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Farrow & Ball’s sales have grown “exponentially” this year thanks to a home improvement boom. The Drum catches up with the 75-year-old posh paint purveyor’s chief exec to find out how it has been fine-tuning its digital capabilities and baking luxury into its online experiences as it looks to appeal to DIYers and professionals alike.

Paint and wallpaper company Farrow & Ball is famous for its muted colour charts, on which you‘ll find shades with names such as ‘Downpipe’, ‘Elephant’s Breath‘ and ‘Hague Blue’. Its intensely pigmented paints have earned it a reputation among interior designers and influencers alike, with the aspirational brand selling not only distinctive tins but a lifestyle that goes with them.

This year, the business has seen the best financial results in its 75-year history, powered by a lockdown decorating boom that has pushed digital sales through the roof as people seek to reinvent the spaces they are spending more time in. In the year to August, sales were up 4.1% for the British brand, reaching £87m. Online sales were up 14% over the same period, representing over 10% of group sales versus 9% in the prior year.

“We’ve seen a huge increase in our digital demand,” explains chief executive officer Anthony Davey, the ex-P&G marketer who also sat in the top spot at GHD. “At one stage, our demand had gone up 15-fold online,” he explains, saying that “almost overnight” the business went from selling 90% of its stock through third parties to a 50:50 split between retail and direct-to-consumer (DTC).

This shift was aided by the brand’s small-batch production methods, which see all of its manufacturing based out of Dorset. “It’s quasi-handcrafted, we go through the process twice to ensure that the quality and consistency of our paint is exceptionally strong. So we were able to ‘pick and pack’ for individual customers. Lots of [bigger] companies that are highly scaled with a mass manufacturing approach weren’t able to offer that individual ordering service.”

Its marketing strategy has shifted too. Farrow & Ball has upped its investment in PPC and Google Shopping to capture the demand from buyers. For people who are in the discovery and exploration stage, the company is investing in social media content for its 2 million followers across the “obvious” channels like Instagram and Pinterest.

Its commitment to quality has been evident not only in the assembly of its products, but also in the way it has shifted the services it offers to customers online.

Bringing the Farrow & Ball experience online

When showrooms shut at the start of March, the paint company brought a live-chat function to its website. It has also started allowing customers to book virtual appointments with its specialist colour consultants – seasoned interior specialists who help people pick out the perfect swatches and themes for their homes.

The brand has also run live sessions with some of its more high-profile colourists and designers (the same ones who painstakingly curated a fresh colour pallette for the recently redesigned Museum of Modern Art in New York), giving people the chance to ask questions and receive tips.

“In lockdown, we brought our designers into our social media channels to give customers a ‘daily dose of colour’, which in the past is something we haven’t done much of.

“We want to make sure we‘ve got sufficiently engaging and relevant content, and people want to see us as a source of inspiration and advice. That‘s very much a strategy of the whole business. If you were to go into our showrooms or on to any of our channels, you‘ll find people who‘ve got many years’ experience in interior design or fabrics or all different aspects of design. They‘re much more than just someone managing a store. They have passion for the industry and passion for the category.”

Having recently appointed BMB as its lead creative agency, the company isn’t just focusing on digital – in fact, it has just invested in its first series of TV ads, which gently poke fun at Farrow & Ball’s serious image.

Featuring a cast of neurotic decorators doing everything they can to keep their paint pristine and protect their freshly decorated walls and woodwork from the threats of muddy dogs, messy children and careless wine drinkers, the self-aware ‘Modern Emulsion’ campaign will be stacked against a variety of KPIs.

Davey points to two kinds of metrics – growth and brand awareness, but also engagement and attribution on the digital and VOD side.

He says his firm wasn’t inspired to make its TV debut owing to Covid-19. “It is more just about continuing the evolution of the brand.”

Feature Image Credit: Paint and paper company Farrow & Ball is perhaps best known for its muted colour charts

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Sourced from The Drum

By Joe McKendrick

It takes design thinking to do digital transformation right. That’s the word from Teonna Akinsete and Kenton Hankins, both with Pega. In an insightful post, they describe the essence of design thinking as “co-production” with end-users of software and related products, to “encourage empathy and collaboration.”

