Jim Hertzfeld – Perficient Blogs https://blogs.perficient.com Expert Insights Fri, 10 Apr 2020 13:15:45 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://i2.wp.com/blogs.perficient.com/files/favicon-194x194-1.png?fit=32%2C32&ssl=1 Jim Hertzfeld – Perficient Blogs https://blogs.perficient.com 32 32 30508587 Why Strategy Is Exactly What You Need Right Now https://blogs.perficient.com/2020/03/25/why-strategy-is-exactly-what-you-need-right-now/ https://blogs.perficient.com/2020/03/25/why-strategy-is-exactly-what-you-need-right-now/#respond Wed, 25 Mar 2020 13:55:00 +0000 https://blogs.perficient.com/?p=271846

When many people think of the word “strategy,” they start to conjure up images of a long-term plan built around some theoretical idea that may never happen. Unfortunately, many well-intended, traditional strategies have been outdated attempts at predicting the future that were beset by the realities of market changes, bad data, and, more often than we’d like to admit, a simple lack of follow-through. Over the past few years, we’ve seen the planning horizon for strategic roadmaps become shorter and shorter as markets become more and more fluid. Because of these trends, an effective strategy – in particular a modern, digital strategy – is a different beast.

By our definition, strategy is really about dealing with one thing: uncertainty. Uncertainty about what to do, why you should do it, and how to get there. An intelligent strategy helps you figure what is important so you aren’t distracted by things that aren’t. A thoughtful strategy keeps you from wasting your limited time and resources on things that don’t matter. A practical strategy zeroes in how to get started quickly – not just where to finish. If there was ever a time to deal with uncertainty, it is now.

I’ve been impressed by the determination and humanity I’m seeing in our communities as we come together to contend with this pandemic. Our personal safety and public health are top priorities right now, even as we continue to adapt to new working conditions and a volatile business climate. We are all dealing with business uncertainty in every corner, which may be challenging a strategic roadmap or playbook that was your entire mission just two weeks ago. Since strategies did not predict this future, we’re all wondering what to keep working on and what can simply wait. We would like to see our clients be responsive – not just reactive – which is why we wanted to share our thoughts on why strategy is critical to resolving uncertainty.

What Are the Priorities Right Now?

Teddy Roosevelt famously said, that “in any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” You have to act, but what are your options and how do you decide? You have will more ideas than you have time and resources for, and a structured method can narrow down which ones are worthwhile, and the handful that are actually feasible. Diverse, imaginative ideas with a focus on customer growth is not just for your capital budgeting cycle. It’s also for figuring out what to do right now.

Resolve Just Enough Uncertainty to Move Forward

Many risk-averse leaders feel like they need to know all of the facts before they start anything, and have a hard time taking advantage of the learning and feedback that comes from getting started intelligently. Prototyping or testing an idea quickly can shed more light on the problem and reveal gaps you didn’t know about, which can get you to a working solution faster than thinking you can get all of the facts on the table up front. Don’t be reckless, but as you think about your options, think about the minimum you need to know to get started. Perficient’s CX AMP approach is designed for situations where you need to think big, but start small and act fast.

Align Your People

Traditional, everyday organizational structures are designed for resilience, repeatability, and, ultimately, high efficiency. But they are also designed for the daily operational routine. In our longitudinal CX IQ benchmark, we’ve proven over and over again that organizational alignment is the critical ingredient to digital transformation, because it bears itself out in the daily operational routine. Strategy says we need to ensure alignment, and current events would dictate that we need to rethink alignment. Last week, restaurant owners across the U.S. suddenly became delivery drivers and teachers had to develop online curriculums, many for the first time. We all need to think creatively about how to execute differently.

Customer Empathy

Empathy as a strategy is a relatively new concept, gaining a foothold with underlying approaches like Design Thinking and Jobs-To-Be-Done. Empathy comes from a deliberate and deep understanding of your customers problems, their needs and preferences, and how the world and the market is changing around them. We build empathy through quantitative and qualitative study, through our own experiences, and through experimentation and, let’s face it, some luck. Putting your customers first is nothing new, but understanding the broader dynamic – particularly how it might be changing at the regional, city, and even neighborhood level – right now is more critical than ever.

Build for Agility and Change

Hopefully your organization, its culture, and its systems are modular and flexible enough to adapt quickly. We have been shaping strategies that are as effective at reacting to changes as they are at meeting a specific goal, but we realize that not everyone has that level of agility.

Strategy is not the answer to everything right now, but I hope you keep these strategic tools in mind as you deal with ongoing uncertainty.

