Sylvie TongcoSylvie TongcoAugust 25, 2020
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7min1180

There’s no denying the global coronavirus crisis has caused an incredible amount of disruption to all aspects of daily life. The sheer force of the virus has resulted in entire industries being forced to shut down or rethink their business models in the face of this unprecedented crisis.

It’s no different for the digital marketing industry, COVID-19 is also a reset moment.

Before the pandemic, marketers were battling for the attention of consumers characterised by equal amounts of disposable income and FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), ready to adopt the latest trends and experiences into their social media-saturated lives.

Now, the economic fallout of coronavirus has replaced superfluous purchases with real existential decisions in a marketplace ruled by FOLE (Fear of Losing Everything). And with the resulting communications overload around coronavirus, the battle for consumers’ attention has intensified, so creating engagement, and conversions, is an entirely different game moving forward.

The big questions plaguing everyone right now: How long will it take before the situation goes back to normal? And what exactly will this new normal look like?

The truth is, nobody knows the answer, but taking a customer-first approach can help marketers start building the foundation for a post-coronavirus future today, by making a commitment to trust, empathy and relevance – and placing the individual customer at the centre.

Adapting to a changed reality

The coronavirus pandemic has forever broken the traditional marketing model. From a marketing perspective, social distancing and the loss of real-life interactions renders previously planned strategies obsolete. Moving forward, digital communications will be fundamental in earning and maintaining, consumers’ attention and trust. More than ever, digital engagement will define consumer relationships and loyalty in a socially distanced reality.

Consumers now pay more attention to digital messages than before the crisis, especially compounded by many still choosing to remain socially-distant. Because of the crisis, email send volume increased by 19 percent in March over January 2020, while the number of companies sending emails grew by 18 percent.

With more eyeballs on messages, using your full digital reach to build strong customer relationships today will pay dividends in the future. What this new normal will look like remains to be seen, but an emphasis on Customer-First Marketing provides a critical way forward against the uncertain and complex realities of COVID-19. Instead of starting with the product or communications channel, this strategy focuses first on individual consumers.

With Customer-First Marketing, marketers implement engagement strategies that are based on trust and empathy, to ensure that every communication is meaningful and relevant.

What are the new rules for customer-first marketing

Now that digital engagement has become the primary mode of customer interaction, staying close to customers and their individual needs will be paramount. This will require a step change in marketing strategies, placing the most recent customer data at the centre of every interaction in the digital customer journey.

In a Customer-First Marketing approach, brands build programs that communicate authentically with individuals using an approach of committed customer service. To do this well, marketers must understand the consumers’ goals and use campaign elements like messaging, data, and channel selection that are most relevant and contextual at the moment of engagement. And they must use the latest omnichannel marketing technologies – including marketing AI, dynamic content, and real-time marketing capabilities – to deliver this level of personalisation at scale.

With Customer-First Marketing, marketers put themselves in the consumer’s shoes, placing unique consumer needs, passions, and emotions ahead of immediate transaction goals, especially in times of crises.

Trust

Today consumers gravitate towards brands they can trust in uncertain times. Communicate your brand mission in honest words. Prioritise relationship building over transactional value. Be honest and transparent. Communicate business policies and data practices in easy-to-follow language. And always adhere to the latest privacy legislation, to safeguard consumer data.

Empathy

Empathy builds connections. It starts with putting the consumer first, placing yourself in their shoes. It’s about understanding what drives and motivates consumers, respecting their actions, supporting their needs, and putting long-term loyalty over short-term business gains. It means showing that you care even at a time when consumers are postponing major purchases and controlling their spending.

As more and more households face financial hardships and insecurity, companies are showing empathy by making crisis-appropriate accommodations around financing. Others, including big luxury labels, show social responsibility by going beyond their core business models to produce scarce items such as hand sanitiser and face masks.

Relevance

Relevance is a relationship accelerator. Consumer purchase paths have given way to a much more complex process that can best be described as a series of micro-moments: points of opportunity for marketers to engage with consumers in context, such as a search for product information on their computer or a scroll through a news feed on their phone. Location, channel, mindset, recent activities, current environment; these elements make up the consumer’s micro-moment.

Future-proof your marketing

By adopting Customer-First Marketing you are, not only embracing a set of values and practices that will outlast the crisis, but you are also pivoting to a data-driven approach that will make your entire marketing infrastructure more responsive to consumer needs.

