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What Are The Rules For building Customer Experiences in a Digital World?

Was it good for you Mr Customer

4Apr

With the acceleration of digital business models around platforms that offer new options and experiences for the customer the rules of engagement for attracting and retaining customers has changed. With the millennial generation looking to surpass the baby boomers in the next few years, 40% of the world population over 65 and the impact of technology as it both miniaturises and becomes more adaptable, there are new rules that apply for reaching and engaging with customers.

More than at any time before, it is easy to collect, analyze and make informed decisions about customers; create strategies for how to reach them, tactics to interact with them and build experiences to make them happy. There are no more excuses.

So let's do this in reverse, starting with the end in mind, 'Out to In, to Out'.

Rule #6 - Focus on Outcomes

The objective from the first contact to last contact across all sales channels is to make sure the outcome - the promise your brand offers - is managed and delivered. To make sure the customer transaction/order (revenue is secured) is completed and where the organization offers support along the way to make sure the conversion happens. The design goal should be to minimize touch, eliminate delays, waiting time and reduce overall handling time that engages the customer. At the same time bring about marginal cost advantages (cost to acquire, cost to serve/service) as volumes build with the same fixed costs.

Outcome(s) are about building and ensuring Reputation is maintained, about the promises and ethos behind the brand and making sure the organization (staff and supply chain) focus on the same goal, the desired outcome = a happy returning customer. Forget conventional ROI as this is the only thing that now matters in today's economy. It is our Customers that define the success of our organization.

Competing in today's global economy is about fine margins. It is about listening, about measuring and optimizing the little things that make the difference between converting an interested browsing party into a customer that returns to buy, time and again. It is about attracting and starting the journey for those that don't yet know they want or need what you have...

Was it good for you? Were you drawn in and intoxicated? Were you delighted or disappointed? Did you give up? Was it hard to get what you wanted when you wanted it?

The User Experience (UX), the Interface, the GUI, the mobile apps. These are the new frontiers and battlegrounds for all organizations that want to focus on delivering the right outcomes and experience for customers. A mix of gamification and visualization, a sensory journey of unlocking what customers are looking for?

Rule #5 - Be Easy to do business with

Todays customers have choices, are better informed and want things (the process of buying) on their terms. They don't allow excuses and mistakes that are in a digital context magnified and shared a thousand times. They expect to get and consume what the organisation has to offer at any time via any channel and using any device. It is they (the customer) that confirm/define the 'rules of engagement' and it is they who will give your organization a single chance, a view, a look, a touch, an opportunity not to be squandered.

The customer wants to and will brush against your organization sometimes softly and sometimes hard. Looking for a reason to engage, to seek answers, maybe to buy and transact or to see how your organization responds, a recognition that your organization was aware. And so the conditions to spot, to sense and respond to each 'customer brush' across all channels have to encourage participation and customer feedback. The UX has to be simple and logical and the organization must sense not only the subtle brush of a first time first contact,but recognize interaction by offering help and support. A joined-up awareness of all customer interactions across all channels in a single view across the organization.

In my last digital business that offered Self Service Pensions & Savings, we called this aspect of sensing the right time to help customers - Onboarding. A specialist trained team that move in when it was spotted or predicted the customer would/may need help. These members of staff are always aware of the customer journey and interactions via each channel. All staff see all interactions and touch points with all customers, partners and intermediaries as the platform makes them aware. The Onboarding team are empowered and have the information to support, to assist and convert the opportunity, based on insight where the customer was in the specific journey, their journey.

The onboarding team were part of defining and refining the channel strategies, designing and making adjustments to each customer journey, for each community right down to individual customers, as it is they who have the responsibility to bring customers into the tent and keep them there. In a Self Service model this is called an Assisted Support Model offering a visualized journey, tools and help for the customer to serve themselves.

The systems monitor everything (flag/alarm the issue) and the team are ready to step in at a personal level to help the conversion.

Rule #4 - Do not forget - Value always has to be delivered

With all the tech, smart front ends, web services, portals and platforms offering the pull, the attraction, the enticement; the entire organization has to get the basics right so that it can start to focus on cost to acquire a cost to serve metrics. At the top of the list is making sure the products and services are readily available at a price quality that delivers the value (part of the outcome equation).

