Mother’s Day is quickly approaching, meaning consumers across the UK will be looking for the perfect restaurant to book in preparation for the special occasion.
In 2019, an astronomical £1.6bn was spent on Mother’s Day, and this figure is predicted to increase this year. While this presents a strong opportunity for restaurants to drive covers and boost revenue, competition leading up to the holiday can be fierce. The entire industry will be strategically gearing their marketing towards consumers booking Mother’s Day outings, making it slightly trickier than usual to really stand out from the crowd.
With this in mind, we have put together five ideas that can help you win guests this Mother’s Day.
1. Put loyal guests first
SevenRooms found that restaurant regulars spend about 67 percent more than new guests do, so keeping them coming back can have a substantial effect on your revenue. While it’s important to promote your Mother’s Day offerings to a wide range of guests, families who joined you on Mother’s Day last year should be the first to know about your plans, promotions, and special events for this year. It would be a nice perk to give them an opportunity to book before reservations are available to the wider public.
Frequent communication with your VIPs is shown to result in increased engagement and helps to build longer-lasting loyalty to your restaurant. Why not have the Restaurant Manager send your top guests a personalised email to highlight tailored offers, prompting them to book? Personal communication is surprisingly rare in the restaurant industry and can have a huge impact on your relationship with guests.
2. Encourage VIPs to spread the word
According to research by Nielsen, 92 percent of people put a significant amount of trust in their friend’s recommendations, and they are four times more likely to invest in experiences they learn about through word of mouth.
Setting up a promotion for last year’s guests that recommend you to a friend, such as a discount or a free bottle of wine when they visit ensures that loyal customers are telling their friends about you, too.
3. Make it special with gifts and experiences
On Mother’s Day the focus is around treating Mum and making her day memorable, so it’s important to make it an unforgettable experience. There are countless ways to add an experience to a meal, such as opting in a chocolate tasting event or a cocktail masterclass after the meal for the whole family to enjoy.
These experiences can also be complimented with a gift for Mum – even small touches like a complimentary off-menu dessert or a free welcome cocktail can make a restaurant experience feel more personal and special, therefore developing a long-lasting relationship between a restaurant and its guests. After the chocolate tasting, why not send Mum home with a box of the chocolates that she liked the most?
4. Offer upgrades during online booking
Allowing guests to upgrade their meal, with touches such as a bottle of her favourite champagne or a flower arrangement at the table for Mum can help to further personalise the dining experience and make her Mother’s Day particularly special.
It’s simple to automatically advertise add-ons and capture revenue before guests even arrive at the restaurant by making use of a booking system that prompts guests with these optional upgrades during the reservation process.
There are several advantages to this including increased revenue as guests are prompted to spend a little extra, reduced no-shows as guests will have already pre-paid for upgrades and better Customer Experience as guests can rest in the knowledge that they’ve already arranged something special for Mum.
5. Build a custom landing page for Mother’s Day
Creating a dedicated Mother’s Day landing page allows you to keep imagery, menus and reservation links in one place, and makes the guest booking journey as smooth as possible. Including “mothers day restaurant” + “[your city]” as the keyword in your URL, page title, and page headline will also help to increase your SEO, so you can reach any guests in your area searching for restaurants this Mother’s Day.
While this advice goes a long way in helping you maximise revenue this Mother’s Day, it certainly can apply all year round. Special experiences and upgrades can be a regular offering – why not offer kitchen tours, ‘An Evening with the Head Chef’, or a wine pairing option with bookings?
There is no doubt that options like this will make your restaurant a destination to remember.
The relationships between brands and consumers have changed.
The way we consume products, services, and even marketing messages is not the same as before. The proliferation of smartphones and tablets, along with the rise in value of the subscription economy, is leading this change.
Consumers are now hyper-connected across multiple channels in ways that never existed before, and the onus is on brands to evolve. This digital innovation has given consumers unprecedented levels of flexibility too. It has redefined their expectations of how brands ought to communicate with them.
At the same time, these hyper-connected consumers are creating a mass of data and information for marketers. From demographic, to social and transactional data, consumers are happy to offer personal data in exchange for a more personal service and experience.
