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Carmudi’s Co-Founder on Entrepreneurship, Ecosystems and eCommerce

Fritz Simons, global managing director and co-founder of Carmudi, is regarded as one of the world’s leading authorities on competitive advantage and go to market strategy.

Mr. Simons recently spoke with Babar Khan, the entrepreneur in residence turned managing editor in the Dubai office of Ephlux Insights and the former CMO of Application Services with Ephlux in the MENA region. They discussed strategies to detect and develop ideas that have the potential to impact how companies think about competitive advantage. Edited excerpts of the discussion follow.

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What are the key drivers of successful innovation-driven entrepreneurial (IDE) ecosystems?

We operate from our global Headquarter in Berlin, Germany. In fact, one of the reasons why we do this is because this city has developed into some sort of ‘European Silicon Valley’. A historic city, lots of free time activities and low living costs have attracted many young international professionals. They tend to be more innovative and hence we have seen an incredible growth of small and medium sized tech firms.

People are one of the major drivers of innovation if they get the right environment to work and foster in. What also helps are flat hierarchies. Many established companies have failed to reinvent themselves because the same people that have been there for years have been trying to control and manage progresses too tightly. Only if it is part of the company culture that going against the stream is worth a try, it will lead to innovation. In conclusion: Bringing together the right, young and ambitious people and motivating them to try and make mistakes will give an innovative edge over your competitors.

What digital capabilities does Rocket Internet focus on?
Over the last years, Rocket Internet has gathered significant experience and best practices especially in the eCommerce sector all over the world. Particularly from a technical perspective we are able to do things right the first time by looking at what Rocket ventures have done before. This includes scalability of the platform but also other important topics such as security.

Beyond that, Rocket has established an enormous global network of brilliant people. We as Carmudi benefit from this as we ourselves operate all around the world. Hence, there we have access to a large pool of first-hand knowledge and experience that we can utilize in all of our markets. For example in Pakistan we have direct connections to many of the major online players in the country.

What data is most critical to your people’s ability to work smarter?
For us customer data is absolute priority. We use a variety of tracking tools to gather quantitative data but also a lot of qualitative feedback to constantly reevaluate what our users like and don’t like about Carmudi. Of course this data needs to be 100% accurate. Only then it allows us to get a clear direction on what we want to achieve as a company. By channeling our effort on what makes a difference to our users, we work smarter and more efficiently overall.

How do you derive value from business complexity while keeping that complexity manageable?
Business complexity has never been something we are trying to achieve in any way. However, rapid growth and expansion automatically increases the complexity of operations. We counter this through clarity and simplicity in hierarchies as well as direct and to-the-point communication. We operate in Asia, Middle East, Africa and Latin America. The only way we can keep this young but global operation manageable is pulling it together as much as possible. This means communicating with each country at least once a day. Global calls also do not require a set meeting time. We are always reachable and mostly only a click of a button away.

What metrics do you use to track whether you are delivering customer satisfaction on a daily basis?
Although we are not an eCommerce business in the classic sense, we use very similar metrics. One of the KPIs we look at is the conversion rate of how many users that come to our website actually inquire with our sellers for any of the offered vehicles. Furthermore, we measure the engagement on our site, i.e. metrics like how long do people stay and how many pages do they view in one session. Furthermore, we gather qualitative feedback from our users. This is made possible for example through direct dealers (or more generally speaking, sellers), events but also through e-mail questionnaires we send to our valued users. We appreciate any feedback and we also spend a lot of time evaluating and acting upon it.

How have you gained a competitive advantage in the digital economy?
We benefit greatly from international synergies. With our global headquarter located in Berlin we have access to world class resources and people with a lot of international experience. We couple this with local talent in the countries we operate in, such as Pakistan. This a somewhat “glocalised” approach, which comes down to combining synergies from experiences and learning around the globe with localized knowledge in the countries we operate in. So far we have found that this is one of our greatest strengths in delivering outstanding value to our customers.

How does Rocket Internet create, identify, and evaluate new venture opportunities?
In our case it is actually remarkably simple. Car classified websites have been super successful in many of the developed markets around the globe such as the US and Germany. In combination with Rocket’s expertise in emerging markets, we are convinced that we can provide a great offering to our clients in Pakistan and other countries around the globe.

