Category: Unified Communications

Why Mobile is at the heart of the Digital Customer Eco – System (Part Two of Two)

In the first part of this two part blog we talked about the impact of the COVID pandemic on increasing digital adoption faster than anything before it, enabling older age groups who traditionally haven’t adopted digital before to start to interact with it on a first person basis for things like cashless payments and banking services.

Since the pandemic businesses who traditionally where slow to digitize their business have found that customers who were forced to go digital during the pandemic no longer want to go back to older more traditional marketing led offline / off mobile service provision.

This is an opportunity for ALL businesses and not just retailers to begin to digitize the customer lifecycle for their customers and go Mobile Centric.

How you do it matters though, you cant just use a spray and pray approach you have to have a strategy and the focus on your product propositions is critical. Make it easy for a customer to purchase multiple products from you, single logins and investment in analytics that focus on the customer journey are critical to how successful and how quickly you can see the benefits of a fully digitised customer lifecycle.

Leading companies are increasingly offering an interconnected set of services to their customers with clear examples over the past decade, Amazon, Tesco, Alibaba, Rakuten all showing fantastic revenues and growth as they control their own Ecosystems and use advanced analytics and big data methods to understand what their customers want before implementing these requirements over and across their own mobile first digital consumer journeys.

The Connected Customer

However, these are currently the exceptions to the rule as we still see many companies that try and replicate the successes of Amazon et al struggle because they don’t understand the right approach to capture maximum value from their own customer Eco System.

Eco Systems are complex, to really create an impactful strategy for your customers that combines the need to manage their Customer Lifetime Value (CLV), enable an Omni-Channel approach with mobile at its centre and constantly assess Value Creation you need to work with a partner who can help you determine those elements and their fit within your specific ecosystem. 

Mobile Core Ecosystems are basically advanced digital workflow systems that centre on the connectivity and versatility of mobile devices and embrace mobile centric solutions in the customer value chain.

Digital Wallets, ecommerce apps, ride sharing platforms, AI and Chatbots, Voice, ID&V solutions are all examples of a mobile at its core digital customer ecosystem.  Mobile platforms are now the No.1 for online access and more businesses than ever are investing in mobile tech to build out their own core.

Building your customer journey for mobile first and understanding the challenges your customers face on their customer lifecycle with your business is critical to future success of your business as it can impact every part of the customer lifecycle from acquisition and onboarding to loyalty and rewards. The connective functions of mobile allow you to improve branding, create a better customer experience, increase revenue and encourage cross selling and third party integrations for added value sales.

When you begin to utilise mobile workflows to communicate with your customers, you instantly encourage faster responses and shorter but more regular communications with your users, this in turn creates lots of data on each of your customers and their specific journeys which you can feed back into the customer journey by adding these data streams to your existing analytics package and starting to tailor their individual journeys better to maximise CLV revenues.

Third Party API integrations are useful as part of your middleware solution

Data is key to a successful Mobile Core Ecosystem and to get the most out of your data its critical that you utilise middleware to integrate third party tech providers and other partners that can begin sharing data to allow for greater understanding and effectiveness of big data capabilities in the customer journey.

All the data you pull from your middleware provider can then be accessed, managed and enhanced to give you one true view of your customers and how they interact with your brand.

Companies can capture value from many different sources including customer-funded new products and services, merchant-funded platform usage, and third-party-funded data monetization.

Ultimately, Consumers are looking for more end-to-end journeys across products and services, and organizations are looking to rapidly reinvent their value proposition for the “next normal” whilst cutting costs on the overall number of suppliers they work with in their value chain.  However, going after that opportunity requires strategic focus, and choosing the approach that best fits the organization, to unlock the full potential of an ecosystem strategy.

Most larger businesses have grown up with multiple different IT services and platforms, some of which will be silos and won’t speak to other areas of the business, data will be batch driven and not streamlined, real time implementation of data driven logic will be a dream not the reality and they may think that getting to a mobile centric ecosystem is difficult or nigh on impossible due to these types of challenges.

Here at Apadmi, we understand that each of our customers end users habits are different and we know how to manage the individual customer journey to generate interactions, key analytics and increase calls to action resulting in positive outcomes.  

Using our Apadmi Core, we can integrate your entire software estate, disparate sales systems, analytics providers, CRM etc.. harvest the data from each individual platform or service and send it back to you as part of a bigger data collective, giving you all your data in one place,  one view of all your customer interactions leading you to a better understanding of your customer personas.

