Groupe Duval has announced it has acquired an equity holding in Africa Global Recycling (AGR).

Groupe Duval has announced it has acquired a 20% stake in AGR.

Founded in 2013 in Lomé, Togo, AGR, a key player of the green economy and waste recycling sector in sub-Saharan Africa, places waste at the centre of a new model of economic and social innovation on the continent.

AGR sorts and sells waste so that it can be transformed.

Acquiring this equity holding illustrates Groupe Duval’s desire to strengthen its position as a key waste recycling actor on the African continent.

Éric Duval, President and Founder of Groupe Duval stated “We are proud to support an actor as committed and pioneering as AGR. We are particularly excited about being able to assist it with its growth. The company has a unique positioning thanks to its operational excellence and its ability to have made selling waste attractive by creating a virtuous purchasing circle with businesses and local authorities. Being a family group probably makes us even more aware of the importance that we must give to the environmental and societal context we are part of and that we want to pass on to future generations. Our world is changing. Our family spirit leads us to focus great attention on the world that surrounds us and on the challenges of sustainable development that are connected to it. This is therefore and above all the sense of acquiring this strategic stake.”

Edem d’Almeida, co-founder of AGR, added, “Our company which currently has 50 employees, is growing strongly and has pan-African ambitions. We are delighted to welcome Groupe Duval’s contribution to the company’s equity aimed at assisting us in a new stage of our development. The presence of a key partner with which we share common values, is important to provide our company with both the financial and human resources to continue its very strong growth.”

Teamwork signs exclusive UK distribution agreement with Sigma Software Distribution


Teamwork announces a new and exclusive distribution agreement with Sigma Software Distribution for the UK.

Teamwork, the provider of online productivity tools, has over 24,000 customers around the globe, including Disney, Spotify and PayPal. Teamwork’s products are popular with project, support, creative and product teams. Their solutions offer efficient project management, customer support and collaboration solutions for teams across a range of industries but notably professional services, healthcare and education.

With the help of customer feedback, Teamwork are constantly improving their products to ensure they provide the best tools possible. Their flagship product, Teamwork Projects, is a project management platform for professionals which allows them to deliver results and scale those results across teams and departments. It streamlines communication across multiple departments and stakeholders, centralises all project information and allows users to easily measure and report on the impact of essential work.

As a privately owned and self-funded organisation, Teamwork understands that rapid growth and increased customer satisfaction will come from key strategic partnerships. Therefore, adding the channel to their existing direct sales approach was the next natural step to reach more customers and help more teams be more efficient.

Jane Silk, Managing Director at Sigma says: “Teamwork is a great addition to our portfolio. It improves the productivity for a wide range of teams, and we’re excited to support them in building their channel approach and maximise channel sales.”

Ryan Mesches, Head of Partnerships at Teamwork comments: “We’re really looking forward to working with Sigma and building our channel approach. We chose them as our exclusive distributor as they have a great track record of bringing new, innovative solutions to the reseller market. Together we’ll make Teamwork a channel success.”

For more product information visit




36% of business leaders are unsure of their digital marketing strategy for 2019

The top five missed digital marketing opportunities revealed

Search engine algorithm updates can present both dangers and opportunities for business owners

NEW research has revealed the top five digital marketing opportunities businesses are currently missing.

A survey of 1,021 UK workers carried out by leading digital marketing agency,, revealed that more than 1 in 3 (36%) of business leaders are currently unsure about their digital marketing strategy for the year ahead.

The research also identified a number of ways businesses are missing out on improving digital marketing performance, with 37% of respondents admitting they aren’t answering potential customer questions adequately enough on their own website.

Moreover, virtually 1 in 3 (32%) confessed that they aren’t actively retargeting visitors to their website, giving up the chance to market their businesses to users who have already engaged with their brand

This was followed by an additional 29% who admitted their website isn’t fully mobile responsive, which can have an adverse impact on conversion rate as well as the overall user experience.

