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Do You Hate the New Instagram Update? You’re Not Alone

Why Has Instagram Made All of These Changes?

The short answer is: TikTok. Earlier this year, Meta (formally Facebook) announced that users are spending less time on its platforms and that they expect revenue growth to slow. This caused Meta’s stocks to drop 26%, resulting in a loss of  $232 billion. Meta chief, Mark Zuckerberg, said on the company’s call with investors in February, “People have a lot of choices for how they want to spend their time, and apps like TikTok are growing very quickly. And this is why our focus on Reels is so important over the long term.”


TikTok has done a great job engaging younger audiences with short-form videos and increasing their time spent on the app. This has been made possible with TikTok’s unique algorithm, which learns how each individual uses the platform and feeds them content accordingly. The more time you spend on the app, the more the app will understand which videos to show you. Cue the Instagram changes. At a high level, both platforms are serving video content to users based on their behaviors. So why is Instagram drawing backlash from users for taking a page from TikTok’s playbook? It’s all about the value proposition each offers for users. TikTok was designed as a video-centric platform, so recommending exclusively video content based on user behavior is consistent with what users expect from the platform. By contrast, Instagram started as a photo sharing platform allowing users to connect with friends and family through sharing images. By not just introducing video, but prioritizing video (including video from accounts users don’t follow) over photos from accounts users follow, Instagram’s changes undermine the value proposition for many of their users.

What Does This Mean for Paid Media?

While the changes to Instagram have been on the organic side of the platform, they could have a chilling effect on users that impacts paid advertising on the platform. If users decide to leave Instagram over the changes the platform is making, this could dramatically decrease the reach of advertisers. Additionally, if advertisers want to be effective on Instagram, they would need to modify their ad content to keep up with the changes Instagram is making. Video has proven to be a priority for Instagram, specifically videos made to fit into Reels, so advertisers would need to make ads tailored to Reels if they want to remain effective. Not only would videos need to be reformatted for a vertical  9:16 ratio but they would need to capture attention quickly which might mean using trending audio, a trending dance, or a trending challenge.


Lastly, if Instagram does in fact become more and more like TikTok, advertisers may need to shift their advertising strategy within Instagram. Users have been drawn to TikTok because they can sit on the app and scroll for hours while being entertained by video. While TikTok successfully launched ads in early 2019, the ads have shown to be great for brand awareness. A study by MediaScience® showed that TikTok ads drive strong brand recall and positive sentiment across various view durations. Brand awareness is great, but Instagram has done a  great job at driving direct conversions. If Instagram continues down this path to be similar to TikTok, ads on Instagram may not perform as well as they used to in the past in terms of CVR or ROAS. This is most likely because users are not as likely to click on an ad and make a purchase while they’re being entertained by videos, similar to YouTube, another platform great for awareness, but not as great for direct conversions.

What Should Advertisers Do?

Instagram is still an important platform to advertise on so advertisers must be prepared to adapt if they want their media dollars to be impactful on this channel. Instagram is a well-established, highly effective platform that reaches 1 billion users monthly, whereas TikTok reaches 689 million monthly users by comparison, and 72% of Instagram users cite that they have purchased a product they’ve seen on Instagram. Being able to leverage Instagram alongside TikTok is the key to success. This will help ensure a wide reach among advertisers’ target audiences and exposure on a platform with proven results.


To continue success on Instagram advertisers need to stay up to date with the changes that Instagram is making and the overall trends with social media channels. This is a great time to start creating videos specifically for Instagram Reels and testing them in Reels-only campaigns. While Instagram has delayed some of the rollouts they had planned due to the backlash, it isn’t likely that they will stop pushing Reels. Advertisers need to get ahead of the curve and shift their strategy to align with Instagram’s shifting strategy. It’s in the best interest of advertisers to align their social media ad content with Instagram’s ambition to push Reels as they try to stay competitive with TikTok. Pro Tip: most trends find their way on both platforms.
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What’s the Big Deal with Consumer Data Privacy?

Data has become the fuel that fires successful business strategy. From achieving a 360-degree view of your customer to drive a stronger customer experience to moving beyond measuring marketing program performance to predicting consumer behavior in response to marketing stimuli, a strong data strategy makes it possible. As powerful as the relationship between organizations and their data can be, this has become secondary to the relationship between consumers and their personal data.

 

In the last few years, concerns about consumer data privacy have dominated conversations about how data is collected and used by businesses. With Europe leading the United States in terms of the stringency of consumer data privacy legislation around the collection and use of consumer data, US-based companies, marketers, advertising partners, and data brokers have been watching from a relative distance as those serving global audiences have grappled with the impact of European data privacy laws and, in some cases, suffered from fines and even bans for missing the mark. 

 

For those serving the US market, Google’s 2020 announcement that they would phase out support for third party cookies signaled that broad reaching changes to consumer data privacy were coming stateside. Two years later, marketers and publishers have found ways to navigate a world where consumers have significantly more control over their data. With Google announcing that they will no longer collect data in Universal Analytics properties starting July 1, 2023—a move that will provide a more holistic view of the consumer journey while also adapting to new consumer data privacy legislation—many companies are scrambling to plan for that change to avoid potential data loss. With Google Analytics serving as the primary web analytics platform for an estimated 86% of websites, the impact is far-reaching.

 

So what should companies be doing, both in the near term and the long term, to set themselves up for success in an increasingly data privacy-focused world? We’ve got recommendations to help you make the right moves now to protect data integrity and continuity in the face of forced migration away from Universal Analytics and to evolve your data privacy strategy for the long run. But long-term success requires a big picture view of where the world is headed when it comes to consumer data privacy. That begins with understanding how we got here in the first place.

The Evolution of Consumer Data Privacy Legislation

In 1950, the European Convention on Human Rights put a legislative stake in the ground on privacy, stating that “Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.” With the invention of the Internet and the proliferation of global technologies that completely changed what “correspondence” could look like, the European Union had to adapt and they implemented the European Data Protection Directive in 1995, which set minimum standards for consumer data privacy and security.

 

In 2012, the European Commission introduced the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) with the primary aim of giving individuals control over their personal data and to simplify regulations within the EU. The GDPR became enforceable in 2018 and established a model for many national data privacy laws in countries such as Chile, Japan, Brazil, South Korea, Argentina, and Kenya. As of today, the United States government has no single consumer data privacy law similar to the GDPR. Instead, the U.S. takes a ‘sectoral’ approach, which relies on a combination of legislation, regulation, and self-regulation rather than government regulation alone.

 

While the GDPR was taking shape in Europe, the state of California introduced the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). This state statute enhances consumer data privacy rights and consumer protection for California residents. When the CCPA passed in 2018, many companies and industry groups came out in favor of passing a federal consumer data privacy law. Now, California has gone a step further, introducing the California Privacy Right Act (AKA CA Prop 24). The CPRA imposes new requirements for businesses to protect personal information, including minimizing data collection, limiting data retention and protecting data security.

Why is Data Privacy and Security Strategy Important to Google?

As companies serving European audiences have begun adapting to more stringent consumer data privacy regulations, the degree to which US-based data platforms comply with those regulations hasn’t been cut and dry, with contradictions in policy complicating the issue. For example, a 2020 judgment from the Court of Justice of the European Union invalidated the EU-US Privacy Shield, a legal framework designed to allow enterprises in both the US and the EU to exchange personal data for commercial use. Because the US surveillance laws like the CLOUD Act require data disclosure from US-based companies when requested by the government, the EU-US Privacy Shield was ruled to provide inadequate protection to comply with GDPR requirements. This left a lot of companies and data platforms, Google being the largest, scrambling to address compliance gaps. That’s where GA4 comes in.

 

For the majority of US-based companies, migration to GA4, the fourth iteration of Google Analytics released by the company in 2020, is a likely part of the near-term strategy for complying with consumer data privacy legislation. Google released additional privacy controls in April of 2022 to further shore up the platform’s compliance with GDPR. Then they upped the ante for all companies using Google Analytics, whether they serve international audiences or not, by announcing that data collection via Universal Analytics, the predecessor to GA4, would stop July 1, 2023. While migration to GA4 or some other data platform is a pressing concern for most digital marketers and technology teams (and if you’re in that boat, we can help you with your GA4 migration), this is also an opportunity for both to come together to craft long-term, big-picture strategies focused on the very human emotion behind these technical shifts in data handling: the desire for trust.

What Does Consumer Data Privacy Mean for Your Data Strategy?

Experience defines how people feel about your brand and your business. Trust is built when brands and businesses consistently create experiences that deliver value to the people who interact with them while making them feel safe. Rather than focusing on the short-term proposition of choosing a new data platform, companies will be better served by focusing on long-term strategies for capturing, storing, and utilizing first-party data. Not only will this better equip marketers to navigate consumer data privacy regulations restricting third-party tracking capabilities, but it will create more valuable experiences for consumers, earning their trust and increasing the likelihood that they’ll willingly share their data based on the expectation of receiving value from that exchange. Here are some big-picture considerations for your long-term strategy for data privacy:

Prioritizing Data Ownership

Companies whose data privacy strategies prioritize data ownership will be better positioned to succeed as access to second- and third-party data becomes more limited. Customer databases and CRMs can be treasure troves of first-party data companies already have access to and can begin leveraging. Creating and gating high-value content or using other incentive-based strategies can be an effective way to convert zero-party data while offering consumers something of value. Investment in your data insights infrastructures is also critical for enabling a strategy for data privacy that also makes the most effective use of owned data to inform marketing strategy and drive performance..

Investing in Deep Knowledge of the Customer

Intimate knowledge of the customer has always been a foundational part of an effective marketing strategy. As shifts in the consumer data privacy landscape are leading the targeting capabilities available on third-party marketing platforms to become less precise, depth of knowledge of the customer will increasingly become a competitive advantage. The companies that know their customers best, from knowing and documenting their demographic and socioemotional characteristics in persona profiles to understanding how they verbalize their needs and pain points through search, to mapping their thoughts and behaviors throughout the customer journey, will be able to mitigate the impact that ongoing changes in the consumer data privacy landscape might have on their business.

Resisting Overreliance on Low-funnel Tactics

When it comes to marketing strategy in general and paid media strategy in particular, many companies are over-indexed in low-funnel investment. Given their proximity to the point of conversion, it’s easier for companies to draw a direct line from investment in these tactics to tangible returns. The truth is, that’s always been short lived in its effectiveness. Without investing in activity that feeds the funnel by introducing unaware audiences to your brand, the volume of those who make it to the bottom will dwindle over time. As new consumer data privacy regulations change the way success is defined and performance is measured, building the kinds of consumer relationships that drive long-term growth will take on renewed importance. Implementing full-funnel marketing strategies with content that attracts and engages customers throughout the customer journey rather than an overreliance on low-funnel paid media tactics will help companies maximize audience reach and create momentum throughout the funnel.

Moving Beyond a One-size-fits-all Customer Experience

According to a BCG and Google joint survey on consumer privacy and preferences, consumers are interested in the benefits that come from marketers’ ability to deliver a data-informed experience, like personalized content and increased content relevance. But consumer willingness to provide the data needed to create those benefits vary greatly by segment based on the kind of data being sought and consumers’ perceptions about how it will be used. Rewards programs, loyalty points, discounts, VIP programs, and content gating can help companies create the kind of value that consumers want to see in exchange for their data. But the research indicates that a one-size-fits-all approach won’t be effective. Companies that invest in understanding their audiences, segmenting them effectively, and creating segment-specific experiences will be better equipped to create value and inspire trust among their customers.

What Is Your Strategy for Data Privacy, Now and in the Future?

The kinds of monumental shifts we’re seeing driven by an evolving consumer data privacy regulation landscape present an opportunity for forward-thinking brands to advance businesses. While ensuring you have an effective, compliant data platform implemented in time to avoid data loss as Google sunsets Universal Analytics is a critical immediate move, this is a great time to explore your overall strategy for data privacy and measurement along the journey of your customers or users. And if you aren’t clear on the current or ideal journey to drive acquisition, engagement, and loyalty, now is the time to prioritize that discovery work. All to say, this is an opportunity not just to migrate today, but to position your company to advance and transform for tomorrow. If you’re looking for immediate GA4 migration support or you’re interested in transforming your CX to be more consumer-centric and first-party data-driven, contact us today.

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GA4 Implementation Strategies and Solutions: 5 Key Questions to Prepare You for Migration

Many companies rely on Google Analytics to support their data strategies. In fact, with an estimated 86% of websites using Google Analytics as their primary web analytics platform, Google is squarely the market leader in the web analytics space. The current version of Google Analytics (GA), officially called Universal Analytics (UA), was launched in 2012. Since then it has seen many updates and evolutions, but Google is officially deprecating the tool in 2023, and GA4 will be the only analytics platform available from Google. This is not just Google officially ending support for UA, but disabling data collection through the platform altogether, leaving any organization using UA without an active analytics platform. While Google Analytics is just one component of the data strategy framework (this article lays out broader data privacy considerations and insights relevant to data strategy), it’s a critical one. The deprecation of Universal Analytics will have tactical and strategic impacts for companies that rely on the platform and now is the time to ensure you have the support you need for a successful GA4 implementation.

