Scammers chasing customer data on social media

A recurring theme for everyone involved in managing the customer experience is how the number of channels used has dramatically increased in the past few years. Social networks and now mobile chat channels are increasing the ways that customers can interact with brands.

This creates a more convenient multichannel environment for customers where they can easily interact with brands in many different ways, but it also create opportunities for scams. Criminals can easily mirror branded social media channels and pretend to be helping a customer, though in reality they are just focused on accessing personal information.

I saw a recent example of this where the NatWest bank was targeted. Criminals created Twitter profiles that had believable names then populated the accounts with images and information from the real NatWest Twitter account. They made the account look as if it was authentic and really operated by the bank. They then searched for people who were asking the bank questions and answered, offering to help.

Naturally many customers would respond and would feel confident that the bank was being proactive and helpful when asking the customer to switch over to private messages. Then the operators of the rogue account would ask the customer for personal information about their account on the pretext that it is required to clear security.

It’s not just banks that have been targeted, both Apple and Amazon users have recently been targeted by text messages that asked them to enter their login details. Many of these attempts to solicit information are highly professional and look exactly as they would from the real organisation.

Customers have started expecting a more engaging relationship with brands. They are messaging brands and expecting a reply. They are delighted when brands proactively send useful messages and participate in discussions. People now have a greater expectation that brands will message them now and again and if the message says something like “we are contacting you because of a possible security breach – click here to confirm your details so you can remain safe” then is it a surprise that some people are caught out?

It’s up to the big brands to protect their customer networks, but they also need to educate their customers. It’s one thing to chat with customers on Twitter, but brands need to establish ground rules and make them known – such as we will NEVER ask for your personal details on Twitter. They need to make it clear so that customers can be suspicious of fraud more easily, but can still enjoy the engagement they want with the real brand.

What do you think about the dangers for customers in a multichannel environment? Leave a comment here or get in touch via my LinkedIn.

Danger Robot//

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How Do Customers Really Want To Consume Content?

The BBC recently launched a new app called BBC+. It aims to roll together a variety of BBC content all into one place, but some analysts are suggesting that many people are suffering app fatigue.

Commenting on the BBC+ app, Paolo Pescatore, from the CCS Insight consultancy said: “This follows a growing trend to have a super app which is a one-stop destination for a broad range of content and services, but the BBC, like others, needs to be very careful it does not overwhelm its customers with too many apps.” Pescatore added: “Research has shown that there is growing ‘app-athy’ amongst consumers who can’t cope with the sheer number of apps they end up with on their phones.”

I like that – app-athy. It certainly describes how I use my own phone. There are apps that I use on daily basis, some that I use occasionally, and some that are almost never used. Often I find that I can’t even delete these ones, even though I never use them.

But the important point here is about how people are consuming content. I have written many times that content will drive the strategy of many ISPs and it cannot be denied that it is now an extremely important component of what many companies are delivering. Look at how Netflix suffered a knock to their share price in July even though they reported solid revenue and profit figures, but subscription numbers are growing slower than expected.

I like the content produced by the BBC, but I’m not sure that I would naturally want it all to be in one place. I have the BBC Sport app, the BBC radio app, and the BBC iPlayer app. They have a distinct and clear purpose and I’m happy going to the sport app when I want to see some team results, or the radio app when I want to stream live audio. It might sound great in theory to bundle everything together, but will it feel natural for the customer?

After all, that’s what content producers need to manage. How do customers relate to their content and how do they want to consume it? If that great idea from the boardroom does not work when people are using their phone on a train on the way to work then it’s doomed to failure. Guessing customer behaviour has never been more complex!
iPlayer on iPhone 3G//

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Invest in CX To Keep The Customers You Already Have

The industry analyst Gartner says that, based on their research, the customer experience (CX) is now the top priority for 89% of business executives. As I wrote in one of my recent blogs, there is research that shows this focus is good for business. Improving your CX directly leads to an increase in revenue regardless of the type of business you are running, but CX investment can also be a defensive strategy too.

What do I mean? Well any manager asking for budget for a project usually has to demonstrate a Return on Investment (ROI). If we invest X in the plan, then we will get Y within Z months – this basic formula allows business decisions to be undertaken. Sometimes the outcome is a reduction in cost, sometimes it may be that the investment will increase revenue, but sometimes a defensive investment is needed because the cost of not investing is what is a danger for the business.

The IT Company Vision Critical found that if a customer has just two bad experiences with a single brand then almost half (42%) of those customers would never use that brand again. Think about this. Customers want their experience with your brand to be great. Let them down just a couple of times and you will never get any business from them again.

While investment in CX to boost your revenue sounds more exciting, it is this defensive investment that can be even more important. It’s hard to find new customers so you need to ensure the ones you already have are well looked after and are not boycotting your brand just because of bad experiences.

This is all complicated by the fact that customer expectations are evolving. Not only do customers have a more sophisticated view of the service they expect, channels available, times to respond, and so on, but also there is an evolving change in how customers relate to brands. Engagement is less transactional and more focused on a continued relationship that builds slowly over time, but can be quickly ruined by poor experiences.

