Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJanuary 15, 2020
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7min853

Customer Experience Magazine is profiling the top 10 Professionals and Influencers from our Top 50 CX Stars list.

Here we look at Number 3 in each category. Jo Mayes of Business Stream is today’s featured Professional, and our Influencer is Adrian Swinscoe.

We welcome feedback on our CX Stars list, and all correspondence should be sent to paul@cxm.world.

 

Number 3

Jo Mayes

Director of Customer Operations at Business Stream

The award-winning Jo Mayes is coming up to a decade of working in Customer Experience, and having breathed new life into the CX strategy of Standard Life, in 2016 she joined utilities firm Business Stream, where she has spearheaded a hugely successful shift towards customer centricity.

Following her appointment as Director of Customer Operations, Business Stream has enjoyed a raft of industry honours, including gongs at the UK Customer Experience Awards (UKCXAs), the European Contact Centre and Customer Service Awards, and the International Customer Experience Awards, to name but a few.

Jo herself was named CX Professional of the Year at the 2019 UKCXAs, taking the title in what was one of the most competitive years to date for the coveted category.

Her success is down to an instinctive understanding of what customers want from a brand, and she has been an advocate of robust measurement programmes and redesigns through co-creation with end-users from the beginning of her CX career journey. These techniques helped her previous employer appear in the KPMG Nunwood CEE Top 100 list for two consecutive years.

Jo says: “A key element for strong leadership is to set out for your people why delivering CX is important – good context setting and goal alignment create the focus and drive to deliver.”

Her inspiration in recent years include leading consultant and author Ian Golding, and KPMG Nunwood’s Director of Customer Experience David Conway; it’s safe to say that as far as professionals go, Jo Mayes will soon be cited as the inspiration for others as they follow in her footsteps and aim to transform businesses and place the customer at the heart of what they do.

 

Number 3

Adrian Swinscoe

An experimental CX thought leader and visionary, Adrian Swinscoe has been helping businesses reconnect with customers for 20 years, and is not afraid to take chances when it comes to innovation.

The well-known consultant has a solid business background, and his previous experience as both an economist and a teacher has provided him with the necessary skills to lead others to success, and he has found an eager audience through his in-demand coaching and consultation services, and his writing in blog, article, and book form.

Many CXM readers will no doubt own a copy of his 2016 book How to Wow, which offers 68 precise methods for CX transformation, while his new work, Punk CX, is an unconventional, yet exciting take on transforming CX in the vein of the radical 1970s punk rockers who pushed back against the overblown, over-technical prog rock that had previously dominated the music world.

In true punk fashion, Adrian designed the book to rebel against the mainstream of conventional business tomes, and the end result has an incredible aesthetic similar to the self-published fanzines that fearlessly promoted the punk scene in its heyday.

His methods encourage out-of-the-box thinking that reward businesses for daring to be different, and alongside the colourful new book, Adrian produces a Punk CX newsletter to further stimulate ideas and new wave Customer Experience practices.

Adrian says: “I help people and organisations achieve greater potential and results through building better relationships with those people around them whether they are leaders, team members, or customers.”

Adrian’s global experience has also earned him a regular contributor slot with Forbes, where he brings practical CX insight to a wider business audience.

Click here for profiles of our Number 4 Professionals and Influencers.


Gethin NadinGethin NadinJanuary 15, 2020
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9min1721

This article was co-authored with John Petter, CEO of HR software provider Zellis.

 

It isn’t a new discovery that money worries have a direct impact on your employees; financial concerns are a serious cause of mental health issues, which themselves result in increases in both absenteeism and presenteeism, reduced engagement and productivity, and all manner of personal problems that make day-to-day working life a struggle.

Unfortunately, the prevailing social and economic conditions have made money worries increasingly common. Only rarely are employees, especially amongst the younger generations, faced with one specific financial challenge. It’s much more likely they are dealing with some dangerous combination of home ownership struggles, slow wage growth, too much borrowing, being a victim of a scam, and worries over their retirement savings.

This is all underpinned by low financial literacy, which Andy Haldane, Chief Economist at the Bank of England, has said is actually getting worse in the UK. Financial education is supposed to start in school, but many students say they don’t receive it. And once they leave the school system, most people aren’t exposed to any kind of financial literacy education unless it’s self-taught.

What role should employers play in addressing this issue?

The answer is that employers should take a greater role in increasing literacy and awareness. Currently less than half (44 percent) of UK employees are offered financial education, according to research from Zellis. The traditional view that personal money matters shouldn’t be discussed in the workplace is still pervasive. In fact, according to The Close Brothers, the majority (58 percent) of UK employers don’t have any sort of financial wellbeing strategy in place.

But let’s look at it from a different perspective: what’s the central transaction in the relationship between an organisation and its employees?

That’s right, it’s pay and reward.

So it only seems natural that the employer should play a part in helping employees make their money go further, by explaining how key concepts like benefits, tax, and pensions actually work. Zellis’ research indicates that this is currently an underserved need. They found:

  • Most (58 percent) employees don’t fully understand their payslips
  • Less than a quarter (24 percent) check their statement every month
  • Around a third (32 percent) say they don’t have enough information about benefit choices
  • A quarter (25 percent) say the same about their pension options

And while trust in traditional financial institutions like banks is at a low point, employers can step in to provide much needed support and education. But we must make it clear that they shouldn’t try to provide financial ‘advice’, which is something regulated, professional, and typically relates to money choices (i.e. investments) that involve a degree of risk.

What practical steps can organisations take, then, to support employees – and what are the potential business benefits? Here are a few quick ideas:

Run financial literacy programmes

These could be created internally, or you could bring in an external expert to help. They should be inclusive of different ages, background and levels of knowledge, and could cover topics such as how to understand a payslip, how to access benefits, how the tax system works, and how to manage your pension.

Closing the awareness gap can make a huge difference. Consider, for example, the hundreds of thousands of low-wage employees who don’t claim Universal Credit simply because they don’t know they are entitled to it. An organisation that helps to bring this information to light can really change the lives of its employees.

Communicate benefit choices 

Your benefits package can make all the difference when it comes to attracting and retaining talent. However, organisations struggle with low levels of employee uptake either because the benefits on offer are not deemed relevant and useful, or because not enough is done to promote them and explain their value.

A solution is to involve employees closely in the process of designing a benefits package, improving both relevancy and awareness. Benefits awareness can also be boosted using a ‘total rewards statement’, offered as part of or alongside the payslip, which shows the total value of all pay and benefits received from the employer.

When employees are more engaged with their benefits it not only contributes to better financial wellbeing, but to better employee-employer relations as well.

Re-think your HR systems

Of course, helping your employees feel in control of their pay and benefits means having modern and user-friendly HR systems. When these systems are outdated, clunky and not mobile-friendly, important life-admin tasks such as updating bank details, checking your payslip and making pension contributions become harder and more frustrating.

The reality is that today’s employees expect near consumer-grade levels of technology in the workplace, so organisations that still rely on archaic systems need to re-think their approach. Convenience is key – if employees can get easy access to important pay and rewards information, they’re more likely to take positive steps towards improving their financial wellbeing.

Offer mental health support

The last tip is the simplest, but arguably the most important. Stress and worry can be made considerably worse in the absence of having someone to talk to. As an employer, you can help fill this gap by offering counselling. While it won’t be a direct fix for most financial problems, it will offer reassurance and let your staff know that it’s OK not to be OK.

Now we are into 2020, it would be amiss not to find a place for financial education and counselling in your HR strategy.

We’ve known for a while now that money worries aren’t good for the health of your staff or your business – so why not do something about it?


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJanuary 13, 2020
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7min1650

Customer Experience Magazine is profiling the top 10 Professionals and Influencers from our Top 50 CX Stars list.

Here we look at Number 5 in each category. Alison Lawrie of AkzoNobel, is today’s featured Professional, and our Influencer is Clare Muscutt, founder of CMXperience.

We welcome feedback on our CX Stars list, and all correspondence should be sent to paul@cxm.world.

 

Number 5

Alison Lawrie

Head of Customer Experience at AkzoNobel

Oxford-based Alison Lawrie has enjoyed a fantastic few years, which has seen her earn her Certified Customer Experience Professional qualification, and take home one of the most sought-after honours at the UK Customer Experience Awards in 2018 – Professional of the Year.

Alison is Head of Customer Experience, Quality & Continuous Improvement at AkzoNobel Decorative Coatings – the firm behind the world’s best-known paint brands, including the iconic Dulux.

Responsible for guiding the firm along its Customer Experience transformation roadmap, Alison lends her instinct for customer centricity to AkzoNobel’s full multi-channel experience, ensuring the Voice of the Customer remains at the centre of what they do.

Her talent was solidified during a successful, lengthy stint as the firm’s Customer Service Manager, before she moved up to the current role that led to awards success. Alison’s influence also ensured recognition in another category at the 2018 UKCXAs, with AkzoNobel winning the Bronze title for Best Business Change and Transformation at that same event.

Meanwhile, before Alison and colleagues were collecting gongs at Wembley Stadium with fellow UKCXA finalists in 2018, they were enjoying well-earned awards success at the British Coatings Federation Awards 2017.

At that event, Alison helped secure a win in the Customer Service Award for Transformation of a Paints Business category, which recognises the growing importance of customer service as a differentiator in the coatings industry.

Alison says: I am hugely passionate about Customer Experience and truly believe it to be the single biggest differentiator a brand or business can have.”

Motivated and inspiring, Alison continues to place the customer at the heart of AkzoNobel’s operations, at a time when doing so is more important than ever before.

 

Number 5

Clare Muscutt

It’s been a rapid – but well-deserved rise to the top for Clare Muscutt, who two years ago turned the skills honed in senior CX leadership roles at big-name brands including Sainsbury’s towards founding and developing her own consultancy, CMXperience.

From its humble beginnings in her kitchen in Hackney, CMXperience has grown to become a trusted name in customer service transformation, while Clare’s own profile has also increased, with many recognising her as the inspirational CX Nomad, who blogged about her experiences traversing the globe as a digital nomad running a successful consultancy.

This, along with her popular social media output and keynote speaking engagements has led to Clare becoming one of the most prominent and valued millennial voices in CX today.

A winner of numerous awards over the years, including UK Customer Experience Professional of the Year, Clare is someone who believes in giving back, and in true millennial ‘pay it forward’ fashion, is helping more women follow her lead through free coaching.

That desire to help make CX a welcoming and fulfilling sector for women professionals was inspired by, among others, Maya Angelou, the hugely influential writer, poet, and civil rights activist, who Clare says taught her to “constantly bring my authentic self to everything I do”.

Clare says: “I founded my own consulting business on design thinking, and have seen it work in practice for every shape and size of organisation. Design thinking enables you to truly put people at the heart of everything!” 

2020 looks set to be another exciting year for Clare, with a new book in the pipeline, among other projects, while CMXperience goes from strength-to-strength thanks to Clare’s dedicated team and her valuable past experience at the forefront of CX strategy delivery for various organisations.

Click here for profiles of our Number 6 Professionals and Influencers.


Naeem ArifNaeem ArifJanuary 13, 2020
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6min1635

With the ongoing advances in digital media, I often see organisations claiming to be “customer-centric”, when in reality they are being channel-centric.