However, they add, this is easier said than done, even in enterprises that seem to have robust design thinking initiatives. “In most digital transformation projects, the goal is to design a product or service that users or customers will love,” they observe. “Traditionally the design team will employ user-centered methods, such as conducting user research and usability testing. These methods are still essential to the design process, but when it comes to impactful collaboration, they only really scratch the surface.” The best way to approach productive design thinking “is to make users and stakeholders part of the entire design process; not just at certain touch points.”

Surveys out of McKinsey put a sharp point to this challenge, noting that many enterprises are still struggling with the right approach to design thinking. Companies that excel at design grow revenues and shareholder returns at nearly twice the rate of their industry peers, the survey finds. However, design thinking is not something that pops up overnight. “What we found was striking,” the McKinsey survey team, led by Melissa Dalrymple, points out. “Some 90 percent of companies weren’t reaching the full potential of design, even as, in the past five years, double the number of companies have added senior design roles to their organization.”

Overall, McKinsey finds, organizations with the most robust design initiatives increased their revenues and total returns to shareholders substantially faster than their industry counterparts did over a five-year period—32 percentage points higher revenue growth and 56 percentage points higher growth for the period as a whole.

Dalrymple and her co-authors make the following recommendations to deepen design thinking into every enterprise activity:

Create bold, user-centric strategies. “Embrace user-centric strategies, improving not only products and services but also the full user experience and, in some cases, the organization itself.”

Embed the design leader into the C-suite. As part of its study, McKinsey interviewed 200 design leaders, and they focus on three key players: customers, employees, and designers themselves. The key is to “embed your senior designer into the C-suite while cultivating a collaborative top-team environment in which your design leader will thrive,” Dalrymple and her co-authors state.

Get the metrics right. Only 14 percent of the companies in the McKinsey survey se are currently setting quantified targets for their design leaders. “Make the most of user data through a balance of quantitative and qualitative design metrics and incentives that enhance user satisfaction and business performance.”

The bottom line is everyone should engage in design thinking. “Gone are the days when the design department receives instructions via email and creates a fully fleshed-out design before aligning with the product owner,” say Pega’s Akinsete and Hankins. “In a design thinking scenario, everyone works together using all available tools, and the team selects winning ideas to go into the final product brief.”

Feature Image Credit: Getty

By Joe McKendrick

I am an author, independent researcher and speaker exploring innovation, information technology trends and markets. I am also a co-author of the SOA Manifesto, which outlines the values and guiding principles of service orientation in business and IT. I served on the organizing committee for the recent IEEE International Conference on Edge Computing, and was active on the program committee of the International SOA and Cloud Symposium series. Much of my research work is in conjunction with Forbes Insights and Unisphere Research/ Information Today, Inc., covering topics such as cloud computing, digital transformation, enterprise mobility, and big data analytics. I am also a contributor to CBS interactive, authoring the ZDNet “Service Oriented” site. In a previous life, I served as communications and research manager of the Administrative Management Society (AMS), an international professional association dedicated to advancing knowledge within the IT and business management fields. I am a graduate of Temple University.

Sourced from Forbes

By Blake Morgan.

Digital transformation and customer experience go hand in hand. These 100 statistics show the growth and importance of digital transformation, its impact on customer experience and digital challenges and opportunities for the future.

Growth of Digital Transformation

70% of companies either have a digital transformation strategy in place or are working on one.

21% of companies think they’ve already completed digital transformation.

40% of all technology spending in 2019 will go towards digital transformation.

Companies will spend a total of more than $2 trillion on digital transformation in 2019.

Most digital transformations are driven by growth opportunities, followed by increased competitive pressure and new regulatory standards.

Executives say the top benefits of digital transformation are improved operational efficiency (40%), faster time to market (36%) and the ability to meet customer expectations (35%).

60% of companies that have undergone a digital transformation have created new business models.

55% of startups have adopted a digital business strategy, compared to 38% of traditional companies.

89% of all companies have already adopted a digital-first business strategy or plan to do so.

The top industries for digital-first business strategies are services (95%), financial services (93%) and healthcare (92%).

39% of executives believe their companies will get the most value from digital transformation initiatives in three to five years.

Nearly 77% of companies say their relationship with technology is average or above average.

65% of companies are positive about their ability to adapt to technological disruption over the next three years.

