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Customer experience

NICE CX Excellence Awards 2020 – Winners revealed

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NICE has announced the winners of its CX Excellence Awards 2020, with inning organisations honoured for leveraging innovation to drive exceptional customer and employee experiences and improve the bottom line.

The 16 award winners across five categories will be recognised at Interactions Live, NICE’s first-ever virtual conference highlighting the path to uncompromising customer service via best practices for agility, flexibility and adaptability in today’s changing reality.

The winners were also featured in a commemorative digital magazine which highlights how they used innovation to provide brand-differentiating customer service.

The CX Excellence Award winners span a variety of industries including financial services, healthcare, insurance, retail, telecommunications, utilities and more. Winners demonstrated remarkable results in one of five categories:

  • Best Cloud Implementation – Highlighting the flawless roll-out of novel cloud-based solutions while enjoying a complete, omnichannel customer experience suite in the cloud. Winners also exhibited rapid innovation cycles and elasticity via their cloud-native platform deployments. The winners are:
    • Farmers Insurance
    • HireRight
    • Trupanion
  • Best Business Impact – Driving quantifiable improvements in KPIs across multiple business areas including customer satisfaction, net promoter score (NPS), agent engagement, operational efficiency and revenue growth. The winners are:
    • Banco BMG
    • Northwestern Mutual
    • Teleflora
  • Best Customer Experience – Achieving a deep understanding of customers’ personalities and journeys to improve customer experience through advanced, real-time analytics. The winners are:
    • KeyBank
    • Michigan Department of State Information Center
    • Valvoline
  • Best Employee Engagement – Boosting workforce engagement and empowerment and demonstrating excellence in transparency, retention and motivation strategies. The winners are:
    • Sallie Mae
    • TD Bank
    • Vera Bradley
  • Rookie of the Year – Demonstrating excellence in the rapid adoption and implementation of best practices, achieving rapid ROI. The winners are:
    • LPL Financial
    • PSCU
    • US Bank
    • Wine Country Gift Baskets

Barak Eilam, CEO, NICE said: “We believe innovation is the critical path to success both in dynamic times as well as in measured ones. These organizations define what it means to be CX Agile in ensuring exceptional experiences even as market conditions evolve, and we’re proud to celebrate them. We remain committed to developing novel technologies that allow our customers to make a meaningful impact on the lives of their consumers in any business environment. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the award applicants and winners for sharing their successes with us this year.”

Click here to access the commemorative digital magazine showcasing how the winners used innovation to drive service excellence.

Call Centre Management – Getting it right from the start

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By Simon Black, CEO, Awaken Intelligence

We all know how having a great contact centre manager can make the world of difference to managing your team of agents and delivering outstanding campaigns. However, with the news that Oracle, alone, sent more than 100,000 customer service agents home to work, how can you ensure that you’re still delivering the best call centre management even with the majority of your agents working remotely?

As a recent FT article highlighted, “the image of a seamless, 24-hour global work ethic (from the contact centre industry), relies to a great extent on humans in large offices – ‘butts on seats’, as one industry locution has it.”

Covid-19 is dramatically changing the contact centre landscape as we know it. So, what critical disciplines and tools are the very foundation of great management of your business? And how can you evolve to ensure you’re getting the best performance and customer satisfaction possible, wherever you can? Below you’ll find a few gems that will support your agents in this rapidly evolving sector.

Onboarding and Culture

According to Glassdoor organisations with a strong onboarding process improve new hire retention by 82% and productivity by over 70% yet a study by Gallup found that only 12% of employees strongly agree their organisation does a great job of onboarding new employees! The challenge to introduce new joiners effectively is greater than ever and while we know that the job market is going to be flooded at a time like this it is important you get it right. Finding self-motivated individuals that fit within your contact centre and that aren’t just ‘butts on seats’ is really important. You may be looking for completely different people compared to your traditional hires. You’re going to need self-starters that are motivated and that aren’t afraid to shout as they settle into their new role. Managing the existing team is hard enough at the moment but you need to ensure your new agents aren’t just thrown in the deep-end! Make sure you have a robust onboarding process where they get the following:

  • To meet their team and key managers in the business. Give them a feel for your company culture even if it’s only via video calls.
  • Make sure you cover all the HR aspects and get the admin out of the way as quickly as possible.
  • Ease them into the role by showing them the systems and procedures by using video training. The technology exists to do this so there’s really no excuse!
  • Appoint a mentor – a key person your new hire can go to when they’re feeling anxious or have any questions as they settle into the role, and encourage them to schedule regular, virtual coffee meetings. According to HCI, 87% of organisations that assign an ambassador or buddy program during the onboarding process say that it’s an effective way to speed up new hire proficiency.

