Colin HayColin HayJune 4, 2019
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6min288

We often hear about customer service being increasingly used as a business differentiator, but what does this really mean?

After all, customer service comes in many guises and means different things to different people. Some people simply want fast service at the right price while eBay devotees revel in the thrill of the auction without speaking to another human being. In general, speed and efficiency are all that matters, together with regular text or email updates of delivery dates and guarantees that credit card details are secure at all times.

On the other hand, consumers looking for support with complex, confidential, or emotionally sensitive matters would soon lose faith or be truly offended if they were treated as just another transaction on an endless conveyor belt of products. Adding agility to improve service levels is nothing new, but how often do we hear about businesses creating a kinder Customer Experience to stand out from the crowd?

Ombudsman: Bringing kindness to customer interactions in the real world

A kinder Customer Experience is a concept that Puzzel customer Ombudsman Services, the leading private dispute and resolution service, understands intuitively and shared at our Get Connected conference last year. Since the beginning of 2018, Ombudsman has practically re-invented its QA framework by deploying speech analytics in the contact centre to record 252,000 calls across all sectors. The organisation has successfully used voice recognition technology to capture 80 different phrases sorted into 12 categories. This established that nearly 30 percent of calls relate to dealing with someone in a vulnerable position, for example coping with mental health issues, losing their health or jobs, or just trying to stay warm.

The technology provides valuable insight into each call and caller, and strategically spots trends that identify the top issues facing all UK customers today. These powerful insights are essential to helping agents truly understand real-life consumer situations and as a result, respond with empathy and kindness as well as offer practical advice.

3 ways to create a kind Customer Experience

With a few simple strategies, every organisation is capable of winning customers over through efficient, yet kind, conversations. Here are three ways to get you started:

1. Have the right team on your side

Kindness starts from within and it starts from the top. Hire leaders who show dedication to building positive contact centres where agents care for each other as well as for their customers. Look for agents who combine passion with compassion. These are the ones who intuitively understand a customer’s emotional state then use this knowledge to solve customer problems in a highly personalised and meaningful way.

2. Overcome the fear of new technology

Introducing new technology can be an exercise of winning over hearts and minds, especially when people have faith in their traditional ways of working. What’s more, by its very nature speech analytics has a strong element of ‘big brother’ and can strike fear into the most confident employees. Overcome resistance to change by highlighting the undoubted benefits of automation. For example, accurate recording of calls that liberates language and empowers agents to engage more effectively with customers while providing high levels of transparency to build trust with each other and with customers.

3. Use knowledge to build a circle of continuous kindness

Understanding your customers’ requirements now and in the past is the first step towards treating them with kindness. Combine traditional resources of FAQs on websites with the use of chatbots to grow knowledge bases by feeding back useful information based on customer enquiry patterns. Add predictive analytics to tap into past resolutions, to  support similar scenarios in the future and pre-empt issues before they become real problems. Then combine with speech analytics to highlight proactive opportunities for kindness.

The latest cloud-based omnichannel contact centres integrate seamlessly with speech analytics technology to analyse and search 100 percent of recorded customer calls in real-time, helping them to glean valuable intelligence from thousands – even millions – of customer calls quickly and efficiently.

Highly sophisticated, today’s technology can even identify dialects, regional accents, and slang in addition to detecting the usual keywords and phrases over multiple time periods. Innovative ‘TellMeWhy’ features also help organisations quickly identify potential underlying root causes for specific calls. This all-important data should be added to the knowledge base as part of a vital circle of continuous improvement and shared learning.


Dean FrewDean FrewJune 3, 2019
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6min416

In today’s retail world we are emerging into a new era where technology and commerce are joining together and revolutionising Customer Experience.

Retailers are increasingly continuing to implement new technologies which help to improve processes. Alongside this they are also finding innovative and new applications of existing technologies which help to optimise daily operations. This can be due to the rise of online and mobile shopping, which has further led to increasing competition within the retail sector. With over 2,400 stores disappearing on the high street in 2018 alone, meaning a 40 percent rise in store closures from 2017, it is clear that this could be causing major panic amongst various retailers.

With item-level RFID technology rapidly gaining adoption in the retail industry, retailers have seen their inventory management improve significantly. Nowadays, retailers are looking at additional ways to leverage investments they put into RFID, especially once the initial investment and returns have been established. As a result of this, retailers are mostly focusing on the changing process of customer engagement at Point of Sale (POS) moving to an automated and human-free checkout.

