Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJune 7, 2019
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5min620

The ability of artificial intelligence (AI) to grasp morality and empathy are among concerns expressed by customers when it comes to interacting digitally with brands.

The lack of trust in AI has been revealed by Pegasystems Inc. and research firm Savanta, who surveyed 5,000 consumers across the globe. They found that many don’t understand the extent to which AI can make their interactions with businesses better and more efficient, while one-in-ten said they believed AI cannot tell the difference between good and evil.

The suspicions on morality seeped into customers’ overall opinions on brands, with 68 percent believing organisations have an obligation to do what is morally right for the customer, beyond what is legally required.

Sixty-five percent don’t trust that companies have their best interests at heart, raising significant questions about how much trust they have in the technology businesses use to interact with them. Less than half (40 percent) of respondents agreed that AI has the potential to improve the customer service of businesses they interact with, while less than one third (30 percent) felt comfortable with businesses using AI to interact with them.

Just nine percent said they were “very comfortable” with the idea. At the same time, one-third of all respondents said they were concerned about machines taking their jobs, with more than one quarter (27 percent) also citing the “rise of the robots and enslavement of humanity” as a concern.

Moral choice: Customers have doubts AI can tell the difference

Over half (53 percent) said it’s possible for AI to show bias in the way it makes decisions, and 53 percent also felt that AI will always make decisions based on the biases of the person who created its initial instructions, regardless of how much time has passed.

Meanwhile, just 12 percent of consumers agreed that AI can tell the difference between good and evil, while over half (56 percent) of customers don’t believe it is possible to develop machines that behave morally. Just 12 percent believe they have ever interacted with a machine that has shown empathy.

The results of the survey coincide with plans by Pega to “improve empathy in AI systems”, and speaking of the poll results, the firm’s VP of Decisioning and Analytics, Dr Rob Walker, said: “Our study found that only 25 percent of consumers would trust a decision made by an AI system over that of a person regarding their qualification for a bank loan. Consumers likely prefer speaking to people because they have a greater degree of trust in them and believe it’s possible to influence the decision, when that’s far from the case.

“What’s needed is the ability for AI systems to help companies make ethical decisions. To use the same example, in addition to a bank following regulatory processes before making an offer of a loan to an individual, it should also be able to determine whether or not it’s the right thing to do ethically.”

He continued: “An important part of the evolution of artificial intelligence will be the addition of guidelines that put ethical considerations on top of machine learning. This will allow decisions to be made by AI systems within the context of customer engagement that would be seen as empathetic if made by a person. AI shouldn’t be the sole arbiter of empathy in any organisation and it’s not going to help customers to trust organisations overnight. However, by building a culture of empathy within a business, AI can be used as a powerful tool to help differentiate companies from their competition.”


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJune 7, 2019
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4min355

Unhygienic workplaces are believed to be contributing to employee sickness levels in the UK, research has revealed.

A survey of 1,012 workers conducted by AppliancesDirect.co.uk found that almost half (46 percent) believe that an unhygienic working environment has contributed to making them sick.

When quizzed on the reasons they felt their workplace has made them sick in the past, the majority (68 percent) said that they believed this was due to lack of general hygiene in their workplace, while 62 percent said it was due to colleagues bringing sickness into the office.

With 46 percent of respondents claiming that they’ve had at least one day sick in the past year due to their unhygienic workplace, this would come at a cost of £1.56 billion to UK employers, according to Gov.uk stats.

When quizzed on the least hygienic parts of their working environment, a further 48 percent said it was due to their desk phone, while 45 percent cited their dirty office kitchen as being the reason for them getting sick. Thirty-four percent of workers said this was due to badly washed plates and mugs in the office kitchen, while 28 percent said it was due to unsanitary bathrooms.

Slightly under a quarter (24 percent) of those surveyed said they feel that their dirty desk was the least hygienic part of their workplace, whilst for 18 percent it was their keyboard. A further 14 percent felt that colleagues leaving out of date food in a communal fridge has contributed to illness, and 11 percent of those surveyed felt it was due to pets in the office.

Mark Kelly, Marketing Manager at AppliancesDirect.co.uk said: “I was surprised from our findings just how much office sickness is costing UK businesses annually, with almost half of British workers blaming their workplace for at least one sick day in the past year.