In addition to this, a further 22% said they were not actively optimising their Google My Business listing, which means they are missing an opportunity to gain more customers, particularly from users who are searching from within the immediate surrounding area.

Admitting that they were aware that their site did not load quickly enough (19%) rounded off the list of the top five ways businesses are missing out on opportunities to improve their digital marketing performance.

Gareth Hoyle, managing director at comments: “The research shows how there are a number of missed opportunities for companies when it comes to their digital marketing activity, particularly with regard to organic performance. This is to some extent understandable as algorithms are regularly updating and it can be hard for business owners to keep up with the very latest developments.

“However, missing out on opportunities to improve digital marketing performance can also be extremely harmful to an online businesses’ bottom line if they are not actioned quickly. Moreover, digital marketing techniques that were once understood and believed to be common practice a while ago can now lead to directly to search engine penalties. Therefore, it is extremely important that business leaders make more of a concentrated effort to keep abreast of the digital marketing activity their own company is undertaking, with the start of the year being the perfect time for this to take place.”

Marketing Signals offer a wide range of digital marketing services including paid search, paid social, digital PR and technical SEO. For more information on Marketing Signals please visit


Jump start your career: A guide to the jobs you can do using your car


If you’re hoping to change careers in the New Year, there are a vast number of opportunities available to you if you own a car. Whilst many of us use our vehicles simply to get from A to B, not everyone uses their car for leisure purposes. For some, owning a vehicle is the key to earning money and achieving career success. To demonstrate the different career opportunities available to drivers, we’ve teamed up with Grange vehicles, retailers of used Land Rover and other prestige models:

1.      Become a Plumber

The UK is currently experiencing a record shortage of skilled plumbers and other tradesmen. The trade association warned last year that the skills gap is driving up wages, which is squeezing many businesses already facing high material costs – your country may need you, and you can run your business from your own vehicle, or van. You’ll require a particular set of skills and industry recognised qualifications, but once you have them under your belt, you can run the basis of your business from your vehicle – you’ll need your vehicle to get you from job to job.

Total Jobs lists the average salary for a qualified plumber at around £31,787.

2.      Become a Driving Instructor

During April and June 2017, there were 546,608 theory tests taken and 485,148 practical driving tests conducted, showing an increase of 7.6% respectively on the previous year, and a 49.2% pass rate. If the level of tests continues to show growth, it’s likely that driving instructors will continue to be needed to meet demand. As of 30th June 2017, there were 39,373 approved driving instructors across the UK. You’ll require qualifications to run a driving school from your vehicle, and especially for car driving lessons, your vehicle will require dual control modifications.

Totaljobs lists the average salary of a driving instructor at around £42,500.

3.      Become a Painter and Decorator

We are an interior design loving nation – did you know that Brits decorate their homes over 40 times on average during their lives? As trends come and go each year, a painter and decorator is likely to always have work on with home improvement projects typically taking around 18 days to finish. You’ll most likely need a larger vehicle, such as a van or 4×4 where the seats can be put down as you will need ladders and a pasting table if you are going to offer wallpaper services, in addition to your other tools and equipment.

The average salary for a painter and decorator is listed as around £26,000, with Hampshire noted as the highest paying area for jobs of this type.

4.      Become a Courier

The UK delivery system has experienced growth in recent years.  In 2014, it was reported that parcel couriers had delivered and handled over 1.7 billion parcels domestically in the UK. In a recent report, it was estimated that DPD averages around 1.6 million parcel deliveries per week! Parcelforce average around 70 million per annum, Yodel 135 million per annum, Hermes 190 million per annum and Royal Mail a huge 826 million parcels per annum.

With the rise in next day and same day deliveries, there is an evident demand for more delivery drivers. With 87% of Brits reportedly either sent or received a parcel in the six months leading up to July 2017, a career as a courier is one that is likely to keep you very busy – and of course, you can run it from the comfort of your own vehicle, whether that’s a van, small car or 4×4.

