Marketing’s Role in Employee & Customer Experience Journeys

Is your Marketing department aligned with customer experience and employee experience? The necessity and logic of doing this was highlighted in a recent presentation by Hootsuite’s Vice President of Customer, Kirsty Traill. She pointed out that Marketing Communications is unfortunately the typical focus of customer journey maps and customer-centric marketing.

Her observations are in accordance with the first half of this six-part series which also pointed out that MarCom-focus for customer-centric marketing is extremely short-sighted in what’s needed by your company. It short-changes marketing’s impact.

Hootsuite takes a holistic view of “brand experience” by applying customer-centric research and thinking to each phase of the end-to-end customer experience and employee experience journey maps — for use by all groups within Marketing and beyond. Brand integrity relies upon both employees’ and customers’ perceptions. It also relies on the company’s fulfillment of their needs. Marketing plays a significant role in understanding, communicating and assuring these needs.

“We recognize the importance of employee engagement in driving the customer experience,” said Kirsty. “Marketing touches every part of the employee journey and is a key part of driving a truly customer-centric culture, starting with recruiting and whether the public’s image of our employer brand is likely to attract high-caliber talent.”

The journey team at Hootsuite includes Marketing, Sales and Customer Success representatives. This allows them to look through different lenses. Their work has developed an overarching messaging hierarchy informed by customer journey mapping, and grounded in customer needs. “It’s an overall guide of how customers talk about the category,” explained Kirsty. “It describes how customers and employees think about each phase of their journeys, and how they talk about their needs. It provides vocabulary for consistent messaging to each of four core customer personas and to employees.”

Marketing decisions are guided by a table of customer insights available for each journey stage, showing which voice-of-customer insights inform each stage and who owns it. Julie Garrah, Customer Experience Manager on Kirsty’s team at Hootsuite, explained: “We emphasize closing-the-loop in communicating what action we’re taking. This drives improvement in scores. We send customers a closing-the-loop email on a six-month cadence, sharing what we’re doing.”

The image below describes the interpretation. Green phrasing is the suggestion to foster outside-in thinking.

Research for Marketing Across the Customer Experience Journey

Hootsuite has defined four core personas and developed a customer journey map for each persona. (identify natural customer segments by looking for patterns across qualitative data) Hootsuite builds a deep understanding of each segment’s journey stages by answering these questions:

  • Need Something: How does a customer become aware of the need for what your category represents, how would they describe the need in their own words, what is it that triggers the activation of that customer need?
  • What are My Choices: Which other companies are in your customers’ consideration set, where are they finding information to make a decision in the category, what is their evaluation criteria?
  • Decide & Buy: What information are they looking for to make their decision, what is it that locks them in to your product versus your competition’s, do they talk to anyone, what does your purchase process look like, how long does it take, how easy was it for customers relative to their expectations?
  • Receive Order: What do they need to get started, where do they find information during this stage?
  • Install / Use: How do customers use your product/service, how do they define the value, how do you deliver upon that value, how do you reinforce that they’ve made the right decision?
  • Questions / Moments of Truth (1) : Which touch-points triggered repeat purchase, upgrade or expansion; where did you fail to deliver on their expectations; what caused customers to cancel, suspend, return, leave, what were the triggers; what information do they need and in what format?
  • Integrations (2): Which touch-points turn fans into loyal fans and advocates, what is the customers’ context for usage of your product, what are their interactions with your people, what is their connection with your brand?
  1. Questions / Moments of Truth: Researching the “moments of truth” stage can be a difficult process to go through, but Kirsty explained: “This information is rich and can be used in very productive ways for improving customer experience as well as your marketing mix and marketing touch-points.”
  2. Integrations: Integrations might be the most significant part of the journey as it answers “what is the customer trying to get done . . . with or by whom, under what circumstances, in combination with what processes or hardware/software?” This context can be a game-changer for up-leveling your marketing, product development, and operations.

