Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthDecember 6, 2019


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.”

Neil McIlroyNeil McIlroyNovember 4, 2019


According to a Salesforce Research paper published last year, 79 percent of customers now expect offers and recommendations from companies to be personalised based on what they’ve already bought. 

It’s part of a trend we’ve seen emerging for years in commerce, a trend that is now beginning to reach critical mass. If a brand neglects to give their customers the uniquely tailored experience they’ve come to expect, they’ll simply find it elsewhere, usually with a competitor.

This failure to adapt to a modern customer experience is the downfall of many businesses that would otherwise have been very successful.  It’s difficult for sure, but thanks to machine learning and AI technology, it’s getting easier. But what does it all mean, and where should businesses even start?

It’s hard to imagine in 2019, but transactions were once regarded as ‘one and done’ deals and had no deeper meaning or analysis attached to them. There was an exchange of product and money, and that was that. At most, a customer’s details might have been manually entered into a rudimentary CRM suite (Customer Relationship Management) where their file would surely have gathered dust until the business uncovered their email address to drop some random offers into their inbox in an effort to stir up sales.

Back then, this was the extent of the Customer Experience – detached, directionless, and oftentimes annoying. Customers never liked being sold to, and that’s even more true today.

These days, thanks to artificial intelligence and analytical technology, the insights derived from a transaction are almost becoming more valuable to a business than the transaction itself. The Customer Experience has been completely transformed, and if a business can anticipate a customer’s needs and present personalised recommendations based on transactional data, they’re far more likely to become loyal, repeat customers for years to come.

The modern Customer Experience is about removing purchase barriers, reducing friction, and making it easier for the customer to come to you rather than you necessarily going after the customer. For this to work, businesses need to start really getting to know their customers as individuals.

But how?

How can a national brand ‘get to know’ thousands, tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of customers as individuals? Transactional data is fantastic, but it only really paints part of the picture.

To truly transform the Customer Experience, we need to know what customers are thinking and feeling. It sounds insurmountable, but it is entirely possible. It begins by extracting qualitative information from customers directly through things like feedback, ratings, and surveys.

Insight: Knowing what customers are thinking and feeling is crucial for brands

This is the easy part. The difficult part is getting that information into a form that’s meaningful, measurable, and actionable. 

Fortunately, machine learning is overcoming many of these difficult barriers for us. Using new technology, we can unlock the value in qualitative opinion-based input and apply quantitative traits that can be used to influence and develop services.

Essentially, machine learning helps make the immeasurable, measurable. Combined with natural language processing (sometimes referred to as NPL), machine learning is capable of extracting keywords or phrases from individual reviews, and then applying that same technique to large scale batches.

Once extracted, the context is considered during a ‘sentiment analysis’ which can determine whether items are being talked about positively or negatively. These two elements combined allow businesses to collect detailed feedback at scale, even picking up on certain elements that may have previously been overlooked. The frequency and context surrounding particular items can help steer the attention of the business in the right place, influencing overall strategy and behaviour.

As well as transactional data, which can help shape the individual experience in terms of predictions and buying patterns, machine learning can help shape the customer experience en masse and transform services to better suit the market. Extracting ‘in the moment’ feedback for immediate response is great, but there’s also a lot of value to be gained at other points in the customer journey, away from the transaction itself.

This ability to rapidly analyse thousands of customer touchpoints throughout their time with a brand can help that brand identify particular behaviours or sentiments as they are emerging.  This is where data translates into valuable, actionable insight. 

Similarly, the qualitative, opinion-based insight from customers could be combined with transactional data, stock levels, product specifications and even a customer’s browsing habits – all to deliver a service that preempts the customer’s needs and makes their decision to purchase completely seamless.

To see this innovative technology in full swing, we can turn our attention to the health insurance market. Some pioneering brands in that industry have embraced the Internet of Things (IoT) to personalise insurance policies and deliver value that specific to each individual.

For example, tracking heart rate data, step count and general activity through wearables can demonstrate that an individual is healthy and active, therefore granting them access to better deals and cheaper insurance. Effectively, it’s a way for health insurers to do what they’ve always done – evaluate risk – but with far more data at their disposal. Factor in other IoT technology such as smartphones and smart appliances, or black boxes on cars, and you begin to see how this tapestry of technology can be woven into a highly personalised and desirable service.

Regardless of industry sector, machine learning and natural language processing has been the missing piece of the jigsaw when it comes to providing a truly unique and customer-driven experience. Combined with data from other channels, customer insight is allowing businesses to learn more about their target market and break it down into very specific and detailed segments.

Not only can this inform business strategy and the development of services, it can shape all aspects of business marketing and give sales teams the insight they need to attract, retain and delight customers. The beating heart of this elaborate process is the customer experience platform – allowing verified customers to engage with brands easily and share their opinions on their experiences in a meaningful and valuable way.

Sandra ThompsonSandra ThompsonAugust 7, 2019


We’ve all read so much about emotion in Customer Experience – we see articles about defining the emotions we want customers to experience with our brand and we watch videos emphasising the importance of recognising the emotional state of our customers.

There are more conversations than ever about the use of emotion and sentiment analysis. In my view, this content is, at its best, flawed and at its worst, utter rubbish

The reason why I make this statement is because I spent six months researching and writing an academic paper entitled It’s all in the mind – unleashing the power of emotional intelligence and its ability to create positive customer memories.

The paper covered the emotion in customers, between staff and between leaders and staff (the internal emotional environment is often described as Employee Experience or engagement and not described as emotion in CX), memory, emotional intelligence, and changing trends in Customer Experience.

Emotion is not what we think it is

Historically, emotion has been categorised into six basic types: anger, happiness, surprise, disgust, sadness, and fear. With increasingly sophisticated brain imaging techniques, scientists can examine emotional activity, presenting a new view of emotions as a simulation based on the person’s previous experience, the context of the experience, and their understanding of the experience in that moment.

Emotions are as unique as our fingerprints.

It is impossible for us to define the emotions we want our customers to feel. It’s inconceivable that we can interpret emotion using language from limited sources. We should consider the emotional states of the colleagues we are trying to influence to create the change our customers would value. 

Weigh to go: Successfully balancing emotional intelligence in an organisation can lead to better CX

Emotion in Customer Experience

The Experience Economy, written in 1999, introduced the idea of Customer Experience and the notion that customers were bored with the consumption of products and services. For businesses to differentiate themselves, the authors claimed that brands needed to create emotionally immersive experiences to create emotional connections.

Buying decisions are emotional processes, yet we do not equip our people with the skills to respond to any emotional state (emotional simulation) presented by customers during their journey. Instead, we teach them how to deal with complaints and angry customers.