In the search for giving the best-in-class Customer Experience, do you understand the difference?

With a new decade upon us, it has never been more relevant to invest in a Customer First strategy. The objective is not only to attract more customers, but also to retain them for repeat purchases; we know that retaining existing customers is somewhere between five and 25 times more profitable than new customers (Amy Gallo, The value of keeping the right customers, HBR).

Many organisations are focussing on specific channels, or becoming omnichannel, which is driving their business activity and direction. It is important to remember that whilst these channels are built and designed to make their user interface easy, they may not match the objectives of your own organisation.

Online channels will heavily promote on-line transactions, whereas not every customer wants to interact that way and importantly, not every product can be sold that way. The important thing is to understand what your customer wants and not what the channel wants.

Three things I strongly recommend that you self reflect on are…

1. Get clear on what is the right mix of online and in-person experience for your situation

Having worked in retail now for more than two decades, I know that retail is not dead, despite the headlines.

Yes, it has evolved and now online plays an important part in the transaction. Look at how Argos and Next use their online presence in combination with their retail presence. Online is there to confirm availability or information about their purchase, but often a customer will complete the transaction in store.

Many of their customers are using a combination of channels and considering it a complete experience.

2. Seek out partners for mutual benefit

Consider everything outside of your organisation as a partnership opportunity – this includes the traditional and digital channels that will use.

It is true that many people, myself included, will buy things online from sites like Amazon, so instead of seeing them as a threat, consider what opportunities this can create for you. Next are taking in Costa Coffee shops, whilst Sainsbury’s and Argos are also working together.

They are seeking out partners, where each is sharing their offering and their audience for the mutual benefit of all. You can develop a referral scheme or a package scheme which will benefit your customers as well.

3. Value your customers’ time

If you think about it, every single innovation that has been successful has either been more ‘fun’ or has saved time. Netflix, for example, is not a technology disruptor – it just makes it easier for us to access movies from various devices.

Work out how you can save time for your customers; they did not come to your business to queue up to pay. They came to eat or they came to buy something.

How can you make this part of the transaction quicker and easier? If they buy online, they can select the products for their basket and pay and get on with their day.

So how can you replicate this in your business? This same thinking can be applied to the start of the process – can you propose to me what I usually buy, so I can even save time up front ordering?

This article has been about customer centricity and the message is for you to think about how can you configure your business to make your customers lives easier. As you get into this new year, and new decade, see what changes you can bring to your strategy and delivery in order to reduce the friction your customer feels.

Do this, and you will see a disproportionate increase in your numbers.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJanuary 10, 2020
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6min1327

Customer Experience Magazine is profiling the top 10 Professionals and Influencers from our Top 50 CX Stars list.

Here we look at Number 6 in each category. Christina Liciaga of HSBC, is today’s featured Professional, and our Influencer is Nicola Millard.

We welcome feedback on our CX Stars list, and all correspondence should be sent to paul@cxm.world.

 

Number 6

Christina Liciaga

Head of Customer Service at HSBC UK Retail Bank & Wealth Management

Christina Liciaga oversees customer service at one of the most recognisable, and trusted, names in banking.

Her role places her at the heart of the brand’s complaint handling strategy, which has led to industry recognition at events including the UK Complaint Handling Awards, where last year HSBC secured Gold wins in categories including Innovation in Complaint Management and Product and Service Improvement.

Christina joined HSBC in 2011, and before her current post was involved in High Net Worth business development, advising large corporates on people-first post-merger integration opportunities.

She also advised on restructuring multinational global portfolios, developing client segmentation strategies, designing and delivering digital lifestyle solutions, and building and leading the global award-winning wealth proposition, Jade by HSBC Premier.

Describing her vital current role, Christina describes how she oversees “complaints and service recovery, root cause analysis and customer insight, as well as being the customer advocate who drives initiatives and interventions to make our customers better off everyday”.

Her expertise has also been shared through a speaker role at Awards International’s Winning With Complaint Handling Conference.

An ambitious professional with a global outlook, Christina has experience in emerging and mature markets across Asia, Europe, Latin and North America.

Under her guidance, her teams embrace innovation, embed change, and deliver commercial growth, truly translating strategy into reality.

Christina says: “I’m a passionate leader who builds and transforms teams through authenticity and curiosity, whether a team of 10 or over 500.”

Outside of her HSBC role, Christina – a passionate advocate for human rights – is Executive Director and Board of Trustee Member for non-profit organisation JUSTICE, which aims for fair and efficient legal support for all who need it.

 

Number 6

Dr Nicola Millard

Dr Nicola Millard is one of the UK’s most analytical authorities on Customer Experience, and is currently a Principal Innovation Partner with BT – a brand that has enjoyed well-deserved success at events including the UK Customer Experience Awards in recent years.

A true CX pioneer, Dr Millard has been involved in co-ordinating the brand’s customer contact strategies since the early 1990s, and has held posts including CX Consultant for BT Global Services, and until last year was Head of Customer Insight & Futurology for BT’s Global Innovation Team.

Her current role at the cutting edge of knowing what customers are thinking and feeling “combines psychology with futurology to try and anticipate what might be lying around the corner for both customers and organisations”.

Dr Millard has been behind a number of innovations at the telecommunications giant, including the first application of artificial intelligence in BT’s call centres.

She was also involved with the brand’s initial experiments with home working, and helping to develop BT’s Net Easy score, to better measure Customer Experience.

Her foresight remains as valuable as ever before as BT and the wider business world continues to explore the advantages and opportunities that lie in the digital workplace of the future – whether that’s in an office, or an employee’s home.

Nicola says: “Any innovation we put in front of customers needs to make their life easier.”

A prolific writer, blogger, speaker, and familiar media face for many, Dr Millard is the first name that comes to mind for anyone seeking to understand what a customer is thinking and feeling, and what an organisation can do to appropriately adapt.

Her impressive list of achievements includes the Outstanding Industry Contribution award from the UK Contact Centre Forum.

Click here for profiles of our Number 7 Professionals and Influencers.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJanuary 9, 2020
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8min817

Customer Experience Magazine is profiling the top 10 Professionals and Influencers from our Top 50 CX Stars list.

Here we look at Number 7 in each category. Iain O’Connor of Aegon UK, is today’s featured Professional, and our Influencer is Nick Meinertzhagen.

We welcome feedback on our CX Stars list, and all correspondence should be sent to paul@cxm.world.

 

Number 7

Iain O’Connor

Senior Manager of Customer Experience & Insight at Aegon UK

CX culture is now long-established in the UK’s insurance industry, and among the professionals making a significant impact on behalf of customers is Edinburgh-based Iain O’Connor.

Since 2014, Iain has helmed CX duties at Aegon UK, following a 10 year-plus career at Royal Bank of Scotland, where he held posts including Customer Experience Manager and Marketing Manager – Customer Experience Insight.

Since joining Aegon, Iain has pushed NPS scores significantly northward, and most notably has established a remarkable feedback system that has transformed how the firm utilises valuable customer insight.

Known as Aegon Cares, and borne of the firm’s in-house CX Lab, the closed-loop feedback system allows the brand to establish and ultimately solve customer concerns sooner, which leads to higher NPS ratings. The inspiring initiative has led to recognition in the UK and beyond, including being shortlisted for a My Customer Award last year, and of course, his inclusion in the Top 50 CX Stars list.

“Of everything we have achieved at Aegon, the success of Aegon Cares is hard to beat,” he explained.

We have introduced Aegon Cares across all operational teams and typically achieve NPS swing of +100 points when comparing before and after an Aegon Cares intervention. As well as an effective closed loop feedback tool, Aegon Cares has expanded onto social media and customer feedback from Aegon Cares interactions there is also exceptional.”

Iain says: “To drive loyalty in a competitive environment is difficult and so it’s important to understand what the customer needs almost before they do, and to help them achieve an outcome above and beyond their expectations.”

So who inspires Iain the most as he continues to create exceptional change in insurance?

“It may sound corny but my team and colleagues across Aegon are 100 percent my biggest inspiration,” he tells us.

“Rarely a day goes by when I don’t learn something new and I think this type of environment and culture is crucial to delivering for our customers.”

 

Number 7

Nick Meinertzhagen

The founder of Experiential Consulting, Nick Meinertzhagen knows exactly what it takes to develop a successful business model from the ground up.

It doesn’t get more grassroots than establishing your very own firm from a spare bedroom armed with nothing more than a computer, a phone, and some old-fashioned dedication, and that’s exactly what Horsham-based Nick did in 2004 when he created what would become one of the UK’s largest mystery shopping businesses, 360 Perspectives.

Nick went on to sell the brand to Yomdel in 2018, becoming their CX Director before moving on to found his boutique CX consultancy.

Speaking of his spectacular success during those years, the inspiring CCXP told us: “It was amazing that some of the most exciting and dynamic brands in the UK chose to work with my company, and over a 14-year period we managed a database of over 30,000 mystery shoppers and measured over a million customer touchpoints.

Named a runner-up and ‘one to watch’ in the 2017 Sussex Business Awards’ Entrepreneur of the Year category, Nick has no plans to rest on his laurels, and alongside working with clients at Experiential Consulting, he is busy developing a new agency focusing on “advanced experiential usability and digital ethnography”.

His influence is also expanding through his contribution alongside 21 other global CX voices to a recently published Customer Experience best practise book, while plans are underway to adapt his 2019 MBA dissertation on the customer service strategies of small estate enterprises in SE England into a conference research paper.

Nick says:A dedicated customer centric CX vision needs to be carefully planned, enabled, shared and lived by all employees/partners, therefore creating a common customer focussed purpose that aligns towards the organisation’s strategic intent.”

Among his inspirations is global CX guru Colin Shaw, and his own family, of whom he told us: “I hope that I can also be a source of inspiration for them.”

Click here for profiles of our Number 8 Professionals and Influencers.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJanuary 8, 2020
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6min1401

Customer Experience Magazine is profiling the top 10 Professionals and Influencers from our Top 50 CX Stars list.

Here we look at Number 8 in each category. Sharif-Paul Anton, of Samsung Electronics is today’s featured Professional, and our Influencer is Michelle Ansell of Douglas Jackson .

We welcome feedback on our CX Stars list, and all correspondence should be sent to paul@cxm.world.

 

Number 8

Sharif-Paul Anton

General Manager Customer Support at Samsung Electronics

With over 20 years of experience in customer support and contact centre roles in sectors including retail, travel and gaming, Sharif-Paul Anton is a CX Star with an eye for recognising talent, which has aided him in his roles over the years on awards judging panels.

The Watford-based professional is no stranger to awards success of his own, with his contact centre excellence in particular bringing himself and colleagues to victory and finalist positions in numerous industry honours events over the last 12 years.

Following success in senior global outsourcing roles, Sharif-Paul joined Samsung in 2013, where his skill for client-side relations could shine in his initial post as UK and Ireland Contact Centre Manager. He then moved to the position of Senior Manager, Customer Support, before accepting promotion to his current post last year.

A Six Sigma Green Belt, Sharif-Paul told CXM that his biggest inspirations to date in his career are those he works alongside and under over the years, displaying a commitment to teamwork and trust within the workplace, to the ultimate benefit of the customer.

