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Brandwave-logo-6.png |The New Service Model | Oct 18
30.10.2018
For consumers the future of customer service cannot come soon enough. The customer experience landscape is ripe for disruption. Companies are slowly making progress toward more seamless and simpler customer experiences.
Today only a select few companies leverage all the technology at their fingertips to enable customers to use the technology they use daily in their personal lives when dealing with the brand. A company on the forefront includes Amazon. Amazon has made progress building a compelling customer journey. It's not just the vast and efficient marketplace they've built--Amazon is innovating on all sides of the consumer equation. They have connected their Amazon virtual assistant the Echo (affectionately called Alexa) with purchases customers make. A customer can order more of a product by just verbally asking the Amazon Echo for it. Want to know how many grams in a kilo? Ask Alexa. Want to play your Spotify list in your kitchen? Alexa will gladly do that for you. Outside of technology innovation, Amazon has the most hassle-free customer service and return process I have seen. Another great company is Sephora. Sephora is using messenger apps like Kik to provide personalized content and buyer experiences to customers. They seek to create interactions that feel tailored to the customer, and one on one. Most companies still haven’t mastered social media, yet alone mobile messaging.

Today the technology for most customer service operations is still not savvy enough for customers to avoid the burden of the old phone call. Customers prefer self-service, but will call when it’s a more complicated matter says Kate Leggett, Analyst at Forrester. That includes account closure or booking a complex airline ticket with multi-city travel. It’s only a matter of time until the game changes entirely because of improved technology. Let's face it, the younger generations do not want to call brands--and those younger generations will soon be the bulk of your customers (not to be morbid or anything, but it's the truth). We’re at an awkward inflection point where some companies are doing an amazing job of being on the forefront of customer experience technology, and others are still struggling with the basics. In the future customer experiences will be much more simple. I have created an infographic with nine predictions for you on the future of technology versus the past (and where most of our brands are still today). Please see the infographic below and feel free to share the image.


Prediction #1: Technology Makes Experience Better

For the consumer it can feel like the brand is hiding behind bad customer service technology. Examples? On the phone tree pressing zero does nothing—there is no human to save you from the bad interactive voice response system. Even though it’s 2016 sometimes customer service technology makes things worse.
In a recent article in CIO Magazine an Accenture study was highlighted. Conducted with over 25,000 consumers, it became clear that "Companies have lost sight of the importance of human interaction and often make it too difficult for consumers to get the right level of help and service that they need," says Robert Wollan, a senior managing director at Accenture Strategy.


Prediction #2: Customer Service Is Open 24/7

Customer problems do not only happen five days a week eight hours a day. We live in the global economy where companies must serve customers during many time zones. At the same time customers expect fast responses at night and on weekends. According to influencer and author Jay Baer, 32% of consumers expect a response within 30 minutes through social media channels.

The same report found 57% of consumers expect the same response time at night and on weekends as during normal business hours. Companies tomorrow must operate in a 24/7 world. Otherwise they risk losing business.


Prediction #3: Customer Is In Control Of Where Interaction Happens

Remember when everyone was talking about how brands have lost control? It was kind of a big deal. Brands felt nervous about how customers now controlled the conversation. Social media turned everything on its head. Customer service became part of many very public conversations. This was great for the contact center, it catapulted this department into the limelight, giving more responsibility to knowledgeable employees—improving customer service’s relationship with marketing. However, brands took their strategies and attitudes about customer service and continued to try to control the conversation on social media. We set up customer service outposts on social media. For example on Twitter, along with the main brand’s Twitter account, we set up customer service  Twitter accounts. If the brand is @XYZ on Twitter the help account would be @XYZ_help. Many Facebook accounts were set up the same way, with even a separate Facebook page to help customers.

