Customer Demands Driving Push for Self-Service in APAC

By Philip Chuck, Territory General Manager, Greater China

Customer experience is a hot topic for organisations around the world, and that’s certainly no different for those in the APAC region. Customers are demanding anytime, anywhere support, and companies are looking for effective ways to meet those demands. This was reflected in our busy industry event schedule here in Hong Kong during November.

At the beginning of the month, Creative Virtual sponsored the Asia Pacific Contact Centre Association Leaders (APCCAL) Expo for a second year alongside our partner Continuous Technologies. Hosted by the Hong Kong Call Centre Association (HKCCA) at Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, this year’s event theme of ‘Omnichannel Customer Experience’ really resonated with the APAC contact centre professionals in attendance. Chris Ezekiel, Creative Virtual’s Founder & CEO, was a featured speaker and shared insights from his many years of experience in the industry during his presentation titled ‘Omnichannel Customer Engagement with Virtual and Real Customer Assistants’.

Later in the month, we teamed up with Fuji Xerox Hong Kong (FXHK), another of our partners, to take part in their SPARK Innovation Expo. This event showcased a range of smart innovations, technologies and next generation solutions designed to transform business. At the Creative Virtual booth, we shared our omnichannel Smart Help solutions and demonstrated how they automate companies’ support process to deliver fast and accurate responses to customers.

That same day Björn Gülsdorff, Creative Virtual’s Head of Business Development, joined our team in Hong Kong for a Roundtable organised by Asia Pacific Customer Service Consortium (APCSC). The event theme of ‘International Customer Experience Innovation and Engagement with Leadership Effectiveness’ inspired some great discussions, as did Björn’s presentation on best practices for virtual agents and real agents working together.

An important point that was apparent at all of these events is that the market for self-service in APAC is being driven not by cost savings, but rather by demands from end customers. Customers want:

  • Anytime, anywhere self-service on any device
  • Seamless, effortless engagement
  • Native language support
  • Personalised experiences

We are seeing a surge of interest in our omnichannel Smart Help solutions in APAC because our suite of tools enables organisations to effectively meet these demands. From virtual agents on websites to chatbots on messaging apps to tight integration with live chat, we have proven solutions that give customers a convenient, personalised and seamless experience. In the short time since coming to the region, we’ve demonstrated our multi-lingual capability by officially introducing three additional local languages. The feedback mechanism of our virtual agents gives organisations unique insights into the Voice of the Customer (VOC) to help them further improve customer engagement. And, in addition to enabling companies to meet the engagement expectations of their customers, our solutions also help reduce customer support costs and increase sales.

As we prepare for 2017, the marketplace looks exciting for us in Hong Kong and the rest of APAC. We’re looking forward to continuing our partnerships with Continuous Technologies and FXHK, and to bringing our expertise and experience in customer engagement to even more collaborations with customer organisations.

You can learn more about using virtual agents and chatbots for customer self-service in the new whitepaper Virtual Agents and Chatbots and Avatars – confusing or what!

Be sure to schedule your own personalised demo to see how our omnichannel solutions can help you meet your growing customer demands.

APCSC Roundtable

 

The Race to Game Day: Creative Virtual USA Takes on Extra Life 2016

By Eileen Stall, KB Manager, Creative Virtual USA

While the team here at Creative Virtual USA has been focused on finishing the year strong, we are very excited to take a timeout for Extra Life! For those of you who may not have caught our blog post or live stream last year, Extra Life is a 24-hour gaming marathon which has been raising money for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals® since 2008. What makes them special? Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals® raises funds and awareness for 170 member hospitals that provide 32 million treatments each year to kids across the U.S. and Canada. Donations stay local to fund critical treatments and healthcare services, pediatric medical equipment and charitable care. Extra Life was launched to raise awareness and give people an opportunity to contribute to this cause by engaging in an activity we all love – PLAY!!!

Why do we do it?

Who doesn’t love gaming?!?! What the Creative Virtual USA team appreciates most about Extra Life is the ability to personalize the event and make an impact locally. Every participant can choose which hospital receives the proceeds they collect during the event. While the majority of our team will be selecting our home hospital in Hartford, CT, several members are choosing to donate to hospitals closer to home. Few things are better than the feeling of personally supporting an organization servicing a community of local children battling terrifying diseases like pediatric cancer. Last year the Creative Virtual USA team raised $4,111, blowing past our original goal of $2,500. This year we are aiming to break the $5,000 level and are inviting all of you to join us in support of this great cause!

