David TruogDavid TruogAugust 6, 2020
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5min143

One of the most common obstacles to CX transformation is a misunderstanding of what CX is really about, among people who are not CX professionals.

And if you are a CX professional trying to explain it to colleagues, it can be hard to know where to start since you’re immersed in CX every day. So here’s some clarification that you might find useful either for your own understanding or to help some of your colleagues.

Let’s start with Forrester’s definition of CX, which has been widely accepted and cited since 1998 when the company launched its CX research:

  1. CX is customers’ perceptions of their interactions with a brand: Those perceptions are the reality of CX. And CX encompasses all interactions with a brand, from seeing advertisements to using products and getting support. CX has another meaning, too, which is important to be aware of:
  2. CX is a profession focused on understanding and shaping the experiences of a company’s customers and of others in its ecosystem who also influence its customers’ experiences.

What CX pros call themselves varies widely, but the activities that make up their work fall into six broad competencies:

  • Research, to understand the needs and motivations of a specific population.
  • Prioritisation, to decide which of those needs and motivations to address.
  • Design, to conceive and specify experiences that address those needs and motivations.
  • Enablement, to provide the resources required for experiences to be delivered as designed.
  • Measurement, to assess whether the experiences are producing the desired outcomes.
  • Culture, to instil the right values and behaviours in people who contribute to the experiences.

Let’s consider a concrete scenario of a company we’ll call Acme Bank applying these six competencies in sequence:

  • Research: Acme Bank digs deep into the banking-related needs and motivations of its desired customers by interviewing, surveying, and observing them — among other methods.
  • Prioritisation: It’s unlikely Acme can (or wants to) address all those needs and motivations, so it ranks them to decide which to tackle immediately and which to postpone or ignore.
  • Design: Acme invents new experiences (or refines existing ones) that it believes will address the needs and motivations it prioritised.
  • Enablement: Acme develops the resources it needs to turn the designs into customer-ready experiences — software for the digital aspects and employee training for the human aspects.
  • Measurement: Acme examines customers’ perceptions of the experiences it is delivering and compares its findings to what it intended for them to perceive.
  • Culture: Acme spreads customer-centric values and behaviours that improve and amplify the effect of employees’ activities across the other five competencies.

CX pros apply these six competencies to the experiences of all types of customers. Nothing about them is specific to traditional commercial relationships. They are equally relevant to the relationships between hospitals and their patients, universities and their students, governments and their citizens, IT departments and the employees who rely on them, and so on. The differences lie mostly in what motivates these organisations to improve the experiences of the people they seek to serve.

The key to achieving reliably good CX is to not only apply these six competencies, but do so with rigour, cadence, coordination, and accountability — the elements of disciplined CX management that are necessary to achieve real CX transformation.

If you would like to learn more, check out Forrester’s complimentary eBook ‘Capturing The ROI Of CX’ eBook.

 

David Truog is VP and Research Director at Forrester.


Emily CollinsEmily CollinsJune 4, 2020
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6min1406

Brands have a personalisation problem.

While marketers and CX pros alike share visions of delivering individualised and anticipatory experiences that earn loyalty, the execution usually undermines customer relationships.

They can’t even get the basics right: only 7 percent of UK consumers agree that emails are usually timed well with their needs.  Right now, amidst a global pandemic and economic crisis, the stakes are high. You can’t afford to alienate customers with:

  • Personalisation that puts the business, not the customer, first. Personalisation efforts today are often narrowly focused on product recommendations or next-best offers that drive incremental purchases. A “buy this, do that” mentality prioritises the product and short-term revenue targets over what the customer wants.
  • Mounds of data that don’t yield the right insights. Much of the first-party data brands collect helps link purchases to a single customer, but it doesn’t provide much insight into who the person is, what motivates them, or what they’ll need in the future – all elements of a more meaningful personalised experience.
  • Tools, processes, and goals that reinforce the wrong priorities. Many of the personalisation tools out there are built to market products and drive sales – not meet customers’ unique needs. And since personalisation can manifest in marketing, service, sales, product, and other experiences, organisational silos and resource constraints only add to the challenges.

