Adam MarslandAdam MarslandFebruary 15, 2019


Irrespective of the methodology used, examples of project failure are easy to find.

A simple Google search will show that the Sydney Opera House was completed ten years late and a staggering 14 times over-budget. Ok, but that was completed in the 1970s, haven’t things moved on? The Scottish Parliament building should have taken two years and £40 Million to complete; instead it actually took five years and over £400 million to finally open in 2004.

How about a different type of example? The Rio Olympics overran its intended costs by 51 percent. If you think that’s bad, the Winter Olympics in Sochi cost 289 percent of its initial target. These are not isolated high profile incidents – an estimated 71 percent of projects, irrespective of the size, methodology, or intended audience fail to deliver their expected product, on time and in budget.

With Project Management qualifications in higher demand than ever, there seems to be a disconnect between performance delivery and the utilised framework. Put another way, the lineal sequence of events that predict (and produce) an outcome must be questioned, and that is without considering the impact and diligence of the practitioner invoking the change.

Furthermore, an added layer of complexity can diminish project management understanding further due to the atypical manner in which the intrinsic pieces of the lineal sequence interact and overlap, diminishing the very essence of its construction: to implement successful change to an existing iteration in a regulated manner using proven tools and techniques.

If we use this understanding that a project’s objective is the controlled implementation of a change initiative based on the unquestioned framework of ideas, this leads us to an inherent understanding of the metanarrative of change: project management theory only represents a particular and limited image of practice rather than comprising an all-encompassing theory. Using this notion to establish context, this principle can be broken into two sub-areas of concern:

1) Project management techniques embody a particular way of seeing a practice, which is simultaneously a way of not seeing it. Defined and limited by the construct of an existing prism to view a problem, the emphasis revolves around a logical construct of achieving premeditated targets, namely achieving a particular goal.

The sequence of stages leading to this point is solely directed towards this pursuit; this fails to mitigate the complex personal relationships associated with the project journey alongside questioning if the Key Performance Indicators are relevant for a successful implementation.

2) Traditional project management is innately systematic in nature (in this case it is defined as detail or process focused). Overreliance on this type of practice is unsuited to a wide array on deployed contexts as it only deals with a fragment of a large and complex activity.

Therefore, irrespective of the type of methodology implied on a solution, it fails to account for the rich discourse of its history, stakeholders ambitions, and propensity to deal with design turns regarding its application. This line of thought fails to address the holistic question: rather than a consideration of Agile or Waterfall techniques (for example), we should instead reflect that a pre-formulated and rigid approach carries significant limitations.

A simplistic application of the Gaia theory, the notion of interconnectedness and dependencies based on a multi-layered appreciation of a wider system, can provide a revised guide of future change management.

When faced with a complex choice our natural intuition is to propose a simple solution, often pertaining to a lineal single point of failure. Our internal schematic framework consults our preconceived beliefs, judgements, and experiences to make a preconditioned view of productive progress.

However, trying to act without a full appreciation of the interlocking layers of complexity will lead to a sub-optimal resolution. Instead, adding leverages of change using a complex understanding of relationships, the appreciation of unintended consequences and feedback loops allows a creative solution that can deal with complex issues.

Utilising complexity and curiosity as a vehicle to embrace the unknown permits a deeper analysis of transformation. Ultimately the practitioner can select their implied methodology, such as established project management techniques, once the illustrated canvas has been explored, fully understood, and a future path constructed.

Ian GoldingIan GoldingFebruary 7, 2019


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

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

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

Should any business (irrespective of size) hire an individual who possesses an understanding of the competencies and capabilities required for an organisation to become sustainably customer-centric?

The answer to this is, in my humble opinion, is simple…..YES!

As anyone who has heard me speak, or read my thoughts on the subject of Customer Experience in the past will know, CX is now recognised globally as a bona fide profession. This fact demonstrates that like all professions, there is a ‘science’ that defines the work that someone in a Customer Experience role performs. The ‘science’ is formed of six competencies, established by the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA). These are:

Customer-Centric Culture

Voice of the Customer, Customer Insight, and Understanding

Organisational Adoption and Accountability

Customer Experience Strategy

Experience Design, Improvement, and Innovation

Metrics, Measurement, and ROI

This is a broad set of subject areas that Customer Experience Professionals (CXPs) are expected to have a good working knowledge of. The best CXPs in the world apply the science in a way that is appropriate to every and any situation/scenario they face. If an organisation has an aspiration to become sustainably customer-centric, it will find it extremely difficult to do so if it does not contain the expertise and specialisms to make it a tangible reality.

