DMA | Article | Regulation Hub Update

February 28, 2018

The Direct Marketing Association offering lobbying, events, research, and development. Includes membership directory, representing the DM industry.


Great update from DMA on regulations affecting customer contact. The ICO have been busy fining people for unconsented use of data. More to come no doubt…

The end of asking for the bill

February 28, 2018

Diners can leave a restaurant and their bill is paid automatically via an app, in a Barclaycard trial.


Nice payment innovation to reduce customer effort in restaurants

The Customer Experience Million Dollar Question: Will my customer come back?

February 27, 2018

I make no secret of my love for all things culinary. In fact, if I did not also have a passion for running, I would quite literally be the size of a rather large house! Like everything else we do as human beings, the ‘eating out’ experience is made up of several stages and touch …


Nice article from Ian, reminding us that the experience is vital in restaurants. Our survey solution can even help you ask the $1M question!

Facebook’s Virtual Assistant M Is Dead. So Are Chatbots

January 15, 2018

Facebook’s M once heralded the possibilities of chatbots. Its demise highlights the technology’s limitations.


This article suggests chatbots are dead. What it actually shows is that all virtual assistants have limitations and require escalation to and/or human support when computer says no!

Linkedin Publishing

March 30, 2017


LExit surprisingly similar to Brexit Issues – Recent article on Legacy Systems

Robots and People both Electric?

September 14, 2016

Insight into Human interface design for Robotics


Wally Brill’s great take on the interactive assistant of the future. Great Video Insight!

Twilio study: most consumers now want to use messaging to interact with businesses

September 13, 2016

Twilio, the developer-centric communications platform that successfully IPOed earlier this year, published a new study today about how consumers want to use..


Consumers want to use messaging for customer service. @ we can – can you? 

Santa’s Little Helper – Is he here yet?

December 8, 2014

Lack of Courtesy and Convenience in Home Delivery and Home Services causes huge consumer anxiety, costs £Bns and is entirely avoidable

Waiting in causes anxiety and wastes valuable time

santas little helperAs a consumer, waiting in for something or someone important can be extremely anxious, let alone inconvenient and a massive waste of time. And at Xmas, that anxiety only gets bigger. You’ve got a time slot but have no idea whether they are really going to turn up within this time or at all. It’s your mobile phone, the present for your son, its the man to fix the boiler or even your health worker.

missed orderYou get to the point where you wonder whether or not you should risk going to the toilet or even putting the washing out in the back garden, or popping out for 5 mins to get the milk you’ve just run out of? Only to frustratingly to find that card on the doormat. Arrgh!!!

You’re being processed, not cared for

What’s worse is when you realise that a friend just wouldn’t do that to you. They might tell you they’ll come in the afternoon, but they’d have the courtesy to text or call on the way and tell you if they were running late, or “I’ll be with you in 10mins”.

And you’d have the confidence to text back and say “just popping out back in 5”. And if something unexpected happens they wouldn’t just leave you there waiting, they’d let you know. If they can do it why can’t large organisations?

And this drives consumer contact

Anxious consumers want help and reassurance that you’re coming. If you can find a number they will call and these ratios range from as little as 1 in 20 to 1 to 1 Contacts/Order. (Source: H2X Client experience). Obviously in a range from £1-2/contact that’s a significant additional burden. The ratio is highly dependent upon the quality of the communication process, the reliability of the delivery service and whether a number is available. At Carpeo, where we help organisations improve this contact process, we know, the call peak that comes around 5 and 6pm (called WISMO or WISME in the industry – Where is my Order/Engineer) from anxious consumers calling to ask if (s)he’s still coming is significant. I’ve seen many customers call in 6 times in the same day to be absolutely sure the item really was coming.

Hiding behind poor self-serve solutions doesn’t cut it

consumer rageMany default to automated IVR and online tracking solutions, which can be helpful and convenient. However, often these don’t give the real-time information or communication options required to give the reassurance consumers are looking for. Often only confirming information already provided, even when it’s patently obvious at 1pm that the thing isn’t coming between 10am and 12pm!

Where possible, Consumers vote with their feet

This drives further frustration and when it gets too much consumers choose to buy elsewhere. In a recent study, 50% of consumers admitted to abandoning shopping carts because of the lack of convenient delivery options. (E-Consultancy)In all research I’ve ever seen tighter time slots are attractive to consumers, so long as it doesn’t come at a cost. And if it’s important, some consumers are willing to pay extra. Across all categories, the Grocery Retailers, led by Ocado, with one hour time slots and good real-time communications are leading the way and setting consumer expectations.

