JOIN THE CLUB

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On the 14th of June, the 21st FIFA World Cup will begin; one month, 32 national teams, 64 matches, 12 venues in 11 cities, you’ll either be enthralled or counting down the days until football fever has passed. Even those who have little interest in their own local teams, who wouldn’t call themselves football fans, find the scale of the competition and the pomp and ceremony of the World Cup irresistible.

There’s an important lesson here for any brand too, and that is, how to create an experience that results in long-term fans and why that’s vital to any business.
 

Starting 11

Ask yourself why people become fans of something. Because they enjoy it, it entertains or delights them. It doesn’t matter if the experience is something they haven’t chosen to do but undertaken out of necessity, such as online banking, a clever brand or business can turn even the most mundane task into something sublime.

Which is important because customer retention can be a brand’s biggest revenue driver; just a 5% increase in customer retention can increase profitability by 75% and according to the Pareto principle, 80% of the business’ revenue will come from 20% of its existing customers. It becomes clear that it isn’t enough to provide a service or sell a product, to be successful, a brand must create fans.
 

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Creating fans isn’t as simple as it sounds. A great product or service will engender customer satisfaction but not loyalty.

It runs the risk of being viewed as perfunctory and the same customers will be easily swayed by another great product or service from your competitors.

The difference is creating a memorable experience, something that makes the customer feel like an individual and not just
a number.

It’s one of the reasons why we launched Vpod Dialog, a video banking solution which enables financial service companies to deliver a real-time, 24/7 service, in the way that suits the customer.

This allows for an interactive experience where an advisor can deliver a personal banking service that isn’t fixed by traditional opening hours or geographical location.
This is relationship-building; team-bonding if you will.
 

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There’s an important lesson here for any brand too, and that is, how to create an experience that results in long-term fans and why that’s vital to any business

Tracksuit manager

This will take a hands-on approach, rolled-up sleeves and a thorough review of your database. Look at who your customers are and how they have responded to your marketing, your service or product, your aftercare or support service; what are their buying patterns or usage patterns? What communication has there been with them? Has there been any follow-up? Have they mentioned the product or service on social media? The more you know about each consumer or client, the more you can understand their needs and meet them. More than that, you can understand what delights them.

Your strategy of communication should then be based on what you know. This could include incentivising further purchases or service offerings or even just a simple ‘thank you for your custom’ note; the data you have analysed on each customer should show which approach will be most appealing. It is also important to reward the most profitable customers to increase their loyalty. The most important element here is personalisation - both in the manner you communicate and the incentivisation you offer.

It’s something we’ve seen first-hand with our retail clients using Vpod Portal. Each customer journey is tracked, and up-sell recommendations given based on an individual’s preferences. As any good manager will tell you, it can take years to build that kind of knowledge; with Vpod Portal, it’s at your fingertips. 
 

Kick-off

Obviously, it is vital that the service or product is great in the first place. No amount of ‘getting to know the customer’ or thoughtful gestures will build a relationship if the fundamental experience they have had with the business is poor. The customer expects a consistent, straightforward and convenient experience. And if things do go wrong, they expect that in putting it right, the company continues to behave in a consistent, straightforward and convenient way.

A business that gives an accurate portrayal of its products and services is on to a winner. Customer trust is gained by not over-promising or indulging in hyperbole. By aligning expectations with what can reasonably be achieved, customers are also likely to be more forgiving if things do go wrong. Just not when it comes to penalty shoot-outs, mind.
 

12th man

In football terms, the fans’ support for the team can feel like an extra player. In business, this boost comes from integrity. Football fans can spot a player whose heart isn’t in it and customers can spot a business or brand that doesn’t care. 

Carry out your due diligence, contact customers with products and services that actually benefit them, new technology or system updates that they actually use and will make life more efficient for them. Take the time to care and the fans will be singing your praises.
 

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Half-time commentary

Get people talking about the brand. Better still, build a community around it. The truth is a ‘brand’ is just a way of creating a sense of belonging. People always look for other people to identify with and a ‘brand’ makes it easy - especially by presenting groups that people want to identify with. So give the people who have connected with your brand a platform to be more vocal about the product or service. They will attract others to connect with your brand and help build a community that will give your product or service an aspirational quality. As more people join the community, the early adopters will become fans.

An important thing to note though, is that the community can’t be told what to think or feel; its identity has to be self-generated. The fans will invent their own chants whether the players like them or not.
 

