Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Managing Knowledge Through Culture and Technology

Following on from my previous point that surfacing and sharing knowledge could be a crucial factor in survival right now, the underlying enabler in leveraging this knowledge is culture. If your organisation doesn't already have a knowledge sharing and evolution culture, then all the information you store is only of limited use.

The typical view amongst many culture change consultants is that culture is about people and therefore all change strategies must focus entirely on human structures. A business issue. Behaviours, communications and processes; not technology. The vertical split in function and skills dividing business and technology in most commercial and consulting environments, compounds this division and embeds it into our ways of thinking.

The reason I make this point is that we live in a time where technology and human behaviour are so closely inter-twined, even for those who consider themselves technophobes, that ignoring one or the other just increases the difficulties in changing culture.

Technology by its nature is an enabler, facilitating our ability to do virtually everything, all the way from computing and working to socialising and entertainment. A great example of technology driving culture is the way social utilities like Facebook have single-handedly raised the web literacy of a whole generation.

If leveraged sensibly then, technology can greatly facilitate and speed up culture change around knowledge management by providing a directional platform that removes the barriers to sharing and evolving knowledge, driving new behaviours and ways of thinking that over time become embedded into organisational norms i.e. culture.

The key here is to think of change as a journey, rather than a big bang - if you want it to be painless anyway! People need time to learn and adapt so my suggestion is to approach the development of knowledge sharing in terms of maturity, where technology supported by a change programme evolves the immature information capture state towards more complex social interaction around knowledge and innovation at the end of the journey.

The following is a Knowledge Management Maturity Model I've sketched out to illustrate what I mean:

Knowledge Management Maturity Model

Friday, December 12, 2008

Customer Experience Pt 2 - Identifying and Managing Culture

Post series written by Andrew McMillan (Principal Consultant at Charteris specialising in customer experience). Before joining Charteris, Andrew had a 28 year career with John Lewis and spent the last eight years of that career being responsible for the quality of service and selling across the UK department stores.

Last time I attempted to put into some context the importance of business culture in the overall operating model and consequent customer experience. In this piece I hope to give some thoughts as to how it can be identified and managed to positive effect.

So what is culture?

In the simplest of terms it’s ‘the way we do things around here’. There have been many academic studies on the subject but, in my view, intellectualising the subject is unlikely to help a business shape its culture from an operational perspective. What most of the studies agree on is that a culture is created from an amalgam of the businesses’ activities both past and current which will include: stories of previous events, organisational structure, how power is disseminated or not within the organisation, symbols such as management parking spaces, dining rooms etc, leadership style and many more depending which study you happen to read.

In essence though, it does amount to ‘the way we do things around here’ but how do you shape that in practical terms and what is a good or not so good culture?

Shaping Culture

Well, that all depends on what you are trying to achieve in the organisation which is where it gets so complicated. However, considering what sort of culture you want to create in the organisation is an essential starting point and one many organisations ignore. Perhaps it would help to give a couple of, admittedly extreme, examples to illustrate the point: I don’t want a junior surgeon to be creative or empowered if they are operating on me, nor do I want a troop of soldiers to feel empowered to question orders in a battle situation. BUT, and this is the challenging bit, I do want a senior medical practitioner to be imaginative and creative as that is how advances in learning are made and likewise I would want our senior military figures to be creative in their strategy and tactics as that is often how battles are won. So the culture you create very much depends on what you have to achieve in the organisation and, in the examples I have given, this may even change for different parts of the organisation.

Fortunately many organisations aren’t responsible for the nation’s defence or advances in medical science so it can be a little more straightforward!

An Illustration

Let’s go back to the small business I talked about in the last piece. The owner is initially the only employee and is likely to have a clear idea of how the business is to interact with its customers and have a passion for the success of the business. This may be as simple as being efficient and polite, but it may include thinking creatively to offer a very personalised service, or wanting to be known for being informal and especially welcoming or some other point of differentiation the owner has identified. The culture won’t be explicitly articulated because it doesn’t need to be – it’s in the owner’s head!

As the business finds the culture is successful and appealing to its customers it will grow and the owner will recruit more people. The people recruited are likely to share the owner’s own views and attitudes just in the same way as we subconsciously choose friends with whom we have common views and attitudes. The new recruits are also likely to have an affinity for the business and a passion for it to succeed or they wouldn’t have been recruited in the first place. So, we now have a business of 10 employees all of whom know the owner and work closely with them on a day to day basis, being kept abreast of new developments and thinking as the business grows. If the recruitment has been done with care, these ten people will share some common views, attitudes and approaches to the organisation that will bind them together as a cohesive unit with a real sense of common purpose and a desire for the business to succeed. Nothing will have explicitly been done to shape the culture, but implicitly the workforce will have come together as a group of like-minded individuals.

So far, so good but what happens when the business gets really successful and grows to 100 employees?

Managing Culture

At 100 employees, the latest recruit often won’t have a close relationship with the owner and is less likely to have been personally recruited by them. They may well be working to pay a mortgage, support a family, buy a new car or whatever else, but it is unlikely they will automatically share the passion the owner has for the business. And that’s with just 100 people! When you get to 1000, 10,000 or 100,000 the recruitment and its leadership can be so far removed from the original aims of the business that the people making the recruitment decisions may not be clear about the owner’s original overall aims, let alone the views and attitudes the people they are recruiting should have to achieve them.

So, at what point does the culture move from something implicit to require explicit shaping and leadership? I don’t believe there is a definitive answer for that question, but it is likely to be the stage at which the business has got to a size at which the latest recruit does not have day to day contact with the owner. At that point the owner needs to stop, think carefully and clearly about the views and attitudes that have made the business successful to date and how to ensure they are replicated with every new employee and frequently reinforced for the existing employees. Sounds simple and perhaps obvious, but it rarely seems to actually happen which can be very damaging as it’s so much harder to change a large organisation’s culture when it has become firmly established than it is to shape it as the organisation builds.

So, I hope I have provoked some thoughts about the culture of a business and how it can be identified and shaped to be a great attribute or, as is often the case, how it can be very damaging to the future well-being and growth of an organisation. Next time we will look at how you define or actively start to change an existing organisation’s culture.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Customer Experience Pt 1 - Introduction

Post series written by Andrew McMillan (Principal Consultant at Charteris specialising in customer experience). Before joining Charteris Andrew had a 28 year career with John Lewis and spent the last eight years of that career being responsible for the quality of service and selling across the UK department stores.

This series of blogs is about what it takes for any organisation to deliver a consistent and distinctly identifiable quality of service through its employees. I would welcome, and will respond to, any comments or thoughts of your own that you may wish to add as we go.

