account; a web chat or ‘sticky’ help buttons throughout the digital customer journey; or even a backend system that helps retrieve the status of your order.

Whatever the solution, consumers find it more reassuring when they are speaking to a real person they feel they can hold to account. EE and Vodafone are particularly good at integrating customer service within an in-account experience – making it feel like you’re not having to ask the same question several times, thanks to meta technology that captures previous conversations and queries.

An older example we can still draw insights from is the Dominos Dom Bot – this creative device helped bridge an anticipation and expectation gap in a way we’d not seen before, other than in private delivery companies. It broke down the process of what happens post-purchase and made it transparent – creating peace of mind because often, the hardest part of buying an item online is simply not knowing what’s happening next. Put that into the hands of a consumer and they’ll come back for another slice of your brand as well.

This month alone Marks and Spencer, Ted Baker and Arcadia Group were among the many retailers announcing significant job cuts with numerous household names also announcing their relaunch as online-only stores. Digital customer journey has gained significant relevance and it is integral that brands offer exceptional experience across all of their touchpoints, to increase dwell time and sales.

But it requires constant testing of durability and user experience to mitigate bad buyer experience. Innovation and creativity are already proving essential to create cut through – if retail brands stand a chance of weathering this storm they must observe, learn and adapt.


Paige O'NeillPaige O'NeillJuly 30, 2020
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6min686

As the importance of customer experience (CX) continues to be front and centre for businesses, it is crucial for brands to constantly engage with their customers through personalised content.

However, research by SoDA has shown that whilst most C-level executives (97 percent) recognise the importance of a personalised digital experience, less than 40 percent use even the most basic targeting criteria for personalisation.

Tailored content is essential for creating meaningful dialogue with customers and it can act as a catalyst for enabling unrivalled customer experiences and business growth. So why do many marketers see content as something that is difficult to control and manage?

The rise in demand for personalised experiences has led to an increase in challenges marketers face in their efforts to truly deliver a personalised CX. In fact, 44 percent of senior marketers believe they can’t produce content fast enough to power personalised marketing, which is a must-have to meet the expectations of today’s customers.

This recognised importance of personalisation is a reminder that it must be a priority for marketers – lack of budget or talent is not an excuse, and neither is legacy software and systems. Fortunately, there are a number of cost-effective steps which can meet the need for high volumes of quality content without breaking the bank.

  1. Relocate centrally: Marketing teams often have trouble managing and sharing their assets because their content exists in siloes. To build a solid content foundation, organisations must get assets into a central location, such as Sitecore’s Content Hub, where all teams can access and edit all content.
  2. Map the content lifecycle: Determining starting points and priorities requires that the milestones of the content lifecycle be broken down and defined. This can be a useful exercise to align content needs to customer journeys, allowing organisations to understand when and where assets are required and implement existing content where it can be most effective.
  3. Embrace automation: Research from SoDA found that 39 percent of senior marketers believe their processes are too manual to meet content needs; automating content creation and management increases efficiency and productivity. This technology investment enables marketers to achieve true end-to-end content lifecycle management and improve workflows, while also reducing costs.
  4. Establish leadership: Finally, once content is stored in a central platform for all users to access, the organisation must determine who is responsible for the management of different assets. Separate teams can then manage, edit and personalise content with ease across marketing, HR and social channels.

Star Cooperation is one example of where taking control of content, by managing it centrally and reusing it effectively, has shown impressive results. The company, which services a number of luxury automotive brands, needed to help one car maker serve differentiated content about a range of car models, to many different personas, across a variety of channels. This required content needed to be created quickly, mixed and matched for different purposes, and organised effectively. Star Cooperation supported the carmaker to create an end-to-end content management system, that connects and merges all content, making it easy to adapt and translate assets for different markets as and when it is needed.

Through the implementation of a content hub, Star Cooperation has helped the customer create millions of pieces of content per year, and to significantly reduce the time it takes to create them. What is more, because content is stored centrally and can be easily adapted across markets, the brand has seen faster time to market and increased sales, as well as better and more consistent brand communication across all channels.

Personalisation is at the heart of CX, but its execution and management across an ever-increasing number of channels is a problem faced by many marketers. To combat these challenges, rigorous processes need to be put in place, which can help identify the starting point based on the ideal outcomes for the business.

Centralising all content and shared assets in a single location enables widespread access and maintains brand consistency. It also allows for personalised customer interactions to be created with the right content and served at the right time and place. This level of personalisation provides customers with the ability to make informed decisions about purchases, which in turn highlights the role of CX as a driving business factor for online-first customers.


Tony ChambersTony ChambersJuly 29, 2020
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10min652

The CX technology market is hot right now. The pandemic revealed just how poor most companies’ CX infrastructure is and has exposed wide gaps in how companies interact with customers, especially through digital channels.

As a result, many companies have re-prioritised digital initiatives and are taking a hard look at their customer-related operations. In fact, Grandview Research predicts a 250 percent increase in CX spending by 2027.

Customer journey orchestration, digital channel expansion, AI and RPA are just a few examples. But the old ways of CX implementation won’t work anymore. The pace of change has accelerated to the point where long-term implementations are outdated before they are even launched. Customers demand immediate innovation to match the likes of Amazon. To help brands in this new normal, TTEC is partnering with clients looking to take an incremental, cloud-based approach to CX improvement that we call Customer Experience as a Service (CXaaS).

CXaaS serves the holistic customer experience with a mix of technology-enabled optimisation, automation, analytics and continuous improvement. It is not only the backbone but also the launchpad of true digital transformation. More than a technology refresh, CXaaS enables a foundational and cultural shift to digital, driven by innovation. It reimagines how a customer experience should be thought of, delivered, and paid for.

That’s where IT comes in. Most often, IT initiatives deliver big hardware/software implementations based on contact centre operational requirements. These can take years and get mired in operational and technical obstacles along the way. They typically focus on one slice of the customer experience, not the big picture. And the metrics for success tend to be operational and cost-driven, and not aligned with customer success metrics on the business side.

With CXaaS, IT aligns with the business and CX partners to continuously make improvements across all facets of the customer experience that build on one another.

Rather than consider IT as a cost centre responsible for capital expenditures (CAPEX), it plays an important role in managing recurring operational expenditures (OPEX) that can be mapped to revenue growth and cost savings. These benefits are then re-invested to drive even more benefit and continuous improvement. The focus is on meeting digital business customer-orientated objectives with enabling technology, not having just a sole technology focus.

IT is CXaaS’ secret weapon

In our work with clients developing CXaaS programmes, IT has emerged as a critical partner to help sustain momentum and avoid pitfalls during the strategy, contracting and execution stages of CX initiatives. Here are six ways that an engaged IT partner can improve CXaaS projects within the contact centre and throughout the customer experience.

