Payments… Just Make It Easy For The Customer!

Pay with Amazon. Are these words now going to rival Pay with Paypal or Pay with Apple? I think so – for Amazon and their 285m users to enter payments is a significant event. Amazon has shown through their growth that making the experience as simple and user-friendly as possible is critical to driving sales and basket-value.

Literally one-click, in many cases, and you are done.

That plays very much towards the time-poor but digital-savvy age we live in today. This news is not good news for other payment providers in my view. Amazon has ticked the box for user-experience and has developed a position of trust that your card details are stored securely in their systems. Being able to utilise the same system to pay for items at other merchant sites could see a rapid increase in Amazon-checkout related sales – to the detriment of other providers.

I remember years ago when Paypal was little known and simply the obvious payment option you used if you were an eBay member. Then they made it easier to integrate Paypal into non-ebay merchant sites. All of a sudden you did not have re-enter your Paypal details on a non-eBay site – and global research has shown that customers find it tiresome and off putting if forced to re-enter card details – particularly when in a rush.  If customers can take their Amazon experience with them, I foresee many merchants considering or eventually being forced to consider offering this payment option.

It sounds dramatic, but customers just want things to work simply and efficiently. If you give them a choice to choose a payment option they are already used to and that saves time, then why wouldn’t you?

Time will tell, but I suspect the Amazon payment effect could well be another positive disruption for the ecommerce space.

What do you think about Amazon entering the payments market? Leave a comment here or get in touch via my LinkedIn.
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Will Customer Expectations Drive Fintech Faster?

I have written several thoughts about the growth in importance of Fintech in recent months and especially how it is set to transform the entire retail banking industry. By designing new financial services from the ground up and placing the customer at the heart of the service many new companies are finding that they can gain market share just by focusing on the customer experience when planning a new service.

 Many in the banking industry are not just bracing themselves for the change that looks inevitable, but also for the rate of change. Banks, as we know them, evolved over hundreds of years, but the present wave of innovation will not require decades to change history – just a few years will be enough.

But could we reach a point where the Fintech revolution actually overtakes customer expectations?

Zopa is a great example of a successful Fintech who have achieved fantastic growth in recent times. They specialise in peer-to-peer lending and were founded just over a decade ago as a kind of eBay for money. Customers with cash to invest can expect better returns than banks offer and customers who want loans can expect lower rates than a bank loan – the system matches lenders to borrowers. Zopa had £5.4m of revenue in 2013, £11.4m in 2014, and over £21m last year – they are doubling every year.

According to The Millennial Disruption Index, 73 per cent of millennials would be more excited about a new offering in financial services from companies such as Google, Amazon, Apple, PayPal or Square than from their own bank. In fact, you don’t need to be a bank to offer financial services so long as you can convince regulators that you have enough cash to meet liabilities. Apple has over $200 billion in cash on their balance sheet just waiting to be invested somewhere. Are they leaving so much cash unused because they have plans to go deeper into the financial markets?

I think the evidence points towards a continued increase in the rise for Fintech and demand still remains ahead of supply.  This this is partly fuelled because of the Fintech players have a new approach to how customer service is organised which is creating additional demand.

Cost and service. They are the cornerstone of most purchasing decisions and particularly evident in the FS&I market so if you can design a service from the ground up with it generally focused around an app then it allows the luxury of designing service exactly how the customer expects. Usually this means that if the customer has a problem inside the app, they want help inside the app and would find it extremely irritating to have to leave an app, make a call, then try talking to an agent after returning to the app. Think carefully about how customers are using the service and exactly where they need support.

My view is that customers want a simple, easy life and Fintech will continue to drive customers to seek alternative solutions powered by modern technology and underwritten by simple effective service.  What is for sure is that our thinking on how to serve those customers also needs to innovate to keep customer relationships on track.

How is your organisation changing to meet the change in customer expectation and demand?

