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Branding = Change Management and Operational Excellence

Over the past couple of years I have been involved in the development processes of SME’s and some major companies with hundreds of millions or billions in turnover. These processes are about change:

  • The emphasis is moving from advertising and external media to own touchpoints and communications with own customers
  • The marketing as such is becoming more and more targeted and measurable. Marketing has a business case and acts more and more like a business unit
  • The view is moving from products and services to customers and customer centric insight driven development
  • The development requires companies to change the way they operate and how they are organized
  • Big data about customers, their behavior and their needs is required in order to enable the change
  • The change requires companies to re-consider their KPI’s and what data do they use in order to increase transparency and enhance and empower internal innovation and cross-silo collaboration
  • This change must be managed and management must change in order to enable the change for better

I recently published my view on the new and re-designed 7P’s for marketing. In this article I already underlined the fact that marketing has changed profoundly. Brands are no longer created – they are earned. Brands live in customers’ minds and they grow from experiences.. own and peer experiences. In my opinion CMO’s are at the very core of corporate Must Win Battles like:

CMO and corporate must win battles

This is why I would say rather confidently that the path from good to great brand includes these stages:

branding, marketing, operational excellence

First: You need to have goals and vision. They act as a unifying master plan that everyone in the company can understand and accept. What kind of brand are we trying to create? What kind of customer experience and and relationship are we trying to deliver and earn? What kind of impacts are we trying to get?

Second: When you analyse the customer journey accross all touchpoints and channels, you get to see how are you currently performing, what and where do you need to improve. This is where the magic happens between your brand and customers

Third: You need to take a look at how does your company actually operate and how is it managed. Does your current ways support and enable the customer interface operations that you are trying to achieve. Are you organized right, do you have right kind of KPI’s, are different diciplines and silos working together or do you lose insights between gaps and inevitably cause corporate autism?

Fourth: Does your corporate infrastructure enable everything mentioned and planned above? Do you have legacy systems and technology, disconnected data etc. In case the technology and infrastructure doesn’t enable the change, how do you take action? What kind of roadmap and investments are required? What can be done fast, what takes more time and effort? What can be piloted and can you start the learning curve growth with some manual work that enable more effective technology implementation?

This same approach to change management can also be seen as work that moves from practical customer interfaces insights and understanding to top – not top-down. This is how it works:

upside down strategy workWhen I have been running these cases I have learned that this approach works very, very well. The reason is that everyone is involved and the process in it self actually enhances the learning and feeling of unity, shared goals and willingness to change. This is because the process inspires, makes difficult theory work feel practical and easy to adopt. Very often the process generates several small victories and improvements that can be implemented immediately. The good experiences start building up and people get the feeling that these things are really happening and we are really doing something meaningful. Once the plan is ready, the organisation has already moved several steps to the right direction and has become excited about the development. For the management this is extremely valuable situation, because they can just enable what the organisation is asking for instead of trying to order and manage changes top-down.

The reality is that the use of data and data driven operations are requiring new approach to technology and companies need to adopt it some how. Here’s an example about the use of external data ecosystem along with own data

Internal and external data use in marketing

The role of internal and external data:

the role of internal and external data in marketing and customer services

This is how I see the brand development in this day and age. Do you agree/disagree? Would you have any cases, experiences or hints how I could develop this approach further?

See also:

SEE ALSO:

About Author

WARC Webinar Path to purchase Insight Keynote presentation

Here’s my WARC webinar presentation from 30th July 2014. Enjoy 🙂

Also check out:

  1. Managing brand – the most profound KPI’s and measures
  2. Customer Journey FLOW
  3. How to map and study Customer Journey
  4. Customer Journey stage 1: Brand as a platform
  5. Customer Journey stage 2: Initiation
  6. Customer Journey stag 3: Choosing and buying – cross-channel influence
  7. Marketing’s new and re-designed 7P’s

Future CMO Commercial Community Introduction

The goal for Future CMO Commercial Community is to create a network of highly capable individuals who can act as supertemps or highly advanced specialists who can act as catalysts for customer centric, marketing and organic growth driven strategic and operational transformation for their clients. Below,  there are directions and requirements for those who would like to join this community and offer their services in Futurecmo.org. Future CMO is a platform for Symbiosis Strategy and I welcome you to join. Futurecmo.com will also be published later in 2014. Join now and we’ll get better service up and running soon. There will also be new and improved FutureCMO.org.

Here’s initial offering description:

Toni Keskinen, Founder and Cheaf Editor of Future CMO
+358 50 5522276
toni.keskinen(at)futurecmo.org
http://www.linkedin.com/in/tonikeskinen
Located in Helsinki, Finland
Available for speaking engagements and consulting globally

Jarmo Lipiäinen, Co-Founder, Business Director and Consultant
+358 40 525 7289
jarmo.lipiainen(at)asiakkaanmatkassa.fi
http://www.linkedin.com/in/jarmolipiainen
Located in Helsinki, Finland
Available for speaking engagements and consulting engagements

About Future CMO Commercial Community: Anyone can contact Toni Keskinen and request membership in the Future CMO Commercial Community. The only requirement for enlisting is that you have original, fresh, insightful and important insights to share with the members. The best source for such insights and content is your daily client work which is why the most ideal members are people who actually get their hands dirty and do what is required to be done. Experiments and practical work generate the most interesting content. I don’t really think that this community is suitable for academics. The minimum requirement for membership is that you write at least one article in a month. The goal is that Futurecmo.org becomes a service with very high quality content and subsequently serves all members as a marketing & learning platform. Joint effort will increase reach and impact more than anything a single person could do. In case you are accepted as a Commercial Community member, you will get publishing rights to this service. There will be two types of FCMO Commercial Community members a) Supertemps b) Specialists.