1. Bridge the gap in the customer journey

Often the biggest impact on CX is outside of the responsibility of the customer-facing operation. In many sectors the back-office systems are key to complete the customer journey—paying an insurance claim, confirming the delivering of an item, etc. Integration with these operations and the associated systems and data is critical to achieving the desired customer outcomes. This can be tricky as often they are core legacy systems that can be bespoke to the brand’s operation and have a long backlog of changes and upgrades, not to mention huge risk management sensitivity.

The IT organisation is best to know if, how, and when integration is possible and can plan and manage expectations as well as accelerate the priority of customer integration. Without this forward thinking, the delivery of the business benefits can at best be reduced and at worst, severely delayed.

Successful integration requires co-working between the provider and the brand – not just defining the data flows required, but also who does and is responsible for what.

2. Share objectives and metrics

IT is largely measured on cost savings and time to implementation. With CXaaS, there’s a recognition that technology helps drive other important metrics further down the value chain like cost-to-serve, customer satisfaction, employee longevity, reduced training costs and more. Both the business and technology side can share ownership of these metrics and outcomes. Each stakeholder group extracts value from the others’ systems (CRM data, ERP info, contact centre analytics, training results, performance management, etc.) to create a cohesive, interconnected end-to-end customer journey. It’s critical that there is transparency among all stakeholders (including IT) to set realistic goals and metrics focused on outcomes.

3. Mitigate financial risks with short-term commitments and flexibility

Clients are often stuck with long-horizon IT projects because of a long, drawn-out investment process needed to purchase and implement software and hardware. Many tech vendors require multi-year contracts to lock up revenue and keep clients in their programmes. Switching is often too much hassle.

A CXaaS model doesn’t depend on one specific hardware or software, so it can move at pace. IT organisations will still provide input or direction on CX technology to create an optimal programme, but leave the daily technology set up and maintenance to a CX partner while focusing on their own core IT needs.

IT should be at the table when operations and CX partners decide on the technology to be used within the CXaaS model, but also negotiate the right to change technology if the needs of the programme change. Their input upfront is invaluable to save headaches down the road.

4. Actively participate during contracting

In the contracting stage, IT can provide valuable insight into a number of critical areas. As mentioned above, they can partner with the business and CX partners to negotiate the types of technology to use, and what parameters would be acceptable to warrant switching during the program.

In addition, during the RFP process, they can provide CX partners with a better understanding of the types of CX data available at the client from day one, so that there is a clear knowledge of how transformative the project will be.

5. Reveal hidden value found in customer data

Customer data is the life-blood of a customer-facing operation. The systematic analysis and exploitation of customer data allows an operation to optimise efficient and effective customer interactions that ultimately will deliver competitive advantage. However, traditional IT organisations view customer data through a security lens: How secure is it, what geographical or functional siloes does it sit in, and which systems can access it? Yet customers often share data with a company because they expect value in return. With a strict security focus, there is a missed opportunity to extract the full value that customer data holds.

A CXaaS model is built on a foundation of data and insights. Working with the business and CX partners, IT can share their data expertise and expand their work beyond security to garner insights hidden in databases. They can also advocate for the safe use of that data by the business to strike an important value versus risk balance.

6. Futureproof your CX

A CXaaS model is built on joint work between a company and CX partner. Sometimes it is not clear as to who owns what both in terms of systems and the data they hold. So what happens when the contract ends? At what point does the brand take over or switch partners, and how is it done without impacting the customer experience? Having IT involved throughout the program will make these decisions easier and ensure seamless transitions as contracts end and new partners come on board.

Enable the CXaaS ecosystem with IT

CXaaS is designed to be more adaptable and flexible than traditional CX projects. It’s a team effort built on business objectives. But it can’t be done without underlying technology that is also flexible. Aligning IT with contact centre operations and the CX partner to create this ecosystem will generate the outcomes that companies (and their customers) are looking for, both today and tomorrow.


Laurence ParkesLaurence ParkesJuly 28, 2020
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6min1007

Never before has the digital realm been so fundamental to how a brand delivers its unique brand promise. In a world of accelerating disruption, organisations are looking for ways to rapidly create sustainable competitive advantage.

Unfortunately, while 80 percent of companies believe they deliver ‘superior experiences’, only 8 percent of customers agree (Bain & Co.). The strive towards CX best practice, where competing brands solve customer problems in the same way, has created a market of digital sameness.

But dependency on CX best practice is not the only challenge to overcome. There is also platform fragmentation, organisational silos, and a lack of business logic ownership to contend with.

Become consumer-centric but brand-led and technologically inspired

Balancing the primacy of the consumer versus technology or brand thinking is difficult to achieve but highly rewarding when unlocked. In other words, define your visionary experience based on insightful user needs, hung from a clear brand strategy. Actionable considerations:

  1. In the face of increasing complexity, a clear sense of purpose (inspired by your brand story) can both simplify and pull together disparity when designing your digital ecosystem. Distil your consumer research, competitive analysis and brand strategy into well-defined experience principles.
  2. Find strength in a blended team of strategists, designers and technologists, all with an equal ‘voice’. This will help you find the right balance between consumer needs, brand experience, and the technology that enables it.
  3. Your brand hero moments are what shape the distinctive experiences that matter to your customers. Use key audience needs and motivations to identify the pain points that need improving but overlay your brand promise, values and personality to identify the brand hero moments that will deliver the greatest short- and long-term commercial impact.

Connect what customers want with what technology can do

There is growing tension between consumer understanding and technological possibilities. To drive your differentiating digital experience, you need to connect them. Fundamentally, connecting your brand purpose with your tech stack. Actionable considerations:

  1. By connecting and powering the experiences your CMO craves, with tools and systems from your CIO, you can deliver differentiation. Bring your CMO and CIO together by aligning around your brand vision to help focus and prioritise.
  2. With technology enabling the efficient creation of value to customers, increasingly the tech platform is the business. Your Experience Services Architecture should be containerised and portable, so you own your business logic – releasing you from having to use a particular vendor. This way your brand’s experience roadmap is not tied to that of an uncontrolled third party.
  3. Plan for future innovations with your cloud-based Experience Services Architecture. This will accelerate your innovation pipeline as you’ll have control over a critical component of your digital infrastructure. Enabled by this technology, our client was able to add a brand-new channel to their experience ecosystem in a matter of weeks, with our Omnichannel Experience API.

Support your vision with a clear and convincing business plan

A powerful business case will push action through an organisation. Even better, an Experience Playbook will create an inspiring blueprint that outlines the impact of hero moments on the bottom line as well as the technical infrastructure needed to deliver them; becoming a tool that translates business strategy into meaningfully differentiated customer experiences. Actionable considerations:

  1. Establish a backlog of ideas and experience concepts to explore, rationalise and prioritise. Assessing potential impact versus required effort to implement, identify the quick wins and immediate actions, and sequence the rest into a roadmap.
  2. ROI is key in these times. You can measure the potential commercial impact of your experience concepts at a conversion and brand equity level. Conversion level example: calculate the lost revenue from unnecessarily abandoned shopping carts. Brand equity level example: estimate the likely increase in brand perception and future purchase intent from a best-in-class experience.
  3. Align your technology roadmap and ensure the requirements are a joint responsibility between both your CMO and CIO. This is another important opportunity to align the organisation.

