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How Customers Find Ideas And Inspiration [INFOGRAPHIC]

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What did you do the last time you had to buy something? Who did you turn to for ideas and inspiration? When was the last time you bought something without looking for opinions or reviews?

The answer to these questions leads us to the fundamental role that mobile technology plays in our daily decisions, from the most important ones to those that we would have once taken without thinking.

In the last two decades, our behaviors have changed so deeply that we hardly remember how life was before the spread of Internet-connected devices. Making decisions was a long, sometimes hard process. Customers were more thoughtful but also less reactive and aware.

Today, on the contrary, customers have all the information they need at their fingertips, readily available on the screen of the smartphone, wherever they are. More than 50% of customers use their smartphones to search for product info and decide what to buy and where to buy.

This simple fact has made them more aware and fast than ever, but also less reflective. The attention span is lower than ever (barely 8 seconds), and this behavioral changes have a huge impact on the way Brands plan and execute their marketing strategies.

According to recent research, 78% of customers searching on mobile for a local business ultimately end up making a purchase. Technology reshapes the 4Ps of traditional marketing, and the experience becomes the primary - if not the only - business differentiator.

The spread of the mobile devices, connected objects, and digital services constantly rewrites the structure of the customer journey. Today, the touchpoints we used to cross only a few years ago have lost relevance, and new ones have emerged - mainly online.

As mentioned by Google in a report about the Micro Moments, in this fast-paced and crowded ecosystem, where customers can buy whatever they want online at a lower price, you can be successful only when:

  • You are there - You must show up where and when your customers are ready to choose you.
  • You are quick - You do whatever it takes to connect with customers before your competitors.
  • You are relevant - You can deliver meaningful contents, when and where it matters most.

Today’s super-empowered consumers know they can research anything they need or want online. But while people are still searching for specific products, they are increasingly turning to search before they have even figured out what to buy. Ultimately, they are looking for ideas and inspiration.” (Think With Google)

When Google was founded in 1998, on average it was serving ten thousand search queries per day. Today, Google processes over 40 thousand search queries every second on average, which translates to over 3.5 billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide.

The disruption of search behaviors is caused by the evolution of technology but, in return, it can also become a vector of innovation. The perfect example is the algorithm of Google’s search engine, more and more ‘inspired’ by what happens on that (not so) tiny device in the hands of customers.

Mobile platforms now account for roughly the 60% of total time spent on digital media, and more than 60% of all traffic on Google search engine comes from mobile devices. These numbers are so relevant that Google has decided to split the engine into two - desktop and mobile - with the latter becoming the most important for your business purposes.

By understanding how people are searching for ideas, brands have an opportunity to get into their consideration set. Brands can think of all the open-ended discovery moments where someone is totally open to what is out there and make themselves visible and differentiated.” (Google)

Going back to the opening questions, a good exemplification of what has changed in how shoppers find ideas and inspiration can be found in an infographic featured on Think With Google. A necessary starting point to understand how you can adapt and improve your strategy.

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Download The 7 Pillars Of The New Customer Loyalty to define the foundations on which to build your engagement and loyalty strategy, create innovative experiences and establish a lasting and valuable relationship with your customers.

The 7 Pillars Of The New Customer Loyalty

Topics: Customer Journey Digital Customer Experience

Read These Essential Books And Start 2018 With Momentum

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What is the best way to jump start your new year's resolutions? Reading insightful and enlightening books, of course. In this whirlwind of social and technological disruptions, digital leaders must focus on the continuous improvement of themselves, if they aim at improving their strategy. 

We all know how important is to learn from the experiences of the others, and books can help you achieve a more profound and accurate vision of your environment, customers, and business. Here is our list - revamped for 2018 - of the essential books that will inspire you and the ones around you all year long.

We originally published this list at the end of 2015. Of course, a lot has happened in the last two years: the smartphone has definitely become our daily companion; new technologies have taken the center stage (i.e. the Internet of Things) and old one have gained a new bright light (virtual and augmented reality).

Ultimately, the social rules have evolved and people too. Many books have tackled the challenge of the digital disruption and its consequences on our life as human beings, customers, entrepreneurs. 

To be truly effective in understanding and engaging your digital customers, you need to be willing to learn. Learning is so important, in fact, that we have included it as one of the seven steps in the DCX 7-Steps Checklist, a step-by-step guide to deliver an amazing digital customer experience.

Know yourself, know your customers, know your context. Stay current; embrace the constant flow of digital innovations; enhance the user experience at every single touch point of the customer journey.

We corssed the threshold that separates the old world (with traditional business patterns and marketing funnel) and the new world (where empowered digital customers dictate the brand agenda).

Changes happen so fast that even the most successful brands - Apple, Google, Amazon - do not rest on their laurels. Digital business is a work in progress, by definition.

The next disruption may come from unexpected places: the Internet of Things, psychographics, machine learning and predictive analytics, proximity marketing, wearable technology, cloud computing, innovative social media, virtual and augmented reality.

None will ever grow by staying closed in his comfort zone. You must confront with the best-in-class, because the only way to see the future is by standing on the shoulders of giants. Here is our updated list of the essential readings you should not miss.

THE LIFE PROJECT, HELEN PEARSON

"The Life Project: The Extraordinary Story Of 70,000 Ordinary Lives", by science journalist Helen Pearson, narrates the longest-running study of human development in the world, started in 1946 and grown to encompass five generations of children. This is the tale of these studies and the remarkable discoveries that have come from them.