How do I get involved?

Player 1 joins the game! Please consider taking the time to visit our team page and donating if you have the means to do so. Any level of contribution is appreciated. Game Day 2016 starts Saturday, November 5th at 8am and ends 24 hours later on Sunday morning. We can’t wait to share this amazing experience with all of you and look forward to doing all of this FTK (For The Kids)!

What’s next?

Join us for our live stream on Saturday, November 5th at 8am to watch us while our team is outing werewolves, perfecting their edge-guarding on Fountain of Dreams, and racking up gold stars with the band! We’ll keep the stream running for you to watch the fun and see where we land on our fundraising efforts. Thanks to all, and happy gaming!

The Role of AI in our Commercial Future

By Liam Ryan, Head of Sales

Back in 2001 I had the privilege of meeting Professor Noel Sharkey when he was a judge and I was a contestant on Robot Wars. Fifteen years later, I again had the pleasure of speaking with him when Creative Virtual sponsored the Social Robotics & AI conference. Noel and Creative Virtual’s Founder & CEO, Chris Ezekiel, were just two of the industry experts that presented as part of the event held at Oxford Brookes University in September.

This was the first year for this conference which aimed to unite the scientific community, business leaders and builders of human capital to discuss the role of AI in our commercial future. It was a well-attended event, with a large number of customer service professionals wanting to gain insight into how their companies should be looking to use cutting-edge AI technologies. As part of the ‘AI in Action’ showcase, we shared live demonstrations of our intelligent virtual agents. This sparked some interesting conversations about natural language chatbots, how self-service is perceived by customers and the potential for AI in the future of customer service.

Chris drew on his many years of experience during the ‘Customer relationships’ track, and his presentation, ‘Building customer relationships with intelligent virtual agents: A framework for humans and machines to work in harmony’ touched on many of the themes that came up during those conversations. A key takeaway for the audience was that customer support is not the place for pure AI. Intelligent virtual agents are an ideal solution for engaging customers and providing self-service, but they need to combine AI with a human element. This means they will learn and adapt based on how customers are using them while still enabling organisations to maintain control over the reliability of responses.

Social Robotics & AIAlso presenting at the conference was keynote speaker Garry Kasparov, world chess champion and AI advocate. His presentation delved into the relationship of intelligent machines and human creativity. He encouraged attendees to focus on how AI enables and empowers us to use technology in creative ways we never before imagined. Chris and I were both excited to have the opportunity to meet Garry and hear his thoughts on the potential of AI.

Noel Sharkey closed the conference with a look at ‘Human Responsibility in a World of Robots’. He shared some sensational newspaper headlines that were published as a result of his comments about AI being misinterpreted. These served as a first-hand example of the misunderstanding that often surrounds AI. Noel stressed that the industry needs to approach innovation in AI and robotics in a responsible manner that will help clear up this confusion and earn public trust.

In my opinion, the first Social Robotics & AI conference was a success from the impressive line-up of speakers and thought-provoking conversations right down to the delicious shrimp on the lunchtime spread! Our thanks to the organisers for inviting Creative Virtual to be a part of this event.

Please take a look at our Products page to learn more about Creative Virtual’s suite of Smart Help solutions and then request a personalised demo to see how AI technology can help you build relationships with your customers.

And for all of you curious about my Robot Wars appearance, check out the video below starting just before the 19-minute mark.

#CXDay: Bridging the Gap for Great Customer Experiences

By Mandy Reed, Marketing Manager (Global)

Happy CX Day! Today marks the 4th annual CX Day, a global celebration of great customer experience and the professionals who make it happen. There’s no escaping the fact that customer experience has become a key factor in customer purchasing decisions, often even outweighing price. And to say that delivering a positive experience can be challenging is certainly an understatement!

I was recently reading a blog post from Gartner about improving the customer experience by creating bridges between silos of engagement (more on that later), and it brought to mind a story about Waldameer Park, a small, family-run amusement park along the shores of Lake Erie in the US. In the 1990s, park owner Paul Nelson began the quest to build a new roller coaster, the Ravine Flyer II, to replace the original Ravine Flyer which closed in 1938. He was adamant that, like the original coaster, the new one cross over Peninsula Drive to give riders a unique, thrilling experience. Bridging the 4-lane highway, which is the only access road to popular Presque Isle State Park, became one of the main obstacles Paul would face in gaining approval to construct the new coaster.