If you thought the recent data I shared on how valuable CX investment can be for your revenue was interesting then I believe this need to look after the customers you already have is equally important and needs to be on the board agenda.

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50,000 Volunteers Will Create A Fantastic Customer Experience At Rio 2016

This week sees the launch of the Rio 2016 Olympic games. As with any Olympic games there has been the usual frenzy of activity in the lead up to the event with the organisers rushing to be ready on time as protesters argue that the money would have been better spent elsewhere. Of course, none of this is new and unique just for Rio – I saw similar complaints just before every Olympic games I can remember.

One thing I have noticed about the Rio games though is that the role of the volunteers has been taken more seriously than ever before. In London the volunteer “games makers” were such a success and transformed the experience of being at the events, or even just using public transport, in London when the 2012 games were taking place.

It seems the Rio organisers have taken that message on board. They have recruited over 50,000 volunteers to flood Rio with helpful smiling faces during the competition, which initially runs from August 5th to 21st and will then be followed by the Paralympics.

I think it’s a smart move. The London Olympics showed that by flooding the city with knowledgeable and skilled volunteers for the duration of the games many problems can be resolved. Fans are directed to the right place, questions about events are answered, and the wheels of the games are oiled entirely by volunteers.

One potential problem in Rio could be the Portuguese language – it’s not commonly learned by foreigners and, according to the British Council, fewer than 5% of Brazilians can use English. The Rio Olympic organisers have taken this on board though by ensuring that over 20% of the volunteers will be from outside Brazil and all volunteers (even the locals) need to be able to use English so fans from all over the world should be able to get help from the Rio volunteers even if they cannot communicate with many other Brazilians.

I saw some analysis by Skift recently that warned Olympic tourists to ensure they have translation apps loaded on their phone because of these language issues in Brazil. However, it seemed to me to be a little too alarmist. All the Olympic posters and information I have seen posted online are in English and Portuguese – I’m sure the tourist hotels will have no trouble managing foreigners.

Even more than the London games, the power of social media, smart mobile devices and apps will be central to customer experience at this event. It will be fascinating to monitor the social media buzz this year and I very much look forward to poring over the social media analytics in real time. Perhaps the only trouble will come when ordering dinner, but then it’s always an adventure trying to order from a menu you can’t read!

The Rio 2016 organisers appear to have taken a long time thinking about the skills their 50,000 volunteers will need. Forgive me for getting excited about the benefits of selecting and recruiting the right people with the right skills and experience at the right time! It’s part of the job, and I’ve no doubt the volunteers in Brazil are going to create a fantastic customer experience for visitors to Rio over the next few weeks. It’s great to see some lessons taken from the London games and applied in Brazil – let’s hope the games are as fantastic as always. Brazilians know how to throw a great party so the launch on Friday night (the football actually starts today) should be spectacular!
Sunrise - Botafogo / Sugar Loaf//

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CX: Trends On The Road to 2020

This is the first blog I have written in my new role as the CEO of Teleperformance UK and South Africa. I’m pleased to be taking over this leadership position at such an interesting time for anyone working in the area of delivering great customer experiences.

I believe the entire industry is now at an inflection point. Over the past half-decade the customer journey has dramatically changed. Customers started taking control of when they wanted service and how they wanted it to be delivered.

This decade has seen customer service move from a largely voice and email-based function to a multichannel environment where agents need expertise in social networking and marketing disciplines too. Improving the customer experience (CX) has become the number one priority for executives globally and as I wrote in my last blog there is a good reason for it – a better CX leads to better company performance.

But now this multichannel environment has become normalised. Which airline is not answering tweets and which hotel chain is not checking their reviews on Tripadvisor? We have quickly moved on from social interactions being innovative to being normal and expected.

The challenge today for most brands over the remaining period of this decade will fall largely within three areas in my opinion:

  • Omnichannel; some customers are now finding that they prefer the online experience to shopping in-store. Online stores know the likes and dislikes of the customer. They can make great recommendations and offer deals that are relevant. Contrast that to walking into a busy store on a Saturday afternoon and expecting one-on-one service from an assistant who knows what you like and is authorised to offer you deals designed just for you. Making the experience as good in-store as online is a really important target for many brands today and comprises the customer journey, loyalty, and payment systems.
  • Augmented Reality; until recently this was seen as a technology that had little purpose, but now the global Pokémon Go phenomenon has shown that people will embrace this mix of real and virtual if they can see a purpose. McDonald’s is supporting the roll-out of Pokémon Go in Japan and no doubt they will see an enormous boost as gamers visit their restaurants looking to ‘catch ‘em all’, but there are huge opportunities for brands now that people are getting familiar with the technology.
  • Virtual Reality; another technology that has been seen as something we only need to worry about in future, but this year Sony will release their new VR-ready Playstation and early next year Microsoft will release their VR-ready Xbox. That puts VR systems in the homes of millions of people using familiar technology systems. Customers are going to expect a VR experience from some brands before they are ready to deliver it.