Your enhanced data can be used to create advanced customer journey workflows, fully automated and agile responses to a particular set of circumstances and customer interactions to generate slicker sales, increase added value sales, encourage third party sign ups or subscriptions and plan the next wave of marketing communications to maintain and increase the customers lifetime value.

Utilise our Engage module within the Core to integrate chatbots, SMS, Coupons, Digital Gift Cards or choose from several marketing channels like Whats App as your medium of choice as part of your new advanced mobile first customer journeys.

Trigger Digital Vouchers and Rewards outside of the mobile app journey to encourage more sign ups and then push the user a Digital Gift Card as a reward when they do.

One core, many integrations, simple and secure saving you time, money and resource and giving advanced one view analytics to help you understand your customers better.

Good Luck on your Mobile First Journey

The UC Expert

Why Mobile is at the heart of the Digital Customer Eco – System (Part One of Two)

The past three years and the shadow of COVID have seen the end of the traditional Online Interaction based digital customer ecosystem. Mobile penetration and consumer trust and understanding of mobile technology has finally allowed a larger age demographic of consumers to use their mobile devices for things like banking, cashless payments and other services that traditionally where reserved for devices that didn’t leave home or couldn’t be lost or damaged amid increased trust in “mobile” amongst the over 50s.

Indeed mobile broadband usage out performed traditional PC broadband usage during the pandemic and during 2021 the number of contactless payments made in the UK increased by 12 per cent to 9.6 billion payments.

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Overall, contactless payments accounted for more than a quarter (27 per cent) of all UK payments. In the last four years contactless payments have jumped from being just seven per cent of all payments to 27 per cent.

83 per cent of people in the UK now use contactless, with no age group or region falling below 75 per cent usage. Supermarkets were the most popular place to use contactless payments in 2020, accounting for 41 per cent of contactless payments

With advancements in connectivity and mobile device functionality and superfast broadband infrastructure providing significant increases in speed of service, we live in an always on, always connected world where mobile has now become our device of comfort, choice and ease.

This change in user behaviour has been driven by our ability to be constantly connected and find things quickly which in turn shapes the type of consumer decisions that are being made and how your customers interact with your business. 

Mobile first is a phrase we’ve all heard many times over the years but the pandemic has helped to bring about faster change than any single event of the past decade. “

Our mobile phones offer easy access to users, the ability to access more users and provide these users with ever more services.  They are able to connect to readymade third party ecosystems depending on if you have an Apple Device (iOS ecosystem) or an Android device (Android ecosystem).  This means you have two gateways for your users to access a plethora of content and services that work seamlessly with your mobile device and where its easy to plug in third party services that allow you to perform tasks more intelligently, work smarter, increase revenue etc..

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The adoption of 4G and slowly 5G services has given us a new breed of mobile user – the “intensely attached” to their device and the most likely to say they cant live without their phone.  These are a mixture of late Generation Xs, Millenials (1981 – 1997) and Generation Z (those born 1997 to 2010) with Gen Z users having the moniker “Digital Natives” given they have always had digital technology at their fingertips.

The next Generation… Alpha (born after 2010) will automatically challenge the here and now, demanding even faster service, better information and results and will expect an integrated and omni channel digital customer journey across every business they interact with.

There has never been a better time to understand your customer base than right now. Tailor your comms, offers and experiences to the generational type of consumer you work with.

Offer an integrated set of services and use Big Data methodologies and tech to understand your consumers like never before and then implement your findings across your mobile first digital consumer journeys, creating true value for each customer based on their own needs and wants.

In the second part of this two part blog I will focus on the key elements to focus on when building out a mobile first eco-system for your business and how to make the most out of your mobile customer journey and increase Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) through bespoke personalised experiences.



The role of Agile, iPaaS and the Integrations Specialist in Digital Transformation Strategy for 2022!

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Every Business management team will have their own slimline view of transformation which usually involves several siloed projects, using technology that solves a problem for one area of the business at a time based on revenue or operational cost gains.

Digital Transformation is not a onetime only play, it should be constantly evolving, fed by a wide strategy team of stakeholders across the business who constantly assess design and implementation aspects of each part of your transformative processes. 

When you begin to design your ideal Digital Transformation Strategy, it must be based around Agile Methodologies, if you have no Agile Product / Development / Architects, then you will find that your long-term vision stays just that… long term.

The Digital world moves so fast now and if you aren’t agile enough to maintain competitive advantage or respond to fast changing market conditions then you will find your business falling behind very quickly.