Your key takeaway

These guides are useful regardless of if you’re a large, established brand struggling with legacy issues or a nimble scale-up trying to keep pace with your rapid growth. To differentiate with digital, you must look holistically at your organisation’s complete ecosystem, encompassing the four engines of difference: brand, services, people and technology.

From this, you’ll deliver meaningfully different experiences because they are consumer-centric, brand-led and technologically inspired.


Janelle MansfieldJanelle MansfieldJuly 28, 2020
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16min886

The story of how 2 CXers from across the Atlantic found each other, and their CX tribes while sharing their passion for Customer Experience with the world.

Both Hannah Foley, CCXP and Janelle Mansfield, MBA are authors of the bestselling series “Customer Experience”, each of them having contributed content on their favourite aspects of CX.

Together they support each other through regular skill sharing sessions, an accountability buddy system and additional project capabilities or capacity as needed. Through growing their relationship they have found a much needed enhanced support system to help them thrive while being solo CX entrepreneurs.

Hannah Foley’s thoughts on the importance of finding yourself a community of collaborative individuals:

I remember when I was setting up my first customer experience team, it was new for the business and new for me. I’d got the leadership buy-in I needed for the plans but I felt like I needed to ratify and bounce my ideas around with other CX-ers. I had to reach beyond the business and look for advice and experience outside of my immediate company network.

Janelle & I both left the corporate world on different sides of the world to become customer experience consultants. It sure as hell was a scary thing taking the leap from corporate life to the solitude of running your own business from home but with the help of a few people and places we have both found ourselves surrounded by CX love!

Fast forward several years and we’ve built our respective CX tribes that are supportive, collaborative and fun to be around (albeit virtually right now!). A professional network, especially as a consultant but also as a practitioner within an organisation is an invaluable resource for an assortment of reasons.

From this network I can source personal business advice, get an instagram like or share, we can find opportunities when we need them, it’s a great way to ask for examples of approaches to business challenges, we can pass opportunities on if they aren’t right for us and we can get ours hearts full to the brim with CX chatter. We even send each other happy mail across the globe to brighten up a postbox full of utility bills.

Finding a business tribe isn’t easy, it’s a bit like moving to a new town and trying to build a social life from scratch. Here are some tried and tested ways to find your people and feel the support of the wonderful worldwide CX community:

  1. Become a CCXP – becoming a CCXP was like getting a big badge that said “I love CX too, come talk to me!’ It’s not just a confidence builder for clients or colleagues, it’s a great way to make connections. If you are already a CCXP then pop it in your LinkedIn heading ‘Hannah Foley CCXP’ and watch the invites pop up.
  2. Be proactive on LinkedIn – if you went to a face to face (F2F) networking event, you would hear the host tell you – “you’ll get out of this what you put into it” – LinkedIn is a virtual networking platform. Find your fellow CCXPs and slide into their DMs with a connection request and a friendly / polite personal message. Comment on the posts of fellow CX people and join the debates and discussions – like & share them.
  3. Find people on your wavelength – are you particularly interested in a certain industry, CX discipline or geography? If you were a runner and you moved house to a new town you would join a local running club – find the CX club that you can connect with and put in a shift to get to know them. Follow hashtags on LinkedIn, join groups and ask people for recommendations of events or people to reach out to.
  4. Get out there – are there F2F or virtual events coming up? Find events that are good for you – are there CXPA regional events? Are there conferences organised by people in your network that you can support and get value from? Go along and participate – don’t just sit and observe, be social, be brave… you never know what opportunities might come up.
  5. No online events that catch your eye? Why not create your own? Create a podcast series on a You-Tube channel or start a series of instagram lives and invite people you have connected with to take part. You’ll facilitate some engaging discussions, have lots of fun and make some brilliant connections.
  6. Be brave and organise some 1:1 chats – you will find that the global network is smaller than you think. It’s like 3 degrees of separation in CX – everyone is somehow connected to everyone by just 3 connections on LinkedIn and some are even related! If there’s someone you think could be good for you and you might be able to have some good CX chats – invite them to a Zoom call! What have you got to lose?

Janelle and I met through a mutual connection with Naeem Arif who was looking for contributors to get involved with the first instalment of the Customer Experience book last year. This opportunity presented itself on LinkedIn and we put our hats in the ring, from that first book we not only became best selling authors but we also gained a Whatsapp tribe of wonderful CXers from around the world.

We have both supported each other on client projects and even though Janelle is in Canada and I am in the UK it’s been no different to if we were in the same country. Janelle has a very active and lively YouTube channel which features some of the authors from the Customer Experience book – take a look!

Janelle Mansfield talks the importance of having a trusted pool of colleagues to collaborate with:

One of the scariest things about going out on my own was knowing that I wouldn’t have the benefit of hallway or watercooler conversations with colleagues. I’m the type of person that thrives on those impromptu interactions with others to get inspired, to stay motivated and to come up with better answers to the problems I’m trying to solve.

The first few months as a solo-preneure were the toughest. While I was having fun being my own boss and building AmplifiedCX.com, I struggled with growing my knowledge on a daily basis.  Flash forward to October 2019 where I lucked out by joining the Customer Experience book project and suddenly finding I had a network of talented, highly skilled and purpose driven CX colleagues from around the world. Not only was it incredible to be able to achieve my goal of writing a book, but more than that I now had that missing group of trusted colleagues to leverage and lean on.  I finally had that CX community I had been looking for and that feeling of belonging that I’d been missing.

Through that experience I have come to grow my network, skill-set and CX knowledge further through many informal and formal interactions with authors of the Customer Experience book series, and through additional connections.

One thing I was most surprised by, yet shouldn’t have been, was the openness of this network to share their intellectual property, their contacts, their learnings and their time. CXers, on the whole, are a generous bunch, and this group is no exception.

Finding another solo-preneur to collaborate with has been a game changer. Hannah and I have become each other’s cheerleaders, supporting each other as sounding boards, and even helping each other on projects where we simply needed that extra bit of help. I remember a recent project where I was really struggling to be both the internal CX leader AND the external facilitator. One call to Hannah and she eagerly volunteered her time to help me out, just like a trusted long-time colleague might do. Being an independent consultant can be lonely, and it’s been so fantastic to have Hannah and others by my side whenever needed. I always know that a virtual coffee or pep talk is only a WhatsApp message away.

My guidance to any CXer, whether or not you work for yourself, a small company or a large enterprise:

Build Your Network – we have much to learn from each other, and sometimes getting close to someone who isn’t within our own business can really help with perspective, motivation or cutting through the clutter of politics

Share Your Insights – I have found that sharing my stories and experiences has been incredibly valuable for others, and incredibly rewarding for me.  To hear that my perspective has helped someone else achieve their goals warms my heart.