Of course the changing customer journey is having a big influence on the way that customers relate to brands. There is a focus on developing a long-term relationship that actually involves engagement now – and not always directly connected to a sale.  But I think that in general, these next few years are going to be as disruptive for brands trying to manage the customer experience as the past 5 or 6 years was, when they all had to learn quickly about multichannel service.

Customers will no longer accept engagement, or just contact, as enough – they are going to want to be able to experience the brand, taking the customer journey to a whole new level. It’s an exciting time to be involved in planning the customer experience at all the fantastic clients Teleperformance works with and I’m excited about embracing this challenge!

What do you think are the key CX trends to watch out for in the remaining part of this decade? Leave a comment here or get in touch via my LinkedIn Profile here.
Pikachu Parade//

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Pokémon Go: How VR And AR Can Transform The Customer Experience

I’m unsure how many of my LinkedIn network have played ‘Pokémon Go’ since the craze went ballistic last week (taking Nintendo’s share price up by 53%) but if my network is representative of the modern gamer then many of you will have played.

But I wonder how many people would admit to having played, for regardless of one’s candour on the matter it’s impossible to deny that Augmented Reality (AR) will now be seen as a credible theatre for other organisations to play games, communicate and experiment.

Why not experiment with AR to enhance your customer experience eco-system? It might sound unusual, but so does the idea that hundreds of people would run into a highway to stop speeding traffic to collect an imaginary Pokémon character.

Nintendo’s share price had hovered around 15,000 JPY since January, but today was trading at 28,000 JPY, which underlines the power of new realities and the rewards on offer for early adopters.

What is absolutely certain is that the seamless deployment of AR is possible because of an app on a smart device. Even if you don’t have AR in your business plan you’re losing touch with reality if you haven’t figured out how to provide customers with the kind of app that puts them in control of how they interact with you. Our recent White Paper on WhatsApp and how customers love to speak to you through an app that’s familiar to them is a must read for anyone who’s interested in ensuring you’re driving advocacy and loyalty simply because you’re easy to speak with.

Augmented reality is a blending of Virtual Reality and real life, as developers can create images within applications that blend in with content from the real world. Virtual Reality is the foundation needed to layer in Augmented Reality so it is an essential element that must first be mastered.

As companies like eBay begin to explore Virtual Reality for richer customer engagement, how will customer expectations of the brand evolve and what will be the impact on CX management? Originally developed for ‘Second Life’ gaming environments, by bridging the gap between the online and in-store retail experience that is currently available, Virtual Reality has the potential to increase ecommerce revenue and deliver a pseudo-real experience. Will customer contact environments of the future include ‘virtual’ customer service advisors who can provide support inside VR simulations?

This week Teleperformance will host an exclusive round-table group discussion to explore:

  • Who are the companies exploring the use of VR to gain ‘first mover advantage’?
  • What is the difference between augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR)?
  • Is there the real possibility of providing customer service in a VR customer experience environment?

To receive a copy of the discussion notes OR to be included in future Teleperformance thought-leadership events, why not get in touch with me by sending a message on LinkedIn?

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An Improved Customer Experience Drives Revenue Growth

For years I have talked to companies about the value of improving how they manage customer service. Back in the days when contact centres were just considered to be necessary cost, it became clear that agents could up-sell and cross-sell during service interactions. Suddenly the contact centre became more strategic and could generate revenue.

Now that customer interactions take place across many more channels and at many more places in the customer journey, there are far more opportunities to have a direct influence on revenue. I have often argued that customer service and marketing teams need to merge because the management of the customer relationship should be the number one priority of any executive.

But it’s not just me saying this – certainly not today at least. The analyst firm Ovum identified back in 2014 that managing the customer experience has become the single most important priority for executives today. That includes other more traditional priorities, such as reducing business costs.

But the really important drive has been to find hard evidence to support these views. We know that there is a positive customer reaction if their experience is better, but how much is that actually worth? How much can you afford to spend improving the customer experience?

New research from Forrester answers these questions and the headline is that if you improve the customer experience then your revenue will go up. The Forrester research analysed pairs of companies in the same industry – one of them scoring high on the Forrester Customer Experience Index and one with a much lower score. Then they gathered the financial data for these companies.

Across all industries the results are stark. The companies that focus on improving their customer experience enjoyed a Compounded Average Growth Rate (CAGR) of 17%. The ones with less of a CX focus grew 3%. In retail there was a 26% difference and cable companies saw a 24% difference.

Forrester admit that although there is a correlation between companies that are growing their revenue faster and investing in CX, they cannot really prove that it is the CX investment causing the high performance. However, explaining this Forrester analyst Harley Manning says: “Customers who have a better experience with a company say they’re less likely to stop doing business with the company and more likely to recommend it. Both of those factors should drive increased growth in customers and, in turn, increased growth of customer revenue.”

I think this Forrester research is an important contribution to the CX debate. Being able to use data to draw a line that shows how investment in CX creates improved revenue is powerful for any executive planning to launch an improvement in their CX – these are investments that can pay for themselves by growing the business.

What do you think about this Forrester analysis and the need for CX investment? Leave a comment here or get in touch here via my LinkedIn.
Numbers And Finance//

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