“All have taken chances on me and given me opportunities which I will always be humble and extremely appreciative for,” he explained.

Sharif-Paul appreciates honesty, and is a staunch believer in keeping promises to customers.

Sharif-Paul says: “It is critical to treat each and every customer as an individual and to put yourself in their shoes.”

His instinct for customer care and promotion of personalisation is at the very heart of his CX strategy , and Samsung consumers are in safe hands as the ever-popular brand moves into an exciting new decade of electronics innovation.

 

Number 8

Michelle Ansell

As many working in the UK’s recruitment field will tell you, Michelle Ansell is one of the most highly regarded professionals there is, and her work in the last 15 years has brought the Customer Experience and contact centre sectors to a whole new level with her appointments for numerous firms.

That same skill in identifying top talent for her clients in her work at Douglas Jackson has been successfully transferred to awards judging roles, including the National Awards for Quality Planning and Insight and the UK Customer Experience Awards.

A true influencer, Michelle continues to share her knowledge and expertise in her prolific writing, contributing to blogs and online publications and providing insight and practical tips on everything from contact centre management to finding and retaining the very best employees.

Need advice on transferring customer ‘success’ to Customer Experience? Michelle’s got it covered. Want to know how the best questions to ask a potential customer service team leader in a job interview? You can bet Michelle has blogged on it.

That love of skill sharing was inspired by figures including recruitment legend Sir Alec Reed, who she met numerous times earlier in her career, and whose desire to educate others saw him found his own business school.

Michelle says: “Often, the fundamentals of Customer Experience can be missed or even forgotten. Money gets spent on new tools or technology, but your most powerful resource is your people.”

As a Managing Partner at Douglas Jackson, Staffordshire-based Michelle has assisted brands ranging from global players to disruptors and start-ups in their quest to fill vital roles and create supportive environments for their customers, and 2020 looks set to be another busy and highly successful year for her.

Click here for profiles of our Number 9 Professionals and Influencers.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJanuary 7, 2020
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6min1230

Customer Experience Magazine is profiling the top 10 Professionals and Influencers from our Top 50 CX Stars list.

Here we look at Number 9 in each category. CCXP Marion Ellis, of BlueBox Partners and the Women in Surveying Network, is today’s featured Professional, and our Influencer is globally-renowned consultant and author Nick Hague .

We welcome feedback on our CX Stars list, and all correspondence should be sent to paul@cxm.world.

 

Number 9

Marion Ellis

Managing Director at at BlueBox Partners

Marion Ellis is the first name that will come to mind for most when considering Customer Experience in the world of property surveying.

It was while working for a large surveying firm undertaking valuations and surveys that her understanding of the importance of CX in the field was cemented, and Milton Keynes-based Marion has since went on to achieve her CCXP accreditation and bring her instinct for customer centricity to her own firm, BlueBox Partners, an alliance of experienced valuers and surveyors committed to supporting the professional development, and personal well-being of other valuers and surveyors.

Marion also sits on the Governing Council of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, and is the founder of the Women in Surveying Network, which aims to help surveyors as they navigate and become established in the field.

Events including the online Sisterhood Summit have provided valuable female perspectives on the industry, and the influence of Women in Surveying continues to grow thanks to Marion’s dedication to providing opportunities and a platform for peers.

Among her inspirations is fellow Top 50 CX Star and the UK’s top CX consultant, Ian Golding, whose mentorship she has used to help her inspire and guide others beginning their journey in Customer Experience.

Marion says: “Kindness – just allowing ourselves to use the word in business is significant. You can still have tough contracts, robust processes, and make difficult commercial decisions, and yet still be kind.”

Meanwhile, Marion is a firm advocate of keeping kindness at the centre of business strategy – a refreshing take in corners of today’s business world, where cutthroat tactics are often lauded.

A professional through-and-through, Marion’s ambition knows no bounds, and is one to watch for further success in 2020.

 

Number 9

Nick Hague

A name likely familiar to anyone even with a passing knowledge of customer centricity, Nick Hague is an original founder of market research experts B2B International and over the last two decades has assisted over 500 business-to-business firms measure and improve the experience they deliver to clients and customers.

Many CXM readers will no doubt have a copy of his bestselling book B2B Customer Experience to hand, and if you don’t – but run a B2B business – then do yourself a favour and make the purchase.

The book – which was shortlisted in the 2019 Business Book Awards – was co-authored by Nick’s father Paul Hague, himself a co-founder of B2B International and one of the UK’s leading authorities on the art of market research and helping companies achieve their strategic goals.

Nick cites Paul as his biggest inspiration in business and the world of Customer Experience, and describing the journey they have taken together, he told us: “We built B2B International with just three of us in Manchester in 1998, and now we employ over 120 staff across 10 offices around the world. The secret sauce to doing this has been through building an internal culture and engaged workforce that understands that the customer is king. You need to practice what you preach!”

Nick says: “The one essential component to delivering excellent Customer Experience is to make your company easy to do business with. This is always a company-wide challenge.

Like father-like son, Nick shows that a love of helping businesses achieve their full potential for customers is something that runs in the family. A truly global CX Star, and one of the first names you should consider if a rise in NPS scores is on your agenda for 2020.

Click here for profiles of our Number 10 Professionals and Influencers.


Olga PotaptsevaOlga PotaptsevaJanuary 7, 2020
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6min2084

When Satya Nadella took over Microsoft, he didn’t begin with a focus on the competition or restructured product portfolio; rather he set out to rebuild the company’s culture starting with redefining the mission of the company.

He engaged all its employees to recommend the new mission for the company, and with its new north star, the firm’s stocks prices tripled since he became CEO. This just illustrates the importance of employee engagement, with the objective to inspire the company to serve its customers in deeper, meaningful, and more purposeful ways.

To drive employee engagement with the Customer Experience agenda, companies should persistently focus on these four broad categories…

Leadership

Establish a CX vision and ‘walk the talk’: A CX vision creates clarity around a company’s intended experience and helps all employees understand how best they can contribute to provide better customer experiences. Alan G Lafley, the man who transformed Procter & Gamble, would make it a point to visit the retail stores around the world and observe the shopping behaviour of the customers, thereby exhibiting the behaviours for his leadership to follow.

The top leadership needs to be trained and inspired in driving CX across the organisation by taking tangible steps to remove blockers like long approvals hierarchy, short-term profit chasing, and toxic employee behaviours.

Ways of working

Cross functional collaboration: Fortune 500 companies are improving collaboration through internal hackathons that involve having people from different functions problem solving together in groups. IBM holds internal hackathons called Cognitive Build, where employees from across the world participate in the competition by forming teams of different people from different countries and different functions, aligning their perspective on CX and sharing customer knowledge.

Agile transformation & design thinking: Methodologies are being used to continually adapt to changing customer preferences, as it allows you to quickly test your hypothesis with customers and co-create solutions with them.

Developing emotional intelligence: This is the ability to understand how customers feel and take this into account when solving business issues at any level. It is only recently that emotional intelligence has become a topic of significant importance, and the one that gives a real competitive advantage in the current environment. 

Customer immersion

Customer immersion programs: These help employees empathise and walk in the customer’s shoes. At Airbnb, every new employee goes on a trip and documents the entire customer journey, which will then be presented and shared with the entire company as insights, pain points, challenges, and opportunities.

Customer immersion is not limited to journey mapping, and involves continuous learning about customers’ needs and wants, as well as understanding your ability to meet them. Each employee in different parts of the organisation should be able to relate to how his role and department create value to the company’s customers.

Employee listening and involvement

CX governance: Listen to customer feedback though the employees, and establish an empowerment and escalation system whereby no customer problem goes unnoticed. In my work at a UK insurance company, I developed an employee feedback system for customer issues and within weeks we started receiving up to 4000 suggestions a month.

Sixty percent were addressed within the same month by addressing operational errors quickly, fixing broken processes, and preventing complaints resulting in cost savings. It also delivered continuous improvement in customer satisfaction with the contact centre (+5% over the course of the year).

Employee experience: Companies like Coca Cola and SCB Bank are using design thinking and employee journey mapping to transform their employee experience globally, focusing on employees’ daily journeys. Shifting the organisational focus from process to people creates more engaged and loyal employees able to deliver your CX strategy.

Recognition and reward system: This should encourage the behaviours creating value to customers. If courtesy and speed of service are of paramount importance to your customers, like it is to Hertz’s, these should be targeted and rewarded based on the customer feedback.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJanuary 6, 2020
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8min1654

As last year drew to a close, Customer Experience Magazine presented our list of our Top 50 CX Stars, in which we ranked our selection of the UK’s top 25 CX Influencers – those consultants, coaches, authors, and guiding lights who inspire customer centricity – and our top 25 CX Professionals.

Having established a shortlist of candidates for both lists, we began ranking our final order, from number 25 to number one, primarily based on publicly available information, and our own considered, professional judgement.

For our CX Professionals, we looked into backgrounds and achievements including industry impact, awards success, and their influence both within and outside of their respective organisations – influence earned through activity including published written articles.

Our CX Influencers were ranked on the scale of said influence. Our methodology saw us compare published books, articles, social media activity – even television appearances, among other visible and influential pursuits within the UK CX realm.

We presented our final list as Christmas arrived, and here CXM begins a series of profiles of our Top 10 CX Stars in both Professional and Influencer categories.

We welcome feedback on our CX Stars list, and all correspondence should be sent to paul@cxm.world.

 

 

Number 10

Phil Durand

Director of Customer Experience Management at Confirmit

Software firm Confirmit is now the premier name in feedback analysis, and at the helm of UK CX within the operation is Phil Durand, a professional with over two decades of experience in agency and client-side roles.

His wealth of knowledge has led to his key role in Confirmit’s CX consulting team, overseeing the design and implementation of cutting-edge programs for a wide range of B2C and B2B organisations.

Phil is a firm advocate of designing CX with the end-goal in focus from the beginning, and one of his inspirations is the late Apple magnate Steve Jobs, who famously said: “You’ve got to start with the Customer Experience and work back toward the technology – not the other way around.”

Words to live by, professionally, and Phil does just that.

In creating this list, we learned of how one of his clients, who had unfortunately suffered a challenging history of customer engagement, has since adopted a “what would Phil have said?” attitude to solving problems.

An attitude that will certainly pay off!

Although one of our CX Professionals, Phil is an influencer in his own right, sharing his knowledge in articles for a range of publications. Customer Experience Magazine is both fortunate and proud to have provided a platform for his writing in recent years, while he is also increasingly in demand for his judging skills and eye for expertise at events including the UK Customer Experience Awards.

Phil says: “The goal for anyone aiming to deliver a great Customer Experience should categorically be to design the programme with the end in mind. It’s about creating an experience that meets the needs of your customers first and foremost.”

In terms of his own awards success, last year saw Phil nominated for the CXPA’s CX Impact Awards, and he will no doubt continue to make waves in 2020 as Confirmit and its tech solutions grow in scale and scope.