Specialists:You should have practical, unique and original thoughts, ideas, insights or cases to share. Specialists should also be capable of connecting their specialist area in to general marketing and management realities.

Some questions that might help you recognize the supertemp inside yourself:

  1. Do you have both breadth and depth in your skillset at practical and strategic levels? Are you the one who recognize what, why and how should be done in order to drive much stronger performance, growth and profits?
  2. Do you have experience from multiple business areas with different business logics and aplications to value creation and competitive advantage?
  3. Do you have difficulties leveraging your full capacity in you current work?
  4. Do you want to practice your skills and learn much faster and more holistically and pragmatically than is possible in a regular specialist role?
  5. Are you happy moving from one company to next without a fixed team and do you feel comfortable facing challenges by your self together with a client’s own internal team changing in each engagement?
  6. Do you have a network of specialists around you, who can fulfill your shortcomings reliably and rapidly so that you can solve any given challenge you come across?
  7. Are you capable of driving co-creation development, designing customer centric operational change, business modeling and -cases and managing projects across corporate silos, levels and specialist ownerships like sales, CRM, online, analytics, BI, customer service, marketing, research or ICT?
  8. Do you impress clients with you skills, accelerate development, drive results and generate strong recommendations for your work?

Typical Must Win Battles that give us direction for relevant content creation:

  1. Best customer experience (Goals: loyalty, LTV, cross & upsell, high NPS)
  2. Innovative solutions: Creation of competitive advantage, distinctive and special offering capable of delivering substantial value, high quality at highly competitive price
  3. Continuous and cost-efficient new business (Goals: new customers, demand generation and stronger conversion)
  4. Lean and effective operations and processes – strong bottomline (Goals: highly productive organisation capable of delivering superb customer experience at comparatively low expences by using new technologies, online environments and automation
  5. Creation of inspired and winning corporate culture: Inspirational and very satisfying workplace capable of understanding and driving development and change. Corporate recognition as very prominent employer for hungry and innovative new talent, Topline growth energize the company’s employees and focus their minds on opportunities, innovation and growth. Growth is a lot more inspiring tool for profitability than trying to save the company to mental death

Admap Best Practice: Mapping the Customer Journey

This is the original non-edited version of the article I wrote for Admap January 2014 issue:

Best Practice in How to Map Customer Journey

by Toni Keskinen

Customer Purchase Journey by definition is the customer’s journey from existing life experiences to initiation, cross-channel consideration and purchase. Customer Journey then continues to using the product or experiencing the service, re-purchases and loyalty or attrition. This article concentrate on Customer decision-making journey to purchase.

Marketing research often looks into the future perspective and ask about awareness, top-of-mind, preference and shortlist of potential brands. 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, not a specific preferred brand.

Example: In a Telco case we learned that 76% of the customers had a pool of options but they didn’t have a specific preferred brand. This result means that most of the market is floating. People only have options and consider brands as equally good. When the time comes the best/ first/nearest/most conveniently available deal will win regardless the brand as long as the brand is within the pool of options.

How to prepare for Customer Journey mapping:

Before you start designing the research or make any assumptions, establish the foundation. You can establish the foundation with two key factors:

a)    Is the category or brand in high intensity position: high involvement, -investment or –interest product or service? Heinz ketchup would be in the low-end, buying a car would be in the high-end. The purchase intensity stands for the depth of consideration and willingness to make an effort to make a considered choice. If the product or service has low intensity, there will be no actual journey but rather spontaneous and habit driven behaviour. High intensity decision-making on the other hand could last a long time and have a lot of touch points in variety of surroundings.

b)    What is the brand’s status in customer’s mind compared to competitors? In case the brand is well-known and preferred brand, the customer journey will have completely different dynamics compared to less known challenger. The key question is; “is the brand being sold or bought”? In case the brand is bought, you can approach the mapping in order to find ways of optimizing conversion rate. For such case tactical marketing will also generate much stronger impact than in case of a brand with less demand. In case the brand is sold, you should find ways how to break into customer’s consideration and prove your brand better than competitors. In case the brand is sold, the burden of proof is on the brand’s shoulders and you need to find ways how to guide customers away from the path leading to market leader purchase.

You can find data for creation of foundation from the company’s brand tracking research, market share report, online analytics and Google Adwords tool or Google Trends tool. When looking for foundation intelligence, consider how the category behaviour reflect the two foundation factors, how the brand in question and it’s competitors position against each others. Draw a map with all competing brands on it (X-axis: Activity share seller vs. buyer, Y-axis: Intensity level. Eg. Heinz = bottom right corner = no or very little advertising, strong sales & market share, low intensity) Do the preparation phase well and you will have a rather good idea about what is happening in the customer behaviour dynamics. Analytics can give very good answers to “what” –questions. However, you need to make in-depth-interviews in order to find answers to “why” –questions.