According to Total Jobs, the average salary for a delivery driver starts at around £21,000.

5.      Become an Uber Driver

Uber is now a globally successful business available in more than 700 cities all over the world. Last year, the service acquired over 40 million active monthly users, and with over 20 million rides in London alone since 2012, growth is expected to continue. There are currently over 1.5 million Uber drivers worldwide to which 25,000 of those were registered to London alone. Whilst you will need to outlay some initial costs for a private hire licence and to ensure you vehicle is road worthy, alongside the appropriate insurance – the return could be worth it in the long run.

It is estimated that the average Uber driver can expect earnings of £15 per hour after the 20-25% service fee.

To check out Total Jobs’ Salary Calculator click HERE.


A guide to using billboard advertising to boost your brand exposure and sales


The large advertising space that a billboard provides, can help enhance your marketing reach more naturally, in a busy location. But the important question is… is this form of traditional advertising as effective as people think?  

Billboards can boost your campaigns and help to maximise the ROI on your advertising strategies, according to findings in the advertising industry. Where The Trade Buys Print, printed banners specialists, run us through what launching a billboard-based campaign could do for your brand…  

The history behind the power of the billboard

The influential history behind the billboard is an interesting one and began in New York around the mid-1830s. Since then, it has become an important part of marketing advertising — it even played a role as a crucial prop in renowned movie, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

The main reason billboards work and continue to offer a successful strategy is because many people are out and about for various parts of the day. According to Bill Shorten, leader of the Labour Party: “Today, nine out of 10 of us spend more than 90 minutes a day travelling to and from work.” This is an ideal window of opportunity to target people with a large, quality billboard.

Also, there’s a fast turnaround on producing billboards. They tend to be incredibly easy to design and get printed quickly. A billboard is a single design — unlike a brochure, for example, that would require more content, usually a few pages, which requires more effort and time to plan.

It’s said that a consumer needs to engage with an advert at least seven times before they can consider making a move, especially where larger sums of money are concerned — such as choosing to buy or visit a store. This interesting finding was revealed by the theory ‘Marketing Rule of 7’. If you put an outdoor banner somewhere with a lot of people — like on a highway — the same people should pass every day (e.g. going to work or dropping the kids off at school). So, you can help hit this magic number seven and boost the chance that your marketing message gets through.

Now that we’ve qualified that billboards definitely have some advantages. So, how do you make yours effective?

The perfect billboard: the design

Billboards may be large but of course, consumers won’t engage with them if they aren’t eye-catching. Think strategically:

·         What is your marketing aim?

·         Do you want to promote a specific product or generally highlight your brand?

·         Are you already well-known in the area or are you a start-up company?

·         Looking to highlight an event, rather than something to ‘sell’?

Think about the essential components that need to be included on your billboard? They are: contact details, name of product/service/event, and important dates (like when the promotional offer ends) are.

Make a statement by featuring some bold images on your billboard. Research states that we generally only recall 10% of information we learn three days later — but including a strong image alongside this information boosts retention by 55%! Essentially, you need to grab your audience’s attention with a funny, quirky or bold visual, text has a slim to none chance of being retained if several days have passed since consuming it. Your images can pack a powerful punch on a huge billboard, so focus on the right picture and go from there.

Clarity is key in the design process. Bright shades catch the eye — contrasting colours also stay in people’s memories for longer — and opt for a simple background with a plain font.

Get the location spot on

Are you scouting out somewhere for a roadside placement? Do make sure you go easy on the text and really exaggerate imagery. A motorist typically has five to 10 seconds to look at an advertisement. The better the image, the less you need to write, so stick to a brief, punchy message of seven words to convey your marketing message, if you can.

Consider the journeys of your audience and their reasoning for passing particular locations. Ensure your audience will be travelling in and around the location of your desired billboard. Who’s your audience? If you’re going for 18-21-years-olds, anywhere near a university or college would be great and should help you maximise your ROI.