Be Generous With Your Time – Time is one of our most valuable resources, and I find that the more I give it away, the more I get in return.

Bringing our stories to the world with the Customer Experience book series

The latest Customer Experience book, out now on Kindle, has seen some new faces join some of the CX1 authors for a great new release. The book brings together a community of 24 authors from a multitude of customer experience backgrounds to share their latest thinking and best practices. The book aims to support other CX-ers and leaders find ways to bring about more customer focus to their organisations.

Download today from Amazon Kindle or order a hardcopy from mid-August. We’d love to know what you think of our respective chapters so pop over to LinkedIn and slide in to our DM’s for a natter about all things customer experience.

 

Written by Janelle Mansfield and Hannah Foley.

Janelle Mansfield

Janelle is an experienced executive and management consultant in the disciplines of customer experience, marketing, communications, change management and strategy. She is an early-adopter of technologies that foster better collaboration and engagement with customers, employees and stakeholders. Janelle is known for her open and approachable leadership style, collaborative nature and strategic thinking. Currently, she lives her purpose and passion by helping leaders amplify their customer experiences for better business results through her consultancy, Amplified Customer Experience.

Contact Janelle at janelle@amplifiedcx.com for a complimentary coaching session. She also has video tutorials available on her YouTube channel.

Or, connect with her on LinkedIn (include the note: “CXM” in your connection request).

Hannah Foley

Hannah Foley CCXP, Founder of Yak CX, is a passionate and energetic customer experience consultant and best-selling co-author of ‘Customer Experience’. She has worked in the UK construction and financial services industry for 15 years in FTSE 100 businesses heading up CX teams for Wolseley & Barclaycard. She is passionate about helping organisations to develop their CX strategy with solid foundations based on deep customer understanding. Hannah also supports SME’s to build their businesses with optimised customer journeys www.yak-cx.co.uk.

Connect with Hannah on Instagram and Linkedin.

 


Efrat VulfsonsEfrat VulfsonsJuly 27, 2020
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8min715

With some countries facing COVID-19’s second wave and a lockdown lurking around the corner, many businesses are still unable to return to normal, while eCommerce retailers which saw a spike in recent years were able to thrive and teach us a valuable lesson for handling a crisis in this new reality.

The trend can be seen positively as people find a way to fulfil their requirements even at dire times and businesses reach out beyond the physical constraints of the walls of their store.

On the downside, this trend cramps out a lot of newcomers to an already saturated market where competition is brutal, to stand out smart measures needed to be taken and automation is the smartest long-term choice.

Price comparison

Amazon, eBay, AliExpress, and many more eCommerce platforms had become a staple name in societies around the world. Both young and adult alike will most likely experience the far-reaching impact of those retail giants by either receiving or purchasing items through their services.

Tablets, Smartphones, and laptops web accessibility led customers to spend more time shopping, and the more time they spent the better they learned to manipulate and use the available tools for their best interest. Prices, as a result, became more competitive than ever before.

Customers today are likely to visit several leading websites looking for the lowest price and shipping costs and start rating before committing to a purchase. Retailers seeking to compete with this easily accessible information should use the right tools, such as automating their price comparison process with the right applications.

Manual scanning for competitors is time-consuming and ineffective. Instead, automated tools will fetch the required product data and price on constant intervals from the web at ease. They will give the edge necessary for competing.

A better understanding of upcoming trends

Compared to traditional retail transactions, eCommerce had its share of cons. A known fear of customers was the difference between the shown item on the web and its functionality after arriving at the customer’s house. In an attempt to overcome this, technological tools were introduced, such as augmented reality and various other applications designed to bridge the gap of imagination and reduce frustration.

Tapping into sources such as vocalized search results, customized browsing experience, and human-like A.I. support systems can ensure ever-growing data pools which are valuable for assessing upcoming trends in retail and eCommerce markets alike.

Following this data crumbs will prove invaluable for business owners as understanding trends will drastically change the way they face the market and progress.

Market research

When it comes to intelligent design, research, and understanding results, the human element is still not out of the picture yet.

However, human labour isn’t as needed for collecting data as previously was the case, giving up its space to automated tools that can easily scan vast numbers of responses and consumer interactions in a more cost-effective and efficient way than any human can.

Gathered information such as relevant keywords used by your customers can then be automatically translated into shareholder presentations or visualised diagnostic charts to ease the process of achieving the desired insight. Due to the efficiency inherent in the low cost and speed, the sampling can be repeated for better effect or in personalised formats and smaller or larger scopes.

Cheaper, more reliable and faster the automation tools grant their user the vision needed to plan ahead. Aiding to plan the next step by learning who is the client base and how to reach it.

Market automation

When a business reaches out to its customers, it’s much more than just seeking exposure it’s about understanding what they feel about your product. Each click, each second spent on examining a product or reading a promotional text is an indicator of interest and potential deal. Many programs are therefore developed and designed to pick up on this information and act, analyse, or both for the benefit of the business.

Automation’s diverse roles can be seen from the basic email delivery systems ensuring promotional material and surveys reach their destinations to complex appliances of voice recognition and analytical tools.

No doubt that expanding the client base and securing more growth is a factor of how efficiently data is collected, that coupons reach the right customer at the right time giving him that personal touch and nudge needed for the sale.

Supply chain automation

The change of goods from one hand to another is as important as the initial stages which lead to the transaction. Each of those steps is a two-lane communication road that will impact further business, tight well-organised shipping, and delivery system will speak in volumes and resonate with customers.

The greater and further a business aims to reach the more complicated those steps become, with more regulations and restrictions to adhere to. Each border crossing, local or international, different laws and tariffs introduced and demand abiding to.

In response services offer various automation tools that will make smooth work any operation from one end to the other, taking care of payment processing, invoices, shipping schedules, transfer routes, tariffs regulations, and much more.

Conclusion

We experience changes that the likelihood of which had not been seen since the industrial revolution. They are sweeping the web, automating much of the tedious heavy manual labour previously done by human hands. In order not to drown, one must ride the wave, learn about this change, and adapt it as the tools to stay competitive. Early adopters are known to be the biggest winners in eCommerce and the process has already begun.


Nick CockettNick CockettJuly 24, 2020
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7min893

When face masks became compulsory in shops and supermarkets across England on July 24, coupled with President Donald Trump wearing one for the first time in recent days, the issue has once again been thrust firmly into the spotlight.

For retailers though, safety is the issue that hasn’t been anything less than priority number one since lockdown began.

The measures taken by retailers, both essential and non-essential, to adopt stringent safety measures in line with Government guidance has led to a different experience for shoppers. But the latest decision around face masks once again demonstrates the fears around a second spike of the virus where people congregate in enclosed spaces.

