CX is the priority for execs, but they don’t have the tools

experience_400

A new report, ‘Success in The Experience Era: Connecting Customer and C-suite,’ focusing on UK and US executives has found that senior managers rate the customer experience as more important than sales and revenue. This is something that the big industry analysts have been reporting for at least the past three years, but I’m always interested when additional research reinforces the message.

In this new research, a full 100% of the respondents said that prioritising the needs of their customer is their main area of focus. Just 58% said that sales and revenue is number one on their to-do list.

I am aware that there may be many managers who answer a survey question about strategy in a way that they think looks good and at the same time they maintain a private to-do list that prioritises sales, but I think this is the first time that I have seen 100% of executives ranking customer experience as their main priority. With 350 senior executives responding to the questions it is far from a small sample size too.

The reason why is clear. Over half of the executives questioned said that CX is one of the best ways their brand can differentiate their services from the competition. Focusing on CX allows the brand to stand out from the competition.

But they reported many issues in trying to make the strategic priority a reality:

  • 47% don’t feel that they have the right tools available
  • only 35% of marketing leaders believe that it is their responsibility to be creating customer insights using data and then acting on those insights
  • only 37% of CEOs get directly involved in CX initiatives

Once again, the intentions are good, but the reality is rather different. Half of all the companies in this research just don’t have the systems or tools and there is no leadership from the top that allows managers lower down the hierarchy to feel confident about shaking up their processes in a way that focuses more directly on the customer.

It is encouraging to see that 100% of the executives (in this research) now feel that CX is their main focus, but once again they are let down by the leadership and processes. I’d be interested in asking 350 CEOs why they are not personally getting involved in CX initiatives if they see this as their main focus. What do you think of these research findings? Leave a comment here or get in touch directly via LinkedIn.


How marketing executives are focusing on cx

customer-relationship

The American department store retail giant Macy’s just announced a new marketing strategy. The new Chief Marketing Officer, Richard Lennox, outlined his plans in a recent interview with Ad Age magazine.

There are three key points that summarise the complete strategy that Lennox details in the interview:

  1. reconnect with loyal shoppers
  2. lure in new shoppers
  3. use a new mix of marketing media

All three areas of this strategy are tied to just two important outcomes - either they boost sales or they improve the communication of the brand with customers and therefore improve the customer experience.

Personally, I am less interested in the advertising changes, although it seems fairly obvious to me that the days of the 30-second TV advert (that is exactly the same across the entire country) are numbered. Customers are expecting a much more personal service and this exactly ties into the other areas of their strategy.

A key part of the reconnection strategy is to re-launch the loyalty programme, taking the emphasis away from discount coupons and not requiring specific payment types. These are all smart moves, but importantly the emphasis is on how a profile of the customer can be created using knowledge of their purchases and preferences.

Loyalty cards that are little more than discount coupons are a dated concept. What customers expect today from a loyalty programme is ideas, recommendations, and discounts that are personalised to the individual. This focus on how the customer expects a brand to behave is now clearly an integral part of the marketing process, in addition to being essential for executives planning the overall customer experience.

Macy’s has had a rough time in recent years, but it’s clear that they are focusing on the future by putting the customer at the heart of their strategy. Only time will tell if they can beat Amazon in the apparel wars, but this marketing strategy that focuses on the customer experience is a great move. What do you think of these findings? Leave a comment here or get in touch directly via LinkedIn.


How is the in-store retail customer experience evolving?

expéclient

American retailers appear to be facing a crisis. Brands like JC Penney, American Apparel, and Sears are all closing stores and customers there are increasingly focused on shopping with their smart phone. Shoppers don’t need to tolerate anything less than an excellent customer experience in stores because they have the ability to immediately shop elsewhere.

So how can retail brands build a premium experience that starts blending the excellent online approach with in-store? It is likely to require an approach to the use of technology in-store, but how?

British retailer John Lewis is rolling out one good example. A recent trial at their Cambridge store demonstrated how a single iPhone app used by employees can change in-store customer interactions. They now have plans to roll out the app to over 8,000 in-store employees.