We design experiences intended to make customers happy or develop ‘tailor-made’ interventions staff can call on when things happen. We want to respond to the emotions of our customers but we think that we can’t make every encounter personal in that moment or it will be too expensive.

We’ve got it all wrong.

The development and use of emotional intelligence will not only enable staff to differentiate their brand through more emotionally connected customer contact, it will enable people across the silos that exist within businesses to make sustainable changes that customers truly value. 

Emotional intelligence isn’t just about empathy or being nice

Daniel Goleman, the author, psychologist, and science journalist responsible for popularising the skill of emotional intelligence, reminds his readers that emotional intelligence is not just about being nice. His definition of the skill is:

Your ability to recognise and understand emotions in yourself and others and your ability to use this awareness to manage your behaviour and relationships. Emotional Intelligence is the something in each of us that is a bit intangible. It affects how we manage behaviour, navigate social complexity and make personal decisions that achieve positive results.”

Whenever I run emotional intelligence workshops, my delegates describe the skill as the ability to develop empathy. Some know about the first competence, which is to have a high degree of self-awareness, but very few know the 12 competencies shown below.

Why emotional intelligence is so important in CX

People with high levels of emotional intelligence are more successful professionally and lead happier personal lives. Taking four of the competencies from the grid above indicates the impact that emotional intelligence could have on Customer Experience:

  • Emotional self-awareness: the ability to understand your own emotions and the effect on your performance. Imagine being able to recognise emotional states within yourself and as a consequence being a highly effective communicator.
  • Achievement orientation: when individuals are striving to meet or exceed a standard of excellence and feedback on their performance. Imagine the impact this would have between individuals in different teams and between customers and staff.
  • Organisational awareness: the ability to read a group’s emotional currents and power relationships, and identify influencers, networks, and the dynamics of an organisation. Imagine knowing who to influence so that you could create a workplace with greater psychological safety; where staff intuitively knew (and were able to carry out) the right thing to do for their customers.
  • Conflict management: individuals help others through emotional or tense situations, tactfully bringing disagreements into the open and defining solutions everyone can endorse. Imagine creating the change customers value in this emotionally intelligent environment.

So what?

The discipline of Customer Experience is having a hard time at the moment. Some writers claim that CEOs are losing patience with CX initiatives as they fear that they will not return the value they promise, reminiscent of CRM investments 20 years ago.   

The idea of adopting emotional intelligence across an organisation presents a new approach by becoming more customer-centric. Given that emotions are as unique as fingerprints, it may serve organisations better to equip their staff with the skills they need to cater with whatever emotions customers present at any time (rather than train them to deal with complaints and become more generally empathetic). 

In addition, colleagues are more likely to make the type of changes customers truly value with less conflict and more teamwork when they share skills in emotional intelligence.


Click here for details of the Applied Customer Experience training course at Pearson College London.

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJuly 11, 2019


The finalists in the 2019 UK Customer Experience Awards have been announced, with some of the UK’s best-known brands preparing to compete for glory in London’s Wembley Stadium this autumn.

The gala event – which this year is marking ten years of celebrating the very best CX in Britain – will take place on October 10, when finalists will make presentations before an expert panel of judges in a bid to secure one of 24 category titles that reflect every aspect of customer centricity.

Shortlisted category finalists include O2, Prudential, Direct Line Group, Aldi, Capita, Sky, Game, and many more. Click here for a full list of 2019 finalists.

New categories for 2019 include Employee Experience, Employees at the Heart of Everything, Hospitality & Leisure, Retail, and Professional Services, and the awards will be presented during an evening black tie dinner ceremony.

The finals, which are chaired once again by international CX consultant and author Ian Golding, is also one of the UK’s best CX networking opportunities, with hundreds gathering at the iconic venue to support colleagues and celebrate what makes the UK a beacon of customer-centricity in a rapidly changing business landscape.

The UK Customer Experience Awards is accredited with the prestigious Gold Awards Trust Mark from the Independent Awards Standards Council, and as always is proud to be partnered with Cranfield School of Management, Barnardo’s, and the Customer Experience Professionals Association.

Also partnering the Awards for 2019 are data consultancy Kantar, and Customer Experience tech giant Genesys.

Reach for the stars: The UK Customer Experience Awards is Britain’s biggest celebration of customer centricity

Awards International CEO Neil Skehel said: “Congratulations to all of our finalists, and I look forward to welcoming them to the home of champions, Wembley Stadium, later this year for the biggest UK Customer Experience Awards to date.

“The event has grown exponentially to become the biggest CX event of its kind in the world, and we are incredibly proud to be marking its tenth anniversary. Customer Experience is now a brand’s most defining characteristic, and it is impossible to overestimate its importance to the economy. These awards play such an important role in not only celebrating achievements, but also setting the standard for organisations to follow if they are to be successful in this new era where the customer really is at the heart of everything.”



Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthMay 9, 2019


Capgemini, the digital transformation firm behind major wins at the UK Customer and Digital Experience Awards, has signed a contract with EDF Energy to revamp its CX offering.

Through its cloud contact centre solutions brand, Odigo, Capgemini will offer a Contact-Center-as-a-Service (CCaaS) solution, as part of EDF’s wider Customer Experience transformation initiative. The energy supplier aims to use innovative technology to optimise the service it delivers to its 3 million customers.

Odigo will replace the existing on-premise contact centre platform with a cloud-native solution, enabling EDF to deliver a quicker, simpler, and more effective service to customers; have greater autonomy over the ongoing maintenance of the solution; and access to a full suite of features for future innovation.

As part of the multi-year deal, the Odigo CCaaS system will deliver a range of services, including routing inbound/outbound interactions, real-time monitoring, workforce optimisation, and secure card payments.

Niels Roberts, Digital, Automation and Process Excellence Director at EDF Energy, said: “Not only does Odigo have the tools and functionalities to help us deliver a great experience for our customers, but it also offers a flexible, cloud-based commercial model to allow us to continually adapt to our customers’ needs. We are excited to work with Odigo over the coming years as part of our CX transformation journey.”

Erwan Le Duff, Managing Director of Odigo, added:”Building on Capgemini’s long-standing relationship in the UK, we are delighted for Odigo now to be implemented at EDF Energy; together we will transform its contact centre telephony and support the realisation of its customer experience vision. In an age of instantaneous digital communication, effective customer touchpoints are critical to the success of an organisation – we believe Odigo’s CCaaS offering will give EDF Energy the tools to build strong customer relationships, both now and in the future.”


Lucinda PullingerLucinda PullingerApril 25, 2019


According to HSE, around 15.4 million working days were lost due to work-related stress or anxiety last year, with 23 percent of full-time employees admitting to feeling burned out at work all the time.

Following these recent statistics, we wanted to identify the early signs of burnout and how to effectively avoid hitting ‘rock bottom’.

