Harald FanderlHarald FanderlMay 1, 2019
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6min642

“What do my customers want?”

The savviest executives are asking this question more frequently than ever, and rightly so. Leading companies understand that they are in the Customer Experience business, and they understand that how an organisation delivers for customers is as important as what it delivers.

Armed with advanced analytics, Customer Experience leaders gain rapid insights to build customer loyalty, make employees happier, achieve revenue gains of five-to-10 percent, and reduce costs by 15-to-25 percent within two or three years. But it takes patience and guts to train an organisation to see the world through the customer’s eyes and to redesign functions to create value in a customer-centric way.

There are three key management tasks to undertake in order to achieve this shift: Observe, Shape, and Perform.

Observe: Understand the interaction through the customer’s eyes

Technology has handed customers unprecedented power to dictate the rules in purchasing goods and services. Three-quarters of them, research finds, expect ‘now’ service within five minutes of making contact online. A similar number want a simple experience, use comparison apps when they shop, and put as much trust in online reviews as in personal recommendations. Increasingly, customers expect from all players the same kind of immediacy, personalisation, and convenience that they receive from leading practitioners such as Google and Amazon.

Central to connecting better with customers is putting in place several building blocks of a comprehensive improvement in customer experience.

  • Identify and understand the customer’s journey
  • Quantify what matters to your customers
  • Define a clear customer-experience aspiration and common purpose

Customer journeys are the framework that allows a company to organise itself and mobilise employees to deliver value to customers consistently, in line with its purpose. The journey construct can help align employees around customer needs, despite functional boundaries.

Shape: Redesign the business from the customer back

Customer Experience leaders start with a differentiating purpose and focus on improving the most important customer journey first – whether it be opening a bank account, returning a pair of shoes, installing cable television, or even updating address and account information.

Then they improve the steps that make up that journey. To manage expectations, they design supporting processes with customer psychology in mind. They transform their digital profile to remove pain points in interactions, and to set in motion the culture of continuous innovation needed to make more fundamental organisational transformations.

Customer Experience leaders can become even better by digitising the processes behind the most important customer journeys. In these quick efforts, multidisciplinary teams jointly design, test, and iterate high-impact processes and journeys in the field, continually refining and rereleasing them after input from customers. Such methods help high-performing incumbents to release and scale major, customer-vetted process improvements in less than 20 weeks.

Perform: Align the organisation to deliver against tangible outcomes

As Customer Experience becomes a bigger focus of corporate strategy, more and more executives will face the decision to commit their organisations to a broad CX transformation. The immediate challenge will be how to structure the organisation and roll-out, as well as figuring out where and how to get started. Applying sophisticated measurement to what your customers are saying, empowering frontline employees to deliver against your customer vision, and a customer-centric governance structure form the foundation.

Securing early economic wins will deliver value and momentum for continuous innovation.

Delighting customers by mastering the concept and execution of an exceptionally good Customer Experience is a challenge. However, it is an essential requirement for leading in an environment where customers wield growing power, and crucially without it, you lose your ability to meet their needs. And as we all know, in today’s market dissatisfied customers quickly move elsewhere.

The author would like to thank Kevin Neher and Ewan Duncan for their contributions to this article.


Jo UpwardJo UpwardApril 29, 2019
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8min385

The Delphi Study of Work 2050 can be seen as a sober read for those of us working in workplace culture.

As well as predicting an unemployment rate of around 24 percent of the world’s population by 2050 due to the convergence of technology, it talks about how we will be both virtual and metaverse-centric or living in a collective virtual world. 

There is no doubt that the impact of the next round of technology advances will be profound.  We are already going from ANI (Artificial Narrow Intelligence), where machines can learn a specific task, to AGI (Artificial General Intelligence), where they mimic humans, to bordering on the ASI (Artificial Super Intelligence), where machines’ abilities and functions become superior to that of humans. 