Traditional development styles rely heavily on framework product management processes to be able to get things done. This means your delivering new features and functionality in an ordered and structured way, not based on sales opportunity or potential pipeline but in the order that makes it easy to deliver key components and hit timelines.

Therefore, Agile thinking is a must for your business if you’re serious about Transformation, this way of thinking can significantly impact your existing software, your roadmap and your customer journey giving you increased data and understanding of your customers and leading to increased revenues per customer and more control over the customer lifecycle.

Once you start thinking in an Agile manner, you can begin to change the way your business looks at development too. 

It’s no longer necessary to “build it and they will come”, utilising teams of coders to develop new and exciting modules and features to an existing platform.

The world is a much different place from a decade ago where everyone wanted to develop, own, and maintain their SaaS applications internally.

Agile methodologies have brought with them a mindset change in the way Product Managers, Solution Architects and Designers see the SaaS world and the rise of the iPaaS vendors, (Integration platform as a Service) API integration and Connector Systems and Cloud Integration platforms give these solution designers the ability to utilise third party API integrations into their overall build plan to allow them to triple output from dev teams, achieve all the key features and functionality whilst not having the increased costs of maintaining and supporting every feature or service in the product architecture.

Sys Dev Managers are happy as they can achieve more with less resource, Product Managers are happy as they can make their roadmap a reality much quicker, and Sales are happiest of all as they can leverage that new product, service, or feature whilst its competitive to do so and they make the most revenue. However, understanding how your product stack can benefit from multiple integrations into third party SaaS offerings requires an experienced hand.

Over the last 5 years we have started to see a new role created within product and technical teams this is the role of the Integrations Specialist.

Its well known that API integration is a very important part of helping organisations who manage multiple cloud-based apps and services become more flexible. APIs simplify the design process from a product design and development perspective, and they offer more opportunities for innovation.

APIs allow your products or services to communicate with each other without the need for development or engineering to know how they are implemented.  They speed up the development process because the developer has a base from which to build his own code out from, enabling the coder to complete repetitive highly complex processes with very little work.  This is especially true for streamlining internal functions within your business infrastructure, connecting billing to CRM for instance… this saves you time and money and allows development to focus on oversight rather than on daily operations.

As more and more SaaS companies utilise APIs in their existing architecture, so more APIs are being developed.  There is now an API integration for pretty much any problem that exists in the technology ecosystem.

This is where the Integrations Manager role comes in – this could be a person, or it could be your digital transformation partner who picks up this role and works with you to achieve your transformation strategy.

The first part of the role of the Integrations Specialist / Manager is to help the business / the customer achieve seamless connectivity across their business to automate as much of the internal business processes as possible whilst increasing the quality and sources of data available between the applications and systems.

Whilst traditionally integrations are about connecting machines to a network etc.. in the digital transformation strategy, we are focusing on API Integrations which allow us to interface with multiple applications.

The second part of the role of the Integrations Specialist is to facilitate the link between automation of internal systems and the end Customer Journey. Using Integrations to improve the functionality of the end user which in turn will help facilitate better data, help understand the motivations to purchase, increase basket spend, reduce churn, increase loyalty, and add vast knowledge to the business in terms of future proofing and roadmap items.

Without both parts 1 and 2, your digital transformation strategy can never reach a point of saturation.  Saturation in this case meaning that your whole business has adopted new internal processes, has a developed and clear customer journey in place, has access to advanced customer data and is using these to further develop your cloud based product stack into an interoperable, low cost, easy to setup and manage, minimum support, feature rich, highly functional SaaS experience.

The Integrations Specialist will work with the Product and Development teams to constantly evolve the product set.  The Product Manager will have set the strategy with senior stakeholders for how he wants his specialist products to grow over the coming year and the dev and integrations guys will be part of the team tasked with achieving this strategy.

During the initial business scenarios session, they will look at the best way to deliver the work, first asking the question “do we want to build this ourselves?” “What reasons would we have to own this over simply using an integration service?” etc.. this is where the Integrations Specialist would come in, they would be tasked with finding the right solution to achieve the goal of that piece of functionality or feature set. 

Of course, at this point there would be other considerations, “can we monetise the integration and charge the customer?” “What does the support of this integration look like?” and “what is the knock-on effect for the other relevant teams in the business?”

Its not guaranteed you will use API integrations every time… in fact in my experience its better to own the core platform you’re building on and bolt 3rd party integrations into it as you develop your roadmap where it’s just simply not cost or time effective to have your own development team building it.  