 

The standard implementations of Universal Analytics will stop receiving new data on July 1, 2023 and the premium Google Analytics 360 implementations of UA will stop receiving new data on October 1, 2023. This may seem far in the future, but avoiding data gaps through this transition requires parallel implementation of GA4 alongside UA before data collection through the latter stops. Companies using Universal Analytics that delay their GA4 implementation could experience significant negative impact to their data strategy, such as the loss of YOY reporting during the time between July 1, 2022 and June 30, 2023 in which data was not being collected in GA4.

 

Beyond the need to ensure data continuity, migrating to GA4 can unlock some new features and capabilities not previously available in Universal Analytics. But because there are quite a few differences between the new and legacy platforms, the sooner brands familiarize themselves with GA4, the more prepared they’ll be to make the most of what it can do. If you’re preparing to make the move to GA4, here are answers to 5 big questions that will help you make a smooth transition and set your data strategy up for success.

1. GA4 vs. Universal Analytics: What’s the Difference?

GA4 is designed to reflect the changes in consumer behavior that have happened over the past decade. Consumers are using multiple devices constantly, and data collection methodologies need to allow for collection of data from multiple devices. Additionally, with ongoing changes to data privacy regulations, new approaches will be needed to define and measure success. Here are some of the advantages that GA4 offers when it comes to data collection and analysis:

New Features in GA4

Improved cross-device tracking

Universal Analytics was mostly constrained to using device ID to identify users, with user ID functionality limited to only a few reports. GA4 uses a combination of device ID, user ID, and Google signals to identify users across devices, allowing for more accurate digital analytics and customer journey analysis during an ever changing cross-device, cookie-less landscape.

Enhanced machine learning and automation

In response to the growing concerns around data privacy, GA4 will utilize enhanced machine learning and automation to help compensate for the absence of signals advertisers have historically relied on. Additionally, these enhancements will help advertisers predict future behavior of their consumers so that advertisers can better forecast metrics like purchase probability and predicted revenue. 

Advanced exploration reports

Another big difference between Universal Analytics and GA4 is how reporting is done. UA has many standard reports, but lacks flexibility when it comes to customized reporting. GA4 has fewer standard reports, but the reporting suite has enabled much greater ability to build custom reports. For example, the current UA reports are limited to two dimensions (e.g. Page and Channel), but GA4 reporting allows for as many dimensions as needed. With the greater ability to add segments, dimensions, and metrics, users can perform deeper analysis, such as looking at conversion funnels or cohort analysis. These custom reports will also minimize the need for GA data export and the use of external data processing programs to run pivots or perform other analysis.

BigQuery export

Previously only available for 360 customers, BigQuery export functionality is available to all GA4 properties. This allows you to download and store raw GA4 data so you can join and enrich your GA data with other marketing/CRM/business data, report in your visualization tool of choice, and take advantage of many other advanced analysis opportunities.

2. What happens to the data I have collected through Universal Analytics

Once the deprecation happens, the data in Universal Analytics will become read only for at least six months. Google has not officially published an exact end date for data access at the time of this article’s writing. However, the data will be available to export into a database tool such as BigQuery. Creating a data backup is a recommended step as it will enable data harmonization with new data collected through GA4 as well as other data sources.

3. When is the Best Time for GA4 Migration?

The time to plan your GA4 implementation is now. GA4 is currently available and while more features are planned for the future, many are already available for use. Additionally, there are aspects to all GA4 implementations that were previously only available to users of Universal Analytics 360, Google’s premium analytics platform. Getting experience with these new features will help current users of the free UA platform explore the full range of possibilities of GA4.

 

That said, setting up GA4 is not as simple as flipping a switch. There is a learning curve to the implementation that will require an appropriate investment of time. Once the initial implementation is complete, QA will be required to see how data aligns with what is currently being gathered. The sooner your GA4 implementation is completed, the more time you’ll have for that QA. Once that QA is complete, any commonly used reports or data visualizations will need to be updated.

 

For a more granular view of the steps you need to take to successfully migrate, check out our GA4 Implementation Checklist below.

4. How Do I Prepare for GA4 Implementation?

From a broader perspective, this is an opportunity to evaluate what conversions are being tracked and whether they align with the current state of your business. A thorough audit of your current Google Analytics implementation, discussions with key stakeholders, and review of existing reports will enable a clean implementation of GA4 that will provide the exact data and insights needed. All of this work will take time, and the sooner implementation occurs, the longer the period of adjustment and refinement will be.

Whether you’re tackling GA4 implementation on your own or request support from Tallwave, there are a few key steps that will help you prepare for and execute a smooth transition to GA4:

  • Audit Your Current Google Analytics Implementation: Conducting a thorough assessment of your existing Google Analytics implementation and Google Tag Manager configurations will help you prepare a mapping strategy to transition your existing UA tags to an improved GA4 setup.
  • Build Your Tracking Implementation: Creating a comprehensive implementation guide that documents in detail the UA-to-GA4 mapping strategy and key configurations for GA4 will help ensure that your new GA4 property is configured properly, including setting up key property settings (Google Ads linking, Google Signals enablement, attribution settings, etc), Google Tag Manager configuration, and event and conversion tracking.
  • Conduct a Thorough QA: Carefully validating your new GA4 implementation against your existing UA implementation will allow you to quickly identify and resolve any major discrepancies and uncover any unanticipated differences based on GA4’s revised event-based data model.

Need GA4 Solutions? Tallwave Has Answers

While change is never easy, it is in this case necessary. The good news is that there’s still time to take the necessary steps to make this a smooth transition. Use this time to reflect on what data you need to make the best decisions for the success of your digital marketing. GA4 has many features ready and in the pipeline that will provide much deeper insights and understanding of what is driving success. With proper planning (and the right partner) this can be a net positive change. If you need support for your GA4 implementation, contact us today.

Want the GA4 Implementation Checklist? Download our full insights.

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Data Driven Insights into the Evolving Customer Experience

Data-Driven Insights into the Evolving Customer Experience

Pre & Post-Pandemic
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The world as we know it has changed forever. Or has it?

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The effects of COVID-19 were immediate and felt by every industry and business across the globe. Customer behaviors and expectations changed overnight as fear and anxiety swept through communities, resulting in pandemic trepidation. Some businesses struggled to restock products that were flying off shelves, while others were directed to lock their doors and go home. 

 

Events and experiences of all types – especially traumatic ones – shape customer behavior, expectations, and needs. Since the initial onset of COVID-19, analysts and forecasters predicted that buyers’ behaviors would change for good, and businesses would permanently change – pivoting from prioritizing convenience and cost to safety and wellbeing. Following suit, automotive brands began reimagining how they could incorporate mask holders and anti-microbial features into vehicles. Brick & mortars started redesigning spatial layouts and offering curbside experiences.

But instead of latching onto a single line of thinking and blindly following the suggested “new normal” best practices for our clients and their customers, we took pause. How do you validate where you really want your business and the experiences you craft to go? Is incorporating health and safety precautions more important than overburdening the customer? Do you continue to invest in something without first confirming it’s what customers really want? 

 

Best practices are guidelines to be referenced, not hard and fast rules. In fact, innovators and market leaders who want to implement experiences of tomorrow shouldn’t be followers. Curiosity and critical thinking should lead the way. Uncovering pockets of opportunity that can change market strategies and transform experiences should be the goal. 

 

That’s why we gathered insights to facilitate a different type of conversation. Is safety indeed the number one priority for customers across demographics and customer groups moving into a post-pandemic world? Or will businesses see digital experiences abandoned and customers eagerly flooding their physical stores? 

 

We have to admit, the results of our research surprised us. And they might surprise you, too. 

About the
survey

The Data-Driven Insights Into Evolving Customer Experience Report relied on quantitative research, surveying 1,010 individuals ages 24-65+ from across the U.S. through the Harmon Research consumer panel. Respondents were asked a series of questions in order to understand changing customer behaviors, perceptions, and needs before, during, and after COVID-19.

 

The online quantitative survey was conducted in April 2021. Some of those surveyed work from home, while others work in an office. Income levels varied, as well.

1,010

Individuals surveyed from across the U.S.

24-65+

The average age of individuals surveyed about their COVID-19 experience

Key Highlights

Customer behavior changed as a result of the pandemic, but not as starkly as we initially believed it would. While respondents willingly tried several new customer experiences during COVID-19, they also yearn to return to in-person experiences that were the norm in 2019.

Convenience Is Still King

Convenience is still King when it comes to developing experiences that meet customer expectations and needs. Despite many brands focusing on health and safety, survey respondents clearly identified convenience as their top expectation and need. Safety came in second with all age brackets, with the exception of Gen Z.

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Digital Experiences Increase Customer Sentiment

Majority of respondents who used digital experience provided by businesses during COVID-19 reported a more favorable impression of the business, proving that flexibility to choose their own “adventure” is essential for the post-COVID customer.

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Hybrid Experiences Are More Important Than Ever

More than half of respondents said they want to return to in-person experiences once COVID-19 is over. This highlights a need for brick & mortars to connect in-person with digital experiences in stores to offer one cohesive, seamless experience that empowers customer engagement, value realization,  and increased brand affinity.

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Digital Experiences Aren’t Universally Accessible… Yet

Interest in accessing experiences that are solely digital decreases with age – typically dropping off starting with the 45-54 age demographic. Sixty-six percent of respondents 55 and older reported no desire to continue any type of digital experience post-COVID-19. This highlights a growing need to personalize experiences and provide education by persona groups and digital literacy in order to drive greater adoption and long-term engagement. 

Convenience Is Still King

Convenience is still King when it comes to developing experiences that meet consumer expectations and needs. Despite many brands focusing on health and safety, survey respondents clearly identified convenience as their top expectation/need. Safety came in second with all age brackets except Generation Z.

key-highlights-convenience

Digital Experiences Increase Customer Sentiment

Majority of respondents who used digital experience provided by businesses during COVID reported a somewhat or much more positive impression about the company providing it, proving that allowing consumers options to choose their own “adventure” based on their preferences and time restraints is essential for the post-COVID consumer.

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Offline Hybrid Experiences Are More Important Than Ever

More than half of respondents said they want to return to doing everything in-person once COVID is over, which highlights a need to bring digital transformation efforts into storefronts to connect the experiences and offer one cohesive, seamless experience that empowers customer engagement, value realization and increased brand affinity.

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Digital Experiences Aren’t Universally Accessible… Yet

Interest in accessing experiences exclusively digitally decreases with age, typically dropping off starting with the 45-54 age demographic. 66% of respondents 55 and over reported no desire to continue any type of digital experience in a post-COVID world. This highlights a growing need to both personalize experiences and provide education by persona groups and digital literacy to drive greater adoption and long-term engagement. 

How does this impact the future of your industry?

How should your business continue driving and investing in digital transformations as customers leave their homes and embrace the COVID-19 reentry phase? Download our industry insights below to use while crafting a holistic plan. 

Healthcare
Use of telehealth saw some of the greatest increases compared to other digital customer experiences, with 63% of respondents saying they used telehealth medical visits over the last year, and 59% using them more than before the pandemic. The demographic that reportedly used telehealth services more during COVID-19 versus before fell between the ages 24-36, closely followed by respondents ages 37-54. Our survey results illuminated a sharp decrease in telehealth adoption during COVID for those 55+. This highlights potential barriers for patient groups who are less digital literate.
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Insurance and Finance
Mobile banking saw huge use and adoption during the pandemic, with 85% of respondents confirming the use of mobile banking during the past year, and 46% of respondents saying they used it more than before the pandemic. However, only 24% say they plan to use mobile banking technologies and services once COVID-19 ends. Respondents between the ages of 24-44 engaged with mobile banking & insurance services almost twice as much as those 65+. Without improved education and/or removing digital literacy barriers, these digital experiences will likely only be embraced by Generation Z and millennial post-pandemic customers.
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Retail
Grocery stores and delivery services successfully attracted new customers across all age brackets, with those 55+ being primary users during the pandemic, due to safety concerns; however, only 31% of people who tried grocery delivery services plan to use them once COVID-19 ends, illuminating potential barriers and friction points to be addressed to ensure continual digital adoption. Convenience was cited as the top benefit for all digital retail experiences, including BOPIS, DTC, online shopping, and subscription models.
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Education
44% of respondents said they participated in virtual educational classes or courses during the past year. On average, of those who participated, 49% said they engaged with e-learning more than before. An increase of virtual education was greatest for those between the ages of 37-44 (62% of respondents who reportedly engaged with e-learning did so more than before COVID), followed by age groups 24-30 (52%), 45-54 (52%), and 31-36 (50%). 42% of respondents 55+ reportedly use e-learning more during the pandemic than before. At least a fourth of all respondents plan to continue e-learning courses in the post-COVID world.
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Want more industry insights? Download our full report.

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“Experiences are what draw customers into a brand and keep them hooked over time.  It’s the strongest differentiator and next competitive frontier for brands.  Markets are disrupted and new markets are created when a new entrant is able to take CONTROL of the experience.  Making an investment into your experience today will enable you to control the experiences of the future.”

Jesus Ramirez

Vice President of Strategy & Innovation

The 5 Pillars of Future CX Design

So, our survey results ended up challenging predictions made by larger organizations in 2020 and even early 2021. But the fundamentals for crafting and driving excellent customer experiences are only reinforced by the survey results. Business leaders and changemakers dedicated to prioritizing, strategizing, and implementing new experiences for the post-COVID customer should keep five things in mind as we progress further into the pandemic’s reentry phase:

01

Digitize the Traditional

Because of COVID-19, customers have become a lot more familiar with and accepting of digital experiences. This provides organizations and companies with opportunities to improve and streamline the overall experience for employees and customers by digitizing what was traditionally done in person.