Success starts with a shift in perspective: reframe your personalisation program to put the customer needs front and centre. This means focusing on what value you can deliver for the customer, rather than the value you can extract from them.

Ground yourself in the customer’s journey and ask questions like, “What will they want?”; “How do they feel?”; and “How involved do they think our brand should be?” to define key moments where a personalised interaction might be welcome. And when you do start to test new kinds of personalised experiences, don’t forget to involve customers in your efforts by asking them for feedback in real-time.

Then, to enhance customer interactions and experiences based on context and preferences, you need data that’s going to tell you what those things are. A multi-national eCommerce retailer saw a 40 percent uptick in lifetime value when it used both purchase intent and customer motivation data in campaigns.

Lean on preference centres and progressive profiling to gain insight into lifestyle preferences that cannot be derived from what your customer bought last.

Whether you’re using customer segments to targeting offer content or machine learning algorithms to dynamically modify website experiences, check your personalisation efforts against three key questions. Does it:

  • Deliver relevance? This means determining what kind of value your customers want – and finding ways to provide that value, not just hawking the latest and greatest from your brand.
  • Build emotional resonance? This is all about creating memorable moments and feelings that have the strongest connection to customer loyalty. Demonstrate that you have a deeper understanding of your customers by talking to them about who they are and what they value, not just what they’ve bought lately.
  • Show restraint? Brands assume that if they have customer information, they should use it. But consumers already feel inundated by emails, and many crave privacy over personalisation. Respecting customer preferences might lead to some surprising results: a US footwear and accessories manufacturer found that shorter emails led to high customer interaction.

Done well, personalisation captures customer attention and creates value for your customers, which in turn drives customer loyalty and long-term profitability – all things you should be focusing on in this time of crisis. It’s never too late to leave your short-sighted product-obsessed personalisation ways behind. Your customers will thank you.

Emily Colins is a Research Director at Forrester Research.

Learn more about Forrester and their research content here.

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Sandra RadlovackiSandra RadlovackiMay 14, 2020
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2min985

The current situation has made it clear that businesses need to adapt and prepare for the contact centres of the future.

Whether this crisis leads to an economic downturn or not, you need to start preparing your contact centre for the future. Don’t wait for mandatory budget cuts to optimise your customer service operations. Learn how to enhance flexibility, spend wisely, and keep customer connections strong. Be the voice of reason in your customer service organisation.

The webinar features Ian Jacobs, Principal Analyst at Forrester and Arun Mani, President of Freshworks Europe who will be giving a helping hand and discussing how you can maintain customer loyalty while optimising you contact centre costs.

The webinar will offer insights on:

  • Balancing cost optimisation and customer experience
  • Automation-first approaches for effective cost-performance
  • Shifting customers to low-cost digital channels and improve CSAT
  • Temporary trends that will permanently impact contact centre operations

The number of attendees is limited, so make sure to register to reserve your spot for the webinar HERE.

The webinar offers three different dates and timezones, for 19th, 20th and 21st May.


David K. JohnsonDavid K. JohnsonMay 14, 2020
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8min1426

The coronavirus pandemic blindsided every organisation.

It not only disrupted business; it also exposed the vulnerabilities in employee experience (EX) and workforce strategy that executives thought they had plenty of time to address.

For example, when only 10 percent of a company’s workforce is working remotely and the rest are in an office, it’s easy to understand why ensuring that those 10 percent feel both included and enabled has always been less of a priority for leaders. But when 80 or 100 percent are working from home, it can no longer wait.

Astute leaders recognise that while the pandemic presents challenges, it also presents opportunities to make lasting improvements.

So while they’ve scrambled to get people up and running in home offices and offered understanding and latitude for employees who have unique circumstances like kids running around, or at-risk people sharing their space, they haven’t yet addressed the enablers that make remote working what it can be at its best – an engaging and rewarding experience, where deep work can get done.