This allows you to keep your product set functionally rich whilst increasing the sales revenue opportunities in line or ahead of your competition. 

Whatever your team decide to do, the integrations specialist will be thinking not only about the quality of the integration partner but also the commercial aspects of the planned integration, the support for it and how these fit into the overall end Customer Journey.

Now let’s look at the role iPaaS can play in completing the Digital Transformation Journey. 

The Wikipedia answer to what is iPaaS….

“Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS) is a suite of cloud services enabling development, execution and governance of integration flows connecting any combination of on premises and cloud-based processes, services, applications and data within individual or across multiple organizations.”

You may have heard the term “middleware” mentioned in your business or across the digital transformation ecosphere.  In its rawest form, an iPaaS partner provisions integration tools and middleware that help developers to build, test and run software in the cloud which they may also host for you too.

For instance, in this example the business has a complex software product to build utilising multiple third-party vendors technology and requiring data integration into their existing CRM and Analytics partner.  One size doesn’t fit all in several areas of this build, so a middleware layer is required to manage the logic required to deliver the individual solutions to the end customers. Integration into the analytics partner needs to be in a particular programming language and their needs to be a suite of custom connectors to allow the end customer to pick the connector that works for them within their organisation.

Further to this, the solution needs to handle multiple concurrent loads and real time processing of data, whilst monitoring for failures, fall over and latency.

Finally, it requires levels of security for data control, two factor authentication or single sign on and data encryption functionality.

An iPaaS platform would allow us to connect our third-party software regardless of if its on premise or in cloud systems or solutions. Its fully configurable so you can build the integrations you need into the iPaaS platform extremely easily.  You can begin to decentralise data across all apps, data management patterns, user profiles, data environments and third-party systems you’re integrating with by configuring the iPaaS middleware to automate data streams intelligently.  Whilst supporting all user profiles, system dev teams, third party IT teams and business analysts.

We would use it to simplify the technology stack we are working with, legacy, inhouse, third party operated, managed third party etc.. and connect all applications under a framework on our new virtual iPaaS platform.

It becomes simpler to manage security because you can place security responsibilities on the third-party vendors or technology owners and provide built in monitoring and threat detection tools.

Whilst opening access to ecosystems of application development, deployment and management tools that can all easily integrate via this integration platform. 2

Finally, and most crucially, because the Integrations are managed via the platform it saves your product team time, money, and resource in many of the traditional productization build, data control and documentation processes too.

The Agile Product Owner working alongside an integrations specialist can achieve faster development with instant and quantifiable results by utilising the power of the iPaaS platform in builds that require many different stakeholders and many disparate product involvements.

Futureproofing using an iPaaS platform will increase the speed at which you can fulfil your go to market strategy as you will be able to create logic to integrate new / existing / third-party / in house developed Service APIs to your your existing infrastructure.

Here is some typical product scenarios for utilising an iPaaS system;

  • Application-to-Application integration
  • Big Data Integration
  • Microservices integration
  • B2B integration
  • Data integration
  • IoT device integration
  • Cloud integrations
  • Event Stream Data Throughput Integrations

As the growth of API integrations takes on more and more importance for your business, maybe its time you embraced an Agile Product Strategy and created the integrations specialist role in your product organisation to help you streamline your development process, save time, money and resource whilst improving delivery timelines and future proofing your roadmap.

If you have a large product portfolio and want to create an integrated technical stack which allows you to bring multiple products and services together under one platform to enable you to get three times more out of that product set, then an iPaaS platform is something you should be looking at making your first purchase of 2022!

Enhancing your Customer Lifetime Value 3/3

In the first two blogs in this series we have looked at and identified the six stages of the Customer Lifecycle and discussed the link between your Customer Journey, (the journey your customers take to find and decide to purchase a service from you) and how you can use Customer Journey data to maximise productivity at each stage of your customer lifecycle sell more of your product portfolio and ultimately increase your overall customer revenues.

In the final blog in this series we are going to look at how you bring all the data together in order to manage and report on your findings and utilise these findings to maximise your productivity.

To enable us to get all this fantastic data we need to create a sales funnel, if done correctly, this sales funnel will lead to lots of Qualitative data with which to populate our sales funnel and provide us with empirical Quantitive data at the back end with which to make key business decisions.