And by consistently serving trust, empathy, and relevance at a time when customers need stability, you can build loyalty and long-term relationships for years to come.


Chaman MaharajChaman MaharajAugust 21, 2020
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9min1237

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.

Carefully curated customer experience initiatives synchronise and steer these cross-functional team efforts towards a specific business goal – perhaps the most critical one of them all, the customer.

You see, customer experience begins with a brand promise. A brand promise is an organisation’s commitment to its customers. It is the ethos around which a brand is built and should be something everyone within the organisation is extremely proud of, and are always willing to be held accountable for.

Entrenched within this brand promise, is a set of core brand values that generally sets a brand apart from its competitors. It is through these elements of differentiation that a brand would have described unique brand attributes that customers can expect when they engage with them.

For example, if an organisation is in the business of supplying mobile internet, they may promise their customers ‘always-on’ connectivity and ‘high-speed’ mobile data. Their customers in-turn, will naturally develop expectations of always being connected to the internet, at high speeds of data transmission. Anything short of that will render their cumulative customer experience initiatives baseless and should be something they go to great lengths to avoid.

In fact, in the context of the South African telecommunications industry, one of our pan-African mobile network providers incurred more than R300 million ($17 million) in costs for back-up power supplies to their mobile network infrastructure in 2018, to honour similar brand promises and keep their customers connected during our rotational ‘load-shedding’ or planned disruptions in our local electricity supply.

These expectations that customers develop leads me to the first of the six core competencies of customer experience and as my mentor has been famously quoted for saying,

A jigsaw puzzle is an extremely good analogy for the customer experience – you can only see the picture if you put the pieces of the puzzle together. ~ Ian Golding

Please allow me to explain…

1. Customer Experience Strategy

A brand’s customer experience strategy is a carefully crafted narrative, developed to respond to those customer expectations that were created through a brand promise. This should ideally describe the intended experience, the emotional response a brand intends to elicit from their customers, and mobilise the resources required to deliver these experiences across all customer touchpoints consistently.

Success with this core customer experience competency is highly dependent on cross-functional team alignment and will inevitably form the backbone of all customer experience improvement initiatives.

2. Customer-centric Culture

This cross-functional team alignment will involve high levels of employee engagement and dedication to a common cause. In the context of customer-centricity, this involves displacing customers from the outer spheres of business influence to the epicenter of a brand’s existence – where a brand’s technologies, people, products and processes are harmoniously aligned for ease of their customers use.

The tell-tale signs of mastering this core customer experience competency are having engaged employees, who understand their roles in the end-to-end customer journey. They are familiar with the attitudes and behaviours necessary to deliver empathy-rich customer experiences. They have the appropriate tools, readily available at their disposal to do so, and are also rewarded for delivering these intended experiences consistently.

3. Organisational Adoption and Accountability

The journey to true customer-centricity is a financially rewarding, albeit, disruptive one. Legacy business practices are usually the first to be updated and improved on and this core customer experience competency manages the transformation from old to new.

Success with is core customer experience competency lies in a brand’s ability to manage change efficiently. We recommend clear communication of the organisation’s objectives before, during and after transformational activities. Create internal accountability by assigning specific tasks to specific people, with prescribed business processes to follow to manage these activities, and provide immediate support to all those who have been impacted by these changes.

4. Metrics, Measurement and Return on Investment

According to research done by well-known advocates on brand loyalty, 80% of companies believe they delivered ‘superior experiences’ to their customers but, only 8% of their customers agreed. Customer experience metrics like net promoter score* are deployed to solicit customer feedback, to measure delivered experiences, and researched insights inform business decisions on prioritising ongoing improvements in customer experience.

By combining this experience data with operational data – the hard numbers like sales, revenues, and profits, we are able to produce live dashboards to prioritise and track customer experience improvements and the returns on customer experience investments. It is not uncommon for these dashboards to evolve over time but remember to keep it simple, relevant, and easy to understand.

5. Experience Design, Improvement and Innovation

Get to know your customers. Allow them to complete their own brand-specific goals with your organisation – with minimal effort and ensure that the emotions they experience whilst doing so, are consistent with those feelings your brand intends to deliver.

If a customer experience strategy is the backbone of all customer experience improvement initiatives, this core competency will give those initiatives it’s heartbeat. Human-centered experience design, improvement and innovation involves delicate combinations of process improvement methodologies to eliminate common pain points in the customer journey, to personalise product and service offerings for specific customer segments and create dynamic, inspiring and memorable moments of magic at every customer touchpoint.