While January is one of the toughest times of the year for career blues in the UK, it is especially important to look out for signs of burnout later in the year as well. Stress and exhaustion at work impacts employees of all ages around the world, and at every level of the career ladder. Similar to imposter syndrome, high achievers and perfectionists are particularly susceptible to burning themselves out.

Six key factors that lead to burnout at work

  1. High Workload: In the UK, 44 percent of stress or depression at work is caused by a high workload
  2. Unclear Job Expectations: In America, only 60 percent of employees say they know what is expected
  3. Conflict: One of the main work-related factors causing burnout
  4. Lack of Managerial Support: Those with a strong support system are 70 percent less likely to experience burnout
  5. No Work/Life Balance: The inability to manage work and personal life can have a snowball effect
  6. Stressful Working Environment: There is a correlation between stressful jobs and burnout

If your work and family life are consistently stressful, you’re almost certainly at risk of burnout. Most people only realise that they are truly burnt out when it’s too late and then they need to work towards eliminating the symptoms, often while still having to deal with the stresses that caused it in the first place.

Keeping an eye out for warning signs can help you make changes proactively, making it easier to prevent burnout, while you still have the will and motivation to make the changes required.

Career burnout symptoms


Over-engagement is a symptom of high-stress levels. Going to sleep and waking up thinking about a problem or a deadline is a perfect example of over-engagement. When you start to disengage with your work or personal problems by ignoring or avoiding them, burnout warning bells should start ringing.


Stress usually manifests as a sense of urgency, often resulting in hyperactivity. Anyone facing perpetual deadlines knows the feeling. Burnout, however, is characterised by helplessness and hopelessness; the belief that nothing you do is going to have any effect on your situation or drive any real change.

Blunted emotions

When under stress, you may find that your emotions are exaggerated and more difficult to control, resulting in you becoming angrier or upset easier than usual. With blunted emotions, however, you may feel that you do not have the energy to react emotionally to situations, or that you are unable to feel excited or worried at all.

If you’ve started exhibiting any of these symptoms, you may be approaching burnout and should act to minimise its severity and effect. 

Effective ways to deal with burnout

Acknowledge your problems

It’s easy to ignore or downplay other issues in your life that may be contributing to your burnout. Make a list of all things you worry about daily, including the things you feel that you have no power to change. By ordering these by a level of importance, you’ll know which issues you need to address first.

Seek support

Whether it’s from a co-worker or manager, talking about the problem and seeking advice is a critical step into addressing the causes of your burnout.

Book time off

In some cases, merely having some time away from work, helps re-evaluate your priorities and enables you to get to the root of your stresses. If you’re worried about using up all your annual leave, strategically book leave to optimise your time off.

Slow it down

It’s vitally important to learn to create a mental divide between work and your life outside it, as it’s extremely unhealthy and unproductive to be thinking about work during ‘off time’.

Ask for more flexibility

With a huge shift towards businesses becoming more agile, the growth of remote working, and an increasing amount of co-working and flexible workspace options around the world, more companies are starting to introduce flexible working hours to reduce commuting time and increase happiness.

Take a few minutes each day to acknowledge your anxieties for what they are; irrational and exaggerated, and prioritise things like spending time with friends and family and outdoor activities.

It’s important to be honest with yourself during the onset of burnout. Remember, these are simply tips to help you improve your situation in the short term. Burnout has genuine health implications, and we strongly recommend that you seek professional help in overcoming it. A mental health professional will provide you with tools to make your recovery simpler and easier to maintain.

Amanda RichesAmanda RichesJanuary 15, 2019


Whether you chose to set New Year resolutions or not, January is a good time to reflect on the year before and grasp the opportunities of a new beginning.

I’ve been reflecting on what successful CX leaders we partner with at Medallia are doing, and have identified five key actions to ensure success in 2019…

1. Start with the end in mind – build an impact plan

Visualise where you want to be at the end of this year. What will make you say this is the best year ever for your Voice of Customer programme? If you wrote your company report now, what would you want it to say about your Customer Experience?

Clients with truly successful programmes have an impact plan. They know what outcomes they are targeting and then set programme priorities to really drive impact. For example, retailers targeting increased basket size in-store may use their programme to instil and track behaviours that link to spending, such as assisting customers and inspiring them to buy.

Companies wanting to improve and increase digital transactions can collect insight online to quickly fix site errors or identify self-serve opportunities (look into how Western Union use digital insight). Think about what your C-Suite care about. What business outcomes are you looking to drive? What three programme priorities should you implement in the next 100 days to drive these outcomes?

2. Engage your leaders with a clear list of asks

Visible leadership is the number one priority for a successful programme, but getting consistent CX leadership can be difficult. Provide them with tools to help them, and focus on the tangible things they can do to support the programme.

Ask your leaders to:

  • Schedule feedback at the start of every key meeting
  • Ensure their teams feel empowered to take action
  • Regularly recognise people based on positive customer feedback or actions they’ve taken to improve the experience
  • Participate visibly in closed loop conversations. For example, a CEO of a Telco client of ours meets with two detractors (0-6 on the NPS® scale) every fortnight. He finds this extremely rewarding and insightful, but it also sends a clear cultural message that recovering detractors and fixing their issues is of paramount importance

Usually you can find at least one leader who is absolutely committed to delivering amazing CX. Not those who are simply supportive; I mean those who really do ‘walk the walk’. They live it – they put their own reputations on the line to drive programme success. How can they help you engage other leaders in doing the same? If you’re a leader and your customers are your number one priority, then what are you waiting for?

3. Make it easy for your customers to give feedback – anytime and anywhere

Take an honest look at your programme – are you really covering all the touchpoints or journeys that are important to your customers? Do you have a comprehensive view of your Customer Experience? Have you mapped out your Customer Experience to highlight the potential gaps? And do you give your customers the flexibility to choose where and how they want to give feedback?

Whilst an email to web/mobile survey is often core to programmes, ensure you give your online customers the opportunity to tell you why they abandoned their basket or perhaps never even put something in their basket because the descriptions or photos were unclear.

Think about how you can solicit feedback through new interaction channels like mobile messaging. Place tablet surveys accessible in physical locations.

4. Encourage others to join the party

Too often I see programmes get stuck with the core CX team or one or two others analysing results, themes, and driving action. You will not drive change from what you centrally control – you have to engage and enable the whole organisation.

This shouldn’t be just operational, call centre, or sales champions. Make sure you provide tools, reports, and training to support your wider teams, e.g. HR, IT, Finance, Legal, Buying, Marketing etc. Set expectations with them about how they should contribute to CX, and make the focus about finding improvement opportunities.

5. Forget about the number and become a storyteller

In 2019, concentrate less on the numbers, and actively communicate stories across your organisation. Don’t get me wrong, numbers are important to pinpoint areas to investigate further, but an over-focus on scores is unhealthy.

