Is The Era of Working While Travelling Over?

 84% of people use electronic devices while travelling

Just 9% of people use them to work

 A recent consumer survey conducted by global customer experience expert, Webhelp, has revealed that only 9% of those asked claimed to use electronic devices for work while they were travelling.

The survey of 500 UK consumers indicates the use of electronic devices while travelling is incredibly popular, with only 16% of people surveyed claiming not to use them, and that figure falls to just 11% of men, 9% of people earning more than £40k per annum and just 6% for people aged 25-34.

However, when asked to select all of the uses that would apply, a staggeringly low percentage of people claimed to use electronic devices for business purposes while travelling - just 9% overall. That figure drops to 3% for those earning less than £10k per annum and 4% for those aged 35-44. The most likely group to use electronic devices for work while travelling were those in the £40k+ income bracket, but even in this group only around a fifth (21%) claimed this is what they would be doing on their mobile devices or laptops. In fact business use didn’t make it into the top five uses in any of the population segments surveyed.

So, if people aren’t using their electronic devices for work while they are travelling, what are all those people glued to their laptops, tablets and smart phones up to? Well, perhaps surprisingly, the most popular answer was checking departure and arrival times. This was the most popular choice in all categories apart from among the 18-24s and the 45-54s, where entertainment was the most popular choice with 55% and 54% respectively choosing this option.

Other uses that were more popular than work were checking connections, checking onward travel arrangements, mobile banking and making dinner or entertainment reservations.

There is good news for banks adopting mobile technology as overall 27% of people claimed to engage in mobile banking while travelling and that percentage increases to 46% of the 25-34s.

The option to make dinner or entertainment reservations on the go was popular with the youngest age group, with 27% of the 18-24s choosing this option.

David Turner, CEO of Webhelp UK, India and SA, commented: “With an overwhelming majority of people using electronic devices while they are travelling and a huge percentage of them using those devices for travel related activities, this represents a tremendous opportunity for the travel industry; an opportunity that some savvy operators are already taking advantage of.

"One recently launched innovation from global travel business, Travelport, called Resolve, is an app aimed at airlines and other travel companies, which aims to take the hassle out of rebooking flights and accommodation when travel plans have been disrupted. According to the Webhelp survey, this is exactly what people are looking to use their electronic devices for while they are travelling. Customer facing travel businesses who adopt this sort of technology are likely to be able to set themselves apart in a hugely competitive field.

“Once again, this is showing that new technology is giving consumers more control over their interactions with brands. The companies which will come out on top are those that take the customer experience most seriously and invest in giving their customers what they want.”

Our report outlines our findings in a bit more detail. To view the full survey report, click here.


Customer Experience: Top Three Disruptive Innovation Trends

This week, Webhelp's Innovation Director Dave Pattman headed to Germany to visit our site in Dortmund. This got him thinking about three major trends in disruptive innovation, and the impact they are already having on customer experience.

To learn more about enriched experiences, intelligent automation, and data-led transformation, take a look at the video.


How banks can use cx to differentiate their service

The banking and financial services industry is changing faster than ever as a result of customer demands and market innovation. The growth of a global financial technology industry has created an alternative to traditional banks and has been largely driven by startup companies creating solutions entirely designed around the customer.

In addition, there has also been a wave of challenger banks that are offering all the services of traditional banks, but without the branch network. Atom bank and Monzo are both good alternatives - offering a complete banking service, but entirely based on smartphone apps. Atom Bank is demonstrating an interesting approach.

But apps have become an essential part of the user experience, even for the traditional retail banks. Forty five percent of all adults in the UK now use a banking app and if you only ask the millennial demographic then this figure soars to 72%. Banks have acknowledged that customers want easy access to services via their phone and have invested heavily in the apps that they offer to customers.

A recent study published on Customer Think explores what British bank customers really want from their bank - what type of customer experience is expected and is this now a genuine area where one bank can differentiate itself from the competition?

The bottom line is that investment in the customer experience pays. Customer Think shows that HSBC and First Direct have the lowest ratings of UK banks when analysed by customer sentiment. Natwest and Barclays score the highest and it’s no surprise to learn that these banks are investing heavily in their customer apps and the overall experience their customers enjoy.