PRE-SUASION, ROBERT CIALDINI

Included in the list of the best business books of 2016, "Pre-suasion: A Revolutionary Way To Influence And Persuade" is the latest effort by social psychologist Robert Cialdini, author of the renowned "Influence". The book explains how to capitalize the "privileged moment for change" to deliver your message in the most effective way. To change minds but also states of mind. 

DISRUPTING DIGITAL BUSINESS, R “RAY” WANG

In the world where companies no longer control the conversation, they need to learn how to create an authentic experience for their customers. Digital leaders must shift from creating promises to keeping promises. In this era of social connections and constant connectivity, the experience becomes the main competitive differentiator, influencing the way brands plan and execute their strategy.  

DEEP THINKING, GARRY KASPAROV

We all know Garry Kasparov as the greatest chess player of all times. With his book, titled "Deep Thinking: Where Machine Intelligence Ends And Human Creativity Begins", he also proves himself to be a great explorer of the artificial intelligence. The story starts in 1997 with the chess match against the IBM supercomputer Deep Blue, a watershed moment in the history of technology.

THE THANK YOU ECONOMY, GARY VAYNERCHUK

The entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk proclaims, with data-driven evidence, that we have entered into a new era for business. In this one, companies need to scale their communication to a one-to-one level, no matter how big they are and how much money they invest. The best way to do it is to harness the power from social media, used as a word-of-mouth and customer experience platform.

THE TELOMERE EFFECT, ELIZABETH BLACKBURN & ELISSA EPEL

Have you wondered why some sixty-year-olds look and feel like forty-year-olds and why some forty-year-olds look and feel like sixty-year-olds? Molecular biologist Elizabeth Blackburn received the Nobel Prize in Medicine for her discovery of telomeres. In this book, with the help of her colleague Elissa Epel, she highlights how the changes we can make to our daily habits can protect our telomeres and increase our health spans.

THE STARBUCKS EXPERIENCE, JOSEPH MICHELLI

Why should I pay more for an average coffee? The secret behind the 'Starbucks formula' lies in the ability to turn the ordinary into extraordinary, focusing on the overall customer experience rather than the product. If you want to understand what loyalty means in the digital era, Starbucks is your landmark brand: personalized experiences, employee engagement, omni-channel customer journey.

THE NORDSTROM WAY, ROBERT SPECTOR

Nordstrom, a very well-known retail brand, is universally recognized as one of the best examples of customer service excellence. In fact, all other companies use it as a cornerstone, aiming at becoming the “Nordstrom of their industry”. What is the secret of this enduring - even in economic turmoil - success? The direct link between empowering your employees and creating a long-term relationship with your customers.

MASTERING LEADERSHIP, ROBERT J. ANDERSON & WILLIAM A. ADAMS

Is leadership a competitive advantage, or is it just costing you in terms of time, money and personal development? Today's escalating complexity puts leadership effectiveness at a premium. Mastering Leadership involves developing the effectiveness of leaders - individually and collectively - and turning that leadership into a competitive advantage. This book aims at offering "an integrated framework for breakthrough performance and extraordinary business results".

THE CUSTOMER MANIFESTO, PAMELA HERRMANN

Let’s start with two numbers: 80 percent of businesses believe they are providing superior customer experience, yet only 8 percent of their customers agree they provide it. The disconnect is due to the fact that amazing customer experience is not the result of a program, it is the effect of a human and personal connection, across all touch points. This is where successful entrepreneurs start, to grow their business.

THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE FIASCO, ANDREW REISE

To learn the foundations of an amazing experience for customers, you must learn not just the best practices and success stories, but also the misguided adventures. Using a fictional situation, the book - written by the experts of Andrew Reise Consulting - tells the story of how you can start from a fiasco (a YouTube video, in this case) to build a successful customer experience strategy.

OUTSIDE IN, HARLEY MANNING

This book is about the power of putting customers at the center of your business. Customer experience is the most powerful - and yet misunderstood - element of corporate strategy today. Your business value is not established just by the quality of the output (your product) but also by the quality of the connection between you and your customers (the experience). Identifying and solving the problems inside your organization has the potential to increase dramatically sales and decrease costs.

I LOVE YOU MORE THAN MY DOG, JEANNE BLISS

The theory is good, case studies are even better. This book is all about true stories that can teach you how to improve your strategy. In the end, you will understand the difference between having customers who like you and customers who love you (truly, madly, deeply). Loyal and engaged customers are the key, and the author has studied tons of companies to identify the five decisions that drive extreme customer loyalty, in good times and bad.

INBOUND MARKETING, BRIAN HALLIGAN & DHARMESH SHAH

Inbound marketing is a new paradigm in the relationship with customers, a methodology that replaces interruption with communication and value creation. This book, written by the two founders of the automation platform Hubspot, gives you all introductory hints to change your content strategy and ultimately attract, convert, close and delight. Transforming your customers from complete strangers to loyal promoters.

TO SELL IS HUMAN, DANIEL PINK

If you need a fresh look at the art of selling in the age of digital disruption, this book will offer a new perspective, based on the idea that we are all salespeople. Among all other things, the author describes the six successors to the elevator pitch, the three rules for understanding another's perspective, and the five frames that can make your message clearer and more persuasive. Because, in sales, numbers matter.

Of course, there are lots of great readings we did non include in this brief list. Please, use the comments to suggest your personal favorites.

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Download The 7 Pillars Of The New Customer Loyalty to define the foundations on which to build your engagement and loyalty strategy, create innovative experiences and establish a lasting and valuable relationship with your customers.

The 7 Pillars Of The New Customer Loyalty

Topics: Digital Customer Experience Innovation Branding Storytelling Inbound Marketing Mobile

Travel Customer Journey - The Evolution Of Planning and Purchasing

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Brace Yourself; Vacation days coming!

