2018 and the ‘Customer Trust Economy’: Building blockchain in to your business strategy


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A customer’s relationship with a brand is borne from the sum of the breadth of the rational and emotional touches as they wind their way along a journey with a business. Build strong confidence and trust through the customer’s journey explicitly or subconsciously, with your product, service or proposition, and you hit one of the highest notes of emotional engagement, against which higher rates of retention (or churn-reduction), loyalty and advocacy follow.

One relatively new technology, Blockchain, the foundation of which was conceptualised in the early 1990s and then developed after the financial crash of 2008 to facilitate an alternative de-centralised, accessible, alternative financial network. It is best known for virtual crypto-currencies such as Bitcoin, and has the credentials to strengthen the fundamental trust between businesses and customers across a multitude of industry sectors that use financial transactions, contracts, and trading along a number of steps in a supply chain.

Blockchain technology secures a record of step-by-step digital transactions, using an encrypted ledger, from the original creator through various partners / intermediaries / channels / logistics service providers, to the end customer. Throughout this chain the individual blocks of information are updated at every step and saved as an uneditable encrypted digital record, which provides any end-recipient with ultimate trust in the authenticity of what they have received. A list of indelible digital ink signatures if you like!

Ethereum is one of the platforms on which sector-relevant Blockchain protocols are being developed. Start-ups, and existing businesses within industry verticals, which have a number of structured transactions in their supply chain, can research and select the protocol, and design the set of commercial usage rules, which will best fit-with and strengthen their transaction journey and customer trust.

2018 is the year when larger country Governments and Regulators will understand and accept that Blockchain is a long-term technology enhancement for the digital economy, and invest in the expertise and resources to further legitimise such an important global trading platform.

Such legitimacy will reinforce the parallel momentum that has already captured the imagination of the innovators and early-adopters of Blockchain and those who have made investments in the technology, both financially and in terms of innovation, around the world. With such momentum and confidence comes the shift of Blockchain across the chasm to the larger early majority stage of the diffusion cycle, with the requisite sector case-studies, signalling a more mature phase of its evolution as a technology and a further fillip to a more frictionless global digital economy.

Blockchain is a rapidly maturing financial transaction, contract confirmation and trading technology, which can also play a strong role in enhancing customer trust and emotional engagement. All of which strengthens the financial results of the adopting business, and boosts the wider customer trust economy.


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How customer-focused is your business?


The opportunity for businesses in all sectors to drive more customer-centric business strategies and cultures is enormous. The survey results reinforce a sense of disenfranchisement by customers.

Did you know that:

85% of Customers would have been retained if the Company had acted on a request

69% of Customers would have stayed if a problem had been resolved

55% of Customers would have stayed if preferencial treatment and rewards had been offered

48% of Customers, nearly half, changed brands due to poor service

26% of people say they look at Facebook, Twitter or blogs when learning about a company, compared with 70% who ask family, friends or colleagues.

Source: http://www.marketingweek.co.uk/trends/customer-ret…

53% Customer Loyalty is based on the Purchase Experience

Source: The Challenger Sales, Matthew Dixon & Brent Adamson

Customer loyalty is waning globally. Across all markets and subscriber groups, 39% of people are likely to churn, an increase of more than 20% from the previous year.

On average, just 24% of mobile customers are completely satisfied with their operator.

Source: Nokia


Once more unto the breach:



Data security and why you need to protect your physical as well as digital documents

When Shakespeare wrote “Once more unto the breach, dear friends” in Henry V, he had no indication what the word ‘breach’ would come to mean. Fast-forward 400 years and it is a word that casts fear into the heart of every CTO, IT manager and compliance professional. Headlines are dominated by high-profile security breaches, and the risks these pose to individuals and their personal information.  From small businesses to global banks, hospitals and social networks, every operation which interacts with the public is taking steps to protect their customers, employees and stakeholders from these breaches.

As well as a moral obligation to protect their customers’ private information, organisations must meet stringent regulatory obligations.  The 1998 Data Protection Act gives individuals the right to know what information organisations hold about them, and sets out rules for companies on how they manage personal information.  The stakes are high if these rules are not adhered to, with fines being handed out and reputations at risk. For small businesses, these regulations can be daunting, and can add time, cost and complexity to businesses already restricted by red tape.

Many businesses have protective measures in place to meet these regulations, and safeguard their digital data, from robust firewalls, encryption techniques and password-protection to VPNs and cloud storage. But what about the protection of physical documentation? Data in both digital and physical form need to be managed, maintained and protected.  Data held in paper-based form is equally as high a security risk -in fact, almost a quarter of security breaches relate to paper-based documents1 – but requires an entirely different strategic approach to its management. With many organisations responsible for sending out high volumes of transactional and information-based communications, safeguarding processes are essential.

