Customer Journey’s As Products

A recent Harvard Business Review article, Competing on Customer Journeys, has highlighted the shift to treating Customer Journey’s as products that are sold. The following example is an excerpt from the article…

Consider how one company, Oakland-based Sungevity, competes on its ability to shape the journey. At first glance, Sungevity looks like a typical residential solar panel provider. But closer inspection reveals that the company’s business is to manage the end-to-end process of sales and custom installation, coordinating the work of an ecosystem of companies that supply, finance, install, and service the panels. Sungevity’s “product” is a seamless, personalized digital customer journey, based on innovative management of data about the solar potential of each home or business. Sungevity makes the journey so compelling that once customers encounter it, many never even consider competitors.

One of us (David) experienced the Sungevity journey firsthand. The process began when he received a mailing with the message “Open this to find out how much the Edelman family can save on energy costs with solar panels.” The letter within contained a unique URL that led to a Google Earth image of David’s house with solar panels superimposed on the roof. The next click led to a page with custom calculations of energy savings, developed from Sungevity’s estimates of the family’s energy use, the roof angle, the presence of nearby trees, and the energy-generation potential of the 23 panels the company expected the roof to hold.

Another click connected David through his desktop to a live sales rep looking at the same pages David was. The rep expertly answered his questions and instantly sent him links to videos that explained the installation process and the economics of leasing versus buying. Two days later, Sungevity e‑mailed David with the names and numbers of nearby homeowners who used its system and had agreed to serve as references. After checking these references, David returned to Sungevity’s site, where a single click connected him to a rep who knew precisely where he was on the journey and had a tailored lease ready for him. The rep e‑mailed it and walked David through it, and then David e‑signed. When he next visited the website, the landing page had changed to track the progress of the permitting and installation, with fresh alerts arriving as the process proceeded. Now, as a Sungevity customer, David receives regular reports on his panels’ energy generation and the resulting savings, along with tips on ways to conserve energy, based on his household’s characteristics.

Starting with its initial outreach and continuing to the installation and ongoing management of David’s panels, Sungevity customized and automated each step of the journey, making it so simple—and so compelling—for him to move from one step to the next that he never actively considered alternative providers. In essence, the company reconfigured the classic model of the consumer decision journey, immediately paring the consideration set to one brand, streamlining the evaluation phase, and delivering David directly into a “loyalty loop,” where he remains in a monogamous and open-ended engagement with the firm. Sungevity’s journey strategy is working. Sales have doubled in the past year to more than $65 million, exceeding growth targets and making Sungevity the fastest-growing player in the residential solar business.

Read the full article here.

A New Education System

A great Blog article from Don Peppers highlights why long standing education systems in modern economies are nearing the end of their life.

From outlining where the “modern” education systems of today come from to highlighting the fact the students can self educate without a teacher as per Sugata Mitra’s TED Talk, ‘Build a School in the Cloud’.

This fantastic shortened and animated video of a talk given by Sir Ken Robinson explains how education systems that are not customer (student) centric and essentially “educate” our creative capacity out of us.

And here’s another take from American Author and Marketer, Seth Godin, along a similar vein.

Hearts Then Charts

Ian Golding recently highlighted a great white paper by Almighty, a digital advertising agency. You can download the whitepaper here.

The findings include

  • only 2 of the 30 use consistent descriptions of their customers across product, marketing, and sales teams. We’re designing for one customer, marketing to another, and selling to yet another.
  • of the 30 organizations audited, only six have mapped their end-customer experience. Of those six, only three are actively used. The rest are sitting quietly on servers and rolled up in cubicle tubes.
  • the quality of the experience delivered by many organizations is measured inconsistently. 50% of C-suite respondents said their organization has no consistent measure of customer experience. One in five said that social media sentiment was their only measure.
  • there is little to no consensus around internal accountability for the customer experience. In 44 of the 188 organizations we surveyed, three or more people identified someone accountable for the quality of the customer experience. In only one of the 44 cases did everyone name the same individual.

See Ian’s blog post highlighting the white paper here.


Design Thinking Should Be A Core Competency

In a recent Harvard Business Review article, Jon Kolko, argues that, as IBM and GE have found out, that

Design thinking is an essential tool for simplifying and humanizing. It can’t be extra; it needs to be a core competence.