Since much of the power rests with consumers today, keeping up with their changing needs and delivering the kind of connected experiences that today’s new breed of consumers demand will be paramount in 2020. Therefore, as brands wrestle with this challenge, what will the impact on customer experience be?
CX is no longer a differentiator: it’s a requirement
Despite the fact that greatCX is one of the leading ways in which businesses can differentiate their brands today, many are still failing. In a recent survey, only 36 percent of marketers claimed they look after CX, and a majority (45 percent) said that they are not responsible for it.
In 2020, the CX responsibility can no longer live within the confines of ‘CX’ professionals or the marketing department alone. It needs to involve every individual within a brand – whether that’s marketing, sales or service.
This makes it important for brands to strive to achieve a seamless, positive, cross-departmental Customer Experience, regardless of whether it’s during marketing, billing or customer service scenarios. Dealing with this industry wide challenge is what marketers need to address.
Additionally, today’s hyper-connected customers have higher customer expectations. They expect instantaneous responses to queries. Dealing with customer impatience, therefore, is now an imperative for brands, as they seek to deliver high-value and truly connected experiences, regardless of department or channel that customers are engaging with.
As organisations look to deliver a truly connected CX, they must aim to continuously build rounded profiles of their customers; tracking available information like behavioural data, transactional data, data from social media and much more.
Only then can companies deliver highly relevant and personalised experiences for each customer and ultimately maximise the lifetime value of that customer.
Everyone’s a winner, including the contact centre
A connected CX doesn’t solely benefit brand marketers either. Take the contact centre, where delivering value to a customer at each and every interaction has an acute impact.
Today, expected customer service response timeframes are shortening: 96 percent of people expect brands to respond within 24 hours of a flagged issue and 90 percent also expect a resolution to come within 24 hours.
What’s more, 71 percent expect brands to have all the information about them during an escalated brand interaction; which highlights and stresses the importance and need for brands to develop a full 360-view of the customer.
Within this scenario brands also need to adjust their perspective of the value of the contact centre. By no longer viewing the contact centre as a ‘cost centre’, companies can empower agents with the customer insights they need to deliver value and even close salesduring particular key moments with clients.
Additionally, a recent study indicates that 54 percent of consumers will abandon a brand after only two or three negative experiences. And, with the majority of a customer’s human interaction happening within the confines of customer service, brands can’t afford to deliver poor experiences in this domain.
This means that customer care reps can become important brand ambassadors, who are crucial towards maintaining and elevating that customer perception during a call, by arming them with the right data to deliver real customer value.
The incentive for achieving a truly connected CX has never been clearer. As consumers continue to mount pressure on brands, 2020 should be the year that connected experiences become standard. Over the next 12 months, the brands that succeed will be the ones who have effectively achieved cross-department collaboration and enabled a 360-degree view of the customer.
This holistic CX approach will not only win favour with consumers, but give ambitious brands the essential information they need to innovate and gain a competitive edge.
Contact centres have become as synonymous with scripts and targets as meerkats are with price comparison websites.
So what happens when you rewrite the rule book and take a completely different approach to customer service?
CXM spoke with Caroline King, Director of Sales and Service at insurance firm Ageas, about how challenging the status quo and switching to a systemic approach has reaped benefits for customers, staff and the company’s bottom line.
The firm won Gold in the Contact Centre Large category at the 2019 UK Customer Experience Awards last October, which topped off a three-year “transformational journey”.
Caroline said: “I’ve spent my entire professional life running contact centres and there’s always been an industry-wide perception that people are just there to answer the phones and complete the transactions. That’s it.
“I suppose there’s an element of truth in there, but we wanted to change that at Ageas. We exist to make insurance easy and actually a pre-requisite to that is really listening to the customer, to understand their needs, rather than complying with a pre-prescribed script.
“How can you truly help someone if you’re not listening, how can you truly listen if you’re confined by a set of standard questions and how can we meet each customer’s nominal value with set processes too rigid to cope with the inevitable variation humans bring to conversations?”
In a world where consumers are bombarded with more information and data than ever before, Ageas’ focus is to make insurance easy. It’s one of the largest insurers in the UK and offers a range of general insurance products to around five million customers through its direct brands Ageas and Rias, and through brokers and high-profile brand partners.
