The Digital Customer Experience Blog

Your source of insights for a successful digital transformation.

Soft Skills are the New Core Skills – and Technology Can Hire Them

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Mark Murphy, the author of Hiring For Attitude, leadership trainer and CEO of Leadership IQ, has trained companies like Microsoft and IBM. In one of his research he tracked 20,000 new hires, and found that 46% of them failed within 18 months.

Even more shocking than the failure rate was the fact that 89% of the time it happened for attitudinal problems towards work and colleagues, and only 11% for lack of expertise. The attitudinal deficits included low levels of emotional intelligence, motivation, and temperament.

In today's fluid and interpersonal workplaces, skills such listening and learning from criticism, collaborating with others, working under pressure, presenting ideas effectively, and a having a positive, flexible attitude become all vital qualities for career success.

And while studying takes us on a path towards acquiring those hard, technical skills that we need to manage our job operationally, soft skills have little to do with knowledge or expertise. They are closely linked with our character.

As a combination of social competences, communication abilities, and emotional intelligence, soft skills are the spearhead of our inner nature and a direct result of our personal inclinations, which can strengthen or weaken them.

Some personality traits, in particular, have proven to be strong predictors of career success, leading to superior performances in general people’s working lives and within different jobs.

Let’s look at two important - yet not so well-known - personality traits: Internal Locus of Control, the key to success in any work environment; Need for Closure, which can have a different impact in various job functions.

Locus of Control

Locus of Control is our tendency to believe that 'control' resides internally within us, or externally, with others or the situation.

Individuals with an internal Locus of Control (called "internals") feel that they are in charge of their life and have primary responsibility for their actions, whether they are successes or failures.

Individuals with an external Locus of Control (called "externals") tend to feel more vulnerable and view themselves as victims of circumstances, fate, luck, and the influence of other people. They are more likely to make excuses or blame other people, events, or things, rather than taking responsibilities.

Having an internal Locus of Control is a source of energy, motivation, and confidence, which represents an advantage at all levels within an organization in many areas and situations. For example:

Effective Leadership. An "internal" leader is more likely to be favored by group members. One reason is that "internals" are perceived as more influential than "externals" because they take responsibility for events, emphasizing that they can change unfavorable conditions.

Taking the Initiative. Effective managers demonstrate a strong self-efficacy and an internal Locus of Control when they take steps to circumvent obstacles, actively seek information to solve problems, and usually initiate action, rather than waiting for things to happen.

Occupational Well-being. Amongst other things, Locus of Control is found to be a strong predictor of occupational health, and 'internal' employees show higher levels of job satisfaction and lower levels of job insecurity.

Need for Closure

Need for Closure (NFC) describes people's desire for a firm answer to a question or an issue and an aversion toward ambiguity.

A person with a high NFC prefers order and predictability and, in uncertain situations, tends to seek closure urgently. In contrast, a person with a low NFC tends to tolerate more, or even to look for the fluidity of uncertain situations.

In business and management, this personality trait has significant implications. For example:

Decision Making. Employees' level of NFC can serve as a useful criterion to select decision makers in organizations, by identifying the decision-making style that fits better with a job function. People with a high NFC prefer to think about black-or-white solutions and simplified dichotomization. They are more willing to make instant decisions, whereas people with a low need for closure prefer to postpone decisions and carry out a more in-depth evaluation, even if it takes extra time.

Leadership Behavior. Experimental findings have highlighted that individual differences in the desire to reduce uncertainty affect people's leadership style. For example, supervisors that are high on NFC tend to show an autocratic leadership and a preference for 'hard power' tactics of social influence, whereas 'soft power' tactics are those that managers with a low NFC value most.

Coping with Change. Because of their desire for stability and permanence, people with a high NFC feel uncomfortable with change. They are also more resistant to changing their minds and yielding to persuasion attempts. For example, high NFC levels are associated with political conservatism, an ideology whose core definition involves resistance to change.

Personality assessments have always been a common practice amongst large companies, to identify peoples' strengths and weaknesses and help HR managers decide whether or not an employee is a good organizational fit. To this end, traditional paper-based and web-based questionnaires are still today the primary tool used by companies.

Technology, however, is changing the face of the HR world by progressively, but rapidly, automating processes on previously unimaginable scales. Today's softwares can do much more than grade multiple-choice questions to measure people's technical skills.

With natural language processing and machine learning algorithms analyzing things like keywords, intonation, and body language, it becomes possible to capture more intangible human qualities. This data can then be used to create a psychological profile that allows HR managers to predict whether a person's attitudes fit with the company’s culture, values, and desired behaviors.

For the past year, the consumer-goods giant Unilever - for which about 170,000 employees work worldwide - has been using artificial intelligence to screen all its entry-level employees, and neuroscience-based games to measure their inherent traits. The company needed to renew itself, and transforming new talent recruitment by digitizing the first steps of the hiring process was a great way to do so, says Mike Clementi, VP of human resources for North America.