Delivering Customer Satisfaction

I want to start by putting the customer experience factor (or whatever you might choose to call it) into some context with other business activity.
In simplistic terms the customer experience and consequential satisfaction or otherwise of a customer delivered by any organisation can be divided into 3 key areas:
  1. The competiveness/desirability/relevance of the product or services the organisation is providing.
  2. The effectiveness of the systems or processes to deliver that product or service to a customer, in other words – how easy are you to do business with?
  3. The way the staff in the organisation interact with its customers, ideally leaving them feeling they have been treated as an individual rather than being part of a process and, when appropriate, genuinely cared for.
If you were starting your own business tomorrow it would probably be because you felt you had an idea for a product, proposition or service that nobody else, or nobody else in your area, offered. Possibly this might be offering better quality or price than any existing potential competitors too. Consequently that has to be the starting point for all organisations as it must be the reason for their very existence. If the product or services you are offering don’t represent an attractive proposition for your target customers the organisation is destined for failure.

What’s next?

Well there is no point in having a great product or service if your customers find it easier to do business with your competitors. The systems and processes are very important as in a time pressed world nobody appreciates confusion, complication or errors. The knowledge and advice you are able to impart about your product or service are also very important as you will be perceived as an expert in what you do and customers will want to trust your advice.

Finally, you are really going to look after your customers and care about them individually as you will want the business to grow. Consequently you will want your customers to come back and bring their friends because they have enjoyed dealing with you.

So, all pretty obvious stuff, and even more obvious if you are still thinking of a small business where the owner is the person the customers interact with. Of course you are going to be easy to do business with and you are going to care about your customers and leave them feeling good about the transaction because you have a vested interest in making the business succeed.

What happens when the organisation grows to 100 employees? Well, the product or service will remain the same or perhaps diversify a little and the owner is still likely to be driving the development. The systems and processes may have become more complex as the organisation has grown but, to a large extent, the logistical challenges of the growth will have ensured the processes have developed in tandem.

So what about the people and customer experience they deliver?

Intentionally or accidentally, the organisation will have developed its own culture and that will have a significant effect on how its customers are treated as the owner will no longer be dealing with each customer personally. That will affect how those customers perceive the business when they interact with it. However, because the culture of a business is less tangible than its products, services or processes it is often the case that there is less overt awareness of how the evolving internal culture can affect customer service. This can often be to the detriment of the business as a whole, which is why I believe we have such a reputation for poor service in the UK.

So, I hope I have put business culture into some degree of context within the overall operating model. Next time we shall look at culture and how you can positively shape it in a large organisation.

Contact - andrew.mcmillan@charteris.com

Friday, October 31, 2008

Customer Advocacy through Compelling Customer Experience

What percentage of value-add activity are you achieving in your customer facing operations?
If less than 80%, then it is time for action

How many of your front-line staff can answer the question “how have I added value to customer experience today?”If less than 90%, then there is too much wasted effort and higher than necessary costs

Do your customer facing people and systems consistently help & drive enhanced customer experience?
If you are not very sure then there is a compelling case for a “voice of the customer” review of your systems and processes

Are your customer-facing staff systems and product experts or customer problem solvers?
If just experts then they – and therefore your organisation – will benefit from being problem solvers

How do you spot and remove barriers to rich customer experience and people motivation? Find out about “voice of the customer” at www.charteris.com/what_we_do/customer_centricity/

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Making banking customers' experience compelling whilst cutting costs

"Your call is important to our bank; we’ll be with you as soon as possible....in the meantime here is some mind numbing music"

Ten years ago or so banks like many other major businesses recognised the opportunity to cut costs by directing more customers away from higher cost, face-to-face channels to call centres. They wanted to maximise the use of centralised customer contact centres to deliver a more efficient, consistent and auditable service. However, in the pursuit of cost reduction these organisations lost sight of the most important factor: the customer experience.

No business can afford to provide excellent customer service at any cost. But equally, no business can afford to ignore the importance of customer satisfaction.

Call centre cost reduction strategies like off-shoring or technology outsourcing have failed because they focus almost exclusively on improving the bottom line. They have not properly considered the implications for enterprise processes and management approaches and, more importantly, have not focused on the customer. So, anticipated financial and operational benefits have not been fully realised and customers remain largely dissatisfied i.e. a vicious circle.

Customer dissatisfaction has led to many institutions reversing their earlier decisions to offshore call centre operations. In their adverts many banks now make a point of having UK based call centres.

But cost savings and service improvements do not have to be mutually exclusive. If the customer experience is placed at the heart of a business transformation programme, opportunities can arise to improve both customer service levels and cut waste.

The Art of Possible:
There are three layers of corporate process that fundamentally drive performance excellence in a contact centre. They are contact centre strategy, operational planning and tactical execution. The strategic thinking, business analysis, detailed planning and communication that occur at each of these layers must be highly integrated from both the bottom up and the top down.

Only then will banks be able to determine where they are going – and have confidence in the belief that they are really going to be able to get there.

Saving costs and improving customer experience need not be mutually exclusive.

At Charteris we have customer centric contact centre expertise with experience gained in some of the country’s largest and most successful contact centres.


Monday, October 27, 2008

Multi Channel Retailing - Putting the Customer First - Part 7 - Creating Agility......The end goal

Putting it altogether; the IT, the business organisation and a service oriented architecture, will provide a retailer with:
  • an IT architecture that allows change, rather then dictating what changes can be made.
  • a business that is geared to meet the needs of the channels and ultimately its customers
  • a multi-channel platform that will last, adapt and perform
In summary, multi-channel retailers require agility and in delivering these key assets, a retailer can acquire the lasting agility that will differentiate them in the marketplace. Agility can be measured in many ways but there are some simple measures to consider in assessing just how agile a retailer really is. For instance, how long would it take to do the following:
  • introduce a new range or products across one or more channels?
  • open a new channel (such as a concession or mobile commerce platform)?
  • react to a competitors promotion?
  • introduce regional pricing and promotions?
  • introduce differential pricing across channels?
  • start marketing internationally
If the answer to any of these is “longer than my competitors”, then there is room for improvement. Taking the customer centric approach will shortcut many of the hurdles in assessing what needs to be done and partnering with Charteris is a firm step towards creating agility.

The Charteris Approach
At Charteris we define Customer Centricity as “the alignment of organisational structure, processes and technology to deliver products and services to internal and external customers in the most agile way.” Applying this to multi-channel retailing is what we do best and have wide experience in making this not just a theoretical exercise, but making it real.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Mobile Banking and Payments Innovations

The Demise of Cheques?