There are secure methods of storing physical documentation such as bank safety boxes and off-premise archiving, but when a business is constantly creating new documents and generating high-volume physical communications such as customer mailings, these storage methods are not appropriate. The data on these documents is still highly sensitive and open to risk, however. Consider the UK’s Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), which was found to have breached data protection rules when sending out confidential documents to the wrong motorists. It mailed 1,215 questionnaires which included such personal details as dates of birth and motoring offences. Around 100 were sent to incorrect addresses.

To address this and maintain data security and compliance, businesses large and small are building safeguards into the earliest stages of a document’s creation by rolling out watertight Document Integrity processes and systems. The objective of Document Integrity is to ensure the document creation and change processes generate sound, correct and valid documents. From document creation through to print output and mail, every stage is specifically designed to ensure accuracy and precision, to protect data and to achieve compliance.  It enables businesses to provide evidence that appropriate best practices, processes and controls are in place.

Document Integrity ensures a high degree of data protection. With mailings, private information is inserted into the envelope without risk of being compromised by human handling; and inaccurate information, duplication of paperwork and missing content is eliminated.  There are also financial advantages from implementing Document Integrity such as:

  • Reduced costs previously generated by manual handling
  • Eliminated costs of returned and undelivered communications
  • Minimised risk of penalties for non-compliance

For small and medium businesses that rely on transactional and information-based communications, document integrity is key to compliance, security, customer relationships, and reputation. Organisations have a duty to protect their customers’ data. Document Integrity ensures the duty doesn’t become a burden.

Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood……

1 Information cited by Canon

Five reasons marketers must embrace contextual marketing


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Contextual marketing is one of the most disruptive forces to explode into the marketing discipline since the mantra of all marketers – price, product, placement and promotion – came into being. In fact, says Harvard Business Review, it is set to throw the ‘Four Ps’ approach ‘into constant flux’.  It’s a technique that takes user information from a variety of sources – web browsing or online location check-in for example – and uses it to deliver precise, relevant, tailored content, to the right people, at the right time.

Today’s marketers may well be digital-savvy analytics experts, but contextual marketing adds an entirely new dimension to customer engagement. Marketers, avoid this at your peril. Here’s why it’s more important, and more relevant, than ever:

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  1. It fits perfectly with a device-driven market and a shift in customer lifestyles

1.3 billion smartphones were shipped in 2014, and we’re not just using them for calls: research1 shows we’re spending more time accessing the Internet using smartphones than via our PCs. There’s no doubt that smartphones and other mobile devices are enabling contextual marketing. The more time we spend connected to the internet through our devices, the more information we’re sharing. Along with the rise in devices, we’re seeing a less community-focused society, now geared towards individual status and achievements. Contextual marketing is a perfect fit: mass marketing, irrelevant and untargeted, has no place in the marketing industry, and it seems even more intrusive when sent to our devices which are personal to us. Conversely, tightly targeted marketing messages, sent to individuals at the right time, in the right place – retrieved from whatever device we want – can be extraordinarily successful, driving customer retention, creating new sales and adding depth to our omnichannel world.

 2. It empowers customers and consumers

Contextual marketing puts customers and consumers firmly in the driving seat. Firstly, because they can control their device settings to limit advertising, or choose to opt-in to allowing location-based services on smartphones. And opt-in, they do: research2 has found that 74% of consumers with smartphones choose to use location-based services. Note the word ‘choose’:  businesses empower consumers with choice, as they choose to use these services due to their relevancy at that point in time. Secondly, because consumers are freed from restrictive, expiry-date driven marketing.  No-one is sending them to a website, or making them wait until the weekend for an online sale. Contextual marketing suits the desire for instant gratification: those companies which respond instantly to consumer demand are rewarded, and pushing content to the customer at exactly the right time is a great way of doing this.  And thirdly, because, by sending precise and accurate messages directly to consumers, firms are removing the need for them to sift through the marketing clamour to get to what they really want, freeing them from the noise generated by the Internet.

  1. It fits with the economic climate

Post-austerity, consumers love a bargain – more so now than ever. Armies of thrifty consumers refuse to buy anything online until they’ve found a coupon to reduce the cost or used a comparison App to secure the best deal. Contextual marketing fits here perfectly, with hyper-targeted messages sent at exactly the right stage of the buying cycle, with offers appropriate to the customer. It’s cost-effective to deliver, and it generates revenue. But don’t worry, it isn’t quite sounding the death-toll for the billboard just yet: yes, expensive, one-size-fits-all marketing might seem crass and expensive by comparison, but clever above-the-line advertising techniques still have their place. Digital marketing teams can integrate above-the-line within a contextual marketing campaign, with cameras embedded in smart interactive billboards to record views, and send reactive messages accordingly.