What this means for the workforce is that the nature of work has changed. Today we are multi-local and mobile. By 2050 we will live and work in a collective virtual world. No longer ‘jobs for life’ – there will be fewer permanent contracts, more patchwork careers, and a need to invest in long-term learning.

By 2030, digital assistants will guide us through our day, connected to our schedules, aware of our preferences, and with the ability and knowledge to book our favourite restaurants, plan routes, and arrange transportation for our travel.  Keyboards will be a thing of the past as interaction with devices will be via speech and gesture, and everything will be connected – by 2030, 20 percent of the world’s electricity is forecast to be used by the billions of connected devices.

We will of course be driven to work by our driverless car, which will be enabled by 5G, that it is predicted will have over two billion connections by 2030. And we will have less days off sick – a combined result of working on freelance contracts with no sick pay and the fact that our health will be monitored through our wearable devices.

So what does this mean for those of us working in workplace design and culture? How do we attract people to a workplace when we know the future is about designing for the tech rather than the talent?

We know that all businesses will need to be digital – to embrace digital transformation within their workforce. We also know that the human aspect is often what puts the heart into our businesses and gives us our point of differentiation from our competitors.  So, how do we design the space that brings digital transformation into our workplace yet is attractive to those who will work within it?

Flexibility in the workplace

Firstly, we need to create flexibility in the work environment to help teams work in a more agile way. Work will more organised around project not function and this can be challenging to accommodate in a fixed space. People need to be able to move from project to project and the technology and space needs to accommodate this seamlessly without causing delay or disturbance to those working agilely.

We all know that real estate is expensive and therefore the tendency is to cram people into the office space and ‘agility’ becomes another word for too many people in too little space. Digital teams, such as developers, also tend to be office-based rather than flexible workers, so the challenge is to create clever collaborative spaces where teams can get together on an hourly, daily, and weekly basis to discuss projects and progress, but also have space for concentrated activity.

The space needs to be attractive

To attract and retain good people you need to create attractive workplaces. We all have seen on YouTube, or at least heard about, Google’s offices complete with slide, putting green, and revolving bookcases, and although most of us don’t stretch to that level of innovation or budget, we do need to make our workforce proud of the space they work in.

The 360 degree work we live and work in means that we share far more of our lives on a day-to-day level. This includes our life in the office. Workspaces need to reflect the brand – so what you are externally saying to customers, internally lines up with your staff. This isn’t just graphics on the wall, but how the brand is lived and demonstrated within the workplace, including what food offerings are available, what rest and relaxation areas there are, how wellbeing is being addressed, and so on.

Ability to engage all

Ensuring that your frontline staff – for example those working in retail or those in the field – are delivering your brand and feel their workplace reflects them too is key. For example, getting feedback from these frontline staff in real-time or even delivering internal and external communication strategies in 3D and on their own mobile devices, can be a way to excite them about product launches, educate them about brand values, and make them feel that they know – and understand – what is going on within the company.

Culture comes from people, not brands, products, or robots. Every workforce needs a culture and therefore needs to place their people at the heart of workspace they are working in, whether this workspace is in the office, in the field, or virtual.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthApril 9, 2019
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4min620

New research among British businesses examining employees’ attitudes toward digital transformation, innovation, and cutting-edge technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, reveals confusion about the true meaning of ‘digital transformation’ and a high degree of scepticism about their employers’ appetite for digital innovation.

The research, conducted by YouGov amongst employees at 500 businesses with 50 or more employees, on behalf of Cherwell Software, reveals that 57 percent of employees don’t know the correct meaning of ‘digital transformation’: 20 percent of respondents could not hazard a guess at its meaning, and 12 percent thought it meant moving to a paperless office.

This research focuses on the view from the workforce itself and its findings go a long way to explain why the 2018  Dell Digital Transformation Index placed the UK in 17th place in its adoption of digital transformation, lagging way behind emerging countries like India, Brazil, and Thailand.