6. Voice of the Customer, Customer Insight and Understanding

A comprehensive voice of the customer programme is designed to acquire insights on customer attitudes and behaviours by collecting solicited and unsolicited feedback across a variety of listening posts. Reliable research mechanisms mine through customer and employee feedback and these findings inform strategic initiatives in customer engagement.

By listening to what customers are saying about an organisation, we are able to understand how they feel when they interact with a brand’s technologies, people, products, or processes and we use that data to predict customer wants and needs. With this information, we can further tailor product and service offerings to meet or exceed these customer’s ever-changing expectations.

Now back to Mr. Golding’s analogy.

Each of the six core competencies of customer experience may pack a punch but in isolation, will not prove to be effective – even with the best of attempts to create memories that tell your brand story.

To truly engineer and deliver extraordinary customer experiences consistently, combine the powers of each of these competencies into a comprehensive, well-articulated customer experience ecosystem that delivers the business results of brand loyalty by focusing on customer success, customer effort and customer emotion.


Debbie CliffordDebbie CliffordAugust 20, 2020
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7min962

A lot is written about diverse workplace policies – especially in recent times – and much is talked about around diversity.

In my opinion, there are two sides to the diversity ‘coin’ and, when it comes to the contact centre inclusion is as important, if not more so, than diversity itself.

Diversity is perhaps considered the more measurable side of the equation; race, gender, religious belief, sexual orientation – are all data points we can capture on someone’s identity. However, inclusion is more than this.

Inclusion is not about labels or how one wishes to be identified (or not in many cases because of the lack of inclusion) but about how you are treated, how you feel when you are at work, how comfortable you feel in bringing your true self to the workplace.

Inclusion forms our culture and that culture drives how we interact with our customers, our suppliers, our contractors and the external world at large. So, it could be argued that inclusion is more measurable than diversity because it has a direct impact on the individual, the company and employee’s performance.

All CX organisations should have a D&I policy in place. It helps to demonstrate that you are mindful of and thinking about how to improve your diversity demographics across the organisation. I believe that to fully harmonise this a truly great working D&I policy also gives you:

  • Greater reciprocity – the working parent or carer who is trying to balance home with having a great career as a call centre manager will be as flexible if not more so if they can move their working day around their other commitments and have a flexible work location – which is of course all possible with AI and cloud contact centre technology.
  • More diverse thinking – having a broader group of people from different socio-economic backgrounds, education levels, abilities, race, age and gender etc, naturally gives the organisation different perspectives and approaches, which increases the chances of call centre staff better resonating with a diverse, wider reaching customer base. ‘Group think’ diminishes, constructive conflict is positive to enable improvements. Innovation and creativity heightens plus accountability increases: if your voice is heard and listened to, you are more likely to follow through on your ideas.
  • Call centre agents that enjoy their work and their environment will be more engaging with the customer and higher performing.

This is certainly the experience at Olive – a true togetherness where everyone respects and understands the importance of each other’s role, how their job, input and output make a difference to how the company does commercially. This hasn’t come about by referring our people to the ‘policy’ but through leaders being open, honest and authentic and enabling their teams to do the same, and to share ideas or problems to come to better solutions.

While most organisations will either mention or talk about their diverse working environment, not all implement the policy past uploading it onto a communication channel internally or sharing as part of a tender. But there are tangible consequences for not actually implementing your D&I policy across the contact centre: –

  • There is a loss of trust in the policy, which affects employee engagement.
  • You can take affirmative action to help with your ‘diversity slates’ but the unconscious bias continues. This causes loss of talent as people don’t feel respected, valued or developed because of the organisation’s bias toward their gender, education, disability or race (as examples).
  • Diversity of thought is lost. Many times I’ve worked somewhere and know I can’t be the dissenting voice because it will reinforce that I don’t quite fit causing me to be ignored, creating conflict with others or reducing my potential to progress. This leaves people feeling disengaged and creates loss of innovation.
  • Your customers will feel that lack of inclusion, whether that is from what you say outwardly or because your company lacks the innovation and creativity that comes from true diversity to lead the way in your sector and deliver excellent customer experience.

To check that your organisation is operating a diverse working culture, ensure to have a blueprint of your business’ DNA based on the characteristics and behaviour of your workforce. This isn’t based on background, heritage or upbringing but dependent on attitude to life, work and ensuring your team are bringing the best person they can be to their role and career.