In your experience, how has the process of starting new ventures varied geographically and culturally?
Of course differences between geographies and cultures are huge. Our approach is one of Glocalisation. We identify international best practices to maximize synergies between different markets. With these best practices we enter the market in a relatively standardized way. However, as we continue to learn more about a specific market and regions within it we continue to localize our approach. From our experience this gives us a great competitive edge. We keep the speed up but build something our local customers want.

What’s your advice to aspiring entrepreneurs on navigating the venture capital investment process?
Unfortunately, I cannot share any details on this. However, one advice I can give to other entrepreneurs is that being convinced yourself of what you do helps a great deal in convincing other people that your venture has a great future ahead. Hence, always question yourself whether you are really on the right track.

How should aspiring entrepreneurs start enhancing and expanding their networks?
From time to time, networks can be incredibly helpful. Always remember that if you want something from someone you must always be willing to give in return. Approach people with an open and helpful attitude. Don’t think of it as building a network but rather as getting to know people. This way your relationships will be more personal and hence way more fruitful.

Thank you very much, Mr. Simons, for sharing your perspectives with us.

Marketing technology and Branding – free book

Originally published at http://chiefmartec.com/2014/03/new-brand-marketing-technology/

A NEW BRAND OF MARKETING – free book by Scott Brinker

A NEW BRAND OF MARKETING: The 7 Meta-Trends of Modern Marketing as a Technology-Powered Discipline

Click to Download PDF: A New Brand of Marketing: The 7 Meta-Trends of Modern Marketing as a Technology-Powered Discipline

“The modern CMO and marketer can no longer be just a brand ambassador, they must also have a deep understanding of marketing technology. Scott Brinker helps the reader to understand how technology can be used for both successful marketing strategy and execution.”
Jonathan Becher, CMO, SAP

I’ve written a very short book, A NEW BRAND OF MARKETING, that’s free to download and share.

It frames the epic collaboration underway between marketers and technologists, set against the backdrop of two seismic shifts in marketing today:

First, how marketing is taking over the business. We can debate functions and org charts. But in a hyper-connected digital world, everything that a business does — the entire customer experience that it delivers, from the very first touchpoint onward — is now the scope of marketing.

Second, how technology is taking over marketing. Marketing has more software entwined in its mission today than any other profession in the history of computing. Leveraging these capabilities requires new approaches to marketing strategy and management — as well as new kinds of talents within the marketing team, such as marketing technologists.

These two massive shifts are the result of 7 “meta-trends” — each of which has dramatically changed the nature of marketing. And collectively, they have created a whole new brand of marketing:

  1. From traditional to digital
  2. From media silos to converged media
  3. From outbound to inbound
  4. From communications to experiences
  5. From art and copy to code and data
  6. From rigid plans to agile iterations
  7. From agencies to in-house marketing

At only 40-pages, this is probably the shortest marketing book you will ever read. But if you want to understand the context in which marketing has become a technology-powered discipline, I hope it may be one of the most helpful.

Download your free copy now.

Reviews of A NEW BRAND OF MARKETING

As modern marketers, we have to embrace technology in order to stay relevant. But how? In A New Brand of Marketing, Brinker dives into the shifting digital landscape and illustrates how businesses can transform their marketing to be more inbound, and ultimately more effective, with tech-driven strategies.”
Mike Volpe, CMO, HubSpot

“Scott Brinker nails it with his articulation of the 7 meta-trends that have fundamentally altered — as well as empowered — marketing. Technology now fuels the marketing discipline, where science and art come together to build a brand based upon customer experiences, where the interactions are more inbound than outbound and truly global in nature.
Amy D. Love, CMO, Appirio

“Scott has penned a veritable treatise on the subject of marketing in the digital age of digital. In this pithy work, Scott captures the key meta-trends that will define how all marketing is done in a world of technology enablement and customer empowerment. The punch line: read it.
Terence Kawaja, CEO, LUMA Partners

