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Are You Taking Your Digital Consumers on the Journey of Their Lives?

Have you ever been in a public place, an airport, a tube, or even a restaurant and you started smiling while looking at your phone and when you look up, you see people starring at you wondering what would have triggered this joy?

Well I had it recently at an airport but not because of something funny or personal, but something more geeky:

So what was it?:I smiled and sighed after realizing what I have digitally experienced at that moment in time.

For a reason I don't remember, while at the airport waiting for boarding, I had the thought to buy a present for my nephew's upcoming birthday. From that thought, I opened my iPhone using the Touch ID, clicked on Amazon App, started typing "truck" and the search offered me endless options, chose title "Truck for Toddler", had all products at my finger tips, filtered on Color and delivery type, chose the one I liked, pressed on the 1-click buy in Amazon and "Ta-Da"!!!

What happened there:

I was taken on an effortless shopping experience, taking me from a simple thought to a purchase in less than few minutes. Wow!! .....And yes that made me smile big time.

But after a moment, I lost that smile! Why? I wondered why such experiences are not available everywhere, especially in the workplace. Imagine if you can get such an effortless experience at work while submitting your expenses, on boarding new team members or while performing any other support process.

Reason is simple:

Today, companies are putting more effort and priority on customer experience, from design to product release as this is the new field of differentiation in the market; however this is concentrated mainly on external customers rather than including their employees' experience as well. Unfortunately such investment in time, effort and design is not happening within the workplace.

The interesting fact, as mentioned in my previous blog, talent is the new Gold. And if you are fighting for attracting talent with the same energy & resources as you are fighting for acquiring customers, so why treat their experiences differently?

My reasoning above is supported by many studies:

  • Did you know that around 86% of new hires decide to stay or leave a company within their first 6 months on the job and 69% are more likely to stay longer than 3 years if they have good experience from onboarding to doing their daily work?

  • Did you know that it will cost the company up to 300% of an employees salary to replace them and approximately 8 months for a newly hired employee to reach full productivity?

As per a Harvard Business review article, organisations who are able to skillfully manage the entire experience equally for customers and employees alike, they reap enormous rewards from enhanced customer satisfaction, reduced churn, increased revenue, and greater employee satisfaction.

Now that I hopefully have you on board in why end to end experience is as important within the enterprise as outside it, I would like to use this blog to define how to improve such journeys for the Digital Consumer in general; as I believe, and as per my previous blog, we are all Digital Consumers, and our journeys should be seamless; irrespective of our intertwined roles as employees or consumers during our day-to-day lives.


What is Digital Consumer Journey?

There are a lot of examples out there on what a customer journey or employee journey is. However, I would like to define one for the Digital Consumer:

Digital Consumer Journey is the story of events and interactions a digital consumer has with a brand to fulfill their emotional, physical and cognitive needs. The Journey captures the touch points, experiences and actions from the the initial contact all through to developing a long lasting relationship.

As with every journey, you need a "Map" to allow you to define the start and the end of your Digital Consumer's journey. Similar to your Maps application, you should be able to offer your Digital consumer a seamless and personalized journey, however you need to allow them to take it with their own settings, such as fastest route, avoid highways, using a bike or a car, etc... That is why, the Digital Consumer's journey has to offer unique personalized experiences, if you want to build that emotional and cognitive relationship.

Along this seamless Journey, even as technology advances and digital consumers have more touch points than ever, the digital consumer doesn't have to experience or think about whom in your organisation is performing/managing that particular event or interaction, but instead they should feel that they have been taken on a simple journey to where they wanted to go themselves. Especially within the enterprise, the data, the user interface and the end to end journey should be defined from the digital consumer point of view rather than the different departments that might be operating independently.


Phases of the Digital Consumer Journey

Based on my experience, research and market case studies, for the Digital consumer, as an employee or as a consumer, I established the "6 A's" stages of any end to end journey:

Digital Consumer Journey

1- Attraction:

At this stage, the Digital Consumer is trying to answer a question, resolve an issue, order a product or applying to your Organisation and you want them to chose you instead of the competition; or even comeback to you, as once they have been an active consumer or employee of yours. In other words, in this stage, the Digital Consumer's emotional and cognitive journeys should be powerful enough to get them interested and attracted to your specific brand, product, company or platform at a specific time for a specific personal reason. Unconsciously, the Digital Consumer with his digital behavior is telling you: "Attract Me!"

