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Harward Business Review just published a great article about Customer Experience and Journey. See here. The main point of the article is, that managing single touchpoint engagements doesn’t provide sufficient customer experience.
My advice is: Don’t design just touchpoints – Design chain of events, proactive and reactive. Development and measurement is often done engagement by engagement. The service design approach also highlight such emphasis. I’ve done Customer Journey mapping and methodology development since 2004 and agree with the article, only it’s lacking tools and methods how you should approach the challenge. I can help with that.
I’ve written an article series about customer journey management and you can choose and pick, which areas you are interested in or read them as a series of articles:
- Customer Journey FLOW
- How to map and study Customer Journey
- Customer Journey stage 1: Brand as a platform
- Customer Journey stage 2: Initiation
- Customer Journey stag 3: Choosing and buying – cross-channel influence
In order to really do Service and CX design for the entire customer relationship, you need to understand that there are very different journeys to begin with.
- Purchase journey (From awareness to consideration and transaction, Acquisition)
- Service journeys post purchasing (Using the product or service, value-in-use)
- Planned (e.g. Address change, regular maintenance etc.)
- Unpredictable (e.g. Product failure, reclamation, insurance coverage, etc.)
- Delivering a service as a customer journey (taking a cruise or flight, restaurant, using media, etc.)
- Retail customer journeys (e.g. IKEA store experience)
Once you have both Insight and Topsight level understanding about customer journey in full, you need to take a look inside the company. What organisation bodies are involved with customers, what kind of technical environment direct their operation and what kind of data steers their actions. The reality is, that management reporting practices represent management understanding and decisions. The systems and technical infra on the other hand define how the corporate body acts. In case you need to change the way how the corporate body in total behave, you need to define required technical changes, change management and manage change. In my experience, creating Service Blueprints has been quite effective tool for both challenge recognition at current status mapping and Customer Experience planning.
The potential is absolutely amazing. The customer’s expectations are constantly growing harder to fulfill and companies that are agile enough to cure “Corporate Autism” and take the steps required to move from “inconsideration marketing” and mass mailings to service automation, Customer Experience and Journey design at total relationship level, can win marketshare and increase profits considerably. The business-as-usual approach is no longer sufficient, you need to free the full potential an organisation can offer and tear down silos in order to take advantage of synergies available.
In the big picture, your company must act professionally and fulfill minimum requirement perfectly. Failing these requirements cause criticism and decrease your NPS results. Acting human, being considerate, thoughtful and proactive on the other hand increase the number of people willing to recommend you and increase you NPS score. Succeeding in both cumulate earned trust, which is the foundation for long-lasting and profitable customer relationships and strong brand.
In case you do well, the process will enable you to design lean processes and define the best possible value your business processes can possibly deliver. In my opinion this is the Future for CMO’s position inside the company. It’s not the job for CMO’s to define business process management, but it’s the CMO’s responsibility to make certain that everything the company does, delivers maximum customer value and experience across all customer interfaces
In case you can capture customer contacts, you can start servicing and inspiring customers individually and simultaneously your capacity to influence increases. The bigger share of the customers buying in a certain category you have in your database, the more effective means you have to influence their behavior and market dynamics. The ultimate goal is to synchronize customer portfolio with product and service portfolio across all touchpoints and marketing interfaces.
In my experience the only way to do successful customer journey and experience design and create sustainable management model for it is to do the work upside-down. You start from the actual interfaces, motives, contexts and people. From there you continue inside the company culture, practices and technology and design the strategy level after you understand everything else. Like this:
The Holy Grail of customer value is Symbiosis. Check Symbiosis Strategy – creating the ultimate value -article here.
This is a video by McKinsey Chief Marketing & Sales Officer Forum on Sep 12, 2013, It’s All About the Customer Journey
Author: Toni Keskinen, Marketing Architect & Customer Journey Designer, Toinen PHD
Join The Future CMO Movement LinkedIn Group here
Here is my presentation that is about Business Design and how you lay the foundation of business development and value generation on customer journey and diminish the complexity to understandable and measurable insights and practices to marketing, operations and R&D. Recognition and simplification is the way to go and insights come from that. I’ve just landed back to my roots and start Business Development consulting which is really about customer and total marketing driven corporate transformation. That’s why it was relevant to take a look back and make a fusion from past to current.