44% of companies have already started a digital-first approach to operations and customer engagement.

Only 7% of companies have fully implemented their digital transformations.

By 2020, more than 40% of all data analytics projects will involve customer experience.

27% of companies say digital transformation is a matter of survival.

87% of companies think digital will disrupt their industry, but only 44% are prepared for a potential digital disruption.

71% of digitally mature companies say they can attract new talent based on their use of data, compared to 10% of early-stage digital companies.

55% of marketers are prioritizing more effective audience segmentation and targeting.

52% of marketers around the world say driving growth through digital transformation is their top strategic focus.

Of companies that haven’t started a digital transformation, 59% fear it might be too late.

55% of companies without a digital transformation believe they have less than a year before they start to lose market share

Nearly half of all companies say improving customer experience and customer satisfaction were the leading influences to start a digital transformation.

45% of executives don’t think their company has the right technology to implement a digital transformation.

Digital Transformation Success

Companies that earn $1 billion a year earn an additional $700 million over three years by investing in customer experience.

56% of CEOs say digital improvements have led to increased revenue.

Digitally mature companies are 23% more profitable than their less mature peers.

More than 50% of digital transformation efforts fizzled completely in 2018.

39% of outperforming companies have a fully integrated digital-physical strategy.

Digital-first companies are 64% more likely to achieve their business goals than their peers.

Just 19% of companies have a customer experience team that helps bridge gaps in the business.

Fewer than 30% of a company’s technology vendors are actively involved in their digital transformations.

Of the $1.3 trillion spent on digital transformation in 2018, an estimated $900 billion was wasted when initiatives didn’t meet their goals.

70% of digital transformations fail, most often due to resistance from employees.

Digital transformation and a focus on customer experience can generate a 20-30% increase in customer satisfaction and economic gains of 20-50%.

Only 16% of employees in one survey said their company’s digital transformations have improved performance and are sustainable long term.

Employees at companies with less than 100 employees are nearly three times more likely to say their digital transformation was a success than employees at companies with more than 50,000 employees.

Impact of Customer Experience

62% of companies view customer experience delivered by a contact center as a competitive advantage.

Two-thirds of a company’s competitive edge comes from its customer experience.

Consumers who have an emotional connection with a brand have a 306% higher lifetime value.

The most common experience metrics tracked by executives are overall revenue (24%) and Net Promoter Score (23%).

67% of consumers will pay more for a great experience.

74% of business buyers say they’ll pay more for a better B2B experience.

Loyal customers are five times more likely to buy again and four times more likely to refer the brand to family and friends.

76% of consumers expect companies to understand their needs and expectations.

Only 31% of companies are actually experience-led.

Experience-led companies have 1.6 times higher customer satisfaction rates and 1.9 times higher average order value.

79% of U.S. consumers only consider brands that show they care.

70% of the buying experience is based on how the customer feels they are treated.

Omnichannel Experience

Companies with the strongest omnichannel experiences retain 89% of their customers on average, compared to 33% retention for companies with weak omnichannel customer experience.

89% of customers get frustrated when they have to repeat their question to multiple customer service agents.

The percentage of companies investing in omnichannel experience has increased to more than 80% from 20%.

83% of consumers say they want the ability to move between channels when talking to a brand, but only 50% of companies support cross-channel interactions.

74% of marketers say it is important to have a cohesive omnichannel experience.

73% of shoppers use more than one channel during their shopping journey.

Growing Technologies

84% of customer-centric companies focus on the mobile customer experience.

Just 36% of contact centers use any kind of cloud technology.

93% of companies consider innovative technologies as necessary to reaching their digital transformation goals.

60% of businesses in North America use public cloud platforms, a five time jump from the number that used them five years ago.

60% of executives believe connected technology and the Internet of Things will play an important role in their company’s digital strategy.

68% of global business leaders believe the future of business involves humans and AI working together.

70% of businesses will use a multi-cloud strategy in 2019, up from less than 10% in 2017.

By 2022, your personal device will know more about your emotional state than your own family.

34% of marketing leaders believe AI will lead to the biggest improvement in customer experience.

80% of companies have already adopted AI chatbots or have plans to do so by 2020. 