Waldameer Park bridgeIn 2008, after nearly 20 years of planning, legal battles and long delays, the Ravine Flyer II opened – featuring a 165-foot-long arched bridge that takes riders over traffic on Peninsula Drive and back during their minute and a half long ride. Paul’s dedication to his vision paid off. The Ravine Flyer II won the prestigious ‘Golden Ticket Award’ as the best new ride in the world for 2008 by Amusement Today and park attendance jumped by 20% that season. The park has continued to maintain those increased levels of attendance in the years since the coaster opened, and the Ravine Flyer II is consistently ranked as one of the Best Wooden Roller Coasters in the world, reaching 5th place in 2016. Riders continue to rave about the experience of the Ravine Flyer II, many returning year-after-year to enjoy the coaster.

Just like bridging the 4 lanes of traffic was an obstacle for the construction of the coaster, so is the bridging of engagement silos for the improvement of the customer experience. According to Gartner analyst Gene Phifer:

“Delivering customer engagement in silos can significantly damage the customer experience. We predict that through 2020, silos of customer engagement will be one of the top three leading causes of customer dissatisfaction for enterprises across all industry segments.”

Even though silos may be the natural result of how your organisation is structured, your customers don’t care. They just want a smooth, seamless journey that enables them to remain oblivious to the fact that they may have transitioned from one internal silo to another. Mr Phifer continued:

“Bridging the silos of customer engagement leads to a seamless transition across channels and devices. Moving from a disconnected, siloed customer experience to a truly unified customer experience is an important step in maintaining and improving the customer experience. This may be nothing new, but the difference now is that it is no longer a ‘nice to have’. It has become a necessity for survival.”

That’s certainly some good food for thought as we celebrate CX Day and great customer experiences around the world. Organisations that want to be truly competitive need to take a step back and evaluate whether or not they are providing their customers with seamless, end-to-end engagement – even if their journeys feel like a roller coaster ride as they switch between channels and devices!

Whether or not you’re a roller coaster enthusiast, I’m sure you can appreciate that it was Mr Nelson’s unwavering commitment to his customer experience vision that made all the difference. While I’ve not met him personally, I’ve been told by someone who has that his passion for Waldameer Park and the experience of his park visitors is very obvious in every business decision he makes. Today we recognise him and all the customer experience professionals who are dedicated to bridging the gaps in order to deliver great experiences that make customers want to come back for more. Thank you for the hard work you do all year long!

 Photos courtesy of Mekis Construction.

The Wharf Innovation in Business Awards: Local Boy Makes it Big!

By Chris Ezekiel, Founder & CEO

Back in July we received the exciting news that Creative Virtual had been shortlisted for The Wharf Innovation in Business Awards, a new awards programme celebrating the hard work and ingenuity of companies in Canary Wharf, in the category of Medium-to-Large Business. On my walk back to our offices after my interview with the judges, I was reminiscing about the Wharf, growing up on the Isle of Dogs and starting the company here nearly thirteen years ago. It all made me feel like my own ‘hometown kid does good’ story!

Last week Liam, our Head of Sales in the UK, donned his tux (a little reluctantly!) and joined me for the glittering black tie dinner and awards ceremony at the Radisson Blu Edwardian New Providence Wharf. We were hopeful as we sipped our champagne and snapped a selfie, but not truly expecting to win. I was on the edge of my seat as Levi Roots (of Reggae Raggae Sauce fame) began to announce the winner of our category by first reading the glowing words from the judges and then revealing the company name – We Won!!

“Creative Virtual may be the most successful Canary Wharf company you’ve never heard of. This giant was in the tech business almost before the sector existed but its years of research and development mean it is now superbly placed to take advantage of cutting edge customer expectations and experiences.”

The timing of this awards ceremony and our win is especially meaningful to me. I had just arrived back that morning from a couple of days in New York meeting with some of our US team, and I fly out of London to Australia, which is a hot market for us right now, next week for meetings and a visit with the team there. Growing Creative Virtual into a global company is exciting and a great accomplishment for the all the people who work at Creative Virtual, and there’s no better feeling than coming home to win a local award. I’m extremely proud of keeping the company headquartered here and growing it from our base in Canary Wharf.

