Your customers are everywhere, literally. They are searching your Web site from home or an island in the Caribbean. They are on your Facebook page while they are cooking dinner, watching their kids at the park, or even on a treadmill at the club. They are tweeting to your customer service reps while they are stuck in traffic or waiting for their lunch appointment to show up at their favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurant. How, where, through what channel, on what platform, and why your customers and others are connecting you is growing exponentially in complexity every day. At Altimeter we are calling this the Dynamic Customer Journey, the next step on the evolution of McKinsey’s famous Customer Decision Journey.
Understanding the balance between how does a company provide an outstanding digital experience to dynamic and ever changing customers while appropriately managing the risk is the focus of a bulk of my current and future research.
When it comes to providing an outstanding digital experience, companies need to focus on three things:
- Meet the customer where they are at. It doesn’t matter where you customers are at, it only matters if you are there with them. You need to be where a majority of your customers are at with an experience that is appropriate to your brand.
- Every channel is related to the brand. Remember, the experience on every channel is a reflection back on the brand. For example, the experience on the Nordstrom’s Facebook page should reflect the experience a customer gets in the store or the Nordstrom’s Web site.
- Be flexible. Understand that this relationship is dynamic, complex, and ever changing. If you want your company to be successful, you have to be flexible in how it is you engage with your customer in the context of the overall experience you want them to have.
When it comes to the counter-balance, managing the risks, companies need to:
- Understand the trade-offs. Managing risk is a trade-off. I remember speaking with a financial services firm who believed that being on social media was just to risky. What their analysis failed to take into account was the cost of not participating. Social media is potentially the one place where the cost of not participating outweighs the risks of.
- Pick channels appropriately. It is important that companies pick channels where a majority of their customers are, but not where every customer is at. For example, just because 2% of your customers are on the Chinese channel RenRen doesn’t mean that your company needs to be there if the risks don’t balance out with the rewards.
- Apply appropriate risk mitigation strategies. As much as we would like to ne able to think the best out everyone in social media, getting on Facebook, Twitter, and other channels is not without risk. Companies need to employ appropriate risk mitigation controls like policies, risk analyses, triage processes and others to these channels as they would any other interaction channel.
Customers and how they engage with your brand is becoming more dynamic and complex. At the same time, companies sneed to balance engagement with exposure. So how does a company find that balance? By understanding that there is always a trade-off between the two, finding that balance point, and then continually adjusting as the customer changes.