Discovery phase:

Once you have a high level view on the market place and a lot of “what” ideas to guide you, prepare to make in-depth-interviews with customers and get “why”-answers from them. Choose customers who have made their choice recently. In case of high intensity purchases, people can remember their experiences for a couple of months, in case of low intensity purchases – interview them instantly at the point of purchase or walk them thru the store with the customer again using the customer as a guid for a tour and let the customer tell you what he experienced, noticed or thought along the way (the same approach can be used in online buying by recording customer’s actual journey thru website). This is different from mystery shopping, because the emphasis is on the customer, not on the store personnel.

The point of in-depth-interview is to analyse the customer’s lived experiences with out others’ interference. This information is only available from customers, because you need the full view across all brands, information and shopping touch points in the category – not just the brand you are doing the mapping for. Ask your customer to tell the whole story from what ever got him interested in buying to purchase. Here’s the process:

  • Who is the customer? Get to know his lifestyle and connection to category/brands
  • What made the customer interested (initiation)?
  • What and where did something happened that gave the impulse to initiate consideration: commercial act by the brand or it’s competitors or an event that made customer interest (eg. Moved to new apartment, new need etc.)?
  • Did the customer have a preferred brand in the beginning or not? Were there other options the customer considered?
  • How long was customer’s consideration and learning time before purchase?
  • Go thru all phases: initiation, browsing, configuration, decision, purchase
  • In which channels the customer interacted with your and competing brands in each phase?
  • Did the customer do all phases and what was the main driver and meaning of each of them? Did the customer skip stages? (In case you want to quantify results later, always define stage and ask if the customer did it before asking about it’s content and channels. Skipping stages is quite common)
  • What was the customer’s experience in each engagement like? Which brands performed well? Why?
  • Something led to decision, what was it and in which touch point did it occur?
  • What did the customer eventually buy?
  • What was the reason for choosing the specific brand over others?
  • What was the second best option or was there one? Why did it lose?
  • In case the customer chose competing brand, why did he not buy the one in focus?
  • Would customers buy again if they had a choice? What is different brands’ Net Promoter Score Index? What were they satisfied for? Was there dissatisfaction?

I would recommend making at least ten in-depth-interviews/category in order to learn about customers’ behaviour and motives. You should interview both won and lost customers and totally concentrate on their experience and point of view. In case you can study customers who left the brand you are making the customer journey mapping for, you will also find out where the brand failed and how the competitors caught the brand’s customers’ attention. In some markets for example outbound sales is an important influencer which has major impact on behavioral dynamics. While interviewing, keep your mind open. Don’t narrow your consideration, but consider all experiences and thoughts the customers have had. From customer’s point of view marketing, pricing, product design, convenience etc. are all relevant issues. As an outcome you will come across things you can influence and those you can’t. However, you need to understand customer’s behaviour and consideration holistically.

Analysis

This approach to interviews, discovery and analysis goes by the name “interpretative phenomenological analysis” (IPA) in psychology. Once you have the interviews, you can create an analysis about their journey and visualize it. The best way to do this is by visualizing each journey separately. Concentrate especially on chain of events, customer’s journey from one touch point to next, motives and contents steering the customer. Conscious cross-channel purchase journey is most likely in case of high intensity purchase. The behaviour dynamics differ between products, service ranges and between same brands in same category. In your analysis you can divide customer behavior in three major types:

Journey Driven people: These people take pleasure in getting to know their options, their qualities and comparing. They are also more likely to share their experiences in social media as they consider themselves as experts. People who are prepared to make detours and a longer journey require a different approach than destination driven ones and they don’t react on offers as easily, unless they have already got to know their options well in advance.

Journey Driven People are often early adopters. They are especially important in case you are launching new product. They 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 perform better with other people representing different behaviour type.

Destination driven people: These people don’t really care to learn about products by themselves. They make rapid decisions based on their priorities (e.g. always the best, always the cheapest) or rely on 3rd party recommendations such as test results. An offer for test winner product is an effective proposition for them and generate rapid sales.

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 or social media reviews on 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.

Slow movers, public opinion driven people: (also habitual or insignificant purchases). These people don’t take risks. Only after most of the others have already accepted and favoured a certain product or service will they follow. Same behaviour also describes the purchase process of less significant products, like toilet paper or other habitually purchased products. People don’t really pay attention to what they buy; they just buy it like they’ve done before.

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, retail promotions and encouraging purchase. They are not likely to share their opinion to others or recommend your products or services actively.

In different product and service categories differences are dramatic. It’s easy to think in terms of travelling. A motorcyclist takes longer and slower routes because the journey is the major part of the travelling experience in itself. On a family holiday the same person takes a direct flight to an all-inclusive hotel. Although this is the same person, different context and different motives lead into completely different behaviour. The point of this analysis is to really understand how people behave in your category towards different brands and find out what is required from you in order to perform better.