Also, here’s some handy advice if you’re targeting a local audience. Create a sense of familiarity by including an image of a local landmark or poke fun at the local traffic. Humour works in advertising. A review of 6,500 ads discovered that the funniest were thought to be the most memorable. Plus, you come across as personal and familiar, making your brand seem welcoming to a new customer.

Now you’re empowered with knowledge to get started on a new billboard strategy today. Increase your brand exposure and sales in 2019!


Mark Cushway Highlights the Loneliness of Leadership in Crisis


No one watching, listening or reading the news recently can have ignored the issue of leadership.

We are in a time where many leaders are divisive figures, whether in politics or business; where they are seen as ineffective, or bullying, or mired in scandal.

But there is another quality many of these leaders share, or are perceived as having: loneliness.

Mark Cushway, entrepreneur, leadership coach leadership coach and motivational speaker, talks about the difficulties leaders face when they find themselves permanently out on a limb.

“This is not about excusing poor performance or bad behaviour, but it is to do with working out how leaders find themselves in the position they’re in, what the risks are, and what possible support and solutions there are for them.”


“The cliché is that it’s lonely at the top, but, for several key reasons, it really is. In many organisations, issues travel upwards, so the delegation is not from the leader down, but towards them. This leaves them in the exposed position of ultimate, and sometimes sole, decision-maker.”

There the consequences are that leadership decisions are impulsive and seen as autocratic; and that they are no longer sufficiently based on consultation or collaboration.


“There is the whole issue of status bound up in this. A leader has a certain degree of status built-in to their position, but this is by no means secure.”

Again, the news headlines throw this into relief sharply: you can remain a leader in title, and to an extent in action, but lose your status.

“Leaders can be left extremely exposed, bearing responsibility for decisions single handedly.”

Leadership puts individuals under the spotlight, where they are then seen as representative of entire businesses, organisations or even countries.

“There is a traditional view of leaders as possessing inherent qualities, which set them apart, that they are born not made. This can be extremely damaging as it raises expectations to unreal levels while also further isolating leaders from the bodies they are supposed to lead.”

It also magnifies their shortcomings, when the reality of leadership fails to measure up to the ideal.

“People want certainties from their leaders, but this often this ends up as unfulfilled promises, because delivering is impossible in reality.”


“It’s not just about preparing people for leadership, but supporting them in this role. Too often, you hear that being a leader involves demands you cannot prepare for, but is this true?”

What matters is putting the right support structure in place, with the kind of advice and coaching that allows leaders to feel that for them there is also a safety net.

“Leaders such as CEOs can feel inhibited in developing close relationships and even friendships in the workplace. But they need this level of support, with people close to them who can give them a different perspective, who aren’t just going to say yes to their every decision and impulse.”


Having spent 30 years investing in, and building, successful businesses, Mark Cushway has consistently been at the forefront of developing innovative and creative sales techniques and tools, resulting in generating global sales of over $1billion.

As a motivational speaker, he shares his story of entrepreneurship, leadership, philanthropy, and personal challenges to inspire others to achieve their personal and professional goals.

Mark launched Care After Cancer, with the aim of helping cancer survivors to develop the mental strength to embrace life once their medical treatment and support ends.

To discover more about Mark Cushway, visit


Wiztek Announce a New Model in Tech Support for SMEs with No Subscriptions and Experts On-Demand 24/7


Wiztek, a provider of online and mobile tech support services, is launching a revolutionary tech support marketplace which promises to help small businesses, business travellers and the self-employed to address tech problems faster than ever before, and without the subscriptions or high costs associated with traditional tech support solutions.

Wiztek will offer its on-demand service providing access to a community of experts 24/7. Notably, businesses can be in contact with a tech expert in under 30 seconds, consultations are free, and Wiztek has a ‘no fix – no fee promise’, for complete peace of mind.

