In the fierce world of business, every company is for themselves. It is getting increasingly harder to stay afloatin today’s oversaturated market, meaning that companies need to come up with unique, innovative ideas that will set them apart from their competition. Creating a one-of-a-kind product that only your company offers is a sure way to success, which is exactly why we are discussing the present topic today. It is common sense to implement security measures in order to protect your valuables – you surely have alarm systems and security cameras in place at your premises. However, one must not forget about properly protecting intellectual property (IP) either – especially if you’re a small business with a big idea.
What is IP?
According to the World Intellectual Property Organization, “Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in commerce.”
This means that practically everything of this sort that was created within your company should rightfully belong to you. However, it oftentimes happens that, inadequate protection (or the complete lack thereof) leads to IP theft problems, and not only from the outside, but possibly even from within.
A threat from within
You would probably never expect your employees to betray you. Well, think again. There is no guarantee that your current employees will stay with your company forever. And whenever a work relationship ends, you’re in danger of the employee taking your IP with them out the door. According to studies, a staggering 59 percent of employees who are leaving their workplace take sensitive, confidential data with them for various reasons – including theft. We all know that once that happens, regardless of the legal steps you take, some of the damage can never be recovered. Thus prevention is key. Here are several strategies that will help you stop your employees from stealing your IP.
How to protect yourself
Do a background check
First and foremost, before you employ anyone, you must do a thorough background check. You should be extra careful when investigating the reasons why and how the person left their previous workplace. Contacting some of the candidate’s previous employers is a great idea too. If there have been any issues of this kind with your potential employee, it’s best to avoid employing them in the first place.
Limit access to certain files
Not all of your employees need access to all of your data. Limiting access for the lower-level employees can protect some of your IP, even if not everything. It’s an important step to take, but obviously, it’s not enough in itself.
Educate them on the issue
Your employees might not be aware of the actual seriousness of this offense, and that they might even end up in court should they steal your IP. That’s why it’s important to educate them. Being aware that IP theft is a serious crime will probably deter most of them from this behavior. Also, make them realize that they will very likely be caught if they commit this crime, which will further discourage them. It’s also better for you if you can avoid legal procedures altogether, thus, taking this step is beneficial from multiple aspects. However, similarly to limiting access, it’s merely a step in protecting your IP and should be combined with other approaches.
Keep an eye out
Another way you can catch IP theft before the real problem even occurs is by properly logging everything. By keeping an eye on the logs, you can notice suspicious activities and prevent damage, or alternatively, if theft has already occurred, well-kept logs will serve as reliable evidence. Thus, make sure you check your logging systems and update them if you find that they are not adequate for spotting such activities. What you want to keep an eye out for is, for example, an employee accessing client and marketing lists frequently, sending suspicious emails to non-company addresses, accessing cloud-based storage solutions or inserting USB drives.
Employ IP protection methods
There are several legal ways in which you can protect your IP, from confidentiality agreements to copyright, trademarks and patents.
Confidentiality agreements are contracts that make sure that the other party can’t talk about your idea with people from the outside. When it comes to protecting your IP from your employees, non-compete clauses particularly will come in handy. They prohibit your employees from creating a similar business and becoming your competition after they leave your employment.
Copyright itself does not protect an idea or a concept, but rather the author’s original expression of it, and it only extends to literary, dramatic, artistic and musical creations. To get informed about which of your assets copyright applies to and what steps you should take in case a dispute arises, consult experts specializing in copyright protection.
To protect your name, logos and slogans, you can trademark them. As opposed to copyright, it does not apply automatically but you have to go through a process if you want to trademark your brand. If you manage to go through with it, you can use the ® symbol to signify that you have the exclusive rights to the said items. Needless to say, this makes it impossible for your employees to steal them and claim them as their own.
Finally, a patent applies to inventions (products or processes). It is a sure way of protecting your assets, and even though it is the most expensive method, once you apply for it and acquire it by disclosing all the information about your invention, you’ll gain exclusive rights to it. Besides protecting you from IP theft, it is also a great way of increasing the value of your business and attracting more investors.
As you can see, there are numerous methods you can use to stop your employees from stealing your IP. It all begins with prevention, so don’t slack in this department. If any kind of issue should arise, you will have something to fall back on if you’ve imposed the appropriate IP protection measures. And if you find yourself in the unfortunate situation where one of your employees stole your IP, don’t refrain from contacting your lawyer and taking legal steps.
Bio: David Koller is a passionate blogger and copywriter for Media Gurus, mainly interested in Business and Digital Marketing.
Retailers need to deliver better rewards to ensure customer loyalty
- 62% feel retailers need to improve the ways they reward consumers for shopping with them
- 55% believe that loyalty programmes rarely offer them the things they actually want or would use
- 48% want retailers to focus on making the shopping experience better for them, rather than a loyalty programme
Rewards programmes are not delivering on their promise to drive customer loyalty for retailers, according to the latest research from Adyen, the payments platform of choice for many of the world’s leading companies. The majority of customers (55%) say that rewards programmes do not offer things they actually want and that customer experience holds almost equal influence when it comes to loyalty (48%).