“The leading meta-trends transforming and growing business at the convergence of marketing and technology by Scott Brinker. This short story is a simplified illustration of modern marketing, disrupted and transformed by the growing evolution and impact of technology, the modern the face of marketing.”
Mayur Gupta, Global Head, Marketing Technology, Kimberly-Clark

A New Brand of Marketing articulates the why of marketing’s fundamental changes over the past 20 years better than any book or blog post I’ve ever read. Scott, in his succinct and thoughtful voice, showcases the how necessary to navigate to a healthy and successful marketing organization as only a thought leader and expert marketing leader such as himself can. A must read for every marketer.”
Jascha Kaykas-Wolff, CMO, Mindjet

With A New Brand of Marketing, Scott has put traditional agencies on notice. Clients are evolving faster than agencies and their organizational models. A New Breed of Agency is needed, with an operating system that has Scott’s meta trends at its kernel. Every marketer and marketing technologist should memorize this short read. Gold!
Sheldon Monteiro, CTO, SapientNitro

“Scott has provided a great overview of the trends that are driving the long-term changes in how marketers do their job and the role that technology plays. This book provides much-needed context to help marketers and marketing technologists build long-term strategies that will let them thrive regardless of what comes next. Better still, he does it in a clear, enjoyable writing style.”
David Raab, Principal, Raab Associates

“Scott has brilliantly framed the dimensions along which marketing has transformed — and where it is headed in the future. This should be required reading for everyone in the industry.”
Dharmesh Shah, CTO, HubSpot; Author, Inbound Marketing

“Anything is possible when marketing and technology collide. Brinker’s A New Brand of Marketing concisely captures the fundamental shifts driving the most transformative time in marketing history. Read it, share it, and use it to accelerate change within your organization.”
Paul Roetzer, CEO, PR 20/20; Author, The Marketing Agency Blueprint

One of the most important marketing books I’ve read in some time — short and concise, but intensely relevant for today’s marketers. This is a manifesto for math marketers out there, and perhaps a final warning and blueprint to those who haven’t yet are the transition (but will soon be extinct unless they do).”
Matt Heinz, President, Heinz Marketing

“When asked, ‘What’s your biggest challenge?’ — most marketing executives reply that it is staying on top of the constant and rapid change that shapes the current environment of marketing. While I don’t know of any book that can solve that problem, Scott Brinker’s new book superbly sets the conversation in which that challenge can be met head-on and managed.”
Ric Dragon, CEO, DragonSearch; Author, Social Marketology

“Scott has put together 7 extraordinarily insightful trends that every CMO and CIO need to understand. He calls marketing a ‘technology-powered discipline.’ And while I might rather call today’s technology a ‘marketing-powered discipline’ — Scott would forgive me for fighting for top billing. It’s just a wonderful, insightful, and just plain entertaining read. This is one that every marketer and the technology teams they work with should read together.”
Robert Rose, Chief Strategist, CMI; Author, Managing Content Marketing

“Scott Brinker does a great job articulating a compelling and exciting opportunity for today’s marketers. The 7 meta-trends that Scott breaks out are accurate, digestible, and actionable. I suggest all marketers move this onto their must read list!”
Sam Melnick, Research Analyst, CMO Advisory Practice, IDC

“I love this book. It brilliantly and simply explains some of the most important drivers underlying marketing today. Scott lays out the facts, using data to explain what’s happening in the world of business as it touches marketing and technology.”
Michael Krigsman, Strategy Advisor & Analyst, Host of CxOTalk

Loyalty for pragmatists – it’s not about loyalty schemes

This post is about loyalty. Loyalty is about people’s willingness to stay as a customer or re-purchase when the time comes. Attrition is about customers leaving the company (defect).  For one reason or another customer relationships end inevitably, in grave at the latest. Here are some learning’s about reasons for attrition and ways of avoiding it as well as possible.

Most established companies could get enough new customers relatively easy. The biggest effect on revenue comes from attrition. In many cases new customers could take two years to breakeven. When any customer who has been a customer for more than two years leave or stop buying repeatedly, it’s directly away from profits. If customers leave before breakeven, their effect has been negative. The easiest profit increase would be an outcome of increased loyalty.

