The finalists in the 2019 UK Customer Experience Awards have been announced, with some of the UK’s best-known brands preparing to compete for glory in London’s Wembley Stadium this autumn.
The gala event – which this year is marking ten years of celebrating the very best CX in Britain – will take place on October 10, when finalists will make presentations before an expert panel of judges in a bid to secure one of 24 category titles that reflect every aspect of customer centricity.
New categories for 2019 include Employee Experience, Employees at the Heart of Everything, Hospitality & Leisure, Retail, and Professional Services, and the awards will be presented during an evening black tie dinner ceremony.
The finals, which are chaired once again by international CX consultant and author Ian Golding, is also one of the UK’s best CX networking opportunities, with hundreds gathering at the iconic venue to support colleagues and celebrate what makes the UK a beacon of customer-centricity in a rapidly changing business landscape.
The UK Customer Experience Awards is accredited with the prestigious Gold Awards Trust Mark from the Independent Awards Standards Council, and as always is proud to be partnered with Cranfield School of Management, Barnardo’s, and the Customer Experience Professionals Association.
Also partnering the Awards for 2019 are data consultancy Kantar, and Customer Experience tech giant Genesys.
Awards International CEO Neil Skehel said: “Congratulations to all of our finalists, and I look forward to welcoming them to the home of champions, Wembley Stadium, later this year for the biggest UK Customer Experience Awards to date.
“The event has grown exponentially to become the biggest CX event of its kind in the world, and we are incredibly proud to be marking its tenth anniversary. Customer Experience is now a brand’s most defining characteristic, and it is impossible to overestimate its importance to the economy. These awards play such an important role in not only celebrating achievements, but also setting the standard for organisations to follow if they are to be successful in this new era where the customer really is at the heart of everything.”
The recent Genesys Xperience19 conference in Denver, Colorado, saw some of the most exciting developments in Customer Experience technology showcased to an eager global audience, and in case anyone was under any illusion about the future of CX – it involves AI.
The tech itself is dispassionate, and can appear benevolent to users as it cheerfully helps them along their customer journey. However, decades of pulp sci-fi dystopia has left AI with an image problem – no matter how helpful it may seem, some simply cannot shake the idea that bots might someday pull a Hal 9000 and see humans as inferior and deserving of subjugation…or worse!
Such fears ought to be dispersed when one discusses the details of AI technology with the real intelligence behind it – someone like Olivier Jouve, Executive Vice President of Genesys Purecloud, perhaps the planet’s most popular contact centre platform.
Olivier took on the role of PureCloud EVP in 2017, having spent over three decades honing his craft in pioneering customer sentiment technology development, including through senior positions at IBM.
His impressive resume also reveals a stint as an associate professor in computer science at Leonardo da Vinci University in Paris, and today, with a 150-strong AI team under him, Olivier is one, if not the world’s foremost authority on AI and its ability to make our journeys as customers easier.
He knows, in detail, how much his tech helps us in our lives – often without us realising it – but still the idea that AI will have a negative impact on humanity can cloud the vision and judgement of some sceptics who see it as an evil overlord-in-waiting.
Fresh from a timely Xperience19 breakout session on AI Ethics, Olivier took time out to chat with Customer Experience Magazine about his work, its reputation, and just how much AI is used for the betterment of our lives as consumers.
Speaking of the “creepiness factor” that some associate with AI, its access to personal data, and how it could be used in the wrong hands, he describes why being open and honest with customers, and letting them see the advantages with their own eyes, is the best way to go.
“We want the customer to know that we respect their data, and we need them to see what data we are using, so they are able to opt out if they so wish,” he explains.
“In the way we build our products, we do a lot of design thinking with customers to understand where the limit is. You know, what type of data they are comfortable with.
“And of course, you are being careful not to introduce any bias, which is something that’s very complex – not using any gender, or lifestyle, race…whatever, that could turn your model into something that is going to be targeting a specific minority.
“This wasn’t on the table 15 years ago when we were already scoring contact centres for next best action, cross-selling, up-selling, and so on, and using that data. Now there is much more sensitivity about how you use the data, and I think that’s actually a good thing, as it forces us to be clear from the get-go.”
Olivier highlights that those who are creeped out by an AI’s use of data, to the point where they will walk away from it, are a small minority compared to those who see the benefits and remain loyal to brands brandishing the tech.