Ageas’ sales and service operation is based across three sites: Bournemouth, Gloucester, and Stoke, and its team of more than 780 deals with four million calls every year.
“We knew a transformation project of this scale would be a big undertaking,” said Caroline.
“We had to help hundreds of people understand their job isn’t to answer the phone, it’s to make insurance easy for our customers. For anyone to go from transaction to a purpose-driven function is a big change. As leaders it is our job to create the culture that allows delivery in this way to thrive. That means letting go of some of the ingrained beliefs and biases that exist in all of us, which is easier said than done.”
Ageas’ transformation programme was driven by its ambition to grow in the increasingly competitive general insurance market.
The company’s senior management team knew it needed to tackle the competitive market challenges in order to grow. But rather than taking the traditional answer to contact centre performance – setting higher targets – it set about creating a cultural change that would ultimately engage its people, improve customer service, increase income and lower costs.
“The first step was getting people on-board and ready to take that journey with us,” Caroline continued.
“We called it ‘Destination Brilliant’ and developed the ‘Ageas Way’, which states our customer purpose and focused on nine redesign principles which describe the future of service delivery – the destination if you like. We created the mechanisms for everyone to test every action against our purpose and those principles and decide if it was the right thing for the customer.
“We changed so many things that are synonymous with contact centres. When you think about it, it’s bizarre that contact centres take these vivacious, energetic people then train them to follow a script and turn them into robots. Consumers don’t like robots, they like other humans.
“So we threw away the rulebook and started to trust our people to have more open conversations with customers. We removed unnecessary complexity, measured the outcomes in a different way and allowed them to really listen to what the customer wanted and deliver on whatever that need was. Of course being in the heavily regulated financial industry, there are some instances where we still have to use scripts but on the whole we’re so much more flexible.
“We were then able to educate our teams to understand and call out failure demand and waste and involved them in designing those things out.”
Another huge change for Ageas was removing target-driven bonuses.
“I can see how, from the outside, it could be considered a big gamble,” said Caroline.
“It’s definitely a switch from the status quo. But it’s really worked and we’ve found staff are happier. What we’ve said to our consultants is: ‘We’ll trust you and take away the ambiguity of what you might earn each month’. Now they get a flat bonus up-front.
“We’ve redefined a good day’s work. Now it’s not how many products they’ve sold, it’s the feedback from customers that matters.”
Ageas has stopped measuring contact centre success solely through sales volumes and replaced it with what’s important to customers. It now provides consultants with real-time feedback from customers on experience and ease of service.
The results of Ageas’ transformation programme have been, perhaps unsurprisingly, transformational. The company’s net promoter score has increased by an impressive 14 points to 40.
Customer retention has increased, processing time for all customer account functions has reduced from days to minutes and Ageas’ Trust Pilot score is now 4.5/5 (excellent).
Operating costs have reduced and first contact resolution has improved by seven points – meaning 100,000 less calls to the Bournemouth site alone every year.
Caroline said: “What’s been really rewarding is to see the impact on our teams. 94% of employees believe the programme has made a positive difference to their role and we’re seeing unprecedented low levels of employee absence and attrition.”
Looking ahead, Caroline says she refuses to rest on her laurels.
“You can never take your foot off the pedal. This is not a sprint, this is a long distance marathon and we’ve got to keep doing more of what we’ve done.
“Across the whole customer service industry, no matter what sector you’re in, it’s the same – customer expectations are changing. What we all need to do to give good customer service and excel.
“In insurance, particularly with the rise in price comparison websites, there’s not much differential in price so standing out in terms of service is even more important. Customers tell us their number one priority is ease of business and luckily for them we’re not just good at making insurance easy; it’s everything we stand for.”
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.
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.”
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 effortto 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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
High Workload: In the UK, 44 percent of stress or depression at work is caused by a high workload
Unclear Job Expectations: In America, only 60 percent of employees say they know what is expected
Conflict: One of the main work-related factors causing burnout
Lack of Managerial Support: Those with a strong support system are 70 percent less likely to experience burnout
No Work/Life Balance: The inability to manage work and personal life can have a snowball effect
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.”
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
Much of the recenttalk 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.
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 Samsung, LG, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.”
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.
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%:
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:
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:
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:
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.