Andrea WilliamsAndrea WilliamsMarch 22, 2019
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9min108

If you’re reading Customer Experience Magazine, then you’ll be aware that CX is a much talked-about business concept.

According to Forrester, it can be defined as “how customers perceive their interactions with your company”.

This is a concept with a very long history – it’s just never had a catchy name before. Customer Experience has had different forms, as it’s been influenced by technology and the prevalent customer preferences of each generation and era over time.

It’s hard to pinpoint where it all started. We know that on January 1, 1876, the red triangle of Bass Ale became the UK’s first official trademark. While businesses had been marking their products to show origin since time immemorial, the modern understanding of branding was arguably born alongside that first trademark. Even back in the 1800s, the idea of branding was an implicit recognition that the customer was on some sort of journey of research and discovery before making a purchase.

Let’s travel back in time and explore the transformations that shaped CX…

Everyone knows your name

The founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, once said: “We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts.” It’s an analogy that works as well today as it did in the past. It’s up to the host to be gracious and make guests comfortable.

Back in the 50s, there was no “customer experience”. No fancy business lingo – just service. This was the age of genuine, low-tech personalisation. Business owners chatted with customers and remembered preferences.

Have you ever watched the hit TV show Mad Men? If so, you know that when housewife Betty Draper wanted to go out shopping, she got the royal treatment. Salespeople remembered her, greeting her by name, inquiring about her family and making tailored product suggestions.

Indeed, the shopping experience of the 50s was familiar and comforting. That’s because it was a social experience; as a customer, you likely got to know the owners and employees of companies you interacted with on a personal level.

Don’t get too nostalgic, though. It gets even better…

You can shop on ‘The Internet’

Today we don’t even think twice about “going online”, but back in the early 90s it was a big deal! In this era the internet became commercialised; Amazon started selling books online and Pierre Omidyar founded eBay.

 This decade was characterised by excitement (perhaps with the exception of the Dot Com bust, which wasn’t as amusing). Online shopping made it possible to buy goods at any time, regardless of ‘store hours’, without even leaving the house. Ecommerce also brought with it the opportunity to order far more than what one could find on a store’s shelves.

On the other hand, the focus on service didn’t seem as important.

Because these technological developments were so new and intriguing, the loss of that special personal touch went unnoticed. Web ‘pages’, as they were called back then, were barely functional, much less optimised for the user’s enjoyment. It would take a while for the notion of ‘user-friendliness’ to gain traction. Yet even though there was no personalisation, there were cool new things to click.

After all, you don’t expect the royal treatment when you’re an adventurer heading off into the unknown – which is how people felt venturing to buy via personal computers.

Tech that ‘gets you’

Today we take all the convenience of technology for granted. In fact, we’re likely to get upset when things don’t work instantaneously and seamlessly (“This web page is taking more than five seconds to load…I’m outta here!”).

Yet we’ve also missed being remembered by companies; being treated with special care. That’s where modern Customer Experience enters the scene. Research from Salesforce estimates that 75 percent of people now expect a consistent experience wherever they engage with brands – be it through social media, mobile, or even in person.

CX has become all about providing both intuitive technology and automated personalisation capable of remembering preferences, making recommendations and offering help.

 Customer Experience has essentially come full-circle: it started out as an emotional experience, transformed into a display of ‘cool’ technology, and now it’s back to being people-focused. The question modern companies are asking is: “How do we apply all the tech at our disposal to delight the customer?”

Businesses want to forge personal relationships with customers again – albeit in the digital space. Business consultancy Walker suggests that by 2020, CX will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. No wonder everyone’s talking about it.

Must everything change?

While technology has raced ahead, people have remained relatively unchanged. No matter how much time passes, the customer still desires to feel special and valued. Making them feel like they got away with a great deal is never going to get old.