I came to conclusion that past was already right – but required a lot to learn in order to develop the understanding and methods further.. Even if your theory and concept were perfect – making it a practice and a reality takes a lot of sweat, consideration, trial and error, right context, position and organization. However, enjoy. This material was better than I remembered (I was a founding member at Taivas Business Design and OneExperience planning director before my assignment as marketing architect at Toinen PHD and starated Future CMO transformation consulting and coaching in Jan 2014).
If your brand was a road sign and didn’t have context, emotions and expectations attached to it, it’s like there was no sign at all and the road to destination wouldn’t look comfortable or secure. If the sign does have a meaning for the customer but you are trying to sell something that is out of that world, it’s likely that you face difficulties creating interest, demand and closing deals. Brand extensions are not an easy game either and you should be prepared to work a long time to change and expand your brand perception before making money. Brand can be associated with very narrow specialty or more generic qualities. However, brand is not brand if it’s not recognized and it doesn’t stand for something. Virgin is a great example for a branding of attitude and founder’s mindset more than specific product or service range or Apple, which has done usability and design profile along with technology. Technology isn’t why people pay more for Apple than PC though. You can become a mini brand having all qualities of the brand in smaller area or niche business and then expanding that area. That’s the most likely way of actually succeeding in brand building profitably. (Check another article: Brand as a roadsign)
Real brands can emphasize optimisation of buying when they are considering customer journey. People pay attention to their signs and are likely to consider them when choosing a solution from the brands context. It’s about keeping the customer’s attention and closing the deal. For labels, it’s about selling.. and selling cost money. No one will buy a label unless it’s much cheaper or someone actively sells it to the customers. This is a major challenge when trying to penetrate a market and getting your product or service noticed and approved. Gillette is a great example of using brand as a defensive force. When new brands have tried to enter a market, Gillette has issued 3 at the price of 2 offers and stuffed people with their products for a year resulting zero sales for the newcomer.
The most profound brand related KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) that influence the customer journey and commercial success most are:
- Brand perception = attributes that translate as customer perception of context, value and personality
Brand awareness, spontaneous and aided, are profound figures. A roughly acceptable brand heuristic is that awareness often equals trust. If the brand is well-known, it is likely to be considered and trusted also. However, there are eg. Car brands that are very well-known but don’t have appeal resulting sloping sales regardless of their brand awareness. If the brand is un-known it doesn’t exist in customer’s consideration and therefore has no way of making major sales without very pro-active sales activities or increasing the awareness of their brand. Even if a customer would notice the brand, he is likely to ignore it.
Top-of-mind is a figure telling which brand people first think of, when asked to tell which brands they would consider. In many cases top-of-mind is very important. Especially, in fast-moving consumer goods and e.g. Phone services in which people call to ask for advice. 911 must have almost 100% awareness and a top-of-mind position in order to be able to help people when they need it.
Preference rate could be considered as a GPS device that takes the driver to the right destination. When you are driving with a GPS on, you don’t actually pay attention to alternative options and act on the directions the GPS is giving for you. Strong habit and strong preference rate have very similar behavioural influence. Preference is often asked from customers before they actually initiate buying process. It’s a measure telling what brand people think they would most likely buy. It’s an important indicator of brand health and should be treated that way. It is a meaningful KPI figure. However, it can also be misused. In most brand-tracking cases that we have seen people have been told to choose the most preferred brand even if they didn’t have one. We have allowed customers to give none as an answer. No preference combined with potential brand options has been a very efficient way of capturing business dynamics. In some businesses we have analysed 76% of customers had no preference but a majority had three brand options that were equally good in customer’s eyes. There is no GPS to consider in those markets. No preference percentage gives a meaningful indication of customers consideration but it requires from the tracking that it also track brands that customer consider as option for the most preferred brand. If the brand you are working for is not in top three as a preferred brand or is not considered as an option, your brand doesn’t exist in the customer’s consideration. The very first thing to do in case of any business is to become considered! If you are not considered, no one will buy you unless you sell the brand in actively.