Now is the time for leaders to develop their “listening” strategy and keep it going long after the pandemic is a memory. A listening strategy has 4 key components, at a minimum:

1. An ongoing employee survey program.

It should include both a comprehensive periodic survey (e.g. once or twice a year), and an ongoing pulse survey with no more than 3 questions taken from a rotating pool of questions, and offered up randomly to revolving groups of employees through various touchpoints, such as when they punch-in or sign in each day, visit the intranet, use a company mobile app, etc.

2. Exercises that reveal what surveys can’t.

Exercises can paint a rich picture of what employees’ daily experiences look and feel like for them, such as employee journey-mapping. With it, you can see things that surveys can’t reveal, such as how metrics impact their behaviour and decisions, where there are gaps in tools and processes that are hindering their effectiveness, or how well they understand how their work fits into the overall organisational goals.

3. Targeted, ongoing conversations to gain a deeper understanding.

These will reveal nuances of things identified by the surveys and exercises. The findings should be summarised for leaders to develop an action plan for addressing each area.

4. Action and follow-up, no exceptions.

Clients often express fears about survey fatigue whenever I suggest that they should either put one in place or expand it, and in my experience, the survey is not the source of their fatigue. Inaction and lack of follow-up are.

For every listening programme there has to be follow-up that shares both what the leaders of the organisation heard, but also what actions they are taking as a result. And this communication stream needs to continue until all actions are complete.

As our clients are moving through the complications of this pandemic on their workforces, I’m often asked what questions they should be asking their employees to keep their hands on the pulse of what matters most. Here are a few areas I’ve been recommending they consider asking questions about:

  • Quality of their home working environment: Specifically whether it’s a good place for them to be productive or not, due to distractions like homeschooling kids, shared spaces with others, poor wi-fi, etc.
  • If they’re a parent who is suddenly burdened with childcare and education demands, what might help them if the company could offer it. Examples: remote tutoring of kids, reducing work demands, etc.
  • How well-connected they feel with their manager and colleagues
  • Quality of the technology environment that the company provides: specifically how satisfied they are that they have easy access to the information they need to do their work, satisfied with their collaboration tools, and that the security controls in place aren’t hindering their ability to be productive, to name just 3.
  • If they have any specific concerns such as feeling less relevant, less productive, or less effective, etc.
  • What they will need to feel safe about returning to work, or if there is anything, such as an at-risk parent living with them, etc. that will make it more difficult for them to feel safe.

All of these areas will provide your leadership team with much greater insights that will allow the company to provide targeted support where and when it’s most needed.

Note that Forrester is also fielding a monthly survey now that we’re calling our PandemicEX survey that’s providing insights into how people’s thoughts about COVID-19 in the context of their working lives is changing and evolving.

For example, we’re finding that with each successive result set, people are feeling more and more ready to get back to working in their offices, as before, but that they’re also feeling afraid.

There are a couple of implications of this that I think are worth paying attention to: One of them is that probably 25 percent of the people who started working remotely for the first time during the pandemic will likely want to stay working that way as much as they can from now on.

The second is that you need to be thinking now about what employees will need to feel safe as they return, understanding that we’re going to be dealing with ongoing ebbs and flows of the virus spreading for at least the next year until a vaccine is widely available.

 

David K. Johnson is Principal Analyst at Forrester.

Learn more about Forrester and the firm’s research on Employee Experience here.

 

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Joana de QuintanilhaJoana de QuintanilhaApril 21, 2020
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5min1919

Companies have woken up to the reality that customer experience (CX) is critical to their business. To help improve experiences that they offer, CX pros have been quick to adopt customer journey mapping — a methodology to deepen customer understanding, break down siloed behaviors, and inject customer thinking into the design process.