It is a very visible move that will impact each and every shopper yet mustn’t draw attention away from the myriad other ways retailers are keeping their customers safe which, for now, has created a ‘new normal’ for the industry.

Competitive Advantage

It has been a bruising time for retailers, but success depends on the ability to listen to the mood of customers and adapt accordingly.

So, what is it that retailers can do to maintain a competitive advantage? The answer, it would appear, is to use safety measures as a differentiator. In an independent survey of 2,000 UK consumers that we commissioned after ‘non-essential’ retailers opened their doors in mid-June, we uncovered just how important safety is to winning both the hearts and minds of shoppers.

The study found two-thirds (66 percent) of shoppers said the safety measures a retailer has in place to protect them against the spread of Covid-19 will determine whether they shop at a particular store. Just 20 percent said safety measures would have no impact, while another 14 percent were sat firmly on the fence.

The pandemic has clearly heightened the emotions of customers and shifted their priorities, which exacerbates an even more difficult time for retailers. However, it also demonstrates an opportunity.

With the importance of safety truly established, it is important to consider how this affects loyalty. For this, the supermarket industry provides perhaps the best test case. It has, for decades, been ground zero in the battle for customer loyalty. The rise of so-called budget supermarkets, as well as technological advancements allowing for more elaborate loyalty schemes, have fuelled a relentless campaign to win new customers, who are often staunchly defensive of their favourite supermarket.

The research found that 69 percent of shoppers would consider switching from their regular supermarket if the safety measures put in place did not meet their expectations. The loyalty landscape has shifted, certainly for the foreseeable future.

Perhaps most alarming, is that almost half (46 percent) of all shoppers felt the safety measures put in place by retailers or supermarkets were inadequate or poorly managed. Interestingly, of those polled, more than one in ten (13 percent) had not even ventured into a store since lockdown was introduced.

The Checkout Challenge

By its very nature, Covid-19 is a virus that can be spread in a huge number of ways, particularly in a retail environment where not only are people gathering but touching the same equipment. To view the introduction of masks as some kind of silver bullet would be a mistake. Safety measures need to be far more holistic to make shoppers feel protected.

It is in this regard that many are found wanting. One solution to ‘clean’ high touch point areas such as baskets and trolleys, or the checkout area, has been to wipe down surfaces with bleach or alcohol-based solutions. There is a common misconception that this will immediately kill Coronavirus. However, this can take as long as ten minutes to be effective. When you consider how many people might use a payment terminal in this time at a busy retail store, you can begin to see how measures need strengthening considerably.

The balance is in finding solutions that do not impact on the shopper’s experience. It is here that established technology, such as Ultraviolet-C (UVC) light, is coming to the fore. Attacking surface-clinging viruses in less than thirty seconds, it provides a viable way to neutralise Covid-19 at payment terminals between each transaction without impacting on the shopper experience.

Crucially, this type of system vastly decreases the amount of wipes and other cleaning products sent to landfill, so is vastly more sustainable.

A New Battleground

The research demonstrates that less than ten per cent (7 percent) have complete trust that the current measures adopted by retailers will keep them safe from infection, yet more than two-thirds (67 percent) said loyalty to their favourite retailers would be impacted if they did not feel adequately safe in store.

Retailers have never been under scrutiny like this before, largely due to social media and its ability to share damning stories instantaneously to a global audience. Those that don’t offer customers peace of mind with considered solutions are unlikely to be forgotten, while conversely, those that succeed will put themselves in a strong position to earn increased market share as the economy begins to rebuild.

The ‘new normal’ has clearly redrawn battlegrounds in the fight for customer loyalty. But for retailers that pathway to success is a clear one; put shoppers at ease and footfall will increase.


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9min577

Group VP of Marketing & Alliances at Enghouse Interactive Jeremy Payne took the time to discuss with Customer Experience Magazine why organisations should consider moving their contact centre to the cloud and what the common misconceptions are that people often have towards cloud contact centres.

Jeremy, tell us a bit more about yourself and the company you work for.

I have spent over 20 years in the software and services industry, working as a marketing leader within several blue-chip corporates across the globe. I am currently VP International Marketing at Enghouse Interactive – we are one of the biggest providers of customer contact solutions in the world, with our systems supporting over 1 million agents handling more than 1 billion interactions daily. I am responsible for the commercialisation of the company’s four key solutions of multi-channel contact centres, self-service, attendant operator consoles and workforce optimisation systems, across Europe Middle East and Africa. I am passionate about the need to continually improve the customer experience, and have presented about key market trends in this area around the globe.

Which communication channels do you consider as the most important?

There is no one size fits all answer here. The importance really depends on the market you are in and what your brand promise or positioning is – what do your customers expect from you? How can you make their lives easier, meet their needs and ensure a positive customer journey for each and every scenario?

For example, if you are a low-cost airline you will have automated as much as you can and probably pursued a digital by default strategy, creating digital services that are so simple to use that customers choose them every time. That means web self-service and social service are your key channels, supplemented by an “Email Us” form that acts as a backstop, but is also likely to be automated.

However, at the other end of the spectrum, take a private bank working with high net worth individuals. These customers expect the personal touch, so you will use a lot more face-to-face, phone and video conferencing channels to ensure you build and strengthen the customer relationship through every interaction.

Most businesses will sit somewhere between these two poles – leveraging a balance of human and machine-based channels, depending on the needs of their customers. Within this strategy, companies will look to drive intelligent automation to make the journey seamless, embracing the idea of digital by design, so using digital channels where it makes sense. The best approach is to start with the customer and their needs – always have human escape routes from automation when things don’t follow a normal straight-through journey.

How would you define a successful customer communication process?

Many studies have explored what customers really want, and most seem to conclude that effortless customer service is at the very core of customer needs. Essentially customers only have to invest the smallest amount of their time and effort to achieve their goals. This often means using predictive analytics to anticipate what the customer is likely to want to do with you next, which in turn involves breaking down silos and connecting teams across your enterprise – using technologies like Unified Communications to make sure the right employees and service specialists are available when and where you need them.

In order to deliver this seamless service, many organisations use a collaboration environment like Microsoft Teams, alongside a Teams-friendly contact and customer interaction management centre that handles all of the inbound inquiries, irrespective of the communication channels they originally came through.

What are the benefits of implementing a cloud contact centre solution? Why should organisations consider migrating to a cloud contact centre?

The recent global pandemic has really highlighted many of the benefits of the cloud, with a particular focus on the ability to allow staff to work remotely and flexibly, which has been vital to continuing customer service operations.

However, this agility is not the only benefit. With cloud contact centre solutions, organisations are able to scale up and down quickly and for many there is an attraction around paying-as-you-go and for what you consume, as opposed to a larger upfront cost.

You free up your internal IT staff and gain best-in-class security and reliability, as well as access to the latest innovations, such as AI, from your suppliers.

However, again, cloud is not right for everyone, as mitigating factors like the need for legacy system integration for example, may make an on-premise or hybrid solution a better fit for your needs.