The Wharf Innovation in Business AwardsThe market for our smart customer engagement solutions has been exploding as of late, and it’s nice to have this emerging area and technology honoured in this way. It’s important for organisations who are working hard to make their mark while helping to define a new sector to be recognised by with this type of award. I thank the judges for taking the time to understand what it is that we do at Creative Virtual and for being brave enough to recognise our industry-changing technology and its growth potential in the future, despite it being a new area.

But the true hero in this story isn’t the technology, it’s the people. I don’t want to sound too soppy, but Creative Virtual is where it is today because of the hard work and dedication of our team. They are the ones that have put in the years of research and development, built great relationships with our customers and brought innovative ideas to our solutions. While I hope I have provided the guidance to make it all happen, an award like this really underlines the importance of having great people working for your company.

Winning The Wharf Innovation in Business Awards is an amazing achievement for Creative Virtual as well as for me personally. After accepting the award, Liam and I celebrated until the wee hours of the morning – my jetlag and his missed bedtime long forgotten! Liam even commented that he had never seen me that happy before. I was so thrilled with our win that I slept with our award that night and had to pinch myself in the morning to make sure it hadn’t been a dream. It was exciting to share the award with the team in the Canary Wharf office and send photos to those working remotely and in our other offices. I’ve been spending the weekend and this week showing it off to my family and friends! They all know The Wharf newspaper, so I’m sure they are picturing the same headline as me as they admire the award: Local Boy Makes it Big!

My thanks to The Wharf, the judges and all of the award sponsors for honouring us as your Medium-to-Large Business and for putting on a fabulous dinner and ceremony. But more importantly, this East End boy thanks all of Creative Virtual’s employees, customers and partners around the globe. Without you, this win wouldn’t have been possible.

I hope you’ll take a look at our photo album and read our official announcement about Creative Virtual’s big win.

Medium-to-Large Business winner

It’s Time to Celebrate Customer Service Week

By Mandy Reed, Marketing Manager (Global)

Happy Customer Service Week! Today starts the annual week-long international celebration of the importance of customer service and the role it plays in successful business practice. This week we recognise all the hard work customer service professionals do to serve and support customers on a daily basis. Every good customer service professional knows that if you don’t take care of your customers, someone else will – and that someone else is going to be your competitor.

Delivering excellent customer service and support is a team effort, from employees that interact with customers face-to-face to live agents working in the contact centre to those responsible for developing and maintaining self-service solutions. Customer service is a key aspect of a company’s overall customer experience, and one that often determines if customers stay or if they leave for a competitor. Customer Service Week is the perfect time to revisit some of the customer service tips, trends and statistics shared over the past twelve months with a blog post roundup:

  • The Contact Centre in its Current Form is Finished – Seamless, personalised smart assistants will increasingly automate everything the current contact centre offers, but this change won’t happen overnight. Organisations need to get on-board with this transition in order to give customers the effortless interactions they demand.
  • Virtual Agents and Human Agents Join Forces for Customer Service in 2016 – Forrester reported that in 2015, web and mobile self-service interactions exceeded those over live-assist channels. Conversations with live agents were more frequently initiated as escalations when self-service options proved unsuccessful. With a combination of virtual and human agents, organisations can create a seamless, personalised and convenient customer service experience.
  • 5 Questions to Ask About Digital Customer Service Improvement Plans – Digital tools allow us to serve customers better than ever before, but you need to ensure you choose the right solution and engage the right experts to help deliver on its promise. Asking the right questions before implementing a new digital customer service improvement plan will help you gain a clearer sense of how you can take better care of your customers.
  • It’s Time to Embrace Digital Channels and Build Smart Help – Traditionally companies have invested millions in their contact centres in order to build their customer support capabilities. As customers have moved to digital channels, this approach is no longer enabling them to meet customers’ expectations. Organisations need to embrace the digital channels and build smart help online.
  • Customer Service for the Millennium – There’s lots of buzz about the customer service expectations of Millennials. With this generation outnumbering Baby Boomers by nearly 8 million people, companies need to pay attention to these expectations in order to drive sales and increase loyalty.
  • Messaging Apps: Over 3 Billion Users and Counting – With over 3 billion users around the world, messaging apps are quickly growing in popularly and provide a great new opportunity for brands to engage with their customers. Chatbots and virtual agents are perfect tools for offering self-service through both messaging apps and SMS, and can help organisations provide seamless, omnichannel support when implemented correctly.