 

 

Number 10

Claire Boscq-Scott

Businesses throughout the UK and beyond will know Jersey-based Claire Boscq-Scott as the Busy Queen Bee of Customer Experience, whose energy, enthusiasm, and sheer love of seeing a business perform to its best of its abilities is evident in her videos, writing, and speaking engagements.

CXPA Claire’s passion for customer-centricity is fed through her membership of the Mystery Shopper Providers Association and the Encouraging Women into Franchising body.

Awards under her belt include 2014’s Director of the Year award from the Jersey branch of the Institute of Directors, and she has also received nominations for plaudits including the Forward Ladies Women in Business Awards.

Claire’s instinctive CX skills are founded in her former roles in the hospitality sector, where as a hotelier she worked at the coalface of customer centricity. There are few sectors more suited to honing Customer Experience nous, and Claire is committed to sharing those skills with a whole new generation of enthusiastic entrepreneurs.

Her two books: Thrive With the Hive and Thriving By Caring are both highly recommended reads, featuring simple and practical steps that can help bring immediate positive results to your business.

Meanwhile, as far as branching out goes, you won’t see many CX gurus with their own perfume brand! But Claire’s instinctive passion for personalisation saw an idea to add scent to business cards grow into her very own perfume, EAU d’abelle.

That’s what we call a nose for branding innovation!

Claire says: “The Queen Bee is at the centre of her community, without her the hive wouldn’t exist – she cares for her bees and their environment so they can deliver that delicious honey.”

Whether she is creating buzz in the UK, her native France, or in speaking engagements and workshops all across the globe, Queen Bee Claire remains one of the industry’s hardest working influencers, and we can’t wait to see what 2020 has in store for her.

 

 

 

 


Joel MontanielJoel MontanielJanuary 2, 2020
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10min2037

Over the past few years, personalisation has emerged as one of the most dominant and prolonged trends in marketing, favoured by both big brands and small brands alike.

In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find a marketing team that doesn’t employ some kind of data-led personalisation. One of the reasons personalisation tactics have become so commonplace is because they provide impressive ROI and enable brands to tailor their service or offering to their customers, driving loyalty and increased spend.

But while personalisation is the bread and butter of every online marketer and retailer, the hospitality industry has been slower to adopt this valuable practice – and operators are losing out on the bottom-line benefits personalisation can bring about. To stand out from the crowd, hospitality venues need to learn from marketers and embrace personalisation across all areas of their business.

Perfecting guest experiences

The entire online experience is now personalised for each individual user.

Whenever someone logs onto a website they’ve visited before, marketing algorithms kick into action and begin leveraging an array of data points – such as purchase and browser history, psychographics, and social activity – to tailor every element of the page to their particular likes and dislikes.

Online retailers like Amazon are particularly adept at this; consumers are shown the most relevant products at the times they’re most likely to buy. Provided with so many signposts directing them to purchase, it’s no wonder that 86 percent of consumers say personalisation plays a role in their purchasing decisions.

Yet despite the fact that many of these same opportunities to personalise service and improve Customer Experience exist for hospitality operators, few have deployed the technology necessary to enable personalisation at scale.

One of the big barriers to entry for restaurants is the issue of data capture and storage. Currently, many operators rely on seasoned service staff using antiquated systems to capture notes and store guest data – which merely function as digital notebooks.

But these low-tech solutions are no longer viable for a business in 2020. What if staff turnover or simple human error lead to a valued, long-term customer not receiving the highly personalised experience they are accustomed to?

In this instance, hospitality operators need to begin leveraging the same personalisation tactics that are used online for offline, in-service experiences. For instance, online marketers typically use a platform that helps them capture, store, and leverage user data.

Likewise, data-driven operations, marketing and guest engagement hospitality platforms such as SevenRooms empower service staff to log, database, and then use guest data to personalise diners’ experiences on the fly.

Much like online marketers tailoring every element of a website to individual users, restaurants that use hospitality platforms with a strong focus on helping capture and activate guest data can ensure guests are always greeted by their first name, showed to their preferred table, and offered their favourite drinks – regardless of who waits on them.

By perfecting guest experiences in this way, restaurants can deliver the sort of memorable service that drives repeat business. And, given that regulars can account for up to 40 percent of a restaurants’ total revenue, leveraging personalisation tactics to boost guest loyalty should be a top concern for every hospitality venue.

Personalising menu recommendations

With this in mind, the need for restaurants to offer as personalised an experience as possible is clear. One area of the restaurant experience in particular that hospitality operators should look to personalise is their menus and menu recommendations.

For diners, especially those with special dietary requirements or preferences such as allergies and vegetarianism, there’s nothing more frustrating than having to wade through pages of irrelevant menu choices to find a dish to order. But just as online retailers already leverage customer data to only display products that consumers will be interested in, hospitality venues, too, can make use of guest data to tailor menu recommendations to particular diners.

Me-nu: Customer data can be used to personalise menus for regular customers

For example, when a returning guest arrives at the restaurant to eat, service staff can refer to their guest profile on their hospitality platform and check for any dietary requirements. If the guest is marked down as being vegetarian, staff can provide them with their vegetarian menu or point out vegetarian options on the standard menu.

Improving service standards by tailoring menu recommendations like this can help hospitality operators improve their guests’ overall dining experience.

Opportunities for menu personalisation extend beyond the in-service experience and into post-service email marketing, too. By tracking a guest’s order history, operators can gain an understanding of the types of dishes guests enjoy eating – and those they’re likely interested in hearing more about.

For instance, every time a guest visits the restaurant, they always order a pasta dish. If this restaurant then introduces a new pasta dish to their menu, operators can leverage the order history data and deliver a marketing email that invites these guests to try the new dish. This personalisation tactic can not only directly drive sales, but also demonstrate the kind of personalised understanding of guests that will boost customer loyalty.

Tailoring offers for special events

How many times in the week leading up to a special occasion, like a birthday, have you received an email from a brand inviting you to enjoy 10 percent off your next purchase?

Probably every year. How many times have you actually used this offer? Probably very few.

Now, how many times have you celebrated a special occasion with a meal out? Again, probably every year. But despite special occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries presenting hospitality venues with a unique opportunity to boost revenue and build brand loyalty, operators have been slower to adopt the personalisation-led tactics used by marketers that are needed to make the most out of these opportunities.

Rather than waiting for guests to come to them on special occasions, operators should make use of guest data to invite them to their venues in the weeks prior to big events. For example, say a guest has an anniversary coming up in a couple of weeks.

Restaurants can leverage this information by emailing them about an offer for a complimentary bottle of champagne upon arrival as an incentive for them to book. In this way, hospitality operators can learn from marketers and embrace personalisation-led tactics to drive repeat business.

Whilst online marketers have long used personalisation to improve consumer experiences, build customer loyalty, and ultimately boost profits, hospitality venues have been comparatively slower at tailoring their offerings to individual diners.

But despite industry reticence, there are many untapped opportunities for hospitality venues willing to invest in operations platforms and begin leveraging guest data to personalise and perfect guests’ experiences.


Tracy RyanTracy RyanDecember 23, 2019
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8min1839

Those who have been watching Channel 4’s gameshow The Circle will know that the programme gives players the opportunity to ‘catfish’ each other; in other words, pretend to be someone else.

Doing so is easy because players’ interactions always take a text-based form. This means the true sentiment behind a message can often be manipulated or warped and as a result, misunderstood by the recipient.

In recent years, catfishing – luring someone with a fake persona online – has increased dramatically. It is usually associated with social media romance scams or dating sites. But as more and more businesses are opting to communicate with customers via the likes of chatbots and live online chat – could we see similar ploys enter the commercial world?

Cases of misunderstanding are already popping up, with a Finnish insurance company’s chatbot referring to a customer’s new born baby as an “accident”, and journalist Christopher Elliot claiming that Skyscanner’s chatbot misunderstood his requests.

Alongside a decrease in phone use by businesses, we now use our home phones half as much as we did in 2012. Messaging data demand has risen significantly during the same period. But voiceless interactions can be, and often are, void of emotion.

This has given rise to an increase in emoji use for personal interactions in order to more easily communicate sentiment. In fact, the use of emojis has been found to increase relationship success.

But for more formal communication between a business and its customers, how can interlocutors be wholly certain of the sentiment of the messages they are sending and receiving via the likes of chatbots and emails? And because of an increasing use of voiceless communication, could brands be opening themselves up to the risk of inadvertently ‘sentiment catfishing’ their customers? 

For example a brand misunderstanding that a customer is angry and responding inappropriately – or showing a lack of empathy – as was the case with the Finnish insurance firm.

Why voice should still be the front-runner

Voice is one of the best ways to build relationships with individuals and customers and should be thought of by businesses as second only to in-person meetings. It’s easy to engage and respond when we can hear and interpret tone of voice and true sentiment, which simply isn’t possible when interacting with machines that lack the ‘human touch’.

Voice communication in which emotion can be clearly communicated is therefore key for reducing the chance of misunderstandings.

A real-life agent is also equipped with the innate ability to calm someone when they have a problem. We’ve all experienced negative feelings, often anger, when struggling to resolve an issue. And the chances of this happening are only increased when interacting with a chatbot that doesn’t understand you or your feelings or isn’t able to help with your issue.

And it seems that the benefits of picking up the phone aren’t lost on us, with 55 percent of customers still valuing a human interaction when calling.

Why aren’t we picking up the phone?

A recent study by Sussex Innovation Centre found that, when calling customer service agents, 95 percent of customers felt that it took too long to get through to an agent, with 31 percent of callers stating they would hang up within one minute of waiting on hold. As a result, consumers are increasingly turning to other forms of communication which provide an easier and speedier option for resolving their enquiry or issue.

So, as businesses embark on, and continue, their digital transformation journeys, a vital piece of the puzzle is improving their phone offering. It might seem ironic, but in today’s digital age, poor customer service over the phone is often the result of a lack of new technology to work alongside agents and aid them in providing improved customer experiences.

A digital helping hand

To avoid customers opting for online or chatbot-based communication (and consequently risk misunderstandings through lack of sentiment), brands need to up their game when it comes to their phone experience offering.

Employing a telephony platform is key in doing so, offering a whole host of benefits. For example, providing customer service agents with a 360-degree view into all of a customers’ previous interactions with the brand, decreasing the time to resolution and enabling agents to spend more time building personalised relationships with their customers. Telephony platforms can also give customers the option to hang up whilst keeping their place in the queue – dramatically reducing the amount of time they spend listening to that, quite frankly, awful hold music.

With customer service experiences being a key friction point in a customer’s journey, it is vital that the process is handled in the best way possible. Brands that focus on bringing their telephony offering into the future with a cloud-based telephony platform will therefore stay one-step ahead of competitors when it comes to building relationships with the customers and maintaining loyalty to the brand as a result.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthDecember 20, 2019
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43min9363

We are in the midst of an age in which instant information is creating ever more savvy consumers.

As we enter a new decade, customers are ever more influenced by their experiences of a brand when considering a purchase. The role of Customer Experience as a profession, therefore, is so much more important than it has ever been before.

Meanwhile, for businesses to really get to know how customers behave, think, and feel, there are a growing number of CX influencers who continue to coach, guide, and inspire both company executives and the next generation of professionals to return customer centricity to the heart of their operations.