“We carried out some research recently which found that the kitchen was the hub of the office, with 72 percent of UK workers saying this is the most used social space in the office, so it’s concerning to see that almost half of workers believe that this is a space that has made them ill in the past year due to lack of hygiene.

“It’s clear that it’s not just employers who need to keep communal spaces clean, but also that employees need to keep their personal workspaces hygienic to avoid illness from things like keyboards and desk phones.”

 

 


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4min419

Employers are risking alienating millennials by treating them as if they are a different ‘culture’, a hospitality industry forum has heard.

Hosted by industry thought-leader, EP Business in Hospitality, in partnership with online learning specialist Upskill People, the event in London highlighted that continually referring to millennials as though they are a different ‘culture’ or ‘nationality’ is both patronising and short-sighted and puts businesses that do not place compassion and people at the top of their agenda at risk of alienating future talent altogether.

In an industry clearly changing at speed, core messages emerging from the session included the need for a modernised learning culture that seeks to understand all perspectives while embracing shared knowledge across all genders, ages, and job titles.

Different goals: Millennials require a fresh approach when it comes to employee engagement

CEO at EP, Chris Sheppardson, explained:  “It’s becoming more apparent that the younger generations do have a different perspective and agenda on work and life. They are less focused on getting onto the housing ladder and being saddled with a lifetime mortgage, and are instead living more ‘in the moment’ with a genuine interest in environment and society – arguably to a higher degree that many business leaders. As businesses we must build a stronger connection with our people and change our approach to developing talent.”

The debate also reinforced the harsh reality that talent today doesn’t remain with one employer long-term and will move around more regularly, suggesting that employers need to embrace and even support this concept in the future. Leaders also agreed that to develop talent successfully today, there is a greater need for stronger coaching-led approaches.

Chris added: “Empowerment has almost become an old-fashioned concept and re-engagement is needed here. Too many companies try to control and limit any risk. Too many decisions on people are based on spread sheets and figures. Talent looks to embrace culture, compassion for people and communities in work. People are still the greatest asset of a business and young people today expect companies to play a meaningful role in society as well as in business.”


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJune 6, 2019
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3min273

New business models for public transport in the UK will result from a digital revolution in the mobility industry, a new report has predicted.

Global digital transformation firm Atos has launched its Digital Vision for Mobility report, which sets out how digital technology has transformed the UK’s transport sector and considers the role of AI, automation, and blockchain in determining the mobility solutions of tomorrow for road and rail, broader public transport, and logistics.

Contributions from ITS-UK, Google, Siemens, KPMG, Worldline, TfL, MyTaxi, and TechUK explain how data is being used as a driver for intelligent infrastructure and how developments such as IoT can be strategically deployed to create more reliable services and more convenient access for transport customers.

Visionary: Atos is examining mobility advancements in the digital age

The report’s release was marked with a keynote address by Atos UK & Ireland SVP for Strategy & Communications and former Transport Advisor to the Mayor of London, Kulveer Ranger, to an audience at University College London.

“Increasingly with population growth and denser metropolitan conurbations, we see the need to support the mass movement of people and goods with efficient, effective and integrated multi-modal public and personal transport systems,” he told attendees.

“Transport operators are beginning to rely heavily on data: harvested both from within their own networks and systems and from the personal mobile devices of individuals. To realise a vision of truly personal mobility, vast amounts of data will need to be aggregated. This will be a huge technological feat for innovative integrators and digital architects.”

Speaking of the launch of the report, Adrian Gregory, Atos Senior Executive Vice President and CEO, UK & Ireland, said: “More change is now underway across the transport and logistics industry than at any time since the invention of the combustion engine. Vastly increased computing power and hyper-connectivity are helping to transform the operation and maintenance of vehicles and national infrastructure.”

 


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJune 5, 2019
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2min229

Retailers are being warned that a lack of preparedness for new EU regulations to prevent online fraud could be costly.

The Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) rules will come into force in September as part of the Second Payment Services Directive (PSD2). They will affect online purchases of €30 or more, and will require retailers, banks and payments providers to authenticate customers through something they “have”, “are”, and “know”.

While banks are largely ready for the changes, retailers have been warned that they face trouble ahead, as a recent survey by analysts at 451 Research and Stripe found that less than half of businesses polled expected to be ready by the autumn deadline.