More and more, it has become clear that Artificial Intelligence not only improves the work processes of employees by automating time-consuming daily tasks; it is revolutionizing the HR world at all stages. Let’s look at some of them:

Hiring Process. By scanning resumes, machine learning algorithms can do initial screenings to identify the best candidates, eliminate unqualified prospects, and then create shortlists that can be organized based on specific skills, keywords or employment history.

Training Methods. By recording how an employee is responding to an ongoing training program, AI can help HR managers to better tailor future training sessions to each worker.

Performance Evaluation. By analyzing productivity data, AI can help to measure how well an employee is performing, thus becoming a supplemental tool to management decisions.

Turnover Prediction. By analyzing employee engagement data, gathered from quantitative surveys or qualitative methods, AI can determine an employee’s level of commitment or satisfaction, and better predict if he or she is at risk of leaving. That allows HR managers to decide whether to adopt some backup retention measures or provide new growth opportunities.

There have been great strides in the HR world, since technology was usually seen simply as a tool to streamline technical procedures. A turning point comes when AI applications are increasingly expanding from specific standardized, low cognitive demand tasks, to typically human jobs, such as discovering the human side of employees, from their temporary feelings and emotions to their stable personality traits.

We cannot predict the future of HR with a 100 percent certainty, but what we can see is undoubtedly a world where technology will embrace more and more the human side of people.

Photo by Larm Rmah on Unsplash

Download The 7 Pillars Of The New Customer Loyalty to define the foundations on which to build your engagement and loyalty strategy, create innovative experiences and establish a lasting and valuable relationship with your customers.

5 Insightful Talks From The Inbound 2017 [VIDEO]

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‘Inbound’ is the name of the annual conference held by Hubspot in Boston. From a community-focused meeting, it has grown exponentially into a mainstream even, attended this year by over 20,000 people from 100 countries.

The inbound marketing methodology is always at the heart of the week-long conference but, this year more than ever, there were plenty of interesting talks spanning from business to technology and social matters.

Now that the page of the conference has been updated with the official videos, here is our selection of the 5 most insightful videos from the Inbound 2017.

RAND FISHKIN

First of all, we must highlight the amazing spotlight speech by the Wizard of Moz himself: Rand Fishkin, founder and former CEO of Moz, and of the most recognized SEO experts in the world.

PIERA GELARDI

When you talk about creativity, media and startups, you cannot ignore Piera Gelardi, co-founder of Refinery29, an online fashion and lifestyle magazine with 25 million global readers.

JEN SPENCER

We talk a lot about marketing automation, Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, but we should never forget that, behind technology, the core of any experience is still the human element.

BRIT MARLING & ISSA RAE

Today, it is impossible to talk about content marketing ignoring the power of video. This is the tipping point of the spotlight with the two women behind Netflix’s THE OA and HBO’s Insecure.

WAJAHAT ALI

In times of social turmoils, voices like Wajahat Ali become even more important. He is, in fact, the mind behind different social entrepreneurship initiatives aimed at creating a positive impact for marginalized communities.

Download The 7 Pillars Of The New Customer Loyalty to define the foundations on which to build your engagement and loyalty strategy, create innovative experiences and establish a lasting and valuable relationship with your customers.

Be Human – Matching Customer Personality is the New Key to Relevance

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There came a time when the digital era took over the analog world and completely changed the face of marketing, with no possible turning back.

If you ask how things changed, most marketers will likely point at three main areas of marketing that have been disrupted: Speed, Relevance, Reach. The rise of digital means you can (must) be incredibly fast and get an unprecedented coverage - something you could only dream two decades ago.

If we focus on the mere numbers, there is no comparison between the analog and the digital worlds. It gets a bit more complicated when it comes to relevance, a purely subjective concept.

When we say or hear that digital technology has given us highly relevant marketing and branding campaigns, what are we referring to?

In our previous article about the Psychographics we have emphasized how a good seller always understands his customer, and has an easy game knowing how to communicate with him - not just what to propose but how to sell it. In his own way, he is surely relevant.

In the digital communication, this kind of ‘human’ relevance is lost: messages are targeted to specific groups of users, which are segmented and profiled based on some objective, explicit and observable data (typically demographic and behavioral).

Attitudes, emotions, and personality are almost never considered, although they are a big part of what makes the human communication so appropriate, empathic, and relevant.

Here, we are talking about the importance of psychology and the influence it has on the development of marketing and technology. What can psychology do to increase the relevance of your Brand’s communication on digital channels, where technology - with its speed and reach - has replaced the human touch?