Mission Accomplished: Our 10k for RSPCA

By Maria Ward, Account Manager/ Knowledgebase Engineer

We did it! I’m proud to report that on Sunday, 18th September Alessandro, Tracey, Chris, David, Jeff, Kristina, Andre, Rachel and I completed the RunTen 10k in support of RSPCA!

Race day finally arrived after all our training and preparation, and we’d arranged to meet in Richmond Park at 8:15 am. Everyone had their own personal goals in mind, and I was no different with a goal of finishing in under 50 minutes. I was beginning to feel a little nervous!

After some mandatory photos, we joined the queue for the start of the race. Participants were set off in batches of around 50 to avoid overcrowding and this worked really well.  It meant there wasn’t the usual start-of-race scramble.

Soon we were ready at the start line, listened to a safety announcement and then we were off! Chris very quickly took the lead. I’d have liked to keep up with him, but I knew that if I over-exerted at the beginning, I would have faded at the end.

The course was fabulous, running though the grounds of Richmond Park, a large herd of deer in the distance on the left looking on and wondering what was going on. As the kilometre markers passed, I remember thinking it will be good to get past 5 and be over halfway. I was pushing really hard and can honestly say I couldn’t have run faster. I was at the “I need to stop and walk now” stage for most of the race.

At one part of the course you doubled back on yourself and this is where Chris gave me a shout out. I was in the zone at that time and only just noticed him! A little further on I caught sight of David who was looking strong.

I reached the 8 kilometre marker and knew I was on the homeward straight now. I pushed as hard as I could – I wanted a strong finish and, as 9 kilometres passed, I tried to hold the pace for the last kilometre. The course changed from footpath to grass which was quite uneven so more difficult to run but I knew the finish was close. I turned the corner, could see the finish and sprinted across the line (maybe “sprinted is the wrong word!), breathing so hard I could not speak!

chris maria 10kAs I collected my medal, water and banana, I heard Chris shout out to me. He must have crossed the line a while ago because he was able to speak! When I checked my Strava, the time read 48:43, and I was so pleased to have got under 50 minutes. I hadn’t stopped it immediately so knew my chip time would be faster. Chris and I chatted (once I got my breath back!) while we waited for the others to finish their races.

As each team member crossed the finish line, everyone was rightfully happy with their achievement. Andre and Alessandro both completed their first 10k race with great times. Tracey achieved a personal best by shaving several minutes off of her last 10k time. Rachel impressed herself and us by finishing well under her personal goal and with no pain despite dealing with plantar fasciitis since mid-May. Chris finished his 10k in an impressive 45:43 – a new personal best for him too! – and my official finish time was 47:01. Jeff even managed to look like he was floating through the air as he waved at one of the official race cameras during his run!

We were also thrilled to discover at the end of the race that the team had reached our fundraising target, and we went for a celebratory coffee! It was a fabulous day, spent with great people raising funds for a very worthy cause. I can’t wait for the next one! Well done Team Animal!

A big thank you to everyone who sponsored our team! There’s still time to donate if you haven’t done so yet, either through our team JustGiving page or, if you are in the UK, text CVCV50 and an amount of £1, £2, £3, £4, £5 or £10 to 70070.

Running Through the Pain: Our 10k for RSPCA

By Maria Ward, Account Manager/ Knowledgebase Engineer

On Sunday, 18th September 2016 a 10 member team from Creative Virtual will be running the London Duathlon RunTen in support of RSPCA. I’ll be joining David, Laura, Kristina, Alessandro and Chris (pictured above modelling our official running kit!) and Rachel, Jeff, Andre and Tracey in the 10k taking place in beautiful Richmond Park, the largest of London’s eight Royal Parks. We’ve all been training over the past few months, taking part in our Wednesday Running Club when we can, and fitting our own runs into busy schedules while also working on our fundraising efforts.

My running story over the last year has been somewhat up and down. This time last year I was training for a 6 hour run – The Tolkien run – when disaster struck on a 22 mile training run. A flare up of Morton’s Neuroma meant I could only get about using crutches. I did the 6 hour race, two weeks later, on crutches, and managed to do 23.1 miles. My hands hurt a LOT!  I raised money for Macmillan, a charity chosen by my friend Steven who was undergoing chemotherapy at the time.