You’ll see we also mentioned company culture. We know it’s difficult to keep this going while everyone is working remotely but it’s vital as BreatheHR’s Culture Economy Report 2020 highlighted, estimating that toxic workplaces cost the UK economy £15.7 bn every year. Encouraging existing employees as well as new agents to contribute to conversations, turn up on team calls and join in online quizzes or cocktail hours will help to keep people motivated even in this disjointed world.

Best Tools for the Job

AI and voice analytics are changing the way in which many businesses operate and contact centres are no different. Our conversational analytics will not only help you to analyse the vocabulary and sentiment in your most established performers but will also help you to pick up on where new starters are struggling too.  This is so important when you’re unable to stroll around your call centre and listen into conversations taking place. Plus, it’s actually a far more practical and informative way of keeping your finger on the pulse.

Not only will scripting and analytics help to guide even the newest recruits through their first calls but, also with this informative data they’ll soon be able to understand what makes a seamless journey for the customer and a better day at work for them! Here’s a reminder of why conversational analytics (CA) is so important for your agents:

  • The intuitive way CA works means your agents require less training or can move on to different campaigns without spending hours reading reams of training manuals.
  • Ability to handle calls and resolve them faster than before, which means your agent’s experience and job satisfaction will be higher and your cost per call is kept in control.
  • Your agents have the ability to focus on the conversation, rather than the process which means both agent and customer have a better experience. That means your staff retention improves dramatically.
  • By providing you with actionable insights formed into one report, it will allow you to motivate your agents in the right directions and stimulate continuous improvement.

Automate

Automating the intensive process of monitoring agent-customer interactions at scale can help to highlight which agents might need further training and on what in particular. Also, there are repetitive call centre tasks such as listening to agents calls and manually evaluating agent’s performance or screening the calls for quality assurance (QA), that can be automated to make the role more enjoyable. Given automation is a proven way to reduce attrition investing in automation makes even more sense when you look at the numbers. According to Response Design Corporation call centres replace approximately 26% of their agents each year and a report from CIPD claims that the average cost for replacing call centre staff is £6,125. It doesn’t take a mathematical genius to realise that re-hiring and training 26% of your workforce on an annual basis is pretty expensive! So, doing anything to retain the great performers is more than worthwhile.

Metrics

It sounds simple but measurements should be in place to monitor individual, team and campaign performance. How can you reward and praise if you have nothing to benchmark people’s efforts by? And similarly, how can you report success on a particular campaign if there are no KPIs.

Any decent call centre technology will provide you with a reporting dashboard where you can gather critical data at every level. You need to measure from the individual call, agent, team, campaign and across the entire contact centre. Generating these reports shouldn’t mean that your contact centre manager spends hours stuck in Excel, these should be generated by a powerful web-based tool providing managers with all necessary information to make strategical decisions for your contact centre.

The Customer is Always King

You’ve heard it before, but your agents should never forget that delivering frictionless customer experience is critical to your organisation’s success. Help them to really understand what makes your customers tick, the variety of different requirements and to share experiences with their peers to help better the experience for all. It’s also important to remind your team, no matter how difficult the client interaction is, that being polite and positive will pay dividends. Smiling on a camera during your virtual meetings will make the conversation instantly warmer in 9 out of 10 cases. And sometimes we all have to accept that if people have a bad day and not to take it too personally either.

Going Full Circle Time and Again

While it’s been tricky with agents working remotely during this time finding ways to offer feedback and being accessible to your team is key to maintaining morale and motivation. We’ve discussed the importance several times of being a good listener and how to run a team efficiently to encourage two-way conversations across the team so they can support one another and share learnings.

As we’ve already said it takes a certain type of person to work in a contact centre and an incredibly motivated one to work from home on their own, amongst a virtual team. That is not going to change any time soon. They need to be confident, efficient and a good listener as well as a team player. However, to help them be successful you need to deploy the right tools and pay attention to the data you garner to ensure that your managers, your agents and campaigns run as efficiently as possible.

Covid-19 has been a catalyst for digital transformation this year, pushing businesses from all industries to embrace smarter technology to support their people and allow their operations to thrive. Solutions that you once viewed as a ‘nice to have’ or planned to introduce over the next five years are now a necessity. Equipping your team with the best will not only enhance their working lives but dramatically improve your customer experience (CX) too.