What official title an organisation gives someone with these skills is actually not that important; what is critical is that the organisation recognises the importance of Customer Experience capability and enables those with the skillset to work alongside their colleagues to drive a cross-functional, collaborative approach to becoming customer-centric.

To find out more about the Certified Customer Experience Professional qualification, visit the CCXP website.

To find out more about Ian’s CX Masterclasses and CCXP Exam Preparation Workshops, click here.

Laura ArthurtonLaura ArthurtonFebruary 5, 2019


Rapid technology advances and the advent of high-speed internet connectivity have allowed consumers to be more connected than ever before.

Mobile phones, tablets, and computers that were once built for simple daily chores such as text messaging and browsing the internet can now be connected to smart homes, wearable technology, and virtual reality devices, and many of us would be lost without them.

When it comes to shopping, the era of technology ubiquity that we live in has created a landscape where consumers are comfortable with the sight of a computer screen or iPad in a high street store, or are perfectly happy making most of their purchases online. At the same time, customers are becoming much more discerning in terms of the quality of advice and guidance they receive before making a purchase.

While many see this high-speed connectivity and presence of technology as a threat to the role of human staff – and a possible end to physical stores – consumers’ desire for comprehensive advice, allied with their openness to using technology, presents an opportunity for retailers to empower their human staff to serve customers more effectively in-store.

Technology: building human connections, not breaking them

As the general population becomes more and more accustomed to technology pervading every aspect of their daily lives, recent research we conducted revealed that almost seven in ten consumers (69 percent) – rising to 86 percent amongst the millennial generation – believe that technology will be a powerful tool in helping retailers build stronger relationships with their customers. While this indicates that shoppers are becoming increasingly comfortable with technology in retail, there is also strong evidence to suggest that it can be used to retain and enhance the human element of the customer experience, rather than supersede it.

To support this point further, a majority of survey respondents (56 percent, including 64 percent of millennials) believe it is important to speak to someone in-store before making a high-value purchase. This reveals a clear desire for an additional level of personalisation and guidance provided by a human member of staff, and proves that the human touch in retail is far from dead.

How to enhance the human touch

The growth of automation has led many to fear that people may lose their jobs to machines, and the retail sector hasn’t escaped these concerns. However, what this research has shown is that consumers still consider human input an essential component of the shopping and purchasing process.

With this in mind, retailers need to focus on how they can use the power of technology to complement and support the roles of human sales and customer service associates. Intelligent guided selling (IGS) tech is one of many ways this can be achieved, by making it considerably easier for a member of staff to walk a customer through a range of product choices and configurations. It can also be used to manage customer interactions across all sales channels, enabling a greater understanding of today’s increasingly omni-channel shopper.

Striking the balance

When it comes to today’s shopper, it is important for retailers to understand that face-to-face shopping is far from dead; if anything, it has become more important than ever before. The desire to see and touch products, while benefiting from personalised guidance and the expertise of a sales associate, remains extremely important. At the same time, it is also crucial to remember that there is a need to strike a balance between giving customers the support they need, while respecting their independence and giving them the space to make their own decisions, in their own time.

Consumers believe in technology. If it can be used to empower, rather than inhibit, the role of staff, retailers can reach a happy medium where customers are given the right balance of technological efficiency and human intervention, and staff continue to feel valued in their positions. This, in turn, maximises the chances of maintaining both customer satisfaction and staff fulfilment, both of which should be held in the highest regard by any retailer looking to maintain competitive advantage.

Valur SvanssonValur SvanssonFebruary 5, 2019


Usually referring to romantic relationships or friendships, when one partner starts to ignore the other without any explanation, the practice of ‘ghosting’ has now hit the workplace.