Openly discuss your diversity and inclusion policies with leaders and employees, and work towards being more inclusive, more diverse and more thoughtful about every aspect of your people’s ‘work lifetime’ with the company so you aspire to be the best place to work.

Employee experience is well documented to positively impact customer experience which is ever more important within a customer centric, call centre environment. So, now is the time to heighten the focus on inclusion of all your people to make the difference to everyone’s experience – customer and employee.


Adam PowersAdam PowersAugust 19, 2020
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6min1291

None of us volunteered for it, but we’ve all been a part of a global customer experience prototyping exercise. Locked down in our homes, with severely limited or zero physical interaction with other humans. All the while digital platforms or services increasingly became a lifeline rather than just a pastime. 

How would we all cope?

As the lead of Tribal’s CX practice, I have spent the past few years espousing the ever-increasing importance of considering the convergence of physical and digital experiences that shaped our clients’ businesses. Only to be confronted with a situation where those physical experiences were pretty much eradicated.

Obviously, circumstances were different for key workers and those that had little choice but to continue going out to work. However, I think all of us have had pause for thought about connecting and communicating with other people, about how we use digital services and about our relationships with businesses and brands both locally and further afield. The regular person on the street might not have considered it as such, but I believe we have all been compelled to evaluate the balance and quality of human and digital touchpoints.

In the UK, many who had never considered buying anything on the internet were looking to buy their weekly shop online. Those who had online grocery accounts felt pretty smug there, for a minute, until they saw that every delivery slot was booked for weeks ahead.

Online grocery specialists OCADO received an unprecedented adrenaline shot, “as a result of Covid-19 we have seen years of growth in the online grocery market condensed into a matter of months; and we won’t be going back,” said Ocado chief executive Tim Steiner, in an interview with CITY AM.

One could see that for every business that had only dabbled in digital, the ability to transact online was now an urgent consideration, not an experiment. There is no going back. Digital touchpoints, that may have been considered enhancements, can no longer be viewed or invested in as secondary workstreams.

At a local level particularly, I have witnessed first-hand as business models were reinvented and new partnerships formed. Within a week or two of lockdown, a local restaurant set up a table outside their premises selling basic groceries like flour and eggs – leveraging their trade suppliers who saw their B2B clients rapidly shutdown and loyal staff committed to keeping the business afloat and their jobs alive.

News got around and villagers quickly formed a line, relishing the human interaction of those inventive staff; at 2 metres of course. A week later, they had adapted the website, which had historically been just a simple online menu, to enable a click-and-collect service. The next week, they went further and started home delivery of meals. They have repeatedly evolved ever since. Their determination to develop digital touchpoints and leverage a passionate brigade of staff has also transformed the standing of this business in the community.

Just Eat have only a handful of restaurants in my village. Their service reported 33 percent growth in online order YOY in April and May. In the tiny instance I’ve described, neither a big brand with massive ad campaigns nor a monolithic software giant was involved, but this was truly iterative customer experience innovation all-the-same. A hyper local example of successfully balancing human and digital touchpoints.

The best instances of this balancing act see technology enhancing and supporting humans, and humans enhancing digital experiences. As an example of the former, we have developed a whole suite of digital tools for Volkswagen UK retailers connecting them with their customers online activity and making a much more satisfying dealership experience as a result.

Noel Lyons of Barclays talks compellingly about their digital assistant and how identifying when and how the hand-off to human call centre staff has been critical to overall success. Using the tools and technology available to create the optimal total experience is something customers are increasingly coming to expect, even if that is as simple as an app-based chat function rather than sitting on hold to make a minor change to their bank account. This then has the dual benefit of freeing up call centre phone lines to deal with the most urgent or complex customer requests.

Digital experiences are constantly improving and the love affair with them continues for many of us, with smartphones now one of the most prolific pieces of technology in history. However, I’m inclined to think the importance of human touchpoints is in the ascendant. And with metres and masks between us all, they will need to be completely re-evaluated and reimagined.


Rebecca BrownRebecca BrownAugust 19, 2020
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14min1270

 

Now that lockdown restrictions have been eased significantly, shoppers are nervously returning.

It’s a brave new world out there and it’s more than just nerve-wracking going back out, visiting retailers, pubs and beauticians – it’s confusing, it’s less fun and an undertone of seriousness is present at all times. No one wants to get it wrong, or look silly and uninformed.

