Pan-European data protection cannot be “taken for granted” post-Brexit it has been warned, after British Airways was hit with a fine of £183 million following a cyber attack which affected half-a-million customers.
The record fine was imposed by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), and comes in the wake of customer data – including personal and financial information – being stolen from BA in 2018.
The hack saw data lifted from the airline’s website and mobile app through the use of a fake site, and initial estimates by BA that 380,000 payment cards were affected were proved wrong as the ICO highlighted 500,000 customers were placed at risk.
The £183 million fine – around 1.5% of BA’s global turnover for the financial year ending December 31 – is the largest ever imposed by the ICO, and has been put to the airline in an official Notice of Intention.
Following the ICO ruling, BA Chairman Alex Cruz said: “British Airways responded quickly to a criminal act to steal customers’ data. We have found no evidence of fraud/fraudulent activity on accounts linked to the theft. We apologise to our customers for any inconvenience this event caused.”
Meanwhile, the ruling has implications for data protection in the UK following the country’s proposed departure from the European Union on October 31, according to an expert in litigation and employment law.
Barrister Jonathan Compton, Partner at firm DMH Stallard, said: “BA will be able to make representations to the ICO, the Notice of Intention is not a final decision. In any event, whilst BA described the Notice as ‘disappointing’, the fact remains that if you are processing peoples’ personal data including credit cards, you must have the security measures in place to avoid a hack.
“What is interesting about this investigation is the increased co-operation between European Data protection agencies. In this case, the ICO was the lead investigator for concerns raised in other EU countries. Whether this co-operation will continue post Brexit is not a matter that can be taken for granted.”
Sales from digital gift cards are projected to hit nearly $700bn in global sales by 2024 – if you’re a retailer, it’s an area you simply can’t afford to avoid or get wrong, especially since 72 percent of retailers now spend more than the value of their card.
However, while gift cards present unique opportunities, they also present some unique challenges.
The gift card space has evolved considerably due to improvements in technology: they’re used both online and offline, and it’s become easier for brands of all shapes and sizes to operate gift card programs. There’s a real need to differentiate and provide a gift card experience that’s a cut above the rest.
If you’re running a retail business, you might well be asking: how do I go about building a modern gift card program that delivers real benefits to both the brand and its customers?
Make it easy to purchase and redeem
Great Customer Experience is all about cohesion. If you experienced an issue buying something in-store and an advisor was unable to help you resolve it online, then it would present a problem, wouldn’t it? It’s the same with gift cards – they need to be easy to buy and redeem across all different online and offline channels.
When your customer buys a gift card in-store, they should be able to use it online – and when they buy it online, they should be able to use it in-store. If they can’t use it in the way they prefer, they’ll rightly wonder what the point of buying it at all is – damaging their experience and your brand reputation.
Some brands still rely exclusively on physical gift cards and don’t have any kind of digital equivalent, which can be an immediate turn-off for customers. Others run disparate online and offline gift cards that aren’t compatible with one another – a situation that’s common even for more established brands.
So, make sure your provider unites the offline and online experience. Work to migrate separate programs into one distinct program, ensure it converts all kinds of currency if you operate locations globally, and make sure gift cards are clearly available to purchase on your e-commerce platform, as well as from any resellers, such as department stores. You can even distribute them to some businesses to use as a corporate incentive.
The idea is to make your gift cards available across every possible commercial touchpoint: to create a true multichannel gift card program.
Make it global
Ever get annoyed when a much-anticipated film or TV is released in the US – and only released in the UK a week, a month, or even a year later? It’s really annoying, both because you don’t get to watch what you want to watch and because it makes you feel like there are two tiers of viewer: the one in the home market, and the one in the less-valuable foreign market.
The same thing applies to gift cards. If you’re a large international retailer, a hotelier, or a restaurant chain, you need to make sure your gift card program is scalable all over the world rather than restricted by geography. You shouldn’t ever be in a situation where you’re setting up specific programs for specific countries – the same experience, in the preferred language and the preferred currency, should be available to all.
A customer who uses your service in Boston, a customer who uses your service in Berlin, and a customer who flits between the two, should all be able to buy and use gift cards seamlessly.
Make it sustainable
Sustainability is a big draw for modern-day customers – and many gift card programs are heavily reliant on plastic.
You can make these programs more sustainable by using an eco-card, which has all the advantages of a standard plastic gift card, but is made using substantially ‘greener’ techniques. These cards can be made of recycled PVC, corn-based plastic, or paper stock, and their carriers can be made of soy-based inks or recycled materials. It’s also worth making sure you shred and recycle all deactivated cards.
