CX Express – 3 steps to understanding and improving CX

CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE? WHAT’S THAT?

You may have heard it explained as another form of UX…

… the remit of customer service…

…or yet another hard-to-define KPI.

Whatever your level of knowledge is about CX, there is no doubt that your company is currently creating it and your users are experiencing it whenever they encounter your brand.

Customer experience, defined as ‘how users perceive of their interactions with your brand’ (Forrester, 2017), is becoming an ever more pressing focus for businesses in the Internet age. As business models have switched from linear, one-time purchases to subscription-led, cloud-based services and competition has increased due to the low-startup costs of the web, brands have an urgent imperative to differentiate positively in this area. From my perspective, CX provides a modern and comprehensive solution to encourage positive, repeated interactions between your user and your brand, linking to long-term ROI as well as short-term optimization gains.

So how to begin thinking like a CX specialist? And what steps can you take to start implementing CX awareness and practice within your company?

STEP 1 : ADJUST YOUR MINDSET TO ALIGN WITH THE USER’S PERSPECTIVE

It may be relatively new as a concept, but Customer Experience is not a new need for users, who have been navigating brands’ multi-channel customer journeys for some time. For all the relative maturity of the online market, the CX for some big brands can be very underwhelming, and it links to a lack of awareness from business decision makers about what it is that the customer actually wants.

Whilst in the past, traditional brands have been able to use their market dominance to avoid addressing the user’s desires head on, the increasingly competitive market within many industries has led to a huge incentive for businesses to connect and answer those desires.

There are a number of ways to start thinking like the customer, including the strategic (such as mapping the value proposition framework between user and brand, as developed by Alexander Osterwalder) and the tactical (increasing the lines of communication between you and your users). Once this is done you must make sure that this information climbs to the very top of the decision-making process in your company.

Introducing feedback loops, creating value proposition from the customer’s point of view and working these into your business models have provided a successful evolution in CX for a number of competitive and high-profile industries – take for example, the modern aviation market.

Things have come a long way from British Airways dominating the UK industry and providing a traditional, fifties-style airline experience thirty years ago. The modern market has evolved to become crowded, saturated and pan-European, with airlines competing across many factors and using customer experience to try and differentiate themselves. As a result, we have seen the rise of omnipresent customer service and mood rating feedback software in every airport for users to confirm their details or voice their concerns about the service received. We have also witnessed a huge shift in airline business models, where the convenience of apps and websites replaces the airport as the main platform for users to progress through the stages of their user journeys (when was the last time you checked in at an airport desk?)

If you can create that two-way feedback loop and work the results into your business plan, your company can start to make a digital strategy that is truly reflective of your user’s needs rather than just what businesspeople imagine they want.

STEP 2 : SORT OUT YOUR TRACKING AND MEASURING ACROSS THE ENTIRE USER JOURNEY

Peter Drucker once said that ‘if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it’. As with the rest of marketing, in CX this adage is equally true.

The challenge of good measurement starts with implementing a system that works for each channel. You can assess relative strengths and weaknesses by installing best-practice systems such as Google Analytics or Firebase on your various touchpoints. This will allow ROI to be judged on a by-channel basis, and is vital for answering questions around paid media planning and spend. But how to go one step further, and consider multiple touchpoints in the mix?

There are a number of solutions that take multi-channel marketing into account. One is customer journey mapping, which combines multiple types of qualitative research and product flows to produce examples of a user’s journey across your touchpoints. More recently at Salmon we have been going one step further, combining the qualitative info and product flows with key KPI data available within each channel, to create a 360 degree view of our client’s users, where they go and what they want.

On a more quantitative level, attribution modelling has come into its own as a response to the need to track CX across multiple channels. This practice allows a marketing team to track where in their user journey a key action (for example a sale) was made and establish trends around weaker and stronger areas of performance. Whilst previously the industry has focused on last click attribution (a model in which 100% of the credit for the KPI has rested on one channel), we are now moving into more sophisticated ways of mapping customer mindsets. Time decay attribution, for example, attributes those channels closest to the KPI action with the highest percentage of credit. Position-based attribution gives 20% credit each to the first and last channels used by the visitor during the user journey.