Its costing businesses £Bn’s

value of failed deliveryThis is costing a fortune. A 2010 IMRG Study showed the overall cost for E-Commerce alone was over £1Bn and the average cost to a business is £1.45/transaction.

Organisations are Responding

Delivery Convenience is a key battleground for E-Commerce providers. More convenient delivery solutions are being provided. The popularity and increasing provision of click and collect services from the likes of John Lewis or Collect+ are examples. Another response is the provision of evening and Weekend delivery options. Other providers in larger items like and ArrowXL are offering next day delivery.

Couldn’t Care less?

Few delivery companies offer real-time communication updates and solutions. Some home service businesses do call ahead to say “I’m coming”. But what the consumer really wants is a half-hour time slot and real-time updates. Conventional wisdom from operators would be to say that this is impossible. But with modern mobile technology, capable of providing real-time updates of field progress, such solutions can be provided simply and cost-effectively without breaking the operation. And generally, it can be bolted onto existing systems, so a huge IT project is not required. tPoint’s, Smart Contact Platform is one such solution. Its Ding, Ding, Dong solution can provide real-time communication updates to and from consumers, contact centres and engineers/drivers seamlessly via an app, a mobile website, e-mail or text to suit the consumer’s preference, without additional time and effort. Brands using it show they care.

Customer Care Pays Off

Those that adopt this technology and become more convenient and courteous are highly likely to win and retain business, reduce failure rates and cancellations and improve profitability. These days technology and operations aren’t the barrier. Don’t all of us prefer to interact with people that care rather than those that couldn’t care less?

Field of Omni-Channel Dreams or Catch-22?

October 15, 2013

Field of Omni-Channel Dreams or Catch-22?

What Film does your Omni-Channel Customer Journey resemble? Is it beautifully consistent with seamless scene changes or flawed, clunky and badly cut? And is the editing process and your improvement journey going as fast as your consumers want and your business needs?

field of dreams

If you build it he will come” – was the calling in the famous Kevin Coster Film, Field of Dreams, where he built the Baseball field and against all odds… he and they all came. The same calling is true for enlightened professionals for omni-channel. Unfortunately organisations just don’t work that way. Although every marketer and service person knows that delivering an omni-channel sales and service facility will increase engagement, reduce customer effort and increase sales, exactly how and where is difficult to put your finger on.

Catch 22: What came first the Chicken or the Egg?

The Omni-channel business case or the capability?

The Omni-channel business case or the capability?

In our 15 year experience of building more relevant contact strategies that have delivered £10Ms of value for our blue-chip clients, we’ve constantly come up against the Chicken and Egg conundrum.

It took two years for one client to roll-out a change to their SME contact strategy that uplifted revenue by 35%. Why?

When IT roadmaps are already full you get the run around. Prove the business case, tell us exactly what components you need that we don’t already have on our plan and then we’ll build it. At best, good discipline that ensures you don’t build a Single View of the Customer £Multi-M White Elephant. At worst, delaying tactics, because its too difficult and we’ve already got more than enough to do. Even if you can point to others that are benefitting, will we get that benefit? How can you be sure?

Until you build it you don’t know and until you can prove its worth it you can’t build it! Aarghhhh!

Assuming you could get a “skunk works” project up and running to prove the case, you’ll then run into the secnd barrier, which is people. We’re too busy doing what we’re currently doing (chasing existing targets) to disrupt that and try something new. Catch 22.

Moving On…

As I said on a Directors Club Omin-channel Webinar when interviewed by Jon Snow the other day, one of the ways to break this is to incubate these new strategies. Either in-house, with a separate team, or outside the corporate barriers entirely.

To do this, you need three things:
– Be clear where the value lies
– Have an ability to create a virtual single view and add in channels
– Incubate it with people and technology where you can control, test and learn

Show me the Money

At HOWTOEXPERIENCE we have a rapid approach that looks at the maturity or sophistication of contact across the customer lifecycle (from Finding, Getting, Joining, Using, Leaving, & Managing Events). We look at it entirely or focus on a specific part where you believe there’s pain and opportunity. Identifying your Omni-channel opportunity. Delivering three quick things that will make a difference immediately and three medium term areas where

with new capability you’ll make a step change. We put numbers on this backed up by external benchmarks to show the scale of the return. You use this to get everyone excited and signed up to the plan.