Reduced shrink and reduced out of stocks

Item-level RFID technology can enable retailers to carry out stock counts within their stores once a week in an average duration of one hour, using only a few handhelds. Through this, retailers can gain 98 percent inventory accuracy. Having an enhanced view of inventory accuracy will naturally lead to a reduction in shrink, which is often a result of theft or lost items throughout the supply chain. An average amount of shrink percentage in retail is around two percent of sales. This can create significant cost implications for retailers. According to the British Retail Consortium’s (BRC) annual Retail Crime Survey, the total direct financial cost of retail crime, resulting in shrinkage has risen to around £700m.

Retailers can utilise item-level RFID to prevent shrink throughout all aspects of the supply chain, it can also identify whether an item went missing either from transit or from the distribution centre. Item-level RFID can greatly reduce out stocks for retailers, which in turn can also help to improve customer satisfaction and services. This is a result of the retailer having products available for customers, as and when they want them.

Enhancing the check-out process for customers

Many retailers are adopting item-level RFID for a variety of reasons, including technology giving retailers the ability to speed up the check-out process for customers. This can be seen as part of a ‘technology rebrand’ effort for retailers whilst also acting as a loss prevention tool by helping to reduce human factor-based errors at the checkout.

Overall, this can help to improve the accuracy of a purchase, reduce lengthy checkout queues and streamline the technology experience during the POS process.

Benefits of accurate inventory management for Customer Experience

RFID is helping retailers reach a new level of operational excellence in inventory management. There have been many rollouts of the technology on a global basis, which have demonstrated rapid ROI based on sales lift, inventory reduction and omnichannel fulfilment advantages. It is without a doubt that item-level RFID has become the fundamental tool in opening the door to this new era of retailing.

Evidently, if a customer is looking to purchase an item they want and it is out of stock, they are going to be disappointed. For retailers, this can result in the customer feeling unsatisfied with the service, and therefore choosing not to return to the store in the future. To prevent this and to ensure good levels of customer service, retailers need to have a correct and accurate view of their inventory, meaning they know exactly which products need ordering for new stock and those that don’t.

Overall, it is clear that with item-level RFID allows retailers to gain levels of 98 percent accuracy, with quicker stock counts, customers are evidently going to be more satisfied with their overall experience of shorter queuing times, getting the stock they want, and when they want it. As a result, this creates a greater shopping experience for customers overall.


Sam CarterSam CarterJune 3, 2019
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7min585

There is no such thing as a typical customer journey – shoppers are browsing, buying, and interacting with brands in more ways than ever before. 

Meanwhile, with 41 percent of consumers conducting research online but buying in store, it’s clear shoppers are taking advantage of the diversify range of methods to complete their purchase journeys.

Multiple online touchpoints, combined with brick and mortar store visits and offline marketing strategies, result in fragmented data sets across the customer journey, offering an overwhelming number and variety of insights for marketers to comprehend and action. Furthermore, this data may be outdated, contain duplications, or deliver conflicting insights, presenting an obstacle to achieving accurate measurement of campaign success. This is undoubtedly challenging for businesses looking to gain the coveted 360-degree view of consumer behaviour to improve marketing performance.

The huge amount of time and effort needed for businesses to understand the implications of each and every piece of data available to them means they risk losing sight of the experience they are delivering, which can damage the brand. So should gaining a 360-degree customer view be the priority for marketers?

Putting Customer Experience at the forefront

To contribute to business success, marketers must first establish an accurate view of their organisation’s overall objectives, before identifying the challenges preventing them from meeting these aims. While an understanding of how and where consumers interact with a brand is important, it would be a mistake to focus all efforts on untangling every possible data point to create the perfect 360-degree view. Such a task costs significant time and money, and is unlikely to solve a business’s biggest pain points.

The real question is how marketers can use their data to benefit, enhance, and personalise the Customer Experience, and ultimately boost ROI. By identifying the campaigns and creatives appealing to high-value consumers, and where their efforts are most effective, marketers can anticipate customer needs and direct spend to the activity most likely to impact the bottom line. And in an age where 52 percent of consumers are ready to abandon brands if they fail to deliver personalised communications, leveraging customer data to meet individual needs, desires, and preferences is essential to unlock that all important lifetime value and make a lasting impact on business success.

Start small and grow

Naturally, once marketers identify this area of priority, many will aim to gather as much data as possible to achieve the perfect Customer Experience, but spending more time looking at the data than taking action puts them at risk of ‘analysis paralysis’.

To see quick results, marketers need to adopt a strategy that gives a simple and unified understanding of consumer needs; using the readily available data existing within their business. Consolidating this data into a unified customer data platform (CDP) is the first step, allowing organisations to remove duplication and access clear insights across all measurable touchpoints.