So it is with most businesses in the internet age, your products and services are more likely than not found online. It may be through a blog post like this one or a Social Media post that results in a potential customer clicking through to your website to find out more. You may have very good Search rankings through effective SEO strategies and come up in the top results on google when people search for a particular product. Alternatively, you may have paid search campaigns running that send you traffic to your website when a particular search term is used. Your Sales Funnel should track all these types of leads as they come in and respond to them accordingly. For instance, depending on your customer service strategy, you may use a plethora of different contact methods to talk to customers and prospects alike. Automated methods like Email, Chatbots, SMS, Live Chat or IM are popular and will generally be part of most companies customer contact methods but all communication methods should be part of your overall sales funnel.

Most Sales Funnels will have a number of steps in them to take them from initial interest through to a closed sale. Lets keep it really simple and say these are the key steps;

  • Awareness – (untouched stage)
  • Interest – ( Contact Made / Qualified)
  • Decision – (Qualified / Proposal Made)
  • Action – (Negotiation / Won)

So we have our Customer Journey in place, (Predominantly online as we stated above) we know what our typical Customer Lifecycle should be (target, acquire, onboard, serve, grow and retain) we know how our products and services map to the stages of our Customer Lifecycle and now we have to build our sales funnel to bring all this information together. Sounds extremely complicated right?


The typical response I get at this stage of the process is “Ok we have a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) platform for this we manage our Sales Funnel through that.”

Or “We use our Contact Centre platform to manage our Sales Funnel”

However, a typical CRM system can only do so much and is predominantly a service tool, its primary uses are for data storage and taking responses from a customer or prospect and storing this within a record for that customer. You get information like name and address, who they have interacted with in the past within your organisation and what products they have but very little else.

A Contact Centre is better equipped to provide more engagement in the sales funnel with its plethora of response based integrations like Chatbot, IM, email, Video Chat, Social Media etc.. but ultimately its main design is to solve customer problems quickly and efficiently and wont necessarily utilise the same workflow for new opportunities. Of course it will need to feed all these types of interaction back to a CRM system where its limited functionality will again simply store the information and rely on human inputs to arrange CTA (calls to action) and future sales opportunities.

Both these examples require significant people power and as we all know a CRM is only as good as the data you input into it.

That’s where CEM systems come in, Customer Engagement / Experience Management systems to be precise. A CEM System allows your business to understand its customers better whilst enabling your sales strategy and embracing cross functional efforts and customer-centric culture to improve satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy. It allows you to build your Customer Journey into it as the key parameters for your sales funnel. It allows you to plan your sales output for each of your products and provides you with the blueprint for each of your customers no matter where they are in your Customer Lifecyle.. (i.e Acquisition, Retention, Loyalty periods)

You can utilise the system to collate data from every one of your touchpoints (Social Media, Email, Phone etc..) and with all your data stockpiled in one central tool it gives your customer success team the information they need to get the message to the right customers.

Fully engaged customers offer a 27% increase on average for revenue, relationship and profit growth.

Below is an example of a basic Customer Engagement Management Workflow in action;

Customer Experience Schema

You will see the different types of interactions both inbound and outbound and you can see how all interactions go through the central hub or CEM. In this example we have four main areas of focus, Inbound Digital communications, Outbound Digital interactions, Payment Processing, Inbound and Outbound Voice and Existing Customer Interactions as part of the automated sales funnel.

Have a look at the diagram and see how many of your communication channels are automated and linked to data controllers within your business. Although the schema above is very simplistic, it will allow your business to do things like;

  • Suggest an offer based on or product based on their activity / order history / complimentary product set etc..
  • Give guidance on finding a feature update for their existing software version
  • Service & Support the customer via an automated journey sending them to a knowledge base or agent and recording feedback.
  • Combine this feedback with relevant external sources (e.g. CRM)
  • Analyse the data to derive meaningful insights

It provides you with all the data you require to create those Customer Personas we talked about in my earlier blogs in this series and allows you to take these customer personas and create your Customer Journey’s for each type. Taking your Sales Funnel and modelling this around your Customer Lifecycle gives you the ability to take the necessary actions needed to retain them and drive better business outcomes. 

Utilising the Voice of the Customer, Customer Experience Management software to create multi-channel, multi-lingual feedback and research programs that engage customers, empower employees, deliver a compelling respondent experience, and provide high Return on Investment whilst integrating it with financial, operational and free-form text data to generate powerful insight allows your business to take action that will deliver effective business change and create competitive advantage.

Good Luck in creating fantastic Customer Experiences for your business! I hope the three blogs in this series can have a positive effect on how you see your Customer Journey, helps to increase your Sales Funnel and ultimately helps to enhance and grow your Customer Lifetime Values.