Mary Poppins had a Magic Carpet Bag…

Mary Poppins Magic Carpet Bag

Mary Poppins Magic Carpet Bag

We’ve got a Contact Innovation Centre in Swindon ( full of talented bright people, backed by a highly agile multi-channel real-time contact engine that can be set up very quickly ( It’s a way to isolate your omni-channel opportunities, test them and evaluate the returns, without disrupting business as usual. We think that’s unique.

Once you know what works and by how much you can take the real results into your business and accelerate those items that make the biggest difference. Gaining traction and pull. Confidently scaling and rolling out, whilst working on the next set of ideas.

The Journey to Omni-channel reality

It’s rare that you’ll make this omni-channel dream a reality overnight. It needs significant IT, data and organisational change, which will be the subject of a later article. On the webinar, I explained that it’s a journey to omni-channel. You just need to start taking the first few steps in the right direction. Joining the key channels together at the key moments, rather than trying to do it all at once. Building confidence from small but sure and rewarding first steps.

You can undoubtedly find many significant opportunities by looking at your customer journey maps. That said there are few areas where we always look first and more often than not, find opportunity.

Finding – The consumer and client buying journey is much more complicated with ¾ of customers using at least 2 or more channels. In a mobile phones company, when we looked at the purchase journey we found a 30:1 ROI in capturing leads better and integrating follow up across face to face, web and mobile channels.

Joining – One of the most formative and yet complicated times in the life of a customer with you, where customers experience up to 70% of all the interactions they might have with you. At American Express, when we streamlined this it uplifted revenue 19%. They won CRM strategy of the Year.

Servicing – With ArrowXL, the UK’s largest 2-man multi-brand delivery business, integrating channels and shifting focus from reactive service to proactive service is reducing cost to serve by 50% and leading to improved customer satisfaction. We wish them luck – they are a finalists in the multi-channel category in this week’s customer experience awards.

Retaining – Picking up Defection Triggers in Social, Operational and feedback channels and then acting upon them can have a significant impact on reputation, prevent escalation and improve retention. We’ve seen multi-point improvements in retention rate.

Turn your Field of Dreams into a Reality by identifying and incubating your Omni-Channel Eggs!

If you’d like more on how to do this, please contact David Williams –

If you’re a pioneer – where have you found most benefit and what other hints can you give others on barriers and how to overcome them? We welcome your contribution to the conversation.

About the Author

David Williams built the world’s largest customer Management benchmarking database and sold it to the WPP Group. Since then he continues his practical customer focussed consulting work at HOWTOEXPERIENCE and also sits on board of Carpeo an outsourced contact innovation centre that focussed on delivering added value customer contact and tPoint Solutions – a leading cloud-based Smart Contact Platform.

Happy New Year? Key Customer Themes for 2013

December 31, 2012

As we leave 2012 and enter 2013 I wanted to write a quick note to thank all our clients and friends for entrusting us with some fantastic challenges in 2012 and to look forward to what 2013 might hold in store.

In Summary, we believe 2013 will be characterised by Smarter Professional Contact Value with ‘MMFF. Let me explain…

Smarter Technology leading to breakthrough consumer and business applications

Pervasive Internet, wealth of Smart Devices with standardised protocols, intuitive applications and cheap sensor technology are leading to many disruptive business models and propositions. In particular, we enjoyed seeing the launch of the Smart Homes propositions, as featured in British Gas’ TV brand re-launch. We were fortunate to help Dan Taylor, Gayle Terry and teams with Customer Experience Design, Operating Model definition and go to market planning.

Customer Value vital for brands and their customers

A key theme for 2012 was and will continue in 2013 to be Customer Value. What will differentiate brands in the long run will be whether they choose to get it FROM or create it WITH customers. (See Show Me the Money article). This was best exemplified in our work with Moneycorp’s Corporate Business team (thanks to Mark Horgan and team, who have a compelling FX proposition for consumers, SME’s & Corporates). Everyone should have a customer value waterfall. No matter how well managed, there’s always opportunity by focusing on the drivers of customer value exchange and how brands find, keep, grow and manage their customers. This theme was continued at ECEW, where we facilitated the Financial Benefits Workstream. Notable was Peter Sinden’s LV= presentation. It reminded us that significant value can be attained if you focus on service delivery and fix the people side of the business.  Thank you Maggie Wheeler for putting together a great conference, we look forward to ECEW 2013!