In celebration of these CX Stars operating here in the UK, Customer Experience Magazine presents a list of our Top 25 CX Influencers and Top 25 CX Professionals of 2019.

These are the people making a significant impact in Customer Experience, and who deserve to be celebrated. They will be the ones to watch as we enter 2020.

Some of our stars you will know, and others you certainly will know soon, as they continue on their career paths. Our researchers have ranked these CX Stars based on criteria including their achievements, industry activity and their influence within the UK CX sphere.

In the New Year, we will profile our Top 10 Influencers and Top 10 Professionals in more detail, offering you further insight into the amazing work they do. As CX matures from a buzzword to a vital professional realm, we are proud to be able to acknowledge those who are pioneering and making a difference. We can’t wait to see how these inspirational CX leaders grow, and look forward to discovering who will emerge to join them as CX Stars in 2020!

Directly below is our Top 25 CX Professionals list.

Scroll down further or click here to jump directly to our Top 25 CX Influencers

25

 

Name: DeAnna Avis

Role: National Customer Experience Manager at Solus ARC

Solus Accident and Repair Centre, owned by Aviva, has enjoyed a phenomenal year capped by taking the Overall Winner title at the 2019 UK Customer Experience Awards in October. Central to that success is DeAnna Avis, the firm’s National Customer Experience Manager, whose holistic approach to CX includes a focus on customer insight and employee engagement.

 

 


24

 

Name: Salman Sharif

Role: Senior Advisor, EMEA at Forrester

A former UK Customer Experience Awards judge, Salman works with senior CX leaders from FTSE 500 companies across the EMEA region.

He offers direction on how to help their company become more customer-centric by leveraging a combination of his own experience, Forrester’s research and analysis, and unrivalled peer insight.

 

 

 


23

 

Name: Hannah Louise Cox

Role: Executive Search Consultant at Douglas Jackson

Hannah identifies talent within the Customer Experience space to engage with for specialist roles, in order to shape business strategies and transform cultures. A passionate blogger and industry awards judge, Hannah earned the Outstanding Contribution to Judging gong at the 2019 UK Digital Experience Awards.

 

 

 


22

 

Name: Matt Currall

Role: Client Portfolio Director at Capita

An industry acclaimed CX leader, Matt is responsible for all aspects of customer delivery across a varied portfolio of Capita partnerships, including Tesco Mobile, The National Trust, and Vauxhall Finance. 

Matt is best known for his award-winning work on the use of psychological motivation theory to stimulate emotional commitment in employees to drive customer excellence.

 

 


21

 

Name: Stuart Bishop

Role: Director of Service at Cheshire Datasystems Ltd

A Companion Member of the Institute of Customer Service, Stuart specialises in transforming teams and creating a focus on the customer.

At leading UK tech company Cheshire Datasystems, he is exploring the potential of tech including AI and machine learning, and how to combine it with a human element for superior CX.

 

 

 


 

20

 

Name: Emma Donnelly

Role: Former Head of Customer Relations at CrossCountry Trains

Emma is an all-rounder, whose leadership skills ensured CX success for one of the UK’s best-known rail franchises.

In 2018, she enjoyed a prize year, being named Inspirational Leader of the Year at the UK Business Awards, Leader of the Year at the UK Complaints Handling Awards, and Professional Woman of the Year at the UK Customer Experience Awards.

 

 


19

 

Name: Sabrina Gross

Role: Customer Success Director at Vizolution

With global experience and a passion for customer centricity, Sabrina leads a team which engages with customers from pre-sale stages and right the way through the entire journey.

This ensures they can maximise the full value of the tech solutions offered by Swansea-based Vizolution.

 

 


18

 

Name: James Hardwick

Role: Industry Director for Gaming at Oracle CX

James is a recognised thought leader and advisor for CX in the Gaming and Gambling industry.

With a decade’s experience under his belt working with both start-ups and long-established brands, James has also been recognised for his achievements through various awards.

 

 

 


17

 

Name: Sarah Sargent

Role: Director of Customer Experience at Radian Group

Sarah Sargent became the first Certified Customer Experience Professional in Yorkshire in 2018, and has carved a successful career in both customer service and CX leadership across Financial Services and Telcos.

She is currently reinvigorating CX in social housing at Radian Group.

 

 

 

 


16

 

Name: Nick Lygo-Baker

Role: Founding Director at Paradigm CX

Having founded Paradigm CX in 2018, Nick Lygo-Baker’s passion for delivering CX strategies for organisations was seeded in Mystery Shopping and Customer Satisfaction research. Previously, Nick lead CX research teams in the UK and EMEA working with a wide range of SaaS technologies. As a CCXP and Certified member of the MRS Nick has built some of the most innovative customer measurement programmes across HoRECA, Retail, Telco and Financial Services.

 


15

 

Name: Chloe Woolger

Role: Commercial Director CX at Kantar

Chloe Woolger joined Kantar this year and is developing its CX strategy for clients including Bupa, Virgin Atlantic, and Nationwide.

A solid background in marketing has placed her in pole position to help build relationships that will ultimately benefit customers.

 

 

 


14

 

Name: Claire Sporton

Role: Senior Vice President, Customer Experience Innovation at Confirmit

Claire Sporton lives and breathes CX, and began her Confirmit career in 2011 before being appointed to her current crucial role in 2018 – a year that saw her land a CX Impact Award, given by the CXPA to “recognise individuals that exemplify excellent customer experience and make a profound impact on their organisation and its customers”.

 

 

 


13

 

Name: Jamie Thorpe

Role: Head of Experience Management at Ipsos MORI CX

With over 20 years behind him as a foundation for his expertise, Jamie Thorpe has long recognised the need for brands to be connected with customers, and the customers’ realisation of their own value.

Before bringing his vision to Ipsos MORI, Jamie worked with Kantar’s Customer Experience division, holding roles including CX Deputy Managing Director.

 

 

 


12

 

Name: Tiffany Carpenter

Role: UKI Head of Customer Intelligence Solutions at SAS UK

Tiffany has spent over 20 years helping organisations transform CX across their sales, service, and marketing operations.

In her current role at SAS, she guides firms in the application of advanced analytics and artificial intelligence to harness customer insights and deliver relevant one-to-one experiences.

 

 

 


11

 

Name: Laura Bowyer

Role: Head of Customer Excellence, UK and Ireland at KFC

CCXP Laura has transformed customer service teams for family favourite brands KFC and PizzaExpress, through the introduction of  VOC programmes and by creating effective training programmes for front-line teams.

Laura is also a former Secretary of the Inter Company Consumer Affairs Association.

 

 

10

 

Name: Phil Durand

Role: Director of Customer Experience Management at Confirmit

Confirmit has positioned itself firmly at the forefront of Voice of the Customer solutions, and Philip Durand’s expertise is ensuring they will stay there.

An advocate for customer insight and ‘keeping it simple’ for consumers, Philip recently judged at the UK Customer Experience Awards.

 

 


9

 

Name: Marion Ellis

Role: MD of BlueBox Partners

Marion Ellis began her CX career at Countrywide Surveying Services, which carried out mortgage valuations and home surveys.

Now a CCXP, Marion is creating an alliance of experienced residential valuers and surveyors committed to supporting the professional development of other valuers and surveyors through the Surveyor Hub online community.

 


8

 

Name: Sharif-Paul Anton

Role: General Manager Customer Support at Samsung Electronics

Sharif-Paul has 20 years of experience in CX, contact centres, and outsourcing.

He has worked with a number of leading brands, onshore and offshore, across numerous verticals including Banking, Consumer Electronics, Travel/Tourism, Gaming, and Retail.

 

 

 


7

 

Name: Iain O’Connor

Role: Senior Manager of Customer Experience & Insight at Aegon UK

Iain O’Connor is responsible for implementing a CX culture at Edinburgh insurance, pensions, and investment firm Aegon UK.

His work has included the development of in-house CX Labs, a CX Academy, and the creation of closed loop feedback and social media channel Aegon Cares.

 

 

 


6

 

Name: Christina Liciaga

Role: Head of Customer Service at HSBC UK

Christina has led HSBC’s customer service team since 2017, and oversees complaints and service recovery, root cause analysis, and customer insight.

She prides herself on being “the customer advocate who drives initiatives and interventions to make our customers better off everyday”.

 

 

 


5

 

Name: Alison Lawrie

Role: Head of Customer Experience, Quality & Continuous Improvememt at AkzoNobel

Alison Lawrie is  responsible for implementing the CX Strategy and Transformation Programme at AkzoNobel, the firm behind Dulux Paint.

Her dedication was recognised at national level in 2018 when she was named Professional of the Year at the UK Customer Experience Awards.

 

 


4

 

Name: Andrew McGuigan

Role: Director of Worldwide Customer Service Strategy at Microsoft

Before taking up his hugely influential role at Microsoft in 2017, Andrew spent four years at Vodafone, where he headed the UK Customer Services division before taking the role of Head of Consumer Customer Care.

At Microsoft, Andrew is leading the charge in placing the customer at the very centre of one of the planet’s most recognisable brands.

 

 


3

 

Name: Jo Mayes

Role: Director of Customer Operations at Business Stream

A former Head of CX at Standard Life, Jo Mayes is now making transformational changes in the water retail sector with Business Stream, and was named 2019’s CX Professional of the Year at the UK Customer Experience Awards.

Under her leadership, Business Stream has developed its ambitious Customer First Strategy, which has helped to transform its CX offering.

 

 

 


2

 

Name: Nick Macfarlane

Role: Head of Customer Experience at Sky

Currently Head of CX for Sky in Spain, Nick has a long and storied career in Customer Experience, including several years delivering world class digital customer service solutions for Sky’s International OTT customers.

Nick has also judged at the UK Customer Experience Awards, while Sky has also reached the finals of the event – most recently in 2019 when the brand was shortlisted in categories including Customers at the Heart of Everything.

 


1

 

Name: Amanda Riches

Role: Director of Professional Services – CX Consulting at Medallia

Topping our Professionals list is CX expert and Net Promoter certified associate Amanda Riches, who has enabled leading multi-sector organisations to drive customer-centric change delivering measurable business results over the last two decades. 

Previously Head of Quality & Guest Insight at Whitbread, Amanda established the successful service formula that sits behind Premier Inn, the award-winning leading hotel chain, before setting up Enrich Customer Consultancy in 2008. Now Director of Professional Services at Medallia, she continues to help large organisations operationalise the voice of their customers, employees, and partners, engaging senior and frontline teams to drive action on the things that matter most.

 

25

 

Name: Ben Philips

Role: Global Head of Customer Experience at Neilsen

Ben Philips is, in his own words, living his “dream role”, and travels around the world working to ensure clients are becoming fully customer-centric.

A passionate speaker, Ben also spreads his CX knowledge through his writing, including contributing to a new book on CX best practise alongside 21 other global influencers.

 

 


24

 

Name: Paul Weald

Role: Director of Multichannel Customer Experience Ltd

Paul is known by peers as the Contact Centre Innovator, and is the founder and Director of his consultancy firm Multichannel Customer Experience Ltd.

An inspirational speaker and prolific writer, Paul has also judged at numerous industry awards events over the years.