The once-relaxing, rejuvenating experience of visiting the hairdressers is a perfect example of what’s changed and how we should consider that, when designing our customer experience strategy.

Before we look at that customer journey, however, let’s look at why it is so important to our customers, and why we should be taking it as seriously as possible right now.

What’s the problem?

Having your hair done is not just a functional thing. It can have a deeper psychological impact. The same can be said for shopping for clothes, make-up, shoes, a car – the list goes on. This quote from Rebecca Newman, a psychotherapist based in Philadelphia, sums it up well:

“When we’re going through a period of transition that is particularly painful, we tend to make decisions that provide immediate relief.”

According to Newman, altering the way we look or making an impulse buy is like figuratively shedding our skin, and we do so in the belief that it will improve our emotional well-being.

So getting your haircut is more than just that. It can be an emotional release, the symbolic act of starting over, taking a new direction, becoming bolder. This is a heavy weight for those businesses in the beauty industry, retail or anyone selling luxury items such as cars or holidays, and it’s one that is so important to grasp at this point in time, when emotions are running high.

If we accept that our consumers may well be seeking more than just the basic transaction from us, that they are coming to us in a state of vulnerability and require the extra care and support that their vulnerable state necessitates in order to shop safely and leave feeling satisfied and uplifted, we can start to cater for these new needs more comprehensively.

What does this look like for the customer experience? A case study.

After months of overgrown hair, during one of the hottest summers on record, a lot of us took the first opportunity we could to book in to our favourite stylist. The promise of a fresh hair-do, the uplift that can give us and the couple of hours away from the rat race, just being pampered felt like too good an opportunity to pass by.

Despite working in the CX industry, despite following all the pandemic news and guidelines, I had somehow failed to mentally prepare myself for the much less glamourous, much starker reality, and it was a shock to the system.

Pre-lockdown, a trip to my favourite hairdressers would have entailed a warm greeting, someone taking my coat, helping me into the protective gown and asking if I’d like a cup of tea, maybe even a glass of bubbles. I’d have a face to face consultation on what I’d like to have done. Moments later I would be brought a cup of tea – usually in a cute little tea pot with a side helping of Lindt chocolate (no prizes for guessing why this place is my favourite). I’d have the hair dye applied and be left with an assortment of magazines whilst it developed. I’d then have the dye rinsed out, my hair cut and would end with a fantastic blow-dry, leaving the salon feeling a million dollars.

It was one of the best ways to access a bit of me time, some self-care, and that overall feeling of wellness.

What actually happened was that I entered the salon in my mask, feeling stifled and already aware that it was a little harder to breathe, my glasses fogging up with every exhale. I was pointed in the direction of my chair, but misunderstood which was the one I should sit in, so as I gravitated towards the wrong one, the receptionist shouted loudly ‘no not that one’ and I felt like a prize idiot as the collective eyes of all their patrons shifted in my direction.

I was told to place my belongings directly into the plastic bag on the counter by my seat, and to get my own gown on. Which way round does it go? Something so simple, but normally they help you into your gown and I’d never really paid much attention. Having figured it out, I sat down and waited for my stylist. He came out, wearing a mask and a visor which – whilst fully understandable – was a little disconcerting and it was hard to get that same bond with him as I couldn’t really hear him well over the noise of the dyers, and I couldn’t tell when he was smiling or even moving his lips.

There was no offer of a drink, something that hadn’t occurred to me so I hadn’t brought my own. There were no magazines, again I’d have brought my kindle if I’d have really thought about it.

There was a clear tension in the salon as staff tried hard to work as normal (in anything but normal circumstances) with huge Perspex screens separating every area, the need to disinfect their equipment between every visit and having to frequently remind customers to stand back from the cash register until it was their turn to pay.

All of these changes should have been obvious to anyone keeping up with the news, and when I really think about it, of course that was the way I’d have found things. But that reality had not hit me with enough weight, far enough in advance to prepare me, and adjust my expectations. I left the salon feeling gloomy, stressed, thirsty, and like it was probably not worth the trip in the first place. I won’t be the only one.

That rejuvenating, luxury experience does not exist anymore and whilst on a logical level our customers probably know this, they may not have taken time to understand how that might impact them, and how they might feel about their experience as a result. This could lead to a pivotal moment in the customer experience, where as a nation we go into our shopping life with long-term ingrained expectations that have been formed over the course of our entire life, only to realise in one moment that those experiences that form our understanding of ‘the way things are’ are now changed – if not forever, at least for the foreseeable future.