  1. It uses location intelligence

Contextual marketing uses data drawn from different sources to create a precise buyer profile and analysis of buyer behaviour. Location intelligence technology is critical to this, as it enables place and position to be worked into the marketing strategy. There is more location intelligence available to us than ever before – points of interest, in-building maps, building footprints. Location data adds value to a customer relationship, and more and more marketers are boosting their success rates by incorporating it into their marketing strategy.

No longer about the marketing ‘four Ps’, location-based intelligence has instead facilitated the ‘four Rs’:

  • Relevance
  • Response
  • Revenue
  • Results

Leveraging location intelligence adds a new dimension to marketing. It’s the reason contextual marketing came out of the marketing departments and into reality.

  1. It works

Whilst contextual marketing is still in its infancy, businesses sharing their success rates are not hard to come by. Take the Western European mobile phone operator, which generated 64% year-on-year revenue growth and improved customer satisfaction from contextual continuous engagement. Response rates and conversion rates are from five to twenty times higher than the results from conventional online advertising, according to Nathan Hull in The Guide to Internet Marketing.

It’s cost-effective: you’re not shouting with a megaphone hoping someone will respond, but sending a valid and personal message, generating a one-to-one relationship. And it needn’t be complex: now, companies such as SAP are offering Contextual Marketing platforms, so you can benefit from the dynamic nature of contextual marketing and respond in real-time, with accurate content, reaching the consumer at the exact point of need.

It permits businesses to foster a two-way instantaneous dialogue with customers, by using such techniques, combined with devices and technology, in order to more adeptly adjust on a regular basis. This can affect Net Performer Scores and other ways by which a customer’s experience will be enhanced.

With contextual marketing, the physical and digital worlds fuse to boost results and deliver the ultimate in smart marketing. It’s a game-changer – and one that will create impact for your organisation.

1 Nielsen,  Digital Consumer Report 2014

2 Pew Research Internet Project 2013

Five ways to improve your brand’s wellbeing


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Your brand is the heart and soul of your organisation. It needs not just to represent your business visually but must create interest, attract, engage, reflect, empathise, empower and excite. It must tell a story, reflect your heritage, create lasting impact, and position your business for the future. Brands need to be refreshed, to evolve and stay relevant. It follows, then, that an outdated brand can have the reverse effect, confusing and alienating audiences, and negatively influencing a company’s performance.

In commerce, we are in a constant cycle of reviewing insights, dedicating time to learnings, to help us plan successfully. In our personal lives, it’s much the same, especially early in the year, as we offset our indulgences with new exercise programmes and commitments to wellness: more stretches, less stress, more meditation, less mediation.   The Five Ways to Wellbeing are actions devised by NEF, the New Economics Foundation, for individuals to adopt in everyday life. They are:

  • Connect
  • Be active
  • Take notice
  • Keep learning
  • Give


They’ve been used by organisations, schools and communities across the UK to drive people to improve their wellbeing. I think they provide the perfect framework for businesses refreshing their identity.  Brands can adopt these actions to ensure there is a place for them in the future, and here’s where they can start:

  • Connect – with customers, with staff, with communities, both digital and physical; share your brand vision and strategy as well as your brand identity
  • Be active – as a brand, there must be no resting on laurels; be a challenger brand, be dynamic, confident, agile, and change when you need to
  • Take notice –make sure your brand stays relevant; stop, look and listen to your customers, your competitors and their products, your employees and their chosen communications channels and platforms, your perception in the market; take time to understand them
  • Keep learning – from your customers, staff, from competitive brands, from industry experts, from digital influencers – never stop learning
  • Give –share your brand’s expertise and experience, give inspiration and time, be approachable, give some thought to your brand’s position and its place in the future; and create a strong CSR policy, not just because it improves the perception of your brand but because commerce has the power to make a difference


Here at Pitney Bowes, we’ve undergone a fantastic, energetic brand transformation. In our 95 year history, we had only ever had two logos, and our last brand refresh was in 1971. Having announced the beginnings of a transformation programme two years ago, we recently announced a major programme centred around our changing brand. On the outside, there’s a unique, vibrant new logo, a new website and an entire new look and feel; on the inside, a new ethos, a change in culture, and a fresh digital direction.  And at the heart? People, technology and a commitment to the wellbeing of the business and brand.


pb Brand Strategy, and impact on Culture.


Personally, today is an exciting time to be a Marketing and Communications Leader. A company with a clear brand strategy possesses a major ingredient for success, as it describes the essence of what it stands for and what it does. The planning and launch of a Brand is a catalyst for the development of the culture of the organization in order to drive greater performance in business results, stimulate heightened innovation, creativity and passion, to deliver customer relevance and experience. It is a great pleasure and privilege to be involved in launching such a new brand at Pitney Bowes ‘pb’.