When did you last write a cheque? The average person in the UK now receives less than seven cheques per year. In 1990, 11 million cheques were issued per day, in 2008 the daily volume is approximately 4million cheques and APACS estimates that in eight years time there will be only 2.5 million cheques per day.

Non-paper based payments like direct debits, direct credits and cards have reduced the need for cheques. Insurance claims are now settled via direct bank transfers or pre-paid cards for the smaller amounts. You can now draw larger amounts over the counter at your bank branch using your chip and pin card as your proof of ID. So, why are there still 4 million or so cheques issued a day?

The main culprits include person to person and person to small business payments. This is because as yet there is no infrastructure in place in the UK to provide an electronic payments system for these payment types.

Now with the new UK Faster Payment Service - you can get the latest updates here – ramping up, the industry has taken the first step towards the eventual elimination of cheques. All that is required next is for your banks to enable you to download from their mobile banking site a mobile payment application that becomes a function of your mobile banking service.
OK, there is more to the technology jigsaw puzzle than my “all you need” but it is not rocket science either. A main component will be a bank and mobile operator agnostic database that securely stores you m- credentials and keeps these up to date. There are also a few governance, security, privacy and exception management considerations to iron out.

But m-payments will be a compelling win-win proposition for payers, for beneficiaries and great for the banks’ relationship with their customers. It has the potential for the banks to innovate new customer centric experiences for all of their customers.

Who needs cheques now? Imagine.... you can pay “Joe the plumber” for fixing your pipes by pressing a few buttons on your mobile and by the time he finishes saying thank you he gets confirmation of settlement from his bank on his mobile..same mobile also tells him that he should now transfer some money to his personal account to avoid going into the red.

The British a nation of shopkeepers? More like a nation of bankers.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Multi Channel Retailing - Putting the Customer First - Part 6 - The Customer Centric Approach

In gearing any part of an organisation to deliver a service, whether it be technology, system, process or people related, an understanding of the customer is vital. For example, a retailer who also provides white label channels has not only the end consumer to consider, but also the partner organisations to whom they provide white label solutions. Similarly, merchandisers, graphic designers and cataloguers servicing more than one channel can consider each channel as a customer. When an organisation starts to think along theses lines, about who their customer really is, then the implementation of a service led philosophy becomes an easier task. Underpinning this approach is taking a considered view of the customer in order to understand their motivations, behaviour, likes and dislikes.

Taking a customer centric approach enables each area to focus on delivering exactly what the customer wants. Critically analysing processes, systems and related functional areas and determining their effectiveness in delivering customer service is at the heart of the customer centric approach. Breaking down each element and step of a process and stripping out those that do not add value to the customer can create efficiencies and benefits across the organisation. In doing this, the multi-channel retailer can create a framework of services that is ultimately geared towards the customer rather than the requirements or functions of a particular channel or technology.

Can banks cut more costs without risking customer service ?

Cost reduction through improving operational efficiency has been a consistent goal of financial services organisations. Techniques such as Lean have been adopted with significant success in many organisations.

However, recent research indicates that the pure application of such techniques, which were originally designed for the manufacturing sector, can be detrimental to customer experience when applied to service organisations.

In essence, process optimisation motivated primarily by a desire for cost reduction can lead to decisions which are detrimental to customer service.

Meanwhile , the behaviour of the financial services consumer continues to evolve; more sophisticated, more demanding and more likely to complain or transfer their business if their expectations are not met. Simultaneously, financial services organisations are recognising the true lifetime value of customer retention; looking to cross-sell and up-sell to their existing customer base.

In this context, what financial services organisations need is the confidence that their business critical process change programmes will enhance customer experience not acting to its detriment.

The key to drive business change successfully is direct and continuous engagement of the customer within the change process. Customers are the ultimate arbiters of the success of change initiatives – their “voice” can not only be a compelling reason for change but, properly engaged, an extremely effective shaper of that change.

Chaos reigns in the world of spreadsheets

Thanks to its relative ease of use, flexibility and low unit cost Excel has matured to become the most pervasive business tool for risk modelling, financial analysis and reporting applications. But Excel’s perceived ease of use and flexibility have become both its strengths and its weakness.

In many instances though Excel models operate outside normal governance and control mechanism, giving rise to increased risk of failures in such critical areas as valuations, assessments, premiums, trading and financial reporting.

At the other end of the scale, many enterprise risk and financial modelling services are hard coded into line of business or specialist applications. The process for defining and changing these services is complex, time consuming and expensive. Typically it impacts a range of systems and requires lengthy interactions between subject matter experts (e.g. risk analysts, financial analysts, researchers and statisticians) and IT development teams.

Often this results in:
  • Poor time to market for new deals,
  • higher than necessary development costs
  • Less than optimum productivity
In my view the effective solution is effective spreadsheet management requires a risk framework encompassing
  • spreadsheet lifecycle and content management and version control
  • quality assurance, security and access control
  • regulatory and corporate compliant business processes
  • access to information required for reporting

..... will continue

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Multi Channel Retailing - Putting the Customer First - Part 5 - Business Architecture.....The afterthought

Structuring the operational model around the new architectures and solutions is often left as a last minute consideration in delivering any new system. Organisational structure and associated processes are vital in order to deliver the most customer focussed experience and service possible. Every aspect of the operational model needs to be visited and assessed to determine the value it actually delivers to the customer and ensure that the priority and focus is aligned to this strategy.

This is where the thinking around the use of SOA needs to break out of the IT box and permeate through the business functions and respective processes. This is where the hard questions can often be found and where the structure of business functions needs to be most challenged. However, the balance of dividing business functions amongst the selected channels as opposed to maintaining a centralised operational model is a real tightrope and one that can only be managed on a case by case basis.

Creating a business architecture by applying SOA principles is not an exact science in some respects is still in its infancy. Even considering the business and operational model as an “Architecture” is a step too far for some organisations. But, those that have embraced this philosophy have broken out of the traditional business models and created cross functional working units geared to providing services to their customers, whether internal or external. This approach not only is geared towards a value added customer experience but leverages the experience and expertise of the people within an organisation.

5 Key Issues Facing Retailers Trying To Become Multi-Channel

I'd argue that the underlying success factor in multi-channel retail from an external perspective is a seamless customer experience, and from an internal perspective is a single customer view - different sides of the same coin. Most of the challenges to any retailer appear to stem from attempting to achieve this.