Whether it is the summer or winter season, the desire to travel never misses the opportunity. For those who want to plan their trip, but also those who produce and sell vacation-related products and services.

The desire to explore the world has not changed over the last century, and will not change in the next future. What has evolved dramatically - in the last decade - is the way we research, plan and purchase our trips. What Google has called The Travel Customer Journey. A disruption made possible - again - by the smartphone. 

Long gone are the days when planning a vacation (a honeymoon or a business trip) meant you had to trust a specialized agency, with little control over the final result. In the nineties, the Internet has opened a whole world of information for the customers, and then mobile technology did the rest, switching the balance of power definitely.

Today, the smartphone is the first point of reference whenever we need to find the solution to a problem or the product that perfectly fits our needs. Travel planning makes no exception, as perfectly summed up by a series of reports released by Google on Think With Google.

As more research happens in the traveler's customer journey, there are more micro moments - when people turn to a device with intent to answer an immediate need. In these moments, the stakes are high for travel brands as preferences are shaped, and decisions are made. What happens in these micro-moments ultimately affects the travel decision-making process.” 

In our times of economic constraints, organizing a vacation can be tricky business:

  • People see the travel as an investment, and so take all the time needed to research the possibilities (mostly using their mobile devices).
  • Travelers usually worry they are not finding the best solution or making the best decision, even while they are paying and booking.
  • Even when they find a last minute opportunity, most customers bounce back and forth between destinations, websites, agencies, and price comparison engines.  

Customers are much more conscious and demanding than in the past. They spend more time researching and comparing the alternatives (in terms of destinations and providers). They go through a multitude of touchpoints and, even though they take quick decisions, ultimately ponder every single detail.

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If your brand plays in this industry, the task is clear and simple:

  • You must show up during the critical micro moments of travel research process;
  • You must be there, reachable whenever customers need your attention or help;
  • You must be useful, engaging them with relevant, useful, personalized contents and offers;
  • You must be quick. If you do not convert your customers, someone else will (namely a competitor).

The main reference for this article is the ‘Travel Micro-Moments Guide’ published by Google. The underlying assumption is that “travelers increasingly turn to mobile in real time and on-the-go, making informed decisions faster than ever before. For marketers, this means there are new opportunities to connect throughout the entire travel customer journey, across devices and channels.

Researchers have defined four main travel micro moments that matter:

I Want To Get Away - We explore options and ideas, looking for inspiration.

Time To Make a Plan - We have a destination, and look for dates, flights, accommodation.

Let’s Book It - We are ready to book and look for extra activities to reserve.

Can’t Wait To Explore - We prepare to live the experience, and share it with the others.

Given the premise, we see a huge opportunity for those who provide products and services related to the various the steps of the travel experience. The digital customer journey of the travelers has become more complex than ever, and so you have multiple chances to engage customers. 

Whether you are an online or offline business, you may tap into one of the main micro moments or everywhere in between those, proposing suitable and innovative solutions. In example: a micro-insurance delivered on the smartphone at the right time; a local transportation mobile app filled with shopping and entertainment suggestions; a conversational interface or Facebook Messenger chatbot that helps customers find the best prices or deal.

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Of course, mobile is the keyword to understand the new scenario, because the micro moments mostly unravel online: 

Recent data show that there are already more searches on mobile than desktop for select travel categories, such as family vacations and luxury travel. And when it comes to planning holiday activities, mobile devices are giving travelers increased flexibility. Many travelers are willing to plan activities on the fly, while they are at their destination. 

The optimization for mobile is mandatory now that customers take faster decisions and expect faster experiences: 

Over 90% of travelers using mobile devices will switch to another site or app if their needs are not being met. 79% of mobile travelers say that when researching on their smartphones, they are looking for the most relevant information available, regardless of where it comes from.

The continuous transition from the real world to the digital dimension generate a whole new set of data that you can use to get a better understanding of customers. When it comes to travels, in fact, not all customers are equal.

Also, this type of experiences is heavily influenced by the emotional and psychological traits. Data-backed psychographics research becomes essential if you want to sketch a proper customer journey map, build a successful digital strategy, and ultimately deliver truly personalized contents linked to the emotional profiles of the different customers.

Once you determine customers’ behaviors and deepest needs, you can anticipate their needs and desires. You will also be able to prioritize the right audience and target the most valuable customers with tailor-cut contents, notifications, and promotions. 

Travel marketers need to account for the new multi-device, multi-channel landscape. And those who are moments-ready—and consistently manage their share of intent to meet consumer demand—will take the lion's share of the reward.

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Topics: Customer Journey customer engagement customer loyalty Digital Customer Experience Mobile

The Digital Change Agent’s Manifesto - Revolution From Within

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How can you set the spark of the digital transformation on fire? We always stress the importance of change in the era of constant technological evolution, but more than often it is not clear who should lead this change. Who is the agent of drift towards the future?

What it means to be a successful change agent in the digital economy is the main focus of the latest report published by Brian Solis, analyst at Altimeter. The prophet from the age of Digital Darwinism has shared, once again, the opportunities and hardships of moving a Brand from the old patterns and habits. 

The report has a self-evident title: “The Digital Change Agent's Manifesto - How the People Behind Digital Transformation Lead Change From Within”. It starts with the awareness that technology and society still evolve at a faster pace than organizations. Even though they are investing in their digital transformation, most Brands are often too slow.