Wiztek will eliminate the headache associated with tech failure for businesses. The fastest, most convenient way to diagnose tech problems, Wiztek can ensure deadlines aren’t missed, reputations remain intact, valuable staff aren’t tied up helping colleagues to diagnose and fix tech problems, and disruption to productivity is minimized to avoid loss of revenue. Using an extremely simple 3-click process via the handy app or website, which use AI technology to match problems to a community of experts, businesses can be connected via call, chat or video, any time day or night anywhere in the world, for a free consultation within 30 seconds, and could have a solution within minutes.

Unlike traditional tech support services for businesses, there are no subscription costs to utilize Wiztek; charges only apply once an expert has solved the problem. The Wiztek pricing model is extremely transparent, with low fees starting from only £4.90, backed by a ‘no fix – no fee’ policy, so that there are no unexpected or unfair costs. Wiztek also further reduces the cost of tech support by offering bundle packages for businesses that regularly encounter tech problems.

Small businesses and individuals do not have the luxury of a dedicated in-house team, however Wiztek will provide them with a game changing solution to ensure that they have the same, if not better, on-demand tech support service. The Wiztek community is user-rated, so businesses can be assured that they are speaking with an expert they can trust. Furthermore, the community of experts and helpers offer knowledge of a multitude of devices, covering a full range of hardware and software issues, so, whether a laptop is running slow, new devices need to be set up, a network isn’t performing, or a printer needs attention, a Wiztek expert can help. No problem is too big or too small.

“For modern small businesses and entrepreneurs, time is money, and the unexpected costs and delays resulting from tech problems can be a real burden,” says Hani AL-Qadi, founder of Wiztek.

Paul Amsellem, CEO of Wiztek added: “With Wiztek, we are offering the most advanced, highly personal, on-demand digital tech support service available. Our experts can provide all-encompassing support for the multitude of devices that businesses use every day, and our pricing strategy is designed to eliminate the sting that small businesses can’t afford when their tech fails or they need help to install and understand new tech. Quite simply, our experts will help to keep businesses up and running when it counts,” Amsellem concluded.


Planning to start your own business? What are the key standards you need meet?


Starting up your own business takes a great deal of careful planning and consideration. It’s easy to forget some of the most important factors when setting up your own office, after all, there is a long list of considerations to make. It is crucial, however, that all of the necessary points are covered. Here, we investigate the key standards that you need to meet when setting up your own business.

1.      Licensing
Although the excitement of starting up your own business can be a great feeling, you still have to pay attention to the legal side of things. It may not be the most fun of tasks, but failing to gain a common license and permit – especially for homebased small businesses – can cause major issues. Be sure to contact your city’s business license department as soon as possible and get the ball rolling to make sure you’re legally allowed to trade from your location.

If your business serves alcohol or food, you’ll have to obtain all of the legal licenses. But what about where you store your data? Do you know what software package you’ll be using and whether it is the licensed version? It may be a significant cost to purchase the programmes, but using licensed software really does pay off in the long run.

2.      Electricity
If you’re moving into a brand-new office, you’ll probably have to set up an electric connection. If you’re not sure how to get your connection sorted, contact your distribution network operator (DNO) and tell them what you require. Without doing this, your business simply won’t get up and running.

3.      Taxes
Whether you’re running your business from a remote or physical location, you will have to pay taxes. Business rates are like a council tax but for business properties and some premises are exempt from these rates. If you are running your business from home, it’s unlikely you’d have to pay business rates as well as your council tax, unless you are employing staff to work in your home or potential customers will be visiting your location. Also, if you’ve adapted your home space, including your garage, then you’ll need to pay business rates too.

Corporation tax is a requirement for any limited company that makes a profit. It is set at 19% for all companies and you must pay it within nine months and one day of the company’s accounting year end. If you’re a sole trader, however, you won’t pay corporation tax.