The problem with this approach is the proliferation of service channels. Where as today often customers have to tag customer service accounts or write on a brand's Facebook wall for the brand to find them, in the future you will see less and less of the tagging of service accounts. With the proliferation of channels there is no way for brands to operate with the same approach they have in the last few years. Every week there is a new latest channel customers talk to each other on. They are sending Snaps to friends, Kik, WhatsApp messages, Weibo, WeChat, texts, tweets and Facebook messages. The proliferation of channels is upon us.

The challenge for big companies is speed and scale. Brands need to explore technologies that will allow agents a unified workflow solution that moves seamlessly from channel to channel. The technology should allow the brand to focus more on finding the customer, regardless of channel—and allowing the agent to easily pop in and offer service.


Prediction #4: Company Knows Information From Every Channel

The No. 1 customer frustration according to Harvard Business Review is the customer having to repeat themselves. Internal dysfunction, old CRM technologies and lack of a customer oriented culture all contribute to poor customer experiences like this one. In the old days you could differentiate your product by delivering it cheaper, or maybe faster, but now it’s a different game. It’s not just about solving the customer problem quickly and effectively. Brands need to ensure they are doing all the work, so customers don't need to remember every single piece of information to provide to the company. What happens when a customer contacts the company from a rural highway in the middle of nowhere? That customer might not have their account information or verbal password. The company will need to make it easier for the customer.


Prediction #5: Mobile Messaging Volume Is High

As mentioned earlier, phone use for customer service has steadily decreased over the past six years. Analyst Kate Leggett said, “we predict it will dip even further as customers increasingly adopt digital channels.” People spend an average of three hours and eight minutes on their smartphone every day doing non-voice activities (Source: Yahoo! David Iudica). The bigger the phone, the more usage. That said, customers are enjoying the ease of communication via messaging in their personal lives—whether it’s through text or even Snapchat, Kik, WhatsApp, WeChat or Facebook Messenger. A few brands (Sephora mentioned earlier) are doing great work on messaging apps—but most companies are slow to take advantage of mobile messaging. In fact it seems that the sharing economy is one of the biggest superuser industries of mobile messaging. Examples include Uber, Airbnb, Etsy and TaskRabbit to name a few. Customers enjoy the ease of use and not having to call the call center. It feels as easy and seamless as an interaction with a friend or family member. This is the future of customer service.


Prediction #6: The Content Finds The Customer

Today a customer’s first attempt to fix a broken product (on their own) is through Google. Google will lead the customer to the most closely related community thread or article. But this isn't ideal, sifting through customer service content can be messy and time consuming. In the future companies will take advantage of data through the internet of things, where content is sent to the customer as soon as the product realizes something is wrong for the customer. Another scenario includes sending helpful just-in time content such as recipes. For example, Absolut is working on making its vodka bottle smart—meaning the bottle will talk to the consumer offering useful content in real-time. Mattel’s “Hello Barbie” listens to consumers and engages back to that consumer based on what she heard. Eventually customers will not have to search through tons of community threads and articles, but the company will ensure content is automatically sent to the customer at the right time.


Prediction #7: The Product Fixes The Product

Today when something breaks customers must take the proper steps to fix it. That includes contacting the company that sold them the product. However in the future as our products get “smarter” the products will be able to fix themselves. An example of this comes from Tesla. Tesla is the only car that’s completely run on software. You can update and service your car while you’re taking the dog for a walk. In the future more of our intelligent products will be able to fix themselves. This is the beauty of the internet of things.


Prediction #8: The Agent Works Through One System

Today agents are plagued with system overload. They’re working in ten different systems that include CRM systems from 30 and even 40 years ago. Not only is this terrible for the employee experience but it’s terrible for the customer experience. Having to wade through 10 systems makes the employee want to pull their hair out—additionally it adds a ton of time to the customer experience. In the future our CRM technology will allow agents to seamlessly move in and out of different customer service channels while staying in one customer service tool. While it will look very different for the customer, it won’t look different for the agent—it will be one easy, seamless experience.