02

Lean Into Personalization

Personalization is now a key factor in driving customer loyalty. Providing individualized attention helps remove digital barriers and build emotional bonds with customers by giving them the control back and making them feel understood and valued.

03

Provide Curated Education

Many companies and organizations across industries struggle with customer retention and engagement, which prevents customers from realizing the full value of their services or offerings. By improving educational offerings (personalized to meet the needs of different customer groups) and increasing learning opportunities through omnichannel marketing, brands can help customers discover, navigate, adopt, and engage with services, products, and/or offerings faster and for longer periods of time.

04

Bring Your Digital Transformation In-Store

As our research suggests, people are ready to return to in-person experiences. But that doesn’t mean companies and organizations should halt digital transformation. Instead, it’s important to bridge in-person and digital experiences by implementing digital transformation strategies into the physical spaces to create cohesive brand experiences, rather than differentiated ones.

05

Rely on Data to Continually Iterate & Improve CX

Data is the key to unlocking cross-functional alignment, agile decision-making, and unstoppable momentum when it comes to customer experience design. By ingesting, aggregating, and analyzing first, second, and third-party data, companies and organizations can better target, personalize, and customize content to satisfy ever-evolving customer needs.

This graph represents the percentage of respondents who utilized specific digital experiences more during the pandemic than they did before.

Final Takeaways

Despite living through a viral pandemic for the past year, what customers still value most in their experiences is convenience. Whether in-person or digital, the customer experience must be easy, pleasant, and frictionless, with value being delivered and realized in a short amount of time. Affinity for supporting local businesses and avoiding human interaction will no longer drive purchasing behaviors for the post-COVID customer, according to our survey results.  

Safety, though, does have its place. In fact, survey respondents voted safety the second most important factor for customer experiences in most age brackets (excluding Gen Z). This new information calls for businesses to shift their thinking and look through a new, slightly different lens – one in which experiences are designed with convenience as King, and safety, security, and certainty as “new normal” best practices.

41%

of respondents reported convenience as the primary benefit of using digital experiences during COVID-19

Price and cost savings still played a factor, averaging 20% of respondents’ primary vote. Older customers were more likely than younger to choose “safer”as a primary benefit.

Our survey respondents also showed significantly more enthusiasm and affinity towards in-person experiences than we expected. Many anticipated that – after a year of digital-everything – customers would covet the internet for making their lives and daily routines easier. Businesses across industries were forced to speed up digital transformations by five years (simply to remain relevant and stay afloat), and because of customer adoption and preference to digital-first, it was expected that the trend would continue. 

 

But it seems everyone is tech fatigued. While some survey respondents said they plan to continue with digital experiences (grocery shopping delivery ranked higher on that list), 10% said they plan to go back to doing everything in-person once the pandemic ends. Only time will tell whether that desire for in-person activities will persist. Running errands and dealing with customer service lines can lose their appeal pretty quickly.

50%

of survey respondents reported at least one experience they won’t return to in person after the pandemic is over. In-person banking is the experience they are most likely to avoid.

As we saw earlier, 85% reported using mobile banking during the pandemic, and close to half of those said they used it more than before the pandemic. However, on the flip side, it’s important to note that half of respondents said they want to return to doing everything in person, post-COVID.

So, as people venture out of their homes and in-person business bounces back, should the digital-first transformation be put on pause? No. Many companies may do that. They may be forced to, so that they can recoup some of what they lost, but for others, it’s an opportunity to become leaders and pioneers in delivering exceptional hybrid experiences. Because one day soon, there will be no differentiated experiences. In-person and digital will (or should) be one in the same. 

 

With this, leaders are called to empower internal teams to be change makers and use this reentry phase as an opportunity to be one of the first to offer cohesive, connected hybrid experiences. When done right, it’s these that will drive differentiation, fuel business growth, increase customer engagement, and empower ongoing value realization. Because innovation is the key to unlocking unstoppable momentum. 

 

Now is the time, and experience is everything.

Turning Insights Into Action:

Our client had a goal of growing revenue from $3 billion to $10 billion in five years. Learn how we used consumer insights & competitive research to set the vision & rally stakeholders around new future state plans.

What's next?

There are efficient and effective strategies that can be employed by any industry to identify gaps or opportunities throughout the customer journey and brainstorm for innovative solutions to meet the post-COVID customers’ needs.

 

Some common practices used at Tallwave to help brands optimize the conversion journey, reduce churn, accelerate value realization, acquire new customers, and expand into new markets include holistically mapping the customer experience; redesigning specific elements of the user journey; conducting qualitative and quantitative research to inform core consumer group and competitive market decisions; facilitating design studios to help teams envision and implement tomorrow’s experiences; utilizing proprietary tools to breakdown data silos; and optimizing performance marketing strategies to increase customer engagement, share of voice, and overall brand awareness. We’re ready to help you craft an exceptional customer experience and unlock unstoppable momentum. Are you?

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6 Factors Influencing Customer Behaviors in 2021 (With Original Research)

With fast-evolving customer experiences and technologies rolling into the market what feels like everyday, only one thing seems to consistently remain the same: Consumer behaviors, expectations, and needs never stop changing.

 

Cultural, social, personal and psychological forces influence what consumers do and why. And as consumer behaviors change, marketing strategies must change, as well. But for brands and businesses to craft the customer experience that can lead them through the next frontier of business, they must first understand what customers are truly prioritizing.

Better marketing comes from better understanding consumers.

According to our recent research report, here are the top six factors that are changing the customer experience design game today:

1. Convenience

Convenience is consistently the most significant way consumers are evaluating companies post-pandemic. It turns out that consumers like some of the adjustments they had to make as a result of the pandemic. For example, 31% of those surveyed said they will still use grocery delivery services even after restrictions are lifted in their area. Consumers want purchases that are easy to make. That doesn’t stop at simply digitizing offerings. It also means upgrading customer service experiences so consumers can get help when and where they want it.

 

Keep in mind that consumers aren’t necessarily looking for virtual-only experiences. They are keen to combine the best of digital and personal touchpoints to do whatever is easiest. That’s why “buy online, pick up in store” (BOPIS) has become popular. A total of 68% of our survey respondents indicated they have tried this approach, two thirds say it made them feel somewhat or more positive about the company that provided it. That’s because convenience rules the day. Companies that can blend the best of their offerings to create the most streamlined experience are winning post-pandemic.

2. Safety and Well-Being

Most age groups we surveyed indicated that safety and well-being are a major factor in their decision-making process. Excluding Gen Z, every other age group voted safety as their second biggest concern. Safety and security— both physical health and data— must become the standard operating procedure for businesses. Cleanliness and a focus on well-being are no longer extra steps that businesses are taking during “unprecedented times” but the expectations that are leading the way in every customer experience.

3. Immersive in-person experiences

The decline of physical retail shopping has accelerated in the pandemic, but marketers have found a way to bring customers in-store to develop loyalty: experiences. The concept of retailtainment has been gaining traction, with 52% of millennials saying they spend on experience-related purchases. Experiential marketing is more important than ever, especially as customers emerge from the pandemic and are hungry to make up for missed experiences.

 

In the digital-first world post-COVID, a lot of general shopping will be ordered via recurring subscriptions or deliveries. Capitalizing on the appetite for experiences, businesses can entice customers to come in-store with valuable experiences that educate and connect. As a bonus, a truly immerse experience can help earn coveted word-of-mouth and organic social presence.

The pandemic has highlighted social inequalities in daily life and consumers are choosing to vote with their pocketbooks to create change.

4. Social Responsibility

Customers are increasingly loyal to brands with a conscience, especially as the global pandemic has hindered the well-being of so many people. It’s clear that customers expect brands to lead with kindness and empathy, even at times using their resources to fill gaps left by local governments or to support social causes.

 

In a survey that assessed consumer perceptions of corporate social responsibility, three out of four respondents said that the way a company looks after their customers and employees during COVID will impact their loyalty to the company post-pandemic. The pandemic has highlighted social inequalities in daily life and consumers are choosing to vote with their pocketbooks to create change.

5. True and Ongoing Value

It’s clear that consumers are even more sensitive to value realization now than before the pandemic (learn about value realization here). At some point during your customer’s journey there will come a time when the value of your product or service is fully realized. This can set the tone of the future of your customer’s experience with you. Not only do they need to see value early, but it needs to be consistent throughout their lifecycle in order to increase your customer lifetime value.

 

Also read: Developing Nurture Strategies That Decrease Time to Value

 

Wary of a possible recession in the wake of the pandemic, in addition to increased inflation, consumers are prioritizing the value you bring before they’ll part with their hard-earned cash. Your products and services need to be well-priced and solve a real problem. Premium add-ons are less of a priority for consumers, unless they target other specific desires such as social responsibility or safety.

Ratings and reviews help build this confidence in a way that feels legitimate to wary consumers.

6. Trust and confidence

Third-party and peer recommendations are deeply integrated into the buying process, especially post-pandemic. New data rates rankings and reviews as the number one most important factor impacting purchase decisions, above price and even free shipping. Nearly one in two customers read between one to 10 reviews before making a purchase decision, and 68% of customers say they prefer products with at least 26 reviews.

 

It’s clear the pandemic has caused consumers to lose some faith in traditional institutions and they are consistently relying on communities of like minded people to act as thought leaders. Ratings and reviews help build this confidence in a way that feels legitimate to wary consumers.

Bottom Line

Synthesizing all of these consumer changes to carve a future path requires companies to take a strong look at their to take a step back and understand the problem they are trying to solve, the “why” behind reimagining their products and customer experience. This can help realign with what consumers are expecting today. We walked through this same process with a leading travel brand, taking the time to define what it means for them to be in the travel business in the first place. Using those answers, we were able to define success. Then, we looked at what changes would be in scope for the brand. You might not be able to accomplish everything you dream of or know customers want, but defining changes that are within your ability is a good first step.

 

Implementing changes is the purpose for all of this research and brainstorming, which is why the last step of the process is understanding what partners will be necessary to help innovate. Iterating on your products, services, and overall customer experience isn’t easy and making cross-functional changes can be challenging, but given the massive shifts in consumer preferences post-pandemic, it is more important than ever to understand these factors and adjust to ensure value realization.

Need help understanding your current and future consumer’s needs? Contact us today

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Customer Engagement Uncategorized

9 Metrics That Help Measure Customer Engagement

Gaining new customers is only half the battle when it comes to sustaining a healthy business — keeping customers engaged and loyal to your company long-term is just as important. Sometimes, that’s easier said than done, especially considering the changing nature of customer preferences.

 

Most companies are challenged with constantly iterating their customer engagement strategies. Oftentimes larger enterprise companies bear more of that brunt in order to maintain market share as more agile upstarts join the scene.

 

Also read: Data Driven Insights Into the Evolving Customer Experience 

 

Case and point: A large entertainment and communications firm – despite having experience that predates the internet – came to us with plummeting retention rates. Identifying the cause of their customer churn was essential to strategizing and implementing an improved experience for the future. By conducting research to understand the end-to-end customer journey, we were able to uncover and map out internal and external stakeholder perspectives at each stage. Using that information, we identified which stages in the journey had the greatest impact on customer loyalty. Then we were able to create a prioritized list of suggested improvements to enhance the customer experience and drive a greater bond between the business and their audience.

 

It’s this kind of work that can make the world of difference when it comes to increasing customer engagement.

 

Reducing friction and inspiring trust are the cornerstones of customer engagement today. A recent Salesforce study found that 95% of consumers said trust makes them more likely to remain loyal while 80% said the customer experience is just as important as the product or service.

 

Reviewing the journeys your customers take helps to identify ways to increase convenience and drive engagement, which is essential for success. Here are some top methods to measure customer engagement.

Reducing friction and inspiring trust are the cornerstones of customer engagement today.

Top Customer Engagement Metrics

There are a variety of metrics you can use to create a full picture of your customer experience and increase customer engagement. Here are some of the most frequently used methods::

1. Net Promoter Score (NPS)

NPS is the leading metric for measuring customer satisfaction and loyalty. This is accomplished by asking customers one, simple question to rate the likelihood that they would recommend a company, product or service to a friend or colleague. The rating is on a scale of 0 -10, with zero being “not at all likely” and 10 being “extremely likely.”

 

How to calculate: Respondents are divided into three groups based on their score.

 

  • Promoters: (rated 9-10) are loyal customers who will also refer others to your company.
  • Passives: (rated 7-8) are satisfied, but not enthusiastic.
  • Detractors: (rated 0-6) are unhappy customers and could potentially damage your brand by spreading negative reviews.

To calculate your NPS score, subtract the percent of Detractors from the percent of Promoters. Here’s what the formula looks like: % Promoters – % Detractors = NPS. Your NPS can range anywhere from -100 to 100 depending on your ratio of promoters to detractors.

% Promoters - % Detractors = NPS

How it infers customer engagement: Your NPS score is a good measure of your customers’ overall perception of your brand. Customers who fit the Detractor category are unhappy, these are the customers most likely to speak poorly about your brand to others or leave negative reviews. Customers who fit the profile of Passives are not excited about your business and are unlikely to be loyal if a competitor comes along with a sweeter offer. Customers who are considered Promoters are not only loyal, but will act as ambassadors for your company. It’s best to compare your NPS to others in your industry and also to your past scores to monitor any changes in your customers’ perceptions.