Let’s consider a practical case in travel for example. TNS and Kantar Group are offering national and international studies that have very large sample size and concentrate on customers’ perception of brands, their most recent purchases and lifestyle. In case of travel you can share customers to roughly three groups:
- People preferring your brand (Lower distraction sensitivity – driving on GPS)
- Neutral customers, who consider you as an option along others (no GPS) and
- Those who wouldn’t even consider you or would certainly not buy
Based on such data, mostly used by media agencies for their clients, you can tell how many people are in each group nationally, what have they purchased most recently and what are they like, demographics, lifestyles and behavioural preferences. Having this knowledge is a great eye opener and really supports management work in defining priorities and how to engage with people. Behavioural differences between preferring customers and neutral are very important. Considering sales the ratio of preferring customers is around 2/3 most recent purchases and in case of neutral customers around 1/3 or less. Customers who are neutral let all competing brands to their consideration and check all available offers or use comparison platforms, which narrow comparison and democratize brands to same level of information. In such environment brands lose their opportunity to create unique experience and services in a meaningful way. Preferring customers on the other hand come directly to company’s website or directly contact their customer service and thus allow direct service experience by the brand.
Brand perception has to do with people’s heuristics of the brand. What the brand means for them? What is it related to? What is the context? In different businesses there are clear factors in brand perception that have a clear connection to sales. Such factors could be eg. Trust and security, technically advanced, great design, cool, fun, high quality, leader in trends, most durable, etc. In each business it is important to leverage qualities that influence decision-making most and stay in touch with the market and what kind of qualities drive it. The change of drivers could be fast and profound like it was in case of Nokia. Nokia is no longer the most appreciated mobile technology brand it used to be. Apple’s iPhone and Google Android are shaking the business profoundly. Understanding which attributes drive sales, marketshare and preference should guide the priorities in brand development.. in all customer interfaces and communications.
Preference often require conscious consideration, comparison and decision making. It is best suitable for product and service areas where you make “bigger” decision. Liking is more subconscious and spontaneous emotional reaction to the brand. Liking could also be the first step to preference, an opportunity to become noticed and considered.
Liking the brand is a figure that has become more and more important due to digital influence. You can have high preference without liking because of superb product price/quality without being liked very much, but liking the brand has direct influence in preference even if your qualities were not quite that superb. There’s more to liking though. People have more currencies than the content of their wallet. They can speak their mind, write blogs, rate your product, influence your search results or offer you very important feedback or ideas for improvement.
Brands cannot be “created” one way – it’s the people’s perception of a company or product. Brand is no longer a noun; it has turned in to a verb. You could actually think brand as an agreement between a customer and company. Customers can agree or disagree with the agreement, resulting a perception, which could be good or bad. However, a brand cannot exist without the other party. Brand is social by nature. Still, a brand has never been as social as it has now become because of social media and online influence channels that customers are now very effectively and actively using. Customers have real power now that is global, not just local peers. No doubt that customer behavior has changed. It has completely changed in many areas and will continue doing so. Digital influence is the biggest disruptive force along the customer journey.
In current automated communications and self-service oriented world where customers are made responsible for servicing themselves there are many practices that don’t really support brand’s emotional development. Majority of companies consider customers as mass medium, measure “cost to serve” and try to push cost down, build loyalty programs that ask you to buy more and show loyalty in order to get higher discounts and benefits or offer time based commitments as agreements for discount. It’s very much a world of rational thinking. Rational is good but also neglect customer’s social currencies as value. You could call this approach “the indifference marketing”.
In social mediums people interact with their peers. It’s often, but not necessarily, a private space. In this space a brand could gain enormous value if customers would accept it within this context. A customer has enormous social capital. He can judge the brand as stupid or embrace the brand and support it. Customers are actively using their capital and they are getting more and more effective tools at their disposal just to practice this capital to the most. For example WOT, Web Of Trust, crowd sourced trust-rating of websites and brands has currently almost 60 million people rating brands and websites. Any people who have WOT application in their browser has reputation score visually presented after every single link available online.