Everything you should know about customer experience mapping

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By Simon Black, CEO, Awaken Intelligence

Having the right people, the right tools and adding in the right approach is all part of the mix in creating the right level of service for your customers. But how do you know what they really want at different stages of their journey with your brand and how do you create a frictionless customer experience (CX)?

The answer can be found in customer and user experience mapping. It can help you shape the way you handle every aspect of the customer journey. From voice calls and emails through to social media channels, SMS and App usage as well as webchats. However, if you really want to excel in the service you provide you need to firstly understand and then refine every element of your customer omnichannel experience. It might seem daunting but by peeling back the layers and working through the data you collate during your customer engagements you will find real actionable data points that educate you and your team on how to map out a smoother customer journey.

Before you start working on your customer experience mapping there’s one thing to clarify. As Jim Kalbach highlighted in his book Mapping Experiences, there is a difference between customer journey maps and customer experience maps:

  • A customer journey map typically views the individual as a customer of the organisation. And, there is often a decision involved: to purchase a product or service
  • A customer experience map looks at a broader context of human behaviour and shows how the organisation or brand fits into a person’s life. 

How to create a customer experience map fit for your clients

Your customers experience doesn’t necessarily follow a linear path with your brand.  And one size doesn’t fit all. These simple steps will help you to break down what can feel like an overwhelming task:

  • Identify every type of customer your brand or organisation has
  • Work out at what point in their lives do they have a need to engage with your business
  • Then carefully work out every possible interaction these different types of customers, or personas, will have with you during the product or service lifetime.

Let data guide the mapping process

This process will help you to outline the specific routes that each customer takes when buying from your business or brand. And remember, a customer may reach you through various parts of the omnichannel. Just because they initially reach you through the webchat doesn’t mean they’ll continue to communicate that way and it’s likely they’ll switch to voice or email as their journey starts to progress. Every aspect needs to work well and provide a consistent experience.

From that foundation of information, you then need to dig through your data and let it enlighten you on your customers’ experiences. Be prepared to make some uncomfortable discoveries and remember the data doesn’t lie so you should be able to identify some customer pain points that you can quickly resolve along the way.

What’s the goal?

Don’t just embark on the customer experience mapping work because you think it would be a good thing to do. Have a goal so that you can maintain focus throughout the project and be able to deliver on a particular outcome. For example, if your goal is to reduce support times for a certain product by a set number of minutes so that you can handle more customer enquiries (by a certain percentage) make sure that remains your focus. Or, it could be that your goal is to upsell a supporting service or accessory product to work with the original purchase. By mapping that customer experience you’ll be able to identify key touchpoints in the journey for these different engagements.

Customer experience mapping leads to enlightening discoveries

There will be some findings that you’ll be expecting to discover in the process but by carefully picking through the data it’s likely you’ll reveal some insights into what drives greater brand loyalty and, equally, what turns customers off. Your customer experience mapping should help you to identify:

  • new or refine ways to increase customer satisfaction
  • touchpoints or paths that are creating friction rather than aiding the experience
  • to understand what parts of the service or product drives loyalty
  • to discover where you can improve retention and possibly where new product, or service opportunities lie.

Key elements for customer experience mapping

Once you’ve identified your goal(s) and your different customer personas there are some key steps to follow as part of the mapping process that you can also overlay with your data:

  • List every single customer touchpoint.This may range from physical stores to advertising and email marketing through to your website and social media channels. Leave no part of this engagement unturned
  • Identify the customer need.Just as you’ve ascertained your goals your customer will have them too. Make sure you map their needs against the personas as they may have more than one
  • Different phases of interaction.Your customers will engage with you at different points long their journey. Not only do you need to identify what these points will be and the drivers behind them you should also work out the likely route of these touchpoints. Will it be a call or an email enquiry and do you have the appropriate scripts on hand to help your agents deliver the right level of service?

Where does the data come from?

If you’re reading this and worrying about where to draw all this useful data from then you may also need to take a step back and assess what systems, you have in place to manage your customer experience. It may be time to embrace digital transformation and explore how conversational analytics (CA) can help you to evolve your contact centre. It’s not only difficult to navigate across multiple legacy systems to draw on this data, it’s unproductive for your agents and, ultimately, incredibly costly for your business. Don’t be surprised if part of the customer experience mapping process may throw your need to migrate your systems and processes to something more suitable for the 21st Century too!