 

Also read: The What, Why, & How Of Customer Behavior Analysis

 

Best for: This classic customer engagement tool is best for gaining a high-level understanding of customer experience and how loyal your customers are.

2. Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)

CSAT is short for Customer Satisfaction Score. It is a popular metric to gauge customer satisfaction levels for a specific product/service or action you took rather than an ongoing customer relationship.. A CSAT score is expressed as a percentage (100% to 0%). Using the results from a customer surveys that ask respondents to “Rate their overall satisfaction with the goods/services they received. Respondents use the following 1-5 scale:

 

1 = Very Dissatisfied (or Very Bad)

2 = Somewhat dissatisfied (Poor)

3 = Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied (Neutral)

4 = Somewhat satisfied (Good)

5 = Very Satisfied (Excellent)

 

How to calculate: To understand your CSAT, you’ll want to divide the number of satisfied customers (represented by those who responded with a 4 or 5 ) by the total number of customers.

 

Use this formula to calculate: Number of satisfied customers (4 and 5) / Number of survey responses) x 100 = % of satisfied customers

Number of satisfied customers (4 and 5) / Number of survey responses) x 100 = % of satisfied customers

How it infers customer engagement: Your CSAT score is helpful to measure customer satisfaction after an experience or touchpoint with your business. It’s not typically used to represent customer engagement over time, since it’s a snapshot of how each individual customer was feeling during the exact circumstances of the survey.

 

Best for: CSATs are typically easier to collect than other data points because you’re not asking a lot of your customers. CSATs are also easily understood across many channels of your organization. This makes them ideal for creating company-wide benchmarks that you can update consistently.

3. Customer Lifetime Value

Your customer lifetime value indicates how much your company can expect to earn across an entire relationship with a customer from start to finish. Segmenting your customers by lifetime value can help your company get strategic about the most important groups to engage for long term revenue growth.

 

How to calculate: Before you can calculate the customer lifetime value, you need to know the average customer value. You do this by determining the average purchase value and then multiplying that by the average number of purchases. That first formula looks like this: Average Purchase X Average Number of Purchase = Customer Value.

Average Purchase X Average Number of Purchase = Customer Value

Then, put that number into the following formula: Customer Lifetime Value = Customer Value X Average Customer Lifespan.

Customer Value X Average Customer Lifespan = Lifetime Value

How it infers customer engagement: It goes without saying that the happier your customers are with your product or service, the more likely they are to continue purchasing renewals or upgrades. Focusing on improving your customer lifetime value typically means you’ll surround customers with support and incentives, which can also lead to higher customer engagement scores. Best for: Compare your customer lifetime value to the cost of acquiring new customers so you can understand if your value realization is strong enough to offset the marketing or sales costs associated with generating demand.

4. User Activity

User activity measures how many unique customers are interacting with your product or service in a specific time frame — typically daily or monthly. This is an ideal customer engagement metric for SaaS companies or apps.

 

How to calculate: Calculating daily user activity hinges on accurately defining what you’ll consider a user and an activity. To get a strong sense of how users are interacting on your platform, you might want to count actions such as pulling reports or collaborating with team members instead of merely sign ons or app opens.

 

How it infers customer engagement: By measuring activities that would only happen if the user was engaged — like creating reports, for example — you can begin to understand how often your users are incorporating your features into their lives. If you notice some features are under-utilized, this could be a warning sign that your customers aren’t fully engaging with the potential of your offerings.

 

Best for: This metric is best for understanding what features of your product are most engaging for customers, so you can continue to iterate on these and improve your value realization opportunities.

 

Also read: How to Holistically Map the Customer Experience

5. Visit Frequency

Measuring the visit frequency shows you how often the same customer returns to your site or store location. This helps you to understand how familiar your customers are with your brand and the extent to which they are actively seeking your company.

 

How to calculate: Using Google Analytics, you can pull a count-of-session report to understand visit frequency to your website. Measuring visit frequency for brick-and-mortar locations has historically been more difficult, but new technology, such as Ripple Metrics, can actually measure return frequency in addition to other actions your customers take in store.

 

How it infers customer engagement: If you have many of the same customers returning over time, this shows a higher level of engagement. However, if you have customers visiting your site or location once and not returning, this shows you have more work to do in order to foster customer loyalty.

 

Best for: Visit frequency can be seasonal. For example, if you work at an oil change garage, you might only expect customers to return once every six months. That’s why measuring visit frequency is a good metric for companies that understand what the patterns of a happy customer look like. Gain clarity on the big picture of your customer journey so your visit frequency inferences will be valuable.

 

6. Screentime

Measuring how long a customer spends on your site can tell you how valuable your content is and the extent to which you are helping to make the lives of your customers easier. If your customers spend a long time reading an article or watching a video, congratulations, that means you gave them something to stick around for.

 

How to calculate: Using your website analysis tools, you can pull a report to specify the total time on site or get specific to understand how long customers are spending on each page.

 

How it infers customer engagement: If you notice customers are routinely spending a few seconds on each page, that could be a sign that your website content is not engaging. Typically the first action users take when they realize a webpage doesn’t have the information they need is to close it and move on to the next one. This metric can help you determine what content is hitting home with your customers and what needs more work.

 

Best for: This metric is essential if you rely on content marketing to drive sales or improve the customer experience.

Understanding your customer engagement isn’t always a matter of gathering the most information, but of understanding which metrics to focus on.

7. Pages per Session

Pages per session shows you the average number of pages a visitor to your website reads before they leave your website. Similar to screentime, this metric can show you the extent to which visitors are enjoying your website and gaining value from it.

 

How to calculate: You can determine the pages per session by dividing the total page views by the total amount of sessions for any given time period. If you use Google Analytics, this number should automatically be pulled for you through the program’s standard reporting in the acquisition overview section. To get more detailed, remember to segment by source. You might find that visitors coming from one channel are more heavily engaged, which could influence how you spend advertising dollars.

 

How it infers customer engagement: If you have a high number of pages per session it’s likely visitors to your site are finding a lot of useful information and that you are providing a quality user experience. If you find this metric drops over time, it could signal that you need to revisit your content or maintain your website.

 

Best for: Use this metric to understand how well your website is performing when it comes to serving your customers.

 

8. Churn Rate

Your churn rate measures the number of customers who are concluding their relationship with your business over a set period of time. For example, if you are a service with subscribers your monthly churn rate would show the percentage of users who have cancelled their subscription each month.

 

How to calculate: Calculating your churn rate is simple, just divide the number of customers who have stopped doing business with you by the total number of customers. For example, if you have 20,000 subscribers and 1,000 cancelled last month, you would have a churn rate of 5% for the month.

 

How it infers customer engagement: If you have a high churn rate you can infer that somewhere along the line your customers are becoming disappointed. You’ll need to do some work to understand where in the journey they are seeing less value so you can improve these pain points and extend the customer lifespan.

 

Best for: This is a good metric for softwares or subscription services that rely on monthly recurring revenue.

9. Social Media Engagement

Your social media engagement can show you how interested your customers are in hearing from you and sharing about the work you do. A high social media engagement rate doesn’t always equate to increased sales, but it can definitely help guide your team to know if you’re on the right track in developing rapport, loyalty and strong word-of-mouth.

 

How to calculate: To get a high-level view of your social media engagement, measure your average engagement rate by adding the total number of engagements on a given post (this includes likes, comments and shares) by your total number of followers.

 

How it infers customer engagement: If your social media engagement numbers are low, this could be a sign that you need to do more work providing daily value to your current customers to turn them into brand evangelists. Not all companies rely on social media though, so if your social engagement numbers are low but you have another channel that does well, such as a newsletter, you might want to weigh both sets of metrics against each other before taking action.

 

Best for: Social media engagement can help companies understand how well they are doing when it comes to creating brand awareness and enthusiasm.

Bottom Line

Understanding your customer engagement isn’t always a matter of gathering the most information, but of understanding which metrics to focus on. Every brand should choose a handful of metrics that matter most to their business operations. Depending on your goals, there are only a few metrics that should be tracked regularly to gauge engagement, loyalty, value realization and growth. For the client we mentioned at the start of this article, we were trying to solve for high customer churn. We decided to narrow available data down so we were only focusing on mapping customer satisfaction. We felt this metric could most accurately predict churn. By understanding where in the journey customers were least satisfied, we were able to identify where drop off occurred.

Curious how the evolving customer experience is changing customer sentiment? Check out our recent research report, or contact us today.

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Uncategorized

The What, Why & How of Customer Behavior Analysis

Case and point: COVID-19. The pandemic put physical experiences on an indefinite pause and demanded businesses accelerate digital transformations to meet consumer needs. As discovered in our “Data Driving Insights Into the Evolving Customer Experience“, many consumers have not only adopted, but have a new-found affinity for some of those digital-first experiences, including telehealth, mobile banking services, and retail subscription models.

 

Now, as pre-pandemic norms start to make their comeback, businesses must reassess how pandemic-purchasing behaviors and changes in media consumption will continue to shift customer expectations, and – as a result – demand new marketing behavior, as well.

 

We saw this first-hand while helping a client map out and navigate the shifting landscape of food supply and distribution. COVID-19 altered the way in which restaurants do business and created a highly changing and dynamic situation for the industry. But before they could alter the customer journey to meet new everyday business needs, they needed to complete a customer behavior analysis and reconsider their customer segmentations. By conducting a customer survey that included 580 decision-makers within the food/supply ordering chain, we were able to pinpoint specific ways COVID impacted the customer journey (specifically menu evaluation, product selection, and ordering). Additionally, attitudinal segmentation helped us uncover new strategies for supporting each of their core customer groups. At the end of the day, it’s a crucial exercise that can drive increased value realization, customer engagement, loyalty, and market share.

 

So, ready to conduct your own customer analysis? Let’s get started.

Customer Analysis and Customer Segmentation 101

Before we dive in, let’s drive alignment around the definitions of and differences between customer analysis and customer segmentation.

What is customer analysis and customer segmentation?

Customer analysis is the process of researching your customers, using both qualitative and quantitative methods, to develop insights and understanding. Customer segmentation involves using those insights to divide customers into groups centered on similar characteristics.

Why is customer analysis and segmentation important?

Customer analysis and segmentation helps you better tailor your offerings and messaging to add value for your customers, addressing their specific use cases. Survey data from McKinsey shows companies using customer analysis to improve their services consistently outperform their competitors. The results showed 93% of companies whose corporate decisions were driven by consumer analytics earned greater profits than their competitors, that number jumped to 112% for sales growth and 115% for return on investment.

 

Also read: How to Holistically Map Your Customer Experience

Businesses must reassess how pandemic-purchasing behaviors and changes in media consumption will continue to shift customer expectations, and demand new marketing behavior.

A Customer Analysis Framework to Increase Customer Engagement

There are four stages that any customer analysis project should follow:

Stage 1: Identify current customers

How much do you truly know about your customers today? Chances are you could have internal data you aren’t fully maximizing that can help you understand more about your customers. This proprietary data could help you form insightful survey questions to ask your customer base so you can get a strong understanding of what drives their purchases.

 

Remember to ask questions that help you understand:

  • Market-based trends influencing purchase decisions.
  • Disruptors, such as changes in technology, that are changing your industry.
  • Competitors that are gaining momentum.
  • Information about your target audience that is missing or inaccurate.
  • Where you can maximize return on investment throughout the customer journey.

Stage 2: Break customers into subgroups based on traits and motivations

After analyzing your internal and survey data, you’ll want to start segmenting groups based on what motivates their purchase decisions. In the case of the leading food service company we mentioned above, we were able to segment customer profiles based on:

  • The level of decision making authority
  • Job role
  • Location — urban, suburban, rural or other
  • Restaurant type
  • Price sensitivity

Although these probably won’t be the exact same segments you’ll use to understand your customers, they give you an idea on how to structure your approach. You want to create segments around realities that could influence what products or services customers want from you and how much they’re willing to spend.

Stage 3: Outline customer groups needs

Once you understand your customer groups, the next step is digging deep into their specific needs. For the example above, we asked questions such as “How long has your business had to close as a result of COVID-19?” or “How have your weekly supply needs changed as a result of the pandemic?” Questions like these help assess new trends for each use case and where customers are experiencing pain points.

 

Needs can develop through a number of avenues so be sure to understand the following when trying to get to the bottom of what customers are actually looking for:

  • Pain points
  • Values
  • Motivations
  • Influences
  • Benefits

Stage 4: Pinpoint solutions for each customer group

Once you know who your customers are and what they’re looking for, you can start to solve the problem! This is where your company will really shine and how you’ll differentiate yourselves from competitors.

 

Here are some solutions you can start to get creative with:

  • What improvements do you need to make to your core offerings, technology or customer service?
  • What resources can you create that would help your customers use your product or navigate their industry?
  • Is there a new product or offering that would highly differentiate your company from competitors?

Also read: How to Use Design Studios For Innovation

Techniques to Improve Customer Analysis

We have a lot of experience with customer analysis and over the years we have found these simple adjustments help create superior customer profiles and insights.