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Getting to What Matters Most with Now/New/Next https://blogs.perficient.com/2020/03/10/getting-to-what-matters-most-with-now-new-next/ https://blogs.perficient.com/2020/03/10/getting-to-what-matters-most-with-now-new-next/#respond Tue, 10 Mar 2020 16:56:40 +0000 https://blogs.perficient.com/?p=270637

The last best experience.

It may seem unfair or counterintuitive to compare your organization’s customer experience to others outside your industry, but your customers are doing it every time they interact with you. They are holding you accountable to your promises but they are also passing judgment against the expectations set from experiences they have elsewhere in their lives. 

Let’s say you just made a dinner reservation online. You had a few times in mind for Saturday, discovered a few new restaurants in town, and in two clicks you landed a great dinner date with friends this weekend. The next day you try to schedule an appointment with your doctor, so you log into the patient portal only to find that you need to make a phone call to set up the appointment. You make the call, but have to leave a voicemail and, of course, wait for a call back.  A few years ago, you would have accepted this as business as usual, but in a digital era where choice and transparency are everything, business as usual is not enough to compete. 

IBM’s Bridget van Kralingen said it best: “The last best experience that anyone has anywhere becomes the minimum expectation for the experience they want everywhere.” 

The pressure is on. The customer experience leader in you is ready to fix what is broken, finish those ongoing projects that don’t seem to end, and dive into whatever is next to win new business and keep the customers you have!  

Innovation is great, but…

There is no shortage of good ideas, so the trick is in figuring out which ones are the really great ideas and which few of those you have the time, money, and attention to act on. We often think of great ideas as innovations, and we often think of those innovations as fresh, never-before-seen ideas. But innovation guru Clayton Christensen explains that innovations actually exist on a spectrum that ranges from sustaining innovations (maintaining what already works to improve quality and decrease cost) to disruptive innovations (adding new features to a product or service in an attempt to grow).

So here lies tension: You have to take risks and make investments in new things to change the way you do business, and at the same time, you have to keep doing what you’re already doing well and include new things that have now become table stakes expectations. In my scheduling example above, you need to decide if the self-service experience is really table stakes, and if it is, is the two-click online version the right way to go. Maybe you just need another person to pick up the phone when the lines are busy. 

Understanding what customers expect and need, and then carefully deciding which of those to focus your attention on is the heart of the strategist’s dilemma. This is the kind of problem we love to understand and solve, so we took van Kralingen’s comments and Christensen’s notions of innovation (and a few other tried and true methods) to develop our Now/New/Next model.


Now/New/Next (N3) is a tool for rapidly benchmarking and prioritizing a company’s customer experience portfolio. Built on innovation models from Christensen, Kano, and Baghai, N3 helps our clients:

  1. Understand where their customer experience stands relative to customer expectations and competitive forces,
  2. Get inspired to ideate cross-industry experiences and adaptations,
  3. Prioritize which experiences and capabilities to focus on next, and
  4. Balance the experience portfolio to make the most of limited time and resources.

Best of all, we’re able to do this quickly because it’s backed by ongoing customer and category research. We just need to figure out where you stand and validate the portfolio with minimal customer research. 

I’ll be sharing more about this approach with Now/New/Next in a few upcoming posts. 

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Essentials for Your Digital Strategy: Lean Transformation https://blogs.perficient.com/2019/10/22/essentials-for-your-digital-strategy-lean-transformation/ https://blogs.perficient.com/2019/10/22/essentials-for-your-digital-strategy-lean-transformation/#respond Tue, 22 Oct 2019 14:05:15 +0000 https://blogs.perficientdigital.com/?p=240963

Delivering seamless, consistent, and engaging experiences starts with a customer-centered digital strategy. This ongoing series explores the characteristics that make up a great digital strategy and how to deliver powerful brand moments that solidify customer loyalty and drive differentiation for your organization.

Earlier in this series, we revealed the importance of organizational alignment for your digital strategy. My colleague, David Stallsmith, summed it up nicely: “It is the core of your strategy, the backbone of your business, and an accelerator of what you hope to achieve.” But getting your teams and departments focused on the customer and digital mission is just the beginning. Once you have them rowing in the right direction, there is more to consider to get them working together to max out their digital potential.
Organizational alignment paves the way for lean transformation. Furthermore, lean transformation is uniquely important and relevant for driving customer centricity. To deliver customer-focused innovations, it’s important to understand the elements of lean transformation and how to overcome the foreseeable challenges.