Prediction #9: Customer Service Gets Marketing’s Budget

You rarely hear about the Chief Service Officer. Sometimes you might find a Chief Customer Officer or Chief Experience Officer but rarely is there a c-level officer devoted to service specifically. However you would never see a company without a senior marketing leader such as a Chief Marketing Officer or EVP. But now we know that being helpful can be the best form of marketing. In fact most of the messaging that happens from the customer toward company has to do with customer service—consumers that need help. Customers are not on your website looking for the latest marketing asset. Let's talk about social media for a second. Social media programs are launched by marketing or PR and handed over to customer service after it becomes apparent that service is the only group qualified to answer these questions. But budgets are still not granted to customer service like they are to marketing (or even sales). There’s a reason today you can’t get through to a human on the phone. There is also a reason things are often broken when it comes to customer service programs. Customer service often does not have any money. The budgets go to marketing and sales—but in the future customer service will be the darling of the organization with the money it needs to do right by the customer.

What would you add to this list?
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30.10.2018

If the issues of the sharing economy can be overcome, it could transform the business models on which the economy has relied for years

The emergence of peer-to-peer sites such as Airbnb, Lyft and EatWith has been one of the more intriguing web developments of the last few years. These companies are overhauling the traditional concept of business versus consumer by enabling anyone to offer up their apartments, cars or culinary skills in return for cash.

What began as a niche sector, brushed aside by sceptics, has blossomed into a whole industry. There are over 9,000 companies in on the game, according to Mesh, a directory for the sharing economy. With everything from peer-to-peer money lending to lift sharing now available, consumers have a whole new world at their fingertips and it’s sending shock waves across the globe.

PwC estimates five sharing economy sectors alone could generate a whopping $335bn in revenues between them by 2025. And, according to Nielsen, there’s high demand for the collaborative economy – especially in emerging markets, where it’s tipped to accelerate growth by giving consumers access to services they couldn’t traditionally afford.

The sharing economy has created markets out of things that wouldn’t have been considered monetisable assets before

Advocates claim the sharing economy is creating a stronger sense of community while cutting back on waste. Among the supporters is Shervin Pishevar, venture capitalist and peer-to-peer investor: “This is a movement as important as when the web browser came out”, he told Forbes. Timemeanwhile ranked the sharing economy among its “10 Ideas that Will Change the World”. The benefits are several, and could spell trouble for traditional businesses and economic models.


Rupturing tradition

The biggest change from traditional structures is the breakdown in the distinction between companies and customers, with peer-to-peer models giving consumers the opportunity to become businesspeople on a part-time, temporary and flexible level; whether by renting a pet-friendly room to a pooch-lover via DogVacay or offering up a neglected driveway via Parking Panda. Knocking down that consumer-producer wall is something social media has already, in part, achieved (with customers playing a more important role in marketing than ever before, for example) and the sharing economy seems a logical culmination of that gradual shift.

But it could mean bad news for traditional businesses that fail to adapt, according to Josh Goldman, Global Leader for Shopping Measurement at Nielsen. “These companies are creating new economic value and disrupting current established industry players”, he says. Lisa Gansky, author of The Mesh: Why the Future of Business is Sharing, agrees: “There is a massive shift occurring and I believe all industries will be or are already being affected.”

The impact of Uber on the traditional taxi industry is already evident: in San Francisco, for example, taxi usage has plummeted by around 65 percent, according to Kate Toran of the city’s Municipal Transportation Agency (Engadget reported), while, in New York, shares in Medallion Financial Corp – which lends money to the famous yellow New York taxi operators – have tumbled almost 30 percent in a year as demand for the traditional taxis has plunged, according to Andrew Murstein.


Cheaper, more efficient markets

The potential impact of peer-to-peer accommodation sites such as Airbnb on the hospitality sector has meanwhile sparked further attention. In a report, researchers at Boston University estimated that every 10 percent rise in Airbnb supply in Texas caused a 0.35 percent drop in monthly hotel revenue – equivalent to a fall in revenue of over 13 percent in Austin. They also found hotels had cut their room rates as a result of pressure from the lower peer-to-peer prices appealing to cash-conscious consumers.