We may have moved past the quaint days when shop owners greeted us by name, but when we get the sense a company sees us as just a number, we’re quick to take our business elsewhere. Today we enjoy the best of all worlds: the customer comes first, and businesses have the technology to craft remarkable experiences. With the rise of omnichannel – another one of those hot buzzwords – service expectations have increased. Modern customers fully expect the royal treatment, anytime, anywhere.

What’s next? New experiences that fully merge physical spaces with digital tech. Future CX-obsessed companies will ensure the customer journey is always on and responsive to a customer’s location and overall context.

Told you it gets better!


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthMarch 21, 2019
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3min133

A new report has found that 20 percent of marketing and CX professionals feel they will “never truly understand” their customers’ buying decisions.

The study from analytics firm Clicktale, titled Defining Digital Experience, states that part of the reason for this is due to 34 percent of marketers and CX professionals being unable to unite data between their web and mobile-optimised sites to create a single customer view, while 39 percent struggle to unite data from their websites and mobile apps.

This inability, the report continues, also means that 71 percent of brands can’t action customer insights in real time, while 73 percent are struggling to provide a consistent experience across channels. Ultimately, this lack of ability to understand customers is hindering brands’ chances of securing customer loyalty and damaging potential sales.

The study explores the current state of digital with 200 marketing and CX professionals working in some of the world’s leading brands in the UK and the US. The report uncovers how brands are building a strategy around Digital Experience, including who is ‘owning’ the function, and what technology they’re deploying.

Clicktale CMO Sara Richter said: “With so many brands struggling to build a single customer view, is it any wonder that marketing and CX professionals feel they cannot build a true understanding of their customers?

“But while uniting data is undoubtedly key, so too is capturing the right kind of data – beyond the usual demography, geography, purchase history and preference. Very few brands are tapping into the power of behavioural data, which enriches the marketer’s understanding of the customer immensely. With behavioural data and the right analytics, brands can better serve customers, improve loyalty and drive more repeat revenue.”


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthMarch 20, 2019
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3min139

UK Employers are being aided in supporting blind and partially sighted staff through a new suite of resources from the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB).

The initiative is part of the Department for Work and Pension’s Disability Confident scheme, a nationally-recognised Government accreditation that supports businesses to attract, recruit, and retain disabled employees.

Now available on RNIB’s website, the suite was launched this month at an event hosted by insurance giant and recent UK Complaint Handling Awards winner Zurich in London. During the launch, employers such as Royal Mail, O2 and John Lewis & Partners were brought together to recognise the contribution that blind and partially sighted employees make to businesses. They also got an exclusive first-look at the new resources, which have now been shared with more than 10,000 Disability Confident members.

Among those at the launch event was Caroline Casey (pictured above), a blind disability activist and management consultant, who gave a keynote speech on what the new resources would offer.

They include a menu of webinars, good practice toolkits, guides for making changes, and blogs. Employers are also invited to take an RNIB Workplace Accessibility Health Check, which assesses employers’ knowledge of the reasonable adjustments a blind or partially sighted person might need to do their job.

David Clarke, Director of Services at RNIB, said: “Although employment rates are at a record high, just one-in-four blind or partially sighted people are in work, which is a waste of valuable talent and skills in the UK workforce. As well as helpful advice and best practice, our new suite of resources includes examples of people who are registered blind in a range of different roles – proving that people with sight loss can be graphic designers, film-makers and accountants.

“With the right support, visually impaired people can thrive in the workplace and make a significant contribution to businesses in almost all employment sectors. We just need employers to realise the unique commercial value that blind and partially sighted employees can undoubtedly bring to their businesses.”


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthMarch 19, 2019
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2min159

UK Customer Experience Awards winner EE has announced a new bonus for customers who love movies and TV.

The mobile provider, which won Best Contact Centre Large at the UK CX Awards in London’s Wembley Stadium last October, has announced that millions of its pay monthly customers will get a six-month subscription to the Amazon Prime Video and MTV Play streaming services for free.