Plastic waste is a significant issue in the modern world, and a more sustainable approach can not only reduce your environmental impact, but also boost your brand’s reputation.
Make it easy to integrate
Does your gift card program fit in with your electronic point-of-sale (EPOS) system and e-commerce sites, or is it tethered more loosely? The more tightly you can integrate it, the better. Gift cards should be easily compatible with in-store ordering technology to make it as easy as possible for staff and customers to process sales and redeem cards. The same goes for ecommerce sites.
More integration means a more cohesive customer experience, and it also makes it easier to collect and report data related to gift card transactions. This should help you refine your sales and marketing strategy. Integrating gift cards with EPOS systems can also decrease processing times and improve the ability to offer tailored promotions.
Make it different
Finally, think about specificity. Gift cards haven’t been around for all that long, and they weren’t always commonplace. Now they’re available everywhere, so it’s worth making sure yours stands out.
Think about creating different gift cards for different purposes. They come in many flavours: loyalty-based gift cards can be sent to particularly long-time customers to reward them for sticking with you; mystery gift cards can be sent to entice new prospects; you can send them on birthdays or weddings, or you can send them when a customer has checked into a specific location – for a hotel chain, you might want to send customers a specific resort gift card.
You can, of course, also use them to compensate customers for a negative experience. They should all be a part of the same program, but there should be a range available to suit the full range of Customer Experiences you offer. If a customer returns an item for whatever reason, you should give them the option of putting the value onto a gift card – this means the money stays with the retailer, the customer is statistically likely to spend more, and you can easily turn a negative experience into a positive one.
Gift cards, ultimately, are a show of faith in your retailer: instead of spending money on you directly, customers buy them for friends and family – trusting that something within the range of what you offer will make them happy. Repay this faith and trust by making the gift card experience as positive as possible. Customers will reward you for it.
Providing a first-class Customer Experience is a goal every organisation pursues – it’s no longer a luxury only large brands with big pockets can afford to focus on.
Consumers now expect to experience the ‘perfect’ buyer journey with every business they deal with – no matter how big or small. Research by Kampyle illustrates this, showing that 87 percent of customers think brands should put more effort into delivering a better Customer Experience.
Thanks to recent progress in technology, this now all achievable. Conversational software – chatbots, in particular – make providing an excellent, hands-on, personal experience to customers possible. Below, we will dissect how a chatbot can assist and delight your customers at every step of their interaction with your brand.
There are four key touchpoints between your customers and your company:
Maximising delight at each of these touchpoints is primordial to providing an excellent Customer Experience.
Let’s see how chatbots help.
Your customers, for the most part, will first get in contact with your brand through your website.
Surprisingly, websites are still hard to navigate for the average user. A simple UX testing exercise can uncover the many ways in which your website visitors get lost between opening your homepage and getting to the goal you want them to reach.
Strategically placed on your website as a widget, a chatbot can offer help throughout the experience. It will be able to pop up, offer help, send accurate information, and drive the user to its goal – all by itself.
Not only does your chatbot provide users with the help they need, it also delivers results. Ubisend has reported that a website widget chatbot converted28.3 percent of its helpful conversation with users into warm leads for the sales department.
Meanwhile, some brands out there don’t own a website, such as some local restaurants that deal straight from their Facebook page. Chatbot can live on there as well – and achieve the same results.
A chatbot is not just for first touch. The power of a chatbot is its conversational nature tied to its extensive knowledge. In a nutshell, a chatbot can talk to your customers several times over a long period of time and continuously learn about them, providing them with the next best action.
Nurturing leads with a chatbot is the future of marketing. Forget about users losing sight of what they want to achieve on your website; your chatbot knows exactly who that person is when they come back and can nurture them towards your business goal
The user experience here is clearly enhanced – no more endless searching. As the user logs back onto your site, they don’t need to figure out what the next step is. A helpful digital assistant is there to help.
We all buy from the internet. It has become part of our lives.
And yet, we’re all still very apprehensive when doing so (unless we buy from the giants like Amazon). Does this product actually suit me? Will this wardrobe fit my bedroom? What if I don’t like it, can I send it back?
As business owners, we’ve been trained to try and answer all these questions preemptively through copy, FAQs, and unboxing videos.
Even so, the stress is there for some users, turning them off from buying altogether. Need I remind anyone that the average landing page converts only 2.35 percent of visitors?
This is where a chatbot can help. Strategically placed on your sales pages, a custom-built chatbot will know everything there is to know about your product or service. It will pop up to offer help, answering all the questions your customers have about what’s on the ‘other side’ of their purchase.