Combine data to create detailed buyer profiles

Using both qualitative and quantitative data can help you create a full picture when it comes to understanding your customers. Qualitative data refers to information you gather from first person interviews, focus groups or observations you make in the field. Quantitative data uses internal metrics and survey results to structure the themes that could be arising from your qualitative information. Using these in tandem can help you understand both functional and emotional drivers to create multi-dimensional profiles.

Customer journey mapping

Customer needs and motivations might change throughout their lifecycle, so it’s important to map their journey so you can pinpoint areas where you might be of greatest assistance (and achieve maximum return on investment). Here’s what to remember when you start customer experience mapping:

  • Chart the important turning points in their journey using the qualitative and quantitative data you’ve collected.
  • Look internally, who are the stakeholders in your organization that are responsible at each part of the sales process?
  • Does your internal map follow the reality of the journey your customers are going on. If not, where do they diverge and how can you adjust your processes to better accommodate for your customer experience?

Tools to ingest, aggregate, and analyze datasets

Data can easily become overwhelming; trying to collate information manually is likely to take a lot of time and cause you to miss themes. Using data software can help eliminate these two problems.

At Tallwave, we empower proprietary software for our clients to help process data, pinpoint customer pain points, and map a digital journey from start to finish. Using a software like this that aggregates all data sources is essential to making sure your customer analysis project gets done on schedule, and is as accurate as possible.

Plan for the design studio and think outside the box

A design studio is a rapid iteration process that helps your team collaborate and align so you can creatively tackle inefficiencies and improve the user experience across your entire organization. This approach could help you understand the way your entire team is approaching the process and arrive at solidified decisions together.

 

If you take a design studio approach, we recommend setting some rules to encourage creativity. Make sure everyone participating is ready to create, not watch. This includes even those who are inexperienced or feel more comfortable watching! Reimagine possibilities together in a space where everyone’s ideas matter.

Create customer feedback system to power agile innovation

Once you’re ready to implement changes, you’ll want to make sure you have a method that allows you to listen to your customers and respond to their feedback fast. Your customers can drive your innovation, so make sure you’re consistently gathering qualitative and quantitative data about them to iterate and continue providing solutions that meet their ever-changing needs!

The Bottom Line

Customer behavior analysis helps businesses across all industries understand where they currently stand and where they need to go in order to improve the holistic customer experience, accelerate value realization, increase customer engagement, and develop new digital-first experiences. As a result of this process, we’ve managed to to improve the ways in which our clients leverage technology and integrate new features to not only understand evolving consumer behaviors – as seen during the pandemic – but plan for their future CX needs.

Want more information about evolving customer behaviors and needs? Read our latest research report or contact our team today.

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Uncategorized

Trends Driving CX Design in the Hospitality Industry: Q&A with Marriott International’s Christine Kettmer

Prefer a high-level recap of the conversation? Read it here.

Q&A with Marriott International’s Christine Kettmer

Jesus Ramirez: With me today is Christine Kettmer, Senior Director of Global Enterprise Insight and Strategy at Marriott International. We’re going to be talking about the future of travel, but before we get to started, I did want to share some sad news. Many of you may have seen that Marriott’s president and CEO Arne Sorenson passed away. I wanted to acknowledge this unfortunate news and also send a heartfelt condolence to his family, his friends, and everyone at Marriott. Christine, is there anything you would like to add?

 

Christine Kettmer: Thank you so much, Jesus. Thank you for those sentiments and to everybody who’s reached out so far. It definitely is a very hard day, and a tremendous loss for the hospitality community and the Marriott extended family. Arne was just an amazing person. He was incredibly approachable, humble and brilliant and just such a visionary. He transformed our company. He was the first non-Marriott family member to serve as CEO and only the third CEO in the company’s history. We’ve been around for 94 years. Mr. Marriott said it really well: [Arne] was an exceptional executive, but [even more], an exceptional human being. So, [it is a] huge loss. Thank you for those sentiments. We’ll definitely be continuing to pray and think about him and his family. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the entire community.

 

JR: Thank you, Christine. Perhaps a good way to start our conversation is for you to tell us a little bit about yourself and your professional journey.

 

CK: Sure, I’m happy to do that. Thank you for the opportunity to be here. As you said, I’m the Senior Director for Global Enterprise Insights and Strategy, which is a function at Marriott International. I’ve been at the company for about seven years now in different roles… I’ve always been interested in marketing and communications and consumer insights and behavior, so started off working at a nonprofit at the NGO in Geneva, Switzerland. right out of college. I moved there and did [marketing and communications] work for a human rights organization. Then I pivoted to working on different campaigns for health and education and safety accounts here in Washington, DC… I used to tell people all the time that I worked on social marketing. I [could] teach people to brush their teeth, but I [didn’t] know how to sell toothpaste.

 

I really wanted to get back into the product side and the innovation [of business], that allowed me to pivot and go back full-time to business school. After business school, I [took] the traditional CBT route. I worked at Johnson & Johnson for three years on [their] baby brands [and] a couple of the beauty brands, and really learned how to run a PNL [and] be responsible for new product development. But I always just loved the “Why?” – [why] people purchased different brands or were attracted to different products. So, that’s really what led me into the consumer behavior space. As I said, I’ve been at Marriott for about seven years now in a couple of different roles. I went back to brand management for a little while and worked on the GW global brand team, and the JW Marriott global brand team for a couple of years, but I’ve been in different roles related to insights, strategy, customer experience, [always focused on] helping to represent [the] voice of the customer? What is it that’s important to [them and] where [can] we take their travel experiences… in the future?

 

JR: That’s awesome, thank you for sharing that. It’s a great journey. Maybe you could tell us a little bit about your teams, responsibility and what you do at Marriott [now]?

 

CK: Sure. Ours is a relatively new team, but it’s a great group that basically thinks about where we [are] heading as a company. What are we seeing in the trends and [what are the associated] implications for our business? How do we create strategic opportunities for our leaders and for our brands for the different business lines that we’re involved in? [We focus on] leaning into the perspective of what’s happening in the marketplace, what we’re seeing in the data, and what our guests are telling us, and [try to represent] that point of view. So, we’re thinking a lot about all the things and information that are happening right now, as a result of our business, but also, [identifying] where opportunities [are]. Where are those bright spots are? Where are the things that we can lean into and where can we go in the future, so that we’re meeting the guests where they are, but we’re also [driving] loyalty and commitment to our brands [for] the long-term?

 

JR: The travel and hospitality industry [was] hit fairly hard [this past year] but there have been some bright spots. You and I have spoken [previously about] some really interesting [themes]… What have been the bright spots for you and your organization during this time?

 

CK: People are definitely looking forward to booking their next trip. And if anything, they’re going to be more appreciative and [more] cognizant of what that will mean when they’re first on that airplane ride, or they’re checking into that hotel, or even if they’re getting a rental service [or] mode of transportation. So, I think one of the bright spots is – even though [it took] a little longer than obviously anybody would have hoped or anticipated – there is that excitement [and] enthusiasm, that when people want to plan a trip, they’re willing to do so. They’re looking for that next vacation, or even [feeling] excited about conferences or in-person networking opportunities to reconnect with colleagues.

"I am optimistic that travel will come back, and I think it's going to come back with a vengeance. I use the term 'revenge travel'. People are willing and excited, but they're also ready. And so again, if it's taken a little bit longer than the anticipated, I think people will be certainly more appreciative of it."

So, the enthusiasm, that’s something that really strikes me as a blind spot. I would also say, in general, there are lots of opportunities for our guests, when they have a good day, they’re more inclined to tell other people about it. So, we’re seeing some bright spots in social media and in our Guest Voice, which is our platform. We look at all of the survey responses that come in, once they’ve had a really good experience… [We’ve found that they’re] more inclined to book something, and either stay longer or post about it [and] share with others. It really is about restoring that confidence. Making sure that we’re doing all the things we’ve always done – the standards are incredibly high – but reinforcing cleanliness and safety protocols, and really making sure that we’re still enabling that high-touch high-tech service combination. So, leaning into our associates: Making sure that they’re feeling trained to demonstrate the [right] protocols, but also like deliver or welcome [guests] with a smile, even if [when] wearing a mask. [We’re] really trying to make sure that the experience is still there and that we’re ready to welcome our guests, whenever that time is right for them.

 

JR: One of the things that I found really interesting in our last conversation was that Marriott was one of the first to mandate mask requirements. To me, this is an indicator of leading through values, and really placing an importance on not just guest safety – obviously that’s important as we go forward – but also your associate and employee’s safety.

 

CK: Completely. Yes. The founding principle of the company is all about putting people first. So, we always have said that if you take care of your associates, they’ll take care of the guests, and the guests will come back. That’s been the underlying business model since the beginning. So, it [seemed] really groundbreaking last summer, [but] we look back on it now, and it’s almost a no brainer. Of course, [employees] would wear [masks]…. But at the time, when it was announced in July, it was really forward-thinking for the industry. And it was in the spirit of “We’re all in this together, but we’re trying to protect each other and do [whatever we can to] allow our guests to feel more comfortable, but also reinforce the fact that we [prioritize] health and safety so much…” We really want to make sure our guests feel comfortable. However, that might look, we’re doing everything on our part to make it happen.

 

JR: That’s fantastic. There are signals that indicate there’s pent-up travel demand. There’s an uptick in consumer confidence as it relates to travel. So, how are you anticipating and preparing for this eventual resurgence of travel?

 

CK: As I mentioned, our brand standards and our maintenance and safety protocols are certainly paramount. We want to make sure that we have those physical cues, that they’re being demonstrated on a regular basis, and that our guests are prepared. They know expectations going in – from the time that they’re planning and booking a trip, to the pre-arrival communications, [and] the on-property experience. And then, hopefully [providing] something that really feels positive and resonates with them, so that when they’re wanting to rebook, or that they’re sharing with others, they have a good story to tell. [We hope that sentiment will make them more] inclined to come back again in the future. I think, also, just in general, it’s about like flawless execution of the basics, right? Meeting our guests where they are.

 

So, you know, making accommodations [and doing] all the things that we had in place before, but now [elevating them]. So, [for example, updating] our technology with keyless entry, or [allowing guests to] get keys downloaded [through] the app; [messaging] through the app for housekeeping requests [or ordering] in-room dining or room service. Just making sure that we’re still providing that high-tech high-touch service model, and that our guests [feel like] our associates… care: They want to make sure that they’re comfortable with their stay, and that they feel like they’re being taken care of. When guests come, [we don’t want them to] have to really think about much. It’s all sort of available for them… And hopefully, again, having a great experience.

 

Also read: What’s In Store For the Future of Travel?

"The little thoughtful gesture, and small touches accumulate. They really go a long way. I think that gets remembered, and then guests sort of expect that elevated level of service.

JR: I want to double down on something that you had mentioned, which I found really interesting. There’s this talk of contactless and, obviously, that’s important given some of the safety concerns, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s not personal and the experience and those moments of truth and those touch points are still opportunities to create personalization. I think that’s something that you guys have really focused on.

 

CK: Absolutely. Yeah. I mean, a lot of our associates are tremendous detectives. They’re really good at getting information without people operating too much. They do a great job of just making sure that the little elements and experiences and touch points, they feel really personalized. But it’s not something like, “Oh, we just happened to have extra of this…,” or “This is something I’m going to do to be nice.” It’s actually through an authentic and genuine kind of connection. And so, I think a lot of our properties… I can think of examples when I was working on the JW Marriott brand. I hear stories like it’s almost expected, if you check in, you mention [you’re there for an] anniversary or birthday – that you’re celebratin –if somebody happens to find that out ahead of time, and there’s a special amenity or gift, [like it’s recognized by the on-site] restaurant or something. It’s just a nice touch. And I think, you know, a lot of our hotels do a good way of making the guests feel uniquely recognized and special, but also, in a way that it’s not burdensome. It’s just actually a true pleasure and [an] opportunity for our associates to shine and to do something that they feel is really unique, too.

 

JR: Yeah. It’s those little moments of delight that are really human in nature, and they don’t have to be big things. They can be small little things, and they make a big difference.

 

CK: Exactly… It sounds obvious, but sometimes, if you’re waiting for a car to pull up as you’re checking out of the hotel, [providing] cold towels available, or bottles of water if it’s a hot day. When people are arriving, [giving] them like a little cloth or something, so that they can wipe the airport [off of] them, or whatever it is. [The] little thoughtful gesture and small touches accumulate. They really go a long way. I think that gets remembered, and then [guests] sort of expect that elevated level of service. But it’s really foundational at the end of the day. It’s about getting those basics, right?

 

JR: That’s fantastic. I’m going to switch gears a little bit… Travel just isn’t about travel. It’s always had a larger meaning and, you know, it’s quite possible that the meaning of travel is going to change or has changed during this time. What are your thoughts on this?

CK: Yeah, it’s interesting… People are definitely planning still for that next big trip. [Maybe it’s] something that they wanted to take five [or] 10 years from now, but [now], it’s more immediate. So, once the timing again is right, they’re taking advantage of it. But I also think that people are going to be a little bit more intentional with their travel. They’re not necessarily [going to] try to go… Like if they go to Europe and do seven countries and seven days – [travel] might be a little bit slower, a little bit more focused and deliberate. And certainly, I think a little bit more introspective. People might just be more appreciative of the opportunity to travel. And we’ve seen this shift towards, what I would call: The intentional or the slow travel, where people pace themselves, again. Maybe they take a longer route – it’s a little bit more scenic – or, of course, [they’re] blending business and leisure travel… People are taking more extended time to have some time maybe for work, but also tacking on a few extra days to spend with family members or friends… Everybody is just excited to be with their loved ones… People are comfortable, but they’re kind of experiencing virtual meeting or Zoom fatigue. So, having the opportunity, nothing replaces in-person connections. We know that, whether it’s a chance to go visit extended family members or at our hotels [at] conferences and meetings [or] events: People miss being with other people, and you can’t ask them to replace that in-person connection. So, having the opportunity to really foster those moments, I think people [will] be more appreciative of them, in general…

 

JR: Inherently, we’re social creatures.