As well as offering more affordable services to consumers, collaborative models are also arguably more resilient. While hotel supply is limited and any increase involves large-scale work, peer-to-peer accommodation is agile, its space limited only by the willingness of people to offer up their empty rooms. As Gansky points out, the world’s largest hotel chain, Intercontinental, offers only 65 percent of Airbnb’s current capacity. It’s clearly working: according to the UK Economic Impact Study, Airbnb generated £502m in economic activity in the space of a year in the UK, and over 30 million people across the world have rented a room through the site.

“People are attracted to this peer-to-peer model for economic, environmental, lifestyle and personal reasons”, says James McClure, General Manager UK & Ireland at Airbnb. “More broadly speaking, the sharing economy has created markets out of things that wouldn’t have been considered monetisable assets before.” That means making efficient use of excess resources and minimising waste, especially relevant as consumers become evermore conscious of its damaging consequences. Goldman certainly agrees: “This model is creating more efficient markets, period”, he says, adding it could help establish a better supply-demand equilibrium.


Hostile opposition

But there are several issues associated with this new model, and they’re sparking widespread controversy. While Uber has provoked protests and bans across the world, peer-to-peer accommodation has kicked off a debate in New York, with public advocate Letitia James arguing: “Airbnb and the illegal hotel operators it enables are contributing to the affordable housing crisis.”



Others have concluded the lax regulation of the sharing model could do more damage than good to economies. Dean Baker, Co-Director of the Centre for Economic and Policy Research, believes peer-to-peer businesses are providing a loophole for “a small number of people… to cheat the system”. He wrote in The Guardian: “Insofar as Airbnb is allowing people to evade taxes and regulations, the company is not a net plus to the economy and society – it is simply facilitating a bunch of rip-offs.” He argued Airbnb apartments should be taxed in the same way as hotels and that they, like Uber, should be made subject to the same safety standards as regular players.

But increased regulation and taxes are likely to mean higher prices for consumers, in part defeating the object of peer-to-peer companies designed to cut costs and move business away from the hands of overbearing authority. It’s perhaps for that reason that a number of sharing economy advocates argue against regulating this new model; among them are senior research fellow Adam Thierer and his colleagues. “The key contribution of the sharing economy is that it has overcome market imperfections without recourse to traditional forms of regulation”, they wrote in a paper. “Continued application of these outmoded regulatory regimes is likely to harm consumers.”

Whether regulating peer-to-peer services is a good idea or not, these disputes need to be overcome if the sharing economy is to grow to the extent to which some have predicted it is capable. If it does – and it would seem a logical progression in a society characterized by constant connectivity – this model could eventually replace the traditional consumer-versus-provider structure. Key players must find a way to adapt effectively if they are to capitalize on its potential benefits.
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BC Conversations #4

Brandcell Conversations Edition 04 from Brandcell on Vimeo.


As part of Brandcell knowledge initiatives, the 4th edition of Brandcell conversations was held on October 5th 2018 around the theme «The New Service Model: Human or Digital »
During this inspiring morning session, business professionals from several industries (F&B, Banking, Insurance, FMCG and Consultancy) discussed the main challenges facing the digital and human integration.
From videos to presentations, discussions, workshops and guest speaker’s case studies, every part of the session enlightened the participants with fruitful insights about local customer’s preferences and priorities as well as tangible concepts and examples answering today’s market reality.