Whilst there is no doubt that each business has unique requirements in tracking their user journeys, we would always recommend using varied recording methods to gain a rich and collaborative picture of your user base. This allows greater knowledge but also the ability to compare and corroborate information through linked yet distinctive methods. Overall this will allow you to start making serious inroads to seeing the areas of strength and weakness within your user journey and allowing some big picture visualization about your brand to take place.

STEP 3 : START TO PLAN INTELLIGENT MARKETING CAMPAIGNS ACROSS MULTIPLE TOUCHPOINTS

Once you have sorted out your marketing perspective and your data and tracking, you can truly begin to plan enlightened, end-to-end marketing campaigns and optimizations designed to improve your customer’s experience and your company’s ROI. This for me is where the really exciting part of CX comes in, the part that demonstrates the value and creates those happy users as well as big headline results for your business or client.

A recent example of a campaign that I undertook that really made a difference to CX involved optimizing the paid search user experience, all the way from Google Search Result to Thank You page. We decided to start at the beginning, identifying visitor’s needs through mapping a user-centric value proposition. Crucially, the strategy for this exercise was centered around an analysis of the actual keyword search terms users typed in on Google. Taking their own input as our source material, we used these keywords to determine the level of knowledge about our product, the desires and concerns those users had, and the ways that they understood what we had to offer.

Moving from this value proposition mapping, we did some research showing the common frustrations within the paid online user journey. It showed that visitors didn’t have enough information to choose between the available products on the homepage and product pages, and that the content on these pages didn’t reflect the promises made in the Google ads.

We decided to change the user journey through creating custom-made landing pages, including the answers to top product questions, clear comparative info, and superior UX for the user journey. This gave users the options to purchase or to find out more information.

As a result of this, we experienced a huge uplift in customer satisfaction, with our experience score moving up three points. We also saw a 24% uplift in sales, through listening to the customer and anticipating their needs and questions.

IN CONCLUSION

Whether you are exploring this new way of marketing within your organization for the first time, or simply looking for ways to tweak your existing offering, hopefully some of the above will provide thinking points from which to continue your exploration of CX.

Just like the user, the needs of each brand are important requirements to bear in mind when you begin to implement your CX strategy, as factors like budget, resource and hierarchy will affect how it can be best used.

What is for sure is that, whether consciously or not, your brand is creating CX in its interactions with its users – the choice you have is whether to empower yourselves in controlling those interactions, or continue to overlook them and potentially miss out on valuable uplifts to ROI or repeat custom.

Salmon is ideally placed to help you work out your CX and business strategy – using methods like the above and many more, we can shed light on your users and how to connect with them best.

Read this article on www.salmon.com

Product data in context

PRODUCT CONTENT IS KING

If you ask customers what they are looking for when they buy online, 85% would say product information.

A similar percentage of respondents like to see manufacturer and retailer information. Customers also like to see what customers think of the products, in the form of ratings and reviews. This shows how important product data is for different perspectives and audiences. Ultimately, it will determine whether you sell the product or not.

Product information is king.

Just think how you buy products online. The more (online) research you do before buying a product online, the more expensive the product probably is. Did you ever watch an ‘unboxing video’ on YouTube? Did you view the ratings and read the reviews on the retailer website? Why do we do this? Simple: because we want reassurance that we’re getting the best deal.

It’s also true that the journey sometimes brings more joy than the destination, or – in our case – the product. Often, getting as much information on the product as possible before buying it is crucial. Customers also appreciate the fuller product perspective (for example, how people are using the product). Some companies even create social awareness around products by connecting them to community-based social platforms like Facebook or Twitter. All of this can be achieved with a PIM. But you can go even further by determining:

  • when you want to show content
  • what content to show
  • to whom
  • on which device or touchpoint.