What are the common misconceptions people have about cloud contact centres?

In my experience, there are several major misconceptions which can hold back organisations embracing the cloud. The first and probably largest is a concern about security and compliance (such as with the PCI process). Clearly, you are moving your data off-premise, but cloud vendors invest heavily in security and meeting the latest standards. And, because they are working with a wide range of clients they have the resources to develop deep specialisms and skills in security that would be beyond what a single organisation could build on its own. You can run processes such as PCI in the cloud, achieving compliance by putting the right security and auditing measures in place.

The second worry is around reliability and uptime. Again, providers have invested heavily in redundancy solutions to ensure that your service is always-on, something that isn’t always guaranteed if there are problems with on-premise solutions. Companies also worry that it will negatively impact their IT department and add to complexity if they want to integrate different solutions in the cloud. Nothing could be further from the truth – IT can focus on more strategic innovations, rather than simply supporting business as usual, while open application programming interfaces (APIs) and connectors make integration straightforward.

Finally, there is the concern that you have to switch completely overnight from on-premise. However, it isn’t an ‘all or nothing’ scenario – using a hybrid approach means you can move at your own pace, for example implementing new solutions in the cloud, while gradually migrating legacy systems as and when you want. Overcoming these misconceptions is vital if organisations are to realise the benefits of the cloud – for themselves and for their customers.

Still unsure whether to move your contact centre to the cloud?

Read this myth-busting eBook to get an answer to questions such as whether it is really safer to keep your data on-premises than in the Cloud.


Keith BrodyKeith BrodyJuly 23, 2020
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7min941

How to do cutting edge Customer Loyalty? For a question, the answer to which has long been a preoccupation of many enterprises, surprisingly few really get it right.

In fact, all too many companies pay little more than lip-service to loyalty and run outdated, unimaginative programmes that fall far short of surprising and delighting customers. So, how do you best address loyalty, how do you improve returns and reduce churn, how do you identify winning use-cases and suchlike?

A good starting point in answering those questions is defining what loyalty is. We’d propose this working definition: “Loyalty is when customers choose a particular brand more often than competitors, based on their belief that the chosen brand will be a better choice both rationally and emotionally.”

If we accept this, then we can see that loyalty has two aspects:

  1. Behavioural: This is reflected when customers stick with a brand, buying more of it than they do of competitors’ products.
  2. Attitudinal: This is reflected in the more abstract reasons why a customer might prefer one brand to its competitor’s offering.

So, if we’re looking to identify the components of an effective loyalty programme then the key question is “what drives behaviour and positive attitude towards a brand?”

The correct answer, beyond the transactional, might be that Loyalty is founded on something that’s hard to measure (which, perhaps, is also why a detailed definition is less straightforward than it appears). We believe that Loyalty can only be truly developed as an effective strategy if the basis of an offer (driven by price & service) is consistent in its appeal but we would also suggest that instead of creating an entire marketing strategy around what prices and services you want the customer to prioritise, you would to better to prioritise instead a strategy driven by how we want the customer to feel. In short, emotions and returns are not mutually exclusive.

Separating what we’ll call our humanity from your immediate marketing goals is important because real, lasting brand satisfaction is achieved through the application of different strategic parts, not just the obvious ones.  And in our years of experience as loyalty marketing experts, emotion lies at the heart of true loyalty more than anything else.

Emotion is the glue that binds together all the other elements (service, price, trust, reliability, empathy, rewards, timeliness etc.) that contribute to satisfaction and creates a compelling, desirable offer.

In simple terms, what really counts is how we make customers feel about the component parts of the offer we’re presenting them with, how we wrap and position everything and how/when/why we communicate our offer and brand. These are the steps that will really define the kind of relationship and associated emotions we try to build to represent our brand. Accept this as true, and we believe it is, then only brands that build more positive emotional relationships with their consumers will enjoy a higher rate of long-term profitable revenue growth.

Fig 1

So, accepting that brands which build this (more positive emotional relationships) with consumers enjoy a higher rate of returns over time then we need to understand the drivers of Brand Loyalty in some depth in order to build these lasting relationships. To do this, you have to take a structured, data driven approach built on the following elements:

Fig 2

  1. Total brand experience: This means excelling at every interaction with the customer by providing superior value. It involves anticipating problems and offering a relevant solution, tailoring personalised offers, pricing and experiences, and simplifying interactions to the point of eliminating any friction. The goal here is not to adequately meet your customers’ needs but to surprise and delight them.
  2. Customer recognition: Acknowledging what matters to customers rather than exclusively to you is vital: time together, special days and events, dedicated offers and experiences, recognition of usage patterns, profiles, changing behaviour, aspirations, beliefs all count.
  3. Rewarding experiences: You need to deliver tailored and curated brand benefits, gifts and offers; surprise and delight offers mean actions beyond that expected, such as exclusive and curated rewards, emotional and functional benefits, a proactive approach etc.
  4. Customer participation: We know that active customer participation leads to higher memory ranking; gamified mechanics like challenges, milestones etc. driving interaction and engagement deliver better results.

Follow these steps as a starting point and the results can be pretty significant. One of our clients who took this path now has more than 50 percent customer engagement rate – engagement defined as customers redeeming benefits in the last 12 months – far exceeding the industry average.

Typically, traditional points-based loyalty programmes achieve around a 20-30 percent engagement. The same customer’s Net Promoter Score, another of its KPIs, has moved from 3rd to 1st place in its market in both prepaid and postpaid segments.

Harnessing emotion means surprising and delighting your customers. In the Digital Age, that’s a good idea.

 

Written by Xabier Miqueo (pictured), Senior Marketing Consultant and Keith Brody, VP of Marketing at Evolving Systems.


Christopher ColleyChristopher ColleyJuly 22, 2020
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8min1799

As technology has advanced, it has become possible to digitise an increasing number of organisations’ interactions with customers, making the customer journey simpler and more streamlined while also cutting operational costs.

The benefits of such solutions have inevitably prompted organisations to invest heavily in the digitalisation of customer experience strategies over the past couple of decades.

To succeed, however, organisations need to strike an effective balance between digital and human interactions, in order to foster lasting customer loyalty. This is an important consideration, particularly as we come through a global pandemic that has resulted in more interactions taking place online than ever before.

Creating a balanced journey

The key principle behind bridging the digital/physical divide is understanding the moments in the customer journey when a human touch may be more appropriate. Here, we must take two factors into consideration.

First, which approach will minimise the amount of effort required by the customer? For example, routine events in a customer’s journey, such as resetting their password or tracking a delivery, can – and should – be digitised. This makes such processes quick and easy for the customer, while reducing operational input for the organisation. It’s a clear win-win – and a quick and meaningful one at that. Indeed, many of the most customer-centric organisations have identified the link that exists between improving the worst experiences and driving significant bottom-line impact.

