Sean RusinkoSean RusinkoOctober 4, 2019
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12min2010

Today’s Customer Experience doesn’t begin or end with a visit to a store or a website.

Customers shift between channels and devices depending on where they are and what’s convenient for them. In order to offer consumers exactly what they want, on the platform of their choice, brands are increasingly offering services such as personalised product offerings, discounts for loyal customers, and subscription models.

In part, this has been fueled by the ‘Amazon effect’, whereby popular online brands have set a precedent of using customer data they collect to offer personalised, quick, and consistent customer experiences. On top of this, many consumers also expect their shopping experiences to be made as convenient and fun as possible, with brands there to support, advise, and entertain them throughout the purchase journey.

Therefore, in order to acquire and retain customers, brands need to deliver against these expectations. Here, we not only discuss the five customer demands made of today’s retailers, but how brands can meet them and ensure they offer the experience that is desired. 

1. Make it easy for me

Frictionless journey navigation, easy access to products and information, and lighting fast speed make for happy consumers who are more likely to purchase.

According to the The new retail ecosystem report from PwC, fair prices are the most important factor for customers when shopping offline, with 64 percent basing their purchase decision on a good price. However, when shopping online in particular, customers rank convenience as the most important factor. Therefore, brands looking to improve Customer Experience should make the online experience as convenient as possible, giving the shopper all the necessary information needed to make a purchase decision.

More specifically, the KPMG International Global Online Consumer Report found that the flexibility to shop when they want, the convenience of not having to go to a store, and free shipping offers are all in the top ten reasons that consumers shop online. In fact, stores such as Walmart are using their brick and mortar presence to meet this demand. For example, in 2018 Walmart installed click-and-collect kiosks in 500 of their stores to offer quick, simple and convenient collection for customers.

Another convenience trend is ‘Try now, Pay Later’ services, which encourage consumers to try a larger assortment without having to pay upfront. For example, Sitecore customer ASOS use a ‘Pay Later’ capability, and Amazon’s ‘Prime Wardrobe’ gives customers seven days to try clothes at home and only paying for items they decide to keep. 

2. Assist me

As well as having the flexibility to collect their purchases from a store of their convenience (or have it delivered), consumers also expect to be assisted throughout the entire purchase journey. Many brands are meeting this expectation with personalised experiences, which includes individual product offerings, using data collected about each customer to tailor the messaging, offers, and experiences each receives.

And they are right to do so – research from Econsultancy found that 93 percent of companies see an uplift in conversion rates from personalisation. 

Nemlig.com, an online supermarket in Denmark, has used Sitecore’s platform to personalise customer journeys, and has reaped the benefits. It uses customer data around product preferences and buying histories to personalise the front page, category pages, and search results for each shopper, and engages customers with individual messages throughout the site, via email and text messages.

Since doing so, the number of site visitors has grown by 55 percent, the average basket size has increased, and turnover has risen by 28 percent.

However, it is also worth being mindful on how data is being used to target customers. The Consumer Perceptions of AI Survey from Rocket Fuel found that while consumers are open to being targeted based on product interest, search, and purchase history, they don’t want to be targeted with ads using their name, sent urgent notifications that a certain item is low in stock, or reminders to make repeat purchases of the same product. 

3. Reward me

The battle for winning brand-loyal consumers is extremely difficult, but the benefits are equally rewarding to the business. PwC’s The new retail ecosystem report found that more than 70 percent of people are staunch brand-loyal shoppers, and less than a third are willing to try new offerings. What’s more, many also respond well to loyalty programs and appreciate brands showing that they value customers. 

However, it is no longer enough to offer a one-size-fits-all offering, such as the generic discounts or specific free products offered by brands in the past. Today, a personalised loyalty program, where different promotions are offered based on individual customer data and preferences, is needed to meet customer expectations. One company which has created a successful personalised loyalty program is Ulta Beauty Inc., which uses customer data to offer a wide variety of products to test, personalised birthday gifts and a tiered system of rewards based on levels of loyalty. As a result, 90 percent of its sales are now driven by loyalty program members.

4. Inspire me

Virtual and augmented reality (VR & AR) experiences are increasingly welcomed by customers. However, while in-store experiences such as VR mirrors previously just showed how customers would look in an item of clothing and were merely an entertaining addition to the in-store experience, they now offer added value and convenience to the customer.