This has the serious potential to cause mismatched expectations across every industry, and a surge in dissatisfied customers, complaints, and unhappy staff. We need to see this surge coming and take proactive steps to combat it.

How do we beat the surge of dissatisfaction?

1. Take time to reset expectations ahead of customers visiting

You may have to take bookings before admitting customers, if you do, use it as a time to explain to them how things will be, what will be different from normal and to reassure them that you will be on hand to help them figure things out, answer any questions and that you will make their experience as comfortable as you can.

If you don’t get to speak to your customers at a natural place in the experience, send them a newsletter, again written in a clear, informative but reassuring tone that tells them what they can expect, and helps them understand what that might mean for them.

If you don’t have contact details for customers then help them with posters in your premises or clear, current wording on your website.

2. Train your team to be on hand to explain

Make sure empathy is at the forefront of your staff agenda, that there are enough people on hand to help with the changing expectations, and to avoid any unnecessary confusion or embarrassment when someone gets ‘the new way’ wrong. Appreciate your customers for still coming out, for risking it to visit you. It won’t have been an easy decision for a lot of people.

3. Prepare your team for a rise in complaints

Whilst we have all gone through this together, and we should all be as kind as possible to each other, mismatched expectations will generally result in increased complaints. If you expect them, have time to train for them, re-enforce the importance of empathy, and can help your team to understand that the emotional weight behind the complaint will not simply be formed by one bad experience, but by months of rising anxiety, potential ill-health of loved ones and the end to a normal way of life, it might help them to address the complaint in a more compassionate way, improving outcomes for everyone.

4. Be clear when information and procedures have been updated

If you’ve updated your website, your opening hours, your IVR to reflect the changes due to Covid, spell that out. People shouldn’t have to guess whether they are looking at pre-lockdown advice and opening hours. Even if you haven’t needed to make any changes, make it clear that things are working as usual, that the advice on your website still stands, and that you have reviewed and updated it regularly.

Displaying clear and prominent wording on the situation post-lockdown will help customers to self-serve when accessing information and result in happier, more informed customers, and a reduction in calls into your organisation to clarify, or issues when customers visit your premises.

If you need any help with your post-lockdown customer experience, Think Wow have packages available for every business.

 

Check out the previous instalments of Bill & Doug:

 


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11min866

As we all entered 2020, who would have known life as a marketer would change so drastically, let alone the world as we knew it. 

The COVID-19 pandemic hit us all with an unexpected bang. The year started with interactions through various mediums with a full marketing mix – as marketers, we were able to advertise through billboards, send out direct mailers, meet with customers at large scale events and have targeted dinners, balanced with a digital strategic approach of paid channels such as search and social, webinars, emails and e-newsletters, SEO, organic social and other activities. By March, we found ourselves in a world where digital outreach was our only option.

Restrictions that have come as a result of the pandemic – not the least of which was remote working on a massive scale – forced companies to think differently about the way they needed to connect with their customers.

Regardless of whether it was in a B2C, B2B or B2B2C context – all marketers faced the same challenges. Leaders had to do a review of their marketing strategy; pivot and rethink marketing channels being used; and embrace creativity, innovation and flexible approaches.

Being nimble and experimenting

Not so long ago, marketers might have taken six months to go from idea to implementation. With the unfolding pandemic – and people’s personal situations – circumstances were changing week to week, so good ideas needed to become reality, fast. The extent of lockdown measures and changes to business were evolving rapidly, so the need to pivot and drive delivery had to be number one priority.

Marketers need to be willing to experiment – with platforms, formats and promotion messaging – in order to push the boundaries and find an approach that works for their target audience. Some executions will work well, others may fall flat, but failure is part of growing and making mistakes that you learn from will offer vital insight into how to get it right the next time around.

At Zendesk, we experimented through a short, interactive morning show concept called Zendesk Morning Show. This was a true experimentation, with 14 episodes, twice a week in a TV news show concept. It was a big move away from the traditional long-form webinar, with no supporting slides or 60min panels. Rather, adapting to the changing environment, it delivered stories in short bursts of 2-3 minute segments within a 15-20 minute episode.