Journey mapping has a variety of benefits that stretch far beyond the tactical advantage it provides when CX professionals use it for improvement projects. CX leaders can leverage customer journey maps to:

  • Break down silos to address the end-to-end customer experience. Organisations benefit when they shift focus from individual touchpoints to journeys that cross touchpoints, silos, policies, and procedures. Journey mapping allows CX professionals to identify overlooked touchpoints, find previously unknown problems and their root causes, clarify roles, quantify the value of improving CX, and measure improvements to CX.
  • Drive organisation wide customer obsession. Journey maps can build empathy for customers by walking participants through how touchpoints influence customers’ attitudes and actions. Ongoing use enforces customer-centric thinking and encourages good CX behaviors. What’s more, future-state journey maps can help make the CX vision tangible for employees and partners.

Companies as diverse as The Economist, Lloyds Banking Group, and Shell are shifting their focus away from channels and touchpoints to journeys. As a result, the adoption of journey mapping and journey analytics — a more data-driven approach to understanding customer journeys — is at an all-time high for CX professionals.

But there is room for improvement. Companies struggle especially with a lack of a strategic approach to journeys. While there is nothing wrong with a tactical approach to journey mapping to find and fix broken experiences, using journey maps only for that is a miss. More strategically minded companies like Lloyds, E.ON, and Sage Software North America manage a portfolio of journeys with journey atlases — a framework for cataloging and assessing journeys — and prioritisation matrices to systematically rank and plan journey-related efforts.

To boost their chances of success, companies using journey mapping ensure that the stakeholders and executives who own the parts of the affected business have prioritised fixing it.

They take validation and journey measurement efforts seriously and consider conducting customer interviews and observational research prior to mapping every journey or map journeys in co-creation sessions that involve customers.

They also realise that understanding the customer’s journey is half the CX puzzle; the other half is understanding the role that your company — its employees, partners, processes, systems, policies, and more — play in making the experience possible.

Firms in industries on the front line of helping customers through the COVID-19 pandemic are using journey mapping software to co-create key employee, call center agent, and customer journeys.

With customers embracing never-seen-before behaviors and employees working remotely, journey mapping can help ensure firms have a holistic view of crisis journeys and avoid tone-deaf experiences. Journey mapping vendors like Mural make it easy to translate “Post-it on the wall” work to a digital whiteboard for journey mapping and helps with virtual brainstorming and prioritisation.

Other vendors like More Than Metrics are prioritising features that enable home workers to print journey maps on several A4 pages so they can continue to collaborate with dispersed journey teams from their home office.

Journey mapping isn’t something that you should put on hold until recovery – in these unusual times it’s more important than ever that you map and validate journeys with real customer insights to win, serve, and retain customers with emotionally attuned journeys.

 

Joanna de Quintanilha is Forrester VP and Principal Analyst.

Learn more about Forrester and join the webinar Virtual Customer Journey Mapping: Adapting To The New Reality.


CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamMarch 27, 2020
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3min2786

All of a sudden, the whole world is focused on the COVID-19 pandemic, and that includes your customers. Should you review and change your customer experience (CX) efforts in response? Yes. Many of the specifics vary by industry, but here are the three essential things that every company needs to focus on.

1. Start With Empathy — Understand Your Customers In This Moment

Surveys alone are not enough and will not give you the right information — especially not in this situation. To build the customer understanding required, you should:

  • Invest in having live conversations with customers now.
  • Get your research professionals onto customer service calls.
  • Proactively reach out to customers.
  • Respond with concrete steps.

 

2. Adapt Your CX Accordingly

Some parts of the experiences you’ve been delivering may have been perfect a few weeks ago but could be all wrong now:

  • Critically review the current experiences you are delivering.
  • Do the same with planned experiences.
  • Hit the pause button where needed.
  • Prioritize simplicity and clarity more than ever.

 

3. Help Your Employees Deliver Great CX Despite The Crisis

They might be frontline staff taking calls from anxious customers. They might be IT staff working around the clock to help the entire workforce be productive from home as companies ask staff to stay away from offices and work remotely. Whatever their role in your company, this is a unique moment for them as the human embodiment of your brand:

  • Employees face uncertainty and anxiety, too.
  • Customers in crisis drive up the stress level for employees
  • Invest in improving employees’ well-being — it will improve CX.

 

This article was originally posted on Forrester  and written by David Troug.