CXEX

Research & Actions for Marketing Across the Employee Experience Journey

Hootsuite applies customer experience insights to all stages of the employee experience journey:

  • Need a Job Opportunity / What are My Choices: Does your Careers web page paint the image of a customer-centric company, how employees are portraying you on LinkedIn and GlassDoor, is your employer brand aligned with your corporate brand and customer-focus?
  • Decide & Sign / Start Job: Educate every new employee on buyer personas and user personas in every team and department, show videos from customers explaining what they use and like, provide pocket guide with customer needs and value proposition, explain company standards to new hires so they understand how important customer-focus is and how their specific role affects customer experience.
  • Daily Work: Empower everyone in the company to address customer issues since it’s impossible for your Customer Success team to manage every touch-point customers have with your company, role-based training, create a central repository of customer information and unified customer profile across the journey, design your tech stack to integrate the fewest systems necessary to house customer data for a comprehensive story of individual customers.
  • Higher Purpose: Make “customer love” visible through stories shared with employees, display your Customer Support vision, encourage employees to participate in shadowing, ride-alongs, and capturing customer quotes.
  • Championing: Encourage brand spirit through corporate apparel and swag, empower employees to “share love” through social media, arrange for people from development to shadow Customer Support and Sales Enablement to sit in on sales calls, invite Product Marketing and Vertical Marketing teams to attend customer events to see how customers are interacting and engaging with content.

Hootsuite studies a flow of qualitative data from marketing touch-points about what customers want and need. By gaining a deeper understanding of how customers are thinking and feeling about information at each stage in their journey, the company has also gained appreciation for how the touch-points interact with one another.

These insights re-orient employees’ outlooks. They break down traditional silo mentality. The goal is to become a more customer-centric organization by driving behavior in doing what’s best for the customer as the way to drive business growth.

Click here to access CustomerThink-10-Big-Ideas-Customer-Experience-Success Paper

How to Transform Your CX Strategy with AI

Consumers have more ways than ever to communicate with the brands they buy — be it through private chat or in public on social media sites such as Twitter. If a conversation conveys a negative sentiment, it can be detrimental if it’s not addressed quickly. Many companies are leaning on early stage AI tools for help.

Companies can use artificial intelligence in customer service to build a brand that’s associated with excellent customer experience (CX). This is critically important in an era in which consumers can easily compare product prices on the web, said Gene Alvarez, a Gartner managing VP, during a September 2018 webinar in which analysts discussed ways artificial intelligence in customer service can drive business growth. « When your price is equal, what’s left? Your customer experience, » Alvarez said. « If you deliver a poor customer experience, they’ll go with the company that delivers a good one. This has created a challenge for organizations trying to take on the behemoths who are doing well with customer experience, with the challenge being scale. »

AI in customer service enables companies to understand what their customers are doing today and to quickly scale CX strategies in response. Chatbots can be deployed relatively quickly to handle customer requests around the clock, while social listening tools can track customer sentiment online to gain insight, identify potential new customers, and take proactive action to protect and grow brands.

With that, AI technologies including text analytics, sentiment analysis, speech analytics and natural language processing all play an increasingly important role in customer experience management. By 2021, 15% of all customer service interactions will be handled by AI — that’s 400% higher than in 2017, according to Gartner.

Where AI for customer service makes sense

With the current hype around AI, companies may rush into projects without thinking about how artificial intelligence can help execute their vision for customer experience — if it’s appropriate at all, Alvarez said.

« Organizations have to ask the question, ‘How will I use AI to build the next component of my vision in terms of execution from a strategy perspective?‘ [and] not just try AI at scattershot approaches, » he said. « Look for moments of truth in the customer experience and say, ‘This is a good place to try [AI] because it aligns with our vision and strategy and the type of customer experience we want to deliver.' »

For example, an extraordinary number of companies have deployed chatbots or virtual assistants or are in the process of deploying them. Twenty-five percent of customer service and support operations will integrate bot technology across their engagement channels by 2020, up from less than 2% in 2017, Gartner reported.

But chatbots certainly aren’t the right choice for all companies. Customers who shop a luxury brand may expect a higher level of personalized customer service; self-service models and chatbots aren’t appropriate for customers who expect their calls to be answered by a person, Alvarez said.

And it’s no secret that virtual agents haven’t delivered the success companies hoped for with AI in customer service, said Brian Manusama, Gartner research director, in the webinar. All the experimentation with chatbots and virtual agents has, in some cases, hurt the customer experience instead of contributing to it. Companies have a long way to go to learn which technologies to use for the right use cases, he said.

« Companies really getting into [AI for CX] are disproportionally getting rewarded for it while companies that don’t do well with it are getting disproportionally punished for it, » Manusama said.

Match the product to the CX

The first step in choosing software for artificial intelligence in customer service is to understand that there is no single tool that works for every customer in every scenario, said Whit Andrews, an analyst at Gartner. For example, a customer who buys an inexpensive product may be fine interacting with a chatbot about that purchase, but not other types of purchases, he said.