Along with behaviour type, analyse:

  • What kind of commonalities and shared phenomena, motives, contexts, choice criteria and channels can be found from customer’s behaviour and what was there that you need to quantify or find more information about. Pay attention to the chain of events.
  • Which of the touch points the brand can control, which you just need to influence
  • What was the customer experience like in competitors different touch points along own ones. Can you learn something from them?
  • Pull all your findings together and have a workshop to discuss about these findings and find out how the internal organization experience these findings and what knowledge do they have about them. Get people who work in direct customer interfaces involved.
  • Also discuss, which ERP, CRM, online analytics or other systems are currently capturing data about the customers? This information can help you further and let you make a decision whether you continue by doing data analysis and workshop or do you need to quantify the results with larger research. I would recommend research every one or every two years in order to map out how the market place works from customer’s point of view and what you can learn from competitors’ practices or whether you can find opportunities for growing market share

Why this approach to mapping and analysing customer journey is imperative

In many cases your own campaign could actually sell competitors’ products. Also, in many cases the customer journey is full of conflicting interests. In case you only analyse the one brand’s journey you will completely lose sight on category dynamics. Here’s an example about my Garmin buying:

There was a home electronics store advertisement promoting TomTom navigator for 75€ with European maps.  I went to buy it, but the store salesman told me there was an error in the ad and that price only included Western European maps. He showed me the product with Full European maps with 105€ price. Next to it was Garmin Nüvi, which had exactly same price. I asked if there was any differences between the two and the salesman told Garmin had better battery life. I bought Garmin. Let’s look at the interests of different players:

Me, the customer:

I was very happy, although I paid 40% more than intended but 105€ wasn’t a problem eventually. I was highly price-oriented customer who was looking for ”good enough” solution and was not interested in more advanced solution or bigger screen. Because of the basic functionality needs I had I was also not interested enough to look in to product specifications online, product reviews or discussion forums. This product will get the job done anyway. I was a perfect example of destination driven buyer. At home, the product exceeded expectations. It had much more functionalities than I was expecting. They had minor meaning compared to the basic functionality, none of them was more important than the battery life, but it was a positive surprise.

Gigantti store:

Closed 40% more sales than I had intended to spend. The experience about the store was positive and the sales person’s advice was good, which means that the store will get more money from me later on. Was their error in the ad intentional? Probably not but they should still analyse how the error influenced their GPS navigator sales in general. What did customers come to buy and what did they actually walk out with?

TomTom:

Complete failure. The brand might have made a special deal for the campaign resulting change in price image. After reading that leaflet customers think, that you can get TomTom with European maps at the price of 75€. It easily becomes the market standard because of nationwide advertising campaign. You are making a bad deal if you pay more for it. Price/value ratio sounds perfect but actually it wasn’t real because of the error in the ad. That’s ok if you go to Gigantti and they tell you about the error. If you don’t you just expect that TomTom’s are now cheap. It’s most likely that TomTom does some kind of post campaign analysis and comes to completely wrong conclusions unless they understand how the purchase dynamics in the low price category GPS really works and how their campaign influenced customer behaviour in general.

Garmin:

Great success. Garmin did nothing but made a deal anyway.  Well, I had positive image about Garmin in advance and the sales person just gave me the last defining fact that led to decision to buy Garmin. Now that Garmin closed a deal with me and got me registered, I am quite likely to buy other stuff on top later on.  Was Garmin’s success intentional? In reality the sales person’s advice could have been founded on her own perception or Garmin had analysed the differences between brands and intentionally launched training for retail sellers which states that their battery life is better than TomTom’s. How much longer? No idea.  It never came up.

Conflicting interests are very important to understand. In another case a laptop brand sold 50% more than their preference rate would suggest. That also was because the sales people preferred that specific brand.

Here’s how Audi did in case of B2B car leasing deals:

  • Preference 14%
  • Alternative to 26 %. Altogether Audi was considered by 40% of all buyers
  • Audi sold 11,2% that is 2,8% below preference which means 80% conversion

Audi was the most sold brand but was also most often the 2nd best and had lowest conversion rate  in the market. Wolkswagen sold 119%, Volvo 117% and Ford 196% compared to preference. Even if you would be number one in sales, you could still be the one losing most.

There is one more thing to consider: Specialist & aggregator influence. In B2B especially customers are using professional consults and agents to compare and make recommendations. The customer journey behaviour and needs of an agent are very different from individual buyer’s needs. In B2C businesses comparison services and aggregators like Hotels.com and eBookers have similar significant influence. In case there are such actors in your category, analyse their journey separately.

Business Dynamics Score (BDS)

In case you quantify your results with larger sample you can calculate Business Dynamics Score.

Those who preferred you originally > How many did you keep?
Those who preferred your competitor > How many did you win?
Those who had no preference > How many did you win?

When you compare won-kept-lost results between brands you can really see how different brands are performing. I would recommend calculating BDS from all market players in order to learn about differences in channel efficiency. This figure will give you very good understanding on how behaviour from one brand to another differs and what you need to do in order to perform better. Such insight has great impact on media- and communications strategy.

Constructing Market Flow

In case you have the larger sample, you can construct entire market flow across stages, channels, motives and behaviour types from spontaneous purchases to considered ones on one page view. This single page view will help tremendously in understanding what kind of factors influence market success most and how for example strong retail strategy performs against strong online emphasis. In one case we found that spontaneous buying was quite strong and outbound calls represented 15% of total market sales. However, we were surprised to learn that more than half of customers buying in the category initiated because of outbound call, didn’t do one stop shopping, but instead started cross-channel consideration journey ending up in a purchase from some other channel.

