Multi-Channel Customer Intelligence

Background

As mobile and social are quickly becoming new channels for customer acquisition, customer engagement, delivering customer service and generating additional revenue streams, many brands in retail, hospitality, health care, media and financial services are using mobile, social and digital channels as multiple customer touch-points.

With the exponential growth of these channels, it is critical that brands are able to create a 360 degree customer view by aggregating data from these interactive channels. Without holistically understanding the consumer, brands run the risk of not being able to personalize the messaging for the consumer as they visit the brand from a diverse number of channels.  Despite the availability of brand monitoring tools (e.g. Radian 6, Alterian and Scout Labs) and brand analytics tools (e.g. Crimson Hexagon, Crowd Factory, SAS and Oracle), brands face the challenge of closing the gap between aggregating data from diverse channels and drawing actionable business insights. Additionally a feedback mechanism needs to be created to channel these insights towards product improvement, business process improvement or trend recognition.

The Challenge

Harnessing the power of data and analytics to drive business decisions and organizational decisions is not without challenges.

Real-time analytics: Real-time analytics is hard because of signal-to-noise ratio. Twitter is especially hard given the high rates at which tweets are created and the minuscule number of those tweets that are relevant to a campaign.

Sentiment Analysis: Sentiment Analysis is about the meaning of the content. Knowing the sentiment (positive, negative or neutral) is good but not enough. The data needs to be analyzed to derive improvement opportunities e.g. product innovation ideas, business process improvement etc. Additionally the human interaction component cannot be completely eliminated. 

Benefits

The true benefit of aggregating structured data from weblogs, social CRM, application data and unstructured data from social applications such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, customer comments and product reviews is being able to derive actionable insights. Additionally brands need to provide a feedback mechanism to channel these insights for product improvement, business process improvement and trend analysis.

Aggregating and analyzing data across channels provides the following additional benefits:

Identify New ‘Niche’ Customer Segments – People who share the same characteristics (e.g. female in the age group 35 – 45) does not imply that they share they share the same passions and interests. Building a community of loyal followers, deeply engaging with them and actively listening and participating will help to identify new niche customer segments.

Deliver Targeted, Personalized Content and Advertising – The future of competitive advantage lies in managing and analyzing all the critical data entering a business environment. Data which provides user preference and location information such as product reviews, check-ins, ratings etc. collected across the mobile, social and digital channels provides a wealth of information in improving our understanding of our customers and targeting them with personalized content.
 
Increase Customer Loyalty – Customer loyalty and satisfaction can be improved by creating a 360 degree view of the customer and gaining deeper insights into existing customer segments as well as discovering new customer segments by developing a multi-channel strategy and aggregating data across mobile, social and digital channels.  
 
Solution
 
Drawing business insights such as determining ‘top performing regions’ or ‘top influences’ can relatively easily be accomplished by aggregating and analyzing structured and unstructured data, however,  the hard part is in drawing subjective business insights such as determining ‘product improvement ideas’ or ‘future trends’. The key to successful subjective analysis is in empowering and training the personnel at  various customer touch points to ask probing questions of customers and flag answers which require deeper analysis. Flagging answers will allow nuggets of information flagged as ‘key data points’ to be highlighted and not get lost in the sea of information.  Additionally forming a deep relationship between people interfacing with customers at multiple touch-points such as social media channels, customer service channels, website etc. and subject matter experts such as product managers and designers who are within an organization will allow for business insights to be captured in ‘real-time’ rather than ‘after the fact’.

Creating an Integrated Multi-Channel Strategy Using a ‘Top-Down-Bottom-Up’ Approach

Challenge

Mobile and Social have been hot topics of discussion over the past several years but not very well understood by most organizations. With 130M idevices sold worldwide, 300,000 native iPhone applications created, more than 7B downloads by Q3 2010 and with the market research firm Nielsen projecting the US smartphone penetration to be over 50% by 2011, it is not surprising that many organizations are gravitating towards creating iPhone and other mobile device based applications. In addition, the relatively low cost of entry into the mobile device app market has encouraged organizations to develop such applications just for the sake of getting themselves a mobile presence. However, without a holistic understanding of how the apps would integrate into the organization’s business functions and goals, companies are unable to establish or generate a measurable ROI such as building and sustaining a community or customer relationship, improving customer loyalty, increasing revenue or decreasing cost. Without a clear strategy in place defining how to leverage the mobile, social and digital channels to meet business goals, confusing or even conflicting directions arise within an organization that will eventually lead to disenchantment with these critically important communication vehicles.