The two key areas of impact here are technological and organizational dependent on retailer age and size. The older the organization, the more likely they are to have legacy systems, and the larger they are, they more likely they are to face resistance to change. Multi-channel may therefore require integration of disparate technologies, while also needing a complete review of structure, skills, staff incentivisation, and a host of other business and marketing processes.

The 5 main issues faced by large retailers entering the multi-channel space are as follows:

  1. Evaluating cost of investment in development of cost effective, secure, scalable environments and systems integration against probable short term impact on bottom line
  2. Pricing across different channels - Store channels have higher cost structures than web channels for example, and price competition is higher on web, but consumers can be put off by different pricing for the same product
  3. Channel synchronisation i.e. ensuring brand, customer experience and customer information consistency across channels while avoiding the 3E trap i.e. trying to provide ‘everything to everyone everywhere’
  4. Problems in merging and standardising customer data i.e. unifying different systems which may have very different data models
  5. Difficulties in reducing or abolishing organisational boundaries to cope with new channels

In summary, customers for whom a multi-channel approach will yield the most benefits are often those for whom achieving it the most problematic – they have the largest customer bases, most complex lines, and longest histories of systems development, with many business critical systems that supply old CRM processes.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Multi Channel Retailing - Putting the Customer First - Part 4 - I thought SOA was just an IT thing!

From an IT perspective, the use of SOA (Service Oriented Architecture) is a logical fit to fulfil the multi-channel solution where core capabilities such as product, delivery, payment etc. are developed in such a way that they are created as services allowing for re-use across the enterprise. However, if the IT department is the only place where the SOA principles are adopted, then there can be no real alignment between IT and the business. Therefore, it is essential that the SOA blueprint is adopted throughout the enterprise rather than remain solely as just another IT acronym. In order to achieve this, the entire organisation must adopt SOA principles and the blueprint for this ideally is owned by the business. If the IT department alone is trusted in implementing the SOA architecture (as is so often the case), then the chances of the remaining parts of the organisation fostering the principles of SOA (and hence the benefits) are somewhat slim.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Multi Channel Retailing - Putting the Customer First - Part 3 - Surely, IT has all the answers!

So, the decision has been made to create a new architecture and it’s all hand on deck. Constructing the great new systems and solutions to support the multi-channel ambition is one thing, but there are many other considerations which are just as important. IT is undoubtedly the key enabler in this relentless march towards customer satisfaction, but it is truly only one part of the jigsaw. The creation of a technical architecture that is aligned to the operating goals is vital; less so is the selection of the exact technology as there are various products and technologies that can be blended together to form an effective solution. In addressing the architecture issue, the creation of a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) is widely recognised as the best practice approach and one that dovetails into a customer focussed strategy.

The key benefits of SOA in a multi-channel strategy are one of re-use and the ability to initiate changes (to business or channel specific rules and functionality) without having a knock-on effect to all parts of the organisation. As discussed in my posts on the practicalities of multi-channel retailing, re-using components such as inventory, delivery and payment across the channels as services increases the efficiency and realises cost savings across the channels. However, the full benefits can only be full realised by creating a business logic layer across these services where specific attributes cater for the requirements of each channel. This is where such elements as price, promotions and catalogue are controlled and provide the channels with independence despite sharing a common data set.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Meeting Performance Challenges In Local Government

Here are the 5 key performance issues facing Local and Regional Government right now:

  1. There is no common understanding of hundreds of performance indicators (PIs)
  2. Accessing the data necessary to derive each PI is difficult
  3. The quality of data is poor
  4. The cost of reporting is high
  5. Use of performance reporting is poor

Andrew Rogoyski, Head of Public Sector at Charteris, explores these further and covers the ways the LRG's might look to address them in his paper on "Performance Management for Local and Regional Government Organisations in England" below.

Monday, October 13, 2008

8 Steps To Customer Centricity

(Excerpt taken from Stephen Hewett's paper "The right way to do the right thing for the customer")

Here's our 8 step plan for maximising Customer Centricity within your organisation:

  1. Identify who your primary and secondary customers are.
  2. Identify the products and services they consume and through which channels (web, call centre, bricks and mortar and so on).
  3. Work out where the crucial ‘points of addition’ occur in adding value to those products and services.
  4. Make sure that the business areas involved in these points of addition understand how they each add value to these products and services.
  5. Align the organisational structure to support these points of addition.
  6. Minimise the activities that don’t add value to what the customer is getting from the organisation.
  7. Ensure that the correct measurements maintain and improve the processes.
  8. Support where appropriate with technology solutions.


(Download the full whitepaper “The right way to do the right thing for the customer”)

If you want to know more, do feel free to get in touch as we have developed some helpful frameworks for the end to end delivery of customer centricity.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Changing To A Customer-Centric Culture

(Excerpt taken from Stephen Hewett's paper "The right way to do the right thing for the customer")

Successful organisations, whether in the private or public sector, all have one thing in common. They have all found a way, or ways, of consistently winning from customers a level of loyalty and willingness to buy again that in effect amounts to a reliable mandate from customers who are attracted to what the business has to offer.

The business, of course, will want those customers to keep being attracted by what is on offer, and for the number of customers who are attracted to increase. Essentially, Customer Centricity is a way of disciplining - in the most positive sense - the entire organisation to ensure that it is as good at looking after its customers and winning and maintaining new customer mandates and new levels of loyalty from customers as it possibly can be.

So what does it really mean in practice? How do you actually ‘do’ Customer Centricity at your organisation?

The key is to achieve agility in how the organisation is run and how every element in the chain links together. Make sure everyone knows who their own key internal and external customers are, and what products and services each of them needs (and are prepared to pay for, in the case of external customers). Take steps to assess whether your customer chain is delivering products and services most effectively at the lowest cost.

Be ready to start making your organisation customer centric from first principles - possibly taking advice on how best to do this - and be adamant that you won’t paper over the cracks in those parts of your organisation that aren’t agile and flexible enough to demonstrate very clearly the role they play in the chain.

Above all, be honest. Prepare yourself for long-term incremental change. Build a group of stakeholders from all levels who understand the concept of Customer Centricity, what it requires and who can preach it to others.

Ultimately you will need to drive the Customer Centricity concept and principles throughout all aspects of the business including strategic vision, people, process, organisational structure, information and technology.

Yes, change is hard, but you can grow Customer Centricity within your organisation on a department by department basis: you don’t need to do it all at once. And when you are ready to implement the technology, you’ll find there is plenty of great technology out there - systems for Workflow management, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), databases management, Business Intelligence tools and so on - that will enable you to create your new-look organisation without delay.

