Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthApril 16, 2019
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3min676

The finalists for the 2019 UK Digital Experience Awards have been announced, with an exciting line-up of big household brands and smaller innovators competing for recognition.

The event is celebrating its fifth year of honouring the British organisations that offer customers a truly unique Digital Experience while using their technology, websites, and apps, and July 12 is the date those shortlisted for the finals will arrive in London to present before an expert judging panel featuring names including Mark Edgington, founder of Incendiary Blue; Di Mayze, founder of Scratch Consulting; Tiffany Carpenter, Head of Customer Intelligence Solutions at SAS UK; and many more.

This year, finalists will compete for 19 category titles, before an Overall Winner is crowned at a gala ceremony in the Park Plaza Riverbank venue. Categories this year include Best App, Best Digital Change & Transformation, Best Digital Team, and Best Mobile Strategy, among others.

Among the companies shortlisted as finalists for 2019 are EE, Three UK, Sky, Virgin Trains, and PayPoint. For a full list of categories and finalists click here.

Meanwhile, official awards partners this year include children’s charity Barnardo’s, Professor Malcolm McDonald, Martech Advisor, and Cranfield School of Management.

Hosting the event is Awards International, holders of a Gold Standard Awards Trust Mark from the Independent Awards Standards Council.

Speaking of the 2019 UKDXA finalists, Awards International CEO Neil Skehel said: “The standard of entries this year has been nothing short of fantastic, and the projects and initiatives that will be judged on the day are incredibly exciting. A huge congratulations to all finalists, and we look forward to welcoming them to London this summer for a sizzling showcase of Digital Experience innovation.”

For further details and to book seats for the awards, click here.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthApril 9, 2019
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4min729

Nearly half of brands have introduced a dedicated Digital Experience (DX) team to help shape their Customer Experience and journeys across digital channels.

That is the findings in a new report by from experience analytics leader Clicktale. The study, titled Defining Digital Experience shows that 48 percent of brands now have a DX team in place to oversee their strategy. 

It explores the current state of DX, with the help of 200 marketing and CX professionals working in some of the world’s leading US and UK brands. The report examines how brands are building a strategy around Digital Experience, including who is ‘owning’ the function, and how they’re harnessing new technologies.

Until recently, marketing and digital departments have taken the lead in DX responsibility, with 31 percent of respondents claiming ownership lies with marketing, and 27 percent saying it lies with their organisation’s digital team, the report outlines.

Now, dedicated DX departments are more common than data science teams (44 percent) but still behind design/UX and digital analytics teams (54 percent and 52 percent respectively).

The report also describes how the ownership of Digital Experience is still a shared affair in many organisations. Nearly half (44 percent) of respondents claim that digital Customer Experience is merged with other departments. This is also the case for digital analytics and insight (40 percent), design and UX (32 percent), and data science (29 percent).

Clicktale CMO Sara Richter said: “Digital Experience is now a key differentiator for businesses, almost ahead of the products they sell and the prices they charge. Many businesses today get few actual face-to-face interactions with customers. So, if brands want to foster loyalty and repeat revenue, it’s becoming ever more important to understand customers beyond just demographics and purchase history.

“Assigning a dedicated team may be a great first step to building this understanding, but without the right data and analytical ability, it’s difficult to create and shape an effective digital experience approach. Only by gathering true behavioural data and having technologies and analysts in place to draw insights from that data can brands begin to understand their customers on a more intimate level. That in turn will empower brands to build and optimise digital experiences that better serve customers and drive repeat revenue.”

The 2019 UK Digital Experience Awards are taking place in London’s Park Plaza Riverbank on July 12.

 


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthMarch 27, 2019
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3min714

A plan by fast food giant McDonald’s to bring Digital Experience to the drive-thru could be a risk, it has been warned.

The company has announced plans to make it’s biggest deal in two decades – the purchase of tech firm Dynamic Yield for more than $300 million. It will allow McDonald’s to incorporate the firm’s technology at drive-thru locations to react to various factors, such as weather and demand inside the restaurant.

The deal is part of a plan by McDonald’s to upgrade up to 2,000 restaurants in the US, at a cost of almost $1 billion, increasing the number of digital menu boards and self-serve kiosks.

The new digital drive-thru tech has been trialled at various US sites, with plans underway for a US-wide, and eventually international, roll-out.

McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook said of the Dynamic Yield deal: “With this acquisition, we’re expanding both our ability to increase the role technology and data will play in our future and the speed with which we’ll be able to implement our vision of creating more personalised experiences for our customers.”

However, some experts have warned that the plan could present problems for McDonald’s, and other firms keen to increase their tech provision through company purchases.

Raj Badarinath, VP of Marketing at San Francisco-based firm RichRelevance – which helps customers like John Lewis and Not On The High Street boost online experiences – said: “Tech acquisitions present a paradox. On the one hand, retailers need to invest in tech to stay even with, let alone get ahead of, the competition. On the other hand, tech acquisitions from Retailers can lead to proprietary technology infrastructures that end up hurting a company. So what’s the right balance?