Though it comes last, customer care is most likely the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of enhancing the user experience.
Providing the best, most attentive, empathic customer support experience is a must-have these days. We’ve all started to expect 24/7 instant answers; we’re likely spoiled by the likes of Amazon.
The good news is that chatbots can help you with that, too.
A customer service chatbot can sit on your service desk and answer questions at incredible speed, 24/7.
Now consider that your chatbot never sleeps, never gets grumpy, never gets bored. It does its job, all day every day, helping your customers get the answers they need in an instant.
The digital landscape is continuously evolving and with that the volume of data created and shared grows exponentially month on month.
High profile data breaches and the implementation and enforcement of GDPR have really brought home to customers that their data is of enormous value and that they have explicit rights to consent to its storage and use.
For millennials and Gen X, who may have had the comfort of growing up around emerging technologies and the birth of social media, the use of data may have been apparent early on. Online domains have further highlighted that data is being collected and used to match people to the products it assumes they either want or would like.
When it comes to personal finances, this can be a prickly subject, as in the past major data breaches and mishandling of data have eroded customer trust. However, when handled responsibly, customer data can be used by personal finance providers to offer better solutions and outcomes – something many customers have yet to realise.
Trust in a business and its services is essential to success. In personal finance, it’s about giving customers the tools they need to feel fully in control of their finances, whilst still making sure that there’s people on hand to help. Human interactions are still as important as ever in the financial decision-making process. With that in mind, having someone in your business to bridge the gap between customers, their data and the regulatory landscape, is crucial. That’s where the Chief Customer Officer comes in.
One prime example of the advantages data can bring for customers, is the innovation being made possible by the UK’s Open Banking initiative. People have become increasingly aware of their personal credit scores thanks to a host of places offering free access. In some cases,historical credit data alone may not be enough to satisfy a card, mortgage or loan application – and in those cases, Open Banking has been revolutionary.
A lot of what’s required to determine whether a product is suitable can be found in an applicant’s bank account, where evidence of income is relatively easy to verify. Those with thinner credit files or irregular incomes, such as the self-employed, people new to the UK, or younger borrowers who are yet to build a comprehensive credit file, have the most to gain from Open Banking. Through this route, the data gathered, allows a better sense of an individual’s income and expenditure, resulting in the best possible product being matched to that person.
Open Banking is used as a tool to complement existing practices, allowing a more comprehensive view of a borrower’s information and circumstances, that couldn’t have been achieved through credit data alone, to present a better, broader and often cheaper range of personalised offers.
In recent years, the regulatory landscape has become much more consumer-centric, as seen by the likes of PSD2, a directive that ensured consumers were protected in a more digitised sphere. An era of block consent is being superseded by one of explicit individual consent. Organisations who embrace technology, are paving the way for future innovations and as a result will be able to deliver a higher degree of personalisation for each customer.
Customers can now choose to unlock the power of their data for their own benefit. Data is set to work towards their preferred outcomes and not merely to enrich those organisations with the privilege of accessing it. By experimenting with Open Banking and cloud services, Freedom Finance has been able to make the borrowing process easier for customers, while at the same time delivering a customer journey with consent at its core.
Customers of the future will demand better services that reflect the technology available. The challenge will be for all businesses, not just financial services providers, to find how the best elements of that technology can be combined with human guidance.
Digital Experience platform Contentsquare has acquired Israel-based experience analytics company Clicktale, creating a combined entity serving 600 enterprise clients globally.
Contentsquare is used by UK retail brands including Dreams, Clarks, and Moss Bros, while Clicktale has clients such as Dell, RBS and T-Mobile, and the new partnership means they now serve 30 percent of the Fortune Global 100.
The acquisition follows another by Contentsquare just last week when they purchased price optimisation and merchandising solution Pricing Assistant.
Jonathan Cherki (pictured), founder and CEO of Contentsquare, said: “The combination of Clicktale and Contentsquare heralds an unprecedented goldmine of digital data that enables companies to interpret and predict the impact of any digital element – including user experience, content, price, reviews and product – on visitor behaviour.
“Increasingly, this unique data can be used to activate custom digital experiences in the moment via an ecosystem of over 50 martech partners. With a global community of customers and partners, we are accelerating the interpretation of human behaviour online and shaping a future of addictive customer experiences.”
Shlomi Hagai, CEO of Clicktale, added: “Contentsquare and Clicktale are exceptionally compatible. By combining our resources, we unlock the next level of digital experience success for our customers.”
Consumers these days expect a hyper-personalised Digital Experience, from cosmetics and fashion brands to consumer goods, online marketplaces, and even video streaming services.