What Is Lean Transformation? 

Lean methodology originated in manufacturing during the mid-twentieth century. It was the innovative idea that revolutionized Toyota’s production system, and modernized manufacturing and ultimately operational capabilities around the globe in every industry. The methodology defines value from the customer’s viewpoint, focuses on improving processes while eliminating waste, and ultimately boosts innovation.
Lean transformation builds on this methodology to lay out a blueprint of organizational tools and approaches. Fusing Design Thinking with Agile, we define lean transformation as an organizational change to how we design, build, and run digital, customer-centric systems.

Perficient Digital’s Design Thinking Methodology

Why Embrace Lean Transformation? 

There are a few good reasons to embrace Lean principles in your organization, regardless of whether or not you’re motivated by digital, or customer experience, or another reason to build operational excellence into your organization. But digital customer experience is an ideal place to adopt lean transformation for a couple of key reasons. 
First, digital projects focused on customers thrive when teams tap into the human elements that make digital solutions more useful, usable, and impactful. Technology projects have historically attempted to incorporate user requirements in various formats (and with typically painful outcomes). Lean organizations address this by incorporating customer empathy and a range of stakeholder inputs from a holistic team with diverse perspectives. 
Second, the expectations of IT and the CIO’s role in the organization have shifted. For years, IT teams have built and managed systems for scale and predictability. But in today’s customer-centered world, it’s not enough to keep the lights on. CIOs are now entrusted with helping their companies meet customers’ changing needs and react to competitive threats with the same systems (and funding) they’ve always had. Customer-centered organizations have adopted lean principles to augment scale and predictability with agility and speed.
[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”Customer centricity is the permanent result of technology disrupting the relationship between consumers and brands.”[/perfectpullquote]

Six Elements of Lean Transformation (and Why They Matter)

1. Iterative delivery

Waterfall, big-bang efforts are fundamentally flawed because none of the risk is confirmed until the very end. Your team may wonder: “Are these the right features? Will this technology even work?” When the proverbial veil is lifted, it’s too late to make significant changes. 
Iterative projects solve many of these flaws. You create an environment to test and re-evaluate all aspects of the project early and often. Doing so allows you to expose the risks sooner, giving you time to react and adjust. Then, you can focus your limited time and budget on what matters most.

2. Continuous testing

Well-intended iterative projects simply turn into incremental projects when testing is not built into each iteration. Our best client projects have proven that testing different aspects – from the customer journey and basic user experience to tricky system integrations and the final, working solution – is the most effective way to derive feedback and uncover the right solution. 
Being test-driven goes beyond scheduling ample time for testing activities. You also must consider testing tools, data, content, methods, and participants.

3. Research-based decisions  

Customer centricity is the permanent result of technology disrupting the relationship between consumers and brands. The first rule of customer centricity is knowing your customers – who they are, what they want and need, and why they choose you. Observation, studies, and behavioral analytics are key tools for researching and understanding your customers. 
At the broadest, contextual level, basic customer insights are table stakes for a design thinking approach. If you have this insight, then large-scale research isn’t needed for every project. 
In a typical project where the customer is well known, user research still happens, but it’s essentially reduced to feedback and the results of your testing. When the problem domain is new or particularly unique, then smaller amounts of focused research may be necessary to lay the groundwork.

4. Prototyping

At the heart of Agile, iterative methodologies are the ability to test your work and run experiments so we can use those results and feedback to drive the product. But long before the product takes form, we use prototyping to create something to run our tests and experiments against. Simple, low-fidelity, pencil-and-paper prototypes are amazingly effective early in projects, and more comprehensive, high-fidelity prototyping tools (e.g., Adobe XD and InVision) are now more economical than ever. 
Strong design thinking teams think about prototyping tools and strategies at the start of their projects. Think outside the box with prototyping. Storyboards, animation, and video are also extremely effective ways to communicate the breadth of your project. More advanced product teams invest in platform stubs and virtualization to extend prototyping even further.

5. Cross-functional teams

Digital ecosystems can be complex with many interdependencies. At the same time, customers can be unpredictable and inconsistent. Combine these challenges, and your business faces compounded risk and uncertainty. 
That’s why strong digital teams should consist of holistic, cross-functional team members. You’ll want a team that brings a complete skillset but also a variety of perspectives, experiences, and objectives to balance the risk and complexity of digital projects. This includes customer-centered design, versatile engineering, and strong business input. We call this concept the Minimum Viable Team (MVT). When coupled with its product counterpart, the Minimum Viable Product (MVP), these are two strong moves to adapt digital and non-digital teams.