It refers to situations when employees walk out of their jobs without so much as a goodbye, or when candidates with a job offer simply disappear, never bothering to respond, or – if they do accept – failing to turn up on day one. Some people have even pretended that they’ve died in order to avoid awkward conversations with their would-be employer.

In the US, where unemployment levels are at an all-time low and there are more vacancies than job-seekers, employees seem to feel little remorse about walking away. The term even made it into the US Federal Reserve Bank Beige Book, which reports on changing economic conditions in the US, suggesting that ghosting is a significant trend and not just a flash in the pan.

The trend is catching on in the UK too. According to CV-Library, a somewhat surprising one in ten working professionals in the UK have ghosted their employer, citing reasons such as mistreatment by management, unrealistic workloads, and/or a lack of flexibility in their schedules.

These reasons might be legitimate, but the underlying driver for ghosting is the lack of employee engagement. Staff can easily become frustrated – and have their heads turned by others – when a working culture becomes dysfunctional, when there is a breakdown of communication or when they spend their days on boring and demotivating tasks because they don’t have access to the rights tools and technology

The effect on call centres

This disappearance of employees is a particularly worrying prospect for call centres, where turnover is consistently high due to the challenging nature of the role. Agents are expected to deal with frustrated customers eager for answers they are not always equipped to support, often with clunky software that is years behind the technology they use in their everyday lives.

Working in a contact centre can be hard. If an agent believes they have better career prospects elsewhere, it’s no surprise that they want to leave, and ghosting removes the need to even explain their motivations.

How to tackle ghosting

By focusing on improving employee engagement, contact centre operators can find a solution to this most modern of problems. In essence, this involves providing employees with more reasons to stay than to leave.

Here are just a few ways to keep agents happy:

Audit & upgrade technology: According to Ultimate Software, 92 percent of workers say that having the right technology directly impacts their job satisfaction. Teams may grow frustrated if their call centre tech is lagging behind the apps and gadgets they use outside of work.

Offer well-defined career paths: Agents want to develop their careers. If they feel valued and recognise the benefits in staying in their role with the chance to advance through the ranks, they are less likely to look elsewhere. Technology can help with this career development. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and smartbots stop agents from having to undertake repetitive tasks, freeing up their time so they can concentrate on complex, more rewarding activities. They could even become robot team leaders, overseeing a team of digital workers; a highly sought-after new skill.

Reward everyday achievements: Recognising and rewarding employees who achieve great results is another simple way for employees to feel appreciated. Gamification by, for example, the visualisation of employee KPIs encourages competition and teamwork. A simple wallboard can do this to great effect.

Offer competitive wages: Of course, pay is a highly motivating factor. If people are offered a competitive salary, they are going to see the value in staying put.

The cumulative benefits of improving employee engagement

Boosting employee engagement has many other advantages too.

The loss of talented agents is never a good thing, especially when it affects overall contact centre performance. If agents are motivated, they are more likely to provide exceptional customer service. More often than not, happy staff also means happy customers. What’s more, lowering staff turnover rates also helps reduce costs associated with recruiting, on-boarding, training and IT provisioning.

Employee engagement programmes also help with the retention of the very best talent. The brightest agents tend to be the most alert to better job offers. It is vital to keep the highest achieving – and usually most profitable and valuable – agents focused on, and motivated by, their current roles.

Ghosting is inconvenient and impolite, but it’s not only the wayward employee who is at fault. It’s a warning sign that staff feel demotivated, unhappy, frustrated and under-valued; and the business must take some share of the blame.

To fix this, contact centres should focus on incorporating labour-saving technology that frees up agent time so they can focus on more inspiring tasks. By creating a more positive employee experience, companies will soon find that there are fewer reasons for staff to pull a disappearing act.

Sanjiv GossainSanjiv GossainFebruary 5, 2019


It seems that everywhere we go, every place we visit, every time we buy something, we are asked to rate our experience.

There are even adverts in mainline stations encouraging us to provide feedback on our station experience with the inducement of possibly winning something. It therefore may not come as a great surprise that nearly three-quarters of the 1,000 brands surveyed as part of new research from Cognizant identify customer experience (CX) as crucial to their business.