The study notes that customers have become more demanding. It’s no longer good enough to offer an app that lets customers check their balance and pay bills. They now expect almost all banking services to be available 24/7 from their phone, including loan applications and spending analytics. The important feedback from the Customer Think research is that this is now a strong enough driver to push customers to banks that do offer a better service. Once again, the functionality offered by Natwest is seen as the best in the retail banking sector, with 85% of customers viewing their service positively.

The study goes into detail across various other areas of customer service, but I think that one other key factor worth mentioning as a summary is that most customers believe that the quality of service they receive from their bank is the strongest driver of positive or negative sentiments towards that brand. This is important to remember for any bank that wants to remain a major player.

The customer experience is now the major driver of how a customer feels about the brand. In retail banking today, negative experiences are pushing customers to switch brands more than ever before. In fact, it can be seen in the Customer Think study that investment by Natwest in improving their app has directly lead to more satisfied and loyal customers and is attracting customers from other banks.

A few years ago great banking service was all about the in-branch experience, now the focus is on the functionality of apps. Times have changed. This white paper explores how technology and regulation are impacting the UK retail banking industry. Will the banks keep up? Let me know what you think in the comments or get in touch via LinkedIn.


Will work at home completely change how experienced people work?

Think about these three businesses or social changes that we are all observing today and see if you can guess the connection:

  1. Technology is allowing us to work more easily from remote locations with safe encrypted connections ensuring security.
  2. Customer service is increasingly demanding with customers now expecting a relationship with brands - so the advisors on the frontline cannot just read a script on a phone call. They need marketing and sales skills in addition to customer empathy, and the ability to work across many channels, not just the phone.
  3. Society is ageing and governments across the world are struggling to figure out when people should retire and how their pension expectations can be delivered - plus industry is losing skilled people before people need to stop working.

I started thinking about these connected threads because I read an article about the insurance industry in the USA. A specialist recruitment agency has started placing people into insurance jobs there, but the average age of the people being hired is 60 and many of them are working from home on tasks such as underwriting or customer service.

This is very interesting. Sixty today isn’t like 60 was 30 years ago, people are much healthier and expect to live long after their 60th birthday, yet state retirement ages are still often around 60 to 65, plus people may just have tired of spending 40 years commuting in heavy traffic to an office.

It is easier than ever before to allow people to work from home using simple technologies that are encrypted and safe. With all the additional demands from customers for high-end and knowledgeable customer service there is not only a real demand for more work at home solutions, but there is a real opportunity to tap into a wealth of experienced talent.

When I talk to people about the opportunities that a work at home solution offers, the key one is usually how it allows you to cast the net wider. If you have a team that is working from home, then there is no need to restrict your hiring to those people who live near to your office, they can be anywhere, so you can hire smarter people or those who fit the brand image better.

But thinking about this insurance industry article made me consider some other ideas. It might be that work at home becomes the predominant way that the over-60s work because it allows flexibility, does not require commuting, and taps into their skills and experience.

I think the world of work is changing fast and work at home is not going to just be another enterprise option for executives to think about, it could in fact create a social change offering opportunities for many people who might not have been able to find opportunities matching their skills in the past.

Let me know your thoughts on work at home and how it might even be changing the way we all work - especially later in our careers. Let me know what you think in the comments or get in touch via LinkedIn.


Facebook chatbots and the implications for CX

Facebook chatbots recently hit the headlines when engineers had to shut down an experiment where two AIs were talking to each other - in their own language, that no human could understand. Obviously this is a fascinating development, but shouldn't we be a little concerned that these two bots put their "heads" together and started talking in a way their own engineers couldn't make out?

For answers, insight and a real idea of what all this means for the future of bots, take a look at this video from our Innovation Director Dave Pattman.


Why Don’t More People Check-in Online for Flights?

The days of standing in a huge queue at an airline check-in desk to kick start your holiday or travel experience should be becoming a thing of the past, but a recent survey by global customer experience expert, Webhelp, indicates that airlines still have a way to go to encourage UK consumers to ditch the desk altogether.