Remember that deep down in your organisation the chain that will delight your customers - and your shareholders - very possibly already exists, obscured by internally focused organisation design, poor process, inappropriately deployed technology and lack of vision.

Liberate it, and enjoy the brightest tomorrow you can imagine.


(Download the full whitepaper “The right way to do the right thing for the customer”)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Listening to customers in a multi channel world

Understanding customer’s in-store and online shopping preferences

Whilst researching key customer needs and trends in the multi channel world, I came across this white paper published by Sterling commerce. They have produced a report full of compelling analysis and with very insightful statistics that is and will continue to affect Multi Channel retail.

Sterling Commerce conducted an online survey of 5,000 consumers to understand consumer preferences and attitudes when shopping online and in traditional retail channels. With some surprising results, the responses provide tremendous insight into the consumer’s expectations for selling and fulfilment.

Some highlights

1. Three statistics customers rated the most important when shopping across channels.

  • 1. 72% of customers wanted notification of filling/shipping delays
  • 2. 69% of customers wanted the store to locate an out-of–stock product at a different location.
  • 3. 68% of customers wanted notification throughout ordering/shipping process
2. Three statistics customers said would affect their willingness to shop at a retail store

  • 1. 74% of customers said no pricing on the item or shelf
  • 2. 72% of customers said sale items out of stock
  • 3. 65% of customers said unhelpful sales associates

3. 57% of consumers stating that it is important for them to be able to monitor the status of their order via the Web, free phone number, or through customer service in a store, regardless of whether that order was placed online, through the catalogue, or as a special order in a store.

4. Consumers are becoming more familiar with the experience of a single retailer offering products across multiple channels. They expect the communication and service options related to these products to be seamlessly merged. Retailers who do not provide a single face to their consumers with cross-channel execution will begin losing customers to retailers that do.

Retailers who create a customer centric seamless experience for their customers can expect increased customer loyalty, increased same-store sales, and improved margins.

Check it out, it's free: Sterling Commerce.

Why Organisations Become Less Customer Centric Over Time

(Excerpt taken from Stephen Hewett's paper "The right way to do the right thing for the customer")

In short because they
  1. Lose focus,
  2. Lose stamina,
  3. Get complacent and
  4. Get lazy.
When organisations first start trading they usually (and certainly should) have a clear idea what they are in business to do, who does what, and why. Every person involved in a start-up will most likely know how they add value to the finished product or service and whom they need to work with internally to make sure the best service or product is delivered to their new customers. They will know this because looking after the customer is so completely why they set up the business in the first place.

But then, if the new business succeeds, it will grow. To start with, as it grows, the founders and the new staff may be able to keep alive the flame that embodies the spirit of why they are in business. But sooner or later, somewhere along the line, the flame will diminish or even go out completely, as the clarity of why you are in business fades. Once that clarity starts to fade, Customer Centricity fades with it.

Why does this happen?

To speak generally, one has to say that as organisations grow in size a curious effect almost invariably occurs. Staff members start to look inward, worry about their own internal departmental issues and become more and more remote from the actual agenda of the customer.

Internal management processes arise that have little or nothing at all to do with adding value to the external customer. It’s common for whole new business areas and departments to be created to deal with and manage these internal issues. .

The trouble is, too many large organisations forget that people don’t just work for money, but satisfaction too; and they don’t ensure that their staff are encouraged and empowered to look after customers properly. This is particularly so for staff working in internal departments that don’t have a direct interface to customers, though it often applies to customer-facing departments, too. When people in those internal departments perceive that the organisation doesn’t empower them to take steps to understand their role in looking after customers, they forget they are part of a ‘chain’ of organisational resources aligned to allow the organisation to do its very best for its customers and consequently start to drift and lose focus at a motivational level.

In practice, within a large organisation it is almost inevitable that most of its departments will not be customer-facing. And here the very size of a large organisation can conspire against it being successful. The organisation needs to be certain, at all times, of what every individual person and every department is doing that adds value to the paying customer by providing top-quality products and services to customers directly or by doing things that directly facilitate the provision to customers.

After all, if any one individual or department is not involved in the chain, it needs to be asked what exactly they are doing in the organisation at all.


(Download the full whitepaper “The right way to do the right thing for the customer”)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Practicalities of Multichannel Retailing -Part 5 - Delivery and Payment

Providing the entire range of products in the catalogue, in as accessible format as possible, strengthens the offering of a retailer no end. Providing a fully joined up view on delivery options including premium and store pick-up is a challenge in its own right as it dictates that stock management and whereabouts are completely accurate all of the time. Co-ordination of different delivery methods amongst numerous partners need to be effectively managed so that data feeds and access to order tracking is fully transparent for not only the customer, but also the customer service agents.

Now the customer is only interested in how they are going to get their hands on the merchandise but ensuring that they are not disappointed or misled is paramount in providing a great customer experience. This is an area where taking a customer centric standpoint is vital and in combination with a service led approach can reap enormous benefit. The result of these approaches should be the provision of choice to the customer in how to receive their goods in a timely, and convenient fashion. No one solution fits all but by centrally co-ordinating the delivery options as a repeatable service amongst the various channels will provide the required choice. This means that all channels can obtain the same delivery services whilst the management of them is centralised – not only efficiency “win” but also a customer “win”.

Payment is often viewed as just a step in the process and the eventual “closure of the sale”. In many ways, it gets overlooked with respect to the customer experience and it must be appreciated that this is the most painful part of the entire customer journey through any channel. To put it bluntly, consumers hate parting with their hard earned cash. Therefore, spending some time in making this as smooth as possible is certainly not wasted. If a retailer offers interest free credit of other financing initiatives, then it is imperative that these are not merely restricted to customers walking through a bricks and mortar outlet. Providing the ability to split purchases across more that one payment card for a single transaction (so long as there are strict fraud and security checks around the process) could be the difference between a sale and a lost customer. Such options do need careful assessment but exhibit a far more customer focussed approach.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Practicalities of Multichannel Retailing - Part 4 - Order History and Returns

The “single view of the customer” is the panacea in all multi-channel retailing strategies and enabling the customer to access their purchase history irrespective of channel has many benefits. However, the need for a single customer identifier is paramount in effectively delivering this and where the ubiquitous loyalty card holds the trump card. However, without such a device, it is still possible to draw together the interactions with a customer through other associations such as addresses (whether e-mail or physical) or phone numbers although care must be taken in reconciling this with privacy laws. In keeping though with the single view of the customer, it is the online view where the visibility of orders is paramount and providing suitable data links for delivery tracking and statuses enriches this view for both customers and cal centre staff alike.