For example, AR can allow those browsing online to visualise how a product will look on them before they make a purchase, allowing them to be better informed and removing the inconvenience of returning undesired products. L’Oréal has used AR and face mapping technology in its mobile app, allowing customers to try out different styles, such as hair colours, and lipstick shades, before making a purchase.

VR can also enhance the experience of using retail mobile applications. Fashion brand H&M is using its Image Search tool within the H&M app to allow consumers to upload an image of a similar product into the app. The app then presents several similarly looking, instantly purchasable items from the H&M catalog – moving the consumer closer from the moment of inspiration to a purchase.

5. Convince me

Finally, consumers do not take what message a brand puts out there as fact – they base their purchase consideration on what everyone else has to say about the brand and its products. When Amazon pioneered and implemented ratings and reviews, their business transformed overnight.

One way to convince customers to choose your brand over others is through user-generated content. In fact, research from Stackla found that 79 percent of consumers say user-generated content such as product reviews and ratings both on the brand’s own website and on other listing pages, is highly influential in increasing their propensity to buy.

Also, although social commerce has grown in popularity in recent years, with many consumers starting their search and even completing purchases on social channels, user generated content still remains more impactful than influencer content published on social media. In fact, according to Stackla, consumers find user generated content almost ten times more impactful than influencer content when making a purchasing decision.

Today, customers are more demanding than ever, expecting an experience that goes above and beyond just the available products. In order to offer quality experiences, build brand loyalty, and remain competitive, brands must consider these five main demands and put tools in place to meet them, from the use of effective personalisation to quick, reliable delivery services, through to providing loyalty programs and investing in VR and AR technologies.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthAugust 5, 2019
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2min1399

A growing number of UK customers are choosing to purchase from brands using smart speakers such as Amazon Echo and Google Home, with the devices predicted to drive the next wave of ecommerce.

In a study of 2,000 adults carried out by data agency Artefact UK, six out of 10 smart speaker owners say they have used them to make a purchase in the past year, with almost a quarter (22 percent) saying they have done so within the past week of being asked.

Sarah De Martin, Managing Director at Artefact UK, says: “Voice offers a simple and spontaneous path to purchase that reflects how people behave naturally. Forty percent of our sample already owns one or more of these devices so the channel is nearing critical mass. Both Google and Amazon are offering aggressive discounts on their smart speakers and ownership grew by 79 percent last year alone.

“As an e-commerce business, it’s clear why Amazon wants to get Alexa into as many homes as possible. During its recent Prime Day event it even experimented by allowing Prime subscribers to access to some of its best offers through Alexa.”

 


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJuly 11, 2019
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9min4210

From poor work/life balance and long working hours to a lack of progression and difficult interviews, new research reveals what it’s really like to be employed by some of the biggest organisations in both the UK and US.

Based on LinkedIn’s annual report of the most sought-after companies to work at in the UK, Power House Truths curates and dissects over 210,000 employee reviews to see where each company really ranks across a number of metrics, including senior management rating, interview difficulty and average salary.

The 2019 LinkedIn Top Companies report discloses where jobseekers want to work, based on the four main pillars of interaction on the platform: interest in the company, engagement with the company’s employees, job demand, and employee retention.

The research shows that despite being the most desirable workplace in the UK and the third most popular in the US, Amazon sits tenth in the rankings. Analysis of the organisation’s 32,000 employee reviews reveals a poor work/life balance, low senior management rating, and smaller salaries when comparing them to the US coveted companies.

The US companies do far better in the overall rank in comparison to UK organisations, holding an average rank position of 5.9 compared to the UK’s 9.2. This may be due to the discrepancy in average salary between major organisations, with UK-based BP paying its employees a staggering £47,700 less than Apple – despite making £29 million more in revenue.

Although Google is the most desirable workplace in the US according to LinkedIn, analysis of its 11,000 employee reviews actually places it in fourth position. Compared to other notable organisations featured on the rank, the tech company has the most difficult interview process, but offers a high average salary and good benefits.

The research also includes an extensive list of the advantages and disadvantages of the businesses included. For example, Google’s Free Food Everyday scheme for its 57,000 employees has been upvoted by 790 people leaving reviews. However, people who work their say it can be hard to maintain a healthy work/ life balance at the company, and they feel because the company is so large, “you don’t always get a lot of responsibility”.

Uber is praised for its flexible working hours by its drivers, but over 500 employees say drunk riders and the cost of car repairs are a huge downside to working for the organisation.