Removing the friction from Customer Experience 

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By Simon Black, CEO, Awaken

The world in which we now live and work is truly global and as such many companies need to communicate with customers across multiple languages. The inability to converse with customers in a common language presents barriers for many businesses. And while it may seem like a huge ask to address this need the technology now exists to make it possible to communicate with customers no matter where they are and no matter their local language. Now is the time to create a frictionless customer experience (CX). 

Quite often you’ll find that the customer contact centre is at the heart of any company’s customer services. It’s usually the first point of call for customer queries so it’s important to make sure that the communication is as mutually understandable as possible between the agent and the customer. Afterall customers’ experiences are the life blood of your business. It only takes one good or bad experience to make or break a relationship and in today’s world of over-sharing customers are likely to recommend or complain about your business, products or service across their social channels, within minutes.  

According to Reputation Refinery a customer who is dissatisfied will tell 9-15 people about their bad experience with negative interactions spreading to two times as many people as positive interactions. But do not fear, there’s good news. Throw Artificial Intelligence (AI) into this mix and, as a recent survey by PointSource highlighted, 49% of customers are willing to shop more often when AI is present. Furthermore 34% of customers will spend more money, and 38% will share their experiences with friends and family. Essentially, AI makes people shop more, spend more and share more. So, with today’s technology there is every reason and every opportunity to get the customer experience right.  

According to IDC, $13.9B was invested into CX-focused Artificial Intelligence (AI) and $42.7B in CX-focused Big Data and analytics during 2019, with both expected to grow to $90B in 2022. You don’t need much more of an argument that now might be the time to look at how AI can support and enhance the experiences of your customers.  

Back to the supposed language barrier. We’ve worked with many organisations and several online retailers, using AI, to automatically translate languages on the fly. This means a customer can communicate in French (or any other language), and then the text or voice is translated in real-time into the local contact centre agent’s own language so that he/she can understand and respond appropriately. The subsequent communication is then translated back into the local language of that particular customer again. The ability to respond in real-time is transformative. Being able to quickly respond to customers in their own language (not yours) and not have to rely on basic manual translation tools means that you’re creating a truly frictionless experience for your customers. 

Furthermore, being able to understand the conversations taking place across your entire omnichannel is crucial. With AI you can instantly pick up on the tone and sentiment of conversations taking place which helps to better inform your contact centre agents and enables them to predict the journey of that particular customer conversation, adapting their responses and behaviours appropriately and immediately.  

Not only does this approach help to improve the customer experience during a live engagement but it will also help you to identify areas where you need to better communicate and share information with customers online, perhaps via your website, for example. We now have the ability to dynamically change the customer journey as it happens. The call or text can be analysed straight away, within seconds, so your agent can respond and adapt without interrupting the flow of conversation all the while improving the customer experience. AI enables us to give the right information at the right time to help provide a seamless and smooth customer experience. 

Addressing language and translation barriers is an absolute must for businesses operating across multiple and diverse geographies. But once that’s dealt with you need to look at what else can be achieved with AI. For example, we recently worked with an online retailer that had introduced a variety of new services to improve their customer journey yet they couldn’t assess whether these services were being utilised by customers and improving their experience or detracting from it. They weren’t getting any feedback whatsoever. Thanks to AI we were able to quickly build in a voice analytics solution that analysed both voice or text communications and could pick up on feedback, whether positive or negative. For example, ApplePay had been introduced but they didn’t know how customers felt about it and if they liked paying that way. With voice analytics we enabled the business to assess their customers’ emotions and experiences and therefore make informed decisions on which services were working well and other areas that needed improvement. 

AI and voice analytics are proving crucial tools in delivering a better customer experience and being able to measure what is or is not working. It’s also important to remember that communications are two way and that it’s not just about how the customer is communicating with your business but also how your team are responding to those customers. Analysing both sides of the engagement will help you to fine tune customer engagement further. 

AI can help you to recognise if there’s a problem brewing and that some of your people may need your support beyond that of screen prompts. As we all know, if you have a happy and well-informed team, you’ll have happy customers.   

Dynamic FAQs improve customer experience and reduce customer contact

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By ContactOne

Today’s web users are increasingly relying on the Internet as a prime source of information and are more likely to use FAQ based solutions for answers. On the plus side this trend can be leveraged to reduce the propensity for on-line visitors to contact Agents.