 

 


23

 

Name: Chris Little

Role: Founder of BeyondCuriosity

Having successfully established BeyondCuriosity, a specialist insight and strategy consultancy for innovation, CX and growth, Chris Little has championed customer thinking for over 30 years, starting with the customer facing revolution at Barclays in the 1980s. He has been actively involved in CX measurement and strategies since.

 


22

 

Name: Olga Potaptseva

Role: Founder of the European Customer Consultancy

CX mentor Olga has offered expert consulting around the world, and reaches a wide audience through motivational speaking roles.

Making use of her customer-centric employee engagement framework, she leads companies in multiple industries to transform their processes, policies, and products through her European Customer Consultancy. Olga was Chair of Judges at the 2019 UK Customer Experience Awards.

 

 


21

 

 

Name: Karen Swindells

Role: Director at Jigsaw Customer Solutions

Karen Swindells has developed her strong skillset over three decades in customer service environments, including contact centres.

Her background as a Operations Manager with Ombudsman Services led to her becoming one of the most respected judges at the 2019 UK Complaint Handling Awards.

 

 

 


20

 

Name: Peter Evia-Rhodes

Role: Director of Customer Value at The Times (News UK)

In his role at The Times and The Sunday Times, Peter is responsible for increasing and maintaining subscribers for one of the most respected titles in British newspapers.

His CX approach, based on innovative speech analytics supported by award-winning data science, has been shared with audiences through Peter’s role as a keynote speaker and writer.

 

 


19

 

Name: Jo Boswell

Role: Founder/Director of Sentio-B

Jo is the brains behind Sentio-B, a consultancy firm specialising in CX transformation. Before this, she honed her skills at British Airways with a series of high-flying roles including Head of Customer Value Management.

She was the driving force behind the airline’s ‘Know Me’ initiative, a successful transformation programme that embedded personalisation at scale into their CX and service strategy.

 

 


18

 

Name: Chris Garthwaite

Role: Managing Director at CGA Experience

The MD of consultancy CGA Experience, Chris is a 35-year CX industry veteran. After a successful career driving Customer Experience transformation, including early-stage e-commerce launching Woolworths Direct and e-Kingfisher, he set up CGA in 2001.

Over the past 18 years, CGA has led the way in creating value through transforming customer journeys into compelling and commercial experiences.

 


17

 

Name: Ben Smithwell

Role: Director of Comotion – a Freeman Company

CX and service design consultant Ben Smithwell will be a name familiar to many in Customer Experience roles, both here in the UK and further afield.

Having founded his own Nottingham-based CX agency, Ben is also Director of Comotion, a Freeman company, while in 2015 he even delivered a powerful TEDx talk on how to tackle bullying.

 

 


16

 

Name: Donna O’Toole

Role: CEO of August Recognition

Donna O’Toole is a a Customer Experience champion through-and-through.

A writer and thought-leader, Donna now heads August – The Awards Company, where she guides business leaders and teams in improving their own CX and preparing them for awards recognition at various industry events.

 

 


15

 

Name: Simon Green

Role: Founder/Director of 3RM

The power behind 3RM Digital Marketing Strategy, Simon Green integrates communications and advertising into Customer Experience, intrinsically linking it with ‘Brand Experience’ for the benefit of large UK and global brands.

CCXP Simon helps organisations see the end-to-end consumer process as starting from brand advertising and digital personalised communications, and running throughout the cycles of pre-purchase, sales, consumption, customer service, and repeat sales.

 


14

 

Name: Marie Cross

Role: Co-founder of First Impressions Training

Marie is the co-founder of First Impressions Training (FIT), and a passionate CX influencer.

Through her on-the-ground role as FIT’s Training Director, Marie leads large-scale culture change projects for clients, developing the talent of front-line teams and leaders, in order to enhance CX, increase employee engagement, and improve operational efficiency.

 

 


13

 

Name: Caroline Cooper

Role: Trainer/Consultant at Naturally Loyal

An author, speaker, and trainer, Caroline is a life-long advocate of customer centricity, and regularly writes on a range of Customer and Employee Experience topics.

Caroline is the go-to authority on Customer Experience in the Hospitality industry, helping create loyal customers who will return again and again thanks to excellent service inspired by her.

 

 


12

 

Name: Stephen Parry

Role: CEO/Founder of Lloyd Parry

A name familiar to many readers, Stephen is a multi-award winning international leader and strategist on the creation of service enterprises that are adaptive, innovative and engaging.

London-based Stephen is the founder of consultancy Lloyd Parry, and has a global reputation for passionate leadership and creating organisations with superior service climates by changing the way employees, managers, and leaders think about the business.

 


11

 

Name: Mark Conway

Role: Founder of Contact Centre Partners

The driving force of Contact Centre Partners, Mark has been recruiting senior talent within the customer contact and CX industry since 2007.

Over the past 12 years, he has successfully placed hundreds of influential professionals across a wide variety of industry sectors, many of whom are multi-award-winning industry leaders.

 

 

 

10

 

Name: Claire Boscq-Scott

Role: Founder of The Busy Queen Bee Ltd

Known as the Busy Queen Bee herself, Claire Boscq-Scott is a global guru for brands dedicated to improving both customer and employee experience.

A Member of the Professional Speaker Association, Claire has toured the world to spread her enthusiasm and presented before thousands of people. She has also authored two books: Thrive With the Hive and Thriving by Caring.

 

 


9

 

Name: Nick Hague

Role: Co-founder of B2B International

As an original founder of B2B International, Nick has been at the centre of assisting some of the world’s biggest business-to-business companies design, implement, and track their CX strategy based on the grounded research B2B International carry out.

Through his work as a research practitioner, Nick knows what works and what doesn’t in getting change within an organisation and his first-hand experience led him to publishing his bestselling book, B2B Customer Experience in 2018.   

 


8

 

Name: Michelle Ansell

Role: Managing Partner at Douglas Jackson

Michelle is based at specialist recruitment and executive search consultancy, Douglas Jackson. She has worked with many award-winning business and brands, as well as start-up and disruptor companies, placing individuals who have gone on to make significant impacts.

Her skills have served the contact centre and burgeoning CX industry for over 15 years.

 

 


7

 

Name: Nick Meinertzhagen

Role: Founder of Experiential Consulting Ltd

CCXP Nick Meinertzhagen is a passionate CX strategist, management consultant, and entrepreneur.

In 2004 he founded one of the UK’s largest mystery shopping businesses 360 Perspectives, which he sold in 2018 to Yomdel.

Nick currently runs his own CX management consultancy, Experiential Consulting Ltd, where he designs customer-centric solutions that aligns to his clients’ commercial objectives.

 


6

 

Name: Dr Nicola Millard

Role: Principal Innovation Partner at BT

UK Customer Experience Award winner BT has benefited hugely from the oversight of its former Head of Customer Insight and Futurology, Dr Nicola Millard. Now a Principal Innovation Partner for the brand, she has been responsible for developing human-centred innovation thought-leadership for BT Global Services’ Innovation team.

A speaker, writer and thought-leader, Nicola got her PhD from Lancaster University in 2005 on motivational technologies in contact centres, & published her first book in 2009.

 


5

 

Name: Clare Muscutt

Role: Founder/Director of CMXperience,

Entrepreneur Clare Muscutt is recognised as a leading millennial voice in CX, and founded her own consultancy firm, CMXperience, from her kitchen in Hackney, London.

Now a global influencer, public speaker, and soon-to-be author, Clare is aiming to bring the CX skills honed at brands including Sainsbury’s, M&S, British Airways, and Premier Inn to a whole new audience in 2020.

 

 


4

 

Name: Naeem Arif

Role: MD at NA Consulting

Alongside running successful national flooring firm United Carpets Group, CCXP Naeem Arif has founded his own consultancy firm, NA Consulting Ltd, and has penned a whopping six books, including the hugely influential Customer First.

Birmingham-based Naeem has an unrivalled knack for business leadership and a dedication to customer centricity that is making waves in the UK.

 

 


3

 

Name: Adrian Swinscoe

Role: Influencer, consultant, podcaster, author, and founder of Punk CX

The author of books including How to Wow, Scottish-born Adrian Swinscoe is an influential consultant, speaker, and coach, who says his driving passion is “helping create, develop, and grow businesses that take care of their customers in the best way possible, and create the great teams that are required to do that.”

A man of many talents, Adrian’s new Punk CX book is a radical departure from the often-dry tomes found on business shelves.

 

 


2

 

Name: Ian Golding

Role: Founder of the Customer Experience Consultancy

No stranger to CXM readers, nor anyone with even a passing interest in Customer Experience, Ian Golding is among the UK’s foremost CX experts, whose thoughts on customer centricity are sought the world over.

Along with imparting his wisdom through CX Masterclasses and in-house training, he has penned one of the most influential books in the industry to-date, Customer What? The honest and practical guide to customer experience.

 

 


1

 

Name: James Dodkins

Role: Founder of Rockstar CX

Topping the charts for CX influencers is the man known to many as the ‘Customer Experience Rockstar’, James brings his passion for CX to a global audience through his energetic speaking engagements.

As his image implies, James has corralled the energy and enthusiasm from his days in a rock band, and turned it towards the world of Customer Experience

From writing CX books, and even launching his own line of Rockstar CX-inspired clothing, James is bringing customer centricity into an entirely new era. Among his latest projects is presenting the This Week in CX show, currently streaming on Amazon Prime.

 

Coming soon: CXM will profile our Top 10 Stars in both Influencer and Professional categories. Congratulations to all those who made it into this year’s Top 50 CX Stars!

 


Lindsay WillottLindsay WillottDecember 10, 2019
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7min2288

Love it or hate it, when December hits there’s one thing as sure as mince-pie overload – it’s also the time of year we all get our crystal balls out and start predicting what’s on the horizon for the coming year.

The last ten years have seen a rate of change in customer service faster than the last 100 years combined. Salesforce have dubbed it the ‘fourth generation’, where boundaries between the physical, digital, and biological worlds have started to blur. It’s fundamentally changed what consumers have come to expect from brands. No wonder that 80 percent of customers consider their experience with a company to be as important as its products.

However, despite these raising expectations, only 49 percent of U.S. consumers say they’re getting a good customer experience from companies. This disconnect was echoed in Forrester’s Customer Experience Predictions 2020, which warns “consumers continue to move faster than businesses.”

The upshot here is that businesses are still clearly missing a trick in how to differentiate their brand and delight their customers base – but will next year be any better? Well there’s huge scope for improvements, but ironically the ones that may fair best are the ones that focus on the basics over buzzwords.

And we all know the buzzword of the moment – artificial intelligence (AI).

It’s had by far the lion’s share of the word of mouth this year but there is still confusion as to the role it can play, especially in complex environments, as well as the consumer acceptance of it.

Looking ahead: 2020 trends being predicted include improved feedback provision

There’s also lessons to be sought given the changes taken place in the cyber security market. Even the least savvy of Internet user has seen the furore over election manipulation, foreign state hacking and increasingly credible phishing and social engineering attacks. This has influenced strategy because providers operating online channels have had to enhance the protection of data with pin numbers, confirmation codes, captcha boxes and two factor authorisation. The problem is that these things make for a terrible customer experience.