Allowing the customer to seamlessly switch their buying decisions across channels must be suitably supported by dealing with returns and exchanges equally through any channel. This has limitations in customer acceptance and usually places extra demands on the more physically accessible channels. However, in order for the customer to recognise the retailer uniformly across channels, the processes need to be in place to deal with products not normally stocked at the point of return. This in turn aids and abets the strategy of placing the customer at the heart of the multi channel landscape.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Multi Channel Retailing - Putting the Customer First - Part 2 - The single view of the customer

Customer Service is the lynchpin behind a multi-channel strategy but it is so often cast as the fall guy in attempting to cobble together a solution from legacy systems. The “poor relations” in the call centre have been seen as the last resort to support the inadequacies of IT solutions in reconciling customer orders, refunds and returns. This behaviour towards a retailer’s customers is the antitheses of a truly customer centric approach and one to be avoided at all costs. Empowerment of the customer service agent by a robust CRM system is paramount in delivering quality customer service and can save both time and money if implemented correctly. More importantly, it can be the last resort in retaining a disaffected customer when systems or processes do break down. Providing transparent visibility across all channels, coupled with empowerment to view and alter order details is the very minimum functions that need to be provided.

But it really does matter!
It is having the single view of the customer, stored in a single data store that unlocks the true potential of multi-channel retailing in providing marketers with the data that enables customer behaviour to be analysed and utilised in driving forward the customer plan. Presenting the right offer at the right time can only be consistently achieved by getting a grip on the customer’s behaviour and developing this capability. Architecting the CRM strategy to achieve this must take into account not only the qualitative data about customer numbers and orders, but also combining this with less qualitative data such as web statistics and responses to marketing campaigns and Customer Service centre contact. Identifying the trends in this data empowers marketers to create campaigns targeted at specific audiences as well as allowing merchandisers to select appropriate products in the right channels.

Customer Centricity vs. CRM

(Excerpt taken from Stephen Hewett's paper "The right way to do the right thing for the customer")

The essential mindset behind Customer Centricity isn’t new. Visit the open market at Marrakech in Morocco - or any other busy marketplace in the world, for that matter - and you’ll see the concept of Customer Centricity at work, at least at the most successful stalls. It has, in effect, been around since the very dawn of business. Our modern economy is more sophisticated than the market at Marrakech, though the need for making customers feel special is no less paramount.

Businesses often like to relate new strategic concepts to old ones, and so Customer Centricity is increasingly regarded as both a descendant and replacement for Customer Relationship Management (CRM), which many regard as a failed concept.

Whether or not you yourself agree that CRM was a failure, the CRM approach of regarding customer service as something you can instil merely by installing a (very expensive) piece of software usually fails to work unless your business is highly customer centric already.

The problem with CRM systems is that they tend to paper over an organisation’s deficiencies in the area of customer service. The effect is less ROI on the CRM system than might otherwise have been the case, while the underlying problems go unresolved.

Customer Centricity, however, does not come packaged in a box. It isn’t something you can just pay someone to install and then go back to going about your business pretty well as you did before. Instead, Customer Centricity is an entire strategy for running your organisation so that you focus every aspect of what you do around the needs of your customers.

Customer Centricity can be defined as the alignment of organisational structure, processes and technology to deliver products and value-added services to internal and external customers in the most agile way.

Perhaps the most important point to make about Customer Centricity is that technology is just one part of the story, and to become customer centric an organisation really does need to look hard at crucial factors such as its culture, processes and ways of doing things before it brings in any facilitation technology. Becoming customer centric then, is not just an item on the agenda of a Board meeting, it is THE agenda.

It is also, in case you might have forgotten, why you’re in business in the first place.

(Download the full whitepaper “The right way to do the right thing for the customer”)

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Practicalities of Multi-Channel Retail - Part 3 - Inventory (Stock)

Visibility of stock within distribution centres and fulfilment partners, as well as stock held locally in bricks and mortar stores, provides the customer with clearly defined options on where they can source the items they are looking for in either their preferred or alternative channel. Having the ability to directly purchase through a transactional website/telephone ordering system, or reserve stock at a local branch guarantees the customer is satisfied without them reverting to a competitor. This approach of guiding the customer to alternative channels in order to provide timely fulfilment is one of the key factors identified in retaining customer loyalty. There is not necessarily a right or wrong method for managing stock levels across channels, whether it is a federated or singular view within channels. But the most important feature of this is the speed in which stock can be made available between channels so that demand can be satisfied without the need for drawn out processes in transferring stock, whether it is physical stock, or merely logical partitioning in a warehouse.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Practicalities of Multi-Channel Retail - Part 2 - The Product Catalogue

By having a single product cataloguing system, each channel can select specific products or categories of products from the centralised repository that best suit their requirements. This alone though does not necessarily meet the differing requirements of the channels in terms of presenting the customer with a meaningful navigational structure. Therefore, this catalogue requires the flexibility to have multiple mappings that allow merchandisers to quickly link products and form cross-sell and up-sell relationships as well as providing guided navigation through relevant taxonomies and facets (product attributes). This is a sound approach for the base level product data but does not necessarily provide the required flexibility for differing pricing and promotion models across channel. To satisfy this, an abstracted pricing and promotional model is called allowing the creation of independent pricing structures and channel specific promotions. This facility is absolutely vital should a retailer decide to provide any sort of white label model.

The Secret Of Creating A Successful Business

(Excerpt taken from Stephen Hewett's paper "The right way to do the right thing for the customer")

Did you know that in most organisations, between 50% and 70% of internal effort expended doesn’t actually add any value to what the organisation is achieving for its customers? These research findings seem - and are - alarming. But when you consider what people say about the calibre of customer service they receive from many organisations, perhaps the findings are not especially surprising.

The question is... what can be done to improve the situation?

The secret of business success unfortunately is just that - a secret, and trying to learn from the successes of other people and businesses is rarely the answer. Having the 20/20 vision of hindsight is a completely different thing from knowing it. Fortunately, though, there are some extremely useful strategies that can take you far along the Yellow Brick Road to your own personal pot of business gold. The best ones offer you powerful new ways of getting real clarity on the ideas, approaches and tactics that can lead to success beyond even your most optimistic expectations.

One of the most useful, interesting, empowering and transforming strategies in the business world today is Customer Centricity.

Customer Centricity brings you back to basics. It brings you back into intimate contact with the reasons why you decided to set up a business - or work in a particular industry - in the first place. Indeed, one of the insights so often liberated by the new types of thinking inspired by Customer Centricity is that it’s too easy, in the hubbub of corporate and professional life, to forget those reasons. This forgetfulness can apply to anyone at an organisation. Senior executives, and even Board members, are far from being immune to it.