WOT is a wonderful example of customers’ currencies becoming more and more influential. WOT is an ultimate rating tool. If some company act unethically, spam, or in any way prove not to be trustworthy, >30 million people in WOT start giving red to the brand . As an outcome, company’s online reputation score will become lower and eventually red. Red means, that if you try to enter the company’s website, you get a full page size warning stating that other people have rated this site to be dangerous and not trust worthy. Would you do business with such a company? How likely are you to do business with a company like that has bad trustworthiness?
Social influence online has an enormous steering power. As people treat brands and companies as entities anything and everything the company does also influence their trust rating. If a brand is misusing child labour or employees, has unfair practices, questionable ethics or doesn’t respect environment, it shows in their trustworthiness score. Customers currently rely very much on other online users feedback, even if they are complete strangers. As companies have noticed that people love to rate products and brands and are interested in comparing them, new companies and services emerge constantly. The power is moving a way from institutions like traditional mediums, which have made product reviews and thus defined which products sell and which don’t. Currently smart brands are turning customers to their ambassadors and creating same effect, only it’s completely dependent on people, the customers, which make it feel very interesting and trustworthy.
Currently customers are taking the ultimate power and becoming sellers them selves by turning blog pictures in to online retail channel with Kiosked –service (kiosked.com). E.g. A fashion blog can sell every single garment or accessory represented in photos appearing in the blog. People are creating their own audiences and creating their own image by blogging and making their bellowed products available for followers and readers. Brands are just chips in customers’ games, which they can endorse or decline. Again, liking the brand is the number one thing driving such endorsement.
Liking influence all currencies the Customers have:
- His personal detailed information
- Promise to record purchase history (loyalty card)
- Decision power to all his own purchases
- Freedom of speech and opinion
- His own time
- His personal peers and personal status amongst them
- Own creativity, experiences and ideas.
Of all the currencies above, I argue that most are not rationally driven and liking the brand influence them all! You can’t tell people to tell others they love your brand or tell them to recommend your products and services to others. Also, you can’t expect people to help you make your products and services better unless they do it with their own free will. It’s all about liking.
The most advanced brands have understood that these emotionally driven assets could prove to be extremely valuable and find ways of harnessing them. Open innovation and customer boards are great examples of just that. The good companies will win. Forget about the Adam Smith’s invisible hand, it’s become very visible and very effective. Blogs, ratings, discussion forums, Twitter, Facebook.. It’s written all over the digital canvas.
How segmenting 3.0 changes marketing and management https://futurecmo.org/2016/03/16/segmentation-3-0-disrupting-marketing-media-and-management/
How to take advantage of Brand’s position very fast with Behavioral Economics Making millions with pennies – Behavioral Economics approach
- Branding = Change Management & Operational Excellence
- Marketing’s new and re-designed 7P’s
- CMO’s inside Tornado
- Marketing has an identity crisis
- Customer Journey stage 1: Brand as a platform
- Customer Journey stage 2: Initiation
Author: Toni Keskinen, Marketing Architect & Customer Journey Designer
Join FutureCMO Movement LinkedIn Group here
Generating and visualising the map is one thing, capturing data and understanding to generate it is another thing. I’ve done Customer Journey mapping and analysis since 2004 and learned a lot about the differences in methodology and their value. I’d like to share some of my experiences here.
The first thing to start with is to consider how you approach this task. I’ve learned that when the designer him self engage in customer journey mapping and research, the time spend in studying is actually effective planning time. Outsourcing this work to a researcher makes everything much harder. When you as a designer and planner are responsible for planning, you have a completely different idea about what to study and pay attention to instead of researcher.
I’ve learned that starting the work with qualitative interview really help in understanding what it is you need to pay attention to. In the qualitative interviews I have used methodology that has a name in Psychology: “Interpretative phenomenological Analysis”. See more from Psychology – magazine This approach thoroughly study customer’s lived experiences from their perspective. The point in this is, that you need to understand the whole big picture with different touch points, different brands and their content, value proposition and services. You need to see from the customers eyes and experience the market in full. Once you have studied 6-8 people like this, you will be ready to write quantitative study for those customers who have recently done the process or are currently in it. Here’s one sample story about buying a GPS navigator and about conflicting interests along the Customer Journey
How to divide the study in phases?