For decades now, psychological studies have played a prominent role by identifying strategies to improve the effectiveness of marketing campaigns through the principles of persuasion. One such strategy, known as message tailoring, involves the adaptation of communication to the characteristics of the customer.

As researchers have shown, messages that fit with an individual’s attitudes and dispositional motives are processed more fluently and evaluated more positively than incongruent messages. These effects have been observed across several domains, including prevention, behavioral change, and consumer purchases.

For marketing and advertising professionals, this means that tailoring the messages so that they match customer personality can be a promising tactic to increase the effectiveness of campaigns.

To better understand this interweaving of disciplines, we have to pass from theory to practice. For example, by framing the messages through the well known Big Five model of personality, it becomes possible to target a broad variety of motives, including:

  • Desire for excitement, social rewards, energy, and fun - powerful drivers for Extroverts.
  • Sympathy, interpersonal harmony, connection with family and community - values more significant for Agreeable people.
  • Efficiency, order and goal pursuit - primary motives for Conscientious people.
  • Quiet, carefree, safety and security - people with lower Emotional stability pay more attention to these benefits.
  • Creativity, curiosity, innovation, imagination and intellectual stimulation - perfect features when interacting with people Open to experience.

As a result, an advertisement emphasizing a specific motivational concern, congruent with the user’s personality traits, would be more effective in term of attention, evaluation, and impact.

To sum up, in an era where the customer centricity is more and more about personalization, understanding customers as human beings in their uniqueness is the only way to anticipate their needs and desires.

If you know what they are about to do before they actually do it, you will unlock the true power of digital and mobile technologies; Technology may make giant leaps forward in all areas, but communication is definitely where Natural Intelligence still wins.

We are empathetic human beings, and we can flexibly adapt our attitude, language, and relational approach. In this perspective, machines are still far away from us, and will probably always be.

That is why you should strive not to replace human with technology, but to fill the gap between the two by infusing more human capabilities into technology. Talk to your customers as humans, and you will ultimately build strong, intimate, long lasting relationships.

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

Discover MyPsychographics test, based on techniques that have been developed and refined over 100 years of cognitive, behavioral and social psychology.

Strategic Predictions For 2018 and Beyond From Gartner Symposium

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The future is filled with disruption. But pending disruptions are taking on new forms. This is the tipping point for Gartner's keynote about top strategic predictions for 2018 and beyond, live from Orlando.

Here is a selection for you of the most relevant insights from Gartner Symposium/ITxpo, where the world’s top digital professionals gain a strategic view of the emerging trends shaping technology and business.

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Psychographics – Turn Mass Personalization into Customer Uniqueness

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Mass Marketing is dead, that's nothing new. In a world dominated by the culture of "Me", one size doesn't fit all. Customers - no matter what their socioeconomic status is - want to take center stage. They want to be loved by the Brands they love, in return for their loyalty.

If you are not willing to take care of your customers’ emotions, desires and needs, they will devote their soul and heart to your competitors. In this ever-customer-centric scenario, personalization goes from being a nice-to-have to becoming a must-have.

For over 15 years, one-to-one marketing (also called personalized marketing, or individual marketing) has moved in this direction to help companies engage with customers the right way, based on their needs, preferences, and behaviors.

Global players such as Netflix, Amazon, and Spotify, to name a few, are well-known for being data-driven companies aiming at the customer excellence.

Netflix knows the ‘completion rate’ for a TV series; how many users started and finished it til the end of the last season; where the common cut-off point was; how long has passed between when they watched one episode and then the next.

And the data go even deeper: when you pause, rewind, or fast forward; when you watch a specific type of content; where you watch and what device you use; the ratings you give, what you do after any episode - if you leave the app or go back to browsing.

The same way, Amazon constantly analyzes what items you purchased; what is in your wishlist; what you search for the most; which products you reviewed and rated; and uses this information to recommend you additional products based on what the other customers purchased in the same situation.

Given this continuous evolution towards a more and more detailed knowledge of a customer’s ‘moves’ and features, the question is: What is the missing piece that will enable Brands to create a more intimate, long-lasting relationship with customers?

Tracking behaviors is a critical task, no doubt about it. However, it is not enough to explain, discover or predict the 'Why' of our behaviors, feelings, and choices, that is deeply linked to our inner world and is a consequence of 'Who' we truly are.

Who we are - our unique personality - affects our behaviors more than people think or realize. And even more than marketers do. Understanding this simple fact is the basic requirement to persona-lize your strategy.

A crowded place full of new people can excite an extroverted and annoy an introvert. An extreme sport or a transgressive experience will attract those who love taking risks, and scare those who avoid them. An open-minded person will be excited to try an entirely new product, while a conservative person will prefer to wait for that product to be tested by others.

It is evident that we - as marketers - are missing something important, the human side of customers.