Yet Customer Centricity, properly deployed, is much more than a mere antidote to this forgetfulness. At its best, Customer Centricity can transform an organisation into being everything it can be, but which it can so easily fail to be.

The role of Customer Centricity in business today is still evolving. All the same, we do need a working definition, and an informal definition might be the process of ensuring that every individual and department within an organisation is taking every step feasible to add value to what the organisation does for its customers.

It is useful to work towards a more formal definition, which includes details of the actual processes whereby Customer Centricity can be achieved. But this is more useful if we first set Customer Centricity in context as a business strategy today.


(Download the full whitepaper “The right way to do the right thing for the customer”)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Practicalities of Multi-Channel Retail - Part 1 - A few fundamentals

The Practicalities of Multi-Channel

The “multi-channelness” of a retailer is only really determined by the ultimate ambition of the organisation coupled with the appetite for some serious change. Those early trail blazers that managed a seemingly coherent multi-channel offering often got there by smashing various legacy systems together by brute force in the pursuit of an integrated solution. Often, this meant some behind the scenes issues in customer service, delivery and order processing that failed to provide a single view of the history of an individual customer over multiple channels. The impact of this ultimately hit the customer at some point in preventing them from switching channels for returns, combining deliveries or tracking the statuses of orders. Ultimately, these legacy “smash-ups” present longevity issues by their very nature in that they are difficult to maintain, extend and above all, have problems scaling as demand for their services grow.

These issues are only resolved by initiating substantial change in the backbone of a retailer’s information system so that there is one source of the truth for critical product and process data such as:

  • Catalogue
  • Inventory (stock)
  • Orders and Order History
  • Returns
  • Customer
  • Delivery
  • Payment

Providing this coherent and centrally managed view on both data and processes gears the organisation for efficiency. Consistent product information and management forms one part of Catalogue management but there is also a distinct need to better manage the whole product lifecycle from birth to grave with particular reference to performance across channels. This can only be achieved by having a single strategy in information systems, product induction, categorisation and reporting. As an end goal, this is a tough challenge to resolve as any major change in catalogue management is often unpalatable with the more established areas or channels. Legacy systems in these areas rule the roost and require substantial re-engineering to accommodate the demands of the newer routes to market. However, those retailers who endeavour to undertake this challenge and implement a successful solution can reap the benefits.

Responding to Changing Trends in Consumer Behaviour

We are currently living through a new revolution – one that is driven by user-generated information as you can see by the plethora of Web 2.0 sites up in the following image. We’re talking about people engaging with each other’s content and improving the quality of collective knowledge about everything.

Social Media Sites

Informational and interactional connectivity is resulting in exponential increases in the speed at which ideas and behaviours are spreading, particularly through an age demographic, which is no longer confined to the 16 to 25's. Month on month we see the age demographics of social interaction expand as ecommerce takes hold and social networks increase their reach. Facebook’s user-base for example has already shifted from people in their 20’s up to 35 year olds as defacto within the last year alone, with parents and grandparents also now creating profiles. The tipping points for each age group and regional audience are being reached ever more quickly and the web is no longer just about the Millennial and Gen X demographics, but extends well into the Baby Boomers and beyond.

The overall size of penetration is soaring too. Universal McCann research shows that the UK alone has 17m active internet users, 1m of which have shared an opinion within their trusted networks about one or more of your products and brands. Trusted opinions are shown to be the top influence in consumers decision making process. Do you know what they’re saying about you? If you think this doesn’t apply to you, just go onto Google and type in your company’s name and complaints and reviews.

People of all ages are collaborating to avoid being exploited by corporations; socialising to ensure they get the best deals; and looking for brand and personal associations that provide the most social kudos.

Where brands get it right, the pay-offs are massive.

Addressing this revolution in social consumer behaviour is about developing 2-way engagement, primarily by maximising the reach of your engagement channels, by which I mean any channels through which you can interact with your customers in real time... A good example being your web presence.

The need for maximising the impact of your digital channel is reinforced by the fact that since competition in the digital space is non-local, rapidly expanding, and thus much greater than in the physical space; firms that are not part of the social conversation will struggle to compete as more people go online to beat the impact of the credit crunch.

The same applies for firms that are not leveraging their digital channels to learn how to improve their cross-channel experiences. Getting real-time feedback on how shoppers' expectations measure up against experience, through participating in social online conversation is one of the most valuable insights any company can get.

In short... by leveraging social media and the web!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Multi Channel Retailing - Putting the Customer First - Part 1 - Why it matters

The business of retailing has undergone a transformation beyond all recognition since the widespread availability and adoption of broadband internet. This transformation has been largely dominated and truly exploited by a handful of retailers who trail blazed their way on to the computer screens of the UK. Companies such as Amazon, Play.com and Tesco have all exploited this phenomenon in providing compelling offerings in the early days of this online retail explosion. But now this early adoption is moving to one of relative maturity and so, what should retailers be doing to ensure that they are not drowned out by the noise?

Across the globe, retailers are discovering that winning in the multi-channel arena is fundamentally all about putting the customer first and it is those that truly embrace this philosophy are those that will survive and maintain, if not further grow their own position. Creating a compelling multi-channel proposition is the current obsession of the industry and making it easier for customers to seamlessly slip across the various channels available today is a key part of the evolving retail landscape. Traditional high street or out of town units, e-commerce, mail/phone order and the evolving m-commerce (mobile commerce) all have their place in the retailing artillery but presenting these as a truly coherent offering is proving a far harder conundrum than the end consumer will ever realise. Central to this, is a realisation that creating the right architecture is not just about how the IT solutions are constructed, but also about how the business architecture is positioned, managed and driven. By getting both of these right, the customer can be correctly positioned at the very centre of these enterprise architectures so that they are the focal point of what all leading retailers aspire to creating…… “Great Customer Service”.

Charteris Multichannel Retail Survey 2008 Results

For retailers, addressing the challenges facing them isn't as straightforward as it may seem. Both leveraging existing assets and embedding customer centricity in decision making are easier said than done.

This point is clearly highlighted by a recent study Charteris did on Multi-Channel Retailing in the UK. We spoke to 32 multi-channel UK retailers covering all the main retail sectors, with total sales exceeding £41bn. Retailers scored themselves in 6 areas…

  1. Strategy
  2. People
  3. Processes
  4. Information
  5. Metrics
  6. Technology

What we found is that retailers currently face a lot of challenges, with only metrics scoring acceptably in the survey.