6. Product-oriented development

In some organizations, a product-oriented approach to design, engineering, and servicing systems as distinct products can simplify the overall complexity. This approach also establishes focus for your business so that you organize processes and teams chartered with delivering these products. 
Product orientation encourages multiple teams to work independently and helps govern interdependencies and priorities through coordinated, release-driven planning. This approach requires advance thinking about an overall product architecture – usually defined by customer segments, channels, and features – and thinking through Service Level Agreements (SLAs) among product teams and constituents.

Conquering Obstacles for Lean Transformation

Organizational inertia

One of the toughest obstacles to becoming Lean is the simple resistance to change. We encourage small steps with adequate training, education, and leadership mandates to gain cooperation and buy-in across your organization. But most of all, you must prove that these elements will work for your organization. 
Overcoming this mindset can be addressed with an organizational change management (OCM) strategy adapted for your digital program. OCM should also be considered for ongoing governance and oversight activities. 
Another option is to create a Digital Center of Excellence (COE) or similar model to provide support, education, and shared services. With a design thinking team that’s starting from scratch, you’ll have to create a design system that enables a variety of tools – personas, customer journeys, low- or high-fidelity prototyping, or simulation tools. Your team will also have to build customer empathy and develop design standards. This pre-work must be done to lay the groundwork for lean transformation.

Scheduling woes

Scheduling and managing distributed resources from multiple teams can be nearly impossible, particularly when those resources are shared among other projects. The most effective response is to construct dedicated product teams, ideally in a co-located workspace dedicated to the product mission.
Establish a MVT that consists of a product owner, business owner, engineers, testers, and designers. Pulling them together and dedicating them to the project brings the combination of holistic perspectives, the chance to bond as a team, and the dedicated time to make progress. 
However, this solution may be radical for some organizations because it alters career planning, challenges centralized controls, and can appear expensive for part-time commitments. Rest assured, the payoff is much improved teamwork and communication with the lack of distractions and minimal wait times.

Maintaining diversity of thought

Diverse perspectives bring real value to designing digital products. Diversity encompasses individuals from different demographics or socioeconomic backgrounds, but it also includes bringing in resources from different industry categories, skill areas, or teams. 
Diversity of thought makes it possible to break the organizational inertia and build empathy with different audiences. Consider the airline industry for a moment and the apps developed for passengers. Do any of them stand out? There’s little differentiation between them. This exemplifies the need for diversity among a design thinking team. When you have a group of people with similar traits and backgrounds writing the software, the end result is undifferentiated products.

Lean Transformation Bolsters Innovation

Innovation happens across a wide spectrum, from the truly disruptive to the quietly sustainable. 
Sustaining innovations tend to be internally focused, helping you work faster, exploit existing strengths, and build operational excellence. At the other end of the spectrum, disruptive innovations focus on growth, explore new territory, and tend to enhance the customer experience.
Disruption gets the attention, but sustainable innovations can be equally valuable in terms of competitive advantage. We’ve found that Lean teams bring the most balanced, holistic perspective to finding the right balance of innovation.

Start small, fail fast, prove success

The best innovative approaches embrace failure as a core value. While that may sound counterintuitive, the premise is really this: what can you learn from failure?
Creating an environment for continuous testing and learning is among the primary traits of highly-effective and innovative companies. Experimentation, testing, and learning are key to reducing risk and taking full advantage of the insights gained as you innovate. 
You can prove success by starting with a small project, run by a capable team that is committed to the process. Once you prove success with these methodologies, others in your company will want to do the same.

The Key Takeaway 

Why should your organization be Lean? Because change is the only constant. Customers and their preferences continue to evolve. The technology continues to change, and therefore, businesses must always be ready for change. By incorporating the elements of lean transformation, your business – the teams and technologies – can quickly adapt and respond to these realities.

Creating stand-out digital customer experiences that attract, engage, and retain customers is a tall order. Perhaps you’ve already done some of the foundational work, and you need help with the next step.
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When working with clients, we help make sure you know your customers and understand their journeys. Through design-thinking tools, industry research, and pragmatic ideation to execute from end-to-end, you will have what it takes to deliver experiences that surprise and delight your customers.
Ready to get started with your digital strategy? Dive in for more resources.