The new offer will come with inclusive data, meaning users will be able to stream content from either service without impacting on their monthly data allowance. The deal is the latest signal smartphone users are increasingly using their mobile devices to stream TV and film content, with forecasts from last year’s Cisco Visual Networking Index report suggesting as much as 79 percent of the world’s mobile data traffic will be video by 2022.

Marc Allera, Chief Executive of BT’s consumer division – which owns EE – said: “It’s our ambition to offer our customers unrivalled choice, with the best content, smartest devices, and the latest technology through partnerships with the world’s best content providers.

“In offering all EE pay monthly mobile customers Amazon Prime Video and MTV Play access, in addition to BT Sport and Apple Music, we’re providing them with a wealth of great entertainment they can experience in more places thanks to our superfast 4G network, and soon to be launched 5G service.”

Entries for the 2019 UK Customer Experience Awards are now open, with an Early Bird entry offer available until May 31. Click here for further details on entering.

 


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthMarch 19, 2019
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5min166

Forty-one percent of British customers will never return to a brand after it’s been suffered a hack, according to new research.

The findings have been published in the Ponemon Institute’s 2017 Cost of Data Breach Study, which shows that UK consumers are harder on businesses that suffer data breaches, compared to US customers.

Daniel Markuson, a digital privacy expert at NordVPN said businesses need to assess their cybersecurity risks, make relevant company-wide changes, and improve the overall approach to security.

“Organisations need to enforce reliable security measures and inform their customers about how their data is collected, processed, and stored,” he said.

“Every company should start by establishing its security policy and ensuring compliance with any applicable regulations. If a company also chooses the right security tools and educates its employees, it can prevent many potential breaches.”

Steps to protect your business from data breaches

Define your security policy: You should start by developing the guidelines or best practices for all employees to follow. IT decision makers should evaluate and update corporate policies more frequently. Such policies may include a rule to lock computers before going away from desks and to never share accounts with coworkers.

Follow regulations: It is vital that companies have rules in place to protect their data inside and outside the organisational network. Organisations process hundreds of emails and other documents daily. Some of these may fall out of the scope of specific laws yet still represent corporate liability and reputation risks. To keep HR, legal, and other documents protected and secure, businesses should work internally and with their cloud vendors to know exactly where and how the data is stored and processed. When enterprises follow the regulations for data protection, they have a better chance to prevent data leaks and avoid fines or reputation issues.

Educate your employees: It is important to cultivate the secure mindset of every team member. Keep your employees informed about the dangers of clicking on links or attachments from unknown sources. Also, make sure to educate them about phishing attacks or social engineering. You can create a cybersecurity test to understand how much your employees know about security online. You can also put up memos around the office with messages such as “do not share your password with anyone” or “log out of the system when you finish”.

Invest in the right technology: Use firewalls, a reputable VPN service, network monitoring tools, and secure backups. Consider a solution for data protection. This might include a DLP or CASB tool to protect your systems against cyber attacks through malware prevention. Enterprise rights management (ERM) software can protect your content from accidental or malicious sharing and inappropriate use.

Keep your passwords and devices secure: Can your employees view sensitive information on their phones securely? If not, your data may be at risk. According to research by Cisco, approximately 63 percent of employees admitted to using a work computer for personal use every day, and 83 percent admitted to doing so occasionally. However, the transference of files between work computers and personal computers opens companies to cyber threats and corporate liability. Employees will continue to use their own gadgets for work, so companies should help them by providing secure ways to perform work activities on such devices. You can do it by installing a VPN.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthMarch 15, 2019
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2min270

Almost a third (31 percent) of UK professionals believe their expectations are “not being met at all” by their current employer, a new study has found.

Research undertaken by recruiter Robert Walters and job board CV-Library has been compiled in a report which also found that a further 24 percent state that their needs are only just ‘moderately’ being met at work.

The dissatisfaction was most prominent in the Wales (70 percent), South West (68 percent), Scotland (67 percent), Yorkshire & Humber (64 percent), and the West Midlands (60 percent) where workers claim that employers were falling short of meeting their professional and personal aspirations.