Majority of the potential innovation driving information is easy to access in case you have a customer register. Considering other journeys apart from buying customer journey, each journey should be separately studied and measured post delivery. I normally study acquisition journey as one study from brand-as-a-platform to Choosing and buying and also ask about post-purchase satisfaction. Using is another study or it can be combined with re-consideration phase, whether people leave or re-buy. Loyalty as such is very much tied to using phase or experiencing the service, which is why combining the latter two would also be a good idea. Always study both won and lost customers. Especially the customers who were lost have a lot to give. By combining different customer groups you will have a better understanding how the market actually works.
If you don’t have a database in use, you can recruit respondents from a panel source with this brief. Depending on the business and brand, the company’s reach in the market place differ very much. If it is possible to find out the number of new deals customers are doing annually, it’s easy to calculate how many did ask for a proposal from you. Closed deals are calculated as conversion from proposals. There’s also hidden movement in companies data they are not aware of. For example customers that are members of your loyalty program also buy from your competitors. Every now and then it’s healthy to ask from current members what they have recently purchased in order to find out how to best approach them and minimize loss of sales and risk of losing members to your competitors. Recently lost customers got initiated for some reason too. How did that happen and why did they not continue their relationship with your brand.
Along with studying customers afterwards, it is very eye-opening to follow what they are doing and to interview them right after they have made their choice. This is different from mystery shopping, because the emphasis is on the customer, not on the store personnel.
The third important source of information apart from customers is your internal organisation working in customer interfaces like helpdesk, customer service, maintenance and sales. They know what questions are frequently asked, what challenges (product failure, need for advice, compatibility issues etc.) are causing most of the costs for the organisation. They are also excellent advisors when considering options how to solve these challenges.
Marketing research often looks into the future perspective and ask about awareness, top-of-mind, preference and shortlist of potential brands. These are all good measures and valuable, but intentional – and could easily lead you to a wrong direction unless you have other KPI’s (key performance indicators) and tools to complement them. The challenge about researching future is that people are quite bad at acting according to their own intentions. Habits, convenience and instincts drive behaviour to unexpected directions that are difficult to predict by research. These studies also often miss a major point. They ask customers which brand they prefer and make them choose one, and consequently fail to recognize the fact that people might have only brand options and not a specific preferred brand.
Example: In case 76% of the customers have a pool of options but they don’t have a specific preferred brand, it means that most of the market is floating. People only have options and consider brands as equally good. When the time comes the best or first/nearest/most conveniently available deal will win regardless the brand as long as the brand is within the pool of options.
When a customer initiates conscious consideration and buying, he’s often active. He’s making searches online, reading ads, discussing about his interest with friends and family, reading product reviews, asking questions from professionals and stores, visiting several websites and outlets, asking opinions and advice. Majority of this behaviour can be analyzed online or with research.
When the customer initiates this journey he’s in charge. At least that’s how he feels. That needs to be taken for granted. He makes decisions. While he’s in charge, he’s being influenced by media, marketing, brands, professionals, sales people,… Eventually the customer is quite likely to buy something he could not have imagined before actually entering the journey. He does the decision eventually but you can influence the choices he makes if you know how to do it. The mapping of the customer journey is composed of he following parts:
1. Touch points: mediums, services, personnel, re-sellers, physical spaces, online.
Do you have control of the touch point or does a partner manage it? At what point of a customer journey is the customer getting involved with a certain touch point? What can you do in that moment and what are your goals and KPI’s? Can that specific touch point result in to an acquisition or do you need to direct the customer further? What kind of roles a single touch point has and how can you make certain all roles are played out right along the customer journey?
2. Service moments and context
What are the most likely contexts in which the customer engages with the touch point? What is he trying to do? How can you help him achieve that? How is that done? How could it make your product or service look more appealing or at best, a most likely option?