By 2020, the average person will have more conversations with bots than with their spouse.

84% of customer-centric companies prioritize their mobile customer experience.

76% of companies are investing in emerging technologies.

86% of companies believe cloud technology is critical to digital transformation.

Transformation Leadership and the Workforce

25% of CIOs will take more control of digital transformation initiatives in 2019.

28% of digital transformations are led by the CIO, and 23% are owned by the CEO.

71% of leaders say the workforce is important in supporting their digital transformation strategy.

70% of companies say their CEO has an adequate or above average practical understanding of new technology.

CEOs and senior executives say digital transformation risk is their top concern in 2019.

Around 40% of companies have dedicated digital transformation teams in place.

37% of companies say digital transformation helped them create new jobs.

20% of employees said their company’s leadership doesn’t know what to do with digital transformation.

A survey of employees found the most common obstacle for digital transformation was the CEO at 35%.

80% of companies say their digital transformation efforts involve multiple business units or the entire company.

Companies with an engaged Chief Digital Officer are 1.6 times more likely to report a successful digital transformation.

55% of digitally maturing companies say they need new leaders in order to succeed in the digital environment. 

81% of employees at digitally mature companies say innovation is a strength of the company, compared to just 10% of employees at early-stage digital companies.

Customers and Technology

Intelligent systems will drive 70% of customer interactions by 2022.

63% of customers are happy to get service from a bot as long as they have the option to talk to a human agent if needed.

54% of consumers contacted brands by email in 2018, making it the most commonly used customer service channel over voice.

Customers who have a bad experience with a website are 88% less likely to return.

61% of consumers won’t return to a mobile site that had trouble accessing.

40% of consumers end up visiting a competitor’s website if they have trouble accessing a company’s mobile site.

By 2020, an estimated 25% of all customer service operations will use virtual customer assistants.

92% of customers are satisfied using live chat services, making it the support channel that leads to the highest customer satisfaction.

Nearly half of global contact center leaders predict their contact centers will grow by 5-10% in the next year.

75% of online customers expect a response within five minutes.

60% of companies think they have a good mobile experience, but only 22% of customers agree.

78% of consumers use mobile devices to connect with brands for customer service. The number jumps to 90% of Millennials.

Around half of all consumers use mobile messaging apps to connect with customer service.

65% of consumers research a product online before going to a physical store.

30% of U.S. consumers say they find customer service chatbots very effective at resolving issues, and 12% said chatbots aren’t at all effective.

60% of American consumers say they prefer digital self-service tools for customer support, such as an online knowledge base, app or chatbot.

Nearly 80% of Millennials are more willing to purchase from brands that have a mobile customer service portal.

 

Feature Image Credit: Getty 

By Blake Morgan

Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, keynote speaker and the bestselling author of the new book The Customer Of The Future. You can sign up for her weekly newsletter here.

Sourced from Forbes

By James Henderson

Partners building out IT services are best positioned to capitalise in a big data and analytics (BDA) market set to experience double-digit growth in 2019.

That’s according to new IDC findings, which forecasts investment to reach US$189.1 billion globally, representing an increase of 12 per cent over 2018.

Of note to the channel, IT services will be the largest category within the BDA market this year at $77.5 billion, followed by hardware purchases ($23.7 billion) and business services ($20.7 billion).

Collectively, IT and business services will account for more than half of all BDA revenues until 2022, according to IDC.

“Digital transformation is a key driver of BDA spending with executive-level initiatives resulting in deep assessments of current business practices and demands for better, faster, and more comprehensive access to data and related analytics and insights,” said Dan Vesset, group vice president of IDC.

“Enterprises are rearchitecting to meet these demands and investing in modern technology that will enable them to innovate and remain competitive. BDA solutions are at the heart of many of these investments.”

Meanwhile, Vesset said BDA-related software revenues will be $67.2 billion in 2019, with end-user query, reporting, and analysis tools ($13.6 billion) and relational data warehouse management tools ($12.1 billion) being the two largest software categories.

According to IDC, the BDA technology categories that will see the “fastest revenue growth” will be non-relational analytic data stores (34 per cent) and cognitive/AI software platforms (31.4 per cent).