But, while it is clear that every brand wants to offer the best possible CX at every opportunity during every interaction with consumers, there are marked discrepancies between brands’ perceptions of Customer Experience and their customers’. And the reality of executing an excellent CX is more challenging than merely stating the principle.

When we think of the brands with whom we associate great CX, they all have one thing in common: digital innovation. Even companies with very different brand positioning and strategies, like John Lewis and Amazon. Amazon is well-known for reducing the number of clicks it takes to make a purchase, offering tailored recommendations and able to deliver the next day at a price the high street finds hard to beat.

John Lewis was a trail-blazer in CX and has used its experience to become a pioneer in digital sales, becoming an early adopter of click-and-collect. Today, it continues to underpin its commitment to reimagining the shopping experience with the JLAB retail innovation incubator.

However, identifying companies doing it correctly is clearly much simpler than applying the right magic formula yourself. And with so many touchpoints in a customer journey, across digital and traditional channels, the challenge of creating a superior CX is becoming ever more complex.

Such a challenge is overwhelming for many marketers, according to the new Cognizant research, which details the gap between the experiences that consumers expect and what marketers currently feel they are able to deliver. For example, only one-in-five marketers believe they are getting it right, and nearly half do not believe they have the strategy, technology and data to provide consumers with what they truly want.

To help marketing professionals close the CX gap in their own companies, we have outlined five recommendations:

1. Start with strategy and culture

A robust strategy that is embedded throughout the organisation is critical to delivering excellent CX. A commitment to improving CX must be a shared organisational goal, for if the culture does not drive the company to improve customer experiences at every touchpoint, the strategy is merely some smart thinking put down on paper.

2. Understand your customer journeys

Without data, your CX strategy will just be a shot in the dark. Do you know and have you mapped what the customer journey for each product and service you offer is? Are there bumps in the road? Have you looked at where the path to conversion could be made simpler, frictionless and more informative?

Margaret Jobling, Group Chief Marketing Officer at Centrica, was spot on when she claimed how nobody cares about your tech excuses. Consumers simply want a smooth journey that is made to appear effortless: “Historically, there have been a series of separate customer journeys, rather than something consistent and integrated. People don’t care about what’s happening in your business and the back office, so this needs to be tackled. We systematically tackle every customer journey and every pain point and try to make it a less complicated experience. You can’t just put a sticking plaster on a pain point because that will cause a problem somewhere else within the business.”

3. Measure your CX successes

Performance measures are critical to the planning process, management and value of any business. Sales figures and ROI calculations are standard measures to show company income compared to expenditure; however, unless brands improve how they measure CX, any gains will be short-lived. Do you know if your customers are happy? If you do not ask, you will never know.

Establishing customer-focused metrics will help to understand how well you are doing. You could measure Net Promoter Scores, advocacy or satisfaction – or all three. Define your metrics and keep measuring against it to find out how your new strategy and improvements are bearing fruit.

4. Put design at the heart

Design cannot be isolated from CX, as you cannot expect the design team to deliver on the new CX strategy that it has little knowledge of.

Work with the design team to create amazing front-end experiences that are consistent with the brand promise and deliver on the plan to make the customer journey frictionless and more enjoyable. By opening up access to the CX data, designers will be able to see what customers want, and as well as what is or is not working. This empowers them to make the necessary improvements and supports the success of your strategy.

5. Invest in back-end integrations

Silos. Sadly, they have not been consigned to history.

Superior Customer Experience can only be delivered when both the marketing and design teams have access to all data sets, are equipped with the tools to make sense of that data and empowered to create a better journey based on its insights.

While many CMOs and CIOs understand this and have been talking about working together more seamlessly and proactively, our research has shown that the CX gap is wider than many may have feared. It is time to put this talk into action, working together to establish the focus on the customer, not feeding internal divisions.

Richard MillRichard MillFebruary 4, 2019


Nearly a decade ago, HMRC commissioned PwC to undertake a study of private companies, which had sought to implement closer integration between front and back office operations. 

As a result, recommendations were made on how to approach the use of technology and ‘work blending’ in order to optimise all resources – not just human and technology but front and back office as well.