The findings come from a report conducted by Adyen exploring how agility will be key for the retail sector as it emerges from the Coronavirus pandemic. The research polled more than 2,000 consumers in the UK in 2020.
The results showed that, while rewards and loyalty schemes are still welcomed by many customers, the majority (62%) feel that retailers need to improve how they reward their shoppers.
“Every customer counts – especially in the context of the pandemic. Anything retailers can do to keep customers coming back for more is worth exploring. But it goes beyond a loyalty or rewards scheme. The customer experience, both online and in store really matters. Making it as easy as possible to shop is equally as important as other incentives. And, if you do go down the rewards route, a one-size-fits-all approach rarely delivers. You must make the effort to understand your customers and offer something they really want,” said Myles Dawson, UK Managing Director, Adyen.
Nearly half of the respondents (48%) want retailers to focus on making the shopping experience better for them, rather than delivering a loyalty programme. When it comes to an experience that will drive loyalty, customers want a seamless link between online and physical stores. 60% of consumers said they would be more loyal to retailers that let them buy out of stock items in store and have them shipped directly to their home. And 53% said they would be more loyal to retailers that let people buy online and return in store.
“The high street is under increasing competition from online retailers who put convenience and usability at the centre of their customer experience. To succeed now, businesses must harness the best of their physical and digital worlds to create amazing experiences. This will increase conversions and also raise the prospects of customer loyalty.
“For those consumers that want loyalty schemes, it must be as seamless and easy as possible. 61% of respondents were more likely to shop with a retailer that linked their loyalty scheme to the payment card. By doing this, businesses can track customer buying behaviour and shopper data which lets them offer a more personalised shopping experience,” Dawson concluded.
The pandemic has changed consumer behaviour and retailers need to adapt
By Mary Keane-Dawson, Group CEO of TAKUMI
It’s no secret that the retail industry has been badly hit by the pandemic, with the recent collapse of Arcadia and Debenhams providing a harsh reality check as to what the future could hold for brick-and-mortar stores. With all non-essential shops being ordered to close last month, with no re-opening date confirmed, it is inevitable that a natural shift to online platforms would occur.
Online giants, ASOS and Boohoo, have established themselves as the new industry leaders. Both e-commerce giants bought failing Arcadia brands and Debenhams and ruthlessly closed all the retailers’ physical premises. The shift to online in the retail sector has never been more apparent.
Retail brands need to establish their digital presence to serve their consumers’ changing behaviour and to remain competitive in the retail industry.
Capitalising on changing consumer behaviour
The pandemic has meant consumer needs have adapted, which in turn has led to a shift in consumer behaviour. Retailers need to capitalise on changing consumer behaviour to remain relevant, but more importantly profitable.
The ‘stay at home’ message from the government, which has been almost constant throughout the past 12 months, has meant many consumers have started to become more reliant on online channels and platforms.
Supermarkets, such as Aldi and Co-Op, responded to this change in consumer behaviour by deciding to serve their customers on delivery apps, such as Deliveroo. As fewer people were ‘popping to the shops’ due to lockdown restrictions, supermarkets reacted by offering an instant delivery service, essentially where the ‘shop pops to you’.
The shift to online platforms and influencer marketing
Retail brands need to follow suit and adapt their ways of working to reflect this shift to e-commerce. Ted Baker, the premium fashion retailer, has admitted its disappointing online sales figures last quarter could be due to its slow response to the shift to ecommerce. The retailer is aiming to “significantly improve” its online shopping platform because of this.
As the shift to online platforms accelerates, retailers need to start investing in digital marketing, for example influencer marketing, to ensure their brand stays at the forefront of their consumers’ minds. Evan Horowitz, CEO of Movers+Shakers, a creative agency, explained in our whitepaper in August how the pandemic has led his company to increase its influencer marketing as “influencers are more influential than ever”.
As such, many traditional retailers have started exploring the benefits of influencer marketing. Wickes, in partnership with TAKUMI, launched the UK’s first ever home improvement industry TikTok campaign to reach a new audience with authentic and creative content and to drive awareness of its range of products. Our whitepaper, Into the Mainstream: Influencer Marketing in Society, which surveyed over 3,500 consumers, marketers, and influencers across the US, UK, and Germany, found that almost three-quarters of marketers (73%) upped spend on influencer marketing in the past 12 months, with spending significantly increasing in the retail (79%) sector.
It seems inevitable that more brands will continue to invest in influencer marketing with social media’s popularity increasing as we start to enter a post-pandemic world.
Using social media as a tool to respond to changing consumer behaviour
With marketers upping their influencer marketing spend, many social media platforms have also responded to the growing popularity of ecommerce.