“Big data technologies can be difficult to deploy and manage in a traditional, on premise environment,” added Jessica Goepfert, program vice president of IDC. “Add to that the exponential growth of data and the complexity and cost of scaling these solutions, and one can envision the organisational challenges and headaches.”

However, Goepfert said cloud can help “mitigate some of these hurdles”.

“Cloud’s promise of agility, scale, and flexibility combined with the incredible insights powered by BDA delivers a one-two punch of business benefits, which are helping to accelerate BDA adoption,” Goepfert explained.

“When we look at the opportunity trends for BDA in the cloud, the top three industries for adoption are professional services, personal and consumer services, and media. All three industries are rife with disruption and have high levels of digitisation potential.

“Additionally, we often find many smaller, innovative firms in this space; firms that appreciate the access to technologies that may have historically been out of reach to them either due to cost or IT complexity.”

By James Henderson

Sourced from ARN

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Despite what retailers may think, digital transformation doesn’t always require huge business model changes and drastic process shake-ups.

Today’s retail landscape is more competitive than ever before, so it is crucial for businesses to embrace digitalisation and new technologies to gain and maintain a competitive edge in today’s market. As the retail sector attempts to keep up with changes in consumer behaviour and customer experience expectations, failure to bridge the gap between what buyers what and what brands offer can often mean the end of a business. Massive retailers including Patisserie Valerie and Coast have shown severe distress signals this year, and it is becoming imperative for brands to continuously perform at the top of their game in order to survive against the challenges posed by competitors and market fluctuations.

Longstanding womenswear retail chain Bonmarché felt the struggles of a downturned high street  earlier this year, when shares in the company dropped 18 per cent after a warning that profits would fall short due to weak consumer demand. Other retailers have also fallen prey to the worsening retail environment, with several well-established chains having closed stores or seeking serious financial restructuring in order to survive, including Toys R Us and Debenhams. It is becoming increasingly clear that change needs to happen, and that brands need to innovate to survive. Overall, brands that fail to offer good customer experiences will struggle. Little but impactful technological changes could make a huge difference to a business’ operations and profits.

Digital transformation is huge and can often feel like a mountain to climb. However, despite what retailers may think, it doesn’t always require huge business model changes and drastic process shake-ups. As it becomes clearer that customer experience is the key to driving sales, businesses should not overlook the benefits of making small changes that can greatly enhance the experiences of their customers. This is especially crucial given that over half (56 per cent) of international adults are more likely to choose digital resources for recommendations on products and services. Strong ‘word of mouth’ is vital, and good customer service is intrinsic to this.

The help of AI

Artificial intelligence (AI) can help retailers analyse customer behaviour, journey data and assist in identifying their individual needs – so they can then be met. By starting to predict what customers want, and need, AI (in tandem with machine-learning) can elevate the whole shopping experience to another level. As it stands, only 7 per cent of retailers currently use AI to enhance their services, and this should increase as retailers see the benefits that AI-driven technology can provide.

Thread, an online start-up, has used AI to assist men in selecting clothes – and subsequently raised £16.7 million from investors, further demonstrating that retailers should look to new, AI-driven technologies to stay competitive. Interactions and conversations between humans and brands become more productive for both parties with AI-enabled technologies. This is because these technologies combine artificial intelligence and data to provide analytics – learning from and responding to a slew of data points in a way that no human ever could. With these analytical insights available, high street retailers can provide the empathetic, responsive service that customers appreciate and increasingly demand. It’s a win-win: consumers get a customised service, and retailers benefit from their improved customer satisfaction which builds brand loyalty and ultimately helps boost market position.

Despite what retailers might think, AI doesn’t always have to mean going as far as installing a team of robot workers to keep up with the digital landscape. However, robot-driven technologies can certainly help. When it comes to the specific technology elements that retailers can implement to start reaping the benefits of digital transformation, dynamic call numbers are just one example of how simple elements can offer huge growth benefits. Simply put, these are unique phone numbers, assigned to each visitor, that are automatically displayed on a brand’s website or in a digital advertising campaign. This simple feature gives businesses the ability to track a specific customer’s journey, and provides extended data insights into that customer, helping to deliver a tailored customer experience.