3. Motivation and drivers
Are the customers reaching out for you or is it the other way around? In what kind of mindset does a customer engage with your brand? What could drive him further instead of abandoning your brand? What are the conventions and customs in your business and how could you exceed customer’s expectations by breaking them? Are there other companies that have a similar logic to yours and could you implement their approaches, which already have a proven logic?
4. Decision making process
What is the customer’s decision-making process like? Is he doing it himself or using a consultant or services for comparison? Are there predictable qualities in customer’s selection process that would enhance your capability to adapt your organisation to the customer’s behaviour with right content, value proposition or services? How does the customer move from one stage to the next?
5. Triggers and Moments of truth (initiate/choose/drop/buy/attrition)
Where and at what point are the most important moments of truth defining the majority of your business success? What triggers them to decide or act according to your will? Can you trigger customer behaviour? How can you do that most effectively and which kind of approach result in best outcomes? Why do you win and what do your competitors do better if you lose business to them? How can you outperform your competitors’ actions?
6. Post-purchase satisfaction and recommendations
Would customers buy again if they had a choice? What is your Net Promoter Score Index? What were they satisfied about? Was there dissatisfaction? How can you improve your customer experience in order to earn higher opinion? Do your customers discuss about your product online or face to face? What are they saying? Are they endorsing your brand? Could you use their endorsement for others who are still considering it?
Customer Typologies by behavior
You can easily argue this is not the whole truth. Not all purchases are done like this, consciously working thru a cross-channel decision-making process and eventually buying something. That’s right. And that’s why we needed to create a model for defining critical customer journey models for different kind of purchases. Conscious cross-channel purchase journey is most likely in case of ”3i” purchase. That is High interest, -involvement and/or -investment product or services. However, the buying models and patterns are more complicated than that. Also the behaviour dynamics differ between products, service ranges and between same category brands. You can divide customer behaviour in three major types: Adventurers, Flyers and All-inclusive cruisers
Adventurers: Journey driven people are interested in the products and their qualities. You need to support their needs and change or influence their attitude in order to break in to their awareness. As they search and compare, you need to be able to justify to them why your solution would suit them and guide them to decide and purchase your product/service. These people really consider their user experience and share recommendations in case your performance is beyond expectations. Supporting their needs helps you to perform better with other people representing different behaviour type.
Flyers: Destination driven people also need to be influenced at “need and attitude” -level in order to create better awareness of your offering and it’s qualities. However, this is more about leveraging past reviews and feedback from journey driven people. Destination driven people are more likely to be influenced by e.g. Magazine reviews of your product or other independent sources of information. With such support you can just concentrate on tactical advertising in order to encourage decision and purchase making. Destination driven people are interested in the user experience and reviewing their own experience to others.
All inclusive cruisers: Public opinion driven people accept your offering when it’s widely used and they are completely certain that choosing your offering has no risk what so ever. It’s all about tactical advertising and encouraging purchase. They are not likely to share their opinion to others or recommend your products or services.
The share of each of the previous groups vary by product category and brand. The rules of engagement apply and they must be considered in the mapping too. These laws apply like gravity and this means that same tools and methods in marketing certainly don’t apply to every case in the same way. Here is the rules of engagement map: a) Level of 3i and b) who’s the active party.
I know doing this kind of mapping sounds like awful lot of work, but I can guarantee that doing it is one of those things you celebrate most later on. Trying to compile data from different sources or doing this with qualitative interviews will deliver 70% right answers and generate innovation too, but doing it this way will give you more insight than you have ever got about your competitors success and failure, understanding the role of different channels and information sources and about market dynamics in general. This approach is a gold mine.
Well, there are a number of ways how to maps and document customer journey. They are all ok, but built for different purposes and they offer different kind of value. One great source of information for visualisation and internal/qualitative process is http://www.servicedesigntools.org/tools/8
What do you think? I’d love to get some comments 🙂
also check out how to manage customer interfaces
Author: Toni Keskinen, Marketing Architect & Customer Journey Designer
Join FutureCMO Movement LinkedIn Group here