In that time, little has changed. Workforce Optimisation technology – which offers quantifiable SLAs and targets for core business processes – is still very much the preserve of the front office/contact centre, despite HMRC’s counsel that applying workforce optimisation techniques to the back office was a business imperative. In 2017, the International Customer Management Institute concluded that while applying workforce optimisation techniques to the back office was a business imperative, businesses were failing to make best use of the capabilities of workforce optimisation (WFO) technology to do just that.

Service is everyone’s responsibility

After all, the majority of customer queries and requests are not dealt with at first point of contact, but are instead routinely referred to the back office to be processed. Meanwhile, the proliferation of contact and service channels – email, chatbot, web, social media, and SMS – means the traditional understanding of who is responsible for service has been overturned. The era of the majority of service requests being received through a single channel managed by one department is at an end. Meeting the increasing demand for highly-responsive, premium quality Customer Experience (CX) across all channels, has now become the responsibility of every department.

How can ‘blending’ help?

According to Gartner, one of the key characteristics of a workforce optimisation solution is that it “integrates disparate contact centre technologies – including contact centre performance management, e-learning, interaction analytics, quality management, and workforce management”. As customer touchpoints diversify and businesses increasingly compete on the quality of the CX they provide, there is no need to restrict optimisation to the contact centre.

If modern WFO solutions are built on the ability to integrate disparate technologies as Gartner claims, then why not apply them across all systems?

WFO is based on the understanding that, if you can access key performance data in real time and make it available to everyone, you can start to drive a wide range of improvements, such as raising service levels, boosting customer and employee satisfaction, cutting operational costs, meeting SLAs, and improving productivity and efficiency.

Information is key to workforce optimisation. If people know precisely what they need to do to meet call handling time targets or reduce queue times, they can improve their performance. If you have the right tools to analyse historic call volumes, you can predict staffing levels and schedule tasks with greater accuracy. If you can analyse calls and match queries to staff with the right skill sets, you can improve first-time resolution rates. If you can automate large parts of the operational processes, you can cut down on human error and boost speed and efficiency.

Modern workforce optimisation tech exists that combines all of these capabilities, providing the right tools and the right level of advanced functionality to make it ideal for integrating front and back office. Look for modern technology that offers a modular, flexible, easy to implement solution, and crucially is platform agnostic and highly scalable. Look for functionality such as smart work allocation, robotic process automation, something that can provide you with operational insight, dashboards, and so on.

Seventy-five percent of business leaders rank improving the Customer Experience as a top strategic priority. But in the context of rapidly evolving technologies and multiplying digital channels, the old rules for how you deliver an outstanding Customer Experience are being torn up. This is why workforce blending should be coming to the fore. Back office, front office working in harmony – keeping the customer happy.

Steve GroutSteve GroutJanuary 30, 2019


Christmas has come and gone, along with the January sales.

As we look back at the month, we can see it’s a delicate balancing act – on the one hand the sales provide opportunities for customer acquisition and revenue growth, while on the other ensuring that existing loyal customers are not alienated by sweeping offers made to all. For those retail brands looking for a successful 2019, the January sales presented a crucial opportunity to deliver relevant Customer Experiences and communications that help to create momentum and continue to build loyalty for the year ahead.

Make the most of the data

Customer data is critical to cultivating long-term customer relationships, but gathering it is only the first step. Ensuring the insights are being used to create meaningful interactions and customer experiences that are relevant will bring retail brands greater success at the beginning of the year.

Black Friday and the Christmas shopping season are likely to have attracted new pools of customers, so it’s important for retailers to use the data gathered during this time to encourage these new customers back in January and during the rest of the year. This could be through special offers, tailored recommendations based on customer previous purchases, or perhaps an invitation to a special pre-sales event.

Keep communicating

Although competitive pricing and irresistible offers can attract new customers, they can also create a ‘race to the bottom’, in which no business can win. Brands can do more to develop lasting relationships with customers during and after the event to motivate repeat custom. If, for example, prompts are made for customers to identify themselves as part of the brand’s customer base and culture, a more personalised connection beyond the initial transaction can be achieved.