Webhelp’s survey of 500 UK adults revealed that 58% of people always or usually check-in online. That is only just more than half, and considering online check-in has been around for a long time and a number of airlines insist travellers check-in before they get to the airport or face stiff penalties, is this figure surprisingly low?

Once you start to split the answers by gender, age and income huge variances appear. Online check-in is more popular with men than women, with 63% of men saying they always or usually check-in online versus just 53% of women.

Almost half (44%) of people earning less than £10k a year said they never use online check-in, with a quarter (25%) of 45-54s and those earning between £10-20k pa claiming never to use it.

The most likely groups to check-in online are those earning more than £40k pa (72%) and the 25-34s (71%).

David Turner, CEO of Webhelp UK, India and SA, said: “What this clearly shows is that a one size fits all approach to customer experience from airlines is not going to work. Our survey data reveals huge swings – from almost half of one group never using online check-in to almost three quarters of other groups always or usually using it. Since the groups are so clearly defined this presents an opportunity for airlines to target the slow adopters of online check-in technology.

“Specialist customer experience solution designers like Webhelp can work with companies by harnessing our data analysis capabilities to identify ways to ensure customers are treated as individuals and communicated with via the channel and in the way they prefer.

“As airlines continue to drive customers towards online check-in as a way of reducing operating costs, the ability to identify and persuade those groups of people who are reluctant to embrace this way of travelling becomes ever more crucial.”

 

Our report outlines our findings in a bit more detail. To view the full survey report, click here.

 

 


Your brand is defined by the customer experience, not marketing campaigns

The analyst company Gartner has been publishing great advice on the customer experience for many years. I think their predictions for the customer experience in 2020 remain one of the best summaries of where customer service is headed - specifically becoming a multi-disciplinary business activity that adds real value to the bottom line.

I found a new Gartner article recently that I also really appreciated. It is a list of ten maxims of customer experience. Each maxim is linked to a more detailed blog post, so it’s like a summary of the top ten issues facing anyone planning the customer experience for their business.

Here are three of the maxims that I particularly like. It’s just an example from the complete list, but I think that these resonate deeply with all managers responsible for trying to improve the customer experience.

  • Your brand is what people feel and say it is, not what your brand believes or says it is.
Your brand is owned by the customer, not you. It is created and fashioned in the mind of your customers and prospects. You are what they think you are or what they hear from others.
  • What your brand does is more important than what it says. Your brand will be ultimately evaluated by its customers on what it does for them, not what it says in its ads, emails or on its website.
  • Brands that cannot retain customers cannot win. Acquiring customers is costly and challenging; retaining and growing loyal customers is the key to business success and profitability.

What is really important to appreciate about these comments is that role of the customer service team has dramatically changed in the past few years. As the Gartner predictions for 2020 highlight, the more complex customer journey we see taking place today means that customer service, sales, and marketing are all functions that are blended together. Customers don’t see internal functions or departments, they just see the brand.

Customers interact with brands at many stages today from requesting information by asking questions to actually commenting on a purchase. There is more dialogue and relationship-building with customers today and this change the way the brands are defined - it’s no longer about your last marketing campaign and much more about the day-to-day interactions with customers.

I think these maxims are important for all managers to study and remember. Customer interactions are becoming more complex and more digitally focused, but the important aspect to really remember is that customer interactions are now defining how customers see your brand. Advertising and marketing remain strategically important, but these functions need to work in parallel with customer service because it is the everyday interactions that customers are really using to form a view on your business. Let me know what you think in the comments or get in touch via LinkedIn.


Who Will Win the Travel Agent v Technology Battle?

 Travellers Turn To People Power When Things Go Wrong

  • 81% of people book travel online or via a mobile app
  • 79% of people want to resolve a travel issue while they are travelling with a person

We may book our travel online but when things go wrong we hanker after the human touch, according to new research conducted by leading global customer experience expert, Webhelp.

A survey of 500 UK consumers revealed that a whopping 81% of us say we tend to book our travel online or via a mobile app and 77% of us book our main holiday using an electronic device. These figures get even higher when you look at particular segments of the market, with 93% of 18-24s, 90% of 35-44s and 88% of people earning more than £40k pa, opting to book their travel online or via a mobile app.