The app has three main functions:

  • detailed information on any product
  • real-time stock information across the entire company - stores and warehouse
  • ability to order a product

This sounds simple, but it dramatically changes the relationship of the employees to in-store customers because they now have information on every product and oversight of stock levels across the entire business. If a customer asks about a product, the employee can pull up detailed information immediately. If a customer is interested in ordering something they saw last week, but cannot see in the store today, it’s easy to check where it is in stock. If the customer wants to go ahead and order, the employee can take the order immediately without sending the customer away to wait in line.

A recent feature in the Retail Customer Experience suggested that in-store interactivity is the real key difference. The article suggested thinking about these points when considering how interactive technologies can be used in-store:

  • Do I have limited space to display my inventory, but a large product offering?
  • Would it benefit my customers to be able to make online purchases in store?
  • Do I have a well-designed website that would enhance the in-store experience?
  • What size signage will best display my website or product offerings?
  • Where else can I incorporate point of sale capabilities?
  • Would my sales associates benefit from being able to carry, or easily move, my digital signage?

I think that interactivity is a key part of the answer, but is not complete. To really change the in-store experience in a fundamental way requires innovation and careful thought. Think about the John Lewis example. It’s an iPhone app. That’s something we all use. It’s not reinventing the wheel, however, by placing information, supply chain, and ordering capabilities in the hands of every employee they are changing the entire in-store customer journey and that is a big difference.

Let me know what you think are the key areas where in-store retail CX strategy is evolving? Leave a comment here or get in touch via LinkedIn.


Is the retail customer experience just more of the same?

customer-relationship

Academics call it ‘homogenous retail agglomeration’... what’s that you might ask? Being the same - every store, every street full of shops. Everything looks and feels the same and offers nothing new or interesting to the customer. In many British town centres, you could drop into the main street from a helicopter, open your eyes and not be able to identify the town because the brands around you would look exactly the same from one town to the next.

But there is a reason for this conformity. We all instinctively know why. Customers want to know that when they go to various stores they always have what is needed. Nobody wants to go to the high street only to find that there is no chemist. Or the chemist that is there, doesn’t stock everything you would expect to find in a branch of Boots.

We end up with conformity because that’s just what people expect. Another good example is the job interview. How many times have you read in business and management books that you need to be innovative, to stand out, and think differently? Think about all those posts on LinkedIn by Richard Branson - how it is your attitude that counts, not the tie you wear. But when you went to your last job interview did you wear a suit and tie or a pair of Converse trainers and a casual shirt? Probably the suit, because you know that the hiring manager will find it difficult to look beyond the trainers to see that you are the perfect candidate for the job.

An interesting feature by content expert Noreen Seebacher in Customer Think recently made some of these arguments. In her article, she advises retailers today to:

“Mix things up on your product shelves. Introduce products or services from companies that aren’t yet household names. Take a chance on local products. Have a revolving section of limited selections from new, emerging designers or manufacturers.

Give customers a reason to travel to your store. And then wow them with an experience that will keep them coming back.”

I think there is an extremely important point here. We endlessly strategise about how to create the perfect customer experience with a focus on how service should be planned, but the customer experience is more than just service alone. If retail brands want to succeed, they need to think beyond the omni-channel alone and consider how their store looks, how their employees behave, and what they offer on their shelves.

What makes the customer feel different coming to their store and why should they keep on coming back? I like the focus on local products and in fact this could be a way in which brands create a two-way dialogue with their customers. Why not involve the customers in choosing new product lines that should go on sale? If Lego can involve fans in researching new toys, then surely most retailers can create a way to involve customers in deciding new product lines.

Think beyond service alone if you want to create a truly great customer experience. Let me know what you think in the comments or get in touch via LinkedIn.


How many retailers are offering AI support to customers?

customer-relationship

Artificial Intelligence has been talked about a lot in the customer service community recently. In particular, organisations have been exploring how machine learning can be used to capture every single customer interaction, so an AI system can support customer service advisors with knowledge of every question ever asked in the past - with the answer. The AI system never forgets and learns more each day.

However, most of the talk around AI has only focused on this supportive role in the contact centre. Recent research has shown that customers are expecting to see industries such as retail making a much better use of these emerging technologies so the shopping experience can be improved.