The pb brand strategy and identity have been carefully prepared to ripple-out its character and capability in the rapidly evolving world of physical and digital commerce. It breathes further vigour and energy in to the pb business, by taking from a proud legacy, stretching back nearly 100 years, and building for an exciting digital future.

The proud pb legacy started with Arthur Pitney developing the postage meter in the United States, with the breakthrough technology to track the ascending postage with descending value on the meter. Arthur Pitney partnered with Walter Bowes, who focused on lobbying the US Government to pass legislation for such technology to come in to service and revolutionize Postal distribution. This was the first example of pb Precision and Accuracy with Impact.


pb now has a portfolio of physical and digital solutions that can be used in concert to help customers deliver commerce to their own customers. These include: Customer Information Management, Location Intelligence, Customer Engagement, Shipping and Mailing and Global Ecommerce. www.pb.com


“ (at pb) We deliver accuracy and precision across the connected and borderless world of commerce to help our clients create meaningful impact.”


The leadership and teamwork across the pb business, working together to deliver the new identity, messages and assets, is testament to the passion and drive across the organization. I am at the pb Henley site today to launch the brand, and celebrate with colleagues. Henley will be one of around 40 pb sites where celebrations take place as the sun moves around the world.

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The pb Culture will shape the next chapter of a proud business journey. The introduction of the new pb brand today is the first new chapter of that journey.


PB Digital Commerce Solutions Software. Why wouldn’t You? for business performance!


PB Brand

Last week I attended the Pitney Bowes Digital Commerce Partner Event at the Grand Hotel Huis Ter Duin, Noordwijk, Netherlands, and had the pleasure in meeting delegates, some of whom had been working with Pitney Bowes for 20 or 30 years.


The atmosphere surrounding such a Partner event took me back to my earlier days in the technology industry, and working with numerous channel partners, which permits greater reach and choice for end-user customers. The Partners display such dedication, professionalism and loyalty, which needs particular acknowledgement. Indeed an awards dinner on the Wednesday evening reflected their tenure, along with accolades for more recent performance.


I also had the opportunity to present the Pitney Bowes brand story and journey to delegates, in terms of what the marque ‘is’ and what it ‘does’. Such a story requires telling, as Pitney Bowes has a rich legacy of helping customers / clients with their ‘commerce’ through constant innovation since the compaby’s inception by Arthur Pitney and Walter Bowes in Stamford, Connecticut nearly 100 years ago in 1920. The latest chapter of innovation and supporting client-commerce relates to crucial Pitney Bowes Digital Commerce software categories of: Customer Information Management (CIM); Location Intelligence (LI); and Customer Engagement (CE). I had the good fortune to sit through CIM and CE demos that illustrated how a company may harness Spectrum (CIM solution) to achieve clarity in their exceptionally valuable, yet disperate, customer data, and then target the right customer with the right message and offer using Portrait (CE solution). LI, with software such as MapInfo, can augment such targeting with greater relevance based on a user’s geographic location, movements or reference points.




My reaction as a Marketing / Commercial Professional is ‘why wouldn’t you??’ invest in such a  brand and technology solutions, which would provide a more focused customer experience across a business, with a correlated business results and competitive advantage.

PB Brand

GoogleGlass Social Acceptance – Style, Etiquette and Compelling Services



I worked on an HP Labs Market Trial in 1998 whilst based at the HP Bristol site, as I was keen to be involved in some cutting-edge innovations. The Market Trial was entitled ‘Casual Capture’ and involved carrying a Digital Camera with me and ‘capturing’ photos that I liked – such as a Sunrise at Heathrow for an early flight, a powerpoint slide displayed during a meeting or simply people I met.

In 1998 the Selfie and ubiquitous uploading of digital photos with Smartphones was not de rigueur! It has taken 16 years, including a new generation, for it to become socially acceptable, wherever you may be doing and with whom you may be spending time.



With the launch of GoogleGlass, however, there have been examples of people snatching the devices from people’s faces in bars, if they believe that they are being filmed without their knowledge. Social acceptance for the majority hasn’t yet been reached. More recently the BBC’s Rory Cellen-Jones carried out his own social and user experiment:



What can be done to aid the adoption of such new breakthrough technology? Google Glass in Contact Lenses will certainly help, although this could still be deemed clandestine! A proactive mobile ‘Social Calling-Card’ to Multiple Mobile Devices, using Bluetooth or Social Media Profile, would provide the required etiquette for those who have the receptor turned-on to such filming. On the counter-side this could also be linked to Facial Recognition and a Socially ‘Turned-off status’ for those not wanting to be filmed, with their own faces automatically blanked-out. The integrated ubiquity of the technology in stylish eyewear / clothing brands, which also provide an emotional halo, will also aid its diffusion with people becoming used to it being a part of every day life. And of course if a plethora of compelling lifestyle  ‘Pull Services’ could outweigh any social discomfort (check out Ambarish Mitra, CEO, of http://www.blippar.com which offers 3D Augmented Reality technology across all devices, including GoogleGlass).