Personalisation has become a focal point for user experience design and, when executed smartly, can be a differentiator for a brand’s Customer Experience. Personalised user experiences can build brand loyalty and drive sales, as well as producing extremely insightful data for brands to evaluate and re-imagine their UX design. A smart personalised experience should allow users to complete tasks in a faster, easier, and more enjoyable way.
However, creating a personalised user experience can be complicated. A combination of data, research, and technological knowhow is needed, plus the vision and creativity to create something that engages and delights users. Here are a few things to consider when starting out with personalisation or re-imagining an existing user experience.
Users today are digital-savvy and constantly connected, across a plethora of devices. To succeed in providing a consistently pleasing user experience, businesses have to improve the interactions they offer via every channel. This is the way to provide a more intuitive, sophisticated, and personalised relationship with their customers.
Digital consumers expect real-time responses and transactions with minimal effort, and access to compelling experiences that have been personalised for them specifically, and the only way to generate these interactions is through utilising data. Brands need to create data-driven strategies to target their audience with relevant, timely content to generate conversion and interest. But data is only useful if it is interpreted the right way.
In theory, every brand that sells directly to consumers has the potential to access the same data as their competitors. Where brands can differentiate is by creatively connecting the dots that this data provides. This is how the ‘magic’ is created. It’s a blend of logic, imagination, and brand values, and connecting the dots to find the story.
Quantitative data is a starting point, then it takes a bit of intuition via qualitative data, human behaviour, brainstorming, and creativity to create the magic and lay out the storytelling needed to make the journey happen.
Research firstly helps you understand if your brand actually needs personalisation. If yes, where should it be applied? And how much is enough? User research helps comprehend what matters to your users, what are their limits in terms of over-use, and if what you are doing and creating is relevant to the variety of your brand’s audiences.
Essentially, personalisation is not the silver bullet for every brand, every audience, or every interaction. User research will help divulge where and how it can be applied most effectively.
Test and repeat. This is as critical as the research step and is the only way to understand if your personalisation application is ready to drive sales and brand engagement – by testing. It needs to feel seamless.
Practically, this means it is simple to use on their device of preference, and clear what the objective is. An experience is ruined if users spend a time feeling confused, frustrated, or consider another option. Any type of personalisation will take you a step towards providing a frictionless experience. Hyper-personalisation should be almost unnoticeable.
Despite the fact consumers are becoming more accepting of organisations using data in a positive way, brands still need to be prepared demonstrate to users how they are obtaining and using their data. It’s a two-way street. In exchange for data sharing, brands are exploring innovative ways to deliver personalised, valuable moments across various touchpoints to customers that will make their experiences easier and more fun.
And to develop these experiences, brands need to understand how customers view the brand across all touchpoints. This understanding will allow a platform for brands to connect with their customers on an emotional level consistently across various touchpoints. Because of the explosion of customer interaction points, across channels and devices, the key for brands is to manage the entire journey, not simply individual touchpoints. And the secret is delivering a consistent experience across all channels.
6. Don’t be creepy
Personalisation is about context. It’s effective if brands serve up the right content at the right time for the right person, and creating a contextualised and personalised experience consists of knowing why personalisation is important and how it can help your users. In short, if a user is given a positive, timely, helpful experience, it shouldn’t feel creepy.
Imagine you’re walking past your favourite shoe shop. You get a push-notification that the sneaker you checked out online last week is available in-store at a discount for a limited time only, and available in your size. That’s peak personalisation – and it’s a positive experience.
Now personalisation is more commonplace, users are educated and so more accepting of personalisation. Brands need to be able to gather contextual data and segment users into target areas. Every user is different, and what some people may find uncomfortable, others may think is helpful or fun. For positive personalisation, knowing and segmenting your users is the key.
7. The future
8. Who’s doing it well?
Amazon is an obvious choice; it would be hard to write about personalisation without mentioning Amazon, as its use of personalisation is widespread around their site (recent orders, previously watched videos, recommended items based on previous purchases, etc). Research indicates that Amazon drives 35 percent of its revenues through its personalised product recommendations.
Another example is Thread, which built its brand around personalisation, delivering hyper-personalised recommendations at scale. Thread’s free ‘personal stylist’ takes visitors through a survey to understand body type, colourings, tastes, and budget. The stylist then provides ‘hand-picked’ recommendations, delivered through personalised emails – usually a link to a curated list of items alongside a personal message.