We should all spend our time driving action on the things that matter to customers rather than worrying about – or worse still, challenging the numbers. Humans are motivated by stories. Communicating how one business unit saved thousands of call centre hours by implementing SMS claim status updates helped a leading global insurer energise other markets to find similar impactful improvements.

More than 10 years on, I still mention the customer from my first hotel CX programme who raved about how their child’s lost teddy was sent back to them in a makeshift bed in a box with tiny holes so that “Teddy could breathe fresh air on his journey home”. The action of this housekeeper inspired so many others to find ways to surprise and delight their customers.

Drive quick wins, work with your committed leaders to innovate and test improvements, look under every stone for success. Then build your own stories and shout about them!

Joe JarrettJoe JarrettDecember 19, 2018


Is the increase in martech spend at the cost of Customer Experience?

There’s a growing challenge in marketing that we’re not speaking about nearly enough. For all the investment brands are ploughing into technology to increase capability and visibility, many still seem to be failing to gain the focus to truly place customers at the heart of the brand. Now is the time to have this conversation (and, in fact, I find myself having this conversation with Simple customers increasingly often).

Martech spend has surpassed that of labour this year as Gartner’s CMO Spend Survey for 2018-2019 reports, with the growing popularity of software-as-a-service tools across many industries pushing spending up by almost one-third in just a year.

According to the report, “marketing technology has accounted for an increasingly significant share of marketing expense budgets in recent years. In 2018, this march of martech shows no signs of slowing down. Up from 22 percent in 2017, martech now accounts for a whopping 29 percent of the total marketing expense budget, making martech the single largest area of investment when it comes to marketing resources and programs.”

So how can brands harness the power of so much martech to get closer to their customers? And what’s the best way to ensure technology is enabling marketers to get closer to – rather than further from – their customers?

At a recent event hosted by Simple in London we put these questions to a panel of senior marketers and technologists responsible for some of the highest profile brands in the world over the past two decades. Here’s what they had to say:

Engage on a human level

With so much required of modern marketing departments it’s easy to lose sight of who the company is targeting and why, said Abigail Comber, CMO at Oyster Yachts.

“You should be able to ask of any colleague in marketing, ‘When was the last time you saw the whites of your customers’ eyes?’ Because if they haven’t then they don’t know their customer,” explained Comber, who formerly held roles as Head of Brand, Customer & Marketing at British Airways.

“Hearing customers tell stories about their lives helps marketers remember that they are dealing with human beings as opposed to data and digits.  Without that context, money is being wasted on flowing data into the wrong channels and building frequency for a customer that ultimately isn’t that interested in the brand because you haven’t scratched the surface of who they are as a person.”

Use data to your advantage

It’s now not uncommon for a marketing department to use upwards of 90 tools and apps to drive transformation. While this might be seen as an opportunity to be 90 times more connected, so much technology is fast exhausting marketers’ time, budget and sanity. After all, with 90 times the tools and technology comes 90 times more data, 90 times more cost and 90 more things to draw your time and attention away from your customers.

“Data is a support and we are drowning in it,” said Comber. Now more than ever before marketers’ need to understand the difference between research or data and insight, she explained.  “We focus so much on data that we often lose sight of where our customers are in their brand experience journey at any one time.”

Eliminate complexity

While there are many niche tools that purport to give brands the insights necessary to drive this change, much of the focus to date has been on campaign execution, said Simple’s global CEO Aden Forrest.

“Everyone wants a digital transformation, but what they’re really saying is that they need to put the customer at the centre of their universe,” he explained.

“The questions marketers should be asking are, ‘How can we be more relevant to our customers? And how can we get our brand more consistently delivering to those customers?'”

In 2019 marketers need to align, focus, and understand the customer in order to create the right outcomes.


Mark GreenMark GreenNovember 9, 2018


In business, the adage “It starts at the top” can prompt an uncomfortable question: “Can the boss finish what he or she started?”

Many CEOs and entrepreneurs wrestle with this challenge, with both short and long-term implications. Meanwhile, a disconnect develops between the CEO’s initial big-picture vision for the company and its seemingly sporadic execution toward those goals.

The Global Leadership Forecast 2018 highlights issues of greatest concern to CEOs;  among them is a lack of alignment among senior leaders. The last problem any CEO  wants is an inability to get everyone on the same page, aligned and executing their strategy.

I’ve witnessed CEOs struggle with this question: ‘”Why is it so difficult to execute what I already know I should be doing”. They and their teams generally know what to do and how to get it done. But they avoid the decisions and actions they know could advance their success.

All roads lead back to obstacles within your mind. New behaviours leading to execution require new ways of thinking.

Here are five ways for CEOs to change behaviours that obstruct them from leading their company efficiently and effectively:

If/when, then

A study on influencing behaviour by German researchers found that formulating an “if/when, then” plan – stating a specific time to accomplish a task – provided a cue to provoke the desired response. I’ve worked with many CEOs who were not classically trained in accounting and finance and are overwhelmed by numbers. Such fears drove them to avoid financial information and reports. Making an if/when, then statement compels them to change the behaviour.

Relate and repeat

To change, one needs to believe that change is possible. Cultivate relationships with those who can help you see that the change you desire is attainable. Then repeat by testing out the new behaviour or thought pattern and seeking feedback.

Know when to say no

As the company leader, being a giver is important – but not to the point where sacrifice damages your own performance. Credible research shows that high-performing givers knew when to say no. Track your yes-to-no ratio. It’s the only way to protect your time, energy, and focus as a leader.

Forget perfectionism

Perfectionism is a waste of time and energy for a CEO. The 80/20 Rule – also known as the Pareto principle, first articulated by Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto – holds that roughly 80 percent of the effects come from 20 percent of the causes. The 80/20 Rule also applies to perfectionism – the majority of the value in any endeavour comes from a small amount of the overall effort. Perfectionism frequently limits our progress and fuels our fears. If you can keep the 80/20 Rule in mind, you can reduce your fears and accomplish more.

Hold yourself accountable

One way CEOs and entrepreneurs can judge their performance is by asking themselves self-assessment questions daily. You need accountability strategies that require you to evaluate your progress and focus on the importance of your goals. Often, the best way to modify a behaviour is just to jump in. Seek out examples of the behaviours you want to employ, embrace some discomfort, and emulate them until they begin to feel natural.

Clare GabaClare GabaJune 13, 2018


If you are starting out with a new business venture, or even if you are well-established, then before you begin to look into digital marketing you must ask yourself the question: ‘Who are we?’

This is a question that should be asked before you do anything really; it seems relatively straightforward, yet you would not believe the multitude of people who cannot answer simple questions about who they are and what their company does.