 Putting customers at the heart of business operations

Retailers can also look to geographical call routing as a method of attracting their target customers across different regions. Call routing allows users to understand the digital context of each visitor, such as by discovering why they were visiting the site, where they came from, and why they ultimately contacted the brand. With this rich contextual data, businesses can then target the customers who truly want to buy and prioritise the journey of these customers through to specific call handlers who are trained and equipped to handle their enquiries most effectively.

Using a dashboard to analyse customer insights and enabling call tracking are also simple functionalities that businesses can utilise to drive growth. For example, enabling customers to text customer service departments, instead of having to call them (and most likely be put on hold or stuck in a long queue) can help speed the process up – both for customer service teams and for customers themselves. This is especially effective when targeting key audience demographics. For example, millennials tend to prefer text messaging over making phone calls, so for businesses who cater to this age range as their primary sales segment, implementing this type of tech is a no-brainer.

Retailers need to put customers at the heart of their business operations, now more than ever. They should also use data insights to not only enhance customer experiences, but also direct investments in the long run for optimal growth. Advertising and marketing campaigns have previously involved putting large sums of money into campaigns to increase profits, without generating insights post-campaign to understand its effectiveness. This is not a sustainable, or wise, way of spending – and could lead businesses to ruin later down the line.

In today’s competitive marketplace, companies need to make use of every tool they have at their disposal – as well as investing in new tools – to minimise chances of failure and maximise success. Spending lots of money doesn’t have to be the answer – but spending in the right way, on technologies that improve customer experience, will be vital in the coming months and years.

Feature Image Credit: Shutterstock/Wichy

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CEO, Freespee

Sourced from ITProPortal

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There is a clear tie between transparent business communications on social media and consumer spending, according to a new report.

Data breaches, fake news, and misinformation have seeded doubt in consumers. Organisations want to step up and restore customer confidence. With this crisis in trust, organisations are looking to add transparency to their business practices according to a new report.

Chicago, Ill.,-based social media analytics company Sprout Social has released its Social media and the evolution of transparency report.

It surveyed 1,000 US consumers on their transparency beliefs, expectations and desires.

It discovered that consumers’ expectations of transparency grow daily. Almost nine out of 10 Americans believe transparency from businesses is more important than ever before.

And transparency is important to Americans with 85 percent of respondents saying a business’ history of being transparent makes them more likely to give it a second chance after a bad experience.

Almost nine out of 10 people (85 percent) are more likely to stick by a business during a brand crisis if it has a history of being transparent.

Organisations can reap rewards from being transparent. Nine out of 10 people (89 percent) said a business can regain their trust if it admits to a mistake and is transparent about the steps it will take to resolve the issue. A similar ratio (85 percent) are more likely to stick with them during crises.

But transparency is not enough. Companies need to tell their customers that they are transparent. Two out of five (40 percent) of people who say brand transparency is more important than ever, attribute it to social media.

Over half of consumers (53 percent) are likely to consider brands that are transparent on social for their next purchase.

Four out of five (81 percent) of people believe businesses have a responsibility to be transparent when posting on social media–a higher standard than they set for politicians, non-profits, friends, family, and even themselves.

However, only one in six (15 percent) of consumers believe brands are currently “very transparent” on social.

9 out of 10 consumers will stop purchasing from brands that lack transparency ZDNet
(Image: Sprout Social)

People feel brands lack transparency when they withhold information (69 percent). Ignoring questions — regardless of who asks them — can be deemed to be detrimental to the brand as well.

If companies are not transparent, then consumers will look elsewhere. A lack of transparency on social means that nine out of ten (86 percent) of people are likely to take their business to a competitor.

Transparency is not simply a sales tactic, or a way to communicate a new marketing message.

Organisational transparency asks every level of an organization to adjust how it engages, to demonstrate its aspirations and its values. Brands should commit to being transparent in both reactive and proactive ways.

Jamie Gilpin, chief marketing officer at Sprout Social ,said: “Our data shows that transparency truly makes the difference in forming lasting connections between businesses and consumers.”

This company-wide effort should have buy-in from the top. CEOs that are more present on social makes it easier for organisations to connect with target audiences and earn their loyalty — from shoppers and from potential employees.

Give your boss the microphone and embrace the social channels that will ultimately bring in business for the brand. Transparency drives loyalty, and loyalty will bring benefits for the business.

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Sourced from ZDNet