I can also see huge scope for improvement when it comes to receiving customer feedback, which is instrumental for CX programmes to succeed.

According to Microsofts’s 2018 State of Global Customer Service Report, nearly all customers (90 percent) have a more favourable view of brands that give them the opportunity to provide feedback. However, less than a quarter (24 percent) of customers are given the opportunity to provide feedback regularly.

In 2020, I think that the traditional ‘long format’ survey will become largely obsolete. I was speaking to a major retailer last week who said they had sent out 3,000 surveys and had just two responses.

Social media listening is useful, but they are a very self-selecting audience in terms of response. Forward-thinking brands will need to embrace the concept of “react with a gif”, “react with an emoji” and seek out more seamless ways of embedding feedback options into their day to day customer interactions.

Lastly, I believe the concept of gratitude from providers towards their purchasers and audiences will be really important. The “got to have this” type out outbound and social marketing we see has led to a purchase frenzy especially amongst beauty and fashion and lifestyle brands, but I often wonder if many consumers do not feel that their loyalty is rewarded.

Forrester’s report explains this well: “Consumers will evolve from recipients of a brand experience to participants in it.”

As we look ahead, deeper relationships between brands and consumers, with genuine rewards for staying loyal, feel like they will become important. It’s the modern equivalent of the corner shop throwing an extra item in with your shop because they know you – personal service, to delight and reward each customer.


Rosalie HarrisonRosalie HarrisonDecember 10, 2019
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5min2238

A few months ago, I was retained to find a medical executive for a growing biotech.

The Hiring Manager set forth all of the expected criteria during our briefing and then something extraordinary happened. “You don’t need to find me a pretty CV,” she instructed.

“I am happy with a messy one. You know, its ok if you find someone with diverse experiences or who took some time off or traveled the world or whatever.”

As the proud owner of a messy – aka nontraditional career path – CV, I was ecstatic with this instruction. Understanding my joyous response probably requires a little background.

You see, 30 years ago, I applied to law school with a pharmacy degree and two years of pharmaceutical industry experience under my belt. I still remember the sting of reading my Harvard Law School rejection letter, which expressly declared my five-year pharmacy degree to be “vocational training” unsuited for legal studies.

Luckily, I have always been the type to persevere and received my law degree despite these narrow-minded rejections – performing quite well, thank you, despite my alleged lack of educational foundation. I then survived the interviewers that told me that I appeared professionally “unstable”, and landed a job at a top international law firm.

I spent the next 14 years pursuing a legal career, even reaching that coveted partnership milestone. The next decade, however, involved more wonderful mess. Expatriate living in two different European countries as a trailing spouse and mom, and my current (perhaps third) career evolution to a partner in a boutique (female owned and operated) executive search firm.

Now, when I walk someone through my professional history, the most common word that comes back at me is “impressive”. And, more importantly, in my current role, literally all of my life experiences are professionally relevant.

Given the historical response to my non-traditional career path, the current response to my “messy” CV always makes me smile. So, what has changed exactly to give a boost to the credibility of the non-traditional CV?

The answer is simple. The life sciences business trends are creating working environments that are increasingly dynamic (i.e. a nice word for messy) shifting the types of competencies needed for business success. Pressure to boost pipeline innovation and speed to market – while preserving efficacy, safety and quality – is creating a business model where cross-functional collaboration and external alliances are the norm.

Big Data, digitalisation, and artificial intelligence are drastically changing the scope and impact of products, services and operations. Precision and personalised medicine are creating health care delivery models that are literally dismantling established treatment norms.

Sustainability of health care ecosystems with limited resources are requiring that patient access to treatments be value driven. And, changes in global patient demographics, emerging market demands and opportunities, and an increasingly female talent pool, are presenting the industry with diversity demands that benefit from cross-cultural understanding and inclusion.

In an environment where change is a constant and lots of flexibility and curiosity are needed, the owners of a non-traditional CV experiences suddenly have attributes that are recognisable as being valuable to business success.

Messy CV owners have proven an ability to challenge the status quo, an attribute that is needed to drive and/or embrace creative and innovative ways of working. Flexibility and change management resilience are derived from both personal and professional life choices. Living and working internationally supports multi-cultural understanding. Engaging in cross functional roles or educational experiences enhances contribution and collaboration.

So what is our advice? If you are a professional with a nontraditional career path, take a look at the competencies you’ve gained as a result of your varying professional and life experiences and display them confidently in your messy CV.

No apologies needed.

If you are hiring manager, don’t be afraid of messy CVs. Nontraditional candidates might just have all of the competencies that are needed for success in your challenging and dynamic global environment.


Matt MoodyMatt MoodyDecember 10, 2019
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7min2521

You offered discounts, expedited service, and a weekend at your summer home, but your customer dropped you anyway.

Once you finish eating a pint of Ben & Jerry’s in the bathtub, you have two options: move on forever or keep the door open for a potential return.

Even after customers leave, you can still win back their business in the future – and you should make every effort to do so. According to research consolidated by Small Biz Trends, a two percent increase in customer retention can lower costs by up to 10 percent. Further, your odds of selling to an existing customer are over 60 percent, while your odds of selling to a stranger are below 20 percent.

Customers who leave for a while still count as customers. They know your brand and your products, and despite their choice to stop paying for those products, they saw value in your services at one point. You can win them back, but to do so, you need a win-back strategy that provides consistent returns for your business.

What is (or isn’t) a win-back strategy?

Offering 10 percent off to all former customers three months after separation does not qualify as a win-back strategy. People leave for different reasons, and while a better price may appeal to some, focusing solely on price will not help you create the boost in customer lifetime value your company needs.

Ineffective win-back strategies share a few common traits. Most companies that struggle to win back customers don’t understand why those customers cancel in the first place. If you don’t collect data at the time of cancellation, all you can do is guess. Maybe they didn’t like paying so much money, but maybe they also wanted more variety in product choices or more helpful customer service.

Unless you ask, you’ll never know.

Back for good?: Improving products or services plays a huge role in winning back customers

Imagine a gym-goer who cancels her membership because she moved to a new area. Would a 25 percent off coupon inspire her to commute across town just to use her old treadmill? Probably not. A newsletter announcing new locations, however, might inspire her to find a new gym home nearer to her house.

Audience segmentation plays a role as well. Some customers will never return to your business, no matter how much you beg. Targeting those customers will only harm your brand as they tell people how annoying you are. When a relationship breaks beyond repair, don’t press the issue. Your customer won’t win his ex back by liking all her Instagram posts, and you won’t win your customer back by spamming unwanted communications.

Your business must also show consistent improvement to implement a successful win-back strategy. Customers who cancel often do so because someone else offers something better. By improving the quality and availability of your products, services, and customer experiences, you can greatly boost your odds of success in win-back attempts.

Designing a better win-back strategy for your business

Win-back strategies that consistently bring back old customers depend on timely, relevant communications. You should make your first attempt to reestablish a connection within 30 days of the separation, before your customers forget why they were paying you in the first place. Communications should get specific about why customers left to open the door for future business once you solve the issue.

To create those communications, segment your audience by departure reason. The better your segmentation, the more relevant your messages will be and the greater the odds customers will listen to you will grow. Continue to refine your segments to speak mostly to customers who are likely to return, not customers who have moved or otherwise no longer fit your business.

Identify potential win-back opportunities by using an exit survey or similar information-gathering technique at the time of departure. Relevant communication within the first month after separation will greatly up your odds of reconciliation. Discounts and promotions work well within this window, but only for customers who are more concerned about price than variety, service, or another issue.

Even if you can’t address the concerns of a departed customer immediately, keep the line of communication open to share news about new product features, customer service improvements, pricing changes, new locations, and other relevant factors.

Treat your customers like friends by keeping them in the loop. Regardless of whether you rekindle the spark with the one that got away, people who view your business favourably may tell their friends about your improvements, paving the way for a host of promising new relationships.


Martin EllinghamMartin EllinghamDecember 6, 2019
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10min1647

As we’re all aware, PPI represents the largest consumer mis-selling scandal this country has seen.

UK lenders collectively expect PPI to cost them close to £50 billion in total, having already paid out over £48 billion in compensation and admin by June 2019. But what now the PPI claims deadline has passed?

We can be certain that the massive claims management industry that sprung out of the PPI scandal – an industry that currently employs in the region of 20,000 people – won’t be going anywhere any time soon, but it does mean that the Claims Management Companies (CMCs) will be actively seeking new targets, something that financial services businesses are extremely aware of.

One potential issue for CMCs to pursue, and a much-discussed topic at the moment, is that of customer vulnerability – in particular how financial services businesses are ensuring the appropriate levels of not only service but care for vulnerable customers. Such is its importance that the FCA has made it one of the central themes of its business plan for 2019/20.

Underpinning this focus by the FCA is the idea that firms aren’t taking vulnerability seriously enough. However, as yet, outside of their own best practice framework, there are no set guidelines for businesses to follow when it comes to dealing with vulnerable customers.

Although vulnerability as a whole can be hard to define, harder to legislate for, and even harder still to identify, many financial services businesses are taking the opportunity to review their current processes. Aside from instilling best practice across the business, for many, it’s an attempt to pre-empt any regulatory requirements that the FCA could well introduce, not to mention helping to build a robust defence should the CMCs try to pursue vulnerability as their next source of income.

A challenging task

The main challenge faced by financial services businesses is identifying vulnerable customers in the first instance. For example, in the case of a disability, not all disabilities are obvious. Also, it may be that customers don’t realise they’re vulnerable, or even if they do, they’re loath to self-identify.

Others may be experiencing transient vulnerability, perhaps as a result of a major life event or upheaval, something that hasn’t been evident before and won’t continue to render them vulnerable in the future, but for the here and now, is a real issue for that individual. Not only does this make it hard for businesses to spot vulnerable customers, but it makes it nigh-on impossible to regulate for it, such is the scope and the scale of the whole ‘vulnerable’ label.

Alarm bells: Firms aren’t taking customer vulnerability seriously enough

Another hurdle to cross is to ensure staff have the training and tools necessary to help to identify vulnerable customers, as well as empowering them to do the right thing once vulnerable customers have been identified. On the whole, front-line staff are younger people, with not as much life experience as their older counterparts, perhaps making it more difficult to empathise with customers for whom major life events or circumstances have caused them to be vulnerable. It’s difficult to train for that but with greater clarity on what makes a customer vulnerable, from the regulator and the business itself, it’s certainly not impossible for staff to increase their awareness and understanding.

Empowered employees

Aside from increasing employee ability to recognise vulnerability, a vital part of the equation is to empower these very same staff to take the necessary action that vulnerable customers require. This might be by way of a triage-type process, where those identified as vulnerable are passed on to a special unit that’s empowered to deal specifically with vulnerable customers.

Or, again, through training, it’s possible to give employees the option to side-step the rules or standard Ts&Cs when needed, not only giving them the adequate time needed to consider what needs to be done differently, but furnishing them with the knowledge needed to know how to do things differently.

The role of technology

Even if you have the most empowered employees in the industry, the crux of the issue is still successfully and accurately identifying vulnerable customers. Training is good but ultimately it still relies on people to apply things learnt in training to everyday situations, something that doesn’t always translate, and something that still risks people falling through the gaps.