Despite providing ‘hand-picked’ recommendations for over 650,000 customers, Thread actually employs fewer than 10 stylists. Obviously, personalisation algorithms are hard at work behind the scenes. Recommendations are generated via user data analysis, and emails are segmented by location, or what the weather is like, to resonate with customers. A handful of ‘stylists’ are used to face up the front end, making the experience feel super-personal.
Have you been the victim of chatbot incompetence recently?
It typically starts with a specific query that you need help with. You don’t have the time to listen to the contact centre’s hold music, so you turn to the company’s much vaunted chatbot.
It seems fairly straightforward. You type in your question and press enter. The chatbot comes back with a list of completely unrelated content links, and asks if any of these solve your problem. ‘No’ you say.
You retype your question, hoping this time it’s a little clearer. Again the chatbot cheerfully responds with a new list of possible ‘helpful’ articles and FAQ links, and mentions that it is busy learning and is grateful for your help. It will get more accurate the more people engage with it.
Oh, so your diabolical customer experience is all for a good cause – to train their chatbot! The cheek of it.
After a third attempt, you notice a link that may be relevant. You click on the link and are taken to a three-page document providing generic product information. The assumption is that you will take the time to read this document and then work out the answer yourself. With raised blood pressure, you click on the ‘Connect me to an agent’ link and hope that possibly they may have the knowledge needed to solve your query. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. That’s how it goes with so many omnichannel customer journeys these days.
I must confess I expected more. I envisaged that by now we could engage with chatbots that are capable of diagnosing my specific issue, and then offering me a relevant response that results in a relevant action. In other words, a chatbot that is not simply an over-hyped digital assistant that can execute basic instructions or offer me links to possible content matches. I had in mind an digital advisor that could operate at the level of an expert – one whose intelligence is defined as much by the relevance of the questions it asks as the answers it finally offers.
If you talk to most AI companies, their chatbots already perform like digital experts. They will refer to their amazing natural language understanding and incredibly intelligent algorithms that are powered by ‘machine learning’, ‘deep learning’, and ‘neural nets’. They will give you the sense that all you need to do is point their technology in the direction of your knowledge base and the digital advisor will magically onboard all your product, policy and procedural expertise. Then, with just a little bit of guidance, you can soon have trained your chatbot into a digital Einstein that can change your customer service offering forever.
When you ask them to show you a working example, they will probably show you one of their canned demo’s – built off a scenario where the source data is in rich supply, the use case is clearly defined, and the user script can be carefully followed. As a result, their chatbot’s conversation will feel so intelligent, so human-like, that you will feel you simply have to have one.
Just don’t ask them mid-way to type in something unscripted and to upset their crafted storyline! I am certain that you will be quickly informed that they have not managed to train this chatbot to cover all contexts, and that this is simply used for illustration purposes.
The real reason is that it is all really a digital mirage. It looks so achievable until you shift your eyes down to your current position, and suddenly the mirage vanishes. There are a number of reasons for this:
Companies seldom have the quality of data needed to accurately train a customer facing chatbot
Most companies operate in a world of legacy systems, limited integrations, poor quality data, and poorly documented internal policies and procedures – the very things that cognitive systems depend on to build their engagement accuracy.
A customer support chatbot is powered more by prescriptive than predictive logic
To understand the difference, ask Siri or Alexa for an answer based on available information, and they can usually give it to you. For example, if you ask: “What is the weather looking like tomorrow in London?”, you will be amazed how accurate the answer is. That is because the information exists, and thousands of people have already asked the same or a similar question. The patterns are thus established and the correct answer can be predicted.
However, try ask a question that requires more context before answering. Say: “What is the best home loan for me?”. You will probably notice that the response will be to offer you possible links to companies offering loans. It won’t begin by understanding your needs. This is because a financial need analysis is driven off a diagnostic set of prescribed logic. There is no answer yet – the problem still needs to be understood.
In regulated environments, you need to be able to prove your chatbot asked the right questions and offered the right advice
Where a chatbot is powered by predictive logic – the logic you need to train and that keeps ‘learning’ based on multiple engagements – you will find it will struggle in a regulated environment. This is because the logic is designed to change and adapt, based on user engagement. It is also hard to prove how a decision was reached, as each recommendation is made in what is often referred to as a ‘black box’. This is hugely problematic when you are offering customers advisory support in a regulated environment, such as banking and finance.
Context matters, and the way most companies capture prescriptive logic lacks context
Prescriptive logic is typically captured using documents (knowledge bases) or decision trees (process flows). It’s how we have trained employees brains for decades and it’s how we are trying to train our chatbots. So just like giving staff exercises to learn how to apply the formula to different situations, we get teams to train the chatbot, telling them when they are right and when they are wrong. The problem is that documents and decision trees are not able to capture all the possible scenarios. They can only describe a few. And as a result, the more variables you need to consider in order to offer a customer accurate, relevant advice, the harder it becomes to achieve.