Industries with the least satisfied employees are in Secretarial & Business Support (47 percent), Retail (34 percent), Manufacturing & Engineering (34 percent), and Health (32 percent).

Chris Hickey, CEO at Robert Walters said: “With Brexit on the horizon and a challenging time ahead, it is important now more than ever that employers retain top talent – central to this is keeping staff happy and motivated.

“Given that 55 percent of professionals claim that their employer is failing to meet their career expectations, it is concerning how slow companies are to act towards better understanding their employees’ needs.”


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthMarch 12, 2019
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3min273

Gamified rewards and bonuses not only introduce an element of fun in to the workplace, but also increase employee performance, according to new research which also found that 52 percent of bosses are losing out on increased productivity by not making use of them.

A survey of 1,096 UK workers, by workplace incentives and rewards provider One4all Rewards, was published in the Workers on Top of Their Game Report.

It surveyed employees from different age groups, genders, and industries and revealed that almost one-in-two (46 percent) of UK workers would feel more motivated to work hard, and one-in-five (20 percent) would increase their performance if their employer introduced a points based rewards and bonus system.

Gamification is increasingly being used in workplaces, with Gartner reporting 40 percent of Global 1000 organisations are doing so to motivate and encourage positive behaviours. The technique works by setting small rewards for desired actions and then inviting workers to repeat that behaviour, which they do in anticipation of the same result.

Virtually one-in-three (32 percent) UK workers said they would work harder to unlock rewards and bonuses in this way.

There are also clear softer benefits of gamified rewards systems, with 37 percent of UK workers claiming this would also increase their happiness at work, while almost the same number (36 percent) said it would make them feel more engaged with their company.

Finally, tewo-in0-five (38 percent) of those surveyed said that working towards rewards and bonuses would make work more fun.

Alan Smith, UK Managing Director at One4all Rewards, said: “In SMEs, finding the budget for a rewards scheme can be tough, but gamified rewards can be more flexible in some ways and they don’t have to involve large budgets. While some might think that these kinds of rewards are more complex to implement, this isn’t necessarily the case and there are many companies out there that can help with implementing these rewards.

“As we can see from the survey data, and the sheer number of workers who said that the implementation of a gamified reward system would make them work harder, the cost of implementing this kind of rewards could soon be recouped by the increased productivity employers would benefit from.”


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthMarch 11, 2019
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4min305

The 2019 UK Complaint Handling Awards have taken place in London, celebrating the people and  initiatives behind some of the best customer service operations in Britain.

Hosted by Awards International – holders of an Independent Awards Standards Council Gold Trust Mark – the event saw hundreds gather at the Park Plaza Riverbank hotel last Friday, when teams of finalists made presentations to an expert panel of judges throughout the day.

Finalists were competing to secure Gold and Silver titles across 18 categories, with one Overall Winner also named for their high score at the event, which this year was sponsored by Aptean and Ecosheme, and partnered by Resolver, Henley Business School’s Henley Centre for Customer Management, and The Malcolm McDonald Academy.

Following a gala lunch, the 2019 Overall Winner title was awarded to outsourcing services firm Firstsource, which claimed Gold in the Customer Insight Strategy category. The victory built on the success of the company in last year’s awards, when along with mobile network giffgaff it won Best Personal Entertainment & Telecoms.

Other big winners this year were banking giants HSBC, which won an incredible four Gold category titles, and United Utilities, which won three Gold titles, including the highly coveted Complaint Handling Leader of the Year award for their Head of Service Recovery, Sally Ainsworth.

The 2019 roll of honour also included Wessex Water in partnership with The First Word, which won in the Best Complaint Handling Training category; One Vision Housing, which claimed Gold for Best Use of Customers’ Insight and Feedback; and Capita, whose team walked away with the Customer Relations & Remediation award.

Speaking afterwards, Awards International CEO Neil Skehel said: “What an event this has been – we are incredibly fortunate to have such a vantage point on the high standard of complaint handling services in the UK.