This makes the content more relevant and personal to the viewer and places it in the right context.

WHAT? WHEN? WHERE? WHO?

When serving product information to a customer, we need more: more channels, more customer demands, more devices, and more variables.

In a single channel environment, it could be done manually. But with a multi – or even an omni- channel strategy, this becomes almost impossible. The exponential growth of data makes it even more difficult. How do you create the right product content in the right context with all these variables?

Whether you are a B2B wholesaler with 25,000 SKUs, or a B2C retailer with only 1,000 products, the personal factors, device types, touchpoints and other criteria can result in millions of product content variants. Most of these variants can easily be created in a PIM, sometimes with just a push of button. The system gives you access and the best possible variant: what to send, and which device or touchpoint to send it to.

Many factors can determine when you create or update product content; the weather, the seasons, and even the time of day. The PIM knows when your Christmas products are due to go live; it can promote umbrellas when it’s raining, and so on.

Companies that enable these features are typically more successful in selling those products.

There’s less navigation for the customer, plus higher ranking in SERPs (search engine result page). Just think how many scenarios this feature can apply to. For example, you could create in-store promotions if a customer is in the vicinity of one of your physical stores.

With a PIM, you can decide what content is going where. Image assets can be marked for specific channels e.g. optimised product images will be sent to mobile channels, and high-resolution pictures to desktop or print channels. Creating rules in the PIM can automate these processes. You won’t deplete customers’ mobile data allowances, and the customer also sees better performance on mobile. People using laptops and desktop computers will be impressed with your content, too. It all improves the buyer’s journey, as well increasing your sales.

Use product information to create the best personal experience

For the best personal customer experience, you’ll also want personal factors like gender, age, interest, and purchase history. Combining this with device type (mobile, tablet, laptop), location, and past search behaviour will create
a customer experience beyond customer expectations. However, to create this you need to know whom you are facing so you know what content to serve, to create the best CX and the best-selling catalogue. To enable this, you need to integrate with CRM, ecommerce, analytics and POS systems. This last one is important if you own physical stores or have an omnichannel strategy. Creating buyer personas will help setting up your PIM system to facilitate touchpoints as well.

Just imagine, after buying shoes, you get a smart link for a matching belt and the right shoe polish. Even better, the system skips the shoe polish link because you already purchased it. In PIM, you can create these product relations. With a smart ecommerce platform, recommendation engine, or merchandise tool, you can display these product links at the right time, to the right customer, on the right device. You can even go a step further by connecting your PIM with big data pools and make your offers even more personal.

From a business perspective, it is now clear that a PIM can fulfil all three pillars of the Treacy & Wiersema model (image 1). This business model determines how your business differentiates itself from other companies in terms of product leadership, operational excellence, or customer intimacy. Simply put, it tells you how unique your company is. PIM will stimulate the time-to-market, and it
will lower the mark-up costs of products once you reach the break-even point of your PIM investment. All of this will help you improve your product leadership. Efficient data storage, supplier onboarding, reseller portals, and data quality improvements will elevate your operational excellence thanks to automation and clear processes. Customer satisfaction will increase with integrated MDM features, like personal and situational factors enabled in your PIM.

The enriched product content and information that PIM creates will help boost your intimacy with customers as well.

pim
PIM product information management helps all the aspects within the model.

Lees het gehele rapport, download deze op hier

Webinar: Etikettering binnen de voedselindustrie

Vanaf december 2014 is het van groot belang dat alle informatie over voedsel, in welke vorm dan ook, voldoet aan de nieuwe regelgeving. Daarom is de etikettering een veel besproken onderwerp binnen de foodbranche!

De wetswijziging zal grote consequenties hebben op de wijze waarop uw producten zowel on- en offline worden gepresenteerd. Alle verplichte etiketinformatie op een levensmiddelenverpakking moeten namelijk online beschikbaar zijn.