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Essentials for Your Digital Strategy: Emerging Business Models https://blogs.perficient.com/2019/07/10/essentials-for-your-digital-strategy-emerging-business-models/ https://blogs.perficient.com/2019/07/10/essentials-for-your-digital-strategy-emerging-business-models/#respond Wed, 10 Jul 2019 16:49:47 +0000 https://blogs.perficientdigital.com/?p=234031

Delivering seamless, consistent, and engaging experiences starts with a customer-centered digital strategy. This ongoing series explores the characteristics that make up a great digital strategy and how to deliver powerful brand moments that solidify customer loyalty and drive differentiation for your organization.

Innovation is not just about technology

As we work with clients, we find a lot of correlation (and often some confusion) between their digital, innovation, and customer experience strategies. Many think innovation relates directly to digital, but technology is only one part of the equation.
It’s true that many of today’s up and coming business models are tightly coupled with new or emerging technology. Uber is a great example. The experience it provides would not be possible without mobile and geolocation technology. However, when you look past the digital component, you can see that Uber is really built on a sharing economy business model. By connecting riders directly with drivers who own vehicles, the company has disrupted traditional transportation services and changed consumer behavior and expectations. ‘
Not every organization needs to be like Uber, but we view emerging business models as a digital essential because it’s important to know what emerging models are made of and how they can be adapted to fit your organization. It also helps to understand and recognize a few of the emerging models prominent today.

What business models are emerging right now?

Sharing Economy and Fractional Ownership

Sharing economy and fractional ownership function differently, but both answer the growing consumer desire to bypass traditional ownership and only consume and pay for what’s actually needed. For example, some consumers have done the math and determined that if they can supplement walking to work with a ride-hailing service, then they can avoid the burden of purchasing, insuring, and maintaining their own vehicle.
Sharing or “access” economies entail connecting to another private individual, usually through a mobile app or website run by an intermediary organization, to gain temporary access to property, such as a car or living space, owned by that person. This is Uber, Airbnb, Neighbor, Rover, and other apps you’re using to connect with a trusted stranger in order to accomplish a task. Sharing economy-powered organizations have been shaking things up for a while now, and are continuing to grow in popularity and expand across industries.
Fractional ownership also enables individuals to save money by only paying for what they need, but (as the name implies) they share ownership of a property either with other individuals or with an organization. Think time-share but without the annoying pitch. For example, I recently spoke with a mortgage company that offers the option to concurrently rent and have a mortgage on a piece of property. Non-traditional options like this provide flexibility and customization for consumers and can have applications across industries, including other big-ticket items such as cars, vacation properties, and even private jets.

Data Monetization

I’ve already talked about Uber, but the ride-hailing pioneer provides a great example of expanding its business by monetizing its proprietary data to become profitable.Two women waiting for a rideshare pick up
Every time someone uses Uber, which happens about 14 million times per day, Uber collects data about the rider, the driver, the pick-up and drop-off locations, traffic conditions, and more. With 10 billion individual trips under its belt (and counting), Uber has collected a lot of data, and it makes business sense that the company would capitalize on that asset by selling anonymized data to third parties, or, more importantly, use that data to provide value-added interpretations and insights based on the resulting data sets.
Uber’s not the only company selling the data it collects on users – not by a long shot. The big question, of course, is whether these companies can do so while also respecting and protecting users’ (and drivers’, in Uber’s case) data. As privacy regulations like GDPR and the California Privacy Protection Act roll into place, companies must prioritize ethical treatment of data or risk legal penalties and lost customer trust.


Direct-to-consumer sales has been around for quite a while, but this business model has grown exponentially through the consumerization of the internet and the advent of eCommerce. This model is influencing many organizations outside of traditional consumer goods, particularly with B2B brands that are connecting directly with their end users and owning more of the customer experience surrounding their product.
Caterpillar provides a good example of how the direct-to-consumer relationship is evolving. The machinery manufacturer, which operates through a global network of dealers, is making strides to interface directly with the end users renting and operating its equipment. The company’s new Cat Rental Store mobile app enables customers to locate the equipment they need and manage their rentals using their mobile devices, allowing Caterpillar to be more involved in the rental experience while also maintaining its relationships with dealers.

Online Only to Brick and Mortar

Just when the world was predicting the end of traditional brick-and-mortar stores, previously digital-only companies like Amazon and Warby Parker began investing in physical locations. Why is that? Roughly 80% of the US population lives in urban areas. That’s a lot of customers, really close together – a lot of customers who expect two-day shipping, easy returns, and for their favorite brands to make their lives easier.
Online-only brands also want to keep up with those expectations. This creates the need to have a strong distribution infrastructure in place, which might mean experimenting with localized experience centers like showrooms and return drop-off points.