For instance, as part of its push for digitalisation, a telco customer decided to focus on ‘low hanging fruit’. Tasks like managing payments and checking usage were moved online. As you might expect, this led to better customer perception metrics. But it also led to a significant reduction in calls into its contact centre, with the high-volume tasks now being fulfilled via self-service instead.

In fact, in this case, digitising the worst experiences led to a 38 percent decrease in callbacks – together with the corresponding saving in man hours, meaning that employees could now be assigned to other tasks.

Humanising the interaction

The second factor to consider concerns those moments in a customer journey where the customer is either seeking advice or experiencing strong emotions. This is where an organisation should think about investing in human interactions and personalising the service. For example, when a customer buys a car online, there should be a human interaction at the close of the transaction, such as at the point of delivery. In this way, the company can show they recognise and appreciate the significant investment the customer has made, while celebrating this special moment with them.

Even more critical, though, is introducing a human element when something goes wrong. At such moments, the customer needs reassurance. Robotic, automated services can have no place here.

In banking, for example, when a customer misplaces their credit card or falls victim to identity theft, they will likely want to talk to a human and be reassured that the company will take on the responsibility of finding a solution. Making customers feel they are being heard can be a determining factor in whether they will stick with you for the long term.

Introducing advanced technology

As the industry continues to move beyond such blunt instruments as traditional satisfaction surveys, customer-centric technologies are stepping up to help humanise digital interactions. Video as a tool has a unique ability to record customers’ thoughts, sentiment and opinions.

Enabling the capture of this authenticity and emotion humanises the process of providing customer feedback in the first place, while also offering a way of amplifying the customer’s voice across the business. Customer Experience leaders can use video as part of wider voice-of-customer (VoC) programmes. It provides a means to convey emotive stories that drive change in their customer operations, while enabling actionable insights to be derived.

Businesses have easy access to video technology, and the expansion in remote collaboration encouraged by the global pandemic has helped ensure that being on camera is now quite normal for many. The crisis has also accelerated the rate at which companies are adopting video across the board. As a result, there has never been a better time to leverage video as an integral part of a customer experience strategy, using it to discover what customers want, and acting on this insight to keep them coming back.

Building omnichannel interactions

The fact that customers are becoming more accustomed to using technology such as video in their everyday lives can be turned to great advantage – but it also needs to be easy for customers to switch between digital and human processes as and when they feel the need. This is especially true if the customer has already tried to use an automated service, such as a chatbot, and failed.

Consequently, organisations should move towards designing omnichannel interactions – balancing the speed and efficiency of new technologies with additional ‘human’ channels – in order to provide customers with the flexibility they need for great customer experience.

It remains true that today, certain customer demographics within an organisation’s customer base may still prefer human interactions. Yet coronavirus has shown us just how quickly organisations and customers can pivot when the need arises. And it goes without saying that the upcoming generations of digital-native customers have very different expectations to those of their forebears. Forward-thinking organisations should be cognisant of tomorrow’s customers, as well as other groups who would be willing and eager to adopt new channels of communication. Investing in omnichannel interactions is a sure-fire way to ensure your company can continue to innovate while continuing to drive customer loyalty.

Interesting links:


Rebecca BrownRebecca BrownJuly 21, 2020
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14min1166

When people talk about customer experience objectives, you often hear them expressed in terms of an overarching desire to delight the customer; to provide them with a next-level experience and exceed expectations. This is, of course, a noble aim, but is it sustainable on a day in day out basis, and if it is – will it make a difference?

In a study published in the Harvard Review (which surveyed 75,000 consumers), the results indicated that customer satisfaction had a smaller impact on customer loyalty than the amount of effort a customer had to spend interacting with a brand.

In addition, whilst 89 percent of leaders stated that their main goal was to exceed customer expectations, 84 percent of the customers surveyed said that they did not feel the companies in question had exceeded their expectations. Why then, with 9 out of 10 businesses trying to exceed expectations, were so many customers left feeling disappointed?

Let’s consider a hypothetical case study where a company – in this case an airline – decided it was time to improve their customer experience.

They looked at ways to delight their customers, (because that’s the big goal, right?) and decided that they would upgrade standard class passengers to first-class seating to fill any un-allocated first-class seats. They did so, and ten lucky standard class passengers joined the first-class section, along with ten first-class passengers. They were delighted with the unexpected upgrade and this portion of their experience exceeded their expectations. Spoiler alert: the result wasn’t what the airline hoped to achieve…

Delighting Customers – Problem no.1

On their return flight there were no spare seats so the customers were not upgraded. Having hoped that there might be an upgrade in it for them and finding it not forthcoming, the passengers started the flight feeling slightly disappointed as, unlike previously, they were now aware of what they were missing out on.

The customers sat in their standard class seat which was smaller, less comfortable and had far less legroom, next to “Gary” who fell asleep on their shoulder and snored loudly. They loved their experience on the way out and they will no doubt tell people about it. And yet… they now have a slightly sour taste in their mouth. You see, there is an unwanted side effect to their trip in first class. Their expectations for what great looks like now are higher than they would have been had they not had that first-class experience.

Next to the level of luxury on offer to them, which they got for the bargain price of a standard seat, the relative normality of standard class is less exciting. Dull even. When giving their response on whether the flights exceeded their expectations overall – they will say that they did not.

Delighting Customers – Problem no.2

The second issue with the ‘delightful’ experience the customers were given is that it is not replicable on a wider scale.

Ten out of 250 passengers were upgraded, the other 240 were not. Those not upgraded may have heard about the upgrades and felt a little disappointed. Those who originally paid to go first-class might also begrudge the fact others managed to fly in the same seats for a fraction of the price they themselves paid… you see the picture starting to build. It’s not easy to give every single customer a moment of delight.

Now, that doesn’t mean we stop trying to delight our customers at all. Aiming to be the best part of someone’s day is always a fantastic goal. All it means is that in terms of operational transformation, pinning all your hopes on ‘delighting’ all your customers with grand gestures is setting yourself up to fail.

You need to pair your wish to delight the occasional individual with a more sustainable, longer-lasting ambition that builds delight up over time. Don’t stop trying to delight, just change your definition of what that means.

This is especially critical in today’s climate. The temptation to try and do wonderful, quirky and exciting things to welcome your customers back to you after lockdown is a strong driving force. Just remember, however, that what you implement now sets the tone for the rest of the customer relationship.

What’s the alternative?

Instead of trying to delight at every opportunity, try to wow your customers with the stability and consistency they receive from you. Be a rock – a reliable constant in an otherwise uncertain world. I know, I know, it doesn’t sound nearly as exciting (even with the word wow in there…) but consider this example – again from our hypothetical airline.

Take the same passengers and rewind the clock. Don’t upgrade them and you might not get the immediate wow factor, but this scenario instead: they get to their originally booked seat, having been greeted by a friendly and smiling member of cabin crew, who helps them tuck their luggage safely away in the overhead cabins.