4.      Insurance
It is vital that you take out employers’ liability insurance when you start up your own business. Failure to do so can lead to a fine of up to £2,500 per employee per day without it. You must also take out property insurance so that your equipment, inventory and signage is covered for fire, storm or theft. If you are starting your business in your own home, you still require insurance as your homeowner’s policies won’t cover your business requirements.

Another ‘must-have’ is vehicle insurance. While we know that car insurance is important, if your company is going to have their own fleet, it’s essential that those vehicles are insured to protect your business against liability if there’s an accident. Business interruption insurance can help you in the event of a disaster which would interrupt your operations. In these circumstances, having the correct plan in place will help you to avoid major financial loss.

There is certainly a lot to take in when starting your own business, but it’s vitally important that you start off on the right foot with all of the requirements to avoid any mishaps down the line. Good luck!


How will virtual reality impact the education sector?


As technology continues to advance, so too does the way we can learn. While the internet has enabled us to conduct research on any subject at ease, our learning spaces and facilities are also improving. Virtual reality is gradually becoming part of many industries and when it comes to schools and colleges, it’s no longer a case of simply sitting at a desk with your books. Here, we look at how VR is impacting the education sector.

Guided tours
Virtual reality allows you to get to know your learning space before you’ve even set foot on the property. An Ofsted report for Newcastle College praised the establishment’s world class facilities, and students are encouraged to take a tour of what’s on offer online.

By offering virtual reality tours,you are opening up your institution to prospective students away from the area as well as those on your doorstep. It can make your centre appear unique and special, helping you stand out from the crowd and is a lot more engaging than simply using photos to promote your space and courses.

Virtual classrooms
Not so long ago, the bulk of the learning experience came from teachers standing at the front of a classroom and students working through a text book. Of course, this still happens, but there are a host of other opportunities available too.

With Open University (OU) courses allowing students to study outside of a classroom, lesson plans can take you anywhere in the world. For example, recently the OU took students to the Great Barrier Reef via virtual reality. The Google Expeditions technology allowed students to go on a virtual field trip to a location which would be near impossible for them to actually visit.

Professor of Learning Technologies and Social Computing, Shailey Minocha, developed the field trips for the OU and said: “Our previous research has shown that the high degree of realism now achievable in virtual field trips complements the physical field trip experience and in imparting fieldwork skills. Virtual field trips also make it possible to experience activities and locations that may be impossible, or extremely difficult, to arrange in real life.”

Reports found that students benefit from class trips, with 72% gaining a better understanding of their subject and two thirds would do better in their exams if they went on excursions. With virtual reality this complex situation will be a lot easier to organise, meaning that virtual trips could become a frequent part of teaching.

Hands-on experience
Hands-on training is key to a student’s learning. Doctors and mechanics, for example, benefit from carrying out ‘on-the-job training’ in work experience and in-class modules. However, due to its complexity, virtual reality can help when it comes to time, cost and controlling the health and safety aspect of this experience. If apprentices or students can take part in surgeries or engine changes in a virtual environment, their learning period will be significantly accelerated. This allows them to learn a potentially dangerous task in a safe environment.

Not only this, but hands-on learning helps to increase learner engagement, helping to activate more parts of the brain, which in turn leads to information being stored for a longer period of time.

If education uses virtual reality wisely, we will see students hugely reap the rewards. Technological advances are providing the tools to change the way we learn and teach, and virtual reality can be a big player in this. 


Coorpacademy and Video Arts to Deliver Compelling Joint Learning Content


Learning Experience Platform leader links significant new content partnership with award-winning UK e-learning company Video Arts.

Coorpacademy, the leading upskilling and Learning Experience Platform (LXP) in Europe, is delighted to announce a new partnership with Video Arts, the UK-based learning provider famous for delivering corporate training in a humourous and memorable way.

The firm, set up by ex-Monty Python comedian and writer John Cleese and Yes, Minister creator Sir Antony Jay, is dedicated to making the most entertaining, memorable and effective learning by using some of the UK’s best TV writers and well-known comedy actors to deliver a highly effective, compelling learning experience.