Key Considerations

Prior to creating the first iPhone application, enlisting fans for a Facebook page or responding to users on Twitter, brands should consider holistically understanding the dependencies between the mobile, social and digital channels as well as key considerations for each of these distinct channels.

Developing an integrated multi-channel strategy which ties back to business goals and considering mobile, social and digital as key customer interaction channels are critical steps in developing a holistic approach to understand a client’s business functions and goals.

When implemented correctly, an integrated multi-channel strategy can provide a 360 degree view of the customer, create a consistent customer experience and leverage business rules and processes across channels, which are all imperative to building customer relationships and meeting business objectives.

Intergrated Multi-Channel Strategy

Integrated Multi-Channel Strategy

Approach

An integrated multi-channel strategy which ties back to business objectives provides an over-arching framework to drive a consistent approach for implementing mobile, social and digital initiatives within an organization. It creates a shared vision and common language among the stakeholders.

A ‘top-down and bottom-up’ approach is used to implement the integrated multi-channel strategy. The top-down component focuses on interviewing stakeholders to evaluate the maturity of each of the dimensions in the hub-and-spoke diagram (above) using a maturity model, conducting a gap analysis between the current and desired maturity levels, prioritizing capabilities on a prioritization matrix and finally creating an actionable roadmap. The bottom-up approach relies on deriving  analytics-focused business insights using structured and unstructured data.

Create a Maturity Model

Within an organization different channels could be at different levels of maturity however they all play a critical role in holistically implementing the integrated multi-channel strategy for the organization.

A maturity model should be created for each of the dimensions in the hub-and-spoke diagram to clearly evaluate an organization’s current and desired maturity level for that dimension.  The key practices defined for each of the maturity levels provide an objective criteria to assess an organization’s maturity level for that dimension.

Maturity Level 0, Limited Presence: Organizations at maturity level 0 are characterized with limited mobile, social and digital presence. These channels are not considered core to the business and need for a better solution is not acknowledged by the organization.

Maturity Level 1, Reactive and Experimental: Organizations at maturity level 1 are characterized by the business reacting to external pressures. The need for improvement is acknowledged and pilot implementations exist but overall vision is absent.

Maturity Level 2, Defined and Repeated: Organizations at maturity level 2 are characterized by mobile, social and digital being considered core customer interaction channels and a global vision drives investment in these channels.

Maturity Level 3, Managed and Measured: Organizations at maturity level 3 are characterized by a seamlessly integrated channel experience and mobile capabilities expanding beyond implementing the core business capabilities.

Maturity Level 4, Optimization and Innovation: Organizations at maturity level 4 are characterized by a rich, dynamic, seamless channel experience where continuous improvement and optimization becomes the focus and capabilities drive deeper efficiencies and innovation.

Create a Prioritization Matrix

Analyzing a brand’s current and desired maturity level is the first step towards performing a Gap Analysis which identifies capabilities of interest required to close the gap between the current and desired maturity levels. These capabilities then need to be prioritized using a Prioritization Matrix across several dimensions such as risk, effort, implementation complexity and business impact.

Sample Prioritization Matrix

Sample Prioritization Matrix

Create a Roadmap

Areas of interest prioritized on the prioritization matrix serve as input to create an actionable roadmap showing project dependencies and estimated timeframes for long-term and short-term projects with a focus on incrementally deploying capabilities within the organization.

Implementation Roadmap

Implementation Roadmap

Derive Analytics-Focused Business Insights

Analytics-focused business insights provide direction on how to refine the implementation strategy to meet business objectives. Business insights can be derived from structured data (data stored in a structured format such as web logs or databases) as well as unstructured data (data collected via comments, reviews and the social channel). With the correct tools, processes and infrastructure in place, this data can be analyzed to draw business insights such as top selling products, top revenue producing search terms and provide real-time predictive analysis.

Creating a Mobile Maturity Model

A mobile maturity model describes key practices for each of the maturity levels and provides a framework and an objective criteria for clearly evaluating a brand’s current as well as desired mobile maturity level. Analyzing a brand’s current and desired mobile maturity levels is the first step towards performing a Gap Analysis which helps to identify capabilities of interest. These capabilities then need to be prioritized based on risk, effort and business impact to create an actionable roadmap.

