6 Foolproof Customer Engagement Strategies Using Chatbots

By Frank Schneider, VP of Sales, North America

Since the rise of AI applications in the business world, chatbots’ influence on customer engagement has been a hot topic. Enterprises using or considering AI virtual assistants must have an effective plan for improving customer engagement.

Below are a few tips to help your virtual agents create a first-class customer experience.

  1. Start with mobile

Many large, older organizations make the mistake of believing that their virtual assistants should be configured first and foremost for desktop use. However, Google announced in 2015 that mobile had surpassed desktop in search traffic in several large countries. Research from April 2016 shows that in the U.S., 65% of digital media time is spent on mobile, compared to just 35% on desktop. You should be planning customer engagement strategies for mobile channels first, and then ensuring they work everywhere else.

  1. Don’t get locked into a platform-based solution

Many customer engagement providers are touting solutions for a specific social media platform or communication channel. While it’s great to have a way to engage with customers where they are, there are risks to hitching your wagon to a single-platform solution that isn’t specifically fitted to each channel. Leave your organization some flexibility when it comes to how you reach customers with your digital engagement solutions.

  1. Use personalized recommendations

Personalization of content is a primary focus in the commercial world, especially in B2C applications. Think about the apps, websites and social media profiles set up to customize a person’s experience with a brand. Chatbots can and should be one of these tools. By checking someone’s purchase history, account status, and previous interactions with the company, your virtual agent provides tailored recommendations that not only please customers, but help improve revenues through cross-selling and upselling.

  1. Leverage a proven chatbot solution

There are many new and experimental virtual agents in today’s market. Since Facebook opened up its Messenger application to chatbots in spring 2016, over 11,000 bots have joined the platform. If you’re trying to choose a chatbot solution for your company, don’t pick one solely based on its features or the way it’s presented to you: find one with a verifiable track record of helping large enterprise clients deliver these solutions at scale.

  1. Take advantage of old chat logs and phone transcripts

The best virtual agent solutions learn from your previous conversations across other channels. You should have an AI virtual assistant analyze logs from customer interactions with live agents – both phone and chat – so it can learn about common issues and understand how to resolve them before having a single conversation.

  1. Don’t wait for customers to initiate the interaction

To reach the next level of engagement, you can’t wait for customers to contact you with problems they are experiencing. You must attempt to get ahead of their issues by prompting them to talk about their use of your product or service. A quality chatbot can be set up to initiate an interaction through SMS, mobile, and/or desktop with customers about topics important to your business.

 

As the leader in virtual customer service, Creative Virtual specializes in the science of conversation.

 

It’s Time to Embrace Digital Channels and Build Smart Help

By Patrick Gallagher, Managing Director ANZ & North Asia

In my over 30 years of involvement in contact centres, IVR and customer experience applications, I’ve experienced companies investing millions in their contact centres to provide support to customers calling to purchase, enquire, complain, apply or seek assistance. Traditionally this has been the ‘tried-and-tested’ option as companies continued to invest in their contact centre in order to build their customer support capability. But, as customers have moved to digital channels, this approach is no longer enabling organisations to meet their customers’ expectations.

I drew on this experience in my recent Executive Interview with CRMXchange to discuss the growing popularity of online self-service and ensuring customers can resolve issues with minimal effort. It’s key for organisations to recognise that it’s more than just support today’s online customers want. They expect to purchase, enquire, complain, apply and get help effortlessly online. This means companies need to embrace the digital channels and build smart help online, not force customers to use a traditional search tool that returns pages and pages of results or give customers answers that say ‘To find out about this product, please call the contact centre’. There’s nothing smart about that, and it really creates a poor online experience for customers.

CRMXchange also asked me about using a combination of natural language processing (NLP) and artificial intelligence (AI) technology for improving the customer support experience. AI is certainly a hot topic around the world in the customer experience industry, and so I thought it important to share a word of caution about the ‘pure’ AI solutions on the market that are being promoted as virtual agents. While these technologies have a place in driving quantitative analysis of large volumes of data, they are not ready to be deployed for customer service and support. Organisations should look for virtual agents that employ self-learning capabilities, but in a way that still gives them control over the reliability of the responses.