They react rather than act and anticipate the changes. The efforts of those who become the flag bearer of transformation “are often hindered by an organizational culture that is risk-averse and slow to change. Not everyone believes in change, however, nor that they need to learn or even unlearn skills and perspectives to compete for the future. Any effort to change comes down to people, and in the absence of supportive leadership, people typically form roadblocks.” (Brian Solis)

Behind this lack of agility, there is, of course, a cultural limit that should not be underestimated, but the main obstacle can be traced in the absence of a ‘digital change agent’:

In most organizations, however, these digital transformation efforts often take place in isolated pockets, sometimes with little coordination and collaboration across the enterprise. Even still, these movements are important and often driven by individuals who share a deep expertise and passion for digital and are ardent advocates of its potential to help their companies compete more effectively. These individuals are the digital change agents and they represent the future of the organization.

The idea of a digital change agent coming from within is powerful, nonetheless difficult to identify in today’s structured organizations. Who is this agent? Where does it come from? What should be his core capabilities? There is not a simple, one-fits-all answer to these questions. The change agent, in fact, is hardly someone trained to play this role:

While change agents are well-versed in all things digital, they aren’t necessarily seasoned
or trained at navigating the cultural dynamics that drive change in an organization. They
typically pick up leadership and change-management skills on the fly as they learn to face
and manage the behavioral challenges that often prevent colleagues from accepting their
perspectives, ideas, and digital innovations.

Given the premise, it is evident that there is no one type of change agent. Each one brings to the table different skillsets, goals, and aspirations, “but they all wear similar hats at different points in their journey, serving as data gatherers and storytellers, influencers and case makers, relationship builders, and champions of digital transformation.

What are the highlights of these digital agents?

  • Although digital transformation is one of the biggest trends in business today and companies are investing heavily in new technologies and innovations, many still do so as a grassroots effort driven by resourceful individuals — digital change agents — across the organization.

  • Digital change agents are passionate about digital innovations and ardent believers in their potential to help the organization succeed — but they are sometimes reluctant to step into a leadership or change-management role.

  • Change agents can rise from anywhere in the organization and often begin as digital advocates — employees who introduce or promote new digital ideas or products — and eventually progress to experienced transformers.

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The research shows how these agents should operate from a strategic manifesto to guide them in their digital transformation efforts, expedite change, and minimize complications and detractions. The agents move across different steps of a journey that unravels inside and outside their company:

  • Embrace being a catalyst;
  • Organize with other change agents;
  • Learn to speak the language of the C-Suite;
  • Make allies;
  • Spread digital literacy;
  • Create a digital transformation roadmap;
  • Link digital transformation efforts to business and individuals’ goals;
  • Set metrics and milestones;
  • Democratize ideation;
  • Capitalize on their own inherent “superpowers”.

As a CEO, you should always ask yourself what can you do to make the digital change agent feel less lonely. Of course, transforming and leading the organization towards the future is never easy but, when all the pieces align, there you will find the evolved digital organization you have been longing to achieve.

We strongly advise you to download The Digital Change Agent's Manifesto, a thoughtful, brilliant piece of research by Brian Solis.

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Download The 7 Pillars Of The New Customer Loyalty to define the foundations on which to build your engagement and loyalty strategy, create innovative experiences and establish a lasting and valuable relationship with your customers.

The 7 Pillars Of The New Customer Loyalty

Topics: Digital Customer Experience digital transformation Mobile Customer Journey customer engagement Exponential Organization

Strategic Predictions For 2018 and Beyond From Gartner Symposium


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The future is filled with disruption. But pending disruptions are taking on new forms. This is the tipping point for Gartner's keynote about top strategic predictions for 2018 and beyond, live from Orlando.

Here is a selection for you of the most relevant insights from Gartner Symposium/ITxpo, where the world’s top digital professionals gain a strategic view of the emerging trends shaping technology and business. 

 

 

 

 

 

  

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Topics: Digital Customer Experience customer engagement Innovation

Take These 5 Steps And Reinvent Your Customer Journey Map

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The journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.

With the wisdom of this Chinese saying, let's start 'our journey' to discover how the 'customer journey' has changed in the last five years, pushed by the evolution of mobile technology, and what this means for your Brand.  

The rise of the born-digital generations of customers (Millennials and post-Millennials) makes your traditional customer journey map obsolete. Every single map that you have used in the last decades is now useless. How can you recover?

In the digital ecosystem, everything changes at such an impressive pace that you risk losing sight if you do not get a new compass, a unique perspective to engage and monetize customers. The disruption brought in by the smartphone is unprecedented and requires drastic measures.

First things first, we need to clarify the difference between traditional customer journeys and the digital customer journey. We can simplify and streamline the two processes:

Traditional Customer Journey

Think of it as a (mostly) linear sequence going from the Awareness to the Consideration and then Purchase:

  • This funnel unravels across few touch points, well-known and presided by marketers;
  • The customer has a limited set of alternatives;
  • The communication is usually top-down and lead by the Brand;
  • Customer's choices are influenced by the 4 Ps of marketing, by routine and the trusted opinions of my closed circle of friends and relatives.

Digital Customer Journey

A neverending journey, not necessarily starting from the Attention/Awareness or ending with the Loyalty:

  • This funnel unravels across an increasing number of touch points, both in physical and digital worlds.
  • The customer has tons of alternatives;
  • The communication is always two-way;
  • Customer's choices are rarely influenced by advertising, price or routine. The circle of trust includes the online communities: social networks, e-commerce reviews, forums and blogs.