Kohl's storefront

Source: Kohl’s

Some brands partner with other organizations to fill this gap. Kohl’s, for example, recently announced that all of its brick-and-mortar stores nationwide would start accepting Amazon returns. This move will likely prove successful for both companies as Amazon customers enjoy returning items without the hassle and cost of shipping. And, Kohl’s benefits from the foot traffic those returns bring into its stores.

Inventory-Free Retail

As I just mentioned, many retailers recognize that their physical footprints provide a competitive advantage in an industry where everyone has an eCommerce site. Showrooming has been a trend in retail for several years, but some companies are experimenting further on the concept by completely removing inventory from the equation.
Nordstrom provided a perfect example of inventory-free retail in 2017 when it opened its first Nordstrom Local concept store. The purpose is to provide everything a customer could want from an in-store experience – except inventory, which they can purchase online. These service-oriented locations are much smaller than traditional Nordstrom department stores and serve as pick-up and drop-off points for online purchases and returns, personal styling and tailoring hubs, and venues for public and loyalty program member events.
The fact that Nordstrom recently announced the expansion of the Nordstrom Local footprint – adding two New York City locations to the three existing Los Angeles locations – shows that the company sees value in this new avenue of customer experience. Nordstrom stated that the expansion is, “part of its growth strategy and ongoing commitment to better serve customers no matter when, where, or how they shop.”

Subscription Services in New Sectors

Subscription services are everywhere – from streaming services replacing our cable TV to the monthly box of treats and toys for our dogs. Brands across the consumer goods sector (and consumables) are constantly looking for ways to turn a customer’s semi-frequent purchase or need into a committed relationship with a steady revenue stream. This trend is expanding into other areas of daily life.
In healthcare, for example, the concierge medicine model is becoming increasingly popular among physicians and patients. If an individual doesn’t want to deal with the burden of finding a doctor and scheduling appointments, they can subscribe and have those administrative tasks taken care of for them. As consumers see the benefit and convenience of outsourcing tedious tasks like scheduling medical appointments, service-focused subscriptions will become increasingly prevalent.

In the end, it’s about solving problems

These new business models have a common theme: invest in experiences and relationships centered around solving customers’ problems, rather than selling products or services.
While Uber strives to be the “Amazon of Transportation,” automotive manufacturers like Ford and Toyota are also expanding the scope of their services. They want to encompass the entire transportation experience – shopping, purchasing, financing, maintenance, repeat – and transition from manufacturers to mobility organizations. For example, Ford equips fleet vehicles with telematics capabilities and can provide purchasing organizations with data-driven insights on fleet activity and performance, which positions it as a solutions partner instead of just a manufacturer.
We’re seeing the same trend in telecom and utilities organizations. Rather than just selling phones and wireless service, AT&T wants to be customers’ partner in communication, connecting them with friends, family, work, and the rest of the world. Beyond just billing customers for monthly usage and receiving calls during outages, utilities companies want to help customers monitor their energy usage, find the right smart appliances, implement green energy practices, and accomplish other energy-savings goals.

So, what should you be doing about it?

Know your customers

As I explained earlier, be aware of what other organizations are doing, both within and outside your industry, and recognize how they may be impacting your customers’ expectations. Customer wants, needs, and behavior change all the time, and I’m often surprised how many companies don’t continually update their understanding of their audience. If you don’t understand your customers, you’re not going to be able to improve their experiences.

Look for ways to build on what you have

As you’re improving and expanding your digital experience and capabilities, look for ways to make the most out of the tools you have. Digitizing any interaction fundamentally creates a new source of data you can use to improve your customer experience and potentially expand into a new business model.

For example, if you’re using analytics to monitor what people are looking at on your website, maybe you can extend that to mobile. Now you can see where people are when searching for your products. Are they in your stores? Are they at a stadium? Are they tailgating out of town? Can we connect them with other fans and create a fan experience?

Adopt a design thinking approach

We love the phrase “Think big. Start small. Move fast.” If you want to innovate safely but also quickly, you need to adopt a Design Thinking approach. This means starting with an open mind and working in small, experimentally based phases in iterations.
This methodology allows you to try something out with a small audience, test, learn, and repeat until the best version of your new idea is ready. It also helps you recognize when an idea is just not going to work, which is an important part of the process. It’s okay to throw out a bad idea as long as you’re learning from it.