Top company benefits for those working at supermarket giant Sainsbury’s include good sick pay, critical illness cover, and a 10 percent employee discount card. Downsides to working for Sainsbury’s include finding that team leaders are often contradictory and its long working hours.

Pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline offers one of the most favourable work/life balances, as well as its culture and values rating, with employees praising the company’s work environment and career opportunities. However, the company could improve its senior management rating, decision-making process and average salary.

According to recruitment partner Karen Dykes, the benefits companies choose to advertise play a key role in how quickly they accumulate staff and grow. She said: “With talent shortages reported in many sectors, top candidates are looking beyond basic salary offerings to attract them to certain roles.

“Benefits packages are most certainly in the spotlight, with a particular focus on those that support work/life balance. These include generous holiday entitlement, healthcare advantages and flexible working. If a skilled candidate has multiple interview offers, benefits packages will come into play. They may be time poor in terms of interview preparation, so will narrow the field by evaluating the overall package.”

 


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthMay 10, 2019
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4min976

New research reveals that over 80 percent of businesses are talking about the benefits of a customer-first approach, but few of these are turning talk into action.

A global research report from Optimizely that surveyed over 800 purchasing decision-makers from marketing, product and IT teams in the UK, US, and Germany, reveals that over half (51 percent) of respondents said customer centricity isn’t focused on enough in their organisation, despite the rhetoric.

The Digital Experience Economy report uncovers the keys to success in the new age of Digital Experience and reveals the cultural and structural barriers that are holding back innovation.

The findings show that employees from different departments across organisations need to be empowered to have a meaningful impact on Customer Experience. According to 79 percent of business leaders, the CX would benefit if the product, marketing, and IT/engineering teams worked together more closely.

Ninety-one percent of respondents claimed that their organisation’s employees are capable of delivering a constant flow of new ideas focused on improving the Digital Experience. However, over a third (34 percent) say that organisational structures make it too difficult to turn an idea into reality and team members don’t have the time to focus on developing new ideas. Thirty-two percent say silos cause issues, as responsibility for delivering new ideas is kept locked down in one team within an organisation.

Currently one-in-five organisations (20 percent) still have a culture where failure is not an option, but this could change soon. In the past three years alone, 68 percent of executives have altered their attitude to change, with 94 percent of these claiming their organisation has become more open. It is leaders who are driving this trend, as 43 percent of decision-makers embrace failure more than less senior employees.

Dan Siroker, co-founder and Executive Chairman at Optimizely, said: “Innovative organisations such as Amazon and Google have consistently embraced failure as a part of their culture. Being able to experiment and fail fast allows organisations to innovate, and stay in touch with the ever-changing Digital Experience Economy. A business-changing idea can just as easily come from the customer support desk as it can from the board room. For this reason, organisations need to ensure they have a culture that allows all employees to have a voice when it comes to Customer Experience initiatives.”

 

 


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7min1657

Each year, analysts predict trends that will determine the course of the advertising, media, and digital industry in the near future.

Year after year, we see the same predictions about the importance of video content, new approaches to SEO optimisation, growth of mobile internet penetration, and related advertising tools. However, it seems that a lot is going to change in 2019. So let’s take a closer look at the new revolutionary solutions and approaches that are going to shake the market this year.

1. Personalised marketing

Personalisation is a key trend in many business areas. The idea of ​​delivering a personal message to the client, taking into account the characteristics of his or her behaviour, personality, and sociography is not new. However, such an approach becomes a reality thanks to the introduction of artificial intelligence (AI) technology. Even if a person uses hidemyass, it will be still possible to track his online actions.

The love of marketers for digital is largely due to the possibilities of fine-tuning the targeting for advertising, but now more advanced personality recognition mechanisms are being tested. Thus, Amazon uses AI-based solutions that combine user data from various sources, such as transaction archives, trending sales, competitor information, CRM data, and information from social accounts. At the latter point, the machine predicts the desires and capabilities of the user. As a result, a company is able to formulate and prepare a 100 percent personalised offer, which will hardly be refused.

2. Voice services

There are some technologies that burst into our lives suddenly. Voice assistants are one of them. At first, users limited themselves to comic dialogues with smartphones; with time, they began using voice assistants for their intended purpose. Siri, Google Now, Alice, Amazon Alexa, Cortana, and others teach users to use the voice dialogues with the software. Markets are saturated with Voice Search Tools, Amazon Echo, Google Home, and others.