Once this solid data foundation is built, techniques such as multi-touch attribution (MTA) allow marketers to gather useful insights from their data to understand which tactics work best. The result is stitched together insight into interactions across multiple channels, empowering marketers to see which are most effective and increase customer understanding.

Marketers can then use predictive analytics to fill any information gaps they have. Marketing Mix Modeling (MMM) looks at interaction, incrementality, and the lasting impact of channels to help optimise marketing spend and increase campaign performance. For example, marketers can analyse how offline influences, such as TV ads, are impacting online channels, and take these insights into account when planning and optimising campaign activity across the entire marketing mix.

In an age where customers want and expect personalisation, despite their unpredictable shopping habits, marketers cannot afford to skip on consumer insights. But ensuring action is taken from the start is key to being able to put the customer first and drive results. Using the right tools, marketers can ensure they do not neglect the interests of their customers while they work to achieve the most comprehensive view possible of audience interactions – allowing the creation of the personalised experiences their customers crave, boosting customer loyalty, and ultimately delivering on business objectives and revenue goals.   


Joe WedgwoodJoe WedgwoodMay 31, 2019
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7min311

This article is written by Joe Wedgwood, Chief Storyteller at The Happiness Index, one of the winners at the 2019 UK Employee Experience Awards

 

This May we had the pleasure of attending the UK Employee Experience Awards at the Park Plaza London Riverbank Hotel.

It was one of the better award ceremonies I’ve attended, and they made huge efforts to distance themselves from the normal, more corporate and stuffy ceremonies many are used to. We wrote entries for three awards – Use of Innovative Employee Engagement Technologies, Use of Digital Technologies, and Employee Centric Company – and were shortlisted as finalists for all of them, so naturally we were very excited!

How the day went

The day was split into three parts: presenting, lunch and entertainment, and the award ceremony itself.

Firstly, we had the nerve-wracking job of presenting. The written entries accounted for 50 percent of the scores, so the presentations were key – we’ve told them all about what we do and now we need to show them. It was so important to us that we got across how we put employees at the heart of our services and ensure our tech helps employees to be more engaged and have better lives, both in and out of the workplace.

We had 15 minutes to present and then 15 minutes of questions from the judging panel. All the presentations seemed to go well and the judges nodded along with smiley faces and seemed to really buy into what we were saying, which helped to ease my nerves! We had finished all of our presentations by late morning and it was officially out of our hands. Time to have some fun!

We were then treated to a three-course meal with a side serving of keynote speakers and some first-class entertainment.

The Happiness Index at Awards. Employee Engagement

And the winner is…

After everyone was well fed and watered, the awards ceremony began.

The first category we entered, Employee Centric Company, was announced and we all cheered when we heard our name. But it was to no avail, as sadly we didn’t get a podium finish.

I had only just stopped licking my wounds when the second was announced, Use of Innovative Employee Engagement Tech. Third and second place were given their trophies and we clapped along with all our peers.

“And the winner is…The Happiness Index!”

We were delighted! It really was a culmination of all the hard work we have put in this year and we were thrilled to get recognition for it!

The Happiness Index team at UK Employee Experience Awards

We were still celebrating our win and being interviewed off-stage when our third award was announced, Use of Digital Tech. We were awarded bronze, which really capped off an amazing day.

The Happiness Index awards for Best Innovative Employee Engagement and Use of Digital Tech.

Looking to the future

This has been such a great year for The Happiness Index. We have gone from strength to strength in terms of growth, numbers of employees, and innovation in our offerings. Now we have the trophies to prove it.

We can’t wait to continue our journey and see where we end up!


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthMay 30, 2019
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4min382
For many businesses, successful Customer Experience strategies emerge as a result of looking at what does and doesn’t work for their peers.
Call it copying; call it a tribute – whatever you call it we can agree that one thing this route to CX success is not, is innovative. Yet it’s innovation which makes the truly big players in business stand out from the ever-growing crowd, and in Customer Experience Innovation: How to Get a lasting Market Edge, author Dr Robert Dew – with the help of Cyrus Allen – outlines the daring steps taken by some of the planet’s most lucrative brands that have pushed them to the forefront of customer centricity and name recognition.
Dr Dew outlines clever processes used to research, conceive, and develop innovations in the CX space for both large and small companies.
Written as a practical guide for managers with a background in line management, operations, marketing, finance, or customer service, the book contains a simple framework with an extensive range of design thinking and creative problem-solving tools.
Dr Robert Dew
Starting with a validation for investing in improving your firm’s CX, the book also provides a primer on competitive advantage, the most critical objective of strategic planning. Mastering the book’s content creates the potential for any business manager or owner to find a hard-to-copy market advantage and drive their business’ growth.
As the book stresses, companies which invest in successful CX innovation will stand out from the crowd. Markets tend to reward these companies because it is rare for firms to try something new, much less prove customer acceptance of their attempted innovations. Firms offering remarkable CX create loyal customers who happily pay more for their products and services, and then refer them to other customers for free.
Customer Experience Innovation is based on a decade of research by Dr Dew, an innovation management consultant with over 20 years of experience in structuring companies for optimal growth. Useful chapters focus on brand hype (and why you should avoid similar pitfalls); finding the innovation “sweet spot”; and bringing and innovative attitude to your mobile CX offering.
The book makes use of an exhaustive list of case studies to reflect on and show the true power of innovation, and it should be a permanent fixture on the desk of any CEO or Customer Experience Manager.
Customer Experience Innovation: How to Get a Lasting Market Edge is out now, from Emerald Publishing.