Enhancing your Customer Lifetime Value (2/3)

In blog one of this three part blog series, we looked at the six stages of the customer lifecycle and talked about how you can utilise the data from your customer journey to maximise the productivity of each one of your customer lifecycle phases. We also discovered that the six stages of the customer lifecycle are intrinsically linked to the four stages of the typical customer journey.

In this blog, we will focus on these four stages of the customer journey, which we shall call the Discovery Phase, Consideration Phase, Purchase Phase and finally the Retention Phase.

When you undertake any exercise to understand your customer journey and the lifecycle that you ask your customers to take with your company, you first need to list all the sources of Quantitive and Qualitative data that exist for you to collate.

Here is a typical list ;

  • Website
  • Customer Facing Portals
  • CRM
  • Social Media
  • Internal / External Customer Facing Teams information
    • Demographics
    • Behaviours
    • Challenges
    • Geographical region
    • History
  • Typical Industry challenges by customer
  • Size and technical ability of customer

Studying each line item above will help you gather data that can help you understand what your potential customers are looking for in a supplier, what their challenges are, how these challenges differ by region, sector etc.. how different behaviours affect the customer lifecycle and how size and resource can affect and limit the amount of product (and therefore the customer journey) you can sell to a customer.

Once you documented all this information, you can then utilise the four stage process of the customer journey to create your pathway to success for your customers and give them a great user experience that uses the stages of the Customer Lifecyle to introduce and automate new product introductions that coincide with the customers own lifecycle journey no matter where they are individually.

So how do we start to visualise and record all this information across our disparate marketing and internal systems?

First lets look at some typical questions we can ask at each stage of the customer journey. Examples are documented in the graphic below, which sits on top of the typical six stage customer lifecycle journey.

Four Stage Customer Journey

So lets look at the first stage – The Discovery Phase;

In this stage we need to understand how our potential customers find us, what their reasons are for wanting to talk and what their main pain points are. By asking these questions we can find out huge amounts of information.

Information like;

Where did they hear about us? Social Media, Website, Word of Mouth, another customer recommendation.. all great sources of information and all can be acted upon when we start to optimise our customer journey.

Typical pain points is another key part of the Discovery Phase of the Customer Journey and one that we can utilise with great abandon to target and acquire new customers and start them on phase one / two of the six stage Customer Lifecycle once we know what these typical pain points are.

We can begin to Map out this Discovery Phase similar to the one in the image below;

Customer Journey Map Example

Discovering why your customers choose you is relatively easy if you have a marketing team and you have a decent user experience via your website. A good CRM system is important if you want to automate the provision of queries and sales leads into your workforce whilst maintaining accurate data.

Now lets look at the Consideration Phase;

Usually at this point your customer has identified you have the product they need and they want to begin to talk to you. Find out what is motivating them to learn more about your business. What their pain points are and why they believe your solution will help them to overcome them. Ask them about their experience with competitors and how they feel dealing with you over them. Record actions in CRM so you have an accurate record of events regardless of how far the prospect goes.

Create your Consideration Phase Data Map like we did for the Discovery Phase, collate your answers to the questions you have asked and use these to quantify improvements to the consideration phase for your prospects. Your aim should be to slimline the Discovery and Consideration phases down in terms of how long a prospect takes to show interest and turn that interest into a firm purchase.

If your hard work has been rewarded, the customer will be ready to move onto the Purchase Phase of the Customer Journey.

Its not just a simple take their money and shake hands and off you go. We need to ask questions on why they chose us, discover what actions they took to confirm they wanted to use us during the negotiation and consideration phase, how easy they found us to work with in order to make that purchase and what challenges they had to get the purchase over the line. Understanding the customer experience to buying your products is fundamental regardless of if your an online orders only business or a 6 month technical cycle SaaS business.

By the time you move into the purchase phase you should be looking at the Customer Lifetime Value and planning that customers roadmap to maximising their value to your business. Depending on the product they are purchasing, what added value “quick wins” can you give them? What product integrations do you have that they may choose to purchase to compliment their new services? How far on your customer lifecycle are they at the moment – Target, Acquisition and Onboarding phases should be covered by their initial purchase, but how are you going to make them sticky? Retention and Loyalty phases should be looked at when you plan their customer roadmap.

The Retention Phase;

Their are many different criteria and KPIs to how you retain a customer and I could write several blogs on this subject alone but we will look at some of the key elements to successful customer retention here.