Please check out my full interview for more on these topics as well as delivering personalised experiences to customers, making intelligent virtual agents available across all contact channels and using these solutions to complement the knowledge of live agents. You can also learn more about Creative Virtual’s technology and see our smart help tools in action by requesting a live demo.

My thanks to CRMXchange for the opportunity to participate in their Executive Interview series!

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.

5 Overlooked Benefits of Personalized Virtual Agent Software

By Mike Murphy, VP of Customer Success, Creative Virtual USA

Everyone knows that virtual agents are an excellent customer service resource. A top-notch AI virtual assistant can reduce the load on your support staff, keep your branding consistent, and help prevent tickets from getting escalated to higher levels.

Yet there are some benefits of a virtual agent chatbot that aren’t as obvious. These lesser-known benefits can bring greater success and higher performance to several facets of your business.

  1. Speed of resolution improves

Over the years, the abilities of AI virtual assistants have gotten closer to the intelligence of live agents. It’s much easier for chatbots to resolve a larger scope of issues, which historically would otherwise have to escalate to a human agent. A key difference in the customer experience between the virtual and human agent is time. A virtual agent is much faster at providing the right answer, which means greater customer satisfaction and less stress on your support staff.

  1. Support answers become more accurate

With a virtual agent chatbot, there’s no need to worry about a customer getting the wrong answer to a question because an agent was tired and at the end of his shift, just had an argument with someone, or isn’t feeling their best. Your organization decides on the “voice” of your virtual assistant and controls how customers receive help. This enhances your brand consistency and customer satisfaction levels, while controlling costs.

  1. New sales revenue is created

You might think of your virtual assistant primarily as a tool to deal with existing customers that have issues with a product or service, but a good virtual agent also contributes new revenue. By accessing your billing and sales databases, a chatbot can perform account queries, see when a customer last bought something, and suggest complementary products and services based on their purchase history. This means more sales opportunities in every customer interaction.

  1. Service reps become more skilled

When you have an AI virtual assistant handling a wider scope of issues like technical malfunctions, lost passwords and email and contact info updates, it frees up your human agents for more sensitive discussions and escalations. This means you can hire a more capable, sophisticated support team that will be more engaged with their work, since they aren’t devoting tons of time to answering basic questions about their company or its product.

  1. Public relations emergencies and unexpected events are easier to handle

Even if your organization hasn’t experienced it, you’ve heard the stories: that dreaded moment when your business accidentally publishes sensitive material, someone tweets the wrong thing, or a customer levels a serious accusation. These PR nightmares can cause a flood of new support complaints from people asking about the same topic. Instead of having your support staff bogged down by an enlarged volume of inquiries because of a one-off event, you can leverage your virtual agent to have consistent, timely, and infinitely scalable conversations with your customers.

 

As the leader in virtual customer service, Creative Virtual specializes in the science of conversation.

 

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!

5 Questions to Ask About Digital Customer Service Improvement Plans

By Scott Tompkins, Enterprise Account Executive, Creative Virtual USA

Of the many opportunities provided to the business world with so many digitally connected consumers, some of the most exciting are in the realm of customer service. Digital tools allow us to serve customers better than ever before – as long as you choose the right solution and engage the right experts to help deliver on its promise.

If you’re considering implementing a new digital customer service improvement plan, ask a provider the following questions to gain a clearer sense of how they can help you take better care of your customers:

  1. What’s the expected cost per resolution?

It’s important to understand the fully-loaded cost of helping a customer resolve a problem in each of your customer service channels. To quickly estimate cost per resolution, take the cost per contact for the channel and divide it by the expected success rate of resolving issues. You can expect a fairly large variance in costs across your channels, so be sure to take a broad look across digital and offline channels to determine which method is the most effective for your business and your customers.