The BBA report ‘Banking – A World of Change’ in 2015 documents the changing behaviours of banking customers:

  • 6% decline in branch use in the past year
  • 3,200 people have now used the ‘Nationwide Now’ service with 94% of “Ninety-four per cent of customers say they are either very or extremely satisfied
  • 10.6 million banking app logins every day
  • 22.9 million banking apps downloaded
  • 43% decline in telephone contact to banks from 2008 to 2013

The evolution within Teleperformance has been significant and we’re happy to share our thinking on how to stay ahead. Leave a comment here or get in touch with me via my LinkedIn.

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Happy Staff Make Happy Customers

This post is by Sasha Jenkins, Business Development Director at Teleperformance UK.

The media has not been kind to Chief Executives recently, with a lot of discussion about corporate leaders who earn too much and deliver too little, but one quite different story just caught my eye. Henry Engelhardt, CEO of insurance group Admiral, is retiring at the end of this month. He founded Admiral back in 1991 and has seen the company grow from nothing to be valued at £5bn and a member of the FTSE100 index.

Mr Engelhardt wanted to say thank you personally to his entire team so when he retires he is giving a £1000 gift to all his employees. Admiral group employs 8,375 people so it is a thank you gift that will cost several million pounds from his own pocket.

This is indeed an “admirable” gesture, but it says a lot to me about the company ethics at Admiral. If the boss is prepared to make such an unusual and expensive gesture then those people must be working in a great team.

This is really important for anyone who is focused on the customer experience. If fixing customer problems gets your team really fired up then the customer will be able to detect that enthusiasm and will feel that they are really being looked after. If your team is just punching the clock and counting down the minutes until they can leave for home then the customer will almost certainly be able to detect that lack of interest in helping them.

I was with a client recently at one of our contact centres and the client expressed some surprise at how happy our team was. He actually said that he was surprised to see that when we made a point of mentioning this in our bid for the contract he didn’t really expect it to be quite so true.

But it should not be a surprise. In our industry people are the interface between customer and brand and they create the customer experience. If your people really don’t care about what they are doing then the customer is going to have a terrible experience. We take time and make sure that our team is looked after in many ways so this happy environment can be created.

The boss of Admiral is just doing the same – looking after his team because he knows that it is the people difference that drives service success.

What’s your view on how best to keep the team happy and focused on the customer? Leave a comment here or get in touch via my LinkedIn.
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Rail: Small Speed Increases Can Bring Big Changes For Customers

This post is by Sasha Jenkins, Business Development Director at Teleperformance UK.

What I find really interesting about the new Virgin Trains “Azuma” train from Hitachi is not so much that it can go faster than the existing rolling stock, but how much a small increase in speed can improve the service for customers.

The Azuma will not be in full service until 2018, but when it does it will be cruising at 125mph and able to get up to this speed a full minute faster than the existing trains. This small improvement makes a big difference to the service.

The London to Edinburgh journey time will be reduced by 20 minutes and London to Leeds will be a two-hour journey in total. Given how long it takes some commuters to just travel across London by tube it seems possibly easier to just live in Yorkshire and commute by rail!

The Azuma has the potential to travel much faster – at 140mph – although track improvements are required to facilitate this. Assuming the tracks can be improved there are many additional benefits that customers might see in addition to just faster journey times.

The existing service improvements will already increase the possibility for journey frequency, with the potential for 28% more capacity during peak times. In addition, because of the improved speeds it should be possible to serve additional stations such as Middlesbrough, Huddersfield, Harrogate, and Lincoln.

Virgin Trains has ordered 65 Azumas from Hitachi at a cost of £3.3bn showing a strong commitment to the improvement of the East Coast Mainline service. I think that with much of the debate around rail improvement in the UK focused on HS2 and HS3, and with little certainty around when these projects will be delivered, it is great to see projects that are measurably improving rail travel for customers.