So, before you start to put plans in place, ask yourself these questions:

1) Who is our customer?

If you think your audience is young professionals, your marketing department thinks it could be children, and your COO reckons an older audience is better suited, you have a bit of a problem!

2) What is our challenge or opportunity?

Where is the gap in the market? What is your USP (unique selling point)? Where do you position yourselves? Where are you making a breakthrough where others haven’t?

3) What is the main customer benefit of our product or service?

It’s all well and good designing furniture that you deem to be of a high quality (justifying a higher price point), but why is it such high quality? Have you looked at your competitors? What benefit does your furniture offer over theirs? Look? Feel? The brand behind it? The comfort? The list goes on.

For example, with my marketing startup, weflourish, I pride myself on being new to the marketing consultancy ‘game’, but with over 10 years’ in-house experience under my belt across multiple industries.

4) What do our customers say about us?

Surveys, focus groups, testimonials…in other words: feedback, feedback, feedback!

You may think your staff understand your company best, and they often do, but don’t forget to find out how the public sees your product or service, as they will give you a valuable unbiased point of view, one that you really need to succeed.

5) Can we visualise the Customer Experience?

If you can’t envisage the user journey, how can you expect the actual customer to have an easy, fluid experience in purchasing your product?

Simply put, if you or your colleagues stumble upon any of these questions, or answer them differently to each other (I advise conducting this activity as a team task), then a larger discussion is needed amongst the team in order to get yourself on the same page internally, before you go further afield.

Please send thoughts at Clare Gaba will be judging at the 2018 UK Digital Experience Awards.

David TaylorDavid TaylorJune 8, 2018


Like every other area of technology, social media continues to evolve on an almost permanent basis. In a post-GDPR and post Cambridge Analytica world, where algorithms completely govern what users see online and uber-influencers control the purchasing decisions of millions, the time has come to construct a proper strategy to engage fully with both your customers and your staff.

Years ago, in a pre-digital age, a marketing or PR team would manage a company’s brand profile. While word of mouth was important amongst customers, none of them had the platforms to communicate positive or negative messages very far. Nor in fact could their staff.

In today’s predominantly digital world, any organisation’s brand is a complex jigsaw made up of potential contributions from the sales and marketing team, suppliers, customers and of course employees. Together they then make up your overall digital footprint.

So how can you harness the power of these stakeholders or at the very least, minimise the risk of them damaging your brand?

The first step is to have a proper digital business plan for your company. This is not a marketing, sales, PR, or social media plan but one which looks at almost all areas of your business including HR, recruitment, internal communications, IT, and even governance. You’re planning for a future in a predominantly digital world, so you need to adjust how you run your company.

This plan also needs to look at your staff and customer needs today and five, ten15, years into the future. Plus, you must put together really comprehensive, proactive social media guidelines for both your staff and even your suppliers.

Closely linked to having a proper business plan is a thorough examination of your company’s corporate culture. Are you inspiring real creative energy, are you looking to innovate your offering, do you have a leadership team who ‘get’ social media, do you encourage your staff to come up with new ideas and do you really listen to what your customers are saying?

Content has always been king, and never more so than in a multi-channel, multimedia world which requires huge volumes of articles, images, videos and now filters, emojis and games.

The trick is to understand where to source the content. Fortunately, there are four different sources: 1) internally, 2) externally, 3) your customers with User Generated Content, and 4) your own staff with Employee Generated Content. Together, they should ensure you always have interesting and engaging content to fill not only your digital channels but also your traditional and internal ones too.

Content is nothing without community. As many staff as possible within companies now need to be at least willing to be proactive on social media – whether they are customer-facing or not. This is where you need to harness the power of your internal brand ambassadors.

The more you can get your staff and your customers to engage with the content you are creating, the higher your brand visibility will be on almost all the channels. Of course, this can then be amplified by using targeted advertising on the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn to reach the widest possible audiences.

The final piece of the strategy is to harness the data to build your business for the future. Monitor the conversations, the trends, the engagement with your posts, track the performance of your website, your insights. Also, in this post GDPR world, make sure your CRM system is constantly updated and you’re looking to migrate away from email lists to more proactive social data.

While none of this is simple and does require a major shift in the way that businesses need to be run, the good news is that it doesn’t necessarily require a large budget. It’s about being digitally-adaptive so your company can thrive today and well into the future.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthMarch 9, 2018


Worldwide professional services firm FDM Group has been announced as the latest official partner for the 2018 UK Employee Experience Awards, which will take place this spring.

Hosted by Awards International in London’s Park Plaza Hotel on May 17, the daytime gala event will celebrate and reward exceptional organisations and individuals at the forefront of promoting and inspiring Employee Experience (EX) across the UK.

FDM Group is the latest business to join the awards as official partners, alongside Benefex, Cranfield School of Management, Customer Experience Magazine, and event sponsors Barnardo’s.

The cutting-edge company enjoys hugely successful relationships with global clients, and has UK offices in London, Leeds, Brighton, and Glasgow while their international outposts include New York, Hong Kong, and Singapore.

Andy Brown is FDM Group’s Chief Commercial Officer, and he said the company is “delighted” to have joined the 2018 Employee Experience Awards at a time when the concept of EX is becoming ever-more crucial to the running a business.

“Understanding how we create strong, positive emotional connections with our employees so they are motivated and inspired is crucial for the benefit of their wellbeing and that of the overall organisation and this is where Employee Experience plays a part,” he said.

“These awards provide an opportunity for us all to share best practice in employee experience and encourage others to do the best they can for their people”

Neil Skehel, the CEO of Awards International, said:

“It is a pleasure to have a partnership with an internationally recognised firm like FDM Group. Their influence and involvement with the 2018 awards will help us reach our goal of making this year’s event the most successful to date.”

CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamNovember 23, 2017


It seems clear that the great British public will now very rarely be bothered to write or call companies when something is wrong.

Instead we are likely to simply moan or let rip on social media before stopping to use a brand or service, probably without telling the company – a trend that has spawned the growth in social media monitoring.

That’s just one of the main findings from the annual ‘Customers in Britain’ survey earlier this year, which records that ‘traditional’ complaint behaviour now runs at less than half the volume recorded a decade ago.

Until about 2010 the survey regularly recorded that about half of all adults made three or more complaints per year to any brand or organisation – and it’s these higher volume complainers who in particular have gone elsewhere: no doubt social media is now their main channel.

Perhaps less surprising is that the highest proportions of classic ‘direct to the brand’ complaints behaviour is generated from more traditional rural areas, the older age bands and more upscale social groups.

In terms of sector, we have seen for many years that the highest volumes of complaints are received by the supermarkets, banks and utility suppliers. However, whilst retailers generally do well at turning adversity to their advantage, with no-quibble refunds or exchanges, utilities struggle to get the same high scores for complaint handling and satisfaction, whilst the lowest scores for complaint resolution go to Central and local Government services.