Uncertainty over the UK’s future in the European Union is also adding to pressure on retailers facing major legislative changes while simultaneously being told to expect Brexit on October 31.

Among those urging retailers to address the issue is digital solutions firm Mitek, whose EMEA MD Rene Hendrikse said: “Sooner rather than later, retailers must recognise the need to invest in anti-fraud technologies. With the new anti-fraud rules, every customer will have to be authenticated by at least two of the following criteria: something they have, something they are, and something only they know.

“Come September, this will be necessary for every online transaction. This could include an ID document, a biometric identifier, and a security question, going beyond simply your card details as is the current standard. This introduces an additional layer of security to defend against the threat of fraud from online transactions – but it also presents a challenge for organisations to implement with only months to go.

 “Within the next few months, investing in the right technologies and implementing them quickly and efficiently should be top of the agenda for retailers and e-commerce groups. If not, they will find themselves in serious trouble.”


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJune 5, 2019
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3min370

Slow service is enough for more than half of British customers to ditch a brand, according to a new survey.

A poll of 2,000 UK consumers revealed that 56 percent would stop shopping with a brand that forced them to endure slow customer service. The survey by contact centre cloud solutions provider 8×8 also found that almost two-thirds (64 percent) of people have been frustrated at the length of time it has taken a customer service team at a company to solve a problem.

The time it took to get through to someone is the most common reason people lose patience with a customer service team (36 percent), followed by having to wait to get their query resolved (30 percent). Quick and easy access to contact information is also a key factor, as a quarter (25 percent) have lost patience by having to wade through too many screening questions in order to access contact information.

When asked about the types of businesses they are most likely to lose patience with, customers named utilities and telecom firms in the top spot (33 percent), followed by retail (24 percent), and local government (21 percent). This suggests that organisations in these sectors are at the greatest risk of losing customers to slow service.

To help them get an answer in the quickest and easiest way possible, 78 percent of Brits expect companies to provide multiple channels to contact their customer service team on, such as phone, email, web chat, and social media. Despite this, over half (58 percent) of businesses still only offer one communication channel to contact customer service teams – an experience 52 percent of Brits find frustrating.

Mary Ellen Genovese, MD of European Operations, 8×8, said: “We all expect companies to deliver a fast and joined-up response to our queries regardless of their nature. Our research reveals speed is everything – consumers have little patience for slow service and, when frustrated, won’t hesitate to take their business elsewhere.

“Businesses that don’t meet customer expectations risk losing out to faster competitors, not just over established channels such as phone and email, but across web chat and social media too.”

The research also reveals that customers expect traditional channels to deliver a faster response rate. When asked which customer service platforms they lose patience with the most, 37 percent said phone, compared to just 12 percent for email and 10 percent for live chat.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJune 4, 2019
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3min371

Nearly three quarters of marketers and CX professionals (74 percent) are investing in Digital Experience (DX) in an effort to foster long-term loyalty and build better relationships with their customers.

Research from experience analytics company Clicktale, which surveyed 200 marketing and CX professionals across the US and UK, found customer loyalty to be the number one priority for those building a DX strategy. This was followed by a need to understand customer behaviour (67 percent) and a desire to create a clearer Customer Experience vision (67 percent).

For those at a managerial level (CX and marketing managers) improving customer lifetime value was also identified as an important driver of DX strategy.

Speaking of the findings in Clicktale’s Defining Digital Experience report, the firm’s CEO, Sara Richter, said: “As ever more customer interactions are completed via digital channels, marketers find themselves faced with a ‘switching economy’ – in which consumers regularly flit between different brands when they’re dissatisfied with a particular experience. Given this fact, is it any wonder that so many marketers are looking to secure long-term customer loyalty through their Digital Experience approach?

“To achieve such loyalty, however, we as marketers need to think about what it is that our customers need, and to do that requires a strong understanding of customer behaviours. This is where the other key objectives come into play. In order to drive loyalty, marketers must improve their digital experiences. But to do that, they must have a clear vision and the behavioural data needed to back it up. None of these factors can exist in isolation – they must all form part of a single, unified DX strategy and be supported with the right behavioural technologies.”