Virgin Trains is demonstrating that even a small increase in performance can make a big difference for customers in the frequency of trains and number of stations served. It’s a real story of how a one-minute improvement in acceleration can dramatically improve the customer experience.

What do you think about the Azuma and the changes it can bring to the East Coast Mainline? Leave a comment here or get in touch via my LinkedIn.

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Moving Beyond the Customer Experience

Have we moved beyond the term CX to describe Customer Experience? I’m starting to think that 2016 is surely the last year when we can keep on talking credibly about CX without acknowledging how the interaction between brand and customer has really changed in the past few years.

McKinsey recently published a report focused on the customer journey that particularly emphasised how brands need to see the world as their customers do. In 2016 this should go without saying. The customer journey today is infinitely more complex than it used to be because customers now have access to the mobile Internet and social networks. This not only allows the customer far easier access to information on products, like competing prices and reviews, but allows the customer to contribute to the reviews and comments too. In addition, the customer is now defining when and how they contact a brand.

So the journey has not only become more complex, but the way that customers interact with brands has naturally changed as the way that people communicate has changed. The McKinsey analysis is a good start, because it talks about moving away from individual customer touch points and starting to consider the complete end-to-end customer journey, but I believe we need to think even bigger. After all, how do you define a complete end-to-end customer journey when some brands manage to create loyal customers for life? There is no end.

This is a much bigger change to the way that customer service is delivered than simply announcing the support for multiple channels. There is a fluidity in the behaviour of customers today that has never been seen before recent years therefore I believe that instead of focusing on customer experience alone it might be better to start considering how to make your brand customer-adaptable.

What do I mean by customer-adaptable?

Well, the biggest change in the past few years, particularly to the customer journey, has been that customers now set the rules for engagement. The customer will not search for your free telephone number or customer service email address if they have a preference to use a social network or chat for communication. They will just choose how they want to get in touch and when.

But this is really just the start. You don’t need to be a behavioural scientist or futurist to see that there are many other important trends changing how customers are served today.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is allowing contact centres to get smarter by directing real human agents to difficult problems and allowing software agents to manage all the repetitive questions. Combining this ability with the way that Artificial Intelligence is so rapidly improving and it surely cannot be long before the idea of an FAQ list (Frequently Asked Questions) that has to be manually searched will be archaic. The automated agents will have the knowledge of every question ever asked by customers and every possible solution and will learn as each new problem is resolved.

More intelligent insight into what customers need and want is also improving the way we interact because it allows problems to be resolved with more insight and can be combined with marketing initiatives. It has now become possible for brands to genuinely create a personalised offer for a single person because the company knows what that customer likes, when they like to buy it, and where.

We need to think more about this combination of intelligent service and serving the customer in ways that extend beyond just waiting for them to contact the brand with a problem. Brands are becoming more proactive and engaging with customers throughout the lifetime of their relationship so the customer contact mechanisms, the analytics and insight, and operational delivery of products is all changing as customer expectations change.

Exploring all of this change as a complete customer relationship strategy is where I believe we should be focused. Customer adaptability might be adopted throughout the industry, but whether it is or not, I think it certainly is time to move on from just talking about the customer experience.

What do you think about the continued use of CX to describe the customer and brand relationship? Do you agree that we need a more far-reaching way to describe the total relationship? Leave a comment here or get in touch via my LinkedIn.

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Will CX Become The Key Differentiator for UK Supermarkets?

This blog is by Phil Crossley, Business Development Director at Teleperformance UK.

Kantar Retail recently released their regular analysis of the UK supermarket sector, the latest research focused on Q1 2016. In terms of market share the big three are Tesco, Asda, and Sainsbury’s, but with the overall market growing 1.1% since last year the more interesting numbers are the market share trends.

The story over the past few years in UK supermarkets has been about the enormous growth of the discounters, especially Aldi and Lidl. Their limited range and strong focus on own-brand products struck fear into the traditional supermarkets and led to predictions of how they might sweep a big change throughout the industry.