So what are the actions you need to take here?

Define the set of Digital Consumer Segments & Personas you want to attract.

Deliver dynamic and personal offers across all channels that you operate on, such as search, social or mobile for each of those defined segments & personas.

How do you measure success in this stage?

As per my previous blog, the perception & satisfaction metrics are key at this early rate. The Reach & Adherence Rates are good metrics that can capture your "attraction" to the Digital Consumers.


2- Activation:

At this stage, the Digital Consumer has been already attracted to your Organisation, Product or Platform, and became an established user by purchasing one of your products, found a possible solution to their issue, subscribed to your mailing list for information, or applied and got the job at your organisation. In this stage, the main goal of the Digital Consumer is, as simple, quick and seamless as possible, to interact with your platform and quickly move to the next stage from search to experiencing your product, or commenting on a thread of issue they are experiencing, or to move from a newbie in your Organisation to be fully on-boarded and operational as a any other employee. In here, the Digital Consumer is unconsciously telling you: "Onboard Me!"

So what are the actions you need to take here?

Ensure the access to product description, FAQs, or full up & running IT, are quick and barrier free, accessible and personalized to your Digital Consumer.

Your cross-functional processes for your consumers or employees are critical at this stage and should be seamless to the Digital Consumer.

How do you measure success in this stage?

The perception, satisfaction & interaction metrics are important here. The Sentiment, Conversion & Bounce Rates are good metrics that can capture the "activation" of your Digital Consumers.


3- Assistance:

This stage is a key stage as in here, the Digital Consumer is requiring either more information on your product or within your Organisation and/or is having a problem. You shouldn't wait until the Digital Consumer contacts your contact center or help desk to react, as by then they have probably already tried to find a solution themselves, weren't successful and are already frustrated. In this stage, the Digital Consumer journey should have simple, easily identifiable and accessible access to support ecosystem, from self-service to 1-2-1 chats (for more info on support ecosystem, check my previous blog) to ensure you provide the Digital Consumer the information they were missing or the solution they are looking for. In an ideal journey, the Digital Consumer skips this stage as they wouldn't require any assistance to reach their end destination. Therefore, the Digital Consumer unconsciously is telling you: "Help Me!"

So what are the actions you need to take here?

Ensure there is a proactive support ecosystem covering multiple channels to provide quick and personalized information & solutions to the Digital Consumer.

Based on predictive analytics and more important, to anticipate future issues.

How do you measure success in this stage?

The perception, satisfaction & interaction metrics are important here. The Amplification, retention & Efficiency Rates are good metrics that can capture the "Assistance" quality offered to your Digital Consumers.


4- Advancement:

At this stage, the Digital Consumer, who is already using your product on regular basis, or is an established employee, is looking to increase the value of your product to their advantage, or enhance their efficiency within their day to day work at your Organisation. Therefore, the Digital Consumer is expecting to be able to enhance their knowledge, usage efficiency & adoption by easy access to personalized continuous learning and development opportunities. The Digital Consumer is unconsciously telling you: "Develop Me!"

So what are the actions you need to take here?

Put multi-channel & multi-media training and learning information that are easily accessible, and ensure to offer free & membership related offerings. Those offerings can be developed either based on comments/feedback received from Digital consumers or by your data analytics you have available.

Ensure you have both physical & virtual possibilities for the Digital Consumer to interact with your brand ambassadors and guru's.

How do you measure success in this stage?

The perception, satisfaction & interaction metrics are important here. The Sentiment & Amplification rates, as well as Retention & Bounce Rates are good metrics that can capture the "Assistance" quality offered to your Digital Consumers.


5- Appreciation:

At this stage, the key goal is to ensure the Digital Consumer feel engaged with your product or platform, your organisation & motivated to continue their engagement. Therefore, you need to ensure you nurture the relationship on both the cognitive and emotional level with your Digital Consumer to keep a continuous engagement with the goal to avoid them reaching the "Adjournment" stage at an early period of their Journey (or even at all). The Digital Consumer is expecting at this stage high quality and real-time communications with easy access to communities to feel that their contribution, adoption or interaction with your product or within the Organisation is recognized, appreciated & of course rewarded. The Digital Consumer is unconsciously telling you: "Engage Me!"

So what are the actions you need to take here?

Develop and Implement a Gamification strategy to enhance the engagement and ensure its continuous and motivating aspect. For more details of Gamification strategy, check my previous blog.