By enabling user-generated content for product feedback for example, such as leaving a detailed review with photographs or videos, they have made quite an effort to interact with the brand. This experience lasts longer in the customer’s memory and the brand becomes more than just another retailer offering big discounts. This independent customer feedback is also more compelling for other consumers. By inviting customer reviews, the retailer demonstrates that it is trying to connect with its customers and truly cares about their feedback. 

Innovatively incentivise loyalty

Retailers should look for other ways of competing for loyalty that aren’t just based on heavily discounting, which often encourages a ‘grab and go’ mentality. Customers can register their details or share their own reviews and content to get an exclusive deal. By identifying how existing customers are already engaging with your brand, you can encourage them to continue to do so by giving them a reward or incentive.

Relationships with loyalty programmes can be leveraged to incentivise purchases where the customer gains something that will see them return, rather than just receiving something at a lower value and not coming back until the next time, when that price is matched. Think double points for members on products they love – bridging the gap between personalisation and reward.

Understand your customer

Ultimately, it’s understanding people – whether they are old or new customers – that lies at the heart of success for the continued growth of a retail brand during the January sales season. Using data to remain aware of what is driving customers to shop and precisely how they enjoy going about it, will help brands start the year as they mean to go on – with a healthy and happy loyal customer base.

Adam PowersAdam PowersJanuary 30, 2019


Richard Branson is famously quoted as saying: “I have always believed that the way you treat your employees is the way they will treat your customers, and that people flourish when they are praised.”

Although Mr Branson’s well-used pearls of wisdom might not have the caché that they once did, I would suggest that this view is as valid now as it ever was. A more on-trend leadership guru also agrees with this perspective, Simon Sinek says: “Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.”

Customer Experience has increasingly been touted as the battleground for modern business success. In a world where great product or lowest price are simply not enough for sustainable growth, it’s the CX of a brand or business, at every touchpoint, that is shaping success.

While we’ve been focussed on an outward looking perspective, there are far fewer businesses that have taken all this strategic thinking, creative passion and financial investment through 180 degrees, directing it within their own organisations.

Whatever the North Star ambitions for the Customer Experience, it’s the workforce, the colleagues, and the employees that will either deliver it or derail it. A modern, connected business is only as good as its weakest touchpoint, meaning greatest success will come from a holistic approach that includes a good deal of effort given to communicating with, enabling and empowering staff.

It is also critically important to recognise that the people who will be delivering the total experience are not some generic horde. It’s essential to understand the different needs and motivations of employees.

When communicating with staff, think about how you can effectively adapt communications in order to engage – that includes both the message and the medium. The all-hands email on a Monday morning really doesn’t cut it. It’s also important to consider and develop tools and technologies that recognise context of use and are genuinely empowering.

So many systems and solutions in businesses today are there because of decisions made a very long way away from the people required to use them.

Don’t underestimate what a sense of purpose can do for employee morale. Again, a well-used tale that talks about the power of having a sense of purpose in an organisation. When US president John F. Kennedy visited the NASA space centre during the height of the space race, he saw a janitor working a broom and walked over and asked him what he was doing.

The janitor responded: “Mr. President, I’m helping put a man on the moon.” When optimising the Employee Experience look for tools that connect staff, make them really feel part of something bigger and enable the business to leverage their collective power. This might well be through technology, but could equally be driven by a radical change in the format of business meetings. Additionally, consider how all that data you’re gathering (You got the memo about Data, right?) can translate into actionable, valuable insights which will empower the whole workforce to understand what they are a part of and how they can better connect with customers.

“Do not be afraid to empower your employees. Empowerment results in happy employees and happy customers,” says John Cashion, Corporate Director of Culture Transformation at the Ritz-Carlton.

They take employee empowerment to the next level by enabling every employee, irrespective of their level, to spend $2000 on meeting a guest’s unmet needs. This doesn’t require the approval of a senior member of staff, it is absolutely at the discretion of each employee.

Cashion goes on to say that, although that is a lot of money, it’s actually the symbolism of the act that’s really huge. Don’t be distracted by the amount, what’s really important is the trust that this shows. The trust in them to resolve a guest issue brilliantly, and to think of creative and memorable ways to elevate the experience.