« You have to identify the people who want to work with a chatbot and be realistic about the fact that if someone says they’d rather work with a chatbot, they might mean that for one situation but not another, » Andrews said.

To put a finer point on it, Jessica Ekholm, a Gartner research VP, advised companies to « pick the right battles » with AI tools by examining where the customer pain points are and developing a CX strategy that uses artificial intelligence in customer service strategically.

Cohesive AI in CRM strategies requires a singular 360 view

AI in CRM today is like mobile in the 1990s and social media channels in the 2000s, according to Jeff Nicholson, vice president of CRM product marketing at Pegasystems: It seems everyone wants a piece of the pie.

« Companies are anxious to deploy AI, so they try a little over here, maybe a little over there, just to keep up, » Nicholson said. « Before you know it, you’ve created another stack of silos across the enterprise. » To succeed with AI in CRM, he explained, organizations need a holistic strategy that ties AI across all departments and customer-facing channels. Using a channel-less approach, companies can avoid a disjointed user experience and very frustrated customers and instead take advantage of the full power of their data.

At the center of an experience platform where the AI brain lives, businesses should react in real time with chatbots, mobile apps, webpages, on the phone or in person at the store, Nicholson said. « This singular AI brain approach, » he noted, « allows [companies] to extend predictive intelligence to all other channels, without having to start from scratch for each new interface that comes along. »

Pega is ahead of the curve, he claimed, with the Customer Decision Hub, which serves as the central AI brain across all its CRM applications — from marketing to sales to customer service. « We’ve seen our clients leverage it to redefine how they engage with customers to turn their businesses around, » he reported, citing two examples: Royal Bank of Scotland raised its Net Promoter Score by 18 points across its 17 million customers, while Sprint overcame industry-high turnover rates and realized a 14% increase in customer retention.

SAP‘s Leonardo AI and machine learning tool can help companies with their digital transformation and customer engagement strategies. It also helps organizations address key technologies, including machine learning, internet of things, blockchain, big data and analytics. SAP Hybris follows an organic development approach to AI in CRM, using data scientists and development teams across all areas of the business. Find out more about Pega, Oracle, Salesforce and SAP AI systems in the following chart:

content_management-cohesive_ai_crm

AI strategy comes first, then AI tools second

For all the talk and focus on technological innovations that have disrupted and changed business processes, what has really changed the most during the technology revolution of the last 20 years is the customer.

Customers enter the buying process equipped with more information and perspective than ever before. From a bygone era of personal experiences and finite wells of word-of-mouth reviews, customers are now engaged with millions of other customer experiences through social media and online reviews, as well as unlimited resources, when making product or service comparisons. This paradigm shift has left marketers, sellers and service teams playing catch-up to develop strategies combined with technology to better equip themselves and capitalize on the customer’s experience.

Companies and brands hope that infusing a CRM AI strategy within their business will help balance the scales when interacting with customers. No business wants to enter a negotiation knowing less than its counterpart. And based on the marketing churn of most software companies, it’s easy to assume that many businesses have already implemented AI into their marketing and sales processes, and those that haven’t will be left in the dust.

« If the AI-driven environment can learn enough and be trained correctly, it can deliver better customers that are more relevant and timely and on the right device and right promotion, » Forrester Research principal analyst Joe Stanhope said. But AI in customer experience comes with a caveat. « It will play out as a multiyear process, and it’s not necessarily a technology problem, » Stanhope warned. « It’s more of a change of management and a cultural issue. »

Delivering on customer expectations

The importance of implementing an AI strategy into the customer experience isn’t lost on business executives. According to Bluewolf’s latest « State of Salesforce » annual report, 63% of C-level executives are counting on AI to improve the customer experience. A 2017 IBM study also indicated that 26% of respondents expect AI to have a significant impact on customer experience today, while 47% expect the impact to be within the next two or three years.

Chief marketing officers set sights on CRM AI

In the next two to three years, one-third of organizations plan to implement AI technologies, according to a 2017 study conducted by the IBM Institute for Business Value. Yet some organizations surveyed have already implemented AI technologies and intend to license more.

IBM‘s « Cognitive Catalysts: Reinventing Enterprises and Experiences With Artificial Intelligence » divided chief marketing officers into three groups of respondents:

  • Reinventors are AI-enabled with significant future investment,
  • Tacticians are AI-enabled with minimal future investment
  • and Aspirationals are planning their first AI-enabled investment.