 

If you’d like to read more about these three essentials and you’re a Forrester client, see Improve Customer Experience In Response To The Coronavirus Pandemic.


Neil Russell-SmithNeil Russell-SmithNovember 7, 2019
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7min2086

Organisations are increasingly relying on chatbots for customer service as a way to deflect inbound calls and reduce costs, but Forrester Analytics data shows that consumers aren’t thrilled with this approach. 

They found consumers are reluctant to trust a chatbot to resolve their service issues, and remain skeptical that chatbots can provide a similar level of service as a human agent.

However, it seems companies are enforcing technology solutions at every opportunity in the hope of improving their CX strategy. Amid all the talk of technical advancement, we seem to forget about the human factor, that personal touch that only people can deliver to consumers no matter the channel of engagement.

Clients today have huge goals for their CX strategies, such as 50 percent of all calls to be self-serviced, 80 percent of contact to be automated, 50 v of calls to be eliminated and all of this along with, in most cases, being tasked to make significant cost savings.

Ian Jacobs, Principal Analyst at Forresters, said: “Customer service organisations have been looking for ways to cut costs for decades. Now that chatbot mania has taken over, many are jumping on the bandwagon and attempting to replace their human agents with chatbots. In theory, that makes sense – a chatbot costs less than a human over time, and most customer service organisations tend to focus more heavily on cost than on customer experience.”

It is fair to say many companies are struggling with automation, whether to automate, why automate, what to automate and when to automate. According to Forrester, when it comes to automation and customer service, brands are getting the last three questions wrong.

We regularly see in the industry news headlines such as Chatbots set to take over most cost service work or Robots are set to replace humans and costly contact centres. However, according to Forrester’s Analytics Consumer Energy Index on-line survey 2018, consumers expect chatbots to disappoint with 54 percent of US online consumers expecting interaction with customer service chatbots to negatively affect their quality of life.

The message from Forrester’s research is clear: ‘Augment, don’t replace and blend AI and humans’.

The question is which blended operations model works better for your business?

Forrester has identified four approaches to agent augmentation:

1. A chatbot for agents where the conversation is with a live agent and a chatbot 

If your customer service agents search a knowledge base during their interactions with customers, why not create a natural language interface for that task? It’s a great starting point if you’re just beginning your chatbot journey.

2. A human-intermediated chatbot for increased efficiency and seamless suggestions

Here, an AI tool observes a conversation between a human agent and a customer, providing suggestions that the agent can either push out to the customer, or modify, or personalise the suggestion, or even reject it and type their own answer.

3. A front-end chatbot where the chatbot authenticates the customer and determines intent and gathers all relevant information 

Chatbot hands interaction off to the agent and the agent resolves the customer’s issues. The benefit of this one is that agents are handling the meat of the interaction and have more time for upselling/cross selling and it also significantly reduces handling time. Conceptually agents are more engaged as they are adding value and not doing mundane tasks.

4. Intermingled workflows with both agents and chatbots do what each does best

The human agent can invoke a chatbot to handle a specific task, then have the chatbot hand the interaction back to the agent.  Similar to the front-end chatbot, human agents are relieved of routine tasks, but in this workflow, the agent and chatbot can flex back and forth to tackle the portions of the interaction they excel at.

Using one or more of those approaches to augment customer service agents can result in significant benefits to an organisation, such as reduced handle time, increased employee engagement, and improved experience -0 while also ensuring your customers don’t lose faith with your brand after a frustrating chatbot interaction.

One thing is for sure, AI is here to stay. Brands that want to keep ahead in a competitive world will need to re-think their business models and make sure there is a place for human employees and AI.

They will be the winners.


Sion LewisSion LewisJuly 5, 2019
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8min3370

Working in a call centre has been seen as the very epitome of the “McJob” – a low-paid, unrewarding role that’s usually viewed as a stepping stone to more responsible, better-paid and more meaningful employment.

It shouldn’t be this way.