This activity ladders back up to the top, to the leadership of a business and how it talks and behaves. Getting Employee Experience right is not a project or a one-off event. It is dependent upon persistent and consistent behaviours. It is also heavily dependent upon the accessibility and visibility of leadership. Just as your employees need tools to help them, look for organisational enablers that support leadership in sustaining a highly engaged and high performing workforce delivering a successful total experience.

Andrea WilliamsAndrea WilliamsJanuary 29, 2019


According to the Harvard Business Review, the seemingly-elusive definition of Customer Experience is “the quality of all of a consumer’s encounters with a company’s products, services, and brand”. 

Of course, you want your company to be the best – have the greatest products, most engaged employees and stellar Customer Experience. But many firms get lost in the process of crafting a competitive CX program. It’s not always straightforward, so, how should you start?

Savvy businesses have discovered the need to focus on the new frontier, namely digital Customer Experience – defined as “only (things) experienced through a digital interface, like a computer, tablet, or smartphone”. It’s important to understand that Digital Experience is not a subset of CX, but rather the area where you’ll likely get the most return on your investment in today’s business environment.

Why? Imagine that you’re out shopping and need to ask a question, but the salesperson is helping another customer at the moment. You likely won’t mind waiting a few minutes for your turn. On the other hand, if you’re trying to buy something online and the page is taking forever (more than 10 seconds) to load, you’re immediately outraged.

As a consumer, you already know this: interacting with a firm online is very different from visiting a business in person. The standards for customer service in the digital world are much higher.

Online customers will quickly write a business off if they have to jump through any hoops when requesting help. If your technology doesn’t deliver, if the technical functionality isn’t there, your company loses the opportunity to establish a positive relationship with that customer – and other elements such as quality of the product or the use of creative design won’t make up for that defeat in the long run.

Even businesses with big budgets routinely fail to prioritise the technical functionality of Customer Experience. This brings us to CX tech solutions that facilitate a digital Customer Experience program. Investing in this type of software offers a juicy competitive advantage. The field is wide open.

How many times have you tried to complete a routine digital interaction with a large company and thought “Wow, considering this is an industry leader, it sure is a nightmare booking a vacation / accessing my bank statement/ finishing new hire on-boarding …?” If, as a smaller company with a “shoestring budget”, you focus on really getting the technology solutions that best fit with your industry and target market needs, you’ll already be ahead of the curve.

CX tech is a growing niche. There are lots of available tools, whether it’s mobile platforms, chatbots, online communities, location services (beaconing), and many personalisation strategies. It’s up to you to test these many offerings and select the vendor(s) providing the best partnership for your company.

As you tackle this decision, keep in mind that the greatest bang for your buck could come in the from delivering Digital Experience from a mobile mindset. Here is why:

• A mobile system is accessible anytime, anywhere – both for team members and customers

• Each company is different, and requires the right tools, not all the tools – mobile platforms can be customised through third party integrations

• Fit with the modern business climate – it’s a cliché, but everything changes in an instant today. Mobile apps are constantly being improved upon and updated

• Resonates best with modern customers – people check their phone every 12 minutes on average or around 80 times per day, which means asking them to get on a desktop computer to connect with your company is already poor Digital Experience

But of course, don’t take our word for it. Explore various options while monitoring your own preferences as a consumer. Think about how a seamless experience on mobile influences your habits when choosing one company over another. After all, isn’t that how you ended up with those glow-in-the-dark holiday socks from Amazon?

The same processes are at work in the B2B arena. Quality Customer Experience tech will make it easier to understand your company’s brand, not just for customers, but for partners and employees as well. For instance, many businesses have already established online brand communities where they share news and updates while strengthening their image as industry experts.

Great CX is all about making a connection; having helpful, memorable interactions with customers. For B2B companies, this can encompass everything from sending out personalised notifications to providing turn-by-turn directions inside a convention centre  to automating the registration process for guests at the corporate headquarters.

The real value of CX tech is only now beginning to be understood.

Neil McIlroyNeil McIlroyJanuary 29, 2019


Consumers give brands less and less time to get it right when it comes to Customer Experience.

A survey of 14,000 consumers around the globe published by consulting giant PwC last year found that almost a third (32 percent) would leave a brand they liked after just one bad experience.