Customers getting Smarter than organisations

We wrote our key white paper of 2012 on this theme, it has significant implications for organisations. Our paper set out 16 key CEM disciplines required for the Smart Organisation to systematically deliver customer value. We set up a benchmarking capability to help organisations understand their capability, gaps against the 16 disciplines and systematically improve. If you missed it see our CE benchmarking Guide for sources of CE benchmarks.

I’ve challenged a number of executives in 2012 to think what they would do if their customer service policy manuals were published (as it won’t be long before consumers do!). This was no better brought to life at ECEW than by Dave Carroll, with his “United Breaks Guitars” story. Much froth has been written about social media in 2012. 2013 will see organsations start to embrace it and embed it proactively throughout the customer lifecycle. Consumer power was seen towards the end of 2012 in the boycott of Starbucks regarding fair tax. Brand Trust and Reputation are everything in this connected world and we’ll continue to see major brands re-habilitate themselves with extensive corporate and social responsibility programmes in 2013.

Multi-channel Contact drives change

Contact channels, useage and attitudes are shifting significantly. Be in no doubt, the multi-channel world is here. Customers will demand joined up treatments or take advantage of arbitrage opportunities. That combined with pressures to reduce costs will put organisation structures under pressure and demand joined up treatments and understanding. Continued focus on effective automation for transactions will be combined with the contrasting need to manage increased complexity and added value contact. On a personal note, it was gratifying to rapidly set up and deliver new contact channels in 2012 for a number of clients including Yodel, our thanks to Nicola Collister and team for their support. We utilised the highly agile multi-channel tPoint platform and the Contact Innovation Delivery facility in Swindon with Carpeo to set these up in weeks. There is enormous value to be delivered from adjusting and delivering revised contact strategies. 2013 will be the year to improve this and we hope our end to end incubation service will play a key part in enabling more new ideas to be tested.

Customer Experience gets Professional

In 2012, the CXPA was established to give Customer Experience Professionals a home. As Customer Experience moves through the hype curve from early adoption to mainstream, more and more organisations are establishing programmes and teams to get it done. Customer Experience has moved from being something everyone talks about to a discipline many are trying to embed.

In 2012, we established the HOWTOEXPERIENCE Academy. Set up to deliver CEM Training and tools around the 16 disciplines smart organisation framework. Its for CE professionals and provides recognition through accreditation for Customer Journey Mapping. I didn’t quite manage to publish the book (again!) but we did embed the leading edge methodologies and know how into our licensable CE Toolkit, X-ccelerator.  It’s the most comprehensive online CE toolkit that accelerates customer experience improvement. It offers everything from Benchmarking, Customer Journey Mapping to CE Dashboards and Programme Mgt to assure improvement delivery. All backed by an extensive CE knowledge base. It reinforces our commitment to work WITH organisations, up-skill individuals and deliver sustainable improvement in CEM capability. It will be our major focus in 2013.

And what can you expect from HOWTOEXPERIENCE?

We’ll be continuing to “Give it ‘MMFF” (Meaningful, Memorable, Financial and Fun)

This defines the experience we try to deliver at HOWTOEXPERIENCE. Nowhere better exemplified than the work we did throughout 2012 with the Vodafone Top 250 Leaders. We delivered a series of Customer Experience Safari’s that helped them ground the Vodafone Way and define their version of an unbeatable customer experience. Our thanks to Julia Jack and Emmanuel Gobillot. We’ll introduce an open Safari programme for others in 2013.

We’ll also re-establish the HOWTOEXPERIENCE Networking Events. I’m interested in clients who are willing to host, so we add more value to them. First one will be 13th Feb focussed on Customer Experience Improvement. Please get in touch if you’re interested. We’ll be doing our upmost to maintain our own 100% Client Net Promoter Score!

All in all, 2013 the year for Smarter Professional Contact Value with ‘MMFF!

Look forward to engaging with you during 2013. We hope that’s it’s a happy and prosperous New Year for you, your customers and shareholders.

David Williams

PS If you need some suggested New Year’s Resolutions – you’ll find them here!

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