Hat trick

Foster the customer relationship by unexpectedly rewarding milestones or by showing appreciation for positive comments made on social media for example. Giving customers an elevated status is a simple yet effective way to say thank you; loyalty points, an exclusive offer or moving a customer up to a higher membership status is a great way to gain fans. It is likely to be reciprocated by the customer announcing their delight on social media… gaining the business more fans.
 

Post-match analysis

As with databases, email marketing campaigns also need regular checking.
Tailor the content to your known audience and constantly test the response.

What type of subject lines are opened most, what elements are read most often and for longest? Offers, news and blogs should be driven by what your community is highlighting, not what you want to talk about as a business. 

If you want to increase your customer engagement, give the fans what they want.
 

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As more people join the community, the early adopters will become fans


Next round

The difference between a customer and a fan is loyalty, and a brand or business has to earn it. Provide an outstanding product or service, one that is unwavering even when things go wrong. Take the time to know and understand the customer and tailor your communications and your service to them. Help them to feel part of something bigger and reward their interest, moreover don’t ever forget to say thank you. Unlike football that enjoys unwavering loyalty from its fans (most of the time), customers can easily lose interest or be tempted by another brand or service so in everything your business does, make the customers’ delight your goal.

If you would like to know more about creating better connections with your customers and future fans, get in touch with Vpod Solutions today by emailing info@vpodsolutions.com or giving us a call on +44 (0)20 7621 6300. This team is ready.

 

SEAMLESS COLLABORATION

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The joy of six

Six ways dialog’s seamless collaboration will transform how you communicate with your customers

Nothing should get in the way of a financial services business and its customers – that relationship is the key to success for both parties. 

Sadly, much of the technology that was meant to bring them together – like email or websites – ends up being just another obstacle to overcome.

…dialog is different. 

To call it ‘video calling’ doesn’t come close to its capabilities: dialog is a unique video solution that allows companies and their customers to communicate, collaborate and annotate in real time, face to face, wherever they are in the world. 


We call this ‘seamless collaboration’. And here’s why it’s going to make communicating with your customers more productive. 


1. Dialog: immediate convenience

Previously, mortgage advisors and customers would often have to wait weeks to meet: now with dialog they can talk immediately – and conduct the whole process (whether that’s securing a loan or negotiating a mortgage) remotely. Even if a customer is unable to make it to a branch, dialog allows them to talk to an advisor via laptop, smartphone or tablet.
 

2. At last: on-screen annotation is a reality

Video-calling isn’t new, but dialog’s unique on-screen annotation makes it truly collaborative. From the customer’s point of view, it means they’re physically involved with the process, while agents will appreciate the ability to examine data on-screen, keeping their client informed at every step.

Notes can also be made in real time and important documents can be signed on- screen – a godsend when meeting in real life isn’t possible.
 

 Realtime annotation is finally a reality through a simple touchscreen interface

Realtime annotation is finally a reality through a simple touchscreen interface

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3. Just scan and print

Applying for a loan or mortgage involves the scanning and printing of essential documents. 

Dialog lets customers scan their passport or driving licence in branch for identification purposes and then upload them.

Agents are then able to print these and other documents off directly from the system’s interface. 


 

4. Making video as easy as audio

For both customers and businesses, communicating via traditional video software is painstaking: either you connect point to point, or multiple participants all dial in at once.
This is off-putting for potential customers, especially if they just want to talk to an advisor without making a commitment.

Happily, dialog treats video like audio, so customers can be put in queues, letting companies allocate fewer agents per client. This not only saves the business money, but speeds up availability and lets customers contact you at times convenient to them.

 Manage multiple callers; hold, mute or forward as easily as a smartphone

Manage multiple callers; hold, mute or forward as easily as a smartphone

5. When the network lets you down, dialog won’t

There’s nothing more frustrating for a customer than being cut off while talking to an advisor: it’s stressful, and from a business point of view, wasteful. But thanks to dialog’s robust technology, high quality video calls can be sustained with variable bandwidth and up to 20% packet loss.

So even if you’re talking to a customer over 4G, dialog will make sure the connection stays stable – letting you concentrate on getting the right deal for your client.
 

6. You don’t have to buy lots of new kit

Investing in expensive video equipment is the last thing a business needs, especially when most video calling solutions are unreliable and unresponsive. But dialog runs as software on mainstream servers and virtual platforms, and its apps work on any computer and mobile device you already own. This means that Ultra HD video is now available to everyone.