It is no surprise that customers are making these demands. Look at the kind of intelligent technology most people have around them today. They can ask Siri questions on their iPhone and speak directly to Alexa when at home. The use of intelligent assistants is becoming main stream, so why are retailers not making better use of the options this technology offers?

The 2017 Customer Experience survey published by retail consulting firm BRP suggests that 23% of in-store customers would rather speak immediately to a virtual assistant than wait for a real one. In addition, the same percentage of shoppers would like to have access to a virtual personal shopper when shopping online.

The research suggests that 55% of retailers now consider an improvement to the customer experience to be their top priority and yet the changing expectations of the customer shows that it is often the customer setting the strategic direction for retailers - not the other way round.

45% of retailers have already created an AI chatbot support system for customers, or will implement it inside the next 3 years, with Virtual Reality at 34% for the same time frame. Many retailers are in the midst of trying to rollout omni-channel support and yet some already have an eye on what the customer is expecting in the near future.

I believe that retailers will find that they cannot leave AI in the contact centre alone. Customers increasingly want a personalised service and this lends itself well to AI virtual assistants and chatbots, whether they are on apps, websites, or in-store systems. As AI technologies become normal at home, customers will soon be asking why retailers cannot use technology to offer more supportive and personal help.

What do you think about the rise of AI and the potential impact of customer service? Let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment here, or get in touch on LinkedIn and let me know.


UK retailers disappointing customers with a disconnected experience

expéclient

New research in the UK suggests that retailers are not getting omni-channel right and this could be a particular problem for retailers focusing on a premium customer experience. The Connected Consumer Report from Opinium Research questioned 2,006 british adult consumers in March 2017. 53% said that they believe most retailers offer a disconnected shopping experience. Even more concerning is that 61% said that they would consider changing to an alternative retailer because of this experience.

Some of the results of this research show just how far retail customer expectations have changed in the past couple of years:

  • 63% believe it is not acceptable to give inaccurate stock level information on apps, the website, or in store
  • 54% said they didn’t find any level of personalisation in retail stores - in contrast, only 37% said that their retail bank does not offer any personalisation
  • 46% said they are often frustrated by requests to repeat information the retailer should already have - such as a regular delivery address
  • 23% had given up on sharing information with a retailer because it was just too difficult

These are interesting numbers and to my mind they demonstrate that customers already understand what omni-channel means even if they are not using the term. Customers expect apps, websites and stores to be connected. If you have one brand, then all your various outlets and communication channels should be connected. That’s what the customer expects and they are becoming disappointed when this does not happen.

What is disconcerting for retailers that have struggled to develop a strong omni-channel offer is that almost two-thirds of customers said that a disconnected and difficult retail experience is all it takes for the customer to shop elsewhere.

That is the real concern here. Customers understand how retailers should work today. They can see some retailers offering a premium service and yet they now expect an interconnected experience to be normal - premium services come on top of getting the online and offline experience working together. I’d love to hear what you think of this research. Leave a comment below and let me know, or get in touch on LinkedIn.


Personalisation – are the under 35s being left out?

man-using-digital-tablet

Personalisation. It’s a much talked about subject and one of the latest key concepts in retail marketing. So much so that the tendency is to think everyone knows what it means. But a recent survey conducted by leading global customer experience expert, Webhelp, revealed some surprising results that show this is definitely not the case.

A survey of 500 people across the UK revealed that how well people understand the concept of personalisation depends greatly on their age. Not a surprise? Perhaps it would be surprising to learn that it is the more mature section of the population that understands what personalisation is not younger people, who are generally assumed to be more tech-savvy than their elders.

Webhelp’s survey revealed that 63% of people aged between 45 and 64 understand that personalisation is about companies using information about them to tailor offers and products to their needs. In the over 65 age range the percentage of people who understand what personalisation means is 58%. Those figures drop to just 38% for people aged between 24 and 35.

The 25-34 age bracket is also the one with the least awareness of the topic, with 28% of those questioned saying they had never even heard of personalisation. Only 9% of 55-64 year-olds say they have never heard of personalisation.

But does it matter whether people have heard of personalisation or if they understand what it means? Does personalisation make any difference anyway? According to the Webhelp survey almost one third of the people questioned said they found it helpful to receive offers and communications from companies that are personalised to them. Interestingly, that figure rises to 36% for 25-34 year olds and 44% for 18-24 year olds.