The Style and Etiquette are vital for adoption, and acceptance, by the majority..

Airbnb gets traction. Tipping-point for Marketplace.


airbnb_800pxWidespread London Underground adverts for a brand are a sure way to generate broad awareness. Add in a newspaper article or two and the cross-media awareness builds. This is what is happening with Airbnb, the marketplace for those with and those looking for accomodation across the world. Upwardly mobile people of all cultures and walks-of-life can now find a place to stay pretty much anywhere in the world. As such a new Marketplace, in a similar way to the launch of online dating sites a few years ago, the social tipping-point has been achieved on both the Demand and Supply side. More opportunities for innovative Marketplaces to come!



Artificial Intelligence requires Organisation Culture Revolution


My Mother’s passion for Mathematics has always been to the fore, and she has had great pleasure in teaching maths to students, during her career as a teacher, and discusses its incredible impact on any number of walks of life – which has influenced my own interest in putting statistics, data analytics and insight at the centre of business, and be curious to understand trends and rhythms in order to anticipate improvements.

Recently my daughter’s homework on Alan Turing, the Cambridge genius, and the team of Mathematicians at Bletchley Park, underlined the UK’s rich heritage of using applied mathematics to predict and solve important new challenges.

Data analysis and targeting Technology has delivered productivity gains and heightened customer relevance during the last 20 years. Amazon has used predictive modelling since its launch in 1998. Tesco achieved a significant competitive advantage with the establishment of Club Card and the 50% Share in Dunn Humby in order to mine its data to segment and target customers. I’ve used innumerable online and social analytics to measure and improve online businesses.

The recent £400M sale of DeepMind to Google emphasised the burning importance of advanced Applied Mathematics to deliver Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the rapidly evolving world of Online / Mobile and Organisation performance. The Sunday Telegraph article by Sophie Curtis, 2nd February 2014, covered companies such as Swiftkey, Celaton, Lincor, Featurespace and Darktrace, with the Cambridge ‘Silicon Fen’ a key contributor to incubating an important revolution in UK Tech.


AI increases the sophistication much further by using algorithms and automatically augmenting rules which can propel the business forward at greater speed and productivity. Organisations can capitalise on such a competitive game-changer, if the right recipe for a revolution in behaviour is in place:

  1. The Leadership Team, combined with forward-thinking and innovative people across the business, along with other experts in the field, refine the Strategic positioning and intent, like never before. The objective must be to have a plan for AI-driven agile growth that uses the very latest techniques, which can evolve over time.
  2. Functional and Business Unit silos are broken down and reconstructed to ensure an ‘outside-in’ AI view of the world. This must happen in order to capitalise on the potential of such a fundamental change in the operation of the business. Sales, Marketing, Finance, HR, Engineering, Support and Customer Service must work effectively together in a highly-matrixed structure. This will be a test of Leadership with constant Operational rigour using measurement across numerous demensions within the business, with related methods of remuneration for all employees.
  3. A sophisticated curricula of Education and Training for all team members across the business will be instrumental in driving a quantum leap in agile insight-based business. All Employees are trained and developed to complement AI at the core of the business, and understanding their role in such a modus operendum.
  4. The whole team is behind the revolution in working, with an emphasis on individuals having the ability to contribute to the creativity, innovation and fun across the business. With the right parameters in place, this can aid retention of employees and their own desire to perform and drive the business forward.

There will be need for an increased velocity of change in businesses of all types with the adoption of AI and the associated cultural shift, however this will require a revolution, not an evolution.

Andrew Ford, February 2014

Marketing is Evolving. Long Live Customering!



As a Customer I want to be listened to, so that when I engage a Brand and pay for a service or product, and sign up for an experience, it’s what I want and I can enjoy it in a way that fits my lifestyle. My career has been as a Marketing Leader, which has been about Segmenting, Targeting and Positioning – although I have always striven to design experiences around Online, Mobile, Social and CRM that resonate with customers, both as Individuals and as Businesses, to ensure the optimal relevancy for them throughout their engagement with Brands such as HP, BT, Dell and Norton. I therefore introduce ‘Customering’!

I recently enjoyed an editorial (Time is running out to save capitalism from the capitalists) by @allisterheath in London @Cityam, the key point of which was that for Customers, Brands and the Economy to prosper we need to focus on ‘Customer Capitalism’ and with Brand experiences that deliver for the end-consumer. Brands have struggled to take such an intimate view due to reasons such as their organisation size, structure, measurement and a number of legacy system and data challenges. However when done well, ‘Customering’ can provide much enhanced Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) – for Revenues and Margins – because people want to have a positive, sustained and mutually-beneficial Brand relationship. This provides significantly higher Customer Advocacy, so that additional new customers come to the Brand based on referrals and actively want the experiences on offer.