According to NPD Group, by the end of 2019, sales of ‘smart speakers’ will grow by 50 percent, and the market volume will reach $2.7 billion. This technology is in the trend of marketing integration with services and applications for delivering food, calling a cab, searching for the right locations, and other things. Just like vpn services were popular a few years ago, voice assistants are on the peak now.

3. Communication automation & chatbots

According to Gartner, 85 percent of user interactions with companies will occur without human participation by 2020. Nowadays, many companies use chatbots in social networks and instant messengers to simply communicate with their audience. In the future, scripts will become more complex, and the bot will be able to imitate a live seller or manager, saving companies’ resources.

4. Augmented reality (AR)

According to the estimates of the Harvard Business Review, global investments in the development of the AR sector will exceed $ 60 billion by 2020. The research centre MarketsandMarkets states that market growth will exceed 75 percent over the next five years. In 2022, it can reach an estimate of $120 billion.

The largest technology brands have seized upon this promising technology because it is extremely interesting to the end user and does not force it to acquire new products. Everything works on your favourite smartphone. AR is used in education, medicine, and, of course, marketing solutions, especially in a retail segment. The investment volumes are impressive, and we will see a lot of interesting consumer variations using augmented reality in the coming year.

5. 5G

Standards for deploying fifth-generation mobile networks are still in development, but individual elements are being tested by operators around the world. 5G networks will create new opportunities for users, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), as well as broadband media services and real-time communication in areas of natural disasters or mass events.

Final Say

According to many experts, we are now entering the era of digital technology, which will mostly depend on the introduction and development of artificial intelligence (machine learning) and all the consequences associated with it. The incredible development of the digital environment over the past ten years (social media, improved search technologies, the AppStore, and PlayMarket, cybersecurity, streaming video, etc) will not slow down, but go to a new level.

In 2019, marketers will need to prepare for constant experimentation with new technologies. Only a continuous stream of testing new ideas will allow you to be on the success wave.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthApril 11, 2019
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7min1046

You might think that your product or service is great, but the truth is, it doesn’t matter if it isn’t what your customer wants.

But how can you go beyond your own gut instinct to be sure you’re really meeting customer needs? We spoke to industry experts to get their advice on how to understand what your customers need:

Don’t push your solutions

When speaking to customers, innovators make some key mistakes. First, they ask leading questions that are loaded with social desirability problems. For example, asking customers whether they like your product will elicit positive responses because very few people are willing to be critical of other people’s ideas to their face. Focus on trying to deeply understand customers’ needs and problems, rather than pushing your solution.

“The second mistake is asking customers questions about their future behaviour. Very few people can predict what they will do in the future under different circumstances. Instead, ask customers how they are solving the problem today, and how much that is costing them.

“The final mistake innovators make is asking customers what products to make or the features those products should have. Very few people can imagine future technologies, so will just mention something similar to their current solutions. Customers own needs and problems, innovators own solutions – the more we understand customers pains, the more likely we are to make products customers really want.”

Tendayi Viki, Craig Strong and Sonja Kresojevic are co-authors of The Lean Product Lifecycle: A playbook for making products people want, published by Pearson, priced £11.74

 

Use behavioural science

“Why don’t people do what they say they do? This is a question companies often ask after investing time on costly market research to understand what their customers want, only to find that their customers won’t pay for the product or service, or don’t want it after all. This indicates that there is a substantial intention-behaviour gap.

“Behavioural science is a way to reduce the intention-behaviour gap and to get a deeper understanding of what customers really want because it focuses on identifying the factors, benefits and attributes that really drive behaviour and decisions in the real world.

“Conventional research often asks people about their attitudes and beliefs, or asks about the product or service out of context. But conventional research often fails to get at the ‘truth’ because it does not address the complex interaction of social, psychological and emotional factors that influence our decisions.

“Behavioural science focuses only on behaviour, makes use of behavioural theories and models to work out which factors really matter, carefully considers the context in which the product or service will be used and then works out how and where to intervene to change behaviour. In this way you can find out what people actually do, not just what they say they do… and hence design products and services that customers really want and will pay for.”

Helena Rubinstein is a Behavioural Scientist at Innovia Technology and author of Applying Behavioural Science to the Private Sector (Palgrave Macmillan).

 

Look for new levels of speed, convenience, choice, and transparency

“If the speed with which ecommerce growth has outstripped that of stores over the last 15 years has taught us anything, it is that the consumer is looking for new levels of speed, convenience, choice, and transparency from their shopping experiences.

