Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthMarch 2, 2020


Midlands-based CX consultant and author Naeem Arif has been accepted into the Forbes Business Council, a growth and networking organisation for successful business owners and leaders worldwide.

The founder of NA Consulting and Director of United Carpets, Naeem was vetted and selected by a review committee based on the depth and diversity of his experience in the retail and Customer Experience sectors.

Criteria for acceptance includes a track record of successfully impacting business growth metrics, as well as personal and professional achievements and honours.

As an accepted member of the Council, Naeem has access to a variety of exclusive opportunities designed to help him reach peak professional influence.

He will connect and collaborate with other local leaders in a private forum and at members-only events, offer his expert insights in original business articles on, and contribute to published Q&A panels alongside other experts.

Scott Gerber, founder of Forbes Councils, the collective that includes Forbes Business Council, said: “We are honoured to welcome Naeem into the community. Our mission with Forbes Councils is to bring together proven leaders from every industry, creating a curated, social capital-driven network that helps every member grow professionally and make an even greater impact on the business world.”

Speaking of his new appointment, Naeem said: “There are a lot of great innovations and stories happening in our region that should be shared on the world stage and this is my chance to make that happen.

“When I was first interviewed, I didn’t expect this honour, but now I can’t wait for my first articles to be shared.”

Join Naeem Arif and fellow CX experts for the upcoming Unlock Your #CX Potential conference on March 25. The conference is hosted by the the Midlands Retail Forum, and will see delegates gather at the Jaguar Experience Conference Centre for a day of workshops, keynote speeches, and networking.








Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthFebruary 17, 2020


The upcoming Unlock Your #CX Potential conference is set to bring global Customer Experience leaders including Christopher Brooks and Clare Muscutt to Birmingham for the unique one-day event.

Taking place on March 25, the conference is hosted by the the Midlands Retail Forum, under the guidance of CX consultant and author of Customer First, Naeem Arif, and will see delegates gather at the Jaguar Experience Conference Centre for a day of workshops, keynote speeches, and networking.

The event, sponsored by customer service review app Raggit, and hosted with the backing of Birmingham City University, will see award-winning Customer Experience case studies presented throughout the day, while each attendee will leave with a goody bag including essential CX books.

Among the speakers on the day are Christopher Brooks (pictured left), global consultant and Managing Director of customer strategy experts Clientship.

Christopher will be joined by Clare Muscutt of consultancy CMXperience, and Chloe Woolger, CX Commercial Director of global research and in sight leader Kantar.

Also confirmed as speakers are Caroline Cooper, founder of consultancy Naturally Loyal, and Kate Birtles, Director of Customer Service at BMI Group.

Case studies presented on the day will include Jaguar Landrover and United Carpets, with their successful CX strategies aiming to inspire delegates as they embark on their own journey to improve Customer Experience.

Speaking to CXM, conference organiser Naeem Arif (left) said he is very excited to establish Unlock Your #CX Potential in Birmingham, offering a new event for Midlands-based entrepreneurs and established firms to reshape their relationships with customers.

“We have been inundated with speakers who wanted to share their experience, so we have been able to put together a schedule that will amaze our delegates. Our last few speakers and sponsors are being confirmed this week,” Naeem said.

Customer Experience Magazine is a proud media partner of Unlock Your #CX Potential, and a special discount on the ticket price is available by using promo code ‘CXM’ at the following link:

CXM is a proud media partner for this event and delegates can get a CXM specific discount by using Promo Code “CXM’ at this link.





Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJanuary 23, 2020

An upcoming event will help businesses and CX professionals “unlock” their Customer Experience potential with guidance from expert speakers and relevant case studies.
Hosted by the Midlands Retail Forum, the Unlock Your #CX Potential gathering will bring together a host of CX experts and business owners to Birmingham for a unique day-long conference that will provide vital insight into improving customer service and meeting the expectations of the customer at a time when they are continuing to reshape the retail landscape.
Customer Experience Magazine is among the media partners for the event, which is taking shape under the expert leadership of author and Top 50 CX Star Naeem Arif, the founder of NA Consulting.
Seven soon-to-be-revealed speakers will join the line-up for the one-day conference, which will take place in Birmingham’s Jaguar Experience Conference Centre (pictured below) on March 25, with the event set to provide priceless networking opportunities for attendees.
Beginning with registration at 8.30am, seminars will begin at 10am, with further afternoon sessions planned until 4.30pm. Throughout the day attendees will benefit from exhibits and a “lunch and learn” workshop.
Details on the event’s speakers will be revealed soon, and speaking to Customer Experience Magazine, Naeem Arif described what the MRF are aiming for with this exciting event.
“In an age where there is so much competition in every industry, how do companies stand out? The answer is by offering a an amazing Customer Experience,” he said.
Naeem Arif
“But what exactly is Customer Experience? Many people know they need to work on it, but do they’re actually know what it means?
“The Unlock your CX Potential conference will not only help you understand, but it will also empower your own CX initiatives. The conference is designed to help you connect with other CX professionals, grow your knowledge, and create a better User and Customer Experience for your organisation.”
Look out for further details on Unlock Your #CX Potential in CXM in the coming weeks.

Naeem ArifNaeem ArifMay 13, 2019


A recent PWC report highlighted that 2018 saw the largest ‘net loss of retail stores’ on the high street.

We are consistently hearing about a retail ‘crisis’, and how difficult trading conditions suggest the high street is in demise. Our high streets and town centres are often the core of our communities and so we have invested a lot of resources investigating this issue.

However, we still see more than 500 new businesses form each week in the UK, so are we really seeing the demise of the high street or is something else happening?

Research by the Midlands Retail Forum (MRF) indicates that it is not all doom and gloom – there are many great examples of retailers and town centres getting it right. Experts say it’s about creating a great experience, but what does that mean in practical terms?

I recently visited the Touchwood Centre in Solihull and spent some time with their General Manager, Tony Elvin, to see how they were approaching this challenge.

Tony has an impressive CV as a former health club and hotel manager, which led to him being head-hunted to take on the challenge of managing this prestigious shopping outlet in one of the most affluent regions in the country. While many people talk about creating a great experience for their guests, a walk around the centre showed me exactly how his team were living and breathing this concept.

His approach can be summarised in a single sentence: “We are always thinking about how we can create a compelling reason for people to visit Touchwood.”

Where he could have said “important” or “unique”, he uses the word “compelling”, and that tells me the exact emotion that he is trying to create in his target customer. He has two customers in mind – businesses that can become tenants, and visitors to the centre.

Most shopping centres offer free Wi-Fi, coffee shops and easy parking. What else is needed?

“We are constantly looking at finding different ways to increase the number of people who will visit and once here, we want them to stay longer. We know that the longer they stay, the more money they are likely to spend,” Tony tells me.

Visiting somewhere like Touchwood means different things for different people; an avid shopper may want to walk down aisles of stores, browsing way more than they are buying. A focused shopper may need to come in for a specific item, pick it up and leave.

What about the ‘passengers’ – the husband/wife or kids who come along for the ride? The challenge is that a visiting family may have a mix of shoppers, who all need to be entertained. The answer is not to simply have more shops – you have to satisfy all these needs.

Most centres have some form of leisure activity, and in Touchwood’s case it has a cinema, restaurants, bars, and on top of that they also run theme-based activities. Recently they held an Easter egg hunt and a chocolate-themed escape room as a way of keeping kids entertained whilst their parents were shopping.

Some upcoming projects include concept restaurants that combine casual dining with a form of leisure activity. Food is an important part of the Touchwood experience and they are actively looking to strike a balance between trusted brands and new independent eateries to keep what’s on offer fresh and exciting. Tony himself recently helped to secure the arrival of two new independent dining concepts, with the launch of Carribbean eatery Jamaya and Asha’s restaurant in the centre.

“There is a lack of leisure activities available in Solihull and we are looking at more ways to increase those opportunities within Touchwood,” continues Tony.

“If we could get a gym, mini-golf, or bowling here, then it’s another reason for someone to visit and combine some shopping with leisure activities. We were delighted that we were able to entice Jamaya and Asha’s to join the Touchwood family. I knew the owners of each concept and knew that they would offer something different, but also deliver it at the appropriate quality for Touchwood’s visitors.”

The Touchwood team look to market trends as well as conducting their own research to keep updated on what their customers want. Social trends are monitored online, while feedback and comments are seen as opportunities to learn and improve. In addition, they also take feedback from their tenants and visitors and email out surveys.