Koen SmeetsKoen SmeetsMay 29, 2019
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9min327

You’ve invested in market research into your customer base and you’ve developed a catchy strapline to lure them in-store with a brand promise.

You’ve commissioned some beautiful photography for the national campaign and secured high-value ad placements to engage your target customers. Sparked into action by the TV, print ad, and billboard working in harmony, they are triggered to engage with your brand. Your marketing strategy is working beautifully.

That is until they use their mobile phone to engage with the local store.

They key in your brand name to Google. The first thing that pops up is a poor rating for the nearest location. The photography, unlike the glossy billboard ad, is average. The opening hours are incorrect or, even worse, the local store the customer is searching for isn’t open on the day in question or has been closed altogether.

By failing to optimise at the local level, the brand has failed to deliver its promise and your customer starts scrolling for alternatives. This is an all-too-common experience for so many brands. They have invested millions in their branding without investing in the attention to detail required to understand how customers search and shop. In today’s challenging high street conditions. this isn’t just a nice to have, it is essential to get this right for the health of your business.

The key to winning at local is understanding how people access your brand. It’s estimated that 50 percent of us use Google to search for local information. This is of course driven by the astonishing uptake in mobile internet access. According to the most recent ONS figures for 2017, 73 percent of adults accessed the internet ‘on the go’ using a mobile phone or smartphone, more than double the 2011 rate of 36 percent.

However, your phone isn’t only your communication tool, your entertainment, and your source of information, but also your navigational tool and, increasingly, your payment method. Your phone is the digital footprint of your everyday life. Google understands this, and it’s crucial that retailers understand it too. Google, of course, just reflects the nature of how people are searching. Search for ‘parking’ and Google won’t show you what parking means or the history of parking – instead, it will show you information about where you can park in the local area, because this is what you are interested in.

The same applies for any brand. The first thing Google will tell you is where you can locally access this brand with a map and store information. It’s the same for Facebook or indeed any other digital way of interacting with your brand. So how can you optimise your brand for the local experience? There are four questions you need to ask yourself.

1. Can consumers find your locations, and the right information pertinent to their search?

In other words, have you enriched your local data? For a retailer, this would mean correct opening times, good local photography, and relevant product information. This needs to be accurate on the full suite of platforms, from Google to TomTom to Facebook to Apple Maps. This is also where technology can really help. The right technology platform will enable you to do this in real time across all your locations and maintain this level of accuracy. Get this right and our research shows you can expect an ROI of 3:1

2. Is there relevant local information about your products and services based on your location?

This is about pulling out key relevant local information to boost contextual local search. If a gym is the only one in an area with a swimming pool, this will need to be pulled out and flagged to ensure keywords are optimised. Ideally, you should also create unique landing pages to attract people searching for local swimming pools. The same principles apply if you are a retailer offering late-night shopping. These pages will get more visibility and you will be able to maximise the opportunity for people searching for these terms. Take your national content and make it relevant locally.

3. Are you appealing with engaging local experiences?

Once you have your location ready and your content localised, go after your customers with appealing local experiences. A retail client of ours wanted to increase traffic to their pet products area. We created a promo on Britain’s celebrity cats and dogs and made it relevant at a local level with testimonials and local celebrity pets. We then drove them in-store or to ecommerce experiences depending on the priority of the brand in different areas or distance to a local store.

4. Are you personalising the experience for converted customers to generate repeat purchases?

The rich seam of information provided from customers’ sales histories will identify crucial local information. For instance, if they live near a beach and their history shows they have bought beach gear at a certain month in the past, you can suggest other relevant products at the right time of year, whether it’s sunglasses, beach bags or sun cream. The more touchpoints you have with the customer, the better the targeting – and the more relevant the offer. Localised data presents a rich picture of customer behaviour.