Your Service Delivery, Project Management, Customer Service, Account Management, Post Sales activity and Marketing Departments will all play a significant part in retaining your customers. These departments and their performance will ultimately provide the service that decides if your customers purchase from you again, their actions after the first purchase and critically what their overall first purchase experience was like.

The results of these questions will determine if you can grow your customer through all six of the key Customer Lifecycle Value phases we mentioned in blog 1.

Understanding the touch points for a newly onboarded customer is critical to retaining them in the long run. Map these touch points out from initial interaction with the prospect all the way through to the final sale and after care with a section on the individual customer roadmap.. you might end up with something similar to the below;

Customer Touch Point Mapping

In the image above, I have created a basic customer touch point journey but you will be able to go much deeper and break each department out into many smaller tasks that have the ability to affect the customer and their journey with you (You may include Finance and Legal in your touch points too). Once you have fully broken down your internal journey you can utilise the different sections of the journey to gain more information towards your overall Customer Lifecycle strategy.

For example, your Service Delivery manager has access to teams within the customers infrastructure that might not be visible to anyone else. They will learn of other areas within the customers product stack that could benefit from one or more of your product portfolio but they need to be encouraged to discover, rewarded for creating upsell and have a place within which to report their findings, this is why its critical to the Customer Lifecycle Value process that all Customer facing teams have access to CRM and more importantly, everyone uses it.

Ideally every touchpoint in your customer journey should be feeding back information that you can use to increase your Customer Lifecycle (CL) and enhance your Customer Lifetime Value (CVT).

In the final blog in this series we will look at how we can manage and report on your Customer Journey and your Customer Lifecycle Engagement phases and how you can get the most out of your product portfolio.



Enhancing Your Customer Lifetime Value (Part 1/3)

The Holy Grail for most businesses is to increase your customer loyalty and retain the customer for as long as it remains commercially viable to do so thus maximising your Customer Lifetime Value.

Typically the customer lifecycle is seen separately to the customer journey, with the key areas of the lifecycle broken down into the following phases ;

Typical Customer Lifecycle

In the image above, you can see the six typical customer engagement phases, Targeting and Acquiring customers, Onboarding and Serving those customers and then Growing and Retaining them for the medium to longer term.

Of course in certain sectors like Insurance or Gambling / Leisure businesses its commonplace to maximise the lifetime value of the customer over a much shorter lifespan whilst expecting to lose the customer due to high competition in their industries.

Too many businesses have a marketing department focusing on the Customer Lifecycle in their PR and marketing collateral whilst not focusing at all on the actual customer journey. Too many websites and social media campaigns focus on the brand first rather than the customer.

In truth, the Customer Lifecycle and the Customer Journey are intrinsically linked and your brand pr on a semi functional website means very little. If your doing one without the other, your commercial positioning of your products will be off, your added value sales will be hard to come by and you will have significant issues in service delivery or project management as your customers will not be making the most of their journey with your business.

Do both together and you will not only understand your customer behaviour better but you will also have much better chance of added value sales in the sales cycle and more customers with multiple products from your portfolio which increases your revenue as a result.

How do we do it?

In order to maximise customer loyalty and increase revenues for the lifespan of the customer with our business we must first research and understand four key areas of our customer sales process;

In the list below I have included some examples of the types of key questions we need to ask when we start to create our Customer Journey;

  • Customer Interactions – (The Discovery Phase)
    • What do you customers search for to find your products?
    • Where do they hear about you?
    • Reliability?
    • Assurance?
    • Responsiveness?
  • The Sales Process – (Contemplation Phase)
    • Why do they pick your business?
    • What are their touchpoints?
    • Approach?
    • Discover?
  • Motivation to Purchase? – (Purchase Phase)
    • What motivated them to make a purchase?
    • Solving a problem?
    • Enhancements?
    • Functionality increase?
    • Business Growth?
  • Address Pain Points? – (Retention & Loyalty Phase)
    • High Delivery Charges
    • Third Party costs in the product cycle
    • Service Delivery Delays
    • Navigation issues in customer service channels

The best way to collate and interrogate the data you will get from asking these types of questions is by actually writing your own customer journey down on paper. If you have a Customer Success Software solution then you need to think carefully when you build your own KPIs into it in order to get the correct business intelligence out of it to enhance your customer sales cycle.

By gathering your own Quantitive and Qualitative data streams on your audience you can then begin to build audience personas, identify all your touchpoints and understand the different parts of the customers journey to purchase with you. This in turn will allow you to take those same journeys and optimise it for maximum customer lifecycle revenue return.