If the product doesn't work or is not available then the hard work to manage the touch and conversion to win the customer over will be wasted. If the product arrives faulty, is difficult to use or doesn't deliver the promise offered then your are busted anyway. The Product has to work, be reliable, the Service has to be well designed and of high-quality offering innovation and visual appeal that can fit with, and be consistent in, the way they are presented across all sales channels and capture devices (e.g. smart phones).

The supporting operations has to deliver the basics and do it well, do it fast and minimize mistakes and errors. The fulfilment and delivery process becomes part of the User defined experience and has options the customer sees as relevant to the outcome. Think Amazon. The supply chain, whether in-house or external, has to be in tune with the rest of the business and know and see all customer interactions. Everyone should consider themselves part of sales and marketing, including operations and vendor partners. If you don't manage them and get them into the tent with you, your organization will never completely control the Outcome or the quality of the customer experience.

Rule #3 - Contextualize the Journey

How aware is your organization of the customer to begin with, via any channel whether it be a light or strong brush, browse or buy mode interaction? As soon as an organization starts to understand the importance and value of Context it can start to design a relevant customer journey using the next level of contextual information such as location, device and social setting.

The organization starts to develop a sixth sense to manage the customer touch on each channel and starts to second guess and predict how things will happen. The key is to start the interaction and learn from it (listen and watch, monitor and record) and then use the data as insight from each channel (shared with other channels) as the picture of each customer and how they interact with the world around them starts to emerge. All staff in the organization see all customer interactions, in a single view and are empowered to make a difference.

Once the organizational level of awareness reaches a certain point, starts to feel the extent of the customer touch 'light brush' or 'hard brush' allows the organization and more important automated systems to provide the appropriate response. Monitoring and listening, offering help or nudge the customer into the right journey (path) for them. Although this does rely on 'real time' useful and timely customer context information. Patterns emerge and sensing the level of customer brush can be formulated as predictive algorithms. The context for attracting, converting/onboarding and retaining customers.

Rule #2 - Treat all Customers as Individuals

The digital world is about mass personalization in a sense peer-to-peer. This is where organizations pay attention and learn about lifestyle and behaviours of individuals. It is no longer about B2B or B2C in a sense of reaching communities and grouping experiences with predefined outcomes. Everyone wants to be treated as a special customer and wants to believe the entire organization is interested in only them (at that moment) and delivering the best outcome for that individual. We are programmed to want to be treated fairly and most of us crave that attention as a paying customer.

Our preferences matter, our likes, dislikes and preferred channel, payment type, flavour, colour, temperature, seat/table, device, all provides context to define the type of personalized support for each customer at each stage of the journey. Once there is broader context, this opens up the opportunity for predictive analysis in an effort to get one step ahead of the customer, this is an organizational state of know before the customer realizes, moving things along with the offer of help and support at the right time, to sense what they need and when.

Digital is really about the segmentation of markets down to individuals so that your can get to recommendations, something we are already comfortable with from our interactions with Amazon, and one of these most sophisticated algorithms ever designed. Staff should know and see all and are trained and allowed to step in when they sense the need to help, divert or save a customer journey that is drifting or not working. The organization maintains a high level of sensory awareness about customers and through sophisticated platform designs able to predict the customer is now commonplace.

The User Interface should demonstrate how much you know, care and want to help your current and target customers.

Rule #1 - Know everything about Customers

So who is your organization targeting and why? What are the demographics telling you? How much data do you have on your current customers, their preferences and how to reach them? Is your data historic transactional information only? Are your customers tech savvy and through which channel(s) would they prefer to interact? How will the organisation extract value from the customer and monetize the relationship over time?

What do you mean you don't know?

How does the organization intend to 'brush' the customer? Has the organization defined customer maps, journeys and path(s)...? Is the organization able to sell products and services all paths through all channels and get a single view? How does the organization go about getting customer attention, to pull them in to start the dialogue, manage the first contact, to start them on the journey, a journey designed for them?

Welcome to KeaYC (Know everything about Your Customer). A consolidated view of all customers and touch points, interactions and history. This is about data analysis on a large scale. It is about dumping the past and starting afresh with new sources of information about customers and committing old tech to the junk heap.

This goes beyond Big Data, CRM, Enterprise Marketing and will involve creating your own set of insights around algorithms that are designed to deliver your organisations UX and CX.

Welcome to the world of user experience and customer experience design, the new frontier in competitive advantage...

Digital BOOM (C) 2015

Sources

Digital BOOM (C) 2015

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