What Are The Key Trends in UK Retail Today?

This post is by Liz Parry, Strategic Account Director at Teleperformance UK

Last week, the Pew Research Centre in the US announced that the largest proportion of the American labour force is now millennials – adults aged 18-34. I expect that other countries, including the UK, will also be reaching this milestone soon, but it is not just important for employers to note. Companies that market to these working-age people, particularly retailers, need to think carefully about what this means.

The most obvious observation is that millennials are no longer just a minority. You can’t wait a few more years before thinking about their opinion or preferences. The younger demographic is fast becoming the majority of employed citizens – how does this change your approach to customer service?

The way that companies approach the customer experience can define how often those customers become repeat buyers. In retail, as many as 9 out of 10 customers will base future purchasing decisions on the way a company gives service.

The annual Which? survey of UK retailers was published just a few days ago and showed that personal service and trusted advice were what counts most from a retailer. Three of the top ten stores in the Which? research were independent, rather than chain brands.

The boost to the reputation of independent retailers is important to note, along with the changing demographic of consumers. Brand is no longer enough to keep consumers happy. They are looking for quality service and products and are prepared to move on and change retailer if they are not happy.

I believe that these various research results from all over the world are painting a picture of consumers today that are in general:

  • Younger and more comfortable with technology and a multichannel approach to interacting with retailers
  • Less loyal and much more likely to quickly move to a competitor if you cannot meet their demands.
  • More focused on service as a part of the overall experience. Great service from a retailer is becoming an expectation of the purchasing experience, not just something that only happens if there is a complaint.

Do you believe that the retail industry in the UK – and beyond – is facing up to these key trends? Leave a comment here or get in touch via my LinkedIn profile.

Plane in a shop, Harajuku, Tokyo, Japan


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Is this the real value of the regulator?

It looks like BT cannot escape the gaze of telecoms regular, Ofcom. Last week Ofcom announced plans that will force BT to give physical access to their fibre-optic cables, allowing other operators to take direct control of the connections.

BT is already required to offer access to network capacity at regulated prices, allowing other providers to bundle services together for consumers using the BT network, but this is an important step further. If other operators can physically access BTs cables, they can install their own equipment and not just rely on BT.

BT will also need to meet new minimum quality of service performance requirements on their Openreach network. Openreach is the BT division that facilitates connections to their network on behalf of other competing providers.

In my view this really opens the door to managing networks in a way that could really benefit consumers. If companies are allowed to innovate and bring their own technology into the BT fibre-optic network to drive performance up, then surely this can only benefit customers who are consuming more and more data to undertake activities such as surfing and streaming of films?

In any case, if BT is to sell a greater number of bundled services – thanks to the merger with EE – then they would need to have a strong focus on improving their network speed and quality anyway.

This action by Ofcom does show the regulator is working to benefit the end consumer, the person sitting at home trying to stream a movie. Consumers should see better networks and more competition across the market for access to these networks and this can only be a good thing.

What do you think about the actions by Ofcom? Leave a comment here or get in touch via my LinkedIn.

BT Tower, London


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Retailers Focusing On Customer Experience

The IQPC event ‘Customer Experience Exchange for Retail’ will take place from July 6 to 8 in London. I was looking at information about the event on LinkedIn when I noticed some interesting comments from some of the company executives speaking at the event.

Companies such as Argos, Selfridges, and Cath Kidston are all planning to speak about their customer experience investments at the event, indicating that this is now becoming an investment focus for many of these big retail brands.

Creating satisfied and loyal customers in retail is very complex today and requires strategic thinking in several key areas, such as:

  • Emotional engagement; how is your brand relating to customers? Are people building a relationship with you and caring about the brand rather than just looking for the cheapest retailer?
  • Multichannel integration; how do all your various ‘ways to shop’ come together? Is the integration between online and High Street seamless and mutually supportive?
  • Customer journey mapping; you will usually interact with a customer long before they ever become a customer. What is the journey they take that allows them to find you and want to shop with you?