If you’re interested in how dialog can bring you and your customers together, why not come and see us? To arrange a demonstration, just click just contact us info@vpodsolutions.com and take your customer service to the next level.

dialog – because every conversation counts

 

DIALOG – BECAUSE EVERY CONVERSATION COUNTS

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dialog

The evolution of customer communication for financial services

Technology is allowing us to communicate with each other like never before, so why does it seem that video calling still has the same old restrictions? Current solutions allow you to communicate with remote advisors either remotely through apps and web or via the branch, no other products provide an end to end solution for banks. 

Video is identified as one of the key tools in promoting and connecting your business, so why is it lagging behind less impactful tools in its reach and effectiveness?

Capacity issues, technical restrictions and lack of flexibility associated with a 'vanilla' approach can leave customers frustrated. Your customers rightly ask, "why can’t I talk face-to-face with the right person to answer my questions straight away?"

Think how many sales opportunities are lost every day because of these factors; and how will your company be perceived in the market place, if your customers' experience is a negative one?

Introducing dialog – the only 360 solution that means video need no longer be just an ineffective 'bolt-on' to your customer service strategy, but can finally form an integral part of your entire interaction.

Technology is allowing us to communicate with each other like never before, so why does it seem that video calling still has the same old restrictions?


Using Vidyo’s robust and bandwidth-light VEX technology, dialog means that finally, you can treat video just as you would audio, with full call-routing options available to your advisors, all via a simple user interface.

Powerful tools such as co-browsing and annotation of content on screen and the ability to print important documents remotely, mean dialog's potential to help your business is far beyond being a simple ‘visual phone call’, it ensures every call can now be something unique and empowering, to both your team, and most importantly, your customers.

Ultimately, dialog is the solution we all knew should exist, but wondered why it didn’t – but it took Vpod’s experience in bringing video to the consumer marketplace and Vidyo’s platform expertise to make it happen – now you can really make your business’ voice heard in a crowded marketplace and start to truly listen to your customers.

dialog – because every conversation counts


With dialog, it's now quick, immediate and cost-effective to transform every interaction you have into something beneficial to both you and your customer base.

Just contact us info@vpodsolutions.com and take your customer service to the next level.

 

NEW YEAR – NEW LOOK

We are constantly looking at ways to improve and update our products, improving designs both in terms of looks and simplifying solutions. The Japanese call it 'Kaizen', the art of continual improvement.

The new update of our Vgreet unit is our most refined yet. By replacing the older, infrared touch-recognition system, which featured in previous designs, with smart-device style capacitive technology, it means not only is the screen now ultra-responsive to gestures, it also allows it to sit flush to the unit for a much sleeker, more stylish appearance.

Other refinements include a smart, single linear grille for the speakers and a discreet camera housing, making the Vgreet a stylish addition to any reception, retail space, bank or health centre — indeed anywhere where customer communications need to be up close and personal.
 

The evolution of the Vgreet unit to the new sleek flush-front design.

Design details up close.
 

ARE YOU WORKING 9 to 5?

It's a long time since Dolly Parton sung about the drudgery of the 'Nine to Five' — business' thinking seems to be finally catching up with how we can change the grind to the great.

Work life is changing — more flexible working hours, remote working are much more commonplace; and new start-up style businesses have very different idea of what constitutes 'working-life'.

From more personal hours to accommodate looking after a young family to tech nerds who never see daylight — this all means that '9 to 5' can just as easily mean 9pm to 5am in modern working.

Locations where businesses are concentrated, from towns to capitals, are also realising there is a real need to think of a 24hr economy. London has even appointed a 'Night Tsar', Amy Lamé, to help businesses take advantage of what is now becoming more of a 24hr City than ever before.

With these rapidly changing shifts in attitudes, companies need to think of ways to accommodate, and take advantage of this new thinking.

More and more companies are finding the solutions offered by Vpod are helping them offer employees a new way of working. Vgreet systems are now offering businesses full concierge and reception services to business properties, without the need for 24hr personnel on site. Meanwhile Remote Expert solutions are allowing retailers, banks and healthcare businesses to interact with customers at convenient hours, not office hours.

Most importantly, Vpod is not part of a 'robot' economy, it's about helping people make the connections they need, whenever they need them. Business is still at its best when it's done face-to-face.

Talk to Vpod and find out how to free your business and employees to work smarter not harder and allow your customers to get great access to your brand and services at times that suit them.

After all, as Dolly said about working 9-5 "that ain't no way to make a living".

 

THE DOCTOR IS (ALWAYS) IN

Plans for charging for out-of-hours services mean surgeries need to be more flexible than ever about how they work with patients.