Let’s take a look at some loyalty strategies:

  1. Rational  
  2. Emotional Loyalty
  3. Habit based loyalty
  4. Legal loyalty
  5.  Structural bonds
  6. Imprinted customers
  7. Symbiosis strategy (subject to another article: Symbiosis-strategy-creating-the-ultimate-value-proposition/)

Rational loyalty

Most loyalty programs don’t deliver brand loyalty, really. That is due to the fact that people have all loyalty cards and they pick cherries from where ever they happen to find best offer at that point. Points based loyalty programs are often buying loyalty from customer. You get more discount when you buy more and you get offers only available for members. Loyalty program effectively lower the best customers profitability. It’s completely rationally driven model that create a behavioural pattern for customers to buy when it’s cheap. Naturally, they don’t if you don’t have an offer for them.

Most often, members also get bulk messaging in which there is nothing personal. A membership equals the license to sell. Selling is often positive. Customers consider selling as active relationship in which the company is offering new services and value for them (servicing by selling). Buying several solutions from a single company result stronger relationship and lower attrition probability. Everything above is basically positive, better than no program. However, when customer relationship is based on rational decision, another company with more aggressive approach can do considerable damage.

Newspaper and magazine subscription sales are a great example that illustrates what kind of damage you can do to the market with your own actions. Short-term victories could easily result long-term losses. Similar fight has also been raving around mobile handset and connection plans. When companies are concentrating on new business, they easily neglect the effects of such orientation to their current customer base resulting negative churn. Another example could be mortgage marginal wars, selling home loans at almost non-existent loan marginal just for the sake of market share. People could be lazy but they are not dumb. If loyalty becomes twice as expensive compared to small efforts and feels unfair and at worst offensive. Such strategy is not likely to create a lot of sympathy or feeling of being appreciated as a customer.

If you are making strong offers, you need a justification for them. Justification equal short term and special conditions enabling such offers. If you don’t have justification people start expecting lower rates in general and just stop buying at normal price. Rational loyalty is a strategy that works for price fighters and low cost offerings that don’t have a brand or other competitive tools. For others, rationally driven programs without further consideration should be considered dangerous. Buying loyalty is bad for business.

Emotional loyalty

In many cases one of the strongest driver of loyalty is the brand. Brand as a whole has its foundation in customer experience, quality, integrity, service, ethics, corporate responsibility and values. If the brand feels right for the customer he’s less likely to consider competitors. Also, the loved brands don’t lose customers without warning. If customers love you, they let you know if your pricing or position is having a strong challenger and they actively ask your approach to the situation. Emotional loyalty is not price driven. You can have healthy margins and customers accept it. In such a position customers also offer their helping hand and are much more open to participate in open innovation dialogue or giving you advice how to improve your service even more or what new services they would love to buy from you.

As the world is becoming increasingly transparent any actions the company does influence the brand. Where is the production done? How does the employer take care of employees? How environmentally conscious the company is? What kind of values the company is having it’s foundation on? How do those values show for me as a customer? In current business environment there’s too much of everything all the time. It’s very difficult to differentiate yourself by offering or pricing. For customer loyalty programs stand for them showing their loyalty to the company. There are stages from bronze to gold and your role is to climb up that ladder. If you do, you get stuff even cheaper. Great. Completely opposite strategy that is more emotionally driven is to consider how the company can show loyalty towards the customer. How do you take care of your customer? How do you make certain that the value you are delivering to your customer becomes even higher. How do you solve problems that your customers have?

IKEA is an amazing case of combining rational and emotional value in to a complete package. IKEA has justified their “democratic” business approach by making it clear to all customers why they can offer premium quality at low cost. How they are solving your challenges at home at affordable cost. IKEA marketing is about Scandinavian design, the advertising highlight high quality and beauty and the prices next to products are not the core message, but they effectively look like a bargain in that context. IKEA Family loyalty program is quite rationally driven but the company brand has more to it. IKEA’s service processes are also in place and it’s easy to return or exchange purchased products without questions asked. Once you have visited IKEA, the other options don’t really feel the same ever again. If IKEA had chosen to emphasize price, they would have been just another low cost player and would never have become such dominant global player.