The interesting thing is that our personality determines not only what we like, but also our communication preferences and, consequently, what is most likely to persuade us. As empathetic human beings, we can flexibly adapt our language and relational approach from time to time, depending on who we are dealing with.

A good seller who understands his customer has an easy game because he knows how to communicate with him - not just what to propose but how to paint it.

As an example, let's take a personality trait known as Need for Uniqueness, the pursuing of differentness relative to others, that can be obtained through the purchase and use of goods and services.

This personality trait can be a key buying reason in various contexts, such as shopping for clothes. Some people usually look for items that visibly distinguish them from others, and when they realize that another person also wears something they just bought, they lose interest or even get annoyed.

Other people, on the other hand, prefer to blend with others - especially their reference group - and use their dressing style to emphasize this membership and belonging.

Now think about this. What if fashion brands had this information readily available for each customer, exactly as they already know the age, sex, and last purchase?

Would they communicate their offer in the same way? We hope not. Such information would radically change the way they see customers, interact with them and deliver unique customer experiences.

One-to-one marketing, as we know it, is surely getting smarter thanks to the huge amount of detailed data on what customers do across all stages and channels of their journey. But if this is useful, it is not necessarily exponential.

The innovation here does not come with the increasing of the data managed, but by introducing new ideas and criteria to evaluate those data (i.e. the Psychographics, based on techniques that have been developed and refined over 100 years of cognitive, behavioral and social psychology).

Mass communication is dead, and mass personalization is evolving to embrace the human side of customers progressively. Starting from now, an empathetic marketing strategy will take marketing and customer experience to the next level.

Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash

Take MyPsychographics test, based on a set of scientifically-validated questionnaires plus social media, to understand your true self and discover your personality traits.

Neosurance Chosen as Best Insurance Game-changer at Munich Re Digital Partners

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It has been a memorable year for Neosurance. The innovative insurtech start-up, founded by Neosperience and DigitalTech, has been recently awarded with the Munich Re Digital Partners Award as the ‘Best Insurance Game-changer'.

The recognition comes in the wake of the selection by Plug&Play for their intensive acceleration program, and the partnership with AXA Italy to launch the first push "instant insurance".

The award was received at an event in London which gathered one hundred and fifty participants from the VC and business angels communities as well as numerous players from the insurtech ecosystem.

Mark Dennis, COO of Digital Partners - a global business unit of Munich Re designed to partner with disruptors who are changing the way insurance is experienced by customers - commented:

Digital disruption is changing the insurance industry. We established Digital Partners as an enabler to work with insurtech start-ups and digital verticals who are aiming to change the insurance world, developing better products and providing better customer experiences. The Best Insurance Game-changer award aims to recognise those making a difference in our industry.

Neosurance won the vote by the event participants for its disruptive distribution model based on the principles that “insurance is not bought by but sold to the customer, through the creation of smart emotional engagements at the point of need, directly on their smartphones”.

Neosurance offers AI and machine learning solutions for insurance companies to enable the sale of micro policies ‘on the spot’. Advanced technology in a unique combination with behavioural sciences merge together to create a distinctive customer journey in which insurance becomes instant, contextual and convenient. A big step ahead to bring protection closer to people when and where it matters most.

The core value proposition for clients is building a digital customer experience journey on the basis of contextual, behavioural and emotional data through a “learning by doing” approach, with numerous use cases spanning from travel, sports and mobility to the shared economy, closing the protection gap while making insurance and assistance relevant, easy and convenient.

In the first half of the year Neosurance was selected by Plug&Play Tech Center to take part in their insurtech accelerator in Silicon Valley where it had the chance to expand its network of partners on American soil. Following this inspiring experience, the company announced a brand new partnership with AXA Italy, starting with the launch in the Italian market by the end of June of a travel insurance coverage that can be purchased in 10 seconds.

In July 2017 the startup, led by its CEO Pietro Menghi, a veteran of the insurance and reinsurance industry, has launched its first product to offer instant travel protection, having just finalized a seed round of 700,000 Euro, which brings the total equity raised close to one million.

Photo by Ashim D’Silva on Unsplash

Download The 7 Pillars Of The New Customer Loyalty to define the foundations on which to build your engagement and loyalty strategy, create innovative experiences and establish a lasting and valuable relationship with your customers.

The Digital Customer Experience Blog

This site, published by Neosperience, overviews the advancements of digital customer experience in marketing, technology and society. Neosperience Cloud is the technology platform to create engaging experiences for your customers that drive ongoing loyalty to your brand, and faster paths to purchase. It is the choice of the best companies in the world, Winner of the most prestigious global awards across many industries: Automotive, Communications, Media and Services, Consumer Products, Retail and Distribution, Fashion, Luxury and Beauty, Financial Services, Healthcare, Utilities, Government and Infrastructure, Travel and Transportation.

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