“So many organisations are ensuring they have a robust complaints procedure at the heart of their structure, and these awards not only celebrate the best initiatives behind that, but they also allow representatives from all of these wonderful companies to come together and inspire each other, share best practice, and ensure complaint handling continues to go from strength to strength and remains central to a quality service.”

“On behalf of Awards International I would like to offer a huge congratulations to all of our winners, and I want to thank all of our finalists for coming and competing in what is now one of the most important events in the UK’s customer service calendar.”

 

 

 

 

 


CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamMarch 8, 2019
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3min258

The average UK consumer spends £41 more than the original value of their gift card, according to a new study.

The UK Prepaid Consumer Insights Study released by First Data found that 34 percent of consumers visit a store they would not have visited otherwise due to their receipt of a gift card.

Researchers looked at trends in branded currency, giving business owners insight into how gift cards can benefit and grow their businesses. This year’s study was based on survey data from more than 1,000 UK consumers and aggregated responses across four unique age groups: Generation Z (ages 18-23), Millennials (ages 24-37), Generation X/Y (ages 38-53), and Boomers (age 54+).

John Gibbons, Executive Vice President, Head of EMEA & Co-Head of Global Financial Solutions at First Data, said: “Our study shows a distinct opportunity for UK business owners to drive more sales, strengthen their brand, and bolster customer loyalty by implementing smart branded currency strategies.

“From employee rewards and customer service programs to social media promotions and targeted marketing campaigns, both physical and digital gift cards offer valuable incentives to both businesses and consumers.”

The study results showed increased interest for digital currency and a growth trajectory that is expected to continue. It found that 55 percent of consumers purchased plastic gift cards, while 45 percent of consumers purchased digital gift cards in 2018. While a majority of purchasers still prefer plastic, consumers are accelerating their use of digital cards largely due to convenience – as these can be sent instantly and are easier to reload.

Last year, UK consumers spent on average £203 or 38 percent of their annual gifting budget on gift cards; and while 81 percent of consumers surveyed purchased a gift card as a present for an occasion or event, one-in-three respondents spent more on a gift card than a traditional gift.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthMarch 8, 2019
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3min277

UK Customer Experience Awards winner Business Stream has been awarded the YPO framework contract following a highly competitive tendering process.

The four year deal is worth up to £62 million and is one of the largest contracts to be awarded since the English retail water market opened in 2017.

The contract will enable Business Stream – which last year also won Best Digital Transformation at the inaugural International Customer Experience Awards in Amsterdam – to provide water and waste water services, including water efficiency solutions, to a wide range of public sector organisations in and around the Yorkshire area. Participating bodies include councils, police and fire services, universities, a hospital and over a hundred schools.

The YPO contract was awarded through the Crown Commercial Service’s (CCS) Water, Waste Water and Ancillary Services Framework, which Business Stream successfully secured a place on soon after the English retail water market opened.

Jo Dow (pictured), Chief Executive of Business Stream, said: “We’re absolutely delighted to have been awarded the YPO contract. We have a huge amount of experience in working with the public sector and are now looking forward to having the opportunity to offer our expertise and vast suite of value-added services to public sector organisations across the Yorkshire area to help them save water, money and time.”

At the start of the year, Business Stream announced that it had acquired the customer base of Yorkshire Water Business Services and Three Sixty, doubling its market share and cementing its position as one of the top three retailers in the UK water market. Recognising the importance of having a local presence, the retailer will be opening a local office and retaining locally-based experienced account managers who have knowledge and experience of the Yorkshire area and its customers.

Business Stream works with private businesses and public sector organisations across the UK. Recently it announced plans to help its customers reduce their water consumption by 20 per cent. The pledge, announced by the firm’s CEO, Jo Dow, forms part of Business Stream’s on-going commitment to promote the importance of water efficiency and to pro-actively work with its customers across the UK to reduce their water use.

To date, Business Stream has helped its customers save over 38 billion litres of water, resulting in almost £75 million in financial savings and over 66,000 tonnes in COsavings.




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