The good news is that there are now digital platforms available that allow you to achieve the holy grail – a chatbot capable of asking me context relevant questions that then lead to relevant answers and actions. These platforms have been built off data-powered, prescriptive logic that can ensure your customers are offered a consistent, compliant and context-relevant digital engagement, one that leads to a successful customer service outcome every time.
These platforms have acknowledged that not all logic should be predicted, and that for customer support chatbots the foundation of the logic has to prescribed. The trick is ensuring it is also contextual, and these platforms have now managed to do this in a way that can be maintained effectively.
The dawn of chatbots capable of offering customers consistent, compliant and yet highly context-relevant customer engagements is upon us. And it’s about time, too.
The ability of artificial intelligence (AI) to grasp morality and empathy are among concerns expressed by customers when it comes to interacting digitally with brands.
The lack of trust in AI has been revealed by Pegasystems Inc. and research firm Savanta, who surveyed 5,000 consumers across the globe. They found that many don’t understand the extent to which AI can make their interactions with businesses better and more efficient, while one-in-ten said they believed AI cannot tell the difference between good and evil.
The suspicions on morality seeped into customers’ overall opinions on brands, with 68 percent believing organisations have an obligation to do what is morally right for the customer, beyond what is legally required.
Sixty-five percent don’t trust that companies have their best interests at heart, raising significant questions about how much trust they have in the technology businesses use to interact with them. Less than half (40 percent) of respondents agreed that AI has the potential to improve the customer service of businesses they interact with, while less than one third (30 percent) felt comfortable with businesses using AI to interact with them.
Just nine percent said they were “very comfortable” with the idea. At the same time, one-third of all respondents said they were concerned about machines taking their jobs, with more than one quarter (27 percent) also citing the “rise of the robots and enslavement of humanity” as a concern.
Over half (53 percent) said it’s possible for AI to show bias in the way it makes decisions, and 53 percent also felt that AI will always make decisions based on the biases of the person who created its initial instructions, regardless of how much time has passed.
Meanwhile, just 12 percent of consumers agreed that AI can tell the difference between good and evil, while over half (56 percent) of customers don’t believe it is possible to develop machines that behave morally. Just 12 percent believe they have ever interacted with a machine that has shown empathy.
The results of the survey coincide with plans by Pega to “improve empathy in AI systems”, and speaking of the poll results, the firm’s VP of Decisioning and Analytics, Dr Rob Walker, said: “Our study found that only 25 percent of consumers would trust a decision made by an AI system over that of a person regarding their qualification for a bank loan. Consumers likely prefer speaking to people because they have a greater degree of trust in them and believe it’s possible to influence the decision, when that’s far from the case.
“What’s needed is the ability for AI systems to help companies make ethical decisions. To use the same example, in addition to a bank following regulatory processes before making an offer of a loan to an individual, it should also be able to determine whether or not it’s the right thing to do ethically.”
He continued: “An important part of the evolution of artificial intelligence will be the addition of guidelines that put ethical considerations on top of machine learning. This will allow decisions to be made by AI systems within the context of customer engagement that would be seen as empathetic if made by a person. AI shouldn’t be the sole arbiter of empathy in any organisation and it’s not going to help customers to trust organisations overnight. However, by building a culture of empathy within a business, AI can be used as a powerful tool to help differentiate companies from their competition.”
New business models for public transport in the UK will result from a digital revolution in the mobility industry, a new report has predicted.
Global digital transformation firm Atos has launched its Digital Vision for Mobility report, which sets out how digital technology has transformed the UK’s transport sector and considers the role of AI, automation, and blockchain in determining the mobility solutions of tomorrow for road and rail, broader public transport, and logistics.
Contributions from ITS-UK, Google, Siemens, KPMG, Worldline, TfL, MyTaxi, and TechUK explain how data is being used as a driver for intelligent infrastructure and how developments such as IoT can be strategically deployed to create more reliable services and more convenient access for transport customers.
The report’s release was marked with a keynote address by Atos UK & Ireland SVP for Strategy & Communications and former Transport Advisor to the Mayor of London, Kulveer Ranger, to an audience at University College London.
“Increasingly with population growth and denser metropolitan conurbations, we see the need to support the mass movement of people and goods with efficient, effective and integrated multi-modal public and personal transport systems,” he told attendees.
“Transport operators are beginning to rely heavily on data: harvested both from within their own networks and systems and from the personal mobile devices of individuals. To realise a vision of truly personal mobility, vast amounts of data will need to be aggregated. This will be a huge technological feat for innovative integrators and digital architects.”