Habit based loyalty

In most businesses there comes a time when customers re-consider whether to buy the same brand again or to buy something else. If the customer is involved in continuous relationship it requires active sign-off from the current relationship. If you can turn single purchases in to continuous relationships in any way, you are likely to drive much higher loyalty. That’s the best part. Once the customer is engaged in continuous relationship it requires time and effort to close it. The best psychological themes for loyalty are: laziness and minimizing points of discontinuity creating experiences like billing. One of the great ways of improving loyalty is allowing customers to have automatic payment methods directly from account or via credit card. As a result customer does not get direct invoice for the service delivered but it’s included in credit card invoice or directly paid from account. Attrition probability drop is quite significant with such a method. Actually, customers find out about the invoice after it’s already paid. Another great way to avoid attrition and increase predictability is to sell service for certain period of time.

When people establish behavioural patterns like reading a newspaper every morning, their likelihood of attrition is much lower. Habit based loyalty is really about keeping the status quo. Low profile and making certain that there is no need for active consideration for the customer enable very profitable type of loyalty. If you have any way to enforce habits you should take them.

If the business environment is turbulent and advancing very rapidly you could come to situation where your existing customers are clearly paying too much to the point where you just can’t justify it anymore. Finnish telecom operator Elisa doubled broadband customers speed twice in two years because the price of bandwidth was decreasing so rapidly. This approach generated strong loyalty and healthy margins because the brand actively improved service level according to market conditions. Such approach strongly enforced customer’s habit and decision to stay with the company instead of changing to another one. Combination of rational and emotional response enforced habit.

Another fantastic case of habitual loyalty is online banking. The first online bank was issued in Finland and since then the whole retail banking has changed completely. People no longer have a reason to go to the bank. They can take care of all their finances online. As an outcome people have become user interface loyal. Only in case of major need for relationship driver service, like mortgage, people would consider changing their bank relationship. Relationship driver services are major issues that are big enough to question the current relationship. This is rare though and in case the bank meets, even close, the other offers, people will stay. Online banking is like water, as long as you get it when you need it, there’s no problem. If you don’t, you have a major problem. If the service keeps on going there’s nothing to question the current relationship. Online banking enabled huge cost cuts and automated service processes. Cost to serve is now marginal. Previously most of the profits had come from bigger investors and bigger loans. Once online banking was introduced and became a habit for customers, the vast majority of customers became profitable. Banking margins and profits have grown and the profitability has increased without attrition.

Imprinted loyalty

Especially in case of professional service, customers are not necessarily loyal to the company, but person they are in relationship with. If customers get imprinted to their counterpart and the person stays with the company, relationships could be very strong emotionally, rationally and habitually. Trusted person can be an enormous asset for a company.

The online revolution has diminished the role of person-to-person relationships in consumer businesses. The role of brands and trust in service processes has substituted the void to some extent. It’s not quite the same but works too.

The company’s customer interface, people servicing customers should still be trained to reach for such relationships. The brand is as good as the person representing it.

Some major hairdresser chains evaluate their employees based on the fact, how many of the hairdresser’s customers book their next visit for the same hairdresser. This measure is beautifully simple and revealing. Being a great hairdresser is not just about the quality of your work, it’s very much about the whole experience. Especially women open up and discuss at the hairdresser. They could easily spend two hours with the hairdresser and spend a lot of money on the experience. It’s about being heard, appreciated and pampered along with getting your hair cut and dyed.

In car sales it’s a known fact that the best car salesmen have customer relationships that follow them and exchange from one car brand to another just because the person is advising them to do so. Getting people imprinted to the people they are buying from should be considered as a strategic loyalty approach.

In business-to-business customer relationships the change of contact person is one of the most likely discontinuity probability increasing situations. Relationships are personal and the new person equal almost the same as changing the partner. It is really important to handle such situations carefully.

Legal (Contractual) Loyalty

Mobile operators in Finland suffered from very high attrition rates after number portability was enabled. Churn rates reached +30% level even though customers were very happy with their operators. Customers want to have a new mobile phone every two to three years. The need to get a new handset created natural discontinuity to relationship. Mobile operators have oriented at offering good deals for new customers and winning higher share of dynamic market. This orientation led to higher advantage for changing a company than staying with the current one. These operators had same level of perceived value and customers had rarely real preference. Most customers had only options that were equally good in general. Only differentiating factors were the brand communications and current offers.