Since then I have had periods of limited running (followed by frustrating periods of no running). I’ve run the Brighton Marathon in April on very little training and 10 days later had surgery on my foot to try to rid me of the pesky neuroma that has been blighting my running. That put me out of action for another 6 weeks.

Fast forward to the middle of June and I started to take my first tentative steps back running. They were not easy and not pretty – short, slow and frustratingly hard.

That brings me to the fundraising. Fundraising is hard!! My friends and family often dig deep to support my running endeavours. I’m sure that sometimes they get fed up though! To help my fundraising efforts, I have decided to put some of my artwork up for auction, splitting all money between two charities – RSPCA and Cancer Research. So far I have bids on four of my pieces.

10k for RSPCAAnd finally to the big day, this coming Sunday. I have built up my distance. My speed is not yet back to what it was (but then I’m no spring chicken now!) but I feel ready and am looking forward to a run with my fabulous work colleagues. Skipper, my own furry friend, is a little disappointed he will be staying at home – he’d love to run with us too!

If you haven’t done so already, please consider helping us reach our fundraising goal by sponsoring our 10k team. You can donate through our team JustGiving page or, if you’re in the UK, text CVCV50 and an amount of £1, £2, £3, £4, £5 or £10 to 70070.

Thanks to everyone who has already donated – we really appreciate your support! We’re proud of the work Creative Virtual has done with RSPCA over the years to help them provide accurate, consistent and readily accessible information to the public (check out RSPCA’s Customer Success Story to learn more), and are excited to have this opportunity to raise money for such a great charity. Go Team Animal!

Smart Help, Digital Customer Experience and AI: A Week of Events

By Mandy Reed, Marketing Manager (Global)

Next week will be busy for the Creative Virtual team as we take part in five different events around the world. From the largest Digital CX event in North America to a world-first conference investigating the science of AI and its impact on business to industry events hosted by two of our partner companies, our schedule includes a little something for everyone. Read on for more information on each. . .


INTERACTIONS APAC 2016, Gold Coast, Australia

On 13-15 September, we’ll be exhibiting for a second year at Interactive Intelligence’s annual INTERACTIONS APAC conference. This event, being held at the Sheraton Grand Mirage Resort, will connect attendees with customer experience leaders and experts through visionary keynotes, actionable learning sessions and networking opportunities. Patrick Gallagher, Managing Director ANZ & North Asia, will be showcasing our Smart Help solutions in the Connections Hall. He’ll be sharing live examples of how our customers from around the world are using our technology to provide effortless online self-service for customers and supporting live agents in the contact centre.

Learn more & register to attend >>


Digital Customer Experience Strategies Summit 2016, Chicago, USA

The Creative Virtual USA team will invade the Windy City on 13-14 September as we take part in the third annual Digital Customer Experience Strategies Summit as a Gold Sponsor. You’ll find us at Booth 6 sharing an inside look at our customer engagement solutions and the ways enterprises are using them to deliver digital experiences that are easy to access, intelligent and conversational. Frank Schneider, VP of Sales for US & Canada, will be joined by Marissa Pippen, Self-Service Product Manager at InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG), to present an Industry Expert session on Bots and Digital CX. Their presentation titled ‘Enable Anywhere, Anytime Customer Engagement Between Your Brand and Your Customers’ will begin at 3:30 pm on Day 2 of the Summit and focus on using conversational virtual assistants to provide customers with consistent, accurate and personalised omnichannel engagement.

Learn more & register to attend >>


Social Robotics & AI, Oxford, UK

We are a Silver Partner for the first Social Robotics & AI conference being hosted by Oxford Brookes University on 14-15 September. Chris Ezekiel, Founder & CEO, is presenting as part of the Customer Relationships track beginning at 4:00 pm on Thursday. His presentation, ‘Building customer relationships with intelligent virtual agents: A framework for humans and machines to work in harmony’, will address how the combination of AI and human support can help organisations tackle the transition to more automation and build relationships with a new generation of customers. The Creative Virtual team will also be on hand to provide live demonstrations of our virtual agent technology as part of the ‘AI in action’ sessions.

Learn more & register to attend >>


We will also have members of our team at the Opus Research Intelligent Assistants Conference on 12-13 September in San Francisco and at the Genesys G-Summit on 14-15 September in Copenhagen.

We hope we’ll see many of you at one of these great events! Please be sure to stop by our stand or booth to learn more about our technology and share your customer engagement woes and dreams with our team. If you aren’t able to attend, schedule your own personalised demo to learn how we can help you reach your omnichannel engagement goals.