Speaking of the launch of the report, Adrian Gregory, Atos Senior Executive Vice President and CEO, UK & Ireland, said: “More change is now underway across the transport and logistics industry than at any time since the invention of the combustion engine. Vastly increased computing power and hyper-connectivity are helping to transform the operation and maintenance of vehicles and national infrastructure.”
Nearly three quarters of marketers and CX professionals (74 percent) are investing in Digital Experience (DX) in an effort to foster long-term loyalty and build better relationships with their customers.
Research from experience analytics company Clicktale, which surveyed 200 marketing and CX professionals across the US and UK, found customer loyalty to be the number one priority for those building a DX strategy. This was followed by a need to understand customer behaviour (67 percent) and a desire to create a clearer Customer Experience vision (67 percent).
For those at a managerial level (CX and marketing managers) improving customer lifetime value was also identified as an important driver of DX strategy.
Speaking of the findings in Clicktale’s Defining Digital Experience report, the firm’s CEO, Sara Richter, said: “As ever more customer interactions are completed via digital channels, marketers find themselves faced with a ‘switching economy’ – in which consumers regularly flit between different brands when they’re dissatisfied with a particular experience. Given this fact, is it any wonder that so many marketers are looking to secure long-term customer loyalty through their Digital Experience approach?
“To achieve such loyalty, however, we as marketers need to think about what it is that our customers need, and to do that requires a strong understanding of customer behaviours. This is where the other key objectives come into play. In order to drive loyalty, marketers must improve their digital experiences. But to do that, they must have a clear vision and the behavioural data needed to back it up. None of these factors can exist in isolation – they must all form part of a single, unified DX strategy and be supported with the right behavioural technologies.”
Retailers are neglecting social media when it comes to customer service, and are not listening to consumers to drive Customer Experience improvements, according to the 2019 Eptica Digital Trust Study.
The study found that while retailers successfully answered 59 percent of routine queries asked via web self service, chat, email, Facebook and Twitter, there were wide variations in performance between channels. Retailers provided answers to 83 percent of queries on their websites but only responded correctly to 38 percent of tweets and 50 percent of Facebook messages. Performance had worsened on many channels since 2017 – then retailers answered 73 percent of emails. By 2019 this had dropped to 68 percent, despite the continued popularity of the channel with consumers, who use it for over a quarter of their interactions with brands.
As part of the 2019 Eptica Digital Trust Study, 20 fashion and food & drink retailers were evaluated on their digital Customer Experience, alongside brands from other sectors, by testing their accuracy and speed at answering relevant, routine queries, repeating research conducted since 2012. Questions included asking about ethical sourcing policies (fashion) and allergy labelling (food and drink). Additionally, 1,000 consumers were asked for their views on Customer Experience.
Fashion (answering 60 percent of all queries) and food and drink (59 percent) were the top sectors surveyed but still failed to respond to four-in-10 of all routine queries.
The research also demonstrated a direct link between trust, listening and loyalty. Eighty-nine percent of consumers surveyed said they either will stop buying from brands that they don’t trust or will spend less. Building trust begins with delivering on basic promises – 59 percent ranked giving satisfactory, consistent answers as a top three factor in creating trustworthiness, while 63 percent rated making processes easy and seamless as key. Just eight percent of consumers felt that brands were listening to them all of the time, with 74 percent believing brands pay attention to their views half the time or less.
Olivier Njamfa, CEO and Co-Founder of Eptica, said: “The move to digital has transformed the retail landscape. Greater choice means consumers are becoming more demanding and are actively seeking out brands that they can trust and who listen to them. While retail brands have made some improvements since 2017, they have slipped back in others, damaging trust and ultimately customer loyalty and revenues. If they want to succeed they need to listen to customers and use their insight. Only those who do this will thrive and stay ahead of the competition.”
Wolverhampton is the seemingly unlikely “testbed” for a new physical store from eBay, which aims to reinvent the high street.
The new concept store recently opened its doors to customers as part of a scheme that seeks to merge online and brick and mortar platforms. The ‘Retail Revival’ initiative was launched last year after research revealed 25 percent of small retailers do not have an online presence.
The new venture involves 40 local businesses in Wolverhampton selling their goods in the pop-up store, located in the city’s Railway Drive.
Vice-President of eBay in the UK, Rob Hattrell, said at the store’s recent opening: “The small retailers taking part in Wolverhampton’s Retail Revival have already shown that physical and online retail can survive – and thrive – together.