Check out these articles too:
Marketing’s new and re-designed 7P’s
Managing Brand – The most profound KPI’s and measures /
From marketing automation to service automation

About Author

Toni Keskinen ,Chief Editor for Future CMO Movement (http://futurecmo.org)

Toni.keskinen(at)futurecmo.org

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

How to map Customer Journey – The key questions

When a customer initiates conscious consideration and buying, he’s often  the one who’s 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 initiate 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,… There is an exception though, in case it is possible for you to earn a position as a trustworthy and respected specialist, then you can sell with specialist recommendations. This approach to sales works much better than hard selling. In the end the customer is quite likely to buy something he could not have imagined before actually entering the journey. He does the decision eventually and your role is to influence the choices he makes if you know how to do it.

Check out a collection of Customer Journey Map visualisations in Pinterest “Customer Journeys and touchpoints”

The things that are often neglected, which I find very important are:

  1. Chain of events > you need to know and understand the people flow across channels and touchpoints
  2. Competing & neutral touchpoints > You need recognize and understand also the impact of your competitors touchpoints. Your channel capasity to convert customers is the key and you must understand that the customer is not visiting your touchpoints only, but your competitors too. Increasing your conversion and business dynamics score is the ultimate goal of the entire Customer Journey work

The mapping of the customer journey is composed of he following parts:

0. Customers: Who are they? How do they live? What kind of life style and life stage are they in their own lives? What is their socioeconomic status like? How can you reach them? What kind of behavioural conventions their everyday life has in the context of your offering? What do they value? What kind of solution would they appreciate? Who are your most valuable customers? How do customer profiles differ from one product category to another? What kind of potential can be found from your existing customers from cross-selling point of view? What kind of people keeps your company in business now and where can you find growth potential?

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?

7. Business systems, research and analytics

What kind of information your systems currently store from your customers’ behaviour? How could this data help you serve your customers better and create systematic methods for continuous development of your company? Consider ERP, CRM, Online analytics, Contact Center systems, email communications, customer satisfaction and voice of customer studies, reclamations, customer feedback and ideas for improvement etc. How does the infrastructure  combine different data sources and make it available for people working in customer interfaces? Do you have marketing automation software in use that could adapt your operation and communications to individual customer’s behavior and store customer’s online engagements and interests that enable realtime action and individual customer care models?

Here are a couple of visualisations I find particularly informative and inspiring:

One by Desonance

Another by Hear of the Customer: Customer Journey Experience Map – Top 10 requirements

Here is a great presentation about how the job gets done and what is the impact on business performance:

Beyond HBR’s “truth about customer experience”

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.

HBR - Truth about 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:

  1. Customer Journey FLOW
  2. How to map and study Customer Journey
  3. Customer Journey stage 1: Brand as a platform
  4. Customer Journey stage 2: Initiation
  5. 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.

creating customer loyalty and trust_improving NPS

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

Customer interface reach & effectiveness

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.

customer portfolio_customer touchpoint & marketing portfolio_product and service portfolio

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:

Bottom-up strategy and data analysis

The Holy Grail of customer value is Symbiosis. Check Symbiosis Strategy – creating the ultimate value  -article here.

This is a video by on Sep 12, 2013, It’s All About the Customer Journey

Author: Toni Keskinen, Marketing Architect & Customer Journey Designer, Toinen PHD

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

Join The Future CMO Movement LinkedIn Group here

Choosing and Buying – Cross-channel influence

We first started the development of cross-channel customer behavior analytics methodology – One Experience in 2004. The original insight about channel development was about clear conflict between companies channel development practice and customers actual behaviour. Companies used to develop each channel individually. Very often each channel has still own channel responsible management that is developing that individual channel to the max. Also the benchmarking was done against competitors channel and the goal was to be better than the competitor. There’s nothing wrong with anything described above unless it generate blind spots and steer companies to invest in development that doesn’t actually support customers and create value for them. The rule of thump is that you should constantly consider effort vs. gain from customer perspective whenever you are developing or changing something.  When doing Cross-channel customer behaviour studies we learned that in some cases companies channel strategy and customer’s needs and expectations were not aligned and the channel strategy actually hindered sales.

Many brands have a long and successful history of servicing their customers thoroughly in a single channel.  Kirsti Lehmusto (former CMO of Finnish retail company Stockmann and colleague from Taivas, now CMO for Helsinki University) recognize the retail store management, contact centre services and distant sales services with catalogues as methodologies that have created great financial success by concentrating in excelling in the customer experience in a single channel from beginning to the end.

Channel management 1_single channel optimizationIn the current 24/7 economy and world of digital influence it is even more important to understand that in current world customer’s move accross channels and create service strings that fluently move customers from one channel to another according to their preferences, drivers and motives. It is important to look at these service moments in each channel and optimize them to help the customer further to his preferred next step.

Channel management 2_cross-channel behaviour

Service and product ranges don’t have the same meaning for customers and people are not quite as interested in everything. In the article ”Customer Decision Making FLOW” there’s more about how the decision-making about a certain FMCG goods and brands like Coca Cola differ from buying a magazine subscription, taking a mortgage or buying a motorcycle. The following gives an outlook on general learning’s about stages in various businesses.

Let’s dig deeper in to stages: Browsing, Configuring, Deciding, Buying and Post-Purchase.