The evolution of technology reshapes the essence of the journey and this, in return, defines the pillars of your marketing strategy. In our ecosystem you should never underestimate:  

  1. The arise of young customers - the picky millennials and the elusive GenerationZ.
  2. The growth of connected technologies - trackers, wearables, beacons, the Internet of Things.
  3. The dawn of Micro Moments - real-time mobile interactions, driven by specific intents.

The digital customers are accustomed to living surrounded by connected devices that melt the offline and online worlds. They build their identity by interacting with their virtual and pshysical communities, and do not recognize any other way of experiencing (life, emotions, and relationships).

In our markets, made flat by the globalization, your customers refuse to be considered as part of an indistinct mass. Each customer wants to be treated as an individual. This rejection of the massification requires that you invest your marketing efforts on the personalization and relevance of contents and experiences.

Today, there is a question to answer: Why should people buy from you when they can choose from a potentially infinite set of alternatives? You are not simply battling against your neighbors; you are fighting against thousands of suppliers from all over the world. Even a great, unique product might be not enough to win.  

What then? The customer experience becomes the real key to differentiate your Brand, and the creation of a new customer journey map the ground to deliver personalized experiences. You need an innovative approach to the mapping of an unstructured journey, or your clients will still be strangers, inanimate figures you do not know anything about.

Luckily, you can still rely on a few basic requirements that have not changed ever since the idea of ‘customer journey map’ was considered for the first time. While the contents and the framework evolves with technology, you will always have to start your planning from these foundational elements:

Buyer Personas + Customers + Emotions + Research + Touch Points + Objectives + Measurement

On the one hand, marketers need to reach the customers when they stand in the early stages of the journey; unfortunately, that is the most obscure moment. The Brands usually know very little about customers' emotional profiles, and the traditional research methodologies does not provide useful data that show what clients were doing and thinking before - let's say - they entered your website or store.

That is exactly why you need a revamped version of the journey mapping. Starting with the following prerequisites.

RETHINK THE JOURNEY

Of course, behind a new mapping there is a new journey. Every single social and technological trend leads to the inevitable reinvention of the customer journey. There is no value in a map that ignores the different sources of interaction brought out by the mobile disruption.

The innovation extends the relationship between companies and people, to embrace the added value for both Brands and customers. Stay eyes wide open and willing to test and learn new means of engagement and fidelization; only then you will earn customer's loyalty and trust.

ENGAGE THE CUSTOMER

The foundational element of the journey is the traveller, of course. And yet, you might be surprised to know how many marketers still design their journey map starting from the company and the products instead of the customers.

Since the whole point here is to improve the relationship between your clients and your business, the only way you can build a map that actually works is to bring the customer's perspective into the process. Describe not the experience that you want to provide (or you think you are providing) but the experience that people expect (and you are actually providing).

UNVEIL THE EMOTIONS

The key is to understand how people take decisions and choose what to buy and how to buy. In a world where the smartphone has become the first screen and the attention span is lower than ever, not all customers are alike, and not all journeys should be considered equal.

People embark on very different journeys, driven by peculiar behaviors and personality traits. Each journey has different touch points that can be influenced by unexpected causes and intents. Individual needs, emotions and expectations lead to very personal behaviors. If you do not study these patterns (i.e. Psychographic profiling), you will not be able to reach the contextualization required to appeal each person. 

CONNECT THE DOTS

Mobile technology reshapes the journey, influencing both the space and time of the interaction. The smartphone reboots the entire experience of communicating, searching for information, and connecting with people and brands. According to Nielsen, half of customers believe that mobile is the most important resource in the purchase decision-making.

Mobile platforms already account for more than 60% of total time spent on digital media. Your strategy should think mobile and act local, combining location and behavior to deliver meaningful contents, wherever your customers are. Connect the dots to get a holistic view of the ecosystem.

UNLOCK THE (SMALL) DATA

While it is still hard to understand what customers think and do in the early stages of their journey, companies can now take advantage of something they did not have before. Something that shuffles the cards on the table: small data.

Connected technologies create a large quantity of information about the customer's path; you only have to find the way to unlock the power hidden into this information. The key is to match the different sources and step from Big to Small data. Always remember that the real value not the information itself but what you do with this knowledge.

"Activating customer journeys to capture value requires journeys to be treated like products that need to be actively managed, measured, and nurtured. How well companies are able to do that will dictate how successful they are in making customer journeys a competitive advantage." (McKinsey)

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Download The 7 Pillars Of The New Customer Loyalty to define the foundations on which to build your engagement and loyalty strategy, create innovative experiences and establish a lasting and valuable relationship with your customers.

The 7 Pillars Of The New Customer Loyalty 

Editor's Note: This post was originally published in October 2015 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy with the latest trends and advancements of digital customer experience.

Topics: Digital Customer Experience Innovation Project Management Branding Big Data Mobile Customer Journey

Connected Health - Technology Shapes The Future of Healthcare

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What do Google Apple and Amazon have in common? They are all betting on the business of the connected health. This new model for healthcare has a tremendous promise and is attracting millions of dollars in investments all over the world.

There is an ambitious goal at stake: the ability to exploit the potential of technology to provide a better service, improve the experience of the patients, and reduce the costs of quality healthcare.

The idea of connecting the new technologies and devices into a unified health platform has its roots in the telemedicine. However, it has gained new momentum in the last few years, with the advancements in connectivity and the spread of mobile devices, lead by the smartphone.

Connected health is a sociotechnical model for healthcare management and delivery by using technology to provide health care services remotely (...) It uses technology - often leveraging readily available consumer technologies - to deliver patient care outside of the hospital or doctor's office.” (Wikipedia)

The new generations of smartphones, filled with sensors that can gather all sorts of data, have changed the personal behaviors of millions of people, fostering a new - more conscious - approach to health (i.e., the need to track all our daily activities and wear trackers).