Finally understanding the experience design methodology used by service designers around the world and by Brandcell consulting in Beirut showed the participants the way forward to trigger the thinking and ideation steps that would lead to ground-breaking innovation and the design of successful Omni-channel experiences.
30.10.2018
There are companies that are known for good customer service, and then there are companies that are obsessed with their customers. These brands take it to the next level by offering personalized experiences, amazing perks, and quality products. They also listen to their customers, take advantage of data and technology, and create a seamless experience that provides great service and support no matter how customers interact with the brand.
Here are the 10 most customer-obsessed companies of 2018 that are setting the gold standard for what it means to put customers first. These companies were the most cited in reviews and the business press and were included because of their industry-leading focus on customer experience 


Ritz-Carlton 

The name Ritz-Carlton oozes sophistication, and the staff makes sure the service matches the brand’s reputation. Ritz-Carlton is known for putting guests first and for creating incredibly personalized experiences. The company’s main focus is to build an emotional connection between guests and employees for the best hotel stay possible. 


BufferApp

Customers are such a focus at social media management app Buffer that the support team is known as the Happiness Team. By constantly staying in contact with its customers, Buffer can answer questions and address problems as quickly as possible. Customers come first in everything the company does, and every employee is always on the lookout for ways to “wow” customers. 


Trader Joe’s

Customers at Trader Joe’s are fiercely loyal to the brand, but it has to do with more than just those delicious Joe Joe’s cookies. The store ranks top in customer satisfaction for grocery stores because employees are hyper-focused on customers. From fast checkout to friendly service and product recommendations, Trader Joe’s puts customers first to create a personalized experience at each store and with each shopper. 


Harley Davidson 

Once a customer purchases a Harley Davidson motorcycle, they become part of the Harley family for life. Customers are encouraged to join the 325,000-plus member of Harley Owners Group, or HOG. The group connects riders with each other and with the brand and helps with maintenance and other bike issues. Harley Davidson knows that buying a bike is a big purchase, and it puts it customers first to create a brand they can stand behind forever. 


Amazon 

From free two-day shipping to streaming movies and grocery delivery, Amazon Prime aims to make customers’ lives easier in just about every area. The company is always innovating and finding new ways to solve customer problems. It also has a responsive service team that is empowered to provide gift vouchers and free months of Prime service if anything goes wrong. 


Costco 

By treating its employees well, Costco can create a customer-focused experience for everyone who enters the door. The store famously will take back nearly any return without a limit to when it was purchased or the state it is in. Costco also listens to customer feedback about items people would like in the store, makes it easy to save with automatically loaded coupons, and has been known to reach out to customers who purchased items that may have been recalled. The store offers bulk discounts, but it doesn’t come at the cost of customer experience. 


Zappos 

Zappos is consistently on the top of customer experience brands, and 2018 is no different. The company goes above and beyond to show its appreciation for its customers. It follows the model of surprising and delighting customers by always looking for ways to build a connection. Employees are known to do things like send baby blankets to customers when they hear a crying baby in the background of a service call. It also hosts a series of events across the country with live music and a happy hour to build relationships and reach out to customers.


Dollar Shave Club 

There is a lot of competition in the subscription beauty industry, but Dollar Shave Club stands out because of its focus on customers. The company uses a number of technology tools to understand its customers and what drives them to make purchases. All employees are focused on engaging with customers in any way possible and follow the company’s motto of “We don’t respond to situations; we respond to people”. 


Disney 

Disney isn’t necessarily an inexpensive brand, but customers are willing to pay higher prices for its merchandise, shows, and vacations because of the experience the brand provides. Disney employees are trained to refer to guests by name, especially with children. They go above and beyond to share the magic of Disney with customers of all ages and create unique experiences. 


Netflix 

The streaming giant’s obsession with customers is based on knowing them very well. Netflix collects a huge amount of data on customers to create hyper-personalized recommendations. It uses that data to help customers find their new favorite shows and to create award-winning original content that is exactly what customers want to see. By understanding customers and putting them first, Netflix can build on its knowledge and provide them entertainment they love.

 

 

 

 

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This book stitches together a complete design journey guiding readers step-by-step in a practical way from the initial spark of an idea all the way to scaling it into a better business.

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1- Start by building a high-performance digital team

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3- Think from the outside-in

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