So what needs to happen to ensure that a Brand can be based on Customering?

  1. It starts with the CEO, who needs to ensure that Customers are the real primary focus of a Brand. ‘Back-to-the-Floor’ schemes, such as those introduced by Sir John Harvey-Jones over 30 years ago, will get leaders to the customer end of the business and illustrate leadership by example. A Senior Leader spending a day a Month or Quarter to work in the Call Centre or on the floor of a Partner Store in order to speak with customers is a must. This also provides a great example of customer-centric transformational leadership to Investors.
  2. Engagement with Customers is cherished across all levels and functions of the Brand. Leadership involvement in putting customer-intimate mechanisms such as Social Media and Customer Service Telephone / Online Chat Services at the centre of the Brand will deliver re-position Customer perceptions. @TeamMclaren have increased their follower base by 100% based on the rich content they publish from across all aspects of their business. (thanks @Essence for #Shuffle2013)
  3. Marketing champions the focus on the Customer, and the Brand. Although Marketing cannot do it all, it is the function best positioned to be the pivot to aid the transition across other functions. Marketing can collaborate with Finance regarding CLV; It can work with Sales regarding tighter Channel and Brand Partnerships to deliver the number; It can undertake Online Marketing through SEO, SEM , and other Digital techniques to drive E-Commerce numbers; and it can work closely with its kindred spirit Customer Services / Support in order to evolve the engagement with customers.
  4. The Customer Experience of a Brand is truly end-to-end and encourages User engagement.
    When designing a product or service for a Customer, the Social and Relationship aspect needs to be considered from the outset. This is mandatory when a proposition based on Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), or other continuous service model, is offered. Customers are encouraged to offer their data, either directly, with a positive incentive that relates to an optimum experience of the proposition they have or are about to purchase, such as a Norton Account, or based on using their Facebook profile.
  5. Customers may control and scale their own experience based on their choice of media and timing. Amazon and Apple have done good jobs as Brands, although there are further opportunities to hone the approach for more pinpoint delivery, particularly with an ever more diverse set of devices and media consumption.
  6. Existing Leaders, and those recruited, are assessed based on their passion for customers. This is a critical aspect for future Brand success, by screening personnel at all levels, to ensure that they have a passion for driving and innovating the customer experience. Recruiters and Hiring Managers need to be trained to seek and select in this manner.
  7. Ensure Customer Satisfaction Measurements apply to all people who work for a Brand. Pay and Advancement has to be based on the causal performance link back to how satisfied customers are with specific aspects of the Brand experience – which has been delivered by different teams and functions across the organisation. Such Qualitative Measurement becomes a tangible and material aspect of an employee’s Bonus structure.

Brands must not only remain relevant in a Social / Digital / Mobile age, but if Customering is fundamentally adopted it can be a significant competitive advantage and correlate with greatly enhanced business results.

Social Collision is Paramount!


The Collision Event took place yesterday evening in the Centre Point Building in London. The Social Glitterati attended from the four corners of the Social spectrum – Key Commentators such as Tom Standage of the Economist and Kate Russell (@katerussell) of BBC Click, Brands such as Nokia and Norton seeking to use Social as a fundamental part of Marketing and Customer Experience, a number of very knowledgeable Social and Digital / Marketing / Digital Strategy companies, and organisations providing Marketing Automation and Analytics infrastructure.

I enjoyed drinks with Tom, and Alan Dunachie of TEADS.tv, where we discussed the rise of, opportunities for and challenges with Social in organisations, and how The Economist had used technology on their site to optimise the Customer Experience. I then chatted with Jay Patel of IMImobile and John Watton of Silverpop, and the sophistication available for Marketing Automation and tracking across media and devices.

Rod Banner performed the role of Social Dating Ringmaster with aplomb. His smooth, wise style, combined with his bespoke coat bedecked with the Collision icon, broke the ice and drew out the social passion from the attendees on the 31st Floor – although the cocktails on arrival may have loosened a few of the tongues!


Tom Standage started the debate by introducing his new book, Writing on the Wall, in which he describes the origins of social networks that were ignited during the Roman époque due to the presence of an economic structure and the ability to publish in Latin. Moving forward to the 17th Century in London and the emergence of Coffee Shops, in which like-minded people assembled to debate and socialise, and some key institutions such as the Bank of England were born.

The debate then opened to the floor. Craig Hepburn of Nokia provided a knowledgeable perspective regarding how important Social is to an organisation, and how businesses need to structure themselves to engage with customers through various social media and balance the resources respond to the right amount of customer comments or enquiries. A measurement that provided a ripple of enthusiasm around the floor was that 4.7% of Socially-engaged customers will have an Opinion Leader / Influencer multiplier effect across the broader community. Identifying the profile of customers is an imperative.