Kolko also quotes Bridget van Kralingen, the senior vice president of IBM Global Business Services, where in a statement to the press she said “There’s no longer any real distinction between business strategy and the design of the user experience.”

As Kolko argues…

Every established company that has moved from products to services, from hardware to software, or from physical to digital products needs to focus anew on user experience. Every established company that intends to globalize its business must invent processes that can adjust to different cultural contexts. And every established company that chooses to compete on innovation rather than efficiency must be able to define problems artfully and experiment its way to solutions.

Kolko also explains there are challenges with embracing a new way of thinking including

  • accepting more ambiguity
  • embracing risk; and
  • resetting expectations

You can read the full article here.

Employee Engagement and Customer Experience

In a great post by Colin Shaw, Colin explains how many organisations are failing to link Customer Experience and Employee engagement programs together.

Foresee, a Customer Experience analytics firm, examined the results of two studies that used their analytics technology last fall. The first was looking at the employee experience for American workers at all levels of employment. The second examined the retail experience of 40,000 Customers. What they discovered was Customer Satisfaction was highest in retailers with high employee engagement. Furthermore, this translated into increased revenues for those stores by referrals; return visits and purchases from other channels. To see the full article, click here.

Colin goes on to explain how you can go about doing this.

The first step is defining the experience you want for both. Here’s a hint: It’s the same one…

Correlating with this theme, the Disney Institute offers up “one thing great leaders can do to impact employee engagement: Eliminate Work Place Hassles“.

Eliminating hassles sounds like a great way to improve the customer experience too!

Furthermore, Annette Franz, considers the amount of effort customers have to put in to do business with a company and what the spillover effects are to employees.

I know one thing, customers and employees have something critical in common, their both human.



Disney & Leadership Top 10

Following is the Disney Institute’s ten most popular posts on Leadership from 2015.




Customer Loyalty Means What?

Annette Franz recently authored a post asking if readers new what Customer Loyalty is. You can read the full post here.  Annette ended the post by asking the question again but this time a little more closed, as to whether Customer Loyalty was loyalty to the customer or loyalty from the customer.

Maz Iqbal sought to answer Annette’s question with his belief that…

“Customer Loyalty is a marketing concept…for getting the customer to stick with the organisation as long as the customer is generating handsome revenues and profits for the organisation.”

Maz went on to give a great example of how insurance companies in the UK treat loyal customers. I know for a fact, its the same here in Australia.

You can read Maz’s full post here.

Leading In Turmoil

Colin Shaw has put together this great little list of 10 things a leader should do in a time of turmoil.

  1. Be seen and seen often
  2. Embrace honesty
  3. Set out the plan
  4. Roll up your sleeves
  5. Situate yourself on the front lines
  6. Communicate regularly
  7. Encourage, don’t discourage
  8. Put your feelings to one side
  9. Stick to your principles
  10. Find your patience

You can read the full post here.

Innovating for Outcomes

mousetrapA perspective from Greg Yankelovich articulating the often missing ingredients in innovation.

Extracts from Greg’s post include…

The phrase “Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door” is often used as a metaphor about the power of innovation.

Those, who subscribe to the school of thought pioneered by Clayton Christensen, would argue convincingly that the “world” would rather not beat a path to a mousetrap, preferring the choice not to deal with mice at all.

“The customers rarely buy what the business thinks it sells them. One reason for this is, of course, that nobody pays for a product.” Peter Drucker.

Indeed, customers pay for obtaining a desirable outcome, they “hire” a product to do a “job”.

The critical pieces of the innovation puzzle are missing:

  1. clear understanding of the actual outcomes their customers desire,
  2. intimate knowledge of how customers experience the processes they use to obtain these outcomes, and
  3. empathy to motivate an innovator to find ways to simplify their experience.

Without these three ingredients, the “magic” of innovation is not likely to happen.

Read the full post here.

Process Improvement That Costs You

starbucksJames Lawther has highlighted a few excerpts from an eight year old memo from Howard Schultz, the chief executive of Starbucks at the time.

James does a great job of highlighting how a company can go off track by having an inward looking view of focusing on process improvement at the expense of the customer experience.

Read James’s full post here.

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