‘Customers in Britain’ is an annual survey available to purchase, with a free overview also available from Firebrand Insight.

CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamAugust 9, 2017


More power to the display.

Much of the recent talk surrounding the iPhone 8 has focussed on its hardware. Now, courtesy of a new leak, we can go back to speculating its design. The latest image — via the web’s resident handset leaker Evan Blass — indicates Apple’s next flagship will be mostly screen, and very little bezel.

View image on Twitter

View image on Twitter

 The render shows the new iPhone within a neon yellow case, much like the Urban Armor Gear shell for the iPhone 7. Unlike the exclusive leaksEngadget obtained in May, the latest image is just of the front of the phone. It suggests the top of the phone will have a notch for the dual camera sensors and central earpiece — the rest of the front will be taken up by the phone’s display.

As usual, it’s best to greet this latest render with a dash of skepticism. For starters, the date on the iPhone is March, which indicates it could be a few months old.

If it does turn out to be accurate, however, that means Apple is following the screen-dominated designs spearheaded by SamsungLG, and the Essential Phone. Blass also pointed out the similarities with Android co-founder Andy Rubin’s device, going so far as to say he preferred the look of the Essential Phone.

Rubin’s former company, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to be following the pack. The latest leaks of Google’s upcoming Pixel phone suggest it won’t cut down on its top and bottom bezels.

The new image should get fans talking as they anticipate the next iPhone’s release. Your feelings will likely betray which camp you reside in: pro-, or anti-bezel.

Written by: Saqib Shah

Source: Engadget

Interesting Links:

CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamAugust 3, 2017


Effective use of technology is critical to the success of any business. Whether in production, sales or administration, technology helps businesses to run more smoothly. It also enables employees to leverage their time and ability, to make more informed decisions, and to implement strategies more quickly. 

This is especially true in the world of Human Resources, where the building of capable teams contributes mightily to the overall success of a company. To improve workplace productivity, make sure that you are making the most of the technology in the field of HR in each of the following ways.

1. Network and stay aware of talent available in the marketplace

Social and professional networking sites make it easier today than ever before to identify prospective candidates for positions within your company. Using sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram effectively, you can conduct thorough research into a prospective hire, check their CV, and get an idea of their personal character. If a highly-talented individual leaves their firm or starts looking for new opportunities, you can find out quickly and move to bring them on board. 

2. Measure aptitude and attitude in potential hires

During the interview process, you can use technology to test a candidate’s ability to perform various functions necessary to their prospective role. You can also use personality assessments to determine where and how they should be placed within the company or various teams. Using tests such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, you can get results that are more quantitative rather than subjective, so the information gleaned can be used objectively.

3. Track the productivity of various teams before and after the addition of new members

The implementation of proper technology within your firm will allow HR professionals to measure and track the productivity of the company as a whole, as well as various departments or teams across time. This way, they can see where capabilities may be lacking or new talent may be especially effective in boosting productivity. They can also compare the productivity of different teams within the business, given the personality and aptitude metrics associated with the members of each team. Many personnel and productivity management programs – designed specifically for HR professionals – report that the first upticks that they find after implementation of their solutions are in areas related to customer service. Where employees were more prone to slacking, they’re now motivated to stay on task and address customer issues that arise.

4. Measure the impact of certain traits on productivity of various teams

In HR, it’s easy to understand how certain personalities or skill sets may complement each other. It’s also commonly acknowledged that certain types of people will have more difficulty working together. As technology is implemented to measure the competence and personalities of new and existing employees, HR professionals can then watch over time to see how productivity is impacted by the addition or elimination of employees with certain traits. This will generate a store of knowledge, allowing those resource professionals to specifically seek or avoid specific traits in their future hiring. They will also be better able to rearrange existing company resources to optimise productivity without adding more employees.

5. Tie it all to budget

For a company owner or manager, this is perhaps most significant advantage offered by technology to the HR process. By effectively using technology, HR professionals can objectively measure the true cost of productivity. They can start with the cost of each employee, and begin to break down the relative cost of aptitude and attitude in each case. Going further, HR staff can measure the cost of teams given their relative output, in the same way manufacturing firms are able to determine the precise cost of each unit of output. These professionals can go on to determine which employees or teams are pulling their weight, where talent may give a boost to productivity, and whether it’s likely worth the expense. They can also determine whether rearranging company resources will be financially worthwhile. This ability to tie everything together and see how productivity affects the bottom line – and what changes will translate to better profits – is the ideal goal for Human Resources.

Human Resources is all about building effective, efficient teams to maximise company productivity. Professionals aim to leverage the skills and personalities of each individual team member, to make a whole company better than the sum of its individual parts. By utilising the right technology in the right ways, HR professionals can generate the most output from the resources available in the marketplace, ensuring that a company runs smoothly and efficiently.

The ability to improve productivity will lead to a satisfying workplace for your employees and expanded profits for company owners.

Written by: Una Lawlor

Source: HR Trend Institute

Interesting Links:

CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamJuly 25, 2017


LONDON — Clients of Barclays could have to pay as much as £350,000 ($455,000) for the bank’s highest level of equity analysis once new rules banning the free sharing of research come into force under MiFID II.

According to a report from Bloomberg on Friday last week, which cites an internal Barclays document, the bank is planning three levels of service — bronze, silver, and gold — with the gold package costing as much as $455,000 (£349,000).

For that, clients will get “unlimited reports, field trips and ‘occasional’ one-on-one meetings with analysts and corporate executives,” Bloomberg’s report notes.

At the other end of the spectrum, clients wanting the most basic access will have to fork out $30,000 (£23,000) to gain permission to read the reports.

The prices are not believed to be final, and there are likely to be “bespoke” packages available, which will be considerably more expensive. Prices from Barclays are the first emerge from a major investment bank on the equity side.

For a long time, banks have generally offered their clients free access to analysis and research as part of their overall package of service. However, that must stop from January 2018 when new MiFID rules come into force.

The rules surrounding payments for analyst research are designed to create greater separation between the money paid for trading commissions and investment research and to force greater transparency on investment banks.

A recent report from consultancy giant McKinsey argued that investors could end up spending around $1 billion (£770 million) less under the new rules, choosing to be pickier about which banks and analysts to buy research from, generally choosing only those with the best records.

“McKinsey’s view is that there will be an end only to equity research as we know it,” the report’s summary notes.

“In five years’ time, sell-side equity research will likely still play a crucial role in the fundamental investment processes of the buy side, but most firms’ research functions will be smaller and more focused, governed by a strategic appreciation of the buy side’s need to produce alpha.”