Om u te helpen bij deze complexe ingreep geeft Eperium in samenwerking met Informatica tijdens het webinar de antwoorden op de volgende vragen:

  • Wat houdt de veranderde wetgeving in de voedselindustrie precies in?
  • Wat zijn de consequenties voor het vastleggen van de gegevens?
  • Hoe gaat u efficiënt om met Product Data Beheer; zowel offline op de etiketten als ook online in uw eCommerce omgeving?
  • Hoe komt u tegemoet aan de informatieplicht naar de consument?
  • Hoe kunt u deze bedreiging omzetten in commerciële kansen?

Lees verder Webinar: Etikettering binnen de voedselindustrie

E-commerce versus Content Management

Content Management is een belangrijke functie binnen een e-commerce platform. Toch zijn er online en omnichannel retailers die niet voldoende hebben aan de functionaliteit die het e-commerce systeem standaard biedt. Wat voor mogelijkheden zijn er dan, en waar moet men op letten? Marco Flapper van Eperium krijgt regelmatig deze vraag en beschrijft in dit artikel de mogelijkheden, met voor-, nadelen en voorbeelden.

Eenduidige klantbeleving.

Klantbeleving is belangrijk, de boodschap naar de klant moet hetzelfde zijn over alle kanalen; fysiek, online en mobiel. Om te overleven in de huidige retail werkelijkheid moeten retailers zorgen voor een excellente product, prijs en service propositie. Retailers begrijpen dat de klantervaring die hierbij hoort verder gaat dan alleen eenvoudig producten bekijken en winkelmand functies.

Met name in de fashion retail is inspiratie het toverwoord. Klanten verleiden met advies op fashion gebied en de uitstraling van het merk is van belang voor het binden van de klant. Om de klant te verleiden is een gepersonaliseerde omgeving met ‘rijke’ content zoals video en aantrekkelijke functionaliteit noodzakelijk. Bedrijven als Asos en Net-a-Porter in de UK zijn voorbeelden, in Nederland zijn G-Star en Protest aansprekende voorbeelden als het gaat om online merkbeleving gecombineerd met e-commerce. Als het gaat om techniek is het e-commerce platform een belangrijke schakel in dit proces. Het e-commerce platform kan een belangrijke belemmering zijn als het gaat om deze rijke online ervaring. Het Content Management Systeem (CMS) van een e-commerce platform is vaak eenvoudig. Zelfs de e-commerce platforms met de beste CMS functionaliteit zoals IBM Websphere Commerce, Intershop en hybris bieden niet de mogelijkheden die de dedicated Content Management Systemen bieden, zoals Adobe Experience Manager, SiteCore en SDL Tridion. E-commerce leveranciers bieden steeds meer en betere CMS functionaliteit en CMS leveranciers kopen e-commerce oplossingen om e-commerce functies aan te kunnen bieden in hun CMS omgeving. De keuze hoe en wat is dus niet eenvoudig…

E-commerce – CMS integratie

Zowel een e-commerce systeem als een CMS genereren web pagina’s die getoond worden aan de consument. De keuze welk systeem hierin de regie heeft is niet eenvoudig. Er zijn namelijk diverse mogelijkheden:
1. Alleen e-commerce platform
2. E-commerce platform naast een CMS
3. E-commerce platform vóór een CMS
4. CMS vóór een E-commerce platform
5. Alleen CMS

Uit ervaring blijkt dat als de focus meer ligt op advisering, inspiratie en merkbeleving en minder op conversie, dat er dan meer behoefte is aan CMS aan de voorkant (optie 4 en 5). Dit is vaak het geval bij merken en met name luxe merken. Ook als er veel afdelingen of mensen zijn betrokken in de creatie van de content, ligt het meer voor de hand om voor deze opties te kiezen.