 

CK: Yeah, exactly.

 

JR: I heard somebody say a little while ago, I can’t remember where I read it, but it was something along the lines of: “Travel used to be for escape. And now, it’s more for connection.” That’s connection to others or connection to yourself, which [aligns with your idea of] introspection and slowing down and being more intentional.

 

CK: I think, in general, people are just more appreciative… We’re just going back to our roots and a little bit more appreciative of the gifts of the world around us and what we can give back, in turn.

 

JR: That’s fantastic. So, in your role in particular, you mentioned this at the top of the session… in your role, you’re really looking at insights and trying to have a pulse on your guests and travelers, in general. So, what are some of the things that you’ve seen? What are some of the new consumer trends or needs or behaviors either that you didn’t expect and were sort of a surprise [about], or things that you’re seeing that are thematic?

 

CK: In terms of behaviors, I touched on [this] briefly earlier, about “B-leisure:” The blending of different trip purposes. Whereas before, people might’ve tacked on an extra day or two, now, because of the extended breaks that people are taking, or even temporary relocations – you’ve heard the stories of some of these different countries that are offering temporary work visas or opportunities for people to scoop up a house for a dollar in different markets and stuff – I think people are really being a little bit more deliberate with their tips and trying to blend the experiences. So, then it’s that balance. And I think in general, just focusing on their personal and mental wellbeing has been tremendous. It’s been really important. So, I, I would say leaning into some of the more wellbeing-focused travel. That’s something that we’ve seen pick up quite a bit. People are thinking, “Okay, how can I incorporate physical exercise or mindfulness experiences and our hotels?”

"Focusing on their personal and mental wellbeing has been tremendous. It's been really important. So, I, I would say leaning into some of the more wellbeing-focused travel. That's something that we’ve seen pick up quite a bit."

I have to say, they’ve just done an amazing job pivoting and re-purposing different spaces. [For example], we have family yoga sessions. There are hotels where they reconverted old rooms into spots and sanctuaries… It’s really been interesting to [see] what guests are wanting and requesting, and how we’ve been able to accommodate… And then, I think also just in general, one thing that is so important for our guests is feeling very comfortable when they come to the properties through all elements of the journey. So, from the moment that they arrive, they have a good experience, to the times when they’re enjoying some of our food and beverage outlets… [it’s also important to] make sure that like we’re offering opportunities for work arounds. Some of our hotels, again, have done an amazing job when it comes to redesigning some of their guest rooms to be private dining spaces or [hosting] evening social events where we have like cocktail cards or places where people can choose to have a happy hour kind of experience…

 

And then just also being able to [provide] partnership [experiences in] local areas if they want to leave the hotel. We have this great program called Eat Around Town. Guests can go, earn points through local establishments and partnerships and restaurants. I don’t know if people realize this: We have over 7,000 hotels globally. Multiply that times the communities in which those properties are located, and you’ve got lots of chances to really enjoy your points, [and do stuff] off property, as well.

 

JR: Let’s talk about the whole notion of transforming spaces. I think that’s a really interesting thing that we’ve seen, [and] not just in the travel industry. It’s been a common theme. Restaurants, as an example, have had to rethink their floor plans [and] their entire delivery system. It’s also created an opportunity for different businesses [and] industries to really rethink their spaces and things that are not being used. How do you repurpose them to really serve your customer? I thought that was really interesting… I’d love to learn a little bit more about your partnerships and what your perspective is on how partnerships will evolve going forward, given that there’s [not] a single entity that owns the full end to end customer experience, but there’s a lot of alliances and partnerships.

 

CK: We have so many different types of partnerships. I think some of the ones that really resonate with people right now are the ones where, again, you’re drawing meaningful connections or experiences, too, or that it’s relevant or applicable to what they’re doing every day. I think about last summer. We launched a program where you could earn a grade. It was, like, six times the amount of points for groceries, and again, it was through our credit card program. It was meeting people, our guests, where they are and what they’re using their different points on, or their credit card dollars with, at this point. Our Marriott signature brand [also] partnered with Ted. I think some of the talks that are out there are [focused around] those meaningful moments or connections or experiences – just taking the chance for people to feel like travel really enriches the soul. And when they’re traveling, people feel a little bit more open to new experiences and to opportunities. And so, if it’s that intellectual stimulation or learning [opportunity], I think that’s a great way for people to feel like, “OK, I can be more balanced and full of life and present in the moment.” And I think that some of that comes through in those little moments or those different pockets of inspiration that we try to activate through partnerships.

 

JR: I think that hits on a couple of things. It hits on this notion that rethinking travel – the partnerships that you’re forging are – different than they were even several years ago. And it’s more about learning in these really meaningful and intimate experiences. I think that’s really interesting.

 

CK: Definitely. I think the balance is now a little different… You touched on things like our spaces and the redesign, you can’t necessarily always do it in community or with others. So, thinking through, “How do you benefit individually, but then share that out collectively?” How does that balance occur, where you’re able to do something for yourself, but you also can share it with others, even if you have to be a little bit more socially distant or physically not in the same space? There’s still a way to feel that enriching experience.

"How does that balance occur, where you're able to do something for yourself, but you also can share it with others, even if you have to be a little bit more socially distant or physically not in the same space?"

JR: What are you doing or what is Marriott doing to really position itself to be able to offer those types of experiences or be a part of that experience?

 

CK: There are a lot of different things that our hotels have done. We have a partnership where we do tours and activities. There are off property chances where people can take advantage of different versions or experiences. Some of our properties have farms where you can go and pick your own food, almost [be a] farmer for the day, which is pretty cool. [Also], when [people] go to a hotel, they don’t want to stay at [the] hotel the whole time, so having the chance to experience some of those off-property locations. I can think of one of our hotels in Thailand, [it has] a great partnership with a local aquarium. They do an activation where they actually bring kids who are staying at the hotel to the site and they teach them about all the different animals that are there.

 

[Also], I think [it’s] the Ritz Carlton down in Amelia Island. they have an onsite Marine Biology, which is pretty cool for families. It’s [about] trying to bring some of the elements of what’s around them, [and weaving it into] the experience at the hotel, or even off-[property], if it’s a partnership or local activation. I think, in general, people just want to [have] tangible, sensorial experiences, really getting back to [their] roots and back into nature… I think people are feeling a little bit more appreciative and intentional with that nature perspective.

 

JR: Yeah, that’s great. You mentioned being a farmer for the day. I went to this [goat] farm in Pescadero a couple of years ago [where you could] pet the [animals]. That’d be a great experience through one of your hotels.

 

CK: Totally. I mean, I remember a couple of years ago, goat yoga was all the rage, right? One of my colleagues said something the other day that. There is a local alpaca farm here in DC, and you can bring people there. It’s just amazing that, connection to animals [and] sense of nature. It’s just really important to people. So, that’s fantastic.

 

JR: One of the things that I’d love to spend a little bit of time on is this notion of understanding your traveler and understanding your guest and understanding customer sentiment. [I’m] curious to hear your thoughts on what can brands do to get closer to their customer, to really understand what are their needs [are], and what role does data have in this?

 

CK: I think a lot of it is, just like I was saying earlier, going back to the basics. Really listening to your customers, understanding what’s important to the guests and paying attention. And I think this comes through. We have great resources that we can utilize from social media where we’re getting that real-time feedback as people are staying in our hotels, but also just looking at the data like the post-day surveys, and looking at what worked well, [and where] could be opportunities for improvement? We always love it when our guests are recognizing special associates, or they share an experience that they’ve had. [It’s about] really paying attention to what’s important and making sure that we’re doing all the right things. So, it’s a combination of… signage in the right place or the high-tech service that’s available, or just ensuring that we’re adapting and adapting, [again].

"I think a lot of it is going back to the basics. Really listening to your customers, understanding what's important to the guests, and paying attention."

[For example], I think all of our restaurants pivoted really quickly to offer QR codes, instead of having tactile menus or having different technologies… The app was able to [accept] housekeeping requests on demand – people could [message] through the app and the interface [to] request services. A lot of it is just recognizing, what are the patterns or the trends that are emerging and the common themes? And therefore, ensuring that we’re doing it right. [Are we] setting the expectations so that our guests… [know what they] can expect to have happen? … It’s really just about getting the basics right. And making sure that we’re listening to them and meeting them where they’re at and delivering [with] flawless execution wherever we can.

 

JR:  You and I had a conversation earlier this week, and you were mentioning that you’re a founding board member for the women leading travel and hospitality group I found [that] really interesting and fascinating. I’m wondering if you might be able to share a little bit more there.

 

CK:  Sure. Yeah. I’m happy to talk about it. And thank you for the opportunity. So, Women Leading Travel & Hospitality is a relatively recent group. We just launched in January. So, if people are looking for it, they can find more information on LinkedIn. We have some social channels through Instagram, [and] they do a newsletter that comes out once a week on Tuesday mornings. And it’s really a network of different women throughout the different hospitality industry. So, of course, [there is] me from the hotel space; there are a couple other women leaders who are from other competitor companies, or peer companies, but then it’s also about representation from airlines, from transportation services. We have some relative startups, like where people are working on things that are related to RVs and alternative accommodation. There’s a woman who is running the innovation center at DFW at the Dallas Fort worth airport.

 

So, I mean, it’s the whole gamut of different experiences, but one thing that I’ve really appreciated… We have peer groups where we talk about all sorts of different topics. What we’re seeing in our respective industries and sectors, but then also like, what are some of the challenges that we’re all facing in this remote environment? Or how are we going to lead performance evaluations this year, or even just like, you know, what does it mean to be a really effective leader? And so, it’s a whole gambit of different topics, but I think that there’s a tremendous amount of respect and appreciation for people’s different viewpoints and their input. And it’s just a great way to network with other people. So, I would really encourage people to be looking at their website. We have an event actually next Thursday, which will be February 25th. [Anyone] can participate in that, but it’s a relatively nominal membership entry point for people to join. And it’s just a great network and a way for people to really [come] together from different industries and different perspectives.

 

JR: Yeah. I love that. I love the fact that there’s this spirit of partnership and it’s not competitive. And, you know, I think that was a topic that was hit on in the previous session as well, that I think this time has really shown that the industry is stronger as a whole. When everybody comes together and partners, it’s much more operative…

 

CK: Yeah. I’ve been very impressed with a lot of the different groups. I know, in particular, the U.S. travel Association has been really pivoting to get all of the different sectors involved in terms of planning a vacation day or thinking about like that next trip… IT goes through all the different stages [of] that customer journey experience.

 

JR: I have a few more questions and then I think we should probably pivot over to the question in the Q&A… What are you optimistic about? What are you most excited about looking forward?

CK: I am optimistic that travel will come back, and I think it’s going to come back with a vengeance. I use the term “revenge travel”. People are willing and excited, but they’re [also] ready. And so again, if it’s taken a little bit longer than the anticipated, I think people will be certainly more appreciative of it. I think in general, I’m optimistic that people are going to be a little bit nicer, a little bit more patient… We know that travel is such a gift, and that people won’t take it for granted… And so, I’m optimistic that every time that people travel going forward, you’re just going to realize what a tremendous gift it is and what an experience it is to be able to do it, whether it’s personally, or professionally, or some combination.

 

JR: One of the things that we’ve seen probably over the last year is also the approach that companies have had to take days off. There’s been a lot more flexibility and acknowledgement that it’s an important thing – that people’s wellbeing is important. There’s going to be challenges, as we go forward. And I think I’m optimistic and hopeful that companies will value that going forward or will continue to value that.

 

CK: I agree. I definitely think so. And I’ve seen, even among our leadership, people taking advantage of opportunities to have those blended experiences… But that balance is really critical.

 

JR: Yeah. So I know we’re wrapping up. I can I ask a few of the Q and A’s. One of them is: How has your loyalty strategy been impacted over the last six months?

 

KC: Sure. So we’ve made a couple of different changes to our loyalty program. And if people are curious to know a little bit more, they can certainly go online and see about some of the requirements as it relates to status and tiers and weeknights and all that. But I mean, as it is today, of course we want people to love our brands, to be those brand ambassadors, to have great experiences. [We] focused on what I was talking a little bit earlier, in terms of [providing] opportunity to earn points [at] different ancillary revenue sources. But also, we want to give our guests the chance to burn points, to use their points, [and] actually take advantage of those redemption days. To really plan that next big trip [and to] be excited for it. So, it’s just more of a shift in terms of where the spending is. In general, I think our five-point program has been consistently recognized as a really amazing program with wonderful perks and privileges, and members just love it. So, we want to keep that train going, I would say.

 

JR: One last question. What is the pivot at Marriott that you’re most proud of in the last year?