Written by: Will Martin

Source: Business Insider

Interesting Links:

CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamJuly 24, 2017

  • Government statistics put unemployment in Britain at just 4.5% — a record low not seen since the 1970s.
  • But the real rate of unemployment is four times that.
  • We walk you through the evidence that shows why official unemployment numbers are so misleading.

LONDON — Unemployment in Britain is now just 4.5%. There are only 1.49 million unemployed people in the UK, versus 32 million people with jobs.

This is almost unheard of. The last time unemployment was this low was in December 1973, when the UK set an unrepeated record of just 3.4% unemployment.

The problem with this record is that the statistical definition of “unemployment” relies on a fiction that economists tell themselves about the nature of work. As the rate gets lower and lower, it tests that lie. Because — as anyone who has studied basic economics knows — the official definition of “unemployment” disguises the true rate of unemployment. In reality, about 21.5% of all workers are without jobs, or 8.83 million people, according to the ONS.

That’s more than four times the official number.

Here is how it works. First the official numbers from the ONS, showing unemployment at 4.5%:


For decades, economists have agreed on an artificial definition of what “unemployment” means. Their argument is that because there is always someone who is taking time off, or has given up looking for work, or works at home to look after their family, that those people don’t count as part of the workforce. In addition, the unemployment rate can never truly hit zero, because even when people change jobs they tend to take a break of a few weeks between them. Very few people quit on Friday and start at a new place on Monday. In the UK and the US,technical “full employment” has, as a rule of thumb, been historically placed at an unemployment rate of somewhere between 5% and 6%. When unemployment gets that low it generally means that anyone who wants a job can have one.

Importantly, it also means that wages start to rise. It becomes more difficult for crappy employers to keep their workers when those workers know they can move to nicer jobs. And workers can demand more money from a new employer when they move, or demand more money from their current employer for not moving.

The UK right now should be a golden age for workers — low inflation and low unemployment. Now is the time to get a job. Now is the time to ask for a raise. It doesn’t get better than this. Wage rises ought to be eating into corporate profits as bosses give up their margins to retain workers, and capital is transferred from companies to workers’ pockets. Trebles all round!

Of course, that isn’t happening.

Wages in the private sector have not started to rise. Public sector wage rises are capped at 1%. There has been a little uptick in new hire rates, but the overall trend is flat. This is part of the proof that shows real unemployment can’t be just 4.5%:

weekly wages starting salaries
Pantheon Macroeconomics

More importantly, wages are not keeping pace with inflation. Here (below) is wage growth after inflation has been taken out. Workers’ real incomes are actually in decline, which is weird because “full unemployment” ought to be spurring wages upward. Overall inflation ought to be driven by wage inflation. Yet wage inflation isn’t happening:

unemployment wages
Pantheon Macroeconomics

So what’s going on?

Why does Britain have no wage inflation, if the labour market is so tight?

The answer is unemployment is not really that low. In reality, about 21.5% of British workers are either officially unemployed, inactive, or employed part-time even though they really want full-time work. (The ONS has a chapter on that here.) Some of those people — parents with newborns, university students — may not want jobs right now, but they will want jobs soon. Even when you take those out of the equation, the true rate of people without jobs who want them looks like this, according to analyst Samuel Tombs at Pantheon Economics:

slack labour unemployment
Pantheon Macroeconomics

Note especially that the rump of “inactive” workers — the black bars — has stayed roughly the same for two straight decades.

The situation is worse from the perspective of men. The percentage of inactive male workers has tripled in the last 40 years, as more and more women are drawn into the workforce to replace them:

economic inactivity unemployment

That last chart explains a LOT about politics in the UK right now.

On paper, Britain is supposed to be doing well — growing economy, low unemployment. So why did Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party get so many votes at the last election? (Answer: People still feel poor, their wages are not rising, and 1 in 7 workers is out of work.) Why did a majority of people vote for Brexit? (Answer: the economy for men is basically still in recession, and men don’t like losing their economic power, so this was a good way of “taking back control.”) And why are so many people trapped in the “gig economy,” making minimum wage? (Answer: Because the true underlying rate of unemployment means companies can still find new workers even in a time of “full employment.”)

So yes, it’s great that we have “low unemployment” in Britain.

But it would be better if economists (and the business media) were a bit more upfront about how our definition of “unemployment” actually masks the real rate of worklessness, which is quadruple the official rate.

Written by: 

Source: Business Insider

Interesting Links:

CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamFebruary 7, 2017


Since its launch 7 years ago, the UK Customer Experience Awards has become one of the most important customer experience events in the world.

It was no surprise that this year’s ceremony, which took place on the 23rd September, would be nothing short of amazing, with over 150 companies competing in more than 30 categories, and nearly 800 attendees, who left feeling inspired by the stories, experiences and achievements of their peers.

What made the occasion for us was the fact that Findel Education (our parent brand) won in the category of “Business Change.”

The fact that an awards programme as significant as the UK Customer Experience Awards recognised our passion is priceless.

Our team is dedicated to helping our customers achieve results, having made our seamless ordering process as simple as possible and committing to providing our customers with a helpful and hassle free shopping experience.

We have been supplying resources for over 100 years, not only do our customers get an experienced team to support them, they also get a name they can trust and a service they can rely on. Our professional state-of-the-art distribution centre ensures our customers receive what they want, exactly when they need it.

It felt amazing to know that the panel of judges saw what we were doing and recognised us nationally for it. It brought a new sense of purpose, motivation and inspiration to our team, and encourages us to keep improving now and in the future.

We like to think, that at Findel we approach any challenge without fear and welcome feedback with open arms from our customers or from other sources. We appreciated the feedback we received from the judges, which we got in the report following the awards.

We remain inspired to continue evolving our services and committed to providing the best in class customer experience!

Entering these awards has been a blessing and we left with more than we ever imagined, and for this, we are grateful to team at Awards International and the UK Customer Experience Awards.

Finally, we would just like to congratulate all the finalists and winners. We know they share our enthusiasm and we hope we will see them again. We are looking forward entering next year and shouting about what we have done since and who knows, we may even win again!

Arthur D. LittleArthur D. LittleJanuary 20, 2017


In our work with clients we see commonly recurring pitfalls that often lead to failure in digital implementation, including: unrealistic expectations of technology; believing a new technology system will fundamentally transform the organizational culture and employees will simply adapt; creating a constrained environment by, for example, shooting down ideas too quickly; and failing to adequately consider employees before embarking on change. We look at how these problems can be overcome by focusing on five fundamentals that are often neglected in the “new world” of digital.