The mobile maturity model described below consists of 5 distinct maturity levels:

Level 0, Limited Mobile Presence: Level 0 is characterized with limited mobile presence, mobile is not considered core to the business and need for a better solution is not acknowledged by the organization.

Level 1, Reactive and Experimental: Level 1 is characterized by the business reacting to external pressures, need for improvement is acknowledged and pilot implementations exist but overall vision is absent.

Level 2, Defined and Repeated: Level 2 is characterized by mobile being considered a core customer interaction channel and a global vision drives investment in the mobile channel

Level 3, Managed and Measured: Level 3 is characterized by a seamlessly integrated channel experience and mobile capabilities expanding beyond implementing the core business capabilities

Level 4, Optimization and Innovation: Level 4 is characterized by a rich, dynamic, seamless channel experience where continuous improvement and optimization becomes the focus and capabilities drive deeper efficiencies and innovation.

The image below lists key practices describing each of the mobile maturity levels :

Mobile Maturity Model

Mobile Maturity Model

Creating a Mobile Strategy

In my previous post I mentioned that brands who do not consider mobility an integral part of their business strategy may experience limited benefits  from building mobile applications as opposed to brands who focus on developing a mobile strategy which ties back to business goals. A mobile strategy should provide a framework to help brands identify development, cross-platform, monetization, promotional and globalization strategies prior to developing mobile applications.

A mobile strategy provides the framework, vision and guidance on which mobile applications will be built. When creating a mobile strategy be sure to address the following:

1. Key Market Insights: Provide an overview of the mobile market focusing on mobile penetration, market share by device and OS worldwide as well as in the US. I have found spending a few minutes on the Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies is a helpful way to show the ‘state’ of emerging technologies.  In this section I also touch upon mobile, social, digital usage patterns and high-level discussion on challenges such as device / platform fragmentation.

2. Competitive Analysis : A competitive analysis is a  good way to study a brand’s competition and the gap between the brand and the innovators and leaders in that business vertical. A detailed competitive analysis focusing on features, functionality and capabilities will help to clearly define the short-terms and long-term objectives the brand hopes to achieve with mobility.

3. Project Sponsors and key Business Stakeholder Interviews: One of the key steps in building a successful mobile strategy is in identifying business stakeholders from cross-functional teams. Interviewing the stakeholders on their goals and objectives to be met via the mobile channel, their target audience and their mobile behaviors and discussions around projects, data sources and application touchpoints will help to ensure cross-functional support and buy-in.

4. Develop the Mobile Strategy: When implementing a mobile strategy, one methodology that I have had success with is POST (People, Objectives, Strategy, Technology) advocated by Forrester. The mobile strategy should be customized to the brand based on their unique requirements, project prioritization, risk (e.g. resistance to adoption, concept maturity etc.), LOE and business benefit (e.g. increasing sales, decreasing costs or increasing loyalty).

5. Best Practices & Mobile Trends : Identifying best practices and mobile trends help brands to best leverage this emerging technology in building mobile websites, native apps and hybrid apps to meet business objectives in the short-term as well as long-term.

Integrated Mobile / Digital Strategy

Integrated Mobile / Digital Strategy

Clients need to define an integrated and holistic digital / mobile strategy across multiple customer touch-points which ties back to their business goals

In my previous post I mentioned that at Blue Saphyre we have created a framework of documents which we refer to as the ‘Web 2.0 Strategy Framework’. It is an integrated and holistic approach to understand a client’s business functions and goals (across multiple channels).

The concept of the web 2.0 Maturity Model document is based on maturity models created by Gartner – however the difference is that the key performance areas (KPAs) identified typically influence the digital / mobile strategy.
– Mobile
– Business Intelligence and Web Analytics
– User Generated Content (UGC) / Social Media
– Content Management Systems (CMS)
– User Experience (UX)
– Information Architecture (IA)

Each of these dimensions play a critical role in holistically understanding the current and desired mobile / digital maturity level of a client as well as in prioritizing capabilities and building a roadmap. These dimensions will continue to evolve may need minor customization based on the industry:

Analyzing the current and desired mobile / digital maturity levels is the first step towards Gap Analysis which helps to identify capabilities of interest. These capabilities need to be prioritized based on risk, effort and business impact.