Aldi and Lidl are both still growing strongly in the UK, 14.4% and 17.7% respectively last year, but I think it is interesting to observe that the decline of the big players has almost entirely stopped. Sainsbury’s grew 1.2% and the Tesco decline has slowed to just -0.2%.

On the BBC News recently, Fraser McKevitt from Kantar Retail said that he believes this is a significant change in the market because very few customers will use discount retailers for all of their shopping all of the time and the big traditional brands maintain a strong ‘big box’ pull factor.

The conclusion that I draw from the Kantar Retail analysis and the way the market trends are changing is that the customer experience in supermarkets is about to be seen as far more important than just the discounts available. Customers have already expressed a strong preference online for brands that offer a better service, but I fully expect this to now become more of a factor in-store too.

Sainsbury’s recently confirmed their purchase of the Home Retail Group, which includes Argos, a brand that has been extremely innovative in developing an omnichannel retail offer in the UK market. It’s my view that the application of this improved omnichannel customer experience to the big supermarket brands will allow them to start chipping away once again at the market share of the discounters.

The discount chains have yet to reach 10% of the overall supermarket business in the UK. If the big brands can now focus on developing the experience they offer to customers then it’s likely that the discount offer may well plateau as they start recovering.

What do you think about these developments in the UK supermarket sector and do you think that the customer experience can play a major role in changing loyalty to different brands? Leave a comment here or get in touch via my LinkedIn
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The ‘Uberfication’ of Financial Services

I recently attended the Marketforce 20:20 FS Customer Experience event and wrote about my initial reflections last week in my blog.  I wrote about the need for banks to change and become adopters of technology and new thinking and have since thought about how the speakers at the event surprised me in some ways but delighted in others!

For those of you who have followed my previous blogs (thanks very much J) you’ll know that I have already written about ‘uberfication’ within the financial services and contact experience management industries that the emergence of Fintech companies, solutions, apps and thinking is going to radicalise the market.

I went to the event with the preconceived idea that the general mood amongst some of the largest financial service organisations in the world would be fear and loathing underpinned with a perception that they don’t need to change as the Fintech revolution is actually just a fad. I was delighted to hear that I couldn’t have been more wrong as one speaker after another lauded the need to change to keep up with the industry. 

Some spoke eloquently about how they’ve pushed their organisation to understand just how important the view of the customer is, often using technology, and what will happen to your business if you don’t. ‘rant&rave’ were certainly as disruptive as they like to be stealing the show with a captivating view of how to get customer views and what to do with them!

Others spoke about the desire to become omni-channel but 96% of people polled thought it an impossible task without a complete overhaul of their business. An organisation like K2C is a great place to start for those who want to move to onmichannel but are daunted by the task – Teleperformance have a growing number of clients now realising the massive benefits from the supple console and choosing the modules that work best for them.

Manuela Pifani of DLG brought the challenge to like with a perfect ‘mixer tap’ analogy: Some customers like hot, some like cold, everyone changes their preferences and you need to be agile and flexible to mix the water just right for the here and now.

The most remarkable thought I’ve only just come to realise is the general acceptance that well-established FS&I organisations have accepted they can’t compete with all the niche providers, all the Fintech solution providers and the radical new thinking that exists in the market.  The common belief is that by being great at the simple traditional banking and insurance is the right strategy and who am I to disagree.

I was shocked that there was so little focus on people. Every solution to every rhetorical problem centred on solution integration or point solutions or an overhaul of technology and it’s not hard to see why. Technology does need to be the enabler to being the ‘mixer tap’ of customer experience – but without great people the water doesn’t flow.  Taking the uberfication example, it doesn’t work if your taxi driver doesn’t know where he is going!

If you want to see how Teleperformance people become enabled with technology, such as that provided by K2C, you need to get in touch so we can make it happen for you.

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