1. Alleen e-commerce platform
Wellicht de meest gebruikte en praktische variant en geschikt voor de meeste bedrijven. Technisch gezien ook het meest eenvoudig. Als er een geschikte e-commerce platform wordt geselecteerd met de juiste CMS functionaliteit kan er een rijke en boeiende online klantbeleving worden gerealiseerd. In Nederland is WE Fashion een goed voorbeeld van een inspirerende webshop gerealiseerd met een standaard e-commerce platform gebaseerd op Demandware. Consessies op het gebied van CMS functionaliteit kunnen opwegen tegen de extra kosten en complexiteit van een extra CMS.

2. E-commerce platform naast een CMS
Vaak wordt hiervoor gekozen als binnen een organisatie het “branding” team en het e-commerce team twee geschieden units zijn binnen een organisatie. Meestal is duidelijk te zien dat het om twee verschillende omgevingen gaat. Met wat meer inspanning, afstemming en integratie is het mogelijk een naadloze beleving te creëeren, waarbij de voordelen van het CMS gecombineerd worden met de voordelen van het e-commerce platform. Nadeel is dat wijzigingen in twee systemen gerealiseerd moeten worden. Een goed voorbeeld is Protest, waarbij het CMS is voorzien van dezelfde look and feel als het e-commerce platform van Intershop. Hierbij zijn beide systemen voorzien van een Responsive Web Design.

3. E-commerce platfom vóór een CMS
Hierbij wordt het CMS systeem alleen gebruikt voor de creatie van content. Geschikt voor organisaties waarin content door veel medewerkers wordt gemaakt en waar workflow functies nodig zijn. De CMS voordelen aan de voorkant worden niet benut en content wordt via een interface aan het e-commerce systeem doorgeven. Deze interfaces kunnen complex zijn en niet alle e-commerce systemen kunnen content makkelijk importeren. Een voorbeeld hiervan is de webshop van Marks & Spencer.

4. CMS vóór een e-commerce platform
Deze optie is technisch het meest uitdagend. Het e-commerce platform moet worden voorzien van veel interfaces om alle e-commerce functies beschikbaar te krijgen in het CMS. Dit vergt veel denk-, ontwikkel en testwerk. Eperium heeft dit o.a. gedaan voor TomTom en ook bij G-Star hebben we deze opzet geintroduceerd. De extra kosten en complexiteit worden gecompenseerd door de rijke beleving die gecreëerd kan worden met de extra CMS mogelijkheden. Ook de gebruikersvriendelijkheid van het contentbeheer in het CMS biedt voordelen.

5. Alleen CMS
Geschikt voor retailers met een klein assortiment waar de focus niet ligt op winkelfuncties en conversie. De transactie wordt meestal direct doorgezet naar een backend systeem, of zelf via e-mail als het aantal orders beperkt is.

Conclusie

De kosten en complexiteit die een extra CMS met zich meebrengt naast of voor een e-commerce platform wegen vaak niet op tegen de extra CMS mogelijkheden. Aan de andere kant zien we ook de CMS leveranciers bewegen. Adobe heeft een samenwerking met Intershop, om de Adobe Experience Manager te integreren met Intershop 7. Sitecore doet met de overname van (voorheen Microsoft) Commerce Server een gooi naar de klant met e-commerce wensen. SDL Tridion heeft Fredhopper overgenomen voor e-commerce functies.

E-commerce systemen zoals Intershop, Demandware en IBM Websphere Commerce krijgen daarentegen steeds meer en betere CMS functionaliteit. Daarnaast worden ook de mogelijkheden om te integreren steeds beter. De keuze voor een extra CMS naast een e-commerce systeem wordt dan ook steeds moeilijker. Alleen zeer specifieke CMS eisen kunnen deze investering nog rechtvaardigen.

Marco Flapper is Manager Consultancy bij Eperium. Eperium is gespecialiseerd in e-commerce succes.