Balance your innovation portfolio

There may be times when you feel you need to dive into a new business model, maintain what you’re already doing, and play catch-up all at once. You’ll never have enough time or money to do everything you want, so developing a balanced innovation portfolio is a crucial step to narrow your focus.
We use an approach called Now/New/Next, which helps companies develop that balanced portfolio. In the Now/New/Next model, we organize the client’s experiences and capabilities into six categories across the spectrum of innovation, ranging from sustaining to disruptive. We can then define a strategic roadmap of short and long-term actions that will help the client expand and evolve, while also fortifying its strength areas.
Don’t get stuck in the trap of believing your organization is too conservative or too invested in your current strategy to change or leverage an emerging business model. There is always opportunity to improve your organization and the best way to start is to be open to new ideas.

Creating stand-out digital customer experiences that attract, engage, and retain customers is a tall order. Perhaps you’ve already done some of the foundational work, and you need help with the next step.
When working with clients, we help make sure you know your customers and understand their journeys. Through design-thinking tools, industry research, and pragmatic ideation to execute from end-to-end, you will have what it takes to deliver experiences that surprise and delight your customers.

Ready to get started with your digital strategy? Dive in for more resources.

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4 Strategies to Make CX a Competitive Differentiator https://blogs.perficient.com/2019/06/24/4-strategies-to-make-cx-a-competitive-differentiator/ https://blogs.perficient.com/2019/06/24/4-strategies-to-make-cx-a-competitive-differentiator/#respond Mon, 24 Jun 2019 20:03:35 +0000 https://blogs.perficient.com/?p=239928

I have two pieces of old news to report. First, the world is changing faster than ever. The second piece of old news: customers are more empowered than ever and have almost complete control over their own journey. So, what is the real news today? These two well-established trends have joined forces to push companies to think way beyond the already challenging task of keeping up a great a great product or service. The opportunity is in the complete customer experience, and the bonus goes to who can anticipate their customers’ unmet needs and expectations. As they say, “what got you here won’t keep you here.”

Still, I’m seeing some resistance and even some denial from within some of our clients. Customer-centricity can challenge the internal operational mindset of a company. Sometimes the customer experience is thought of as something the contact center has to deal with down the line. Other times, the marketing organization is in the best position to advocate for the customer, but the rest of the organization sees them as simply brand and promotion. Rallying the organization around customer experience (CX) can be challenging. Here, we share a few of the rally cries that are working.

4 Ways to Excel at CX:

1. Have Empathy for Your Customers

Establishing customer empathy means deeply understanding who your customer is, how they think, what their needs are, and how what you do impacts them. Customer research is a tried and true tool for empathy-building, but too often it’s only used when launch a new product or a transformational strategy. Your company may have big transformational ambitions but shouldn’t forget to address the “now.” It’s more expensive to gain a new customer than to retain an existing one, so balancing the now, the new, and the next comes from the insights from ongoing empathy-building.

2. Cater to the Entire Customer Journey

A client of ours, a leading athletic wear company, recently ranked No. 1 in Total Retail’s list of top omni-channel retailers. As I wrote in a previous blog post, the company “created a unified experience that allows customers to engage with the brand however, whenever, and wherever they want.” Truly understanding and improving the customer journey requires more than empathy. Today’s journeys are nonlinear and can start and end anywhere. That’s why it’s important to consider the entire journey across all channels. Being prepared to show how customer success requires coordination from different departments is a good foundational move.

3. Strike the Right Balance Behind the Scenes

Anyone can make shiny objects. However, your great ideas need to actually work and to actually drive business. It’s not just about what’s next. It’s also making sure what’s now or new to you also gets attention because customers’ expectations are continuously evolving and constantly raising the bar. Don’t ignore one end of the innovation spectrum at the expense of the other, by, say, over investing in technology and under investing in operations.

4. Be Adaptable to Change

Building strategy is an attempt at predicting the future and making smart choices with scarce resources, funding, and time. But the reality is that you have to be prepared to make ongoing, risk-tolerable decisions and be ready react to changes. And because customer expectations (and the world) are changing all the time, the cornerstone of a strategy is not about prediction, but about agility and change.

Want More Digital Transformation Advice?

The digital transformation strategies I share in this blog post draw from Perficient’s e-book, “How to Make Digital Transformation Gains in 2019.” In it, my fellow Perficient Chief Strategists and I share real-world examples from conversations with today’s leading brands at various stages of digital transformation. Our 10-chapter e-book features our business insights, actions to take now, and client success stories. Download it here or via the form below.

Next in the Series

This blog series is part of a special series inspired by our e-book. In the next post, Perficient Chief Strategist Scott Albahary will share tips for pinpointing your value proposition.