Customer service representatives (CSRs) play perhaps the most important role in any organisation. They are a business’ window on the world; the face of the corporation. Great CSRs are worth their weight in gold- they solve problems, mollify irate customers, and turn anger and frustration into loyalty and respect.

Businesses need to treasure their CSRs and give them the support to solve customer complaints. If businesses are serious about delivering quality customer service, two things need to change. First, there needs to be a revolution in the way that we view contact centre work. Secondly, we need to give these workers the tools they need to conduct efficient conversations and to resolve customer questions quickly.

It’s time to value CSR

Businesses have little hope of delivering first-class customer service if they don’t value their CSRs, and a look at the hospitality industry is instructive here. In the UK, being a waiter is seen as a low-skilled ‘starter’ job.

But across the Channel, the French take waitering incredibly seriously. Waiters and sommeliers are typically highly trained and very knowledgeable about food and wine, and anyone who has eaten at a decent French restaurant will be familiar with the waiting staff’s air of authority and gravitas – all of which adds to the dining experience.

It’s the same for any sort of customer service. You can have the best product in the world, but if you don’t provide a great customer contact experience you will likely lose much of the goodwill that customers feel towards your brand. Unfortunately, many CSRs today lack the tools and the insight they need to provide fantastic Customer Experience.

Change is on the horizon

When a call comes in, it’s common for customer service staff to spend a significant amount of time authenticating the customer; once they’ve passed security, the CSR can then find themselves without a full picture of the customer and their history, and often lack the information they need to resolve the complaint quickly and efficiently.

There are signs that this view of customer service is about to change, however. AI-powered chatbots, for example, are increasingly taking responsibility for more routine enquiries, removing much of the drudgery of customer service roles and enabling operatives to focus on higher-value tasks.

But chatbots alone won’t transform the role of the CSR. If we are to change perceptions about customer service and make it a fulfilling line of work, we need to get rid of the irritations and inefficiencies that continue to bedevil the role. For example, CSRs typically spend only a quarter of their time actually helping customers. And here, AI can again come to the rescue.

The bigger picture: Businesses can now provide every CSR with all the information from an entire customer journey

Equipping CSRs for success

Smart companies that put a premium on customer service are deploying AI-powered contact centre software that enables them to provide a more in-person experience for online customers by anticipating questions and needs based on their history and where they are in the current journey.

Unfortunately, CSRs often do not have access to vital information such as purchase history or previous complaints. As a result, they go into conversations blind and spend significant amounts of time establishing basic facts before they can resolve the customer query.

Anyone who’s spent time on the phone to customer services will be familiar with the frustration of having to explain their situation multiple times to different customer service employees. By harnessing the latest generation of customer contact tools, businesses can provide every CSR with all the information from entire customer journey, from acquisition, through conversion and into post-sale support, providing companies with everything they need to create an exceptional CX.

Artificial intelligence can deliver meaningful and immediate benefits that put CSRs in the driving seat in every conversation. The benefits are legion: AI can filter out routine customer interactions that can be resolved by a chatbot or self-service, enabling agents to focus on more complex or high-value work. It can ensure seamless transition from bot to agent within the same chat window, meaning the customer doesn’t have to repeat themselves.

Meanwhile, the latest generation of contact centre tools consolidate data from every customer interaction and manages data from disparate systems to deliver real-time actionable insights for faster issue resolution – all of which means that customers spend less time explaining and complaining.

Small wonder that Forrester found that businesses with mature deployments of AI-powered contact centre software saw a 63 percent increase in net promoter score (NPS) and reported an average of eight points higher than their lesser mature counterparts. Furthermore, half of these organisations saw an increase in conversation rates, 56 percent reported an increase in revenue, and 40 percent saw an increase in order size. Even agent satisfaction increased under the more mature organisations with nearly 50 percent reporting an increase in overall job happiness.

If businesses are serious about putting the customer first, the place to start is in the contact centre. They must value these problem solvers and provide them with the tools they need to turn angry, frustrated patrons into loyal customers.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthMay 1, 2019
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4min1275

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.”


Richard WillisRichard WillisMarch 25, 2019
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7min1270

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.




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