What is clear though is that the leading brands attending this event have one thing in common; their number one investment focus at present is the management and improvement of the customer experience. Companies in many industries are becoming very customer-centric, but retail is leading the way in organising the entire corporate strategy around the view of the customer.

Cath Kidston: Victoria Rose Navy


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Data Analytics Expertise Is Essential For A Great Customer Experience

This post is by Liz Parry, Strategic Account Director at Teleperformance UK

In the latest edition of the National Outsourcing Association (NOA) Outsourcing Yearbook several leading industry analysts give their predictions for the year ahead in outsourcing.

One of the key trends identified is that more and more companies are going to need help with data analytics and managing Big Data programmes in general. John Willmott, the CEO of NelsonHall even lists this as one of the key trends that will define outsourcing over the next year.

It’s certainly true that companies are making more use of their data and requiring better expertise. This news article highlights the global shortage of talent – people with expertise in data analysis are assured a job almost anywhere in the world right now.

In the area of customer experience this has become a very important topic. The entire process of supporting customers has been turned on its head in recent years, with customers now demanding that brands come to them and converse on the platforms and channels they choose.

This dramatic change in the way that customers demand support requires extensive monitoring of enormous databases – buzz monitoring. The companies need to find where their customers are talking about their brand and products and to then engage in those spaces.

This is not trivial. The Internet is a vast space. Even individual social networks, such as Twitter, have hundreds of millions of new posts each day. Keeping track of who is saying what and where requires dedication and strategic planning.

However, this has become an essential part of managing the customer experience today. I agree with John Willmott’s view that this will start shaping many industries over the next year. Any executive planning how to manage their customers will already be exploring how to manage data analysis.

To get your own copy of the NOA Outsourcing Yearbook please click here. Leave a comment here or get in touch with me via my LinkedIn.

Data Center


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NOA Launches New Outsourcing Yearbook

Every year, the National Outsourcing Association (NOA) releases the Outsourcing Yearbook. The Yearbook features advice and best practice on outsourcing from end users, suppliers, consultants, advisers as well as independent experts.

The 2015 edition was just released and it features predictions on the year ahead in outsourcing from analysts including the NOA, A.T. Kearney, Gartner, NelsonHall and quocirca.

It’s fantastic to see the NOA listing their awards for 2014 in the introduction as well as Teleperformance won three of them from the NOA and European Outsourcing Association: European Outsourcing Service Provider of the year, Innovation in Pan-European Outsourcing, and Corporate Social Responsibility.

That’s quite a mix of awards in my opinion, not only the best provider in terms of service delivered, but also the most innovative, and the most concerned about CSR too!

The analyst predictions in this edition of the Outsourcing Yearbook include topics such as:

  • Outsourcing is now a proven delivery model
  • Outsourcing has become a part of the management toolkit
  • Analytics are becoming essential – experts are needed
  • Digital economy is changing how almost every industry operates
  • Automation increasing in areas such as customer service

These are all areas that we have explored here on the Teleperformance blog. We won that EOA award for innovation because of the excellent work our CX Lab does in Portugal, but I think you can see innovative thought echoed across the blogs that many of my colleagues produce, exploring where our own industry is heading.

In many cases, our comment and analysis of some of these areas of change stretches back many years. I recommend you take a look at some more of our blogs by clicking here, take a look at more information on the Teleperformance Customer Experience Lab here, and to download and read the NOA 2015 Outsourcing Yearbook click here.

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Data Analytics Is Essential in Retail Today

This post is by Liz Parry, Strategic Account Director at Teleperformance UK

In a Fortune Q&A this week the CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella, talked about some of the biggest trends in information technology at present – in particular the rising importance of ‘people analytics.’

Nadella is worth listening to. Microsoft is converting to be a very data-focused company and as Nadella points out, every company in every industry is now underpinned by the way they use technology.

