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"We're Doing [Insert Fashionable Tech Initiative] Now". Really? Stick to the Customer Journey, Stupid.
By Sean Mckee, Director of Ecommerce and Customer Experience, schuh
It’s tempting to embrace newness, the head-turning opportunities, in an effort to maintain a cadence of progressivity, or even worse, the right optics for the CEO. What’s often wrong here is that no one has really thought to ask, or better, to test with a customer– and too often we operate under the assumption that it’s this latest tech per se that is the objective. Well, in driving customer experience improvement, it just isn’t – purely tech-driven initiatives often fail because they are kind of missing the point. Tech is a fantastic enabler of giving customers what they want, or if they don’t overtly know they want it, of reducing friction so we offer increased convenience. The question perhaps put more sensibly is: which initiatives should I embrace when a resource, time, colleague bandwidth are finite and where some definable benefit should be articulated? Or, for a second less verbose attempt, and unapologetically from an Ecomm/CX Director standpoint: where should we invest to drive measurable benefit in the customer journey?
Broadly speaking we know where the greater number of customers are to be found – a newish mobile, increasingly immersed in the platform economy, googling and gramming, educated by the big players, snacking promiscuously at information in something like 140 checks of that phone a day. Our ability to truly make an impact in a context of low attention span is just limited. Yes, you’re up against Amazon, Uber, Netflix, Spotify and the best digital has to offer. Choose with care.
With excellent peers and disruptive platforms educating us all, the digital “arms race” remains as compelling, and as challenging, as ever
Other opportunities are less intuitive, however, and rarely involve the heralded “it’s just a line of code” driving transformational results – see a supplier near you for details. In this typical absence of certainty, but the abundance of choice, some form of methodology, a process for due diligence, is needed. This distinguishes for me, to offer a crude simplification, the “operational enhancement” from the “marketing activation”. Marketing activations are great – as marketing activations. By way of example, AR is a terrific case in point. Delighted to see it start to appear in fashion via ASOS but it remains the case that we haven’t yet worked out how to deliver engagement or production at scale, at the right cost and labor, and in a way which isn’t quite quickly tiresome. Pokemon Go was the future once.
What I list below is by no means exhaustive, or formal, but my typical crack at regimenting what is a disparate, uneven rhythm of opportunity requiring assessment:
1. Is there a prospect of volume? What we do must resonate, or have the potential to resonate, with sufficient numbers of customers – we are a volume business, after all, and investment requires adequate consumption.
2. Is the initiative strategically aligned with our business? Would our customers expect us to play here?
3. Is the customer’s experience enhanced in terms of improved performance or lower friction (preferably both)? Can that be demonstrated?
4. Is it possible to scale at an acceptable ROI?
5. Are success metrics clearly defined? Can we align with existing KPIs?
6. Have we got conditions suitable for an A/B test? Can we prove the concept in miniature?
7. Is this being done anywhere else in the market? In other words, has this been already evidenced/tested at scale?
8. How does this initiative look relative to other initiatives? Is there an opportunity cost involved?
9. Finally, the one my boss asks every time, can we sell more shoes or lower costs as a result of this initiative?
And of course he’s right. In the end keeping efforts closely aligned to our core strategic objective will be more likely to drive the wins. That starts and ends with our customer – and helping them buy that next pair of shoes in an end to end journey from discovery to selection and payment to after sales. So, I’m happy to be both an optimist and a sceptic all at once – embrace opportunity but beware baubles. Stick to the customer journey, stupid?
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