“They have achieved more than £2 million in sales as of March and many have employed more staff as a direct result of the partnership. This pop-up store aims to take that growth, and the value of this programme, to the next level.
“It will explore how stores of the future could combine technology with that vital human connection to powerful effect – whatever the size of the business.”
Retail Revival participants have already made £2 million in sales, and benefit from training and support covering eBay selling basics, as well as digital skills.
An admirer of the scheme is David Nicholls, Retail and Hospitality CTO at Fujitsu, who said: “This latest move from eBay to open a concept store is a great testbed for it to see how the physical world can come together with the digital word to build bigger more connected market for small local retailers. The first phase of creating this cohesive experience began last year and set out to help local physical retailers build a digital presence and help them to better tap into their local market and increase their profile with the wider customer base online as Ebay found that 25 percent of small traders don’t have a web presence.
“In this next phase, opening the concept store appears to be the reverse side of the same coin. Bringing local online retailers into a physical space to showcase their products and services to a more local audience and build awareness. This experiment is exploring how physical and digital retail when merged can help small retailers both online and in store to create greater market awareness, get closer to their customer, and ultimately generate an increase in sales.”
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.”
International CX management firm Assist Digital has acquired world-leading consultancy IG Group UK Ltd.
In a move which positions the company favourably in the rapidly growing global Digital Transformation market, Assist Digital is looking to widen its skills base and strengthen its presence in the UK and wider European markets.
With its headquarters in Italy, and a presence in France and Germany, Assist Digital plans to take advantage of IG Group’s impressive client portfolio of leading global brands. IG Group’s expertise spans a broad range of complementary capabilities, including an accomplished data analytics department, extensive business transformation experience, and a contemporary CX practice.
The purchase follows the recent acquisition by Assist Digital of French UX design company Attoma.
Speaking of the company’s latest acquisition decision, Enrico Donati, Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of Assist Digital, said: “Our focus as a company is on the whole Customer Experience management process. The complexity of today’s digital and multichannel reality requires ever greater design capabilities to offer customers simple, effective and intuitive solutions. The IG Group’s significant global customer base, knowledge and strength in analytics gels perfectly with our existing skill sets.”
Matthew Ellis, Managing Director of The IG Group UK Ltd, added: “This is a defining moment for our company and one we’ve been building towards for the past decade, which has seen us focus on enabling clients to make strategic sense of their data.
“This exciting acquisition enables us to make our proposition even more tangible and current, helping clients to realise the potential of their organisation. It clearly strengthens both companies and provides the springboard we need to move to the next level and dominate the market still further.”
New research has found that 36 percent of CMOs admit their brand still hasn’t invested in Customer Experience, despite 88 percent expecting a focused CX programme to yield long-term customer loyalty and increasing sales over time.
The survey of over 100 senior CX professionals from national and international brands of all sizes was carried out by digital agency AmazeRealise and forms part of its new report, The CX Challenge.
Seventy-seven percent of CMOs confessed that their business has spent less than one percent of its annual turnover on enhancing CX. The top three reasons cited for this lack of investment were: they didn’t know enough about it, the perceived cost of implementation, and that they had trouble building the business case for its positive impact based on results.
In addition, around one-in-five (22 percent) said the lack of investment came from organisational blockers and team structure and 11 percent blamed a lack of C-suite support and senior buy-in.
Chris Barnes, Customer Experience Officer at AmazeRealise, said: “There’s still a huge and growing gap between customer expectations and the reality of what brands are delivering, especially when you see smaller, more agile disruptors entering the marketplace and being able to be much more forward-thinking with their Digital Experience.
“According to Forrester research, CX improvements have stalled for a third year in a row. It’s clear that brands need to build trust with consumers, actually listen and take action.”
In spite of the lack of investment, the survey found that the long-term business benefits of dedicated CX programmes were well understood by all CMOs. As well as providing improved loyalty and sales, almost half of those surveyed (44 percent) expected CX initiatives to lead to a decrease in costs, and 25 percent thought they would attract new customers through word-of-mouth recommendation.
At the same time, those brands that had invested significantly in CX were experiencing those benefits in full: 25 percent of those who’d invested in CX said the primary benefit to the business was increased sales; 22 percent said it was greater customer loyalty; and 22 percent said it was receiving deeper consumer insight that enabled better decisions.
Chris added: “We all need to face up to the fact that CX is now a key factor in driving business growth. The key is to bring everyone along on your journey. It can be immensely satisfying when you can see that the changes you’re making have a tangible impact on your bottom line.”
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.
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.
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 Experienceshows 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.”
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.”
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?
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. Manywebsites 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.