The crucial factor in all of this is putting the customer at the heart of your business. Remember that when they search for your business, they expect a business to deliver a local response. This will allow you to connect with your customers whoever, and wherever, they are. If you don’t take these steps in the challenging current conditions you will lose the trust of customers and they will go with rivals who have taken these steps. In a world of high street closures and increasing choice, a locally optimised strategy is the best strategy to survive the turbulence and remain relevant.


Kevin MurrayKevin MurrayMay 29, 2019
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7min370

The impact of poor Customer Experience is not one easily forgotten.

The reality for retailers today is that for even the most loyal customers, one bad experience is enough to make them abandon their shopping baskets and never hesitate about returning.

Modern customer expectations are undoubtedly at an all-time high. Not only do consumers now have preferred channels, they also expect brands to deliver the best possible service across all channels, at all times. According to research by Walker, expectations have amplified so much that by 2020, Customer Experience is predicted to overtake both price and product as the leading differentiator for brands.

To meet this demand, retailers are ramping up their investments in omnichannel to deliver the exceptional experience customers now require. As technology continues to advance, the value of omnichannel continues to increase and retailers have begun to invest significantly to integrate both front and back end systems.

The era of omnichannel

Gone are the days where physical and digital channels work in silo. The world has evolved into an omnichannel environment, where the boundaries between online and offline have become blurred. At present, this presents both a challenge and an opportunity for switched-on brands.

A successful omnichannel experience is made up of individual customer touchpoints, over a variety of channels, that allows users to move from one channel to the next seamlessly, whilst maintaining a continuous thread of communication. Being able to provide this single congruous shopping experience is crucial to keep up with customer expectations and continue to grow the bottom line.

A diligent and well-thought-out approach is key to creating a strong omnichannel experience. Companies are now recognising the central role technology continues to play, and the importance of moving in-line with new disruptive technologies available to help them achieve an effective omnichannel strategy. Over the next few years, global analyst house, Gartner predicts that AI will become a mainstream Customer Experience investment, while 47 percent of businesses will use chatbots for customer care, and 40 percent will deploy virtual assistants.

However, rather than just rushing to implementing the latest and greatest functionalities to disrupt the market out of fear customers will demand it, omnichannel is as much about what to avoid, as it is what to include. Rather than attempting to do too much, too quickly, the key to success lies in always having the core needs of the customer as the driving force behind any change. Failure to do so can compromise Customer Experience, negativity impact brands, and shake up customers’ loyalty.

Using data to enhance Customer Experience

At the heart of strong omnichannel customer engagement is the data that drives it. In today’s competitive environment, the customer insight that brands are able to glean from different touchpoints can make a huge difference in how a company shapes its CX.

The digital environment produces mass amounts of data, and finding new ways to understand customer needs, buying habits, likes, and dislikes can help inform and enhance the personal experience brands deliver, allowing them to develop that much sought-after loyalty between brand and customer.

Data can help dramatically improve the customer journey, but only for brands eager to be led where the data instructs them to go. Those still focused on holding onto legacy structures, or past ideas, products, or services, will not find as much success in Customer Experience enhancements, simply because of their resistance to change with the evolving market.

For those switched-on brands that collect and interpret omnichannel data correctly, they have a more holistic and informative view of their customers and are better equipped to deliver more personalised and targeted offerings, streamlined buying processes and develop new customer services in the future.

Customers at the core of omnichannel

The power that consumers now hold shapes not only the success or failure of a brand, but also shapes how they need to adjust to customer requirements in order to remain relevant. Modern customer journeys aren’t simple and linear, but a series of crossovers between traditional and digital channels that can vary significantly depending on the type of shopper. Understanding this requires in-depth knowledge of what customers truly want by utilising the data readily available to them.

While new and exciting disruptive technologies may seem appealing, to leverage the maximum potential of an omnichannel strategy, brands must focus on getting the basics of CX absolutely right first by always remembering the core needs of the customer. Only then can companies ensure they keep pace with the competition and provide a seamless customer experience necessary to drive consumer loyalty today and over the years to come, as new technologies become more and more prevalent.


Lindsay McEwanLindsay McEwanMay 24, 2019
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7min1117

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

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

Top-heavy convenience impedes privacy

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

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

Impenetrable defences dissuade customers

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

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

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

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

Equilibrium: the answer to the ultimate Customer Experience

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

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

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


Oliver GuyOliver GuyMay 24, 2019
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7min313

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

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

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

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

Avoiding the stormy seas

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

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

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

Finding the middle ground

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

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

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

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

A calm sail

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

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

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

 


Rory OConnorRory OConnorMay 23, 2019
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3min296

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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