The two stages before these are: Brand-as-a-platform that you can read from here and Initiation, you can read here.  (I would recommend reading them, before going further to choosing and buying journey below). Also check out how to run customer driven business design development here.

Browsing

Browsing is most often about learning, simultaneous process of exploring your own intentions and interests, and actively considering what kind of solution would be perfect for the customer. Customer has mental goals while doing this. He’s interested in certain facts, has drivers guiding him further while exploring. Not all factors are created equal. These things define customer’s mindset & motivation. (We must not forget, that people are emotional by nature and we need to understand what people are feeling while they are browsing and learning and help them feel good about the brand we are promoting). While doing this, customers use information sources that are both interactive & instructional. On-line services, product reviews, friends, catalogues, retail stores, contact centres, agents & brokers. Some of these touch points can be led by the brand, some can’t. Some of the touch points have more meaning than others. The important thing is to understand what the customer is trying to do, which touch points the customers use and how did the touch point fulfil customer’s expectations.

Customers who have no prior experience about buying products and services in certain service or product category are more likely to browse more thoroughly and consciously. Also, people who are more price sensitive tend to do more work in browsing and all other stages in general. There are two underlying reasons for the Journey driven emphasis and strong browsing

  1. Customers are curious and actually want to know what options are most interesting and
  2. Customers are worried about making bad decision and try to learn more in order to avoid mistakes.

In many cases both reasons are meaningful.

Some businesses are naturally interesting for customers, like travelling and cars. In these businesses learning about products, services and prices can be considered as entertainment. Coffee table discussions and other people’s experiences are also an important part of the decision making process. In this kind of categories visits to the stores and actually seeing the products are also considered entertaining and fun. If people are busy and don’t just go out and see products for fun they are more likely to actually go and see what they are considering in configuring or even in purchase stage after making the mental decision to buy. The trend though is that companies have less and less face time with customers enabling persuasion. Cross channel marketing is more about steering customer forward and selling by supporting their choices than actual selling. Pulling instead of pushing.

In business-to-business customer journeys browsing is about looking for potential service providers for further negotiations. Managers and entrepreneurs looking for service providers ask other people’s opinions, look online for potential companies and potentially even use a professional consultant to find best possible potential service providers.

When defining sub channels for Browsing stage our experience is that it’s better to use broad descriptions of the touch points and ask about customers experience and what kind of information had most meaning for them. In browsing it is impossible not to talk about search engines in the current digital environment. Customers often have pre-decided brands and options they are mostly looking at. However, they also look for other people’s experiences and use search engines while looking for information. Even if the brand or product would not be known and on customer’s shortlist, search engine advertising enable capturing some of the customers. The more entertaining and positive context the buying is about, the more likely people are to click and learn about options they didn’t know existed. Travel is a great example of such business. In travel people are happy to give their email and contacts to travel agencies, cruising companies and airliners just to get more entertaining ideas and travelling inspiration from them. In less entertaining businesses too, it’s possible to capture customer’s contacts and call back later. When I built a house and was looking for materials, contractors etc, it was obvious that the browsing was often done in the middle of the night and an opportunity to leave contacts and get a call next day was considered as good service.

In less interesting businesses people often skip browsing or do it in-store at a shelf. FMCG businesses represent such business in which people don’t search information or find out about options outside store. Browsing is likely to be done at the shelf comparing contents and prices. If customer does this once, he’s not likely to stop and think next time. Once decided, customers easily create habit and non-considered re-purchases. This doesn’t mean that you couldn’t do anything though. Some companies have created wildly popular recipe clubs and services that offer inspiration in a format of recipes instead of individual products. One of the best examples is Valio’s Cream Club which cost 18€ as annual subscription price. This program is nothing but marketing and branded content. Still, people consider these recipes so inspiring that they are prepared to pay for a membership which makes this marketing program practically free for Valio even without product sales. If your product is not interesting as such, people could still be interested in the context your products are used in enabling branded engagement.

Configuring

Configuring can be exactly that, e.g. using a car configuration online in order to learn which kind of combination would be most suitable for me. The name of the stage comes from mass-customisation vocabulary (Jarmo Suominen, professor for Masscustomization (MIT/UIAH) had strong impact on the original theory development). In configuring stage customer has most often chosen the brands he wants to learn more about. Often it is about negotiating with potential suppliers about the price or contents and terms of the offer. The difference compared to browsing is that in browsing customer often is learning and more open to possibilities. In browsing, he’s also often anonymous visitor online or in store. At configuring customer is engaging actively and has more defined decision making criteria. He’s looking for the best deal. Configuring is also about letting some options go in order to concentrate on the best potential choices. It’s equally important to know how people define which brands they want to continue with and understand what kind of tools and information sources people use in order to rule out some brands. The car configuration tools are a great example of that.