But when things go wrong with our travel plans we turn our backs on technology, according to the survey data.

If we need to make changes to a booking or have a problem before our journey starts we begin to reject the robots and prioritise the personal touch. Overall 67% of people surveyed said they would prefer to resolve a travel issue that occurred before their journey started by telephone or face to face. The human touch is even more important for the over 65s, with 81% of them choosing the telephone or face to face options.

Once our journeys have begun, we are even more inclined to ignore the internet as a means of solving our travel issues. 79% of people said they would prefer to solve an issue that occurred while they were travelling by telephone or face to face. That figure goes up to 90% for the 55-64s and 84% for people in the top income bracket (more than £40k pa).

The survey data reveals our dependence on our devices to resolve issues while we are travelling varies according to the nature of the problem. If we experience problems with our onward connections or our baggage goes missing, 81% of us opt for face to face or telephone contact to resolve things. Missing baggage is also the time when face to face contact is most important, with 47% of people choosing this option, with 34% of people preferring to use the telephone. This figure may be influenced by the convenience of airports having desks dedicated to solving these problems.

The more time sensitive a problem is, the less likely it seems we are to trust technology. When the issue is a missed flight, train, bus or ferry, then 85% of us want to resolve the problem with a person, either face to face or on the phone.

David Turner, CEO of Webhelp UK, India and SA, said: “As far as the battle between travel agents and technology when it comes to travel bookings is concerned, there is no competition. Across all segments of the population, the vast majority of people prefer to purchase their travel via an electronic device, with only 23% of people preferring to book face to face or on the phone. The group most likely to want to book with a person are the over 65s, but even in this group 57% of them take the technology route.

“However, when it comes to sorting out problems or making changes to bookings people are quick to ditch their devices. The swing to people power is most pronounced when the issues are time sensitive, such as missed journeys. In this situation 85% of people prefer to deal with a person.

“This clearly illustrates how important it is for travel companies to ensure they have a customer experience solution that addresses a variety of situations. A one size fits all solution isn’t good enough because our preferred method of engagement changes depending on what stage we are at in our journey.”

 

Our report outlines our findings in a bit more detail. To view the full survey report, click here.

 

 


Five questions brands need to ask about digital cx

A fascinating feature by McKinsey recently listed five key areas where brands need to focus if they want to be customer focused in an increasingly digital age. The five questions McKinsey suggests as essential for executives to ask are:

  1. Are you thinking about customer journeys rather than just touchpoints?
  2. How useful is your data?
  3. Do you truly understand why your customers are doing and what they are doing?
  4. How relevant are your communications and interactions?
  5. Do you have the right people on your teams and the processes and guidelines to support them?

That’s a great list because it forces executives to think beyond how they have always managed customer service and into thinking more about a complete customer experience and relationship.

Touchpoints always used to be important because it was the place where customer and brand interacted. But today customers may well be talking about your brand or obtaining information about your products without ever approaching your customer service team. The customer journey today involves social networks, blogs, YouTube, and review sites like Tripadvisor. Are you really thinking about how customers learn about your company and products or just relying on those times when the customer gets in touch?

Similarly, it is important to revise the metrics you are using and data being captured. If your entire service operation is measured on call-focused metrics, then how do you really build customer relationships? You cannot start taking actions that are not being measured and so you need to think carefully about what data you are capturing and how best to use it to improve the customer experience.

The focus on people is also important. As the brand to customer relationship has changed to be more focused on ongoing communications, like a true relationship, the people engaged in customer contact need to be far more aware of marketing and sales initiatives. Their role is no longer just answering customer complaints and questions, but truly representing the brand.

Staying relevant in a more digital customer environment is not as simple as just adopting additional customer communication channels. These five questions simplify a large and complex subject, but they are a useful gateway - almost all the major issues around digital CX are summarised in this short list of questions so I believe it is a useful start for all executives auditing their own digital customer experience. Let me know what you think in the comments or get in touch via LinkedIn.