In the next two years, 63% of reinventors, 48% of tacticians and 70% of aspirationals plan to implement AI technologies to help reinvent the customer experience, demonstrating that an AI implementation needs to start at the executive level and work its way down to the user base.

By then, there should be a substantial increase in use cases for AI customer service — not just in the product servicing sense, but also in the marketing and sales stages of the customer experience. « Buyers expect something different these days; they come in much more educated, » said Dana Hamerschlag, chief product officer at sales consultancy Miller Heiman Group. « The trick and challenge around AI is how do you leverage this powerful machine to tell you that process, rather than just give you the outcome data. »

The significance of gaining an edge on the customer extends to marketing, too, with a CRM AI strategy that can solve prospecting concerns. According to the Bluewolf’s annual report, 33% of marketing organizations that are increasing AI capabilities within the next year expect the technology to have the greatest impact on the ability to qualify prospects. « You need to enter a conversation with a customer understanding their context, » Hamerschlag advised. « You need to be informed and, with AI, not only [of] who they are but what they have looked at, what they are reading on my site, what emails they have opened. »

Technology based on strategy

The emphasis on customer experience has provided an outlet for AI’s potential. Companies are beginning to explore ways that a CRM AI strategy and the subsequent technologies can help improve customer service and experience.

Personalized photo books company Chatbooks Inc. helps customers convert photos on their phone or tablet into physical photo albums. It uses customer service reps to help customers complete the process and started implementing chatbots to streamline the customer service process. « It’s important that the customer service team is there when customers need them, » said Angel Brockbank, director of customer experience at Chatbooks, based in Provo, Utah.

The initial chatbot established by Chatbooks, created using Helpshift, a San Francisco-based customer service platform, helps customers create an account and input basic information like name and email. Brockbank said the company has an AI strategy in place and will be implementing another chatbot to help direct customer inquiries to the correct chat agent. « We haven’t done that yet, » she acknowledged, « but it will be helpful and useful for our team. »

This blending of product and experience has created an important need for AI technologies, according to Mika Yamamoto, chief digital marketing officer at SAP. « The technology is only as good as the strategy that goes with it, » Yamamoto said. « Companies have to understand how they want to show up for their customers and what type of customer engagement or experience they’re trying to enable. »

One of the impediments to implementing AI is employee adoption, according to a recent Forrester survey. Among CRM professionals, 28% said that one of the largest challenges to improving CRM last year was gaining user acceptance of new technologies, compared to 20% in 2015, a 40% increase. However, the CRM professionals thought it was easier working with IT to adopt new technologies last year (19%) than it was in 2015 (31%), a near 40% drop.

Still, the increased importance of the customer experience and knowing the customer is the main objective driving an AI strategy and the departmental changes that requires. In the Forrester survey, 64% of CRM professionals said creating a single view of customer data and information is the largest challenge they face when improving CRM capabilities, up from 47% in 2015.

BI0618_AI-impact

Click here to access TechTarget’s publication

How to Protect and Engage Customers

Think about the many devices and channels your customers use today and the barrage of marketing messages coming across them. It’s overwhelming. How do you break through to meaningfully engage with customers, keep them loyal, and increase incremental revenue?

Finding ways to stand out from entrenched competitors and innovative upstarts is becoming increasingly difficult. Traditional offerings and marketing continue to decline. At the same time, your customers and employees face a host of evolving and confusing cyber threats that can quickly derail their lives. That, no doubt, partially explains why 79 percent of consumers prefer to do business with companies that provide identity monitoring services, according to a GfK Survey.

Yet the complexity of threats requires more than monitoring. Additionally, most identity and data protection service offerings haven’t kept up with the times and consumers’ expectations about self-service. At this intersection of evolving threats and customer needs lies a rare opportunity for you to establish a new type of valuable and ongoing engagement with customers.

In this article, we’ll explore this new opportunity for protecting and engaging your customers, examining:

  • Technology’s impact on customer interactions and loyalty
  • The tight correlation between security engagement and risk
  • Why it’s time for a new identity and data defense solution model
  • How a marketplace approach to identity management, privacy and cyber security can help you regularly engage customers, improve loyalty and grow revenues

Technology’s impact on customer interactions and loyalty

Today, most engagement is technologydriven, and customers expect nearly instantaneous responses for any type of query or request.

Engagement1

The tight correlation between security engagement and risk

It’s not just technology that has been evolving rapidly over the years. We’ve also seen a corresponding progression in the sophistication and types of identity and data fraud.