On the theme of measuring the value of Social, one attendee expressed the view that it depends of what aspect you would like to gauge, with the assessments such as Net Promoter Score (NPS) score a macro way of assessing the investment over time. I agreed with the Brand measurement point and chipped in that a great opportunity is to put Social at the centre of proactive Brand Campaign experiences with a fun and creative theme, with a ‘gamification’ competition component, that can be a catalyst for transitioning customer engagement and perceptions.

During Dinner, with Kate Russell, Tom Evans of BleepBleeps and Michael Wrigley of EngageSchiences, we discussed the need for organisations to harness social at a senior leadership level in order for it to be key aspect of the culture and be entwined in the products and services offered to customers. This would then strengthen the push and pull effect and ensure higher levels of customer relevance, emotion and advocacy.

A great gathering and debate! Many opportunities for Social Media to blossom and be a way for organisations to create sustainable competitive advantage.

Mobile Internet + Big Data = The ‘Expected Relevance’ Lifestyle



I first became involved in the Internet in 1998. I was hooked immediately due to the instant availability of information via the brokering of the fledgling Portals of Yahoo!, Lycos, Excite and Altavista (albeit connection speeds were a touch slow back then – remember the modem dial-up chshshshshshsh – ah, the nostalgia!) was a huge shift in balance from Seller to Buyer. Consumers and Businesses now had much more knowledge on which to base their choices and loyalty for product and service purchases.

Fast forward to 2013 we now have the Gold Rush of Fifth Generation ‘Mobile’ Computing, with a number of Brands, existing and new, striving to establish a position in such a vibrant and evolving category. Handset Manufacturers, Mobile Service Providers, App Developers, Content Providers / Optimisers……….. What will make the overall difference in bringing together the rich information available in the Digital Internet with the physical-world proximity of the Mobile User?

‘Expected Relevance’ is the key here, and being in tune with the lifestyles, aspirations and emotions of Users – for both leisure and commerce. The parsing of Big Data – Geo-location, Movement Mapping, Social Behaviour, Mobile dowloads, Socio-Demographics and Psychological / Physiological Needs – will permit best fit recommendations, which will enhance lifestyles and touch the emotional side of the User. Emotional touch will provide greater Brand resonance and frequency of usage. The predictive recommendations for proximity and timing will enhance expected relevance and ensure Users get the right lifestyle experience – with so many burgeoning options available.

5 Tips for Customer Experience Excellence


1. Bring the Customer in to your Organisation

Whether the medium is Facebook, a User Forum, a Support Call or talking to Customers at a Retail Partner Store, it’s vitally important that a joined-up and genuine dialogue is prevalent in order to gain direct insight to constantly improve what you do. ‘Customer is King’ (or Queen) should be the adage, and an approach to an outwards-in ethos to designing the overall experience, including cross-functional rewards and remuneration, is key.

2. Let the Customer design their own experience

Customers are individuals. Yes they are targeted as a Segment, with similar values, behaviours and attitudes, however the subtle patterns of their own lives mean that they will be in the best position to describe to you how they would like to research, select, buy and use your product or service. Malleable Web site designs, and now dynamic Smartphone Apps, mean that a combination of User prioritisation, coupled with socio-demographic predictive modelling and geo-location, will provide the right customer experience.

3. Be where the Customer wants to shop and buy

A cross-channel strategy is tricky for any company, however the customer doesn’t care about the complexities of siloed teams or differentiated pricing. What they want is to be able to buy, and later Upgrade, in a way that best suits them. Differing Partner routes-to-market, along-side direct e-commerce, need to be designed with the customer behaviour trends in mind.

4. Don’t weigh down a Customer’s wallet

Take the balanced short and longer-term view with a Customer. A Customer who perceives real value will tell family and friends, and is likely to buy more from you. A combination of ‘Actual’ Value (what they have bought) and ‘Potential’ Value (what they will potentially buy & recommend in the future) should be used to guide how they are asked for cash. Too much irrelevant short-term cross-sell or up-sell may turn them away from being an advocate for your brand proposition, and the lost word-of-mouth sales that would result.

5. Recognise a Customer’s Value

‘Thank You’ doesn’t cost, however it is not always used or reinforced when a Customer has spent their hard-earned disposable income on your proposition. Whether explicitly used, at or just after the initial purchase, or implicit, in the tone of the ongoing correspondence or special offers, it highlights how much importance you bestow on their custom.

Andrew Ford, July 2013

Protecting those Smartphone Memories


I was excited to upgrade my Android Smartphone recently and was thoroughly enjoying the latest functionality and apps. It was much less clunky that the earlier model, and I had spent time setting-up my social media and other apps. I had also added a password to make sure my details would be safe if my phone were to be lost or stolen.