Instagram redesigned its layout to ensure its Shopping and Reels tabs were given more prominence. The Instagram shopping feature allows brands to attach a virtual shopping tag to their ads on the platform. People can click on a tagged item and then be re-directed to the brands’ product webpage.
Similarly, TikTok’s rising popularity has led it to launch its own ecommerce offering. Last October, TikTok announced a partnership with Shopify. This partnership will enable Shopify merchants to create, run and optimise TikTok marketing campaigns that will attract consumers from TikTok’s growing user base.
Instagram and TikTok are slowly evolving from content platforms to ecommerce hubs. This transformation coincides with the rise in consumers shopping online following the pandemic.
What’s to come for retailers, post-pandemic?
Consumer behaviour is changing and the pandemic has accelerated the shift towards social media and ecommerce. Retail brands need to recognise that the shift to online is here to stay.
To remain relevant, brands need to allocate appropriate budgets to digital marketing channels. Interestingly, our whitepaper found it was marketers from traditional media channels that were increasing their influencer marketing spend the most, demonstrating that the shift to digital marketing has already begun. Retail brands need to start to prepare themselves for the post-pandemic retail environment to avoid ending up like Arcadia and Debenhams.
5 Trends Driving the Future of Customer Service in 2021 and Beyond
By Matt McConnell, CEO of Intradiem
2020 ignited radical shifts for contact centre operations with the move to a remote work environment. Our customers say this trend is more of a permanent transformation – one that uncovers trends that include more flexible operations and greater efficiencies in leveraging contact centre data.
Trend 1: The Remote Agent Model is Here to Stay, Permanently
Historically, many IT teams discouraged remote working for customer service teams, but it was quickly proven virtual contact centres could work and offered a significant upside. The average annual cost to physically house a call centre agent is approximately $8,300 per agent in the United States. If a 200-person contact centre decided to move only half of its agents to home offices, that translates to $830,000 in annual real estate cost savings.
Working remotely also opened the doors to reach talent and hiring beyond a specific geography. For example, call centres based in rural locations who may have exhausted their local talent pool can bring in quality agents from anywhere in the world.
Trend 2: The Role of AI will be to Support Human Agents, Not Replace
Despite many years of buzz, it’s worth acknowledging that AI cannot entirely replace one-on-one human interaction in customer service (yet, or maybe ever). Many interactions with chatbots or other entirely automated CX tools only drive the escalation of customer issues rather than resolving them at the first touchpoint.
Instead, AI is best used to assist and manage agents to help them work more efficiently. For example, AI-powered technology can reduce handle time by auto-populating call notes or automatically log agents into or out of applications to further save time.
AI will provide an added layer of support as a management tool to keep agents on track in remote environments. AI also enables better connectivity for customer service teams and enables agents to receive consistent communications and Information they need to excel in their role in serving customers.
Trend 3: A Swift Migration to the Cloud
Call centres have been notoriously slow to move to the cloud. In the past, this has not been an issue when centres use on-premise technologies. With fully remote call centres, companies must reconsider their approach to the cloud.
Call centres can no longer rely on on-premise data with a decentralised workforce. Often their information is locked up in data centres, while operations remain outside of the office. Moving to the cloud offers more flexible operations, easier access to data and substantial cost saving, but only if call centres tap the right partners to make the most of the shift.
Trend 4: The Emergence of Predictive Analytics
Call centres generate an enormous amount of time-sensitive data that must be gathered and analysed in real-time to effectively manage their operations. Without real-time capabilities, Insights gathered on a Monday may only be contextualised later that day or week. This is not impactful as the time to act has passed and call centre conditions have already changed.
Looking beyond 2021, we will see call centres take their analytics a step further to go beyond real-time analytics, and into predictive analytics. This will leverage real-time data at scale to offer preventive support to both agents and customers, moving call centres from reactive to proactive. Instead of waiting for a customer to call with an issue, centres can leverage historical data to reach out pre-emptively.
The same approach can be used to identify agents who struggle or may be experiencing burnout earlier in order to reduce attrition rates. A smarter mindset on data will revolutionise how call centres operate and in turn, companies will see higher customer and agent retention.
Trend 5: Real-Time Technologies Will Be Applied to the Back-Office
We will also see companies increasingly apply call centre technologies to their back-office operations. They will start to leverage back-office data in real-time to cut down on wasted hours and better track employee activities.
This part of the business has not been managed with the same technology investment as the call centre, leading to inefficiencies where back-office employees may struggle with certain tasks or spend time in non-work applications. Now, companies will be able to use AI-powered technologies to drive productivity gains in the back-office — leading to significant savings to the bottom line.
2020 served as the inflection point for call centre transformation. The shift to remote work unlocked new uses of technology and opportunities thought impossible before. We are now at the tip of the iceberg, as successful call centres will continue to innovate and think differently on how they can improve their operations in the new year and beyond.
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