Case: We studied 500 professionals who had chosen a leasing car as their car benefit provided by their employer spring 2010. The study proved that 18% of all buyers used car configuration tools to decline brands before going to test-drive or asking an offer for the car. It’s actually rather logical. When customers start building their dream car they easily come up with a solution that is too expensive for them. Also, the car configuration tools give a price before any discounts. As a result customers start dropping out options they had chosen in the first place and suddenly the whole experience is about giving up on things the customer would have liked. Eventually the brand loses the appeal it had originally. It is absolutely certain that every car brand’s research prove that customers require openness in pricing and giving as much information as possible online. However, optimisation of sales and driving people further in their journey is sometimes different from what customers demand. Direct marketing has proved this decades ago. Customer should not get a figure online that he could consider as an offer unless you are selling cars online and actually give a real offer for the customer. In majority of car selling the customer should only get an offer from car seller and enable the car seller to show the qualities of the car in person. Emotional and rational influences are often a mixture creating desire to own the car. This desire requires certain level of engagement, which improves the probability of closing a deal. Car configuration tools’s role is to enable dreaming and bring the customers to the store.

In business-to-business and major consumer purchase decisions the configuring stage is often about a meeting with the salesman or other representative in order to define request for an offer. Online e-commerce and opportunity to buy abroad is just another way of servicing the same need. The buyer wants to know and learn about the service providers or products capabilities, background, cases and discuss about the qualities of potential solution. Very often the first engagement with the service provider also allow buyer to evaluate what kind of feeling the service provider left in the first engagement. Word of advice from previous cases is, that it’s more important to ask than present at this stage. In people businesses customers want the company to concentrate on their needs and solve them. It is important to show interest in customers needs and show how much you care about their problem. Human behaviour is about trust. The seller’s first priority as a contact person and representative of his company is to understand the brief and create trusting and caring connection to the buyer.

Decision

Was there a specific event or incentive that led to decision? If yes, what was that? Whether or not there is an offer, the people still evaluate offer or stimulus against their perception of the brand, the company and the product. Customer has certain motivation, drivers and resources that guide him. From which retailers did the customer ask for an offer. What prompted the decision?

In some cases customer know that they should buy a new product in order to replace the old one but they just don’t recall doing so or lack motivation or ability to do it. In these cases we talk about ”pending purchase decisions”.  Offer in store or discount advertisement could act as a trigger. In smaller purchases just seeing the product is the trigger. In other cases there could have been long-lasting interest and consideration but no action. In cases like this the customers have been interested and wanted to buy for a long time but were not able to do so or lacked justification. Discount advertising is very effective trigger in these cases. People could wait for a long time for the products price to come to the acceptable level. The discount has two-fold triggering effect

  1. The price can be considerably lower than normal
  2. The offer is there for a limited time or there is only limited number of products at that specific store resulting feeling of hurry and justification. It’s now or never!  Limited number of products is a message that increases sales never mind how many products the store would actually have in storage.

In TV-shop commercials sales increased when customers were told: ”If you call, Prepare for holding online or use SMS for ordering”. Just saying some other people would also buy the product was justification enough for more people to act.

In technology businesses like wrist-top-computers measuring pulse and other training factors, mobile phones and entertainment gadgets the prices come down after some time due to rapid product circulation. If the products become ”most wanted” like iPod and iPhone did, declining pricing eventually reach tippin’ point driving products to move from most wanted to market dominating products. Following the own brand’s and competing brand’s customer journeys and preference, enable recognising and preparing for such events.

Another very important thing is to track competing brand’s actions in this space. Competing brands could send offers by mail; use out-bound telemarketing to help (read: push) customers make decisions right away. Proactive decision supporting and triggering could result a lot of lost business unless it’s detected and acted on.

In business-to-business cases and major consumer purchase decisions the decision stage has to do with comparing offers. It is smart to take the time and present the offer face to face. Face time often increase trust and represent dedication. At best the presenting of the offer means evaluating and considering it aloud. Customer has a change to ask questions and make certain that they understand what exactly the offer means. The first meeting with a salesman was about first impression and the next about how well does the contact person meet expectations and is he trust worthy? How well has the contact person taken customers wishes in account and what kind of pro-active propositions there are in order to better meet customer’s goals. It all comes down to trust eventually. Price is a subjective issue in most cases, not an absolute measure. Higher price just require more trust and better justification than lower price.

Purchase

Where did the customer purchase? Purchase channel and location give new information for analysis when looking back at the customer journey. Customers could have purchased from certain store brand, specialist store, online retailer, catalogue sales company, by phone, by calling to contact centre. It’s important to track which player was the active contacting party a) customer b) competitor.

Purchase channel send a message about customers decision-making dynamics too. In several cases the customers behaviour has been very online centric in every other stage but purchasing. Online channels are very effective in offering information about the products and services but often customer rather purchase from store, individual contact person or contact centre rather than online. Why is that?

Our learning has been that it’s most likely an expression of insecurity and pure need for human contact confirming the decision. People want to call, possibly bargain a little, but most importantly they want to feel secure that they are doing a good deal and they will not feel sorry for it after. In retail products customers could go to buy in retail store in order to confirm their decision by touching the product and experiencing it live or they want to get it with them right away. Visit in the store could be inevitable in many cases but there are risks.

When we were developing One Experience methodology we did some multi-client researches in order to develop the methodology. We found out that while Fujitsu-Siemens had 22% preference rate, they sold 35%. Their sale was roughly 50% higher than their brand preference would let expect. In the further analysis we found out that majority of sales people working in stores preferred Fujitsu-Siemens laptops and often owned one too. Of course the same apply in case of trade promotion offering sales people extra for selling more Fujitsu-Siemens. However, in this case there was no promotion but it was natural for sales people to recommend Fujitsu-Siemens.