“Companies which use AI the right way will enjoy great benefits, by being fair and respecting privacy,” he adds.
A common cause of ‘creepiness’ is the notion that a customer is unaware if they are interacting with a human or a bot on their journey with a brand, but as Olivier sagely states, that uncanny valley effect is being superseded by good old fashioned customer satisfaction when the AI does its job – and does it well.
“Me, personally, I don’t care if it’s a bot, as long as I get what I want, quickly, and with a great experience,” he continues.
“I don’t think customers care as much about the technology they use as much as the experience they have. I do think we should disclose that it’s not a human though – that should be part of the disclaimer. But at the same time, I don’t see that as something that should be discouraging people, who may think ‘oh no I’m not talking to a bot as I won’t get anything from it’.
“That’s also a danger of going to market too quickly with AI tech – some chatbots don’t provide the right experience. There are, however, things chatbots and voicebots can do very well, and I think we should double down on those.”
As Olivier points out, it’s not as if customers aren’t already used to interacting with bots on a less ‘intelligent’ level already.
“When someone asks for the balance of their bank account, they don’t care if it’s a human giving it to them, so people are already used to this sort of automation. We just have to be careful that if we go deeper with more complex things that users don’t get the feeling we are not responsive.
“People like empowerment, and chatbots can be great for that. But there are still some limitations, so we are not yet at the stage where AI is going to replace humans. We have chatbots that are very specialised and do things very well, but we need to find the right moment where you have to hand over to a human.”
Yet will there be a day when there is no human to hand over to? Will we fleshies be redundant in a future where all the work is being done by bots?
“I don’t think it will replace humans, as we are putting humans into something they are really good at, and so I see that more as a collaboration between AI and human – something we call blended AI. We can do sentiment analysis automatically, but it has limitations,” Olivier replies.
So what are these human skills that we can still feel superior to the bots on, and that customers still desire on their journeys? What’s the key difference that currently keeps humans in contact centre customer-facing roles?
“Empathy – we aren’t there yet,” says Olivier.
“Humans are great at it, and we need to think of the overall CX, the CX we want to provide. AI does things a human cannot do because you could not integrate all the different insights you have about a customer, but AI is really good at that.
“However, to take the conversation to the next step, at some point currently you have to hand over to a human. Of course, even humans need to be taught empathy in some cases!
“Perhaps in 10 to 15 years we will be able to train AI better in applying empathy, but for now that’s why we need this combination of human and technology.”
Ok, enough of what humans can do better than bots! It’s time to let Genesys genius shine, as Olivier outlines exactly why today – not years from now – AI is simply superior in most non-emotional ways to humans when it comes to steering customer journeys and earning the desired end result – superior Customer Experience.
“Our products work on finding the best agent for an incoming call or interaction, something we do very very well thanks to machine learning. The AI is understanding what the topic of the interaction is and uses historical data and a sophisticated decision tree to move the interaction forward.
“We want to optimise the customer journey, so we have a solution called predictive engagement. We can look at what a user is going to do on a website, view their navigation, and see at which moment he or she might need some help, and decide what the best outcome is for this customer.
“Once you have this interaction you can develop additional models which could be for retention or selling – more things we do very very well that a human couldn’t match.
“When you do next-best action and you have a customer calling who is ready to leave, our tech knows if you go for a specific action, there’s an 85 percent chance that this person is going to remain as a customer, for example.
“That’s from crunching a lot of data, gained through similar situations, and handling so much data – well that’s not something a human can do.”
Other than the aforementioned empathy, does Olivier feel his AI is lacking in any other areas that might be beneficial to overall CX?
“I think what AI does not do very well yet is go deeper into the conversation,” he tells me.
“We see breakthroughs when we look at things like Google Duplex, where, you can find yourself questioning if you are interacting with a real human or not, but an AI able to handle 100 percent of complex interactions? I don’t think we are there yet, though we are making a lot of progress.”
Despite my impatience as a customer to know when exactly this will be possible, Olivier sensibly refuses to give a date.
“I don’t like giving predictions, but I see how fast we are moving forward. I think Duplex was really a breakthrough – suddenly you see something and you think ‘wow’ – the voice, the type of interactions…it’s all very human.
“I don’t think it’s about developing the technology now – it’s about the right data and making it accessible. All of that is moving at an exponential speed. What’s really accelerating AI is that everything is in the cloud. Every single interaction from the employee or customer’s side – all that is feeding our AI platform. The more data we have, the more we are going to be able to power the customer journey.”