The flip side of this is that the traditional static help centre solutions are not optimised to take advantage of this as customers often need to leave the webpage of interest to find help in the static FAQ section.

1 – Static Help Centre vs Dynamic FAQs

Dynamic FAQs, from ContactOne, address these issues by enabling the users to get the answers they need without leaving the page. The AI predicts users, queries based on contextually mapping web page content. Website visitors are then presented with a list of relevant help articles, without having to leave their current page.

This means that customers get instant answers to their queries without having to use the contact centre, resulting in positive impacts to the customer journey:

  • Site abandonment drops
  • Encourages self-service
  • Contact deflection increases
  • Sales conversion increases
  • Customer satisfaction increases

Our Dynamic FAQs include an intuitive search function based on partial keywords, phonetic matching, managed plurals and extensions with the returned results prioritised based on tags, titles, content and keywords. The self-learning capabilities and can optimise presented FAQs based on volume of page views and article rating. It also helps fill in gaps in the FAQs by reporting missed search terms.

2- Real-Time Widgets

Dynamic FAQs has several real-time widgets and reporting modules to show the usage and effectiveness of the FAQs. For each FAQ Supervisors can see both the total number of visitors to that FAQ, along with how many of those visitors went on to contact the contact centre. This enables FAQ answers to be optimised over time to meet the desired objective whether that’s to promote Contact, in the case of sales, or reduce contact in the case of level 1 support / customer service activities.

ContactOne’s Dynamic FAQ solution can be supplied as part of an integration with our own Omni-Channel contact centre platform, or as a standalone solution for use with existing Webchat, Email and Phone systems.

For more information on how ContactOne can help you encourage your website visitors to self-serve and improve the customer experience with Dynamic FAQs call ContactOne on 0330 880 4444 or visit ContactOne on the web.

UK boards must take more responsibility for customer experience – Research

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Customer experience is largely perceived as a strategic issue and one that should be driven at board level, with measurement of CX varying wildly within key industry verticals.

That’s according to research conducted by Gobeyond Partners, which surveyed over 450 managers and above across retail and wholesale, financial services and banking, private healthcare, and insurance, finding that 86% of UK businesses are currently measuring customer experience and that 81% of respondents believe customer experience to be a strategic issue which requires more senior level accountability.

It says the results highlight a clear need for senior executives to be knowledgeable about customer experience, and importantly, measure it across the entire customer journey. The results revealed that 36% of organisations surveyed only measure customer experience at specific touchpoints, and not across the entire customer journey, whilst 12% of UK businesses are still not measuring customer experience at all.

Rather it was those companies who do indeed measure customer experience across the entire customer journey (50%) who were found to be 1.4 times more likely to report revenue increases over the last 12 months, than those that don’t.

Other key findings  include:

  • Of those who agreed customer experience should be driven at board level, only 37% strongly agreed that their company utilises customer feedback to improve service design and delivery;
  • 86% of retail respondents agreed that customer experience should be driven at board level and was the most likely industry to see customer experience as a strategic issue. This was followed closely by 85% of insurance respondents, 77% in banking, 72% in private healthcare and 85% insurance;
  • 12% of UK businesses are not measuring customer experience at all;
  • 11% of businesses said they had no senior manager with accountability for customer experience

Mark Palmer, CEO of Gobeyond Partners, said: “We were pleased to see that our recent survey findings validate the work we have been doing with our clients; namely that customer experience is a human issue which should be addressed strategically and prioritised by the board.

“We regularly recommend looking at the end-to-end customer journey through a more human lens. Our findings clearly highlight that introducing the human touch – at all levels of the journey – can radically transform the way you deliver service. For organisations to win in the race for customer loyalty and stronger profitability, they will need to successfully marry great technology and innovation with a major focus on what this means for customers and employees in the transformation journey. Taking this ‘human lens’ will differentiate the quality of solutions offered, drive greater efficiency in getting there and will better engage their people on the change journey.”

Millennials and Gen Zs ‘driving digital-first customer experience’

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The third annual 2019 NICE inContact Customer Experience (CX) Transformation Benchmark has detailed how understanding younger generations’ use of and expectations around next-generation solutions like artificial intelligence (AI) and digital channels are fundamental to building exceptional, best-in-class customer experiences.

As Millennials and Generation Z become dominant consumer groups, with Generation Z purchasing already reaching an estimated $100 billion according to research conducted by Barkley, their comfort level and familiarity with multiple digital channels including social messaging and chatbots means organizations, no matter their size, must provide digital-first omnichannel experiences to meet consumer expectations and effectively compete in the experience economy.