  1. How long does it take to see ROI?

A transformative digital customer service improvement plan often requires significant upfront investment. While you are planning for this cost, it’s important to have proper expectations for when you’ll see a return. Providers who are confident enough in the effectiveness and fit of their solutions to offer outcome-based pricing are an encouraging sign – Outcome-based pricing allows you to lock in return on elements of your investment, which begin as soon as your solution goes live, improving your bottom line.

  1. Does the solution have a sales component?

While effective customer service is critical for keeping customers, every organization needs sales to grow. The best customer service programs understand that service and sales are hand-in-hand.  Improvement plans should incorporate service elements, new customer sales, cross-selling and upselling components.

  1. What ways can my customers find help using this solution?

This is a critical question for ensuring that you maximize the efficacy of your customer service solution. If your customers are highly active on social media or mobile platforms but the customer service improvement plan you are considering can’t be deployed there, it’s probably a good idea to look elsewhere.

Also request job descriptions of the internal resources required to deploy and manage the solution. Will there be significant IT projects required to make it work? Can the customer service solution you are considering be set up to work with your data warehousing or analytics solutions? These are all questions that could affect the time to deploy, cost and value of your solution.

  1. Does the customer service solution self-learn?

In today’s world where artificial intelligence can write poetry and drive your car, it’s important that your customer service solutions are evolving with your business over time. A great customer service solution learns from previous interactions to gain a better understanding of what your customers ask about, what solutions work best, and incorporates that learning to offer better service.

 

As the leader in virtual customer service, Creative Virtual specializes in the science of conversation.

 

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.

A Vision of Seamless, Fully-Integrated, End-to-End Customer Engagement

By Chris Ezekiel, Founder & CEO

Today is a truly momentous day, and a very proud one, for all of us at Creative Virtual. Our vision has always been to offer organisations the technology to enable seamless, fully-integrated, end-to-end customer engagement, and to back that technology with the experience of an expert, knowledgeable team. Once we established ourselves as independently recognised leaders in the virtual customer assistant (VCA) space, we underpinned all our channel support with our critically-acclaimed V-Portal™ (knowledge management, workflow management and business intelligence) platform. Today we realised our vision with the official launch of our newest product: V-Person Live Chat™.

Defining industry best practice

V-Person Live Chat completes our customer engagement jigsaw because it successfully blends virtual and real customer support in a way that no other vendor in the marketplace can provide today.  Our many years of experience with integrating our V-Person virtual agent technology with other live chat systems made us realise that there was a huge opportunity for organisations to benefit from a deeper blending of the two technologies. This inspired us to develop our own live chat product which is now defining industry best practice through the tight integration of a single knowledgebase for both virtual and real agents, a unique feedback loop and a customisable workflow provided by V-Portal.

At Creative Virtual we closely monitor developing trends and the evolution of engagement touchpoints in order to provide enterprises with cutting-edge Smart Help solutions. It is clear to us that the contact centre in its current form is finished. As there is a transition to more automation, combining virtual and real customer support with a central knowledge management and workflow platform will be key for organisations. We’ve addressed this contact centre shift with the deep integration of virtual agents and live chat, particularly with our unique feedback loop that allows live chat agents to help keep content accurate for both virtual and real agents just by doing their normal jobs.

A complete approach to learning

V-Person self-learningOur V-Person technology utilises a hybrid approach of human curation of content and self-learning to give organisations a predictable and reliable customer self-service option. We have developed this approach based on our extensive experience and our partnerships with some of the world’s largest organisations. We understand how enterprises want to use virtual agents and chatbots to deliver effective self-service today and how the customer support landscape is evolving for them in the future.

Human curation of content allows organisations to be absolutely sure that their VCA is responding to users in a predictable way. At any point in time, designated content editors have full access to the knowledgebase to make updates that can be deployed instantly to the virtual agent. Organisations never need to wait for the system to ‘re-learn’ the new information. This human element is combined with the virtual agent’s ability to become more intelligent and adapt through self-learning.

V-Person’s statistical algorithm processes user journeys to return a list of related questions that is a true reflection of how users asking for similar information engaged with the virtual agent. Organisations also benefit from our statistical approach to self-learning with tightly integrated business intelligence reporting. V-Portal brings together voice of the customer feedback and user surveys with conversational data in real-time, actionable analytics that are directly linked to the virtual assistant’s knowledgebase.