The 2019 UK Digital Experience Awards will take place in London on July 12. Click here for booking details.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJune 4, 2019
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2min197
The International Customer Experience Awards is returning to Amsterdam this year, and potential entrants have just a few days left to take advantage of a special Early Bird Discount offer. A total of 19 categories are open for submissions, with one Overall Winner title reserved for the entrant scoring the highest result from judges overseeing presentations on the day. The event – hosted by Awards International UAE & Netherlands – takes place on November 21, with the deadline for entries on August 7. However, an Early Bird Discount offer is available until June 12, allowing entrants to save €100 on their entry fee. Click here for further details of this amazing offer. Awards International MD Mark Hamill said: “This unique daytime event, enables businesses from across the globe to compete for the ultimate accolade in the world of Customer Experience. Participating in the Awards is not just about competing and celebrating best practice – these Awards offer a unique opportunity to network with other key players from across the world and to hear what others are doing to solve problems within their country or particular sector.”

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJune 4, 2019
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3min232

As customer concern over carbon footprints reaches fever pitch, Waitrose is leading the way in reducing packaging with a new test store for shoppers to fill their own containers.

The chain’s Botley Road shop in Oxford is offering refill stations for everyday goods such as pasta and cereals, and a ‘pick and mix’ for frozen fruit.

Household items such as cleaning products are also refillable, while wine and beer will be available to customers that bring bottles.

The ‘Waitrose Unpacked’ scheme has also seen the removal of plastic packaging for flowers, and a ‘borrow a box’ initiative allows customers to take part by leaving a deposit for a container that can be returned to the store.

The pilot scheme will run for a period of 11 weeks, with customers able to provide feedback through a survey at Waitrose.com/Unpacked. Social media users are also urged to have their say using the hashtag #WaitroseUnpacked on Twitter and Instagram.

A ‘pick and mix’ station for fruit is among the initiatives at an Oxford Waitrose store.

Head of CSR for Waitrose & Partners, Tor Harris, said: “We are determined to build on the work we’ve already done to reduce packaging – and this test will take our efforts to a whole new level as we help the growing number of customers who want to shop in a more sustainable way.

“This test has huge potential to shape how people might shop with us in the future so it will be fascinating to see which concepts our customers have an appetite for. We know we’re not perfect and have more to do, but we believe this is an innovative way to achieve something different.”


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJune 3, 2019
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4min277

The Customer Experience Professional Masterclass is taking place next month, and the deadline to take advantage of a special Early Bird discount offer is fast approaching.

The two-day Masterclass is led by Ian Golding, founder of the Customer Experience Consultancy, and author of Customer What? The honest and practical guide to customer experience. Ian will take participants on a journey of learning CX skills and strategies, with the use of relevant case studies and practical exercises.

Topics covered in this in-depth class include all core Customer Experience competencies, such as 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.

Ian Golding (third from right) pictured with attendees of the CX Professional Masterclass in April.

The Masterclass is taking place at the Business & Technology Centre in Stevenage on July 8 – 9, while for those keen to take the CCXP exam, a preparation workshop will be held at the same venue on July 10.

Those who book their place before June 10 can save £150 in attendance costs. For further details on any of the CXM Masterclasses, please email Antonija@cxm.co.uk.

Recent Masterclass attendees have praised the course and the newfound skills that will now help them on their career path.

Irina Mostovaya, Service Owner at cyber security firm F-Secure, said: “The true meaning behind ‘Customer Experience’ is often misunderstood. Ian’s Masterclass introduces valuable tools to create a functioning CX strategy and company culture, whether you are just starting out, or are further into your CX development. Real-life examples, together with 24 years of Ian’s practical experience, are the best reasons to attend the Masterclass and discover that the CX is not just an abbreviation, but a science ‘with a heart behind it’.”

Director at Serbian firm Skills D.O.O. said of the Masterclass: “It was above my expectations, which doesn’t happen often. I was absolutely impressed with Ian’s vast knowledge and experience, and would like him to be my mentor.”

Hope Grant, Customer Services Manager at DMG Events, described Ian’s teaching as “engaging and inspiring”, while Libbi Martin, Senior Marketing Manager at Shepherds Friendly Society, added: “It was a wonderful experience and I enjoyed meeting so many like-minded people.”

Further CX Professional Masterclass dates are scheduled for September and November.

 




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