Significant proportions of the population are keen to receive personalised communications from businesses, but do these communications make a difference? Only 30% of people surveyed said they were not influenced by them, which would suggest that 70% of people are. And among the 18-24 year olds only 21% said they were not influenced by these types of communications.

David Turner, CEO of Webhelp UK, said: “There is clearly a tremendous opportunity here for companies to do more to connect with their customers in the way that works for those customers. For many companies their efforts to date have more than likely followed a one size fits all approach, but clearly more effort needs to be made to take the age of customers into account. What is working for the over 45s is clearly not working for the under 35s.

“If you look at the 25-34 age group, there is a low level of awareness among this group about personalisation and what it means. 52% of people in this age group have never heard of personalisation or don’t know what it means, but 36% of them said they found it helpful to receive offers and communications from companies that were targeted specifically to them.

“Perhaps companies are not getting the channel mix right. It might not be the content of the communications that is the problem so much as the means of delivery. An omni-channel approach to personalisation is becoming more and more important. Different age groups tend to consume information through different channels and this is likely to be the biggest reason for the huge variations seen across age groups in this survey.

“Customer experience needs to work for all the customers of a business, not just one specific age group. At Webhelp we work with a number of leading businesses and bring our data analytics and insight capabilities to the party to ensure our clients really understand their customers and how they like to be communicated with. We make sure our clients don’t waste their breath shouting in space.”

 

To view the full survey report, click here

 


Webhelp acquiert Direct Medica

Après les rachats de Netino et de Mystudiofactory fin 2016, nous avons le plaisir de vous annoncer en primeur que la société Direct Medica vient de rejoindre le Groupe Webhelp.


Fondée en 2000 quelques semaines avant Webhelp par Jean-Christian Kipp, Sophie Kerob et Jerôme Stevens, Direct Medica s’est imposée en 17 ans comme le leader en France de la relation multicanal entre acteurs de Santé, principalement patients, professionnels et payeurs et est reconnue pour la haute valeur ajoutée de ses modèles et sa capacité à innover.
La société sert plus de 80 clients : laboratoires pharmaceutiques, établissements hospitaliers, mutuelles, acteurs institutionnels et pouvoirs publics.

Direct Medica intervient sur 3 métiers principaux :

  • Medication Sales (vente de médicaments auprès de 22.000 pharmaciens)
  • Medication Promotion (promotion de médicaments auprès de ~60.000 médecins)
  • Care Management (programmes patients & activités réglementaires avec par exemple la prise en charge de la ligne Tabac Info Services ou de l’InfoMed : numéro se trouvant sur toutes les plaquettes de médicaments)


Cette opération va permettre à Webhelp d’adresser un des secteurs majeurs, après l’Automobile avec le rachat d’O|Con en Allemagne. Le trio fondateur ainsi que l’équipe dirigeante restent fortement investis au capital et continueront d’assurer le développement de l’entreprise.

2017 est déjà une année marquante puisqu’en sus de cette 14è acquisition depuis 2014, nous venons de franchir le cap symbolique des 100 sites dans le monde avec les ouvertures récentes d’Abidjan en Côte d'Ivoire et de Riga, en Lettonie

Nous sommes fiers de partager avec vous cette annonce, fiers de pouvoir vous accompagner sur toutes vos expertises sectorielles et métiers, fiers d'aller toujours plus loin... Plus loin que vos attentes ! 

Vincent Bernard, CEO
Alexandre Fretti, Directeur Général
.


Webhelp Expands Into the Healthcare Sector with Acquisition of Direct Medica

Direct Medica logo

  • Direct Medica is the leading French healthcare customer relationship management firm
  • 14th acquisition for Webhelp in four years

Leading global customer experience and business process outsourcing expert, Webhelp, has acquired a majority stake in leading French healthcare sector customer relationship management firm, Direct Medica.

Webhelp has signed an exclusive agreement for the acquisition of Direct Medica, which is expected to be finalised by the end of July 2017.