The Charity Run Season: Our 10k for RSPCA

By Alessandro Giordo, Junior Developer & Support Technician

There are a few months a year in the UK when the sun gets slightly bolder, the city comes to life, and the running shoes come off the shelves. Charity runs, once a complete novelty, are now one of the highlights of the warmer season. There seems to be an unexplainable charity run craze sweeping throughout Europe and the world. Here at Creative Virtual we do not only feel it in the air, but are also inspired to take part and understand why we love them so much.

It is for this reason that we will be participating in RunTen, the London Duathlon’s 10k, on 18th September 2016 to raise money for RSPCA. The 10 kilometres separating us from the finish line will give us a chance to dive deeper into this sweeping phenomenon while having a great time and doing some good. In order to get ourselves ready for September, we’ve stepped up our training and are trying to learn a little more about charity runs.  

Britain has a very long history of charitable giving, with the oldest events dating as far back as the 12th century. Yet, mass funding events like we see today really started only a few decades ago. One of the very first charity walks was held in 1969 in Bismarck, North Dakota, USA. We have come a long way since then, and in 2012, 26,370 running events were held in the US alone.

Psychologists believe charity runs appeal to people so much because individuals drive meaning and value from having to work hard and suffer for their chosen goals. People seem to be willing to donate more when they believe a fundraising event will require exertion.

Yet, could that be really it or is there more to it?

In order to find out more, I interviewed a few other members of the Creative Virtual 10k team. These individuals have been training regularly to prepare for the event and have participated in similar events before. They represent the perfect sample for our project; they are dedicated, motivated, and most importantly, fun.

Question 1: Why do you think charity runs are so popular? What is it that makes running and fundraising so effective?

Andre Matthews (Knowledgebase Engineer) says, “I think people intrinsically find charities impersonal. Even good-willed people who care about the issues of our day want to make sure their money ends up helping someone. These events allow donors to meet people, feel more involved, and build that trust that is so important. The fact that the RSPCA publicly takes part in such events denotes a sense of drive and passion.”

On the other hand, Laura Ludmany (Junior Knowledgebase Engineer) believes that “charity runs have the power to unite large groups of people under a single cause. The fact that people aren’t just giving money, but are actually ‘doing something’ for the organisation, makes them feel more compelled to dedicate their time to the organisation.”

Personally, I love animals and am looking forward to fundraising for RSPCA. I’ve participated in other charity runs before and feel they unite us together for great causes. We enjoy running together as one, knowing that we are going to help animals in need and feeling good about ourselves and what we can do with our lives as adults.

Question 2: Would you think charity runs might appeal to both runners and non-runners alike?

Andre and Laura replied in a similar way stating, “If you are a seasoned runner, there is always the lure of beating a personal record while fighting for a good cause. On the contrary, people who care enough about the cause will train to be able to do it, and even people who feel less strongly about the cause might want to be a part of it in order to reach a personal goal.”

Kristina Kruminyte (Administrative Assistant) added, “If one enjoys running, why not do it for charity? An individual could both do some good and do what he or she loves best. It seems to be a win-win situation. On the other hand, charity runs might represent a motivation to run for people who care about the cause but do not enjoy the physical exercise. These events help people both care for others, and pursue their own personal goals.”

I’ve run three times in my life excluding while playing basketball and being chased by a monkey. I started running to prepare for this year’s marathon and I can’t stop doing it now! For me, this charity run is a great way to indulge my passion for running while supporting a great charity in a fun way.

10k for RSPCAUltimately, it seems like the idea that people derive meaning in striving for something plays a significant role in the popularity of charity runs. Here at Creative Virtual we’ve been training both on our own, as well as with a group run every Wednesday, and are eagerly looking forward to the event. As a company full of animal lovers, we’re excited to be running in support of RSPCA and raising much needed funds for the amazing work they do with animals.

We have a team of 10 runners – Andre, Laura, Kristina and I will be joined by Chris, Rachel, Jeff, Maria, David, and Tracey. Our goal is to raise £1,000 for this very worthy charity. Please sponsor us by visiting our team JustGiving page or, if you’re in the UK, text CVCV50 and an amount of £1, £2, £3, £4, £5 or £10 to 70070.

Thank you for your support! Watch this space for more updates as we get closer to race day.