During half-term, I had a lovely time with my daughters, taking a number of photos using my Smartphone during days sat at the seaside and in London. I was taking great care, as I had heard that users had dropped similar Smartphones and that damage to the screen had meant that they could no access the phone’s contents due to the touchscreen not working and therefore they couldn’t enter their password. Disaster struck one day when I pulled my pullover from beneath my phone. The phone tumbled from the kitchen top and struck a wooden stool en-route to the floor! The result was a slight dent on the housing, however this had been enough to crack the screen. I tried everything to access my precious photos, by consulting websites and the provider shop and support centre, all to no avail. The lovely photos of my daughters were locked on the phone, never to be seen again!!

I now have a replacement Smartphone, based on an insurance excess payment, and have learnt a valuable lesson, and I continue to pay the provider insurance, should I have any further problems with my phone in the future. I have also bought a case to protect the phone as much as possible if I drop it again and I have put a protective film across the screen for added protection. I have installed Norton Mobile Security as part of my Norton One Membership. And most importantly I have configured an automatic online back-up of any photos I have taken, which connects every time I return to my home wifi. Please don’t lose your precious memories. Protect the Stuff that Matters!

PostExpo – Debate, Diverse Innovation and Pitney Bowes Delivers!


PostExpo in Stockholm was a great opportunity for various brands and service-providers to showcase their contributions to an evolving value chain.

On Day 3 the principle Business Forum was entitled ‘Partnership Models for postal operators – the value chain as the key to new revenue streams’. A panel of experts, including Luis Jimenez, Professor Matthias Finger and Claudia Pletscher, and chaired by Bernhard Bukovc, debated the DNA of Postal Services and their place vis-à-vis private operators and whether diversification in to areas such as health or grocery delivery was an attractive alternative or a distraction. All against a backdrop of a rapidly privatizing postal sector across the world and a parallel electronic value chain with dynamic digital players.


A debate ensued with regards to whether or not a newer private-sector service provider would be a good alternative to incumbent postal services? There was tacit agreement that companies, such as Amazon or FedEx, could deliver an excellent experience for customers – based on a choice of the best option available, however public policy was vital in order to ensure access and wide-spread availability of services.

Finally the debate was concluded by summarizing three value-chain strengths that Postal Services could build upon:

  1. Historically played an intermediation role
  2. Have a link to the physical letters and parcels, with unique connection at a local and national level
  3. Strong relationship [Brand] with the last mile receiver ‘Citizen Customer’

The PostExpo exhibition hall contained some interesting themes:

  1. A number of ‘Delivery Box’ solutions for customers that weren’t at home
  2. Mobile App Management for Field Personnel to update and manage applications
  3. Vehicles of all sizes to offer flexible and low-carbon delivery across various global geographies
  4. Location Intelligence solutions to optimize delivery and service
  5. Parcel Sorting with intelligent software and OCR technology

Pitney Bowes team delivered a first-class experience for customers and delegates with a theme of ‘Parcels SORTED’. A working Pitney Bowes Parcel Sorter was on display and I received a demo of the software that showed how the OCR technology captured unique package details in order to optimize the flow of the post / service provider. A great opportunity to aid customer experience and business effectiveness.


Congratulations to all at PostExpo, and particularly to the Pitney Bowes team of Annette Friedl, David Jeffries, Sue Christelow, Eric Kempton et al…

Germany Culture of Transformation, Teamwork and Tactics is a Winning Formula



I have utmost respect for Germany. As a nation, they are consummate in their planning and organisation, particularly for major sporting tournaments that matter. The same applies to other aspects of their success as a nation too. In Brazil 2014 their preparation for the Match with Brazil was pinpoint. They pulled apart a Brazil team lacking a defensive linchpin and the one flair player who could have added an extra attacking dimension. The German tactics and training ground preparation was spot-on, however this comes from a legacy culture that will bounce back from adversity and find a new way. Remember England beating Germany 5-1 in Munich in 2001? Germany then transformed themselves and set a new longer-term strategy, which could now see them as 2014 World Champions. Parallels between sport and business should be observed. Both are about the team, the culture, the transformation strategy and the shorter-term tactics. German Football is a great blueprint for winning!

Brilliant Dutch Courage by Louis van Gaal at the World Cup



To win, a leader needs to innovate and do things differently. Step forward Louis van Gaal and his gutsy decision to replace the Netherlands goalkeeper with a minute to go, so that Tim Krul’s height, reach and freshness could help win the penalty shoot-out for the Dutch. ‘Never been done before’ they cried! Well it made the difference in a tight encounter, and also showed the importance of getting the best from the whole team. The unity of the Dutch, and playing for one another, was evident. A culture also down to Louis van Gaal. The Dutch march on to a semi-final with Argentina, and Manchester United have the leader who has the inspiration to take them to the top again!