In the midst of such dazzling tech capabilities, it can easy to forget any regulation necessities to protect data and ensure AI is used for the good of humanity.
“It’s our responsibility to propose how we want to be regulated. It’s the right time to do the right thing,” adds Olivier
“Over 30 years I’ve been through a few AI ‘winters’, where AI had been at peak hype, but then died. I don’t want this one to die because some people are not responsible, so I will do whatever I can to make sure we are doing the right thing.
“There remains a fragility to this whole sphere, caused by the actions of Cambridge Analytica for example, which rocked people’s confidence in AI and data use, but I believe what we are developing at Genesys is promising, and beautiful, in a way that will not kill the hype this time around.”
The new partnership with Genesys – creators of the world’s most trusted Customer Experience platforms – will elevate this year’s ceremony to new heights as it marks its tenth anniversary.
More than 11,000 companies in over 100 countries trust Genesys to help them connect effortlessly with consumers across any channel, be it voice, text, web chat, or social. The company offers both cloud and on-premises solutions that enable businesses to deliver the hyper-personalised experiences today’s always-on consumers demand, while producing targeted business outcomes such as increased revenue, lead conversion, and customer satisfaction.
“Sponsoring the UK Customer Experience Awards is a natural fit for us,” said Senior Director at Genesys, Brendan Dykes, who will be among the judges scrutinising entries at this year’s event.
“We are laser-focused on helping brands create lasting relationships with their customers. This is a tremendous opportunity to shine a light on the businesses that are setting new standards for delivering exceptional customer experiences in innovative ways. We are thrilled to serve as a Gold sponsor and help celebrate their successes.”
Meanwhile, Neil Skehel, CEO of event hosts Awards International, said: “Genesys is a prestigious global organisation and commands great respect in the industry. Having them involved further goes to show that anyone who’s anyone in Customer Experience will be at our awards.”
Click here to learn more about the 2019 UK Customer Experience Awards.
Entel, one of the largest telecommunications companies in Chile, has implemented Genesys AI-powered orchestration capabilities to seamlessly connect and manage native and third-party artificial intelligence (AI), resulting in significant efficiency gains.
Now, its customers smoothly transition between automated systems and employees for truly effortless journeys.
“Our customers have changed the way they interact with us. They are much more focused on digital and want anytime, anywhere service on the channel of their choice,” explained Pablo Oyarzun, Customer Experience divisional manager of Entel.
“Without our AI, bots and automation tied together using Genesys AI, we couldn’t deliver this kind of service.”
Entel leverages the Genesys Customer Experience Platform at their contact centres in Chile and Peru to support all of their agents and telemarketers. In addition, Genesys provides the common data framework for Entel’s many AI integrations with other vendors.
For example, the company uses the Genesys integration with Google Cloud for its text-to-speech capability to transcribe automated conversations. Genesys AI then sends that data to IBM Watson to determine the customer’s intent and identifies the next best action.
Oyarzun continued: “The new orchestration capabilities powered by Genesys AI provide us with more knowledge about customers, enabling us to take new approaches to address their evolving expectations. With the help of Genesys, we can improve our customers’ satisfaction.”
Entel is sharing its success using Genesys AI at Xperience19, its signature annual customer-focused event. Hosted by UK Customer Experience Awards sponsor Genesys, Xperience19 unites more than 2,000 industry experts in Denver from June 10 to 13.
Genesys hasintroduced new orchestration capabilities powered by AI that connect native and third-party technologies to enable the most comprehensive customer journey management available today.
Currently, businesses are adopting an increasing number of artificial intelligence (AI) point solutions to solve specific challenges. However, businesses are failing to realise AI’s full potential to improve customer and employee journeys because data remains fragmented across the end-to-end experience. As a result, AI’s ability to impact business outcomes remains limited.
New orchestration capabilities from UK Customer Experience Awards sponsor Genesys make it possible for multiple AI applications to work together harmoniously in real-time from marketing to sales to service. By leveraging all relevant data throughout the customer’s entire journey, Genesys AI can orchestrate, measure and optimise processes at every touchpoint. This enables businesses to tailor automation, communication channels and marketing and sales offers for individual customers, introducing new levels of personalisation.