Now with V-Person Live Chat, we are able to complete our approach to learning with our unique feedback loops. V-Portal enables enterprises to implement feedback loops that allow live agents to provide real-time comments and suggestions on content so that they can improve the virtual agent just by doing their normal job.

This hybrid approach to learning enables V-Person implementations to adapt in a very predictable way. The combination of human and self-learning is important for continually improving the system while also enabling enterprises to maintain control over the reliability of the VCA responses.

Where we go from here

Seeing our vision of seamless, fully-integrated, end-to-end customer engagement come to fruition is an important milestone, but certainly not the end of the roadmap for us. We are looking forward to rolling out our new live chat product to our customer organisations and experiencing with them new levels of customer engagement success. By continuing our collaboration with them, we will look to make new updates to our workflow and do more development around the self-learning aspects of our technology. Our roadmap is all about combining best practices around knowledge curation and self-learning, and integrating V-Person with best-of-breed technologies to provide a world leading enterprise level end-to-end digital customer engagement platform.

Whether you are currently using live chat and/or a virtual agent to support customers or just starting to think about implementing these tools, the best way to see how V-Person Live Chat can benefit your organisation is by requesting a personalised demo.

You can also read more about how we are combining virtual and real support with a live chat solution that is defining industry best practice in our V-Person Live Chat Overview.

Attention Marketers: You Could Learn Something from Your Customer Support Colleagues

By Mandy Reed, Marketing Manager (Global)

“The data is clear: B2B buyers prefer do-it-yourself options for researching products and services prior to purchase. By a factor of three to one, B2B buyers want to self-educate rather than talk to sales representatives to learn about your offerings. The vast majority of B2B buyers will eventually connect with sales when necessary – they just want to be left alone while they do their research.” *

It’s certainly no secret that today’s customers are increasingly turning to low-friction, low-effort self-service options for information and support. But what about B2B buyers? In their recent report How Self-Service Research Changes B2B Marketing, Forrester Research points out that the self-service behaviours we’ve learned as digital consumers are translating over to the approach B2B buyers are taking to make their purchasing decisions. When surveyed, 59% of B2B buyers agreed that they prefer their primary source of information to be their own online research rather than interacting with a sales representative.

For marketers who have been religiously creating and sharing educational content for marketing and advertising campaigns, this may not entirely come as a surprise. Yet simply having published this content doesn’t necessarily mean B2B buyers can find the information they need to move them towards a purchasing decision. This is where Forrester suggests that marketers can learn something from their customer support colleagues. As they point out in this report, customer support professionals have been ‘enabling self-service for years and are committed to facilitating knowledge transfer by removing every source of friction from the customer journey.’ B2B marketers must do the same for their buyers.

Forrester highlights three categories of self-service customer support tools that can be directly applied to B2B self-service research: organic search, contextual help/FAQs and virtual assistants. When implemented properly, these self-service solutions can benefit B2B marketers by helping them to retain more prospects, create self-qualified leads and gain a meaningful advantage over their competitors.

As a virtual assistant and contextual help/FAQs vendor mentioned in this report, we at Creative Virtual see huge potential for smart self-service solutions in both B2B and B2C marketing. Virtual agents not only help buyers find the relevant content and information they seek, but also engage them in a natural language conversation and can guide them through their research step-by-step. Our V-Person™ virtual agent solution is designed to be complementary to the systems and processes already in place, sit on top of existing infrastructure and integrate with other software and tools such as databases, site search and live chat. This means B2B marketers can quickly deploy a self-service research solution without lengthy or expensive development projects.

Forrester’s How Self-Service Research Changes B2B Marketing is available to download from Creative Virtual for a limited time, so be sure to request your copy of the full report.

After reading the report, be sure to check out our educational resources and chat with Creative Virtual’s virtual assistant, Quark.

 

* How Self-Service Research Changes B2B Marketing, Forrester Research, Inc., 13 May 2016

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.