Research is being conducted into how to create new funding models for GPs and other medical practitioners, so they don't solely rely on Government funding for their revenue. Local Medical Councils (LMCs) are working with GPs to look at how out-of-hours services can allow them to provide healthcare in a similar way to a private model.

This drive coincides with patient's demands for doctor and surgery hours to more closely match their busy lifestyles.

Vpod is already at the forefront of this thinking, allowing medical practitioners to schedule appointments with patients at a time that suits them, meaning they are not bound to be physically at their surgeries for out-of-hours appointments, but still be able to provide face-to-face consultation to their patients.

With the NHS struggling to find ways of providing revenue, this kind of flexibility is going to be key to maintaining health care at affordable costs to both doctor and patients. 

By allowing patients to call from any smart device to their doctor, allowing multiple experts to join the call to ensure the best advice is given, all while showing the Doctor all the relevant history, a Vpod system is an incredibly powerful tool for patient care to make patient care low-cost but high-value.

It can also streamline tasks such as completing prescription and can even take diagnostic data remotely, all reducing the need for busy surgeries, queues, missed appointments and the frustration — and lost revenue — that can cause.

Most importantly, it maintains the personal doctor-patient contact that is so important and still is a cornerstone for patient confidence.

Vpod, the Doctor will see you now…

 

REMOTE: CONTROL

REMOTE EXPERT — A NEW WAY TO CONNECT YOUR CUSTOMERS

Many businesses experience a familiar problem. You already possess the expertise your customers need, but how can you provide access to it that is both immediate and convenient?

Remote Expert ensures that your customers can speak to the person they require, face-to-face, to address their query. Whether it relates to sales, support or any other service you offer, this ability to communicate directly can happen across multiple channels meaning your customers can speak to whom they need, when they want.

There are solutions in existence, which do begin to address this area, but they are often vanilla video - point to point or conferencing. Audio public exchanges (PBX) have allowed the ability to route calls accordingly but they lack the humanising element.

A prime example of an area where customer interaction is frustrating is healthcare. The average wait time for a doctor’s appointment in the UK is two weeks, hardly the symbol of an on-demand society. Solutions are being evaluated to allow direct video calls direct to a practitioner, but then there’s the problem of capacity. Whilst communicating via video is convenient, if it doesn’t take the Doctor out of the surgery, route calls effectively and offers 27/4 access, then is it really adding benefit?

With Remote Expert, the barriers to effective customer engagement are removed. Customers can call from their smart device within their own home, at a time that’s convenient and because you can build a global network of responding experts, no call goes unanswered. Frustration about specialist queries not being answered correctly is also removed. With Remote Expert, the first call responder can add other experts to the call at the touch of a button, making sure the most relevant information can be provided. They can instantly share information, removing any barrier to the query being resolved fully and promptly.

It’s not just healthcare that is finding the ability to manage their customer communications a challenge. Other verticals such as retail and banking have found placing experts at customer’s disposable is key to maximizing response times and purchase influence. By consolidating expertise, organisations also significantly reduce costs.

Vpod has helped its clients by not only creating a truly flexible communication solution which treats video in the same way as audio, they have also ensured no large cost outlays to implement, by making a flexible modular system that has been developed in-house. There are no punitive development costs in set up, and no need to change internal process to suit the system —VPods communications tools are designed around the workflow and not the other way round.

Perhaps the most compelling part of Remote Expert is that it’s so convenient to both the experts and customer. Whether the call originates via a smartphone or an acoustically treated pod located within a shopping Centre, bank or clinic, the process is the same — instant access to the person they need, to solve the query quickly and effectively. Calls can even be scheduled to suit a customer’s busy lifestyle. The concept of only being able to contact your bank / Doctor ‘in-hours’ can finally be a thing of the past, something that will become vital as people’s lifestyles grow increasingly more demanding.

While communications is one of the most rapidly expanding and technologically advanced aspects of modern life, the customer facing aspect of this phenomena has often lagged behind its potential— it’s still all too often a world of frustration, inconvenience and monolithic audio call centers.

 

THE FADING OF HIGH STREET FINANCE


FINANCE FADES ON THE HIGH STREET

This quote in a recent Guardian article, by money editor Patrick Collinson, highlights one reason why traditional bank branches are vanishing from our high streets.

"I'm the money editor of The Guardian, but have not made a single visit to my bank this year," he points out. Some of his team had, but only a couple of times, and just to deposit a cheque – one of the few things that still requires a physical element to a transaction (notably, they considered the whole experience "a bit of a faff.")