That doesn’t leave much margin for error. Brands need to ensure they are using every tool at their disposal to understand what motivates customers and how their demands are changing.  Knowing this can make all the difference to securing sales, driving up revenues, recruiting to loyalty programmes or hitting higher customer experience benchmarks.

The picture is complicated by the multiplicity of channels and platforms we increasingly use as consumers. Opus research in 2016 found that customers used an average of 3.5 channels to complete digital shopping and other brand-related tasks.

Retail organisations know that in the age of multiple channels and easy-come-easy-go consumer interactions they must get as close to customers as possible, understanding their changing requirements and responding to their concerns as quickly as possible.

AI turns customer data into a powerful source of insights

Almost every consumer-facing enterprise is now using analytical techniques to extract insights from transaction data, but until the advent of artificial intelligence (AI), it was not possible to analyse customer reviews as effectively. Firstly, they were too numerous and secondly, how do you obtain actionable insights from what customers think?

The answer is that AI uses natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning (ML) and together these two technologies make it possible to automate the analysis of thousands of reviews. This is about more than just picking out particular words such as “camera”. ML applied to NLP detects the sentiment behind the words so that what consumers think about the quality of the camera is revealed as well as particular aspects such as its lens or range of shutter speeds.

Companies with access to a platform that applies these technologies to the insight of real customers, obtain hugely valuable, easily-understood insights into what pleases or irritates customers. AI can spot trends in anything from fashion to festive toy-buying or travel destinations before consumers themselves are aware of them. On a personal level, real-time customer review insights enable customer-care departments to respond quickly to consumers who express their dissatisfaction about some aspect of a product or service, building trust in a brand as a result.

Uncovering the unknown knowns in customer data

Companies can use AI to uncover from customer data what may be eluding them through conventional means. If we take the example of two car dealers selling the same model of four-wheel-drive vehicle, they can deploy AI to analyse the feedback their customer’s leave, to discover why they generate very different levels of satisfaction in their respective sets of customers.

ML and NLP can rapidly drill down into the insight left by customers and blend all the available data to find out the likeliest causes of these problems from hundreds of possible factors. It can achieve in seconds what may take a member of staff many days, without the same guarantee of AI’s accuracy.

Blending customer data for greater insight and personalisation

The capacity of AI to digest masses of information and teach itself about significant patterns, means that customer review data can be blended with the other data that enterprises hold, transaction data being the most obvious. This can be combined to provide more wide-ranging insights that increase efficiency and responsiveness. The range of sources can include stocking and supply chain data, or details of finance deals, after-care packages, warranties, or product specifications.

This also feeds into the necessity for personalisation in customer engagement. With increasing numbers of consumers becoming inured to standard advertising or content delivered directly by brands, personalisation is necessary to cut through the noise. Individual transaction histories along with browsing habits or inquiry logs can be combined with review insights. Using this data, AI automation gives a company the ability to intervene with offers, notifications and discounts just as consumers are hovering close to the point of making a purchase or in danger of dropping out. At these moments, a single timely intervention can be decisive.

AI-driven insight is essential for you to compete with the retail giants

The retail giants such as Amazon are fast developing their capabilities, honing predictive analytics so that recommendations are personalised and based on the individual’s history, rather than on what other customers “also bought”. The rest of the retail world cannot afford to overlook AI when it is sitting on masses of valuable information in the form of customer insight – especially when they are from real, authenticated customers.

AI solutions are fast developing right across retail, such as the rise of conversational commerce through applications such as Google Duplex, or the emergence of visual product searching in which a mere image is sufficient to trigger a wealth of results.

Many AI solutions will struggle to make any impact in the real world of retail, whereas the insights delivered from the feedback of real customers are available now and can become the catalyst for transformed levels of customer engagement.

Customer Experience has become the main battleground of competition and personalisation one of the most effective weapons. No retailer can afford to ignore AI and the insights it delivers from real reviews if it wants to get ahead of the competition.

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Customer Experience Magazine is the online magazine packed full of industry news, blogs, features, reports, case studies, video bites and international stories all focusing on customer experience.



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