Digital transformation is the latest trend that every organisation, in every sector, wants a piece of. In the customer management industry in particular, ‘digital innovation’, ‘digital transformation’ or ‘going digital’ are key phrases heard on almost a daily basis, with organisations keen to impress their customers by adopting the latest technology and ‘added extras’ to make their offering stand out from the crowd. Everyone wants it, although what ‘it’ is, is open to debate. Is it just a case of jumping on the latest bandwagon, or are organisations actually looking to provide a better service for their customers?
However, as Peter Tetlow, Client Solutions Director, Ventrica, argues, should the industry even talk in these terms? Does ‘digital’ really exist?
A customer will never casually mention to their friend that they wish their bank or mobile phone provider was more digital, or that a really good piece of digital transformation is exactly what they’re looking for when it comes to renewing their annual contract. What they do say, however, is that they wish they didn’t need to contact their provider at all, or when they did, they were given the right answer quickly, or that the matter was resolved without the need for multiple levels of increasingly complex Interactive Voice Response (IVR) or various call transfers. In an ideal world, a customer simply wants to be able to get the answer to their question in as few steps as possible, in a simple, easy to understand way. Really, they just want answers.
In the ‘real’ world, digitalisation isn’t the solution that will make an organisation stand out from the crowd or encourage repeat business or orders. Digitalisation won’t make a customer share their story about their relationship with the brand in question; only a great customer service will do that. As an industry, the more we talk about ‘digital transformation’ or ‘going digital’, the more we fall into the age old trap of looking internally and letting our team structure dictate our thinking, rather than putting ourselves in our customers’ shoes and seeing things from their point of view. What will really make a difference to the customer and the experience they receive from an organisation? Which new or existing initiatives – digital or not – can actually positively contribute to the business’ strategy and future plans, driving growth and increasing revenue? The fact is, using jargon the customer doesn’t care about usually means the organisation is providing a service the customer probably doesn’t care for.
That being said, the latest technology undoubtedly plays a critical role in improving the customer experience (CX) and numerous businesses have strong evidence of how it has positively contributed to their success. However, all improvements must start and end with the customer: understanding their experience, their individual journeys and touchpoints, and what they truly want from their interaction with the brand. If the organisation bypasses the wants and needs of their customers in a rush to ‘go digital’, they run the risk of misunderstanding or worse, ignoring something really important to them, in favour of deploying the latest piece of technology to show competitors their digital credentials.
The industry’s thinking needs to change. Doesn’t a well thought through chatbot that enhances the CX fall into the bucket of ‘CX transformation’ rather than ‘digital transformation’? Again, the customer won’t be saying to their friends that they had a great digital experience; they will be saying simply they had a great experience – so isn’t that where the focus should be? If the customer doesn’t use the ‘D word’, should we? Shouldn’t we focus on the customer and seek to enhance their experience, rather than trying to label the improvement with the latest trend?
Sunak to use budget to expand apprenticeships in England
LONDON (Reuters) – British finance minister Rishi Sunak will announce more funding for apprenticeships in England when he unveils his budget next week, the government said on Friday.
Employers taking part in the Apprenticeship Initiative Scheme will from April 1 receive 3,000 pounds ($4,179) for each apprentice hired, regardless of age – an increase on current grants of between 1,500 and 2,000 pounds depending on age.
The scheme will extended by six months until the end of September, the finance ministry said.
Sunak will also announce an extra 126 million pounds for traineeships for up to 43,000 placements.
Sunak’s March 3 budget will likely include a new round of spending to prop up the economy during what he hopes will be the last phase of lockdown, but he will also probably signal tax rises ahead to plug the huge hole in the public finances.
Sunak is also expected to announce a “flexi-job” apprenticeship scheme, whereby apprentices can join an agency and work for multiple employers in one sector, the finance ministry said.
“We know there’s more to do and it’s vital this continues throughout the next stage of our recovery, which is why I’m boosting support for these programmes, helping jobseekers and employers alike,” Sunak said in a statement.
(Reporting by Andy Bruce, editing by David Milliken)
UK seeks G7 consensus on digital competition after Facebook blackout
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain is seeking to build a consensus among G7 nations on how to stop large technology companies exploiting their dominance, warning that there can be no repeat of Facebook’s one-week media blackout in Australia.
Facebook’s row with the Australian government over payment for local news, although now resolved, has increased international focus on the power wielded by tech corporations.
“We will hold these companies to account and bridge the gap between what they say they do and what happens in practice,” Britain’s digital minister Oliver Dowden said on Friday.
“We will prevent these firms from exploiting their dominance to the detriment of people and the businesses that rely on them.”
Dowden said recent events had strengthened his view that digital markets did not currently function properly.
He spoke after a meeting with Facebook’s Vice-President for Global Affairs, Nick Clegg, a former British deputy prime minister.