The operators started selling customers 12 month agreements, which offered lower cost calls in the evenings or weekends. These agreements sold quite well and led to lower attrition rates. Once 3G bundles were introduced they included 24 months agreement and were sold with handset subsidies. Against your 24 months agreement you got the mobile phone at half price. These agreements dropped attrition rates below 10%. In other words agreements offered steady relationships and predictability. As a result mobile operators profits increased and people purchased more expensive mobile phones, which enabled major increase in the use of data creating completely new mass market. Everybody won. After the 24 month agreements ended, the attrition rates increased back to 15-20%. Although the attrition rate increased, they didn’t reach previously familiar 30% rates.

If customer is not really experiencing very bad service, they are likely to stay in the current relationship. Human nature is lazy and towards many product and service ranges, indifferent. If customers are happy, they could ask offers just to bargain with current partner. That’s still better than losing clients. People rarely start actively comparing other options if they are satisfied. If they do, it’s most likely to check the pricing. In order to gain market share in a business like this brand has to actively sell and create discontinuity with sales. Electricity agreements are great example of this. Very few people compare electricity pricing and actively change a power company unless it’s actively sold. When you get a call offering you -5% and the power which is produced with water and greener than your current option, it’s easy to agree. Even better, the new company also close the previous deal so that the only thing you need to do is say ”yes” on phone. It is possible to surprise a competitor with heavy attack in a case like this. Unless the competitor has closed agreements for certain period of time, they are likely to lose a lot of customers almost over night. Who would start comparing for 5%? Very few would. Who would accept such offer when it doesn’t require any effort? Quite many will. Only thing hindering people to accept such an offer would be to tie them in the relationship with an agreement for certain period of time.

Loyalty by structural Bond

What could you sell your customer to make him dependent on you? In case of larger IT companies, structural bonds are the biggest driver of loyalty. When you buy an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system and your company becomes completely dependent on it to function, you certainly have bought a structural bond. It’s an interesting approach to loyalty to create value in which the customer becomes dependent on. There’s interesting consumer applications to this too.

When Polar Electro introduced their wrist top computers with heart rate monitoring they soon created online Personal Trainer to supplement additional training advice for users beyond possibilities in the cadget in it self. Personal Trainer recorded all your training to a database and created record. It helped analyzing your training requirements and results very effectively. In early 2000 this was a ground breaking innovation. When all your training history was online, Polar Electro had a structural bond on you. If you wanted to change to more advance training tools, you had to buy another Polar wrist-top-computer in case you wanted to keep your training record ongoing. Currently mobile phones have same functions and you can use variety of platforms for storing your training history. These platforms effectively still create structural bond although it’s now cadget independent and available to iPhone, Nokia and android. Still, Polar Electro’s Training Tool is an effective loyalty driver for everyone who has been using it for the past decade.

Facebook also has such a structural bond, your friends that are already there. When everyone is already there, it becomes very difficult to leave and completely stop using it. It is also very challenging for other services to get really active users, because Facebook is a strong habit and it holds your entire social life and has become big part of yourself – part of who you are and how you represent yourself to the world.

Attrition

No matter what you do, some customers will leave eventually. Still, applying effective win back strategies could diminish negative churn. One company actually managed to winback 80% of already lost customers. Win back operation was probably the most profitable function the company had ever created.

When you are trying to develop your company’s customer relationship excellence, you can’t just look in to customers who are happy. Their responses will only strengthen the status quo and hinder innovation and adaptation to changing business environment. Lost customers on the other hand are a great source of insight and improvement advice. Any information that help you predict discontinuity, increase the probability of re-purchase, or shield customers from competitors influence and decrease retention clearly increase profitability.