Key findings from the study include:

  • Almost 60% of Generation Z and Millennials have used private social messaging for customer service. In contrast, 38% of Gen X, 19% of Baby Boomers and 16% of Silent Generation have done so.The majority of Generation Z and Millennials also want companies to allow them to interact with customer service using private social messaging apps (72% and 69%, respectively).
  • Consumers are using AI more and feeling more positive about chatbots over time.Half of all consumers have used AI for any purpose (50%), compared to 2018 (45%). This can be attributed to a significant increase in the use of an automated assistant/chatbot online (34%, up from 25% in 2018). Generation Z and Millennials are more likely to agree that chatbots make it easier and quicker for their issues to get resolved, and are also the most likely of all generations to have used all forms of AI for any purpose, as well as for customer service.
  • Half of consumers who start with AI are transferred to a live agent, and age is a significant factor when it comes to AI and the importance of the human touch. While chatbot usage and performance are improving – and preferences and attitudes are changing – most consumers want to be informed if they are using a chatbot (92%) and 91% of all consumers prefer a live agent. However, this preference follows a downward trend generationally: 98% of the Silent Generation, 96% of Baby Boomers, 91% of Generation X, 86% of Millennials and 83% of Generation Z say they prefer a live agent.
  • Seamless digital-first omnichannel experiences are vital to positive customer experiences.Most consumers (93%) want seamless omnichannel experiences, and yet they are increasingly giving companies a poor rating on seamlessly switching between channels – 73% give companies a poor rating, up from 67% in 2018. This is especially important for meeting and exceeding the expectations of Millennials and Generation Z, who are the most likely to have experienced omnichannel customer service (16% and 21%, respectively).

“Understanding the nuances of what consumers expect, and how they actually engage with brands via a myriad of digital channels, and integrating these in-demand channels seamlessly to deliver digital-first omnichannel experiences, is key to sustainable growth,” said Paul Jarman, NICE inContact CEO. “The NICE inContact CX Benchmark looks beyond education around demographic customer service trends and gets to the root of what makes new channel options attractive. Millennials and Generation Z are bellwethers of what consumers expect and are increasingly likely to recommend a company on social media based on personal experiences – the influence they wield is tremendous.”

Click here to read the full report.

Sainsbury’s, M&S and more back Purple Tuesday customer service initiative

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Sainsbury’s, M&S and Blakemore Retail are joining hundreds of other retailers today (12 November) to improve the customer experience for disabled people by supporting Purple Tuesday

Multiple shopping centres, including Bluewater and Intu, are also participating. Westfield is taking Purple Tuesday international with shopping centres in Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland making commitments for better customer service for disabled people.  

New research published for Purple Tuesday reveals that poor customer service and a lack of staff understanding are among the key barriers preventing disabled consumers from purchasing goods and services.

The research has prompted calls for businesses and organisations to rethink how they target disabled consumers and their families, whose spending power – the so-called Purple Pound – is estimated to be £249 billion every year. 

More than 2,000 businesses, organisations and stores from a range of sectors have made more than 3,500 pledges to make long-term changes as part of Purple Tuesday on 12 November. This includes: 

  • Sainsbury’s and Argos, who have announced a new trial of a weekly ‘Sunflower Hour’ in 30 stores, which involves creating a calmer environment by reducing background noise and sensory overload that launches on Purple Tuesday. The trial gives customers the option to pick up a sunflower lanyard which has been purposely designed to act as a discreet sign for store colleagues to recognise if they may need to provide a customer with additional support. Sainsbury’s was the first retailer to trial this initiative in 2018. 
  • Microsoft Store, which has committed to educating not only the community but retail businesses on how to create accessible retail experiences, work environments and improving the lives of customers and employees living with disabilities. 
  • M&S, which is committed to being the U.K.’s most accessible retailer and has introduced a number of improvements to its stores and website over the past few years – including becoming the first retailer to introduce Sunflower Lanyards into all stores for those with hidden disabilities Earlier this month M&S ran a colleague campaign “Making Every Day Accessible” introducing a number of resources for colleagues including a top tips for being disability confident video, a guide on how to run sensory friendly shopping hours and a new ‘hard of hearing’ uniform. 
  • Blakemore Retail, which is providing training for 4300 staff and making training available to their 700 independent SPAR Retailers 

75% of disabled people have had to leave a store or website, unable to go through with their purchase because of their disability, according to research cited by Purple Tuesday itself. Research shows that most complaints from disabled people relate to experiences within the business/organisation premises, with disabled people more likely to spend money with organisations if they improve2

  • staff understanding about different disabilities (56%) 
  • the overall customer experience for disabled people (41%) 
  • store/shop/location accessibility (41%) 
  • website accessibility (16%) 

More than 1 in 3 disabled people (34%) said poor customer service prevented them from making a purchase, while 33% blamed a lack of understanding from staff about their needs. Some disabled respondents said improvements should include ‘being treated the same as anyone else’ and having ‘knowledgeable staff’.  