From a business perspective, the increased mobile penetration has lowered the costs required to enter the market and has opened untapped opportunities for those willing to invest in the new frontier of healthcare. A few innovative startups paved the way, followed closely by the tech giants.

A huge push arrived in 2014 when Apple launched HealthKit, a dynamic platform designed to track and share with authorized stakeholders and apps a vast range of health and fitness data across multiple devices. A platform paired with the popular Health app included in the latest versions of iOS.

The most promising feature of HealthKit is the possibility to automate the recording of medical data from different sources and to interact with the electronic records systems of the hospitals or medical offices. In this way, the patient’s data would be always accurate and automatically included in personal reports.

In spite of all the startups already working on similar projects, Apple’s health platform has claimed most of the attention, and it is not the only one coming from top companies that have expanded their usual field of action.

Microsoft has created an enterprise Health Framework based on Azure; Google is making significant investments in health, wellness, and life sciences with Google Fit, G Suite for Healthcare, but also spin-offs like Calico and Verily.

Last but not least, Amazon is also looking to tap into this market, with a dedicated top secret lab dubbed 1492. The involvement of such names should not be surprising; we are talking about a market that is expected to reach a value of 50 billion dollars globally by 2020 (they will become 105.33 by 2022).

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What seemed a sci-fi dream only twenty years ago, today has become a desirable - and more than achievable - perspective. We are surrounded by technologies which have potential healthcare applications.

Some are still nascent (i.e., nanobots in our blood), but many others are already playing a critical role in our lives (i.e., wearables, home kits like Amazon Echo), or entering clinical settings faster than you might imagine (i.e., the Internet of Things and the virtual reality).

It is evident that the core of the connected health is made of technology, but we are not talking about just tools and devices here. This topic is relevant also from a philosophical, ethical and business point of view.

The new health paradigm implies (and requires) a structural evolution in the organization of public and private healthcare service providers, and will bring to the disruption of the medical experience (in terms of behaviors, relationships, and interactions).

All in all, we are facing yet another revolution of the medical customer experience. This model, in fact, is built around the person: a patient that is conscious, empowered, and more engaged than ever. Connectivity enables genuine patient focus in the most efficient way possible.

We have all become active health players instead of passive receivers of medical cares, the very same logic that inspired Pegaso Fit For Future, the European project aimed at promoting a sustainable change towards healthy lifestyles for teenagers, leveraging technology with a holistic and multidisciplinary approach.

This brand new health ecosystem consolidates information from many different spheres of a person’s existence to give a complete picture that includes genetic, medical, lifestyle, and even sentiment data (the Psychographics influence what we do and how we do it).

This holistic view puts the patient at the center of the healthcare system, disrupting:

  • How medical centers operate (Internet of Things, remote assistance and surgery).
  • How patients control their health (quantified self, home domotics, health apps).
  • How doctors and patients relate (Big and Small data, virtual reality, medical chatbots).

In the next years, and in times of cost cutting measures in the public sector, these trends will have an enormous impact on the quality and timeliness of the treatments.

Yes, there are still substantial obstacles to overcome - regulatory control, data privacy, ethical doubts, adoption practices - but if we win the skepticism and solve the challenges, the future of healthcare will be brighter, and our life longer and healthier.

Photos by Biel Morro and Christopher Campbell on Unsplash

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Topics: Health Internet of Things Digital Customer Experience

What Are The Top Priorities When You Invest In Experience Strategy?

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Customer experience is one of the most used keywords to define what is happening to business in recent years. Today, the DCX is clearly a priority, but you need to understand how to invest in it to prevent it has not a real impact on your strategy.

What are the top priorities when you start investing in the creation of the best possible experience? Tricky question, especially if your objective is to deliver relevant, personalized experiences. One hint? Start with improving the relationship.

Over the last two years, we have repeatedly referred to a series of statistics by Gartner, still valid today: 89 percent of companies expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience, that will eventually overtake price and product as the primary pillar of differentiation between Brands.

By 2018, more than 50 percent of organizations will redirect their investments to customer experience innovations. Where should you start? One thing is sure: doing things the way you have always done them or relying on old marketing practices will not solve a completely new set of problems.

From the very first day Internet entered our houses and smartphone took its place in our hands, the experience has become “the experiences”. Digital technologies multiply the points of contact between a brand and a customer and disrupt the concepts of space and time when it comes to the buying process.

The DCX is the result of all interactions a customer has with your organization and its products or services over a specific period of time. The entirety of these different experiences defines the overall relationship, in terms of intensity, relevance, and duration.

When it comes to planning new investments, the focus is usually on the inside: policies, restrictions, roles, and everything that could put the sticks between the wheels. This is important to highlight some key relationships (i.e. with investors, employees, partners).

We know, however, that - in order to be successful - a marketing strategy must start with the customers, their journeys, and touchpoints. The ability to step into your customer's shoes and adopt a holistic approach to the experience strategy is essential to overcome the limitations of siloed departments.

Yet despite all the customer-centric statements and the alleged obsession for customers, few companies actually have a long-term vision that aligns the planning and management of the experience with a business strategy that connects the various departments into a coherent unity.

In a recent report, Altimeter unveiled this discrepancy between what the Brands think they are doing and what is ultimately perceived by the customer:

Experience is thus not about unicorns, rainbows, or soft fuzzy ideas. Instead, it is about a shared value proposition with customers that aligns to your business. (..) Experience is the mechanism through which your business strategy and brand value proposition are activated with customers.