The reality is that when people have been looking for a solution, product or service they would like to buy, they are actually still rather open for influence at the very last stage. When people get to know offering they often come to conclusion that certain product is both possible for them and they feel comfortable about choosing it. Once the customer comes to a store and the premium product is in discount, the customer is likely to change his mind in that instant and buy the premium product even if it was still slightly more expensive than the one the customer came to pick-up. The same phenomena apply when customer engage with store personnel. The professionals in store can raise insecurity in customer’s mind or recommend something other than the customer was going to buy. Often the customer’s goal for the discussion in store is meant to confirm customer’s own thinking. Still, often it results alternative outcome depending on the advisors training, experience, opinions and incentives. Brands have very different variation in the level of determination in their buying. Strong brands, which have a “love” relationship with buyers, are much harder to persuade to some other way.

In the same Laptop study we found another interesting phenomenon. There were dramatic differences between store brands in which customers went to see the products and where they actually purchased them. The conversion rate from visitor to buyer was at best 66% and at worst less than 30%. The two biggest retail brand conversions were a) 29% visiting and 9% of sales and b) 23% visiting and 6% of sales. These two brands dominated people’s visits but they didn’t dominate sales. Retail conversion rate optimisation would have dramatically increased these retailers market share and it shouldn’t be too hard when they already have people coming to them.  41% of customers told that the sales person influenced their decision and in 23% of cases they reported sales persons opinion had important role. 39% of customers only went to visit in one store. Still, many of those people purchased online.  Currently many customers consider stores as showrooms and look for the best deal online.

RECENT DEVELOPMENT AND TRENDS

The rise of online channels and social media’s role in customer journey has increased information available for customers. Social media has enabled and encouraged communities and discussion forums in which people share experiences of different products and services. This change has diminished the role for sales people in many businesses and created disruption in former Customer Journeys. In the world of 3i, that is high interest, high involvement and high investment product and services, people’s know-how about the products and services often exceed the level that sales people have in store. The customers are increasingly becoming specialist in what they are buying. They are also actively using this knowledge as social capital. People enjoy their position in their own community and sharing increase their role as a valuable member. Peer-group’s respect is often very effective motivator that activates discussion and participation.

The customers are also increasingly interested in companies’ practices and values. Several brands have suffered major image setbacks due to child labour in their production, environmentally indifferent attitude and any ethically questionable actions. People become more and more conscious about their consuming,  effects of their choices and the products and services are no longer enough. People also need to feel good about their choices.

The trend that is shaking the corporate mindset is transparency. Brand, products and services, pricing, quality and experiences are all available online. Customers trust each other more than the brands specialists even if they don’t know each other. Transparency means that companies need to be just as good as they say they are or better than they have promised. Search engines are the best enablers of transparency democracy.

Post-Purchase

Once a customers have made a purchase and started using the product or service they are often likely to talk about their experiences. Word-of-mouth is a major influencer in many businesses and sharing experiences spontaneously online has multiplied the word-of-mouth influence. Another important thing to consider is that web does not forget easily. When customers start looking for information about the product or service online, they use search engines. The highest scoring links are the ones that have been clicked most often, have external links directed to that specific content and so on. This means that the highest scoring content could be several years old. It is very important for brands to stay in touch with customer’s satisfaction and recommendations.

Analysing the outcome

As customer journey designer I was very interested in learning about the customers decision-making dynamics from beginning to the end. In order to optimize that you first need to understand what is happening. We came to conclusion that the best way to effectively show what happened was to break the conversion analysis in three: Won, Kept and Lost business. To make it more meaningful we broke further to three dimensions: before buying, what happened in the original groups and what was the outcome. Here is an illustration of one case. This measure is called Business Dynamics Score (BDS)

 Business Dynamics Score

Of those 42% who originally preferred the brand 95% were kept and only 5% lost. Of those 28% who originally preferred competitor 70% were converted and only 30% were lost to competitor. Of those who had no preference 88% were converted and won. Only 14% were lost. The outcome is that from this company’s target group they won 46% of sales from competitors, 40% of their sales came from those who originally preferred them and they lost 14% of their reference group’s sales to competitors. In this case the sample the data was collected from customer buying this service at certain frequency and in this case some of the customers had purchased competing brand after the most recent purchase from the brand that was studied. This finding helped further in recognizing how much business is leaking from the brand to the competitors and why.

This way of looking at the customer data also reveal where the brand is making it’s sales. Of people who originally prefer the brand, how many actually buy it in the end. Of customers who prefer competitors, how many the brand is capable of winning. From customers who have no preference but only rather equal options, how many of them actually buy the brand in question. While capturing data, this same comparison also work very efficiently in analysing how competitors win from the brand in question and what can be done about it.

In order to finalize the big picture, it’s also very educating to see which brand the customers consider was second best after the purchased brand if any. Being second best means that the brands success was good but something still turned the customers head and led to lost business. If your brand is very often the second best, it means that it is not too hard to make major improvement in sales.

Of the full Customer Journey – this article was about the third slot – Choose and buy, Check out the first two stages:

Customer Journey stage 1: Brand as a platform

Customer Journey stage 2: Initiation

Also see Business design with customer centricity

Managing customer interfaces – marketing do-or-die

and How to Map and Study Customer Journey

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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