The research has led Purple Tuesday to call on organisations to focus on straightforward, low-cost solutions to improve the customer experience for disabled people – changes that go beyond the front door. Of the 13.9 million disabled people in the UK, 80% have a hidden impairment, meaning improvements and enhancements are needed to improve access for disabled people, beyond having a ramp installed to help enter a site. 

Mike Adams OBE, Chief Executive of Purple, said: “Meeting the needs of disabled customers makes commercial sense for organisations of all sizes, from all sectors, but our message to organisations is: you don’t have to spend big budgets to make lasting change. That’s why we’re urging organisations to focus on improvements that go ‘beyond the front door’. Introducing staff training and improving website accessibility are low cost changes, but the difference to a company’s bottom line – as well as to a disabled consumer’s personal experience – can be significant. 

“Purple Tuesday has more than doubled in size this year, with more than 2000 organisations from a variety of sectors making commitments to improve the customer experience for disabled people. These are long-term changes that will have a lasting impact for millions of customers – and improve the commercial opportunities for the organisations involved.” 

The purple pound is worth £249 billion and is rising by an average of 14% per annum, yet it is estimated that less than 10% of businesses have a targeted plan to access this disability market. Purple Tuesday’s research shows that more than 80% of disabled people say businesses could do more to be accessible and encourage them to spend money. 

Organisations can contact Purple for advice on how they can improve their approach to disabled consumers. Example changes include:  

  • Conducting an online audit of your website to improve accessibility 
  • Training staff to know and understand how to communicate effectively with disabled customers 
  • Getting front line staff to learn basic British Sign Langue skills to communicate with those customers from the deaf community 
  • Conducting an on-site audit to ensure the physical space is suitable for every customer to get around the area easily 
  • Improving wayfair signage around the facility 
  • Introducing quiet hours on a regular basis to help people who struggle with music, tannoys and noise. 

For more information on Purple Tuesday, please visit www.PurpleTuesday.org.uk

How hyper personalisation can unlock the seamless customer experience

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Companies failing to provide a hyper personalised experience for their customers will quickly find themselves losing business, argues Matthew Chadd, Senior Project Director at Content Guru.

More than two thirds of companies now compete on the basis of customer experience. Customer service is the competitive differentiator, and it is essential now more than ever to maintain brand loyalty and meet business goals. Companies can face losing customers if they don’t keep up with the ever-increasing standard of service expected of them.

Delivering superior service is particularly challenging during spikes in the volume of customer contact. Human agents on their own cannot manage these peaks, let alone deliver a consistent and personalised customer experience. Long call queues and fragmented customer engagement lead to disappointed customers, reputational damage and ultimately financial losses. 

Why does hyper personalisation matter? 

Hyper personalisationis a way for companies to provide a bespoke customer service by using real-time behavioural data from multiple channels to react to consumer decisions and tailor the experience appropriately.

Although many businesses hold a wealth of data, they often lack the tools to use it to provide a tailored customer experience. Artificial intelligence (AI) and intelligent automation technologies can revolutionise the way businesses use data to deliver hyper personalisation across all interfaces and channels.

An example of this is where utility companies use a phone number to identify which customer is contacting them and the location of their property. If there is an outage in their area, they are directed to an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) recording which provides them with instant access to information about the situation. The customer’s enquiry is answered automatically, leaving human agents to focus on dealing with more complex customer queries.

Hyper personalisation requires deep integration

To deliver the best results, AI-driven hyper personalisation requires integrated front-end and back-end IT systems. Businesses often hold customer data across multiple channels and systems. If these systems remain disparate, organisations end up with data siloes and miss out on invaluable insights which can improve customer service. Deep integration means that data can be processed and leveraged to personalise the customer experience throughout every interaction. 