Look at your product portfolio, does it cover the six typical Customer Lifecycle phases? If it doesn’t then what areas does it cover? Does this effect the Customer Journey? Do you have third party integrations into your own product set to give you the complete end to end product set? If you do then does this effect the Customer Journey? What are your competitors offering? How does your product offering compare commercially, functionally and where does it sit in relation to the customer lifecycle?

Take time to quantify all the questions you need answers to in relation to how your customers and opportunities interact with you from the initial interest all the way through to a sale. Perform Competitor analysis focusing on the customer journey with each of your competitors.

Once your have your data set, you can then look at the journey your offering your customers now, how it compares to competitors and make changes accordingly.

In the second blog in this series we will look in depth at the FOUR key phases in the Customer Journey and I will provide more details on the types of questions you should be asking and the information you should be finding out in order to achieve the very best Customer Journey for your business.

Finally in the third blog in this series I will talk about how you bring your Customer Journey and your Customer Lifecycle engagement phases together, how you collate the data and report on it and how ultimately you utilise these data sets to get the most out of the Customer Lifecycle Value for your business.



Utilising Chatbots in your UC Strategy

Chatbots have grown from being predominantly text-based interfaces to very personable interactive assistants in recent years. As a society we have grown used to utilising a chat bot over say, being in a queue on the phone or making a call / email enquiry to a business.

Chatbots are software applications that use Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Natural Language Processing (NLP) to manage a humans communication expectations, providing the relevant information to bring the human to their desired outcome in a quick and fully automated way like a virtual assistant if you will.

A chatbot’s value lies in its ability to handle high volumes of repetitive tasks, freeing up more experienced agents to handle complex queries and sensitive issues that require human interaction. In the Contact Centre world for instance the chatbot can provide a layer of scrutiny and evaluate a customer query and possibly resolve it before it ever hits the agent saving time and resource and ultimately increasing customer satisfaction.

The key driver for chatbot integration should be clearly identified before you begin your Chatbot journey, for instance within a Contact Centre environment the key driver would surely be to automate and scale consumer interactions whilst reducing first call resolution times, without hiring hundreds of contact centre staff.

A chatbot should provide several answers to key touchpoints on the Customer Journey and;

  1. Enable the conversant to find simple answers to questions via pre-formatted responses
  2. Utilise integrations to enable Omni-Channel connectivity and multiple ways of solving a customer problem
  3. Take payments
  4. Trigger content to enhance the customer experience
  5. Provide a clear audit trail of the conversations and interactions that take place
  6. Use existing conversation data where available to understand the type of questions people ask.
  7. Use NLP & Machine Learning to better understand context and provide better more complex answers in the future

The design and build process for a typical chatbot can be split into six key areas ;

Define – What will your chatbot do? What problems will it solve?

Flow Design – What interactions will your chatbot facilitate? What integrations will it require? What information will it need access to?

Design – Integrations (third party or otherwise) – depending on the flow and requirements of the bot, you will need to integrate third party options like payments, appointment services, CRM etc…

Design – Conversation and aesthetics – what tone will the chatbot take? What basic greetings? How will it balance between text and rich media when responding to a query?

Prototype – Build a prototype and test your conversational skills

Data Integration – Your Chatbot needs feeding to enable any machine learning functions to begin to understand more about the response classifications and word intent etc.. think of this as “training” for your chatbot.

UAT – User testing obviously… ask questions in ways that you wouldn’t normally expect and test your bot responses.

Implement – Create a full implementation plan that includes APIs, back end, connecting systems and database integration.

Whatever your reasons for employing chatbot technology in your customer flow, make sure that the flows you build enable the bot to talk to your other internal systems. To get the most out of the technology you need to make sure it fits into your multi channel communication strategy.

One bot to rule them all.. so to speak..

Final Thought…

Automated, efficient, integrated Chatbots make sticky appendages to your marketing & communications strategy not only to keep users engaged but to solve problems and allow customers to get answers and resolve issues quicker.

However people won’t stay “sticky” because they love interacting with your bot, it will be because the bot has saved them time spent talking to people. The nirvana of a bot experience is to save customer time and increase efficiencies both in dealing with your end customer issues and internally within your business in reducing talk time, agent times dealing with customers and automating tasks that would otherwise cost you time and money to employ a human whilst acting as an enabler for your other marketing and communication channels.

If you would like advice on your chat bot strategy, or help in understanding what bots can do for your business, then give me a call.