Sample Prioritization Matrix

Sample Prioritization Matrix

Once the capabilities have been prioritized on a Prioritization Matrix an implementation roadmap can be created with a focus on ‘incrementally’ deploying mobile / digital capabilities in the organization.

Sample Roadmap

Sample Roadmap

Figure 3: Sample Implementation Roadmap

Things you should consider on acting on today – determine where your company / client falls on the mobile / digital maturity model.

Next up is a deep-dive into creating a mobile strategy – stay tuned.

Web 2.0 Strategy Framework

Connecting the Dots

The Scenario

Many clients who I have had the opportunity to meet are looking for a quick and easy way to dabble in social media by creating a Facebook fan page and / or Twitter account without fully understanding how social media can impact their business. Creating a Facebook fan page and Twitter account are free, require minimum effort and gives them a false sense of security of having a competitive advantage. Similarly many companies want a ‘mobile application’ and the reason if asked could be as basic as “our competitors have one”.  Moreover finding people claiming to be ‘iphone developers’ or ‘ social strategists’ are plentiful which makes it easier for companies to spend a relatively small amount of money and get an iphone application built, a Facebook fanpage created or a Twitter account created.

The typical end result of the scenario described above is that the Facebook fanpage and Twitter account may get only a few followers (mostly people from the company and not true customers / users). With no strategy on how to leverage these social channels and without having the right people in place to manage the communication on these channels, they are not able to engage users in a conversation and very soon interest in the channel dies out. Another characteristic which is frequently seen is that the team gets mired in lengthy discussions on ROI calculations to justify investment in social media. Similarly the iphone application which probably took only a couple of developers and a few months to build gets only a few downloads and poor user reviews because of limited / not well thought out functionality and process flows. Given this end result it is not surprising that the company quickly gets disillusioned with social media and decides that there is no compelling reason for them to invest in social media and a new way of doing business.

The Problem

Some of the glaring issues in the scenario described above are listed below :

  1. A holistic and integrateddigital strategy which ties back to business goals had not been defined
  2. Social media goals and objectives had not been defined
  3. The company had not made the cultural shift to adopt social media
  4. The company had not identified champions to monitor and manage the social content
  5. Mobile presence was not considered a core customer interaction channel and not made an integral part of the business strategy

The Solution

At Blue Saphyre we have created a framework of documents which we refer to as the ‘Web 2.0 Strategy Framework’.  It is a holistic approach to understand a clients business functions and goals (across multiple channels) as well as their current and desired web 2.0 maturity levels. The framework is based on using analytics (to derive customer insights), competitive analysis, stakeholder interviews, and research on current trends in the industry.

The framework helps to identify the gap between the current and desired web 2.0 maturity levels, prioritize capabilities across several dimensions such as risk, business benefit and implementation complexity to close this gap and finally create a customized implementation roadmap for the client.

The Web 2.0 Strategy Framework consists of the following list of deliverables:

  1. Web 2.0 Maturity Model
    The web 2.0 maturity model provides a framework and an objective criteria to assess an organization’s web 2.0 maturity level. The framework consists of 5 distinct maturity levels and multiple web 2.0 dimensions such as mobility, business intelligence and analytics and user experience with key practices defined to each capability across all the maturity levels.
    The maturity model helps to provide a common language and shared vision for prioritizing tasks and capturing the as-is and desired maturity level for an organization.
  1. Web 2.0 Questionnaire
    The web 2.0  questionnaire lists key questions for stakeholder interviews to help drive-out the current as well as desired web 2.0 maturity levels of an organization with-respect-to key practices identified across multiple web 2.0 capabilities.
  1. Web 2.0 Prioritization Matrix
    The web 2.0 prioritization matrix provides a template to prioritize web 2.0 capabilities across several dimensions including risk, business benefit and implementation complexity.
  1. Web 2.0 Implementation Roadmap
    Based on gaps identified between the current and desired state of an organization, a roadmap is created with a focus on ‘incrementally’ deploying web 2.0 capabilities within an organization based on capabilities identified and prioritized in the prioritization matrix.

The framework has proved to be an effective tool to guide conversations with clients and drive home the  point that web 2.0 is not a single technology rather it is a combination of technologies and tools which impact each other and need to play well together. Your thoughts and comments are always welcome.

Next up is ‘Creating an Integrated Digital Strategy” – stay tuned.