In a further blow to the image of UK businesses, the survey highlights a reluctance to adopt cutting edge technology.  According to the survey, just nine percent of businesses are viewed by their workforce as being digital innovators, whilst 64 percent of employers only take on new technology after it has become widely available.

“It’s obvious that not enough time is being devoted to communicating with employees to develop their understanding and involvement in the process of digital transformation,” said Oliver Krebs, Vice President of EMEA sales for Cherwell.

“Unless business leaders bring their teams along with them on this journey British organisations are likely to fail and our ability to compete in the global market place will be severely compromised.”

Mixed reaction to Artificial Intelligence

Meanwhile, reactions to adoption of AI in the workplace were mixed: 34 percent of employees were confused (five percent), threatened (21 percent), or saddened ( eight percent); 20 percent were optimistic (16 percent) or excited (four percent); and 30 percent were intrigued – suggesting once again that leadership teams have not effectively communicated and engaged their team in the adoption of new technology.

Cross-departmental integration

Central to the success of most digital transformation projects is ensuring a consistent and integrated approach to the use of processes and data across all departments. Yet the survey reveals that just six percent of businesses’ data and processes are very well integrated across all departments, and 42 percent have not integrated inter-departmental data and processes well.

Andre Cuenin, Chief Revenue Officer at Cherwell said: “The research demonstrates that UK businesses still have a lot to learn in terms of planning and implementing digital transformation and their adoption of new technologies like artificial intelligence if they want to shed their image of digital innovation followers. The deep level of confusion and miscommunication amongst employees must be addressed by industry leaders.

“This may be due to the fact that digital transformation is frequently pigeon-holed as an IT issue, whereas in reality it should be seen as an initiative that involves everyone across the business, from the board, down to the most junior employee.”


Valur SvanssonValur SvanssonMarch 29, 2019
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6min654

This article was co-authored by Josh Ayres, Head of Emerging Technology at IP Integration.

 

This week, 5,000 Contact Centre professionals descended on London for the Call and Contact Centre Expo – a two-day, annual event centred around Customer Experience management. 

Exhibitor stands and seminars were awash with talk of the sector’s coming of age as it embarks on a period of digitalisation, with emerging technologies placing the industry firmly on the cusp of the fourth industrial revolution.

Among the speakers was OmniTouch International’s Daniel Ord, who leads CXM’s Contact Centre Masterclass.

It is an exciting time for the Contact Centre. Technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Contact Analytics, and chatbots have opened up a world of possibilities and are changing the face of the Contact Centre – enabling brands to shorten processes, and free up agents to spend more time on delivering an exceptional Customer Experience.

How to smooth the path to digital transformation

The benefits of these emerging technologies are undeniable. Take the chatbot as an example: at a very basic level, it reduces pressure on the Call Centres, giving customers an additional outlet and instant access to information. From a financial perspective the benefits only continue, with research indicating that the use of chatbots will result in cost savings of over $8 billion by 2020, primarily in banking and healthcare. In fact, leading analyst house Gartner believes that by 2020, chatbots should take over 85 percent of customer service interactions.

However, before looking to implement any new tool, organisations must define their goals so that the path to digital transformation reflects their brand values and is also focused on what that organisation needs. Less attention should be given to the features that vendors are promoting.

The customer is king

As with any implementation, questions need to be asked. How will the technology fit into the Contact Centre? Which systems does the tool need to integrate with? How will it be rolled out to customers? How will employees use and embrace the automation tools?

There are no right or wrong answers here, and no one-size-fits-all approach; instead organisations must choose tools based on what provides the greatest value, while offering the simplest integration for the most manageable cost. The customer must also be a prime consideration here, and the impact of any technology on a customer’s journey with a brand must be assessed.

The adoption of technology, if done well, should only enhance this customer journey. After all, customers today expect so much more from their brands than ever before; expecting instant access to information, irrespective of the channel used, as and when they want it. Speeding up processes through automation, providing live chat functionality, and digital agents will only improve Customer Experience levels more.