KC: The last year? I would say the authenticity that people are showing. I think that people are really just so genuine in terms of their experiences now. It’s a little bit vulnerable, but people have shown their home lives; It’s intersecting with their professional lives. But I think a great example of going back to what we were kind of talking about at the beginning… Displaying empathy from the get-go and really acknowledging and recognizing that people are going through all of those stirred up emotions: The ups, the downs, the peaks, the valleys. And so, just having the courage and conviction for people to say, “I can’t be on-call at six o’clock at night because that’s the time that I put my kids down for a bath,” or at 7:00 AM… It’s just, again, “That’s not going to work for me because that’s the time that my husband and I read the newspaper together and have coffee.” The little things like that, it’s showing everyone’s authenticity, but also the expectations that people will continue to give their all and that everybody is working together and we’re not going to let go of short and long-term plans, but we want to be supporting each other. [Whatever] that looks like.

 

JR: Yeah, yeah, we’ve really sort of brought down the facade that everything is flawless. It’s not.

 

CK: It’s real.

 

Are you actively trying to plan or strategize for the future of plan? Contact us now to see examples of our work with travel & hospitality clients.

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This Week in CX: CDK, Neiman Marcus Group & Qualcomm Invest In a Better Future

Week over week, we unpack emerging trends, data developments, business model innovations and new technologies that are changing consumer behavior and driving CX expectations of tomorrow. But there are other factors that, especially in 2021, impact how consumers relate to brands long-term: Social impact, responsibility, and philanthropy.

 

We’ve known for many years that authentic corporate philanthropy increases employee satisfaction, morale, and retention, but new studies are revealing just how much it also impacts the overall customer experience, as well. Case in point:

 

  • A survey by Nielsen discovered that 50% of consumers will pay more for a product or service if the business prioritizes sustainability.
  • The 2019 Aflac Survey of Corporate Social Responsibility found that 77% of consumers would “be motivated to purchase a company’s products or services if the company shows they are committed to making the world a better place.”
  • A survey conducted by Clutch found that shoppers believe environmentally-friendly business practices (71%), social responsibility (68%) and giving back to the local community (68%) to be the most important attributes of a company, even above price. Additionally, 71% said they believe it’s important for businesses to take a stance on social and cultural issues.

“We all have a responsibility to make this place better than we found it,” says Tallwave Senior Consultant Erin Nielsen. “That can come in many forms but it shouldn’t just be up to a residential individual. There’s strength in numbers, and money talks. Why shouldn’t companies be the ones driving toward larger, bigger actions? They have the people, the podiums, the funds, and the opportunities to make a bigger difference.”

 

Not only should businesses care about making social, environmental, and/or cultural differences because, well, they should, as the metrics above highlight, it is becoming increasingly paramount to consumers as they decide who deserves their money.

Millennials have proven that commitment to causes is a driving factor behind whether they buy from a company or not.

“Consumers are smarter than they have ever been,” Erin explains. “They have information at their fingertips and are becoming more and more informed about what organizations truly stand for and are empowered to make decisions based on that alone. You see that in specific segments of the market: Millennials have proven that commitment to causes is a driving factor behind whether they buy from a company or not. Let’s take Toms, for example. When they entered the market with a buy one, give one model, they were a disruptor from that perspective. It made me want to give my money to an organization that’s going to do something with it. I can buy Toms or I can buy from a company that doesn’t share where my money goes – whether it be towards an advertising campaign, brick and mortar, or in their pockets. Consumers have choices and they care. Now more than ever, people don’t trust companies at their word. They need to prove that they’re doing what they say they’re doing. They need to live their values and integrate their beliefs into their work.”

 

Basically, if you’re focused on crafting excellent customer experiences and building a bond with consumers that can last a lifetime, you can’t only drive materialistic or time-saving value. You have to cultivate a brand that your consumers can see themselves in and rally around. You’ve got to stand for something, and find a way to embed that into the DNA of everything you do.

Like many of you reading this, we’re still figuring out how we want to show up in the world and be a catalyst for change.

Now, before we share the top stories we’re talking about this week, we do have to make a confession: While we’re experts in many areas, this isn’t necessarily one of them. Everyday, we’re learning, growing, and figuring out how to do better. At Tallwave, we put employees above everything and execute our work from the heart with humans’ best interests at the core, but, like many of you reading this, we’re still figuring out how we want to show up in the world and be a catalyst for change. And that’s OK. We believe, in order for this kind of work to transform our brand and the communities we touch, we must approach it like a marathon, not a sprint. We’ve built a DE&I task force and broken them up into four categories, each focused on cultivating and operationalizing strategies most important to us: Talent outreach, client and marketplace engagement, internal culture and training, and community outreach. We’re listening, we’re learning, and we’re putting actions behind our words to develop the social impact and philanthropic programs that are right for us.

 

These stories and these brands are paving the way. We look to them for guidance, inspiration, and motivation, and can’t wait to join them in the corporate and social responsibility ranks.

CDK Global Doubles Down On Their Promise to Support Inclusive & Equitable Quality Education For All

Last August, CDK Global – a leading provider of integrated data and technology solutions to the automotive, heavy truck, recreation, and heavy equipment industries – announced their commitment to increasing accessibility to quality education and lifelong learning for all. Since then, they’ve directed 90% of their corporate giving to education-related causes, and this past Wednesday, doubled down on their promise by pledging a total of $70,000 to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Southeast Louisiana, greenlight for girls, and ASE Education Foundation.

“Now more than ever, we understand that not everyone has equal access to a traditional learning environment where they can receive a quality education,” CDK Global’s Executive Vice President, Chief Human Resources and Communications Officer Amy Byrne told Business Wire. “Through our corporate philanthropic partnerships, we are investing in programs that help create the next generation of leaders by improving access to knowledge and enhancing the skills of people from all backgrounds.”

 

CDK Global chose to donate $25,000 of the $70,000 total to the Boys and Girls Clubs chapter in Southeast Louisiana after they were forced to cancel their in-person National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) trade show – which was scheduled to be hosted there – and transition to virtual setting due to COVID-19. The change of plans caused a blow to the community’s projected local economic growth for the year. To make up for it, the funds will make CDK the first-ever sponsor for a new literacy program planned for the 2021-2022 school year – one that will reportedly help 75 children per day to alleviate social challenges, increase school performance, and better prepare for standardized tests.

 

CDK’s partnership with greenlight for girls (g4g) also isn’t brand new. The two organizations joined forces to develop educational materials for girls in STEM subjects back in July 2020. According to the founder and chairman of g4g Melissa Rancourt, the $25,000 donation will help them “achieve significant reach, impact, and resonance to our sustainable development and societal goal… [to] inspire local communities of girls and boys to build their curiosity, abilities, and aspirations in STEM.”

 

Lastly, CDK plans to donate the remaining $20,000 to ASE Education Foundation to help educate, prepare, and inspire a new generation of automotive service workers. The funds will fuel an assessment to evaluate the diversity, equity, and inclusivity of ASE’s educational programs, and will empower their curriculum to reach and attract varied student populations. “The future of the service industry is brighter because of their contributions,” said ASE Education Foundation Present Michael Coley. Neiman Marcus Group

Launches New Campaign Focused on Fostering Black Excellence

 

February is Black History Month so there was no more appropriate time for Neiman Marcus Group to announce their new campaign, “Celebrating Black History By Supporting Black Futures.”

“NMG is a place where everyone belongs, where diversity is valued, and where showing up as your full and authentic self is expected."

Unveiling a multi-pronged strategy that consists of both new and ongoing initiatives, Neiman Marcus plans to use corporate philanthropy dollars to support the Boys and Girls Club of America, as well as improve internal learning opportunities and marketing efforts designated to source and empower Black talent. Additionally, Neiman Marcus Group plans to host a fireside chat for associates and customers between Nikole Hannah-Jones, Pulitzer Prize-winner reporter of racial injustice for The New York Times, and Tracy Pereston, the company’s Chief Legal Counsel. People can RSVP for the virtual event on their site. Upon the event’s culmination, Neiman Marcus Group will make a donation to the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting on behalf of Hannah-Jones.

 

“NMG is a place where everyone belongs, where diversity is valued, and where showing up as your full and authentic self is expected,” said Chief People & Belonging Officer of Neiman Marcus Group Eric Severson. “As we progress on our Belonging journey, our people and their voices are a priceless way we highlight the excellence that makes up our company.”

 

To read more about Neiman Marcus Group’s philanthropic work, visit The Heart of Neiman Marcus.

Qualcomm Releases 2020 Corporate Responsibility & Reveals Plans Through 2025

Qualcomm Incorporated, the world’s leading wireless technology innovator, released its 2020 Corporate Responsibility Report last week, recapping the company’s environment, social, and governance performance (ESG) for the year.

 

“We have had many successes over the last year despite the unforeseen challenges of 2020. As we continue to work toward our 2030 Vision, I am proud to report we successfully met or exceeded our 2020 corporate responsibility goals,” said Steve Mollenkopf, Chief Executive Officer, Qualcomm Incorporated.

Qualcomm Instagram post about corporate social impact

Also read: Solving For a Lack of Diversity in CX

 

Qualcomm is hoping to make significant impacts across four key areas: Purposeful Innovation, STEM Education, Responsible Business and Our People. And they made some significant strides in recent years:

 

  • Over the last two year, Qualcomm increased their female engineer workforce by 17% worldwide
  • They increased racial and ethnic group engineers in the technology sector by 12%
  • Employee satisfaction towards Qualcomm’s workplace inclusivity increased by 10%
  • They launched a Small Business Accelerator program, which helped 33 small businesses transition to a mobile-first digital infrastructure
  • Their Wireless Reach program benefitted more than 20 million people across 48 countries by enabling access to their technology for education entrepreneurship, healthcare, public safety, and environmental sustainability purposes.
  • They conducted their first climate scenario analysis, of which insights are included in the report

Qualcomm's Pledge Through 2025

Despite making major strides, Qualcomm isn’t satisfied yet. While crafting strategic corporate plans through 2025 and beyond, they defined quantitative targets designed to measure improvements pertaining to diversity within their workforce, enforcing more sustainable practices in all areas of business and transforming industries with their new technologies to “build a more resilient economy, and catalyze social change for billions of people across the globe,” said Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf.

 

“In the year ahead, we will start working toward achieving our newly launched 2025 corporate responsibility targets, prioritizing environment, diversity and inclusion, and reporting,” Qualcomm’s Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Akash Palkhiwala said in a statement. “Among these, we will continue to address and improve our environmental performance through greenhouse gas reduction strategies, reduce power consumption, and work to build a more diverse workforce.”

 

Learn more about Qualcomm’s 2025 goals and ESG performance in 2020 in the full report here

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Innovators Series Uncategorized

Innovators Q&A: How Johnson & Johnson Is Pairing Data With Creativity to Connect With Customers Like Never Before

A big brand name is no longer a differentiator. In fact, according to the Customers 2020 study, neither is price or product. While those factors may naturally drive more awareness or familiarity, they no longer drive trust and credibility or dependably convert consumers to buyers and advocates. Actually, if you think of it, big legacy brands might have even larger hurdles to overcome in achieving the cross-functional alignment and agreeance it takes to transform customer journeys and craft personalized, valuable experiences at every touchpoint.

 

There’s really only one way huge companies – like Johnson & Johnson – can be innovative in a fast-changing marketplace. They must learn how to pair data and analytics with design and creativity to cultivate authentic strategies that place the humans they serve at their core. Even if that means spending money to create experiences that have no guaranteed ROI.

 

To learn more about how Johnson & Johnson is thinking about and approaching customer experience, we talked to Matthew Fantazier, Senior Brand Manager for Johnson & Johnson’s Baby businesses, including Aveeno Baby and Desitin. As you’ll learn during the conversation, hosted by our very own Founder and CEO Jeffrey Pruitt, Matthew is passionate about bringing together insights, data, and technology to connect authentically with today’s consumers.

 

Prior to his current role, Matthew led digital strategy and media at J&J’s OTC business for Digestive Health, Cough Cold Flu and Eye Care. He has also worked on brands such as ZYRTEC®, SUDAFED®, and BENGAY®. Through his experiences and first-hand interactions with evolving customer experiences, Matthew shares his unique insights and perspective as it pertains to the future of CX.

Q&A with Johnson & Johnson Senior Brand Manager Matt Fantazier

 

Jeff Pruitt: We’d love to hear a little bit about both your personal and professional story. I saw that you interned at Deloitte at the beginning of your career and then took a job as an analyst. So, you’ve always been very tied to brand strategy.

 

Matt Frantazier: I’ve been at J&J (Johnson & Johnson) for about 14 and a half years now, but I did start out as an accountant way back when. I studied accounting, got my CPA, and spent about seven years in finance at J&J, actually. I made the switch to marketing about eight years ago. And that’s definitely been a hallmark of my experience – combining the data and analytics side with creativity. That’s the exciting thing about what I get to do for work now: Combining those two things – data/analytics and creativity – to connect with consumers.

 

JP: That’s great. I actually am, too, a CPA and studied accounting. I don’t know why I actually got into it, but I love [working] more on the marketing and branding side. We’ll get into how data and brand connect, but first, how do you believe marketing strategies have been forced to change for big legacy brands like Johnson & Johnson during COVID?