Step 1 – The approach

Companies can easily become focused on delivering large-scale, three-year plans (e.g. major enterprise IT projects). Invariably, this involves detailed, upfront program specification and extensive “left-to-right” planning, leading to outcomes that directly undermine the ability to turn strategy into successful execution. Some common pitfalls include: costly, lengthy, monolithic projects with an inverse relationship between budget and chance of success; and danger of irrelevance by the time the “solution” is delivered. In combination, these factors can lead to a mentality of “we know what we need to do, if only you would let us get on with it.”

The most successful companies use data analysis and insight from adjacent industries to continually assess and then regularly revisit whether to invest further, pivot or stop. Once a trajectory has been agreed, they adopt a “right-to-left” planning approach with agile delivery.

At ADL, our own internal manifestation of this approach is a short Phase 0 (rapid analysis focused on a clearly bounded “exam question”); Phase 1 (to prove the “art of the possible”); and a Minimum Viable Solution (MVS) (to answer the exam question and build momentum through rapid iterative enhancements to the solution).

Step 2 – Design before technology

Putting technology before design, which is effectively setting the “how” before the “why,” and failing to address underlying organizational and communication structures, will simply widen the gap between strategy and execution, and between anticipated outcomes and reality.

A “design first, technology second” approach is much more effective: consider the underlying purpose of the strategy and carefully design it, with the employee or customer in mind, to take into account the functional (i.e. technically required) and non-functional requirements (i.e. how people actually will use the technology) before defining how best to implement the solution.

Step 3 – Shared language

Programs and projects are typically defined by language and nomenclature that aims to set goals and targets, define activities, and identify and manage risks. The shared language used is an important factor in determining how the team perceives values and priorities, and how it behaves in relation to risks and outcomes. Language can also leave little room to move sideways or explore new  ideas, which can lead to promising opportunities being discarded too early and failing ideas persisting.

Step 4 – People

Implementing change is hard because organizations are composed of people, who have different perspectives, incentives and motivations. Often referred to as the “soft” side of delivery, it is invariably the hardest. In our experience, companies that do not obsessively consider employees before and during each stage of strategy execution are likely to fail.

Step 5 – Flexible implementation

Traditional “best-practice” approaches assume we can precisely predict the outcomes of strategies and projects through detailed “left-to-right” execution plans. Yet this rarely goes to plan, as “best practices” are almost exclusively designed for closed systems, where all the inputs can be controlled and managed. In reality, digitally enabled strategy implementation, especially in large companies, takes place in complex open systems. These open systems comprise interactions from a diverse range of individuals, acting with a degree of autonomy and unpredictability. Trying to oversimplify such a system to implement a rigid, deterministic strategy is destined for failure.

Instead, companies need to identify and acknowledge when a system is open, with strategic plans that assume emergence and uncertainty. Management should maintain a clear view of the desired outcome and goals, but focus on delivering the next part of the plan rather than adhering to the longer-term program, while providing “invest, pivot or stop” decision points when new evidence challenges the initial strategy.

This evidence should include internal data analysis combined with an external and forward-looking focus on similar and adjacent industries. This type of adaptive approach, which we refer to as “next practice,” has been shown to be far more successful than the traditional best-practice approach.

Successfully implementing a business strategy is usually a lot more challenging than developing it. Advances in digital technology are frequently perceived as a “silver bullet” that can ensure effective delivery of anticipated change. However, digital can also expose a company’s inner contradictions, reveal hidden pockets of poor performance and even lead to perceived core capabilities becoming seen as critical weaknesses.

Wrtten by Greg Smith, Mandeep Dhillon, Laurie Guillodo, Xabier Ormaechea and Carl Bate from Arthur D. Little

Interesting links:

Simon PhillipsSimon PhillipsNovember 23, 2016


Developments in retail and EPOS technology in recent years have focused on improving customer service with more efficient and secure payment methods, going from card swiping to PIN and now onto contactless. Implementing modern EPOS solutions is only half of the job, and unreliable or poorly functioning equipment can discourage customers from returning.

Successful retail technology must be correctly maintained in order achieve optimal performance and keep customers happy, placing a lot of responsibility on retail staff. Here are a few pointers of things to remember when aiming to improve customer service via retail technology.

Improving Technology

The market is expanding, and has reached a point at which small and independent shops are adopting EPOS and PID systems. In the past, this was not a viable option for financial and logistical reasons, yet the progress in retail technology is enabling businesses of all descriptions to use electronic solutions.

Research conducted by Pay Point and JWT indicates that 25% of businesses find limited access to suitable retail technology is the biggest challenge they face in delivering good customer service.

Implementing the most advanced retail technology possible can make a considerable difference in the quality of experience customers have. Smaller businesses now have trustworthy and affordable retail technology options, opening up a whole new customer base that would previously have shopped elsewhere for convenience.

System Management

The installation of advanced retail technology can soon go downhill, however, if proper system management and maintenance is not scheduled. Maintenance can be carried out remotely by service providers, who can monitor all company equipment on a constant basis. Not only does this give businesses and their customers peace of mind about the security of the systems, but it also allows for potential threats to be detected before they strike, and for compromise trends to be logged and used to identify risks in the future. Having pro-active system management in place significantly reduces risk of downtime, helping companies to maintain high standards and a reputation for positive customer experiences.


The security of the network used by retail technology should be a priority for companies. Business networks should flow seamlessly from store level right up to head offices, enabling everybody to do their jobs efficiently, without allowing cybercriminals any opportunity for sabotage.

Decent network providers will help to identify individual companies’ needs, and recommend a network setup that best serves the requirements of staff and customers alike. Unsuitable network options can cause many difficulties on the shop floor, which does nothing for a company’s customer service reputation.

Both the security and functionality of company networks should be maintained by professionals at all times to ensure the most satisfactory customer experience with minimal downtime.

Staff Training

Staff are often the face of the business, and are likely to have the most interaction with any company equipment, so it is essential to give them adequate training for the use of retail technologies.

Introducing essential training sessions for new recruits and frequent refresher courses for all others is important, as even the best colleague can lose momentum.

Ensuring that staff are comfortable and confident with operating retail technology is paramount to delivering outstanding customer service, and maintaining regular pace and flow in a retail setting.

 PCI DSS Compliance

The Payment Card Industry’s Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is a worldwide control on the storage, transmission and processing of secure cardholder data. Security is, of course, of critical importance to card payments, which make up the majority of transactions nowadays. With card payments being made easier – that is, less awkward to make, and therefore, easier to defraud – the security attached to P2PE machines must be of unquestionable quality.

Being PCI DSS compliant is a legal requirement to ensure the safety of customers’ money and identities, and lack of compliance is certain to raise some very serious issues for everyone involved before long.

Retail technology is taking an ever more central position in the everyday operations of businesses, with customers expecting easy electronic payment to be available as part of the good service they receive. It is essential that in return, companies recognise the trust customers are giving them, and treat their sensitive data with appropriate precautions.

Interesting links:

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



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