Time to invest?

It goes without saying that the better the Customer Experience, the happier the customer. A happier customer means better review ratings, greater referrals, increased return business, and potentials for upselling. In the Contact Centre – the voice of a brand – this is more important than ever.

Digital transformation will not happen overnight – nor should it. Change should be considered and measured based upon an organisation’s requirements and what suits its customers and objectives best. What’s great is that with a host of amazing technology to pick from, the time has never been better to start a journey of transformation.


Peter TetlowPeter TetlowMarch 26, 2019
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5min516

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?


Sukhi DehalSukhi DehalFebruary 27, 2019
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7min884

Digital transformation – a term that often gets used without much thought or consideration to the true scale and effort required to truly digitise a legacy business, service, or product.

There are a few trends and areas of focus that any business should be aware of before starting on their digital transformation journey. Here are a few thoughts for consideration;

1. It’s going to be more difficult and probably take longer than you expect, and this is totally fine and normal

Digitally transforming a business requires a lot of scrutiny of existing processes and services, and during this process there should be no stones left unturned and no questions unanswered. You will always find new requirements and new challenges that will impact your desired timelines and scope. This is normal and can be managed effectively when it occurs through a process of constant internal communication, rescoping and planning where necessary.

2. Put your user at the heart of everything you plan to deliver  

The process of digital transformation should truly allow you to orientate your business around the people who ensure it exists your customers, your users, and your internal teams. Your CRM platforms and insight teams should give you the tools and understanding needed to allow you to get close to your users, and then create truly personalised, relevant, and enjoyable experiences for them.  

Digital transformation could be your first opportunity to make a huge positive shift in your user experience and engagement with your brand, so it’s vital to make sure this is right from the beginning. It’s also worth remembering that whilst digital transformation has a formal start, it will very rarely ever end. The digital world is constantly evolving and improving, and your business must do so too. Digital transformation really isn’t a one hit wonder and is something that’s constantly evolving and changing based on your user’s needs.

3. Don’t create products and struggle to cross your internal operational units 

This is a big one. A lot of businesses report a broken user experience or customer journey, and more often than not this is because operational business unit silos have bled through to the customer journey. For example, a user may have two logins for related services within the same brand, or they may have to wait a week for “another department” to finish off a support query.

Your goal should always be to deliver a seamless, coherent, and enjoyable experience across your product or services. Users don’t know or care about how your business works internally, so don’t make the mistake of forcing them to understand it whilst navigating your experience.

4. Don’t try and build everything yourself

Unless you’re the size of Amazon or Google, then there is no practical or real reason why you would want or need to build your own on-site cloud solutions. Off-site solutions will always, always allow you to create, test, and deploy at a scale and speed that matches your product growth and expansion.

There may be some internal stakeholders who truly want to completely own the end-to-end technology stack of your product or services, and this may ultimately be the end result. However, we believe you must avoid the temptation to try and take on too much development early on in the transformation process. Bringing development work in-house too soon will inject a huge amount of risk in your transformation programme. So find the right partners, tools, and processes that allow you to focus on your business, and let someone else worry about the technology.

5. Know where your expertise start and end, and when to bring in support  

For a lot of businesses, digital transformation in its very nature is a new concept and approach to doing business. More often than not the expertise required to successfully deliver digital transformation simply doesn’t exist in the business when plans are being created. Digital transformation requires a very specific skillset across Strategy, User Research, Design, Development, Project Management, DevOps, etc, etc. There are organisations and individuals out there that specialise in these skills who can, and will ensure your digital transformation is a resounding success.  

Whether your business has 30 or 3000 employees, it’s vital to remember that digital transformation isn’t a one-size-fits-all process, and there will always be challenges and nuances to the process that you may need support with.

So digital transformation – it’s difficult, it can be messy, and it can be massively challenging for any business. But get it right and you’ll have a business, value proposition, and experience that is truly in tune with your customer’s needs and expectations.




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