These twin themes – the use of technology and the importance of data analytics – are becoming crucially important in retail today. Companies that previously would never previously have been considered hi-tech, are now exploring analytics, Big Data, and mining enormous sources of data in real-time.

But more importantly than this is how these technologies are being introduced into companies today. One of the key points Nadella makes when talking about these analytic technologies is that it is business line managers buying and using the technology. The IT department does not need to be involved in purchasing decisions that only involve software-as-a-service – solutions bought from the cloud.

In retail, all these changes can be seen happening at an extremely fast pace. Retailers need to engage with their customers and build a new model of customer loyalty that does not depend on plastic cards and points. This means they really need to know their customers preferences in detail.

The explosion in demand for omnichannel service, where the online offering blends with the in-store experience also means there is a more complicated management of stock data. With an increasingly complex internal management of stock coupled with customer demands to engage more across many channels it is no surprise that retails are exploring how to manage all this data.

The focus on data analytics is prescient. Every retailer needs to become adept at seeing customer trends and preferences inside an enormous fog of noise – the vast amount of data that is now generated from interactions and transactions.

Every company in every industry needs to learn how to do this well, but retail is ahead of the pack. Retail customers have already changed the way they want customer service to be provided across many channels. Retail customers have already demanded changes in the way they shop that have reshaped the supply chain. And retailers who want their customers to return and shop again need to understand their customers better.

Understanding data analytics should be at the top of the to do list for every retailer today – even if you think you are a retailer and not a technology company.

What’s your view? Leave a comment here or get in touch via my LinkedIn.

Data Center


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Game on! The Battle Over Content Is Heating Up

I blogged recently about the importance of content and how I believe that the Internet Service Providers need to concern themselves more with the quality of content they are offering than with incremental improvements in network quality. Customers today take the provision of the network as a given, so it’s great content that really makes individual companies stand out. Perhaps more than in any other sector, that means retaining customer value and loyalty on a significant scale.

In the past couple of weeks I have seen one news story or announcement after another that makes this a topic worth returning to:

  • Sky – have heavily pushed their Game of Thrones series, not just as a series that customers can watch when each episode is broadcast, but also offering the complete box-set for customers to stream.
  • Amazon – have pushed their new series ‘Outlander’ and customers using Amazon Prime can stream it free.
  • Netflix – are pushing their upcoming new series ‘Daredevil’ and advertising Virgin Media Broadband packages on their site.

We are really starting to see this space heat-up with millions being spent by companies looking to source and invest in the best content creators and talent available to attract and retain customers, and probably the same again on marketing. I know as much about when new dramas will launch for the competition as I do for my own provider such is the ubiquity of advertising. I’ve read all about ‘how real to life’ House of Cards is without ever watching it once – content itself is becoming the new celebrity. Some products remain premium (for example sport) and – at the moment – remain the preserve of Sky and BT Sports. Premier League football, for example, is getting better and better and therefore driving up the rights pricing and ultimately the cost to the subscriber.

It is difficult to replicate the Premier League football as a product, but you can target the Movie and Drama market where there is more room for creativity and attracting new subscribers. Sky has shown with the recent ‘Fortitude’ series that you can really hit the spot with quality content that appeals to a wide range of audiences – if you get the themes right. It looks like Amazon and Netflix see this as a strategy they should also be following, and with the launch of MyBBC this autumn to personalize content even Aunty is acknowledging that getting the customer/content paradigm right is key.

I can see a future where the price of ‘sports packages’ from Sky continue to go up but movie, arts, and drama packages come down as they face more competition on this genre from Netflix, Amazon, and anyone else moving seriously into the movie-streaming figure – including YouTube This is great news for film fans, but not so good for avid sports fans like me. I hope I’m wrong but expect to be justifying the rising cost of my Sports package to myself for many years to come while looking for savings on light and heating and bemoaning the introduction of water meters

Manchester City vs Liverpool


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