A successful and relevant experience can happen only “when customer experience strategy focuses on and is measured by the strength and nature of the customer relationship. (...) In the end, you can only satisfy people if you deliver what it is that they want, at the time they want it, understanding what is relevant to them at that particular time and place.

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In digital markets, the most precious resource is time. The smartphone enables new behaviors and unlocks access to a persistent source of information. “That little device is enabling new ways of doing and learning things. It is helping us discover new ideas and new businesses. It is helping us manage our to-dos, tackle our problems, and inspire our plans.” (Google)

Anything can happen anytime, anywhere, and the Micro Moments have become the new battleground. Be There - Be Useful - Be Quick: this is the karma for the new era of customer relationships. If you do not show up, you lose. If you do not deliver contents relevant to the context, you lose. If you are slow and reject the changes, you are wasting resources.

So, now that you are all set and ready to invest in the future of your business, what are the areas you should focus on? We see a few priorities that define the quality of your next generation experience strategy.

CONTEXTUALIZATION

Customer experience defines the success of your organization. To build relationships that are relevant and drive sales, you must understand customers and connect with them on a personal basis. Understanding is the first step of the new marketing funnel, the ground where you build engagement and ongoing customer loyalty.

Today, there is no content without context. And the context implies not only the location or the devices used but also - and especially - the behavioral and emotional peculiarities of each customer. The psychographic profile will tell you everything you need to know to tailor experiences to the emotional preferences of your customers.

PREDICTION

To develop a strategy you always start by understanding where you and your customers already are. Digital technologies generate an enormous amount of data that you can use to extract relevant insights about your Brand and how you preside the touch points of the customer journey.

The Big Data, however, can be overwhelming. They are often too abstract and unrelated to the context. The relations in data are more important than the data itself, so you should adopt a ‘Small Data’ approach and leverage on technologies (i.e. machine learning) to predict the evolution of markets and the results of your investments.

AUTOMATION

The demand for faster responses generates the need for automation. The spread of smart connected machines makes it possible to automate every aspect of your organization, from the internal and productive processes to the relationship with stakeholders, employees, and customers.

The Internet of Things, fueled by the advancements in the Artificial Intelligence, creates a network of smart objects that can communicate without the human intervention. The future of manufacturing (Industry 4.0) and retail lies in the automation, and so does customer support (just think about chatbots, conversational interfaces, and the New Voice of Customer).

Now it is your turn. What are your top priorities? What are the pillars of your customer experience strategy?

Photos byTodd Diemer and Denys Nevozhai on Unsplash

Download The 7 Pillars Of The New Customer Loyalty to define the foundations on which to build your engagement and loyalty strategy, create innovative experiences and establish a lasting and valuable relationship with your customers.

The 7 Pillars Of The New Customer Loyalty

 

Topics: Internet of Things Artificial Intelligence Machine Learning Digital Customer Experience

3 Areas You Should Invest In To Improve Mobile Experiences

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Today, we do not go online. We live online. Even when we do not use the smartphone, it lies there in our pocket, ready to get into action. This simple fact implies the radical change of our behaviors, as human beings and customers.

The customer experience is always also a mobile experience. One would be led to believe that such a revolution has influenced the way businesses operate, yet most of the times it is not so.

Many companies, in fact, still lack the vision needed to embark on the journey of the digital transformation properly. All too often mobile is seen as an afterthought rather than the cornerstone of the customer experience.

This approach is common to those organizations that are accustomed to conducting the “business as usual” and not for the future, to quote Brian Solis. They walk through the fog without landmarks on the horizon.

When you choose not to evolve, you think you can still market your products and Brand the way you used to. The truth is they cannot survive for long if they keep thinking and acting this way. Something disruptive happened along the way. The mobile disruption happened.

The traditional business patterns inevitably lead to a disconnected and inconsistent experience across the customer journey. You will end up showing different identities online and offline, making the relationship with your Brand a nightmare for customers.

What happens on your digital properties should have the same level of priority with respect to what happens elsewhere (namely, in your physical store). And yet, the mobile experience is still too overlooked.

In a recent data collection report published on Think With Google, a few stats brilliantly sum up this contradiction:

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A negative experience on mobile can alienate the customer preference. What does it mean for your business? First of all, that the entire process of customer experience management should have a common direction, whether it is digital, smartphone, point of sale, social media.

It is less important for a shopper to be present in-store than for the store to be present wherever and whenever a shopper needs them.” (Google)

Google is right at the center of this mobile revolution. Everything started with the definition of the Micro Moments, driven by a specific intent, that can shape the decisions and preferences of customers.

The evidence that the most relevant Micro Moments today happen on mobile devices has then brought Google to change its core business, the search engine, in three steps:

  • The mobile-friendly algorithm, that has caused panic and forced thousands of companies to run for cover and adapt their presence online in the name of a smooth mobile experience.
  • The AMPs (Accelerated Mobile Pages), that have started the process of separating the desktop and mobile experiences, inducing marketers to invest - time and money - in properly formatted mobile contents.
  • The mobile search index, the inevitable consequence of the new philosophy. The Internet is definitively divided into two separated experiences, with the mobile index destined to become the primary reference for Brands and customers.

Now you know that you have to embrace the winds of change, but where and how? According to Google, there are three areas you should invest in to improve mobile experiences.

HELP ME FASTER

Today, the scarcest resource is not money, it is time. The attention span of your customer is quite low, and your competitors are ready to fill any opportunity you leave unattended.

Thanks to the smartphone, we can take informed decisions faster than ever, and so customers shift their thinking from “Who does it best?” to “Who does it best, now?”.