What’s important is to not look for perfection, but the ability to move quickly, be creative and experiment in our delivery. We were not perfect in every episode execution of the Zendesk Morning Show, but the flaws, imperfections and realness, was what made it more relatable to our customers, partners and community.

Making content accessible

While many marketing materials before the pandemic, such as reports or research, might have been gated, companies are fast realising that people don’t want to register and give out their personal details in order to view quality content. After all, if they have to, there is a wealth of other content out there that they can choose to engage with instead. Consumers want to get a feel for your branded content and whether it’s going to work for them, which requires marketers to shift their mindset away from one of ‘sell’ to one that focuses more on the consumer need at this time. Consumers need to help, share, learn and educate.

Much like they enjoy with Netflix, people also now want the option to view content ‘on demand’ when it suits them, especially as boundaries between work and home life dissolve in the face of remote working with no commute. People are far more likely to reach for an online show, for example, at the beginning or end of the day now, as they’ll already be in front of their computer at home.

Making the content available on demand is key, but letting customers know the time they will be investing is equally important. They need to know they can fast forward; skip a theme; go straight to the episode that is most relevant to them. It’s about making the content more accessible and easier to digest, and might also mean breaking up your long form content into smaller highlights for use.

Avoiding information overload

Brands are overcommunicating right now, which makes sense, but sending too many messages to consumers who are already overwhelmed with information is likely to lead to a lot of opt-outs as people switch off. However, by grouping your communications by theme, for example – instead of sending out a research paper, case study and webinar separately – you can wrap them up into one communication that includes all your recent content related to a particular topic.

It’s also not necessary to constantly keep creating new content all the time. Instead, capitalise on existing content, packaging it up and presenting it in different ways – after all, not everyone will have seen or had the chance to read or view it first time around or they may be seeking out information on a particular topic for the first time.

It also gives you licence to be more innovative with existing marketing activities, reimagining them in new formats.

Our annual Zendesk Relate conference this year became a 2.5 hour online event, Relater, where we looked for ways to creatively weave the story together through a whole range of different formats, to get users to interact with each other, as well as with us.

Relevancy of campaigns and content more important than ever 

This period of change has been a good reminder of what we should always keep at the front of our minds as marketers – that relevance is key to success. We often communicate our company’s message, product or solution and try to make it adaptable to the audience. Of course, we adapt these messages based on market conditions, trends or changes.

But what has been different this time, is the need to make sure your campaigns and content have true relevance for the audience it’s trying to reach. Focusing on the size of your event space isn’t the top selling point at a time when face-to-face events have disappeared. A great creative packaging doesn’t make it more relevant as a USP.

But, sharing authentic stories of how the space has been used as a pop-up volunteer coordination HQ or food service facility for healthcare staff can help to connect with your audience in the right way. As you think about your content and campaigns, think about how your story needs to adjust to be relevant to the realities of your audience.

Keeping creativity open whilst going through any change will see you rise above the challenge to come out with the right solution. I’ve loved seeing and following the examples in the fitness industry of virtual yoga and workout sessions – keeping consumers engaged even when activities can’t happen in-person.

Longer-term changes to the marketing mix

As we emerge from the pandemic to establish new ways of working, some of the changes that we’ve had to make as marketers are likely to become longer-term strategic shifts. While we’re always going to need a mix of marketing elements, an increase in online activity is here to stay. That’s not to say there won’t be an appetite for offline activities in the future, but the nature of these will probably change – people may favour coming together in smaller discussion groups, for example, rather than large-scale, big budget networking events.

The way we approach marketing direct mailers could also very well change. As fewer people work from an office, they may want the option to nominate where they receive their communications. Greater personalisation is going to be key, for example using e-gift cards and vouchers in a more tailored way.

However, these changes won’t be uniform across every country or market. While some customers and consumers might be willing to sit in front of their computers for 2-3-hour sessions, others more used to doing business face-to-face may prefer shorter bitesize content. While it’s definitely not one size fits all, marketers everywhere will need to reassess their long-term plans, tailoring them to our new reality, but most importantly to our ever-evolving audiences.


Richard BillingtonRichard BillingtonAugust 17, 2020
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8min1052

Over recent months, the way we communicate has changed drastically. With companies across multiple industries implementing work-from-home arrangements for their employees, it will come as no surprise that video applications, such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams, have all grown in popularity monumentally since the beginning of the pandemic.

According to statistics, Zoom’s daily users surged to more than 200 million in March from a previous maximum total of 10 million.