“I put these concerns to Facebook and set out our interest in levelling the playing field to enable proper commercial relationships to be formed. We must avoid such nuclear options being taken again,” Dowden said in a statement.
Facebook said in a statement that the call had been constructive, and that it had already struck commercial deals with most major publishers in Britain.
“Nick strongly agreed with the Secretary of Stateâ€™s (Dowden’s) assertion that the governmentâ€™s general preference is for companies to enter freely into proper commercial relationships with each other,” a Facebook spokesman said.
Britain will host a meeting of G7 leaders in June.
It is seeking to build consensus there for coordinated action toward “promoting competitive, innovative digital markets while protecting the free speech and journalism that underpin our democracy and precious liberties,” Dowden said.
The G7 comprises the United States, Japan, Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Canada, but Australia has also been invited.
Britain is working on a new competition regime aimed at giving consumers more control over their data, and introducing legislation that could regulate social media platforms to prevent the spread of illegal or extremist content and bullying.
(Reporting by William James; Editing by Gareth Jones and John Stonestreet)
Britain to offer fast-track visas to bolster fintechs after Brexit
By Huw Jones
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain said on Friday it would offer a fast-track visa scheme for jobs at high-growth companies after a government-backed review warned that financial technology firms will struggle with Brexit and tougher competition for global talent.
Finance minister Rishi Sunak said that now Britain has left the European Union, it wants to make sure its immigration system helps businesses attract the best hires.
“This new fast-track scale-up stream will make it easier for fintech firms to recruit innovators and job creators, who will help them grow,” Sunak said in a statement.
Over 40% of fintech staff in Britain come from overseas, and the new visa scheme, open to migrants with job offers at high-growth firms that are scaling up, will start in March 2022.
Brexit cut fintechs’ access to the EU single market and made it far harder to employ staff from the bloc, leaving Britain less attractive for the industry.
The review published on Friday and headed by Ron Kalifa, former CEO of payments fintech Worldpay, set out a “strategy and delivery model” that also includes a new 1 billion pound ($1.39 billion) start-up fund.
“It’s about underpinning financial services and our place in the world, and bringing innovation into mainstream banking,” Kalifa told Reuters.
Britain has a 10% share of the global fintech market, generating 11 billion pounds ($15.6 billion) in revenue.
The review said Brexit, heavy investment in fintech by Australia, Canada and Singapore, and the need to be nimbler as COVID-19 accelerates digitalisation of finance, all mean the sector’s future in Britain is not assured.
It also recommends more flexible listing rules for fintechs to catch up with New York.
“We recognise the need to make the UK attractive a more attractive location for IPOs,” said Britain’s financial services minister John Glen, adding that a separate review on listings rules would be published shortly.
“Those findings, along with Ron’s report today, should provide an excellent evidence base for further reform.”
Britain pioneered “sandboxes” to allow fintechs to test products on real consumers under supervision, and the review says regulators should move to the next stage and set up “scale-boxes” to help fintechs navigate red tape to grow.
“It’s a question of knowing who to call when there’s a problem,” said Kay Swinburne, vice chair of financial services at consultants KPMG and a contributor to the review.
A UK fintech wanting to serve EU clients would have to open a hub in the bloc, an expensive undertaking for a start-up.
“Leaving the EU and access to the single market going away is a big deal, so the UK has to do something significant to make fintechs stay here,” Swinburne said.
The review seeks to join the dots on fintech policy across government departments and regulators, and marshal private sector efforts under a new Centre for Finance, Innovation and Technology (CFIT).
“There is no framework but bits of individual policies, and nowhere does it come together,” said Rachel Kent, a lawyer at Hogan Lovells and contributor to the review.
($1 = 0.7064 pounds)
(Reporting by Huw Jones; editing by Jane Merriman and John Stonestreet)
Sunak to give UK Infrastructure Bank £12 billion of capital in budget
LONDON (Reuters) – British finance minister Rishi Sunak is expected to announce an initial 12 billion pounds of capital and...
Robinhood plans confidential IPO filing as soon as March – Bloomberg News
(Reuters) – Online brokerage Robinhood, at the centre of this year’s retail trading frenzy, is planning to file confidentially for...
Wall Street Week Ahead: Investors weigh new stock leadership as broader market wobbles
By Lewis Krauskopf NEW YORK (Reuters) – A shakeup in stocks accelerated by the past week’s surge in Treasury yields...
SoftBank reaches settlement with former WeWork CEO Neumann
(Reuters) – SoftBank Group Corp said on Friday it has reached a settlement with WeWork’s special committee and the company’s...
Sunak warns of bill to be paid to tackle Britain’s ‘exposed’ finances – FT
(Reuters) – British finance minister Rishi Sunak will use the budget next week to level with the public over the...