For example, a life insurance company holding records of past customer interactions in its back-end systems will see that a customer calling in might have recently lost a family member. This information will be fed into the front-end with prompts during a customer call. A human agent handling the query will be encouraged to express condolences and demonstrate empathy to help build a relationship.

A blended approach to contact centre transformation

While technology is the driving force behind hyper personalisation, the role of human agents cannot be overlooked. The success of a hyper personalisation strategy relies on a blended approach that maximises the potential of both IT and the human touch.  For instance, sentiment analysis can detect if a person is getting agitated or angry with the machine agent and route the call to a human agent that has specialised skills to deal with calls of that nature. 

AI-driven hyper personalisation enables companies to meet customer demand for a seamless, consistent experience. In order to achieve this successfully, the technology must be deeply integrated into an organisation’s existing data, and function as an extension of the human agent. A blended approach to hyper personalisation is a key ingredient for enhanced customer service. Failing to achieve a personalised experience can cost a business its edge – don’t get left behind. 

Retail failing at social media for customer service

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Retailers are neglecting social media when it comes to customer service, and are not listening to consumers to drive customer experience improvements.

That’s according to the 2019 Eptica Digital Trust Study, which found that while retailers successfully answered 59% of routine queries asked via web self service, chat, email, Facebook and Twitter, there were wide variations in performance between channels.

Retailers provided answers to 83% of queries on their websites but only responded correctly to 38% of tweets and 50% of Facebook messages.

Performance had worsened on many channels since 2017 – then retailers answered 73% of emails. By 2019 this had dropped to 68%, despite the continued popularity of the channel with consumers, who use it for over a quarter of their interactions with brands.

As part of the 2019 Eptica Digital Trust Study, 20 fashion and food & drink retailers were evaluated on their digital customer experience, alongside brands from other sectors, by testing their accuracy and speed at answering relevant, routine queries, repeating research conducted since 2012.

Questions included asking about ethical sourcing policies (fashion) and allergy labelling (food and drink). Additionally, 1,000 consumers were asked for their views on customer experience.

Fashion (answering 60% of all queries) and food and drink (59%) were the top sectors surveyed, but still failed to respond to 4 in 10 of all routine queries.

The research also demonstrated a direct link between trust, listening and loyalty. 89% of consumers surveyed said they either will stop buying from brands that they don’t trust or will spend less. Building trust begins with delivering on basic promises – 59% ranked giving satisfactory, consistent answers as a top three factor in creating trustworthiness, while 63% rated making processes easy and seamless as key. Just 8% of consumers felt that brands were listening to them all of the time, with 74% believing brands pay attention to their views half the time or less.

“The move to digital has transformed the retail landscape,” said Olivier Njamfa, CEO and Co-Founder, Eptica. “Greater choice means consumers are becoming more demanding and are actively seeking out brands that they can trust and who listen to them. While retail brands have made some improvements since 2017, they have slipped back in others, damaging trust and ultimately customer loyalty and revenues. If they want to succeed they need to listen to customers and use their insight. Only those who do this will thrive and stay ahead of the competition.”

RetailAccuracy 2019
versus 2017
Average speed 2019
versus 2017
Web83% vs 70%n/a
Email68% vs 73%10hr 19m vs 24hr 12m
Facebook50% vs 28%43m 24s vs 3hr 34m
Twitter38% vs 50%1hr 56m vs 1hr 43m
Chat35% vs 25%8m 43s 4m 24s
Total59% vs 55%

Speed of response also varied widely between channels – and even within sectors and brands. One fashion retailer answered a tweet in 17 minutes, yet another took 50 hours to reply. A food and drink retailer responded on Facebook within one minute, but needed nearly 23 hours to provide an answer on email.

Overall response times on chat doubled from 4 minutes back in 2017 to 8 minutes this year. Facebook had the fastest average speed of response, at 43 minutes, 24 seconds – over twice as fast as Twitter (1 hour 56 minutes) and nearly 15 times faster than email (10 hours 19 minutes). This is despite exactly the same questions being asked across these channels.

The study evaluated 50 UK brands, split equally between the fashion, food and drink, travel, insurance and banking sectors. Brands were rated on their ability to answer five routine questions via their websites, as well as their speed, accuracy and consistency when responding to email, Twitter, Facebook and chat.

Additionally, 1,000 UK consumers were surveyed on their attitude to trust, its relationship with customer experience and on loyalty and brand reputation. All research was completed in H1 2019.

A full report, including the study results, graphics and best practice recommendations for brands to transform customer experience is available at https://www.eptica.com/19cxretail.