AI innovation at your fingertips
Genesys makes it easier for businesses to flawlessly connect and manage native and third-party AI across voice and digital channels. With its simple centralised orchestration, Genesys AI enables customers to map complex business logic, perform various back-end system integrations and swap AI providers.Businesses can move their AI technologies into production quicker by building once and deploying across all channels, leveraging microapps to reduce development time by 90 percent and improving analytics, resulting in 40-60 percent faster time to value. This enables businesses to leverage existing AI investments and buy a future-proof solution.
Both on-premises and cloud customers around the world are realising additional advantages. An example is Entel, one of the largest telecommunications companies in Chile. In just six months, Entel has increased revenue by five percent, decreased costs and improved customer satisfaction by using Genesys AI to orchestrate all customer interactions with technology from Google Cloud and IBM Watson.
Other Genesys customers, such as DNB, are achieving additional benefits including improved accuracy leading to better predictions and faster responses to customer inquiries. In speaking about the benefits of this advanced orchestration capability, DNB Head of Technical Operations and Customer Solutions, Anders Braten said: “Genesys sews everything together to make the perfect customer journey.”
Breaking down AI silos to realise value
“In customer service alone, on average, nine out of 10 enterprises deploy AI for six distinct uses, such as automated self-service, chatbots in instant messaging and IVR support,” said Peter Graf, Genesys Chief Product Officer.
“Genesys AI is an elegant solution that masterfully links underlying technologies and synchronizes data and event streams as needed. These AI capabilities are delivered by Genesys Cloud, the company’s high-velocity innovation platform that provides new ways to optimise customer and employee journeys.”
With hundreds of technology applications integrated with its Customer Experience platform today, Genesys is the only company in the industry able to orchestrate any AI for self and assisted service. This includes Kate, the customer and employee virtual assistant powered by Genesys AI, as well as third-party AI solutions such as Amazon Lex, Google Cloud Contact Center AI, Nuance and IBM Watson.
Dan Miller, lead analyst at Opus Research, said: “Genesys has stepped up to provide a framework for enterprises to support conversational engagements that helps businesses leverage existing investments in AI resources more fully. Genesys AI enables them to integrate natively developed elements of AI along with offerings from recognized, leading third parties.”
How Genesys AI orchestrates the cest Customer and Employee Experience
Genesys AI provides the common data framework for all AI integrations so systems are not working in silos. It captures, processes and analyzes third-party data in the same way as its own AI applications, such as Genesys Predictive Routing, Altocloud Predictive Engagement, and Automated Forecasting and Scheduling. In addition to delivering advanced orchestration, Genesys AI enables real-time predictions, speech and text analytics, self-service automation and more.
An example is the coordination between Genesys AI and chat and voice bots. When a customer begins an engagement with a bot, Genesys AI can detect if escalation is needed. It can then use Predictive Routing to identify the employee deemed the best match and pass the inquiry to that individual with full context for resolution.
Advanced AI orchestration kicks off summer innovations
The company announced its new orchestration capabilities at Xperience19, its signature event taking place this week in Denver. Genesys is also introducing a new analytics dashboard, enabling businesses to better understand customer intent, visualize containment rates and optimize bot usage in a single view.
The new dashboard and Genesys AI’s advanced orchestration capabilities are available now among a broader collection of the company’s Summer Innovations.The Innovations are comprised of multiple feature enhancements across the GenesysPureCloud®, PureConnect™ and PureEngage™ solutions and delivered via Genesys Cloud.
Global household brands have been celebrated a mile above sea level in Denver, Colorado, at the Genesys Xperience19 event.
The three day summit in the shadow of the magnificent Rocky Mountains is taking place at the equally magnificent Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Centre, and is one of the planet’s biggest gatherings for presentations, workshops, and talks on the cutting edge developments that are changing the customer/brand relationship forever, for the benefits of both.
Kicking off on June 10, the opening day of Xperience19 also saw the global leader in omnichannel customer experience and contact center solutions, recognising leading brands including Microsoft, Swisscom, Coca-Cola Business Services North America, Whirlpool Corporation, and more during its 14th annual Customer Innovation Awards.
The awards celebrate nine global companies for using innovative approaches and technologies, such as the cloud and AI, to drive business performance and deliver great Customer Experience.
The finalists were evaluated by a panel of judges, comprised of respected industry analysts from IDC, McGee-Smith Analytics and Ovum, as well as past Customer Innovation Award winners, including Bradesco, Harambee and QuinStreet.