“McDonald’s is an iconic brand, and this is a bold move for them. Will this work out for them? Only time will tell. But one thing is clear – Personalisation is here to stay, and the chequebooks are coming out to prove it.”


Peter TetlowPeter TetlowMarch 26, 2019
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5min594

Digital transformation is the latest trend that every organisation, in every sector, wants a piece of.

In the customer management industry in particular, ‘digital innovation’, ‘digital transformation’ or ‘going digital’ are key phrases heard on almost a daily basis, with organisations keen to impress their customers by adopting the latest technology and ‘added extras’ to make their offering stand out from the crowd. Everyone wants it, although what ‘it’ is, is open to debate. Is it just a case of jumping on the latest bandwagon, or are organisations actually looking to provide a better service for their customers?

Should the industry even talk in these terms? Does ‘digital’ really exist?

A customer will never casually mention to their friend that they wish their bank or mobile phone provider was more digital, or that a really good piece of digital transformation is exactly what they’re looking for when it comes to renewing their annual contract. What they do say, however, is that they wish they didn’t need to contact their provider at all, or when they did, they were given the right answer quickly, or that the matter was resolved without the need for multiple levels of increasingly complex Interactive Voice Response (IVR) or various call transfers.

In an ideal world, a customer simply wants to be able to get the answer to their question in as few steps as possible, in a simple, easy to understand way. Really, they just want answers.

In the ‘real’ world, digitalisation isn’t the solution that will make an organisation stand out from the crowd or encourage repeat business or orders. Digitalisation won’t make a customer share their story about their relationship with the brand in question; only a great customer service will do that.

As an industry, the more we talk about ‘digital transformation’ or ‘going digital’, the more we fall into the age old trap of looking internally and letting our team structure dictate our thinking, rather than putting ourselves in our customers’ shoes and seeing things from their point of view. What will really make a difference to the customer and the experience they receive from an organisation? Which new or existing initiatives – digital or not – can actually positively contribute to the business’ strategy and future plans, driving growth and increasing revenue?

The fact is, using jargon the customer doesn’t care about usually means the organisation is providing a service the customer probably doesn’t care for.

That being said, the latest technology undoubtedly plays a critical role in improving the Customer Experience and numerous businesses have strong evidence of how it has positively contributed to their success. However, all improvements must start and end with the customer: understanding their experience, their individual journeys and touchpoints, and what they truly want from their interaction with the brand.

If the organisation bypasses the wants and needs of their customers in a rush to ‘go digital’, they run the risk of misunderstanding or worse, ignoring something really important to them, in favour of deploying the latest piece of technology to show competitors their digital credentials.

The industry’s thinking needs to change. Doesn’t a well thought through chatbot that enhances the CX fall into the bucket of ‘CX transformation’ rather than ‘digital transformation’? Again, the customer won’t be saying to their friends that they had a great Digital Experience; they will be saying simply they had a great experience – so isn’t that where the focus should be?

If the customer doesn’t use the ‘D word’, should we? Shouldn’t we focus on the customer and seek to enhance their experience, rather than trying to label the improvement with the latest trend?


Richard WillisRichard WillisMarch 25, 2019
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7min588

According to Forrester, over the next five years western European online retail sales will grow at over three times the rate of total retail sales.

What’s driving this growth?

It comes as no surprise that consumers’ adoption of digital devices, particularly smartphones, plays a substantial role. With Forrester estimating that 84 percent of online adults in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain use smartphones, always-connected consumers will continue to drive online retail sales across Europe.

But when it comes to ‘m-commerce’ – with the purchase actually being transacted on a mobile device – its promises always seem to lie just around the corner. For a number of years we’ve seen retail predictions that this is the year for mobile, but has it ever really come true? And will 2019 be any different?

At the risk of joining in with the crystal ball gazing, 2019 may mark a watershed in mobile retail – but only if retailers can seize the opportunity that is now on offer.

The mobile opportunity

No one claims that mobile will surpass other retail channels in terms of conversions in the foreseeable future. In-store, where consumers can examine items and talk to knowledgeable sales assistants, still provides a unique experience and should never be compromised; meanwhile, traditional online retail presents the shopper with enormous choice on an easily viewed browser.

But mobile does have a key role to play in shoppers’ experience. Whilst our recent research showed 11 percent of UK shoppers planned to use mobile as their preferred channel in the run-up to Christmas 2018, it also revealed that of those using mobile, almost 40 percent were using it to look for inspiration for gifts rather than make the actual purchase.

We also found that just under a third of shoppers planned to use mobiles to check online prices while in-store (the old ‘showrooming’ phenomenon). This insight is supported by figures from Deloitte’s annual UK mobile consumer survey, which reveals the rising influence of smartphones on retail sales – including how 84 percent of millennials claim to use their phones for shopping assistance while in a store.

How to keep shoppers coming back

It’s clear that mobile is a large and increasingly important part of the Customer Experience journey. The challenge for retailers – and their great opportunity – is ensuring that the mobile experience is easy to navigate and consistently fantastic, whether shoppers are making purchases, looking for gift inspiration, or comparing prices.

Retailers might think that the best way to turn browsing into sales is by offering something that others don’t – and to some degree they’re right. But getting the basics correct counts for much more than a gimmick.