It's a very stark illustration; our finance management nowadays simply no longer includes "just popping to the bank."

This a trend that's only heading one way. As recently as 2011, it's been suggested there were nearly 500 million customer 'interactions' within a single bank branch. But many believe this figure had fallen by roughly half come 2016. 

It seems the advent of internet banking has achieved what the arrival of the ATM only hinted at – the terminal decline of 'physical' banking.

This has brought new challenges however. Many elderly folks aren't online. Even the relatively small number who do own a computer or smart device, and are connected online, find using them unfamiliar, and inappropriate for the important task of financial management.

Many are also concerned that while the ability to manage money online is a fantastically convenient way to deal with the vast majority of your financial life, larger decisions, such as mortgages, pension advice and personal loans, feel intimidating and complex without being able to access the opinions of a third party expert in a meaningful conversation. 

This, coupled with the eye-rolling and teeth-grinding associated with the dreaded call centre experience, means many find online banking doesn't fully cover all the interactions they need.

The high street is changing, and there isn't much nostalgia on behalf of customers or desire by the banks for a return to the branch presence of a decade ago. Online banking has liberated customers, who now manage their money conveniently, 24/7. But it's an incomplete solution. 

Your bank may not be on the high street anymore. But it's still a key factor in how you manage your life. It's when banks start to make their expertise available in a similarly convenient and flexible way that we can say the next phase of consumer financial management has arrived. 

But we still haven't solved what you're going to do with that cheque.

You can read the full article here
 

HOW ROBOTS ARE LEADING A REVOLUTION


ARE ROBOTS GOING TO STEAL OUR JOBS?

Most entrepreneurs and CEOs will agree that saving money is usually good for business. If you can help the environment at the same time, then so much the better.

"What is more surprising, however, is the type of jobs and employees that will find themselves at risk."

That’s why a new report from the World Economic Forum is not that surprising. Experts predicted that ‘over the next five years, automation and robots will eliminate 5.1 million jobs globally’. What is more surprising, however, is the type of jobs and employees that will find themselves at risk.

The industrial revolution and the rise of machines undercut many less skilled workers in the 19th century. But these days, the 'Fourth Industrial Revolution' threatens jobs in other industries: office and administrative, manufacturing and production, construction and extraction, installation and maintenance and the arts and entertainment.

"In a report last November, the Andy Haldane, the chief economist of the Bank of England, suggested that robots threaten 15 million jobs in the UK."

In a report last November, the Andy Haldane, the chief economist of the Bank of England, suggested that robots threaten 15 million jobs in the UK. As reported in The Guardian, he added that as technology improved, there was a greater likelihood that “the space remaining for uniquely human skills could shrink further”.

And what are those human skills that might protect jobs from automation? The BBC tried to calculate how likely a robot was able to take your job (try it yourself here). It was based on the work of Oxford University academics Michael Osborne and Carl Frey. They calculated how susceptible to automation each job is based on nine key skills required to perform it; social perceptiveness, negotiation, persuasion, assisting and caring for others, originality, fine arts, finger dexterity, manual dexterity and the need to work in a cramped work space.

"It’s time for businesses to start thinking about how automation is going to change and affect their employees, resources and the bottom line."

And this is not the near future. It’s happening now. Last year, Wired magazine reported that Google won a patent to start building worker robots with personalities. Quill, the natural-language generation platform, is already producing real news content for a number of publications. Mariah Carey held five concerts in different European cities on the same night with holograms.

As the Fourth Industrial Revolution starts turning its wheels, businesses are going to have to keep up. It’s time for businesses to start thinking about how automation is going to change and affect their employees, resources and the bottom line. But also how automation can satisfy their clients and customers and provide them with a better service.
 

BUS STOP AD USES VGREET-STYLE TECH


BLINK AND YOU WON'T MISS IT

Responsive advertising is going to be big in 2015; consumers expect brands to treat them as individuals. The DAILIES TOTAL1 campaign used responsive advertising to ensure it got a reaction from passers-by.

The technology is remarkably similar to the remote expert system Vpod employs. It encourages passers-by, and those waiting at bus stops, to interact with the contact lens brand by having a staring competition with four different characters on the screen at the bus shelter. If they beat ‘The Boss’, ‘The Bling Girl’, ‘The Hipster’, or ‘The Nanna’ at staring, they win money off the product. The screen prints out a voucher for the winner – much in the same way that the Vgreet’s video receptionist prints out security passes on demand.

Have a look at the video below. The campaign shows how innovative technology can be used to engage consumers by treating them as actual people.