The partnership’s first fruit is a new set of 60 compelling training courses, including 200 bite-sized videos and longer online tutorials, based on 7 key themes of the Video Arts Essentials (Customer Service, Leadership, Management, Wellbeing, etc.), and which cover various topics ranging from team decision making, creativity, innovation & change (some of which are already available on the Coorpacademy Learning Experience Platform). Coorpacademy will release 20 new videos each month, while Video Arts will also host French versions of its courses, created by Coorpacademy, on its own site.

Coorpacademy will deliver the content to its range of global multinational businesses and NGOs using its distinctive flipped pedagogy, micro-learning and gamification style. Video Arts content will then become part of Coorpacademy’s extensive and fast-growing content library of 800 courses, all created in collaboration with its other blue-chip brand partners such as IBM, Euronews and Wolters Kluwer.

Coorpacademy co-founder Arnauld Mitre comments that, “Soft Skills underpin our economy, as well as our future in the fourth Industrial Age, and our partnership with Video Arts reflects the importance we place on this.”

“The user’s Learning Experience is completely pivotal to the Coorpacademy brand, and Video Arts’s award-winning comedy approach is another brilliant way of making the learning experience even more compelling.”

“We are delighted to be partnering with such a hugely well-respected premium content provider as Video Arts.”

Martin Addison, CEO of Video Arts, adds: “We are very excited about the partnership we have struck with Coorpacademy, whose approach to learning and focus on premium content makes it an ideal partner for us. We look forward to working together. ”

The announcement of the deal was first made in September at Coorpacademy’s ‘Are You Ready For The Skills Economy?event at the Swiss Embassy in London.


Hungry for More: Consumers Seek Clarity from Retailers on Food Labeling as 1 in 3 Consumers Purchased Foods They Shouldn’t Have Due to Poor Labeling


New research by Spoon Guru has found that 33% of Americans who have accidentally purchased food that does not align to their dietary requirements do so on a weekly basis – of which 49% said it was due to poor labelling.

The study was commissioned by Spoon Guru to look into the struggles of consumers throughout the US that have food allergies, intolerances or lifestyle diets, with some shocking finds. 

The research revealed a staggering 76% of US consumers have unintentionally consumed food restricted from their diet, with the number one reason being that over half of respondents (52%) have been served the wrong food as an error by waiting staff in bars and restaurants. Meanwhile, 37% listed poor food labeling as the second most common reason for purchasing incorrect products.

The worst affected were Vegans, with 45% saying they suffer the most from vague or non-existent ingredients labeling when trying to find the right food. Analyzing how female consumers fair against males, the data revealed that a third of men (34%) made errors when there was no product labels whereas only a quarter of females (25%) made the same mistake.

While grocery shopping is a simple task for most, almost 30% of those surveyed find it daunting. The data found Americans aged between 25 and 44, who have some form of exclusion diet, struggle the most when shopping for foods online or at supermarkets. Additionally, the research revealed that vegans and vegetarians have the greatest challenge when it comes to food discovery, with 41% finding it difficult to match products to their preferences.

Markus Stripf, CEO and co-founder of Spoon Guru, commented: “With an increase of US consumers adopting exclusion diets, whether due to an allergy or intolerance or simply just a lifestyle choice, there is a clear need to make food discovery much more inclusive”.

“The study found there is overwhelming support (86%) for the idea that retailers should go above and beyond the current regulations to improve ingredient clarity, and the general feeling among US consumers is for on-trade and off-trade retailers to take more accountability where food labeling is concerned.”

Stripf continued: “Interestingly, the data revealed that well over half of consumers (76%) believe that the use of technology will be a key enabler to solving the shortcomings surrounding food labeling transparency. While there are a lot of learnings and discussions to be had about how to make food discovery and shopping accessible, the great news is that more and more food businesses like restaurants and retailers are open to using smart technology as a platform to cater for people who have specific dietary requirements.”