Some actionable and easy advice

Here are some advice for improvement in loyalty, customer experience and business with customers using your services or products:

  1. When you are developing your offering and customer relationship, you should try to recognize the contexts and motives your customers are using your products and services in and what is their value in use. Understanding value in use and delivering a service experience hold insights for improvement and innovation. Single purchase could be changed in to continuous relationship by turning your product or service in to a platform that allow creation of even higher value and new solutions that increase value, profitability and scale.
  2. You need to have a communication channel with customers. If you have a loyalty card offering or continuous relationship that is easy. If you are selling 3i- services or products (high investment, -interest or –involvement), people are willing to give their contacts for you. If you are in FMCG of CPG business, you should still strive to get people to connect with you directly or using platforms like Facebook or Twitter. Direct connection with your customers enables feedback, advice, and introduction of new, capturing dissatisfaction and making it right. Connection to customers is vital for improvement and creating a feeling of relationship – it’s the company’s most valuable asset. It should be taken care of keeping that in mind.
  3. If you collect data from your customers, they expect you to use it. Asking questions from customers and capturing their customer behaviour on card transactions equal promise. Brand’s responsibility is to redeem that promise.
  4. Communicating personally is respect. Understanding customer and communicating personally show appreciation and create emotional loyalty. Asking questions and responding personally is rarely used method of engaging and creating emotional relationship that is capable of breaking habits and creating new ones.
  5. Analogical is becoming premium in the era of digital communications. Face to face, phone service by a person and traditional mailings are becoming statements of respect and appreciation in highly digitalized businesses. Just think about receiving a letter from Facebook or Apple. That would really be special J A hand written note as a letter would really indicate that someone has taken the time to consider you personally.

Author: Toni Keskinen, Marketing Architect & Customer Journey Designer

http://www.linkedin.com/in/tonikeskinen

Join FutureCMO Movement LinkedIn Group here

Customer Journey – creating order in to a chaos

What is it that you need to pay attention to, when you are optimizing marketing profitability, designing new products, measuring your organization, forecasting customer behavior in case of changes in the market conditions or deciding about investment allocation. In my opinion, there is one single theory, ideology and toolkit that can help in any decision-making and management development than anything else: Customer Journey. Lets start with definition:

Customer Journey Management: The art and science of customer-centric methods, skills and tools for synchronization of customer’s needs and company’s offering optimally by handling and managing offline and online touch points profitably.

 Customer journey is literally the customer’s individual and personal journey covering all stages along customer’s transition from never-a-customer to always –a- customer.  By customer journey we mean the whole customer life-cycle from brand as a platform to initiation, choosing and buying, using the product or service journey to re-consideration and re-purchase or attrition

Whenever talking about customer journey mapping with my clients, the same question comes up: ”Our business is different from others, so how can we apply customer journey mapping?” It is true, that the businesses are different, the decision-making dynamics are different and the journeys are different, even within the same business category two competing brands have different journeys.

Customer Journey is exactly what it sounds like. Customers perspective in the decision-making process from initiation to cross-channel decision-making path and eventually post purchase satisfaction & recommendations. Customer Journeys can be broken into five major parts you could consider as customer journey chapters:

Image

Pre-buying Customer Journeys include brand as a platform, initiation, choosing and buying. Rest of them are post purchase journeys. Each pre-purchase customer journey is always subject to be influenced by other brands. CRM and very often customer journey mapping research is only looking at the brand’s own touch points and conversions. Majority of the business dynamics and customer experience is outside your own brand’s reach though. When you are mapping the customer journey and customer behavior you need to look at the customer’s chaotic experience and find order to it. Customers are using heuristics and simplifying their decision-making, you need to know what they are.

However, the core is to understand what can be done in order to improve the single brand’s customer journey success against all others and learn from competitors when losing. In many products and services this journey is not followed step by step. Recognising how people skip stages, buy spontaneously or use different heuristics (like brands) in guiding them, is as important as understanding the stages. Post-purchase customer journeys are easier to isolate within the brand’s influence. Because of this they are also easier to study and plan. In case of new needs or re-buying, the market influence is stronger again.

Customer Journey stage 1: Brand as a platform

Customer Journey stage 2: Initiation

Customer Journey stag 3: Choosing and buying – cross-channel influence

How to map and study Customer Journey

Author: Toni Keskinen, Marketing Architect & Customer Journey Designer

http://www.linkedin.com/in/tonikeskinen

Join FutureCMO Movement LinkedIn Group here

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