For 17 years Direct Medica has been the leading player in multi-channel relationship management in the healthcare sector in France and is recognised for its abilities to add value and continuously provide innovative solutions. The company serves a broad client base: pharmaceutical laboratories, hospitals, health insurance companies, institutional players and public authorities.

Webhelp will become the majority shareholder, but the three founders of Direct Medica, Jean-Christian Kipp, Sophie Kerob and Jerôme Stevens, as well as the management team, will maintain a significant capital share and will continue to ensure the development of the company.

This is the 14th acquisition Webhelp has made in the last four years and furthers the company’s strategy of growing through geographical and sector expertise.

Olivier Duha, co-founder of Webhelp, said: “Direct Medica began operations in the same year as Webhelp and, like Webhelp, has developed into a leader in its sector. Webhelp is delighted to be able to add the experience of Direct Medica in the health care sector to its portfolio and is confident that together the expertise of our two businesses will prove even more attractive to companies operating in this sector in Europe.”

Jean-Christian Kipp, chairman of the Direct Medica Group, welcomed the news: “By combining with Webhelp, we will integrate a strong entrepreneurial dynamic group with a strong European foundation, which will allow us to expand our service offerings, implement our innovative models internationally and offer even more attractive development prospects to our teams. This is a win win situation for Direct Medica and Webhelp, as well as our clients, their customers and our people.”

 

 

 


Build trust in your brand and customers will happily share their data

My colleague Helen recently blogged about the results of an interesting Webhelp survey on personalisation in the banking industry where we found that customers are happier sharing their personal data with companies that offer a high level of customer service. Customers generally don’t trust brands to use their personal data responsibly, so this ability to create a more trusted environment will be a key step for companies wanting to offer a more personalised service.

How data is used, stored, and analysed is becoming a hot topic. Credit rating company Experian believes that 90% of all the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone. We are generating more and more data and struggling to convert it into useful information.

Recent research by the Chartered Institute of Marketing in the UK suggests that the real problem is that people just don’t understand how brands will use their data. They found that 67% of customers would be willing to share more personal data with brands if the companies were more transparent and open about how it will be used. This connects closely to our own Webhelp research findings that showed customers with a positive experience of a brand are more willing to share their data with that company.

At the heart of the problem is a corporate tendency to ask for forgiveness rather than permission. Companies have collected data on customers for years without ever explaining how they are analysing it and when hackers strike all they can do is apologise for holding so much personal information on their servers.

Customer insights are becoming a clear source of competitive differentiation. The more you know about your customer, the easier it is to cross-sell and upsell additional products without using the blunt force of traditional sales. If you already know what your customer likes and what they are looking for today then suggesting ideas is not a sales pitch - its assistance and creates a great customer experience.

The volume of data around us is about to explode further as the Internet of Things moves from theory to reality. Smart cars that can self-diagnose engine problems by communicating with their manufacturer are already here. Homes are rapidly being equipped with Google Home and the Amazon Echo. We are personally generating and using more data than ever before.

In some cases there are spin-off benefits. Ride-sharing service Uber shares journey information with the local government in Boston, helping the city to more effectively plan public transportation and prioritise road maintenance plans. Wearable devices, like the fitbit, are encouraging more people than ever to undertake physical exercise and creating vast records of every step we take.

A detailed study from 2015 published in the Harvard Business Review found that most people are only vaguely aware of how or where they are giving away their personal information. Only 25% of people realised that their phone is constantly publishing their location, only 27% of people appreciated that their list of friends on social networks may have value, and only 23% realised that every Google search they make is stored and is used to improve future searches.

In general, people are not very aware of how brands are collecting and using their data, but they are very concerned about how their data is used. The HBR study found that 97% of people are concerned that brands might misuse their data so it comes as no surprise that when brands explicitly ask customers to share their data, customers are often unwilling.

As our own study found, the real answer is to build trust in the brand. A brand that offers a great experience with excellent customer service is automatically more trusted to look after personal data. With data becoming such an important business differentiator today this cannot be ignored. Creating a great customer experience is no longer just about generating sales and loyalty - it may in fact be the only way that customers are prepared to do business with your brand at all. I’d love to hear what you think of our research and what other topics you would like to hear about this year? Leave a comment below and let me know, or get in touch on LinkedIn.