 

MF: Well, you know, I think the evolution really changed before COVID and… this has been talked about a lot, but the last 10 months or so just accelerated a lot of things that had been advancing maybe at a medium [or] slow pace, but the need to change has been right in our faces. I think one of the biggest evolutions is brands and companies thinking about moving away from advertising and retail and [instead, thinking about] enabling access. How do we enable access to consumers and how do we foster discovery versus just advertising? I think that’s one of the biggest changes that I’ve seen in what we’re thinking about [at Johnson & Johnson]. COVID forced consumers to adopt all sorts of new habits and behaviors. More research is happening online [and on] social media. Consumers are becoming accustomed to different shopping experiences and we have to be there.

"Brands are being pushed to change as fast as the world around them is changing, and we can't wait for perfection."

There’s just countless specific things that have changed from a commerce perspective: E-commerce media habits, [and] consumer demands for brands to stand for something. There’s so much that has changed in the last 10 months. I think brands are just being pushed to change as fast as the world around them is changing. And we can’t wait for perfection. I think that’s the biggest challenge right now: So much has changed so fast that we have to try. You know, we’re in uncomfortable territory of not knowing – doing new things, operating differently – but we have to try to learn and adapt.

 

JP: Yeah. So, when you think about that and you’re pushing out different work streams or different approaches to drive an experience through your brand with your customer, how are you looking at that in conjunction with data, analytics, and creativity and design?

 

MF: The intersection of data and creativity – I think it’s just so much more prominent now. And it’s one of the bigger challenges we’re facing right now: Unlocking this data. There’s so much, and as more commerce and media consumption and interaction – on websites or wherever – happens online, there’s a data trail there. But, “What do we do with it?” is really the next big question. You can have all the data in the world, but if you don’t know what it means, – if you don’t understand what to do differently, or if it’s good or it’s bad – it’s sort of meaningless. So, you know, we seemingly know more about consumers as digital media matures and data becomes more robust, but you have to have that feedback loop to consistently learn and adapt…

 

One of the challenges there is that it can’t [just] be a machine.

 

At the end of the day, we’re talking to humans… They may be online and buying things online, but you still have to make that personal connection. I think that’s where the tension point really lies. Algorithms don’t make purchases. People do. So, the data can be incredibly powerful in understanding what’s working, what’s resonating, but you still need to grab attention and make a human connection there. The data is allowing us to try more things and push further, but I think it can be used as an enabler because you can quickly figure out [if] something is working or not, versus feeling trapped in [the mindset of] “We’re going to do what we know because it’s safe.” We can do unsafe things because of data – it’s unsafe from a performance standpoint – but it’s making that connection and creating that loop. That is really the biggest challenge, right now.

Also read: How We Created a Contemporary Experience For a Strong, Timeless Brand

 

JP: So, getting more specific, what kind of data do you look at? And how does that influence, for example, design – how you test design and get it out into the real world?

 

MF: Yeah, I mean, I think one of the things is that it’s not just one data source. It’s important to not get too myopic and focus on [something like] short term ROI, is a good example. It’s paying the bills. It’s keeping the lights on. That’s important, without a doubt, short-term ROI matters. I would lose my job if I ignored it. But it’s one data point. So, brand awareness or different equity metrics – those are important for long term health assessments to understand [if] what you’re doing [is] driving relevance with your consumer. Is it something that they like? Do people agree with what [you] stand for? You need both. You need to know: Is what you’re doing selling products? Is what you’re doing getting people to respond positively? It’s that mix. You need to understand all of it, which can be hard. It’s easy to anchor on the one good metric and declare a success, but we do need to take a broad approach to it.

 

JP: All too often, we’ll focus as marketers on the bottom of the funnel because it’s the most trackable, but at the same time, as you look at the upper- or mid-funnel, you are now able to track some brand awareness. And it’s important to make sure that you do measure it, but it shouldn’t get the same level of ROI expectation that you do at the bottom of the funnel.

 

MF: Yeah, it’s a different job to be done. You need all of it. I think it’s easy to [say], “My job is to sell product,” but really, it’s to create awareness, drive consideration, and sell product. You need to do all [of] that stuff.

"You can have all the data in the world, but if you don't know what it means, – if you don't understand what to do differently, or if it’s good or it’s bad – it's sort of meaningless."

JP: So, taking this to the experience you’re driving for your customer: How does Johnson & Johnson measure customer experience, both digitally and in store? What are the key components of understanding that experience and ensuring that it’s seamless – that it’s one of value – and that you’re educating the customer correctly?

 

MF: It’s really taking a look at the entire journey. There are so many touch points [within] consumer journeys today. And, I think when you look at it, the consumer journey being very non-linear is a reality that we’re dealing with.

 

So, customer experience [or] consumer experience takes a lot of shapes and forms… I’m thinking about what they need. What are the consumer’s current needs and expectations? You know, in my business, I talk to new parents a lot and they’re very information hungry. So, providing them with knowledge, information, education – about ingredients, or what our products do; how to give your child their first bath, [for example] – that’s relevant. They need that, that’s a lower purchasing barrier. But it may be tips, if it’s a more complex product. If you’re in a category that [doesn’t naturally provide an] intuitive process, or it takes some skill to use your product, you’re going to have to provide support. We see a lot of good examples from hardware stores – they do DIY videos on YouTube. That’s super important. If you don’t know how to install a toilet, you’re not going to go buy one. So, they need that – as far as the consumer journey and experience goes. It’s really [about] putting the consumer at the center, which is a little bit of a trite thing to say, but I think it’s true. First thing’s first.

 

JP: Implementing these strategies is really, really difficult for a lot of brands internally. When brands have a customer acquisition group, a brand group, and a customer experience group – the reality is that it’s still the same customer, they’re just entering your brand through different touch points and avenues. Your experience is resonating, you’re working on the acquisition, but then when you bring them in, it’s still that customer that you’re driving the experience to. Sometimes this journey spans across  multiple teams and stakeholders. How do you manage integrating all the good data that you get around the experience – like you mentioned, talking to actual mothers and parents – and then, embed that through a multitude of strategies that provides a seamless experience to the customer?

MF: We talk a lot about how consumers don’t actually know if they’re getting an ad from me, or from a retailer, or whomever. They see an ad for Johnson’s, and 99% of the time they just see, “Oh, it’s a baby shampoo,” or whatever. But in reality, to your point, there [are] so many parts of the ecosystem at play. It could be an ad or an experience that’s managed by a retailer partner; it can be managed by me, PR, an influencer. It’s so important to be coordinated and to have that partnership. We put a lot of effort into that discussion and alignment upfront: What are our objectives? How are we achieving these together? What is our one communications plan to make sure we’re not operating in silos? From a creative perspective, [that] it’s not different messages; From a data perspective, that we’re talking to the right people, and retargeting the right people, and bringing it all around and feeding insights to one another. It’s all the same consumer. We just trick ourselves into thinking it’s different, but it’s not.

 

JP: Right. Different stakeholders and sometimes different measurements, which drive different initiatives, but trying to align all those is, I think, where Nirvana sits both internally and [for] companies like ours: Trying to find that alignment for the customer sitting in the center.

 

MF: Yes, for sure.

 

JP: So, from a digital first strategy perspective, J&J is a huge legacy company with over 200 companies inside it. How do you drive that overall digital-first strategy as an organization?

 

MF: Yeah, we think about, again, putting the consumer at the center and thinking about, well, first, where are they actually spending their time? What are their actual behaviors in the real world [and where do] we want to interact with them? And digital-first, I think, can be misconstrued as digital only, or digital media, but there’s also a performance mindset that is important within a digital-first mindset of data collection, iteration, optimization, that also needs to be fed into this. But, from a consumer journey perspective, what are those moments along their journey where we can deliver a transformational brand-building experience? Where does it matter? Where is it really high stakes? And put our time and effort there to really make a difference. And, you know, it could be communications, it could be commerce technology, it could be an app experience, whatever. But really, digital-first doesn’t mean anything unless the consumers are there – it’s [zeroing into] a behavior of: They’re working from home, or they like to shop on their phone, or watch how-to videos before they buy something. So, putting ourselves in their shoes and then leveraging digital technology e-commerce to really enable those kinds of brand-building experiences.

"There's also a performance mindset that I think is important within a digital-first mindset of data collection, iteration, optimization, that also needs to be fed into this."

And then, as I mentioned, what have we learned from that, and how do we get better? That performance mindset, I think, to me, that’s what digital-first actually means, which is a lot, and pretty complex. But it’s not, “We’re going to run Facebook ads, and now we’re more digital-first.” That’s objectively not true. A lot of brands do that, and they’re totally not, but it’s a mindset shift, really.

 

Also read: Why Customer Experience Can’t Be All Data-Driven

 

JP: And it’s also a mindset shift to really understand that, even upfront, when you’re identifying your strategies, data can be utilized to understand deeper sentiment and intent from the persona. And also being able to look at engagement metrics, engagement features, and overall demand that does drive both your online and offline strategy through that journey. I think that’s missed a lot.

 

MF: Yeah, it’s getting back to that feedback loop. We don’t want media plans to live in silos. We don’t want insights living in silos, either. So, if you run a programmatic campaign and find out that “Claim X” drives twice as much conversion – it would be pretty good to know as you’re developing other communications or strategies that, “Hey, this is a behavior-changing message. This matters. Let’s think about that. Let’s iterate on this a little bit…” And that’s what we strive for. That’s, I think, Nirvana for me: Getting to that place, but to the extent [in which] you can use it as a research tool. I think that’s one of the less leveraged aspects of digital media right now, and why you’re seeing more and more CPGs getting [into] DTC commerce. I can’t imagine that a lot of these companies are making any money on having a DTC website, selling snacks or soda, but the data they’re getting from it is invaluable. And that’s why they’re doing it.

 

JP: Right. 2020-2021 has been a really interesting year. And COVID in many ways, like you said at the beginning of the [interview], drove the need to really understand the customer experience. If you were to define the experience that you want with your customer, as you continue to go into 2021, what does that relationship look like for J&J?

"If our mission is to make sure babies have the healthiest start to life, how do we not address a global health pandemic? That's crazy.".

MF: I think at a very high level, that relationship is one that is meaningful and relevant. That we are listening to what our consumers need and expect, and we’re delivering on that expectation. [It came into] real focus in the last year with brands: [the need] to think about how they adapt their communications in the face of COVID, and the face of social unrest and racial inequality, and all these different things. There’s a lot on consumers’ minds. It’s not just a product. It could be what’s happening at home or – [for example] – having to homeschool a child for the year, which is a huge challenge, as a lot of us know, right now. But really finding ways to resonate with them on that personal level. We’re a relevant brand, we’re meaningful, and we deliver against those expectations.

 

For us, a lot of new parents are coming into the category [during] a very challenging time. Right now, being an expecting parent is incredibly challenging, which is why last year we launched our #InItTogether program, which is a partnership with Meredith [in which] we created all sorts of different content and videos around what questions to ask your doctor before you go to the hospital; what to expect when you’re giving birth; can your partner be in the delivery room with you. All these sorts of questions we know were rattling around in parents’ minds. There was no tie to sales there, that was purely equity, but we knew we couldn’t talk about shampoos and lotions without addressing this enormous stressor that is happening in the lives of millions of people, right now. We had to talk about this. If our mission is to make sure babies have the healthiest start to life, how do we not address a global health pandemic? That’s crazy.

 

So, I think it’s thinking about that and knowing that we have to be relevant and, if we can continue to do that – if we can continue to make connections, meaningful connections with modern consumers – we’ll be okay. But it’s being agile enough to adapt with the needs and what’s happening in the world around us.

#InItTogether Campaign on Johsnon's Baby Instagram

Also read: How Avidon Health Is Solving the Patient Engagement Problem in Healthcare

 

JP: It’s really made prominent and propelled customer experience forward, faster than I think a lot of people would have expected and the authentic, transparent, empathetic approach to really understanding where people are in their day and their mindset. It’s different for everybody, but being able to – I don’t like the word “market,” as much as I like the [practice of being] able to connect with them with your offering, which is an offering of support, in many respects. So one last question for you. How do you define innovation for both the business that you’re in, and for J&J?

 

MF: I think it is finding what consumers actually want and need, and delivering on it. That could be product innovation to meet emerging needs. We see that across industries in response to the at-home economy now. People’s lives have dramatically changed in the last year. So, there’s new physical needs.

 

We’re also seeing a communications evolution and innovation. So, it could be: What are the needs of consumers, or what are their new questions? What are they wrestling with now? Like the example I gave with parenting information and around COVID. But, I think, regardless, again, it needs to be meaningful. And innovation can’t just be a fresh coat of paint. You can do that, that can work, but ideally it’s evolving with changing needs. If we’ve seen anything in the last year, we’ve seen that needs are changing really rapidly, and the brands and the companies that can continue to evolve and keep pace with what people are looking for, that’s the magic combination. It can be tough. Product innovation obviously takes time. For us, everything we do is backed in science and research. So, we can’t just quickly [get] new products out the door in a couple of weeks, but taking those insights and really thinking about: What are new parents or new consumers looking for? Are they looking for germ-killing characteristics in a wash, right now? Okay. Let’s think about that. How do we deliver on that? But it could also mean information, like the last example, too.

 

JP: Yeah. Well, Matt, from your background – from the very beginning to all the work that you’ve done at J&J – very, very insightful and great to have you on for the Innovator Series. So, I really appreciate your time and look forward to connecting again, soon.

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