Engagement2

Why it’s time for a new identity and data defense solution model

We recognized the growing potential of cyber and identity protection services as a unique opportunity for ongoing necessary engagement. That’s why we took a step back and reconsidered everything from the changing threat landscape to changing customer preferences and began working on an innovative approach for organizations to engage customers.

Engagement3

Click here to access Cyberscout’s White Paper

 

The Customer Journey of a Lifetime: Step-by-Step Modernisation to Maximise Retention

Customer experience is the insurer’s latest hot topic. Improving it at existing touchpoints and finding new opportunities to deliver it beyond purchase, renewal and claims dominate discussions. McKinsey found in the B2B sector that improved customer experience lowered churn by 15%, increased win rate from 20% to 40% and lowered costs to serve by up to 50%.

But understanding how to deliver great insurance customer experience, whether on mobile, in a contact centre or at a repair shop means far more than finessing an individual point of interaction. How the customer experiences each interaction and how it colours past and future interactions is critical to building a successful customer experience.

In other words, if you don’t give your customer the best journey, they’ll never arrive at the desired destination.

In this paper we look at the latest research supporting customer journey analysis and speak to three insurance executives who are putting this strategy at the heart of their customer experience and engagement policy. Progress towards the optimal customer journey is examined in the following stages:

  1. Proof points for customer journey analysis
  2. Embedding effective customer tracking
  3. Solid data collection practice
  4. Assessing and enhancing the availability of information
  5. Upskilling the organisation to manage the journey
  6. Discovering and mitigating pain points in the customer journey
  7. An atmosphere of continuous improvement

Proof points for customer journey analysis

Customer journey analysis and optimisation is so important because of the multiple channels and external influences involved in the buying process. So much can happen between intent and purchase. No-one is exempt. Google and Ipsos found that 90% of people move between devices in a sequential fashion to accomplish a goal. In online shopping, 61% of internet users and 80% of online millennials start shopping on one device but finish on another.” This is a pretty simplistic view. If we turn to research by user experience research house, GfK, the customer journey looks even more convoluted:

CX Survey

From this infographic, we note that most insurance customers use branded search but also go across around eight touchpoints including social media and email. Only 14% don’t do any research and for those who do, most will research online covering around five different websites. Further research on the insurer journey from GfK found that hardly any purchasers bothered with word of mouth (5%) but price comparison sites (PCS) wield a strong influence (26%).

This diagram only relates to the insurance purchase journey. There are many more influences on customer retention such as claims journey, customer engagement campaigns (increasingly popular under the influence of internet of things (IoT) technology).

Embedding effective customer tracking

The business case for journey analysis established, insurers need to make sure they are tracking all the essential touchpoints.

ERGO Group AG’s Head of Customer and Sales Service Health, Dr. Carsten Rahlf explains his process: “If a phone number is saved in the database we can see the customer’s profile upon calling, their historic interaction points, so we know where he is in the process. If he went to the doctor, paid him and wants to be reimbursed, also we can see when and how he submitted his bills. He may have sent them by post or used the app. He and we can see through the online portal that his request has been accepted and the customer and the agent can then track it to see if it has been executed.”

Wesleyan’s Group Head of Marketing Robin Gibson is in the middle of bringing CRM data into a Microsoft Dynamics system to improve their single view of the customer – vital to make any sense of customer tracking data. Executives looking to follow his lead should be aware it is a long-term project: “We spent the last three years on integration, migrating all the data into new CRM systems. The first part is to allow financial consultants and the customer to jointly have a single view of finances. »

« The next part is to allow customers to self-serve on their devices. Next, we need to put marketing plugins into the system to simulate interactions and use the database to find new customers.” He adds that a manageable, clean source of customer information is vital to comply with May 2018’s GDPR legislation which requires explicit data consent ongoing. It’s clear that tracking the customer journey means not just focusing on points of customer interaction such as cookies on a website or calls to a call centre but also looking internally to see what processes are helping or hindering that customer journey.

This will never be an exact science. Explaining where tracking begins and ends in MyCustomer, SEO expert Martin Calvert admits a degree of arbitrariness is expected “The start and end points of a customer journey are always going to be debatable. Does the journey ultimately start when they see one of your brand’s adverts years ago…does it end after they’ve bought their last product from you in their 80s?”

The learning is to track what you can and hunt out two specific areas:

  • one, where gaps in the customer journey appear
  • and two, where customers appear to experience pain points that are unaccountable – so far.

To get reliable pictures of this, insurers need to access as much data as possible.

Customer Journey

Click here to access InsuranceNexus’ White Paper