As people continue to use these apps, not only for work, but also fitness classes, school lessons and virtual nights out with family and friends, it is clear that virtual meetings have become an integral part of our daily lives.

Where many were once awkward about ‘being seen’ during phone calls, this concept is now considered the ‘new normal’. So, how long will it be before this rising trend extends to the way businesses interact with their customers?

Enhancing the customer experience

It is relatively easy to imagine how a number of B2B and B2C situations could be transformed by the use of video in the not too distant future. A face-to-face chat with the solicitor who is handling a customer’s house purchase, for example, could be replaced by a video call. This would remove the need for both solicitor and customer to stop working and sit down in a meeting room. The solicitor can also access details at their fingertips to answer any questions the customer might have and handle the call quickly.

The same applies to almost every consultative business relationship – including accountants, recruitment consultants and even GPs.

Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust have already made this a reality by offering video consultations with ‘Attend Anywhere’. This enables outpatient appointments without the need to visit the hospital, where patients can see clinicians ‘virtually’ via a live online video link. This has proven to be a hugely positive step towards improving patient access and has significantly reduced postal costs by 50 percent. In addition, video calls offer greater communication and understanding than a phone call, and take less time (or travel) than a physical meeting.

These kinds of processes, as simple as they seem, can have a huge impact on both the patient experience and in freeing up hospital workers to focus on higher-value tasks.

Delivering extra value

In addition to improving the efficiency of customer interaction, video is also being seen as a tool for delivering extra value.

For example, what if fault diagnosis could be implemented on every electrical appliance in your home, from your boiler to your TV? The ability for the person on the other end of the phone to see what you can see might save valuable engineer visits, by ensuring the right person with the right parts is sent to fix the problem. Contact centres may even be able to help customers resolve issues themselves in some cases, saving costly engineer time altogether.

The same applies to building inspections, where costly repeat visits can greatly add to the expense and completion time of each project. Incorporating this channel can be useful in delivering great customer experience and a competitive advantage over rivals. It can also offer significant time and cost savings to a business.

Managing video with low-code applications

For businesses looking to utilise video as part of their customer service offering, the next step is setting up an effective application to manage those calls. Here, a video widget can be a simple and cost-effective solution. Thanks to the ease of modern PaaS technologies such as low-code, which allows everyday business users to develop applications without the need for technical skill, these widgets can be designed and developed in house, with minimal intervention from the IT department.

By taking the flexible approach of low-code technology, face-to-face video calls can be added to any app using the video widget. This application can then be used to provide everything needed to easily facilitate meetings with customers, patients, colleagues, brokers, partners and more. Combining video widgets with low-code systems helps to streamline customer experience through direct, or group, video communication.

This means that you can implement video calls directly from a button on the screen or the video can be scheduled using the existing calendar or bookings widgets. In addition, businesses can create virtual waiting rooms to manage people queuing and even operate a video appointment system.

Considering security

Whilst video applications provide many benefits, the security and privacy of data remain a key concern for businesses. For many organisations that have turned to video conferencing platforms such as Zoom to support a remote workforce over recent months, they will also be aware of the criticisms over its cybersecurity standards.

Whilst updates have been put in place to address these, ensuring both customer and employee data is secure is essential for businesses moving forward with this technology. Here, low-code technology can be used to enhance security within applications by ensuring that once a user has logged on, meetings are securely managed within the existing app interface.

So, how long will it be before the customer expects to be able to replace physical appointments, or ordinary calls, with a video call to your business? Well, it is safe to say that it is already happening.  And as we head back to a new sense of ‘normal’, it is unlikely that new habits in video usage will subside.

Video will be a crucial tool as businesses enter a new digital-first era and the tools that help deliver these, such as low-code, will be pivotal to success. In a time where customer experience and building loyalty are more important than ever, businesses cannot afford to ignore the power of technology on the way that they interact with customers. Having access to tools that are easy to use whilst enabling innovation will be key for businesses to build better customer experience in the months ahead.


Chaman MaharajChaman MaharajAugust 7, 2020
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12min2043

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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6min1088

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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5min1632

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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6min1405

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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12min1229

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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7min1273

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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8min1097

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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7min1277

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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6min820

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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10min846

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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6min1256

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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16min1062

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
female-shopaholic-with-laptop-shopping-online-in-messy-3791614-1280x853.jpg

8min1049

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.




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