The 2019 honourees are:
Homecare Medical: The CX Game Changer (Making a difference with CX technology)
Homecare Medical achieved greater scalability by adding digital telehealth support channels, resulting in a 92 percent increase in annual interactions across voice, web chat, email, SMS, and social media.
Microsoft: TheCX Globetrotter (Best global roll out)
Microsoft moved a complex legacy on-premises system to the cloud to provide a streamlined Customer Experience in 37 languages across 60 regions.
Swisscom: The CX Innovator (Best omnichannel implementation)
As one of the first Genesys customers to deploy its integration with Apple Business Chat, Swisscom unlocked messaging for consumers, shifting contacts from the company’s IVR and website. It tripled volumes within six months and thereby achieved efficiency gains by more than 10 percent.
Lowell Norway: The CX Mover (small, less than 100 agents – Best implementation: time to achieve value)
Lowell Norway streamlined its operations and processes by replacing unconnected, disparate systems with a Genesys solution, resulting in a 94 percent average response rate, 25 percent reduction in average call handle time, 90 percent first call resolution rate, along with 14 second drop in wait times.
Denmark: The CX Mover (mid-sized 101-500 agents – Best implementation: time to achieve value)
3,one of the largest mobile operators in Denmark, moved to a cloud-based contact center, resulting in a 23 second decrease in queue time and a 10 percent increase in agent efficiency.
Coca-Cola Business Services, North America: The CX Mover (large – more than 500 agents – Best implementation: time to achieve value)
Coca Cola Business Services, North America has achieved a 50 percent reduction in TCO and 99.9 percent Day 1 system availability, with 75 percent of calls being routed to the right team the first time.
Affin Bank Berhad: The CX Sales and Marketing Performer (Best sales and marketing deployment)
Affin Bank Berhad moved from multiple systems to a single streamlined omnichannel Customer Experience solution from Genesys, enabling a 60 percent improvement in telesales performance, 84 percent reduction in call abandonment rates, 50 percent in agent productivity and $1 million in sales within five months of implementation.
Tokio Marine Management Australasia: The CX Team Player (Team productivity)
The multinational insurer has improved agent schedule adherence by 30 percent by deploying workforce management since moving its contact center to the cloud.
Whirlpool Corporation: The CX Visionary (Moving to Genesys from another platform)
Whirlpool, the global leader in appliance manufacturing, successfully migrated several disparate on-premises contact center software solutions to a single cloud-based omnichannel Genesys platform. Since deployment they have realized key operational metrics including a 50 percent reduction in call transfers due to smarter routing, improved average speed to answer by 90 percent, as well as, increased contact centre efficiencies overall.
Speaking of this year’s winning line-up, Merijn te Booij, Chief Marketing Officer at Genesys, said: “A highlight of each year is recognising our brilliant customers for their innovation and relentless focus on delivering the world’s best experiences.
“It never ceases to amaze me how businesses are creatively applying Genesys solutions to engage more seamlessly with customers, empower employees and reach targeted business objectives for revenue, sales, satisfaction and more. On behalf of everyone at Genesys, congratulations to all of the finalists and winners – and keep making every moment count.”
Follow the action at Xperience19 on social media using the hashtag #Xpr19.
A majority of European mid-sized call centres understand the advantage in a connected customer journey, but only 14 percent are confident in meeting current and future needs.
That is one of the findings published in a new independent research study conducted by global business consulting firm, Frost & Sullivan, which found that revealed that 77 percent of call centres surveyed recognise the connected customer journey as elevating their competitive advantage and having an immediate impact on their business.
The report is based on a survey of 600 business and IT leaders across 26 countries involved in defining and implementing customer service strategies. One-third of respondents were based in Europe, with the research conducted in the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Sweden and The Netherlands.
More than 40 percent of survey respondents believe anticipating and catering to consumer needs are by far the most important capabilities in providing good Customer Experience. In Europe, 76 percent of mid-sized call centres surveyed indicate the ongoing digital disruptions across industries will significantly impact them. As a result, such call centres are accelerating investments in digital channels and emerging technologies.
Executive Vice-President of report sponsors PureCloud at Genesys, Olivier Jouve, said: “It’s no surprise that the majority of organisations are looking to cloud, AI, and big data to deliver the kind of experiences consumers expect today. For smaller organisations, a cloud-based, omnichannel contact centre is the best way to deliver predictive and personalised service across every channel.”