They sit through a safety briefing led by an enthusiastic and entertaining member of the crew, who clearly loves their job and enjoys working with people. The captain comes onto the announcement system, wishes everyone a good morning, tells the passengers the weather is looking fantastic at their onward destination (warm but not too hot) and that the flight will be taking off on time – which should enable them to get to the beach by lunch if they so wish. He introduces himself by name, introduces the cabin crew by name and each one waves as their name is called out – friendly and reassuring – smiling in agreement when the captain says that they will be more than happy to help with anything. Just press the overhead button…

No grand gesture, no big ‘wow’ moment.

What this alternative journey does is something far cleverer. It is consistent. It is the same experience for everyone and everything happens as it should. Nothing is difficult to replicate en masse, nothing is out of the control of the crew, you have received what you paid for – what you expected – and it is, above all else, easy. It slowly starts to build confidence in the brand.

Replicate this experience time after time, and you start to get a reputation for excellence (whether you pulled out the delightful moments or not) and your loyal customer base starts to grow. When your customers think of you; they think “Wow”.

Sustainability is key. The simple equation below sums it up:

Making things easy + Inspiring confidence = Increased customer loyalty and revenue growth

So, what does that look like in reality? Here we split things into two. For more on the concept of inspiring confidence, check out our next instalment of Bill and Doug.

Top tips for making things easy

1. Customer Effort Score

What is the Customer Effort Score? It’s a way to measure just how easy or difficult it was for a customer to achieve their goal with you. It can be applied to any area of the experience, from making a purchase or a return, to reaching out to make a complaint or accessing help.

The survey usually asks the customer to rate their interaction with you on a scale from ‘Very Easy’ to ‘Very Difficult’. It’s a well-established metric, some see it as an alternative to the net promoter score, some build it in as part of their wider strategy. However you use it – switching to reviewing the customer effort score is a fantastic way to make sure you are helping your customers get through their experience with you with minimum effort.

2. Help customers in the channel they reach you through

One of the biggest factors in customer interactions where the rating comes back as difficult is having to switch channels to resolve an issue or achieve a goal. If a customer calls to change their address, change it. If a customer emails a complaint, don’t point them towards your complaint form. Be flexible in your approach and respect your customer’s time and choice. If they have called you, it’s how they want to do business with you.

3. Remove barriers

Step into your customer’s shoes and go through their journey. Journey mapping is a great way to highlight any pain points, and you can use a journey map to develop a service blueprint that helps to highlight which backend processes may be causing the customer frustration and making them go through more steps than they should to achieve their goal.

4. Don’t make them explain again!

We’ve all been there, all been passed to another agent or a supervisor. All had to call back to chase for an update to our complaint only to find ourselves explaining again, from the beginning. Don’t do that to your customers. Make sure your staff take thorough notes, and get into the habit of a detailed handover, including the issue, the steps the customer has taken so far, the key milestones and any emotional distress your customer might have felt as a result.

5. Understand how your customers want to use your service

Does your customer want to access your service on their mobile on the bus on the way home? Does your customer want to order your product from bed just before going to sleep? Understand the way your customer uses your website and make sure it’s optimised to provide an easy experience. In addition, think of the little things. If your customer does want to purchase your product late at night from the comfort of their bed, do they want to get up, go downstairs and find their wallet to pay? Or do they want to use PayPal or Apple pay in one click and then close their eyes and go to sleep? I think we all know the answer.

So there you have it – Aim to delight your customers through sustainable, consistently repeatable little touches throughout each and every customer journey, and save the big gestures for special occasions!

 

Check out previous instalments of Bill and Doug:

Easy as ABC: Employee Recognition and How To Do It Right

 


CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamJuly 21, 2020
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2min786

It’s needless to say that the pandemic has changed everything: every corner of our lives has been affected in one way or the other. The life as we see it is unlikely to return to how it was before and the new normal is to become a standard going forward.

CX professionals worldwide will agree that Customer Experience is more often than not the element, the X factor that changes business for the better. As the entire world changes direction, customers have in a way forced organisations to rapidly adjust to their needs or else they would suffer the consequences very soon.

The unprecedented shifts caused by the crisis have reminded businesses that CX requires constant monitoring and revision as it’s not a one-time project but an evolution. The impact of the crisis has been felt in CX significantly and left many professionals reorienting their priorities and thoughts for the future.

Ipsos (leading Global CX provider) and Awards International (home of the UK CX Awards) have partnered to launch the inaugural CX Census to get under the skin of CX today. As a part of the large scale survey, you will be able to access the valuable results which will provide a view of where CX might go next.

Click here to share your views on the future of CX and be among the first to see the results.


Sandra RadlovackiSandra RadlovackiJuly 20, 2020
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4min773

According to a study, it takes approximately 3.5 bad customer service experiences for UK consumers to stop using a product or a service. With people rapidly embracing digital in their personal and professional lives, customer expectations seem to be reaching new heights.

Customer journeys are becoming more complex to map and orchestrate and organisations have to dig deep to attract, retain and increase their customer base.

Map, Orchestrate, Visualise

To measure all the elements that may in one way or the other affect customer experience, it is vital to be aware of the concept of customer journey.

Unique to each and every person, customer journey is the embodiment of personalisation itself. The journey represents all the phases the customer goes through in order to achieve a particular goal, including all channels and touchpoints. Making it as personalised (from your business’ side) and as frictionless as possible will ensure the greater customer satisfaction and ultimately, greater revenue generation opportunities.

That is why mapping your customer journey will allow you to meet your customers’ needs and expectations by first getting insight into each step of the journey.

Acknowledging every interaction your customer has with your business will help you identify not only patterns but also unique differences in their journey and that way allow you to see your brand from their perspective.

As no two journeys are completely the same, you need to track in real-time how interactions work and in what order they take place. Effective journey orchestration can handle customer data across all systems and channels and aid faster personalisation and anticipate future behaviour. Customer journey orchestration gives way to higher customer value, customer satisfaction and greater revenue. After you have refined and streamlined journey orchestration, it will be easy to jump to the final step of the ideal customer journey – visualisation.

The name tells it all – visualisation allows you to visualise how journeys unfold, and immediately spot wins and hiccups. By tracking interaction flows and reacting rapidly and effectively, you will secure a place in your customers’ heart as your organisation’s listening, understanding, and effort will make them return time and again.

Don’t upgrade, revolutionise

Customer experience and purchasing behaviour are tightly interlocked. Each experience affects each event of purchasing and it goes in circles. Understandably, it is always the very first experience a new customer has with your business that will set the scene for the interactions to come.

By revolutionising your customer journey, you will be the one who sets the scene from day one. Wondering how journey orchestration and visualisation are driving value across sectors like retail, banking and telecoms? Register here to gain access to the challenges and solutions these sectors have employed to bring their customer journey to perfection and leave little room for the unexpected.

Learn from best practices for making data-driven improvements to CX – leave no channel unimproved.




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