5 Steps to supercharge your customer service with contextual intelligence


According to Magnus Geverts at Teleopti, exceptional customer experience goes beyond connecting the dots between different channels. It’s all about understanding and anticipating a customer’s every need. Here are five steps to building contextual customer service

Retail ecommerce continues to flourish and growing consumer confidence in mobile technology is fuelling mobile commerce. According to digital market research company eMarketer, mCommerce sales in the UK are quickly approaching half of the country’s retail ecommerce market. By 2021, purchases made online via mobile devices will account for 51.7% of total retail eCommerce sales, up from 43.3% in 2017. (i)

What makes this particularly interesting is that the nature of mobile devices means that businesses potentially have the opportunity to know more about their customers than ever before. GPS-enabled smartphones allow organizations to see where their customers are. They also know if a customer has been browsing a mobile website or app and use that information to understand what the customer might need in the future. QR (quick response) codes on products automate and accelerate a two-way interaction. Customers retrieve all the information they need quickly, while organizations have the intelligence they require to direct customers to the correct place within their self-service function to complete the final purchase.

It’s a trend contact center analyst ContactBabel calls ‘The Great Mobile Opportunity’(ii) and it has the power to revolutionize customer service and the role of the contact center. So how do organizations make the most of this mobile data to take customer service to the next level?
The end of reactive contact centers
Contextual communication is the next step up from omni-channel in the contact center, as Vasili Triant at Cisco has been promoting at our collaborative events. Firstly customer service should be fully optimized for mobility. Then digest what’s being said on social media and listen to conversations that consumers commonly conduct with apps on their mobile devices, using Apple Business Chat, Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, Instagram or Twitter. Then, use this valuable intelligence by putting it into context for the customer.
The challenge is that most contact centers are reactive. Someone contacts customer service and an employee looks up various pieces of information to solve a specific enquiry at a particular period in time. No account is taken of contextual factors that predetermine the outcome of customer interactions.

Five steps to contextual customer service
It’s time to move away from a reactive contact center and exploit your data. Drawing on the great insights from Vasili, you can achieve this in the following ways:

1.  Be contextual – take data and apply intelligence to it. Give employees the context of why a customer is calling in the first place. If a customer has spent the last 30 minutes with technical support without success, make this information available to prepare the employee. A greeting that reflects empathy such as, “Hi Joe, I understand you’ve been talking to tech support but it looks like you still haven’t got the answer you need, let me help you…” will go a long way towards calming potentially inflammatory interactions.

2.  Be suggestive – use the data you already have to suggest certain types of interaction with customers. For example, seeing that a customer has left your website and looked at another brand is not the end but a great opportunity to reel them back in with a response like: “I see that you’ve had a problem with your current car can we help you by putting you on a special trade-in program with a 3-year free warranty?”

3.  Be pre-emptive – based on previous interactions, a customer’s preferred communication method can be determined, so use this information to pre-empt how to deal with them the next time around, for example “I see you’ve been on our website, would you prefer me to give you a call on the following number?”

4.  Be predictive – you know that a customer has bought a pair of shoes from your fashion department but did you know they also purchased a sofa from homewares? Make sure your data and processes are consistent and sufficiently integrated to facilitate joined up customer responses, along with the opportunity to cross-sell and up-sell other products and services.

5.  Contextualize the workforce – by deploying the latest cloud Workforce Management (WFM) solutions. Use them to create a ‘go-to’ place for all your talents and resources and identify the employees who have the highest levels of emotional intelligence to add context and real value to customer interactions. Give employees real-time help with unified systems that allow them to see when expert help is available across the organization then maximize WFM data to ensure the customer is put through to the right employee, right away.

If you change the reactive to contextual, suggestive, pre-emptive and predictive, both employees and customers will benefit from a superior experience. Think about contextual as the new supercharged omni-channel.

Magnus Geverts is Chief Business Development Officer at Teleopti