How do you measure success in this stage?

The satisfaction & interaction metrics are important here. The Sentimate & Retention Rates are good metrics that can capture the "Appreciation" your Digital Consumers is feeling.


6- Adjournment:

At this stage, the Digital Consumer has decided to either stop their engagement with your product or platform, or leave your Organisation to another one. I called it "Adjournment" as ideally, you should ensure the Digital Consumer is only leaving you on a temporary basis rather than permanent, and they are leaving with a positive experience and memory rather than one full of frustrations. Therefore, you should always be measuring the Digital Consumer engagements, interactions and all data to be aware of any challenges the Digital Consumer is facing and proactively act on avoiding it. However, if for any reason, this wasn't possible to avoid, then it is important to address any negative experiences, all data for that negative experience analyzed, and ensure this is not being repeated again. The Digital Consumer is unconsciously telling you: "Wish Me Farewell!"

So what are the actions you need to take here?

Big Data Analytics Engine should work quite hard in avoiding the "Adjournment" stage and ensure data access is available to everyone in the Organisation, even your Digital Consumer, to ensure whoever needs to act are taking the "ownership" to act on rather than confined with small group of data scientists.

How do you measure success in this stage?

The satisfaction & interaction metrics are important here. The Retention & Efficiency Rates are good metrics that can capture the early signs of "Adjournment".


Defining Overarching Journey versus Mini journeys

The "6 A's" stages have a continuous cycle relationship as well as star like relationships with the Digital Consumer, i.e. A Digital Consumer (Employee or Customer) can start with "Attraction" stage and go through to "Adjournment" as a full journey life-cycle. However, the same Digital Consumer can jump between the stages at any time in their journey and you should ensure you are ready for them.

Therefore, the Digital Consumer Experience with your product, platform, brand or within your Organisation cannot be purely defined by one overarching journey, but you should complement it with all their mini journeys or what Google calls "Micro Moments" they have or will be experiencing.

Mini Journeys are the set of small interactions that a Digital Consumer might experience to perform a specific task on a specific channel, while the Overarching Journey is cumulative experiences across multiple touchpoints and multiple channels over time. For example, my example at the beginning of this blog of ordering a Truck for my nephew on the mobile can be seen as a mini journey, while if I didn't make the purchase, and I am followed up by an email from Amazon telling me i have something in the basket and when I click on the email using my PC I am taken to my basket automatically, then that's an overarching Journey. The 6 A's stages are applicable on both Overarching and mini Journeys.


So how do you define your Journeys?

Journey, as any map, is best represented in a visual sense where you can develop these maps from the digital consumer point of view and highlight at every stage. The visual representation should be done using story telling, i.e. Putting the context into the activity rather than the technological steps. Either using physical white boards or digital tools that are rapidly growing in sophistication and functionalities, you can follow 3 simple steps:

  1. Design: Design your overarching Journey based on your overarching goal for your product, platform and/or organisation.

  2. Watch: Either through real interactions or "standing in the shoes of your Digital Consumer", understand & define the touch points that add up to build the mini journeys the Digital Consumer are experiencing when they interact with you.

  3. Shape: Based on your experiences, data and understanding of your Digital consumer, your overarching and mini journeys should be continuously be reshaped & optimized for every interaction to bring simpler and more satisfactory experience to the Digital Consumer.


In Summary, the Digital Consumer experiences rely on end-to-end journeys that they follow with your product, brand, platform or within your organisation and these are vital for your success. Touchpoints or single interactions/silo processes may perform well even if the overall experience is quite poor resulting in losing your Digital Consumer's business, your talent leaving your organisation to your competitor or even damaging your brand.

In the next 100 days, you should embed the Digital Consumer Journeys into your internal and external operating models by:

  1. Identify the 1-2 “high-impact” overarching journeys that fit best with your overall strategy & goals and capture their current performance ("As-is" State)

  2. Identify their current mini journeys and their current performance.

  3. Prioritize 2-3 Mini Journeys, optimize and improve each journey by working on the cross-functional operational & support processes for those journeys and release to your Digital Consumer.

  4. Leverage your learnings and approach based on the Digital Consumer's metrics and feedback and apply to future priorities.

  5. If not yet in place, put in place "Digital Consumer Engagement Hubs", centering their operations around Digital Consumer engagement and experience as a whole.


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