The things they want to know include:

·      Who is visiting?

·      What triggers a visit?

·      What are the habits when they are in Touchwood?

This research has allowed them to understand that customers who use a click & collect service often go on to spend more when they come to collect. If a visitor is already here, it is more convenient for them to buy additional items in person than  to do so online.

Something Tony learned from his previous experience was how reaching out into the local community can help strengthen relations. Community projects are invited into Touchwood when possible. Recently this has seen them earn a national award by working with local college students to showcase their artwork as well as hosting a Young Enterprise marketplace.

“If we are making money from the local community, then it is imperative that we get involved with that community and ensure we are doing our bit to give back as well,” Tony adds.

“As such we work with local schools, colleges, charities, and businesses as an active participant in Solihull life. Since taking on this role, I have been appointed Vice President of the Solihull Chamber of Commerce and also Deputy Chair of the Solihull BID. By working with the BID, the Chamber, and other local stakeholders there is a far better chance of delivering sustainable success for Solihull and Touchwood.”

The enthusiasm and approach of Touchwood is refreshing and it’s clear they are looking towards partnering up with their tenants and the local community for mutual benefit. While they continue with this approach, will see further success ahead, and there are definitely lessons here to be learned for other shopping centres and high street retailers.

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthMay 7, 2019


With Customer Experience firmly cemented in the consumer consciousness, and the key differentiator for brands in the modern retail landscape, a raft of new titles are hitting bookshelves in a bid help businesses craft their CX offering according to the advice of experts.

Following in the footsteps of established authors such as CX Masterclass leader Ian Golding (whose Customer What? The honest and practical guide to customer experience is now required reading for any customer-focussed professional), is a new league of writers keen to share their secrets, and guide readers towards a better understanding of what they should – and shouldn’t – do when it comes to being customer-centric.

Among these is Naeem Arif, who having joined United Carpets Group in Birmingham back in 2006, knows a thing or two about rolling out the red carpet for customers. Puns aside, his new book, Customer First, sees Arif pack his two decades-plus experience in management consultation, and his own razor-sharp retail acumen, into a concise tome that offers digestible insight using case studies, exercises, and good old-fashioned expertise.

The book guides us through the various stages of the Customer First transformation journey, while also offering a portal into the mind of a customer – how they think, feel, and react to your engagement. Readers are walked through techniques used to create advocates out of consumers, but as any CX professional will tell you – it isn’t going to be easy, and many fall by the wayside before getting close to the level of customer centricity they need to survive.

As Arif states: “It’s not a short route; it needs planning, persistence, and professionalism”.

Thankfully, Customer First has professionalism in spades, and your planning and persistence will enjoy a boost after the inspiring author takes you through key levels such as understanding your customer through methods such as profiling and creating customer ‘avatars’.

The whole journey is here: from customer loyalty programmes, utilising social media platforms in a meaningful way, and dealing with the difficulties caused by complaints, while an outstanding later chapter looks at how a business can create its own unique Customer Service Strategy using simple steps.

Arif also encourages the reader to remember something that is all too-often forgotten: “Your objective is to keep customers on the journey – there is no end.”

CX texts that offer fast, practical help are always a favourite here at Customer Experience Magazine, and Customer First is one of the best we have read in terms of providing the kind of immediate advice regularly sought by brands, big and small.

So don’t be fooled by its slim spine – Customer First punches above its weight, and will no doubt be well-thumbed in boardrooms around the UK and beyond before too long.

Customer First, by Naeem Arif, is available now from Writing matters Publishing.




Inform. Inspire. Include.
A free way to improve your business.

Customer Experience Magazine is the online magazine packed full of industry news, blogs, features, reports, case studies, video bites and international stories all focusing on customer experience.



UK Trademark UK00002648900

EUIPO Trademark 018131832

Contact Information

For article submissions:
Paul Ainsworth

For general inquiries, advertising and partnership information:
Tel: 0207 1932 428

For Masterclass enquiries:
Tel: +44 20 86385584

Customer Experience Magazine Limited
Company number: 12450532
International House, 24 Holborn Viaduct,
United Kingdom, London, England, EC1A 2BN


Find a job in customer support with Jobsora