According to Forrester, smartphone-savvy consumers have high expectations for mobile experiences, with 61 percent of shoppers more likely to return to a website if it is mobile-friendly.

What steps can retailers take to ensure their mobile sites keep shoppers coming back?

For starters, m-commerce sites should be optimised for every device and mobile OS. Differences in screen size and resolution, button placement, or operating system can have a huge effect on the mobile experience. Retailers often claim that they optimise their websites for every device, but do they take into account the small factors which can have big consequences on the path to purchase?

One example is placing the checkout or ‘Buy Now’ button in the space where push notifications usually appear. This could lead to the user becoming distracted or accidentally clicking out of the purchase – perhaps a small problem but one which, multiplied by thousands of users, could severely affect sales.

Another key consideration is designing websites to be mobile-first. Many websites carry a large amount of content that is right for bigger screens, such as long blogs, videos, or interactive content. Mobile-first sites, on the other hand, need to be crisp, clear, uncluttered and easy to navigate, with visuals specifically designed for mobile devices.

Finally, we would urge retailers to think about devices holistically. M-commerce is about much more than buying something through your device’s browser. An effective strategy should embrace loyalty apps with a range of functions that optimises navigability, provides a variety of services, and boosts loyalty. This could include self-service options such as checking availability and setting up click-and-collect delivery options, or providing product reviews, social integration and single-click ordering.

By adopting a thorough m-commerce strategy, retailers have a unique opportunity to do much more than just operate another sales channel. Providing a great mobile experience will differentiate retailers in a crowded market and make them the first choice for the generations who were practically born with a mobile device in their hand, whilst also appealing to the masses that are always shopping. And, unlike many of the premature promises about mobile, this future is tantalisingly close.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthMarch 21, 2019
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3min680

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

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

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

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

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

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


Seb BurchellSeb BurchellFebruary 20, 2019
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6min694

Technological sophistication is all pointing towards one thing: reducing the requirement for human labour, and input.

But in the fintech industry, humans aren’t simply a necessity – they’re irreplaceable.

Human developers are obviously needed to write, and maintain code, as well as learning and understanding the products that make the code necessary. Say these processes eventually become automated, the need for humans would remain.

That’s partially due to the fact ‘build it and they will come’ isn’t applicable to the disruptive world of fintech. Even the most boisterous, compelling and revolutionary products need effective branding, marketing and PR teams that will help the product succeed. Particularly as we see the rise in the importance of search ranking, SEO professionals will also have an integral part to play in making their fintech visible in an increasingly competitive space.

Moreover, while technology drives many fintechs services, certain businesses need real-time human emotion to overcome unique challenges. For some enterprises, such as online mortgage brokers, they’re task is to convince consumers to change from traditional brokers to their banks or existing lenders. This is just one case in which human empathy can’t be replaced or simulated by technology.

Consumer attitudes

Understandably, customers can be hesitant to trust small, relatively unknown startups with their personal and financial data, especially if it involves one of the biggest financial decisions you can make.

Recent research conducted by TopLine Comms found a whopping 83 percent of respondents were ‘unsure’ of fintech companies and how they work. Insightfully, 27 percent ascribed a lack of understanding as the reason why they were unsure.

Consumers will only trust Fintech firms once they understand and address customers’ concerns, one pertinent method to educate and earn potential consumers trust is through marketing, communication and branding.

But that’s solely acquiring customers. Consumer experience is what turns a cynical user into a fully-fledged customer, and a hybrid approach that encumbers an equilibrium of tech and human interaction is likely to be the key to the best customers experiences in fintech.

For example, fintechs in the banking industry can use technological innovation to alleviate their human advisers from the arduous and time-consuming parts of the job. Now finance experts can spend more time sourcing the best advice for their customers and building a relationship that raises trust between both parties.

These relationships build advocacy, which can in turn convert others – offline and online word of mouth is undoubtedly one of the best methods of attracting new customers. Ninety-three percent of respondents in a recent survey by Podium said online reviews affected their decision to make a purchase or not.

Many people intend to use an online fintech, as opposed to a traditional service because they won’t have to deal with a human when liaising with the former. Often, customers aren’t too keen to talk about their own sensitive financial situations issues and said customers in these circumstances may prefer to not speak to an actual human. Entirely digital experiences, that use complex technological features such as Artificial intelligence in the form of Natural Language Processing (NLP) and machine learning, could be the best solution for them.

The truth is that both kinds of consumers exist – and so a hybrid model that uses tech and human interaction flexibly, to improve the Customer Experience may be the most pragmatic approach.

The future

As fintech moves into the mainstream, consumer attitudes may also move in a certain direction. The more sophisticated and accessible technology becomes, the more likely it is that people may start to feel less anxious about trusting new businesses with their data. The arrival and widespread adoption of Open Banking could be the catalyst to start this paradigm shift.

But in the meantime, fintechs must combat the dichotomous challenges of converting sceptical customers and making themselves stand out in a crowded marketplace. In both cases, humans will remain an integral and irreplaceable element to any fruitful fintech.




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