Technological developments are in the pipeline though, with consumer vulnerability detection systems incorporated into customer experience software or a case management platform able to detect patterns in customer language to flag up potentially vulnerable customers. It’s not a case of trying to take control and responsibility away from employees, but more a concerted effort to ensure the obvious signs aren’t missed.

However, even this isn’t watertight. Humans aren’t always right and it’s certainly very helpful to increase automation with technology wherever possible but you still need an element of quality assurance on top. To date, it’s this quality assurance that’s led to best practice development within a good number of financial services businesses, with the opportunity to reassess and review historical cases leading the business to realise that actually, certain policies are unfair or unreasonably applied.

This benefit of hindsight has triggered many to make the necessary changes to proactively help not only vulnerable customers but the entire customer base, too.

Raising standards

Do I think customer vulnerability will be the next PPI?

No, I don’t. It’s not as black-and-white as PPI and such is the breadth and scope of potential vulnerabilities, not only is it impossible to cover all bases from a responsible business point-of-view, but even the regulators are so far unsure how to regulate on it. If any direct enforcement action is to be taken by the regulator, what’s needed is greater clarity on how vulnerable customers are defined, not to mention how they should be treated. As much as CMCs are trying to find a new hook, customer vulnerability isn’t it.

What it does represent is a real opportunity for financial services businesses to raise standards in the industry, applying sound principles to every customer interaction, treating every customer in accordance with their particular needs, and constantly reviewing their own processes to ensure the appropriate levels of service and care for vulnerable customers.

I’m sure that regulators will continue to regulate as they understand it better but so far, financial services organisations themselves are taking the issue of customer vulnerability very seriously, driving best practice, raising the bar and setting the standards required for responsible business practices for today and the foreseeable future.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthDecember 6, 2019
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5min1814

The Customer Experience Masterclass is preparing to celebrate its fifth year of providing unparalleled CX knowledge to audiences in the UK and beyond.

2020 will mark five years since the founding of the Masterclass, and January will see international consultant and expert in all-things CX, Ian Golding, host sessions in Stevenage, UK, and Dubai, UAE.

The two-day Masterclass will see Ian – author of Customer What?: The honest and practical guide to customer experience – teach attendees a wide range of core competencies, including CX strategy and brand proposition, the role of employees in delivering the strategy, customer journey mapping, CX measurement (VOC, VOE and VOP), CX improvement, and CX culture.

A class of their own: Some of this year’s UK CX Masterclass attendees with Ian Golding (right)

The Masterclass in Stevenage takes place at the BTC Business Technology Centre on January 27 – 28, and the following day, an optional CCXP Exam Workshop is also available for those keen to seek CCXP accreditation.

Further UK Masterclasses and Exam Workshops with Ian Golding will take place in 2020 in March, April, May, July, September, and November. Click here for further details.

In-house training events with Ian are also available, with further details available here.

Among those attending November’s CX Masterclass was Carmen Barleanu, CX & Marketing Consultant at Endava. Speaking afterwards, she said: “I particularly enjoyed how Ian delivered the class – he managed very well to put order in a field that can be perceived as rather chaotic. He also came with inspirational and practical examples to demonstrate the concepts and tools presented.

“I found Ian as an exceptional CX professional, as well as human being, truly interested in adding value to the participants and to the CX field. Also, it was great to meet such a diverse group of CX practitioners and have valuable discussions on each other’s perspective on the subjects.”

Meanwhile, Merlin Iles-Jonas, Senior CX Manager at Avalara, said: “I’m looking forward to validating everything I’ve learnt so far through the CCXP accreditation, and view this coupled with Ian’s Masterclass as a significant chapter in my career as a CX professional.

“I’ve absorbed so much in the last few days it will take a while to fully digest. However, I am champing at the bit to implement all I’ve learnt and feel empowered to do this as effectively as possible with the backdrop of the methodologies and frameworks that Ian taught.”

The CX Masterclasses have a bright future and a busy year ahead, and Customer Experience Magazine’s very own Events Manager Antonija Kadarijan, told us of her pride in helping to bringing together people passionate about expanding their CX skillset.

“It really is a special feeling when you’re able to work with people across the globe and watch them grow in a professional way and place customers at the heart of everything they do,” she said.

Looking ahead: Masterclass Event Manager Antonija Kadarijan

Over the past four years, we have celebrated many CCXPs earning their qualification and it is wonderful to see people achieve recognition for their dedication and hard work.

“Working and learning from Ian Golding is also an honour. Having attended his classes I could feel his energy and enthusiasm, which helped me upgrade my own CX knowledge.

“I cannot wait to see what 2020 has in store, but our main purpose will remain the same – support even more professionals and organisations to deliver authentic and exceptional Customer Experiences.”


Richard HiltonRichard HiltonDecember 6, 2019
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7min1398

The nature of selling is evolving at an exponential rate.

Thanks to the internet’s provision of easy to access information, buyers no longer look to sellers to educate them on products and services. Research from CSO Insights reveals that 70 percent of buyers now say that they define their needs before engaging with companies.

The fact is that the artful delivery of information is no longer enough to secure a sale. Sellers need to provide their customers with solutions to problems that haven’t even thought about yet. And this means that sellers need to know their buyer inside-out, pre-empting their needs, rather than having a purely reactionary relationship – as has traditionally been the way.

So, what attributes do today’s sellers need to have in order to deliver this?

Technology competence and analytical skills

Across all sectors, corporations have realised the potential for technology to optimise decision-making and resource allocation. This has been no different within sales. Organisations that have not embraced the benefits of digitising their methodologies, will soon find out that they are no longer able to compete.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) have revolutionised the game. Rather than having to rely on sellers’ instincts, specialist software now analyses and identifies the deals and new business opportunities that are worth pursuing. Evaluating past data on wins, losses and no decisions, AI generates guidance on how strategies can be improved. Over time, as more data is collated, ML refines its algorithms and provides recommendations of greater precision and sophistication.

As technology continues to provide smarter and superior means of selling, the cost of non-adoption has become greater. And this is having a significant impact on the sales organisation demographic. Leaders are beginning to place more emphasis on IQ over EQ when hiring, looking for individuals from maths, statistics and economics backgrounds. Equally, those already in sales positions are being required to upskill on data and analytical processes.

A propensity for learning and up-to-date industry knowledge

It’s becoming increasingly difficult for salespeople to follow the desires of buyers. The choices available to them have proliferated. Globalisation and the opening of new markets have resulted in increased competition, this in turn pushing through greater innovation and superior products and services.

While this is of course a good thing for all of us, it nonetheless sets a fast pace of change for sellers to keep up with. In such an environment, mastery of one’s craft can never be assumed. Sellers depend more than ever on the latest theory, tech and market knowledge to stay afloat. A hunger for learning must therefore be maintained throughout a career in sales.

Sellers should know their customer and markets on both a micro and macro level. The onus is on sales leaders to facilitate this. They need to ensure that a culture of learning is inculcated and that their salesforces have access to all the necessary resources, mentors and training.

With markets volatile and near-impossible to predict, though ultimately powerless to prevent such turbulence, an educated salesforce is one that is best placed to anticipate difficulties, react to change and to absorb shocks.

Empathy, persistence and broader EQ qualities

It would be a mistake to think that the digitalisation of selling means that traditional sales skills are now obsolete. Tapping into soft skillsets is essential for knowing how customers and team members tick; understanding what drives them and how to then best communicate and motivate them accordingly.

The notion of the ‘slick salesman’ is an old cliché but there is undoubtedly much truth to it. Industry knowledge is futile if not supported with excellent communication skills, a focus on results and post-sales relationship, and the ability to deliver perspective and insights.

Whether in person or on the phone, sales teams need to be having mutually valuable conversations to understand a customer’s challenge and ensure that they do not appear target-driven but instead eager to add value to their business.

Adapt or fall behind

While selling has always been a demanding task, it has never been more so than in our current era. Sales organisations have been able to rely in recent years on high customer demand. Strong global economic growth has driven this, but they need to be prepared should this flip. 

Sellers can’t lose sight of traditional skills. But those that want to be at the top of their game need to be adapting to the changing buying habits of their customers and taking advantage of innovations and methods that will make their jobs easier, approach more sophisticated and deliver better results.


Idit AloniIdit AloniDecember 5, 2019
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6min1859

Idit Aloni is Head of Product Marketing at Amdocs, and has over a decade’s experience consulting and leading Marketing and Customer Experience within large organisations globally.

 

Recently, I’ve been feeling like a child in a candy shop, as I had the pleasure and privilege to judge at the 2019 UK Customer Experience Awards, where I was able to learn about how some of Britain’s biggest brands are delivering exceptional CX.

The event saw a range of winners rewarded for their initiatives, and as a judge I was able to identify many of the common factors shared by the top performers

1. Doing CX for the sake of CX

True CX practice is for the customer’s benefit first and foremost. Business benefits, operational efficiency, and cost savings naturally follow, but organisations that do it right set aside their ROI calculators.

2. Keeping it real

In an era of smartbots, authenticity goes a long way in establishing customer trust, and there are very simple and clever ways of achieving that.

One of our telco finalists told us how they run regional routing, so that agents cater to customers from their area. This way, they are “in” on local slang, and can even be up to date on the performance of the local football team!

True authenticity creates much more personal customer interactions – ones that are truly genuine and not just guided by system logic.

3. Rocking the boat

Firms should not be afraid to challenge the status quo and traditional norms that no longer apply.

One of the UK’s top insurers did an exceptional job in measuring success solely against NPS performance, while removing metrics like AHT and schedule adherence from KPI dashboards. These may still be tracked for operational purposes, but are not used to measure agent performance. The same goes for simple changes in terminology to inspire thinking, engagement, and personal ownership.

Provide intent, not instructions; ‘conversation guides’, not scripts; and ‘activity frameworks’ rather than job descriptions.

4. Getting the basics done

Many effective CX initiatives are grounded in plain and simple process improvement. There’s no way around it and there are endless options to go for, ranging from Six Sigma to Design Thinking.

So, like the top performers at the UKCXAs, pick your poison and go for gold.

5. Making people meaningful

Whether they are employees or customers, people want to feel that they matter, and that what they do makes a difference.

Winning firms encourage an organisational ‘brag data’ mentality to motivate agents to create story-worthy experiences as part of their BAU.

6. Talking about Human Experience (HX)

To me, this key differentiator sets the winners apart from the rest.

It’s the notion of impacting Human Experience rather than just Customer or Employee Experience only.

One of the UK’s telcos showcased a game-changing strategy around this concept by setting up their entire service centre to support people with mental issues, offering a unique employment environment in their community.

They created a comprehensive, well thought-through call centre operation that includes agent coaching, mindfulness sessions, a ‘buddy system’ for performing daily tasks, and so on – all to support those service staff members grappling with depression, anxiety, and other mental issues.

To me, delivering a game changing HX/CX/EX is about creating a meaningful impact on people’s lives. It could be about making small moments easier and stress-free, and offering some sunshine on a rainy day, or it can be about making a true social impact.




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