“Technology has been the key enabler of these new dynamics. It has become the main differentiator between today’s retail winners and losers. It has put those retailers who started out online, like eBay, Net-a-Porter and Flipkart, at a distinct advantage. But Alibaba, JD.com and Amazon have made the most gains.

“As a technology company first and a retailer second, Amazon, the US giant’s focus on giving customers more of what they really want has afforded it unprecedented competitive power to reshape the industry landscape, both online and offline. From its ‘1-Click’ checkout through to its ‘no click’ checkout-less Amazon Go experience, Amazon has pioneered ‘frictionless’ retail to give customers the level of convenience they now want.”

Miya Knights is co-author of Amazon: How the World’s Most Relentless Retailer will Continue to Revolutionize Commerce, written with Natalie Berg, published on 3 January 2018, priced £19.99


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthMarch 19, 2019
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2min463

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


Santosh SahuSantosh SahuFebruary 28, 2019
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7min788

Changing shopping habits and ever-increasing consumer expectations have led to decreasing profits, a sharp decline in footfall, and numerous high-street store closures.

Meanwhile the internet retail giants, such as Amazon, have gone from strength-to-strength, increasing their market share and customer retention rates year-on-year. With high-street retailers left scrabbling to reimagine business processes in an effort to win back customers, on-demand delivery is rapidly emerging as the key strategic pillar for them to compete across an increasingly digital landscape.    

Innovation might win the battle

In an attempt to entice customers back to the high street, many retailers have made significant investments in innovative technology, from augmented reality in ‘smart mirrors’ – allowing customers to ‘try on’ and flip between different outfits – to virtual reality in ‘Holo-Rooms’ enabling customers to experience products before they buy. While these technologies go some way to evolving customers’ experiences with a brand, retailers might be putting the cart before the horse – these advancements do not necessarily address the real reasons consumers are no longer flocking to high street stores.

Today’s consumers are time-poor and are in need of retailers whose purchasing model suits their individual lifestyles. There’s too much choice and it’s too easy to walk away – it could be anything from that fact that the goods they are looking to buy seem a little too heavy to carry home or the payment form online is too complex. Technology is the key to retailers being able to provide a service tailored to modern-day consumers, but it must be applied with purpose and strategy if it is to have the impact retailers desire.

Convenience will win the war

Take Amazon, for example. Subject to ever-more public scrutiny following corporate tax scandals and questionable product selections, it’s not just a strong brand affinity that’s driving people to shop with them. In fact, the value of brand image is slowly being eroded throughout the digital age in which Customer Experience comes out on top. The truth is, brand loyalty is no longer as influential as it once was in purchasing decisions or customer retention.

As a result, consumers are switching from beloved household retail names to purchasing goods from internet giants. Through the right delivery models, these companies can power a level of immediacy and convenience for customers that other retailers have so far found difficult. Convenience is a commodity customers are willing to pay for – 40 percent of consumers are willing to pay premiums for same-day or instant delivery. And so, retailers should hone in on the services that consumers actually want.

Tremendous take-up of Amazon’s ‘one-click checkout’ service proves that convenience wins every time and has caused Amazon to roll-out Prime Now, in which products can be delivered as quickly as an hour after placing an order. Amazon’s business model has not only capitalised on consumer behaviour but created consumer expectations and now, rapid convenient delivery has become an expectation that all retailers have to contend with – the Amazon effect.

Naturally, technological advances can help brands offer new services. But a business’ strategy for customer retention, acquisition, and experience must be rooted in solving your consumer’s problems. It is this consumer-first approach, with technology facilitating the needs of consumers, that is key to the future success of the British retail industry.

A whole new world

It’s a difficult time for the high street retailer. It’s a whole new world out there and one in which Amazon is quickly swallowing up the high street. Earlier this month, the executive chairman of New Look said that retailers “have been defending instead of attacking”, but if they are to thrive in this new, uncertain world, high street stores need to take a proactive approach in making the impact of both their physical store offerings and online channels more powerful. On-demand delivery is the place to start.

Amazon, truly ‘gets’ what 2019 consumers need – and they need it now! Its business model has not only capitalised on a shift towards impulsive shopping behaviour, but driven it, and now the Amazon effect has made rapid convenient delivery the new normal. Failure to adapt will see the prophecy of a dying retail industry come true in 2019.




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