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Your speed is essential at any stage of the customer journey.

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KNOW ME BETTER

You will never be able to engage customers and earn their trust and loyalty if you do not understand them in the first place. Knowledge is power, and you have all the data you need to accomplish this hard task.

Understanding your customers means not only mapping their journey and behaviors. It means also using the small data to define their peculiar emotional and psychological traits (Psychographics).

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WOW ME EVERYWHERE

Customers expect a consistent experience every time they interact with your Brand. Consistency is one of the key pillars of the customer engagement and becomes even more critical in times of mobile disruption.

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If you see the word ‘experience’ come out very often it is because the difference in the digital markets is not a matter of quality or price. You are no longer competing with other companies in your industry. You are competing with the best experiences your customer has ever had.

Photo by Adrian Sava on Unsplash

Download The 7 Pillars Of The New Customer Loyalty to define the foundations on which to build your engagement and loyalty strategy, create innovative experiences and establish a lasting and valuable relationship with your customers.

The 7 Pillars Of The New Customer Loyalty

Topics: Mobile Digital Customer Experience Customer Journey

5 Books Every Digital Marketer Should Read This Summer

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Once you stop learning, you start dying.” This famous quote by Albert Einstein is still relevant to understand a major truth of the digital era: the only thing that is constant is change, and so you should never stop learning if you want to stay relevant.  

Of course, this applies both to companies and individuals. Inspiration is all around us and it will empower you to gain competitive advantage, if you can get out of the comfort zone. What better way to improve than by reading a smart book?

The American political journalist P.J. O’Rourke once said that you should “Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.” What’s not to love about this sentence? Learning is such a critical process that we have chosen it as one of the steps in The DCX 7-Steps Checklist, a guide that’ll help you build an amazing customer experience.

The problem with reading, today, is that we are all caught in a fast-paced world with a short attention span. Too many things happen around us, so many sources to check and so little time to do it. We are quite lucky, though, because someone else has done the hard work for us. Authors that have tackled the challenge to help digital leaders to keep up with the evolution of marketing and technology.

The more provoking is the book you read, the more you will be forced out of your comfort zone. Once you question your beliefs and layered knowledge, then you are ready to move forward. It is not just theory: In the era of the digital transformation you can’t hack your growth if you still rely on the old-fashioned way to do things.

You need innovative approaches to old questions. How can I grow my business? How can I overcome the challenges of the digital transformation? How can I engage and monetize my digital customers? How can I convert random customers into loyal brand advocates?

If you are looking for an answer to these - and many more - business problems, you might find useful insights through the pages of these five books every digital marketer should read.

EVERYBODY LIES, BY SETH STEPHENS-DAVIDOWITZ

Part technology research part psychological study, this book offers an illuminating look at what the Internet can tell us about who we really are. Everyday we create a vast amounts of information with our web searches, and all thiese data reveal truths about ourselves and our world that we did not even imagine. 

What percentage of white voters did not vote for Barack Obama because he is black? Do violent films affect the crime rate? How regularly do we lie about our sex lives? The answers to these - and many more - questions are hidden behind what we type on Google in the safety of our room. 

HARNESSING OUR DIGITAL FUTURE, BY ANDREW MCAFEE

Co-written with Erik Brynjolfsson, "Machine, Platform, Crowd: Harnessing Our Digital Future" is one of the most exciting books of 2017 so far. This is a must-read analysis of the effects of the digital disruption, a guide for the digital leaders, marketers and CEOs who truly want to understand the power of exponential. 

To survive the big wave of digital shifts, in fact, "we must rethink the integration of minds and machines, of products and platforms, and of the core and the crowd. In all three cases, the balance now favors the second element of the pair, with massive implications for how we run our companies and live our lives."

PRE-SUASION, BY ROBERT CIALDINI

Robert Cialdini is the renowned author of Influence, a bestseller dated 1984. At the end of 2016 we have finally seen the long-awaited sequel, titled Pre-Suasion. This book is destined to become even more relevant than Influence because it comes out in a era when marketing and psychology are more intertwined than ever. 

What separates effective communicators from truly successful persuaders? Using a rigorous scientific approach, Cialdini "shines a light on effective persuasion and reveals that the secret doesn’t lie in the message itself, but in the key moment before that message is delivered."

HOOKED, BY NIR EYAL

We always emphasize the importance of a well planned, meaningful customer experience on the road to business success. But there is a plain fact that none can ignore: If people don't like the product you sell, your strategy is more than likely doomed. So, how can you develop and market a product or service that customers will love?

Nir Eyal tries to find an answer in his book "Hooked: How To Build Habit-Forming Products". Want to be the next sensation? Try with the Hook Model, "a four-step process embedded into the products of many successful companies to subtly encourage customer behavior.

ORIGINALS, BY ADAM GRANT

"Originals - How Non-Conformists Move The World" is yet another brilliant take on how we can generate new ideas, improving the world in the process. Sharing powerful and surprising business stories, Adam Grant offers groundbreaking insights about rejecting conformity and improving the status quo.

The book "explores how to recognize a good idea, speak up without getting silenced, build a coalition of allies, choose the right time to act, and manage fear and doubt; how parents and teachers can nurture originality in children; and how leaders can build cultures that welcome dissent."

Photo by Aziz Acharki on Unsplash

If you need more food for thought during your Summer vacations, you can also download The Mobile Engagement Playbook, a collection of relevant insights that'll help you to overcome the challenges of the digital transformation and grow your business exponentially.

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Topics: Content Marketing Mobile Digital Customer Experience Innovation