The lowest scores across were in these six areas.

Charteris MCR Survey Lowest Scores

  1. Responding to customer needs
  2. Improving customer experience
  3. Leveraging Existing Systems
  4. Integrating Existing Systems
  5. Shifting from a product focus to a customer-centric culture
  6. Shifting to a cross-channel culture

We can aggregate these to highlight three key problem areas that we feel retailers should be focusing on

  1. Changing culture
  2. Doing more with existing assets
  3. Linking assets together

Charteris Aggregated MCR Survey Lowest Scores

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Facing up to the Credit Crunch

Probably the most critical issue/trend facing Retailers right now is the Credit Crunch.

Credit Crunch

As you must know, the subprime mortgage crisis in 2007 has had a massive global financial impact. From a retail consumer perspective it seems however, that the recession effect still has some way to go. ONS figures for last month showed a rise of 1.2% in sales, although retailers are not convinced and the rise is being attributed to a number of reasons from massive price reductions to the high street being a “lagging indicator” to general volatility shown by the May surge and July drop.

Either way, the immediate impact is uncertainty. Lenders are uncertain about future sources and costs of funding, while consumers are unsure about how much further house prices will continue to decline, and whether or not widespread job losses and mortgage rate rises are really going to happen.

All expectation is that this is a recession that will deepen and the trend towards careful spending is going to put increasing pressure on retail margins. As it stands, the policy of reductions that retailers have employed to boost sales is seriously hitting profits. The John Lewis Partnership recently underlined this by announcing a 27% fall in first-half profits attributed mostly to price cuts and increased marketing spend.

Finally apart from the direct impact to profits discussed, the credit crunch is also severely impacting investors and share prices, and nervousness in the financial markets is making it harder to raise investment capital for new initiatives.

The effect of the global credit crunch on business and consumer spending thus means that retailers must look to innovate and create competitive advantage without the luxury of profit growth and flexible budgets. In short it means they need low cost / high benefit customer propositions that involve linking up existing assets to improve customer propositions rather than involving large spend on new systems, staff or channels.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Addressing Channel Convergence

Multiple channels to market are fast becoming the norm and the lines between these channels are blurring – particularly in terms of consumer expectation. It is becoming less and less acceptable to have differential pricing, branding or experience across different channels. We’re finding that forward thinking retailers are rapidly moving towards a seamless cross-channel experience with the goal of improving conversion rates.

The general perception of course is that the major driver behind channel convergence is cost saving. This is because managing channels separately results in cost inefficiencies arising from running separate order-management and customer service operations, multiple warehouses and fulfilment systems, and buyers and merchandisers duplicating effort across different channels.

However, while emerging integration technologies have been a key enabler, multi-channel growth is actually being driven by consumers. According to Shop.org, 34% of consumers today use at least three channels when shopping. Research has also found consumers spend up to 10 times more, generating 25 to 50% more profit and demonstrating greater loyalty than their single-channel counterparts. The core driver behind channel convergence then is customer demand.

So where do you start?

Well, one good place to start is to get your people culturally ready to help you make the most of all the channels your business takes to market. This is because, whilst establishing clear and consistent products and services is essential, the experience is what makes the difference.

Recent McKinsey research shows that only 15% of loyalty is gained from perceived product quality and promotional strategies, leaving 85% to the actual purchasing and post-sales experiences of customers.

For example, the person who answers the phone at your call centre could be as knowledgeable about your products and services as your store staff. Returns processes, checkout processes, and customer journeys through your store, could be synchronised with and as easy as they are on the web; simply by mobilising a service oriented workforce.

In short I’m talking about building loyalty and thus competitive advantage, through cross-channel customer-facing cultures that ensure your staff are making the shopping experience as enjoyable as possible.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Leveraging existing multi channel assets

Retailers under Pressure

John Lewis this week announced a 27% fall in first half year profits, largely attributed to price cuts and increased marketing spend. With the uncertainty the credit crunch has created, retailers will increasingly have to innovate to create the seamless Multi Channel experience that we all crave. Without the luxury of profit growth and flexible budgets, retailers need low cost / high benefit customer propositions.

Use what you have

Leveraging existing assets is one way retailers can do this. I wonder how many retailers take stock of all their multi channel assets, and attempt to link them together to create value add services for their customers.

One Example

The 3 main channels a retailer uses are the store, web and a call centre. Once a customer has saved their address and credit card details on the web, the checkout process is normally fairly seamless. So why not use this data in the call centre and store so customers only have to enter a password and a PIN number. Thus creating a seamless checkout process through all channels and creating customer value add propositions in the process.

Creating customer centric services are essential as exemplified by recent McKinsey research. They found that only 15% of loyalty is gained from perceived product quality and promotional strategies, leaving 85% to the actual purchasing and post-sales experiences of customers.

6 Key Consumer and Retail Industry Trends For 2008 / 2009

Let’s start with a quick look at some of the key trends in consumer behaviour and the retail industry. I’ll pick out 3 each.

3 Deepening Trends in Consumer Behaviour:

  1. Customers are becoming more demanding – the Web 2.0 revolution has provided a forum for sharing opinions to the point where consumers really do call the shots. They expect choice and convenience or will go elsewhere.
  2. Social Media online is exploding – and is becoming a key vehicle for both strategic marketing and customer engagement.
  3. Premium products and services still sell well and Green is becoming iconic – many of the less price sensitive consumers are still highly style and status conscious, and consumers are going to increasingly great lengths to boycott brands that have poor eco-credentials

Ok, so that’s 3 consumer trends. How about the Retail Industry in general?

3 Deepening Trends in the Retail Industry:

  1. The credit crunch is getting worse – and negatively impacting retailer profits
  2. The e-channel is still growing fast – online spending in July for example reached £4.8 billion, up 80% on last year to a new all-time high. Retailers are expecting a major shift to online this Christmas.
  3. The leaders are merging channels – and providing seamless brand and customer experiences across them all. Consumers in return are becoming rapidly less tolerant of pricing, availability or service differentials online and offline.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Charteris' ARC Conference Presentation on Leveraging multi-channel Assets

We attended the ARC Retail Conference this morning and gave a breakfast briefing on Cross-Channel Retailing - see slides below.

The slides cover the 3 critical challenges that retailers are facing right now and how they could start addressing them by developing low cost, high benefit, customer propositions through leveraging the channel assets they already have. Here's the slides. The presentation is extremely visual so it should be easy to scan through quickly.

If you want to know more just drop us an email on info@charteris.com or contact as us as below and we'll be more than happy to have a chat.