Subscribe to our Digital Transformation weekly digest here to get the blog posts automatically delivered to your inbox every week. Or, follow our Digital Transformation blog for this series and advice on the topic from all of our thought leaders.

About the Author

Jim Hertzfeld leads the Strategy and Innovation team for Perficient Digital, providing customer experience insights, ideation, and investment strategies for Perficient’s digital solutions. Jim co-founded the Digital Strategy Group for Meritage Technologies in 2000 that was acquired by Perficient in 2004. He also authored Perficient’s Envision strategy methodology in 2005, which has resulted in a number of client engagements and established new client relationships focused on digital strategy and customer experience.

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Omnichannel Strategy: Consistent Experiences at Every Touchpoint https://blogs.perficient.com/2018/07/25/omni-channel-strategy-consistent-experiences-at-every-touchpoint/ https://blogs.perficient.com/2018/07/25/omni-channel-strategy-consistent-experiences-at-every-touchpoint/#respond Wed, 25 Jul 2018 12:00:22 +0000 https://blogs.perficient.com/perficientdigital/?p=15727

Omnichannel experiences are ones that provide a seamless shopping experience across all channels – in brick-and-mortar stores and across digital. To do it well, your messaging and the purchasing processes must be consistent and harmonious.

Why is omnichannel marketing essential?

This attempt to be everywhere for everyone means that traditional retailers could have an advantage over online-only retailers by leveraging their physical storefronts as an important channel in the customer journey. There’s significant revenue opportunity from providing digital channels to traditional store shoppers, and fusing the shopping experience across channels. Omnichannel marketing attracts shoppers that are more valuable than both online-only and in-store-only shoppers. They spend an average of 4% more on every shopping occasion in the store and 10% more online than single-channel customers. And, with every additional channel they use, omnichannel shoppers spend more money in the store.
Omnichannel marketing also increases customer loyalty. Within six months after an omnichannel experience, customers log 23% more repeat shopping trips to the retailer’s stores and are more likely to recommend that brand to family and friends, compared to those who used a single channel.

Who’s getting omnichannel strategy right?

Lids Sports Group was just named the #1 omnichannel retailer for its experience that offers buy online pick up in store options, a search for in-store products online, shared carts, loyalty points/rewards that can be earned and redeemed across channels, and more.
One of the experiences making Lids a retail leader is its mobile application, Access Pass, which provides a gateway into its loyalty program centered on rewarding shoppers with exclusive deals and access to once-in-a-lifetime experiences. The app and Access Pass program provide shoppers instant and mobile connection to unique options and perks. Members can easily use the app to track points and rewards, engage with Lids’ social channels, and receive exclusive in-app offers. Lids is committed to their goal of allowing fans to engage with the brand, however, whenever, and wherever they want.

What can you do about it?

Retail is being reinvented, and traditional companies need to adapt to a new model. It’s important to not see the physical stores as a death certificate, but as an opportunity in an omnichannel retailing world. Traditionally, stores were optimized for driving transactions. But today, transactions can happen anywhere. Physical locations need to do something more by looking to fill the void of what shoppers can’t do online – build relationships, offer service, solve problems.
Companies without a physical location should still be multi-channel, interacting with customers across websites, marketplaces, social, mobile and more. Having a website isn’t enough; you have to meet customers where they are.

What’s next for omnichannel?

Beacon technology is stirring things up in the retail industry as companies use the data collected when customers browse in their native apps and brick-and-mortar stores to personalize messaging and create a seamless experience.
Beacons are small, battery-powered devices that, when placed throughout a brick-and-mortar location, communicate via bluetooth with nearby mobile devices. So if a customer has viewed specific products using your native app and then visited one of your stores, the beacons located near the previously viewed products will alert the customer with targeted messaging and offers. You can also provide personalized messaging and content through your app, based on the products the customer has previously viewed in-store.
To learn about more of the experiences your customers are looking for, download our free guide, The 5 Essential Retail Experiences.

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Customer Service Through Self-Service: Your My Account Experience https://blogs.perficient.com/2018/07/18/customer-service-through-self-service-your-my-account-experience/ https://blogs.perficient.com/2018/07/18/customer-service-through-self-service-your-my-account-experience/#respond Wed, 18 Jul 2018 12:00:50 +0000 https://blogs.perficient.com/perficientdigital/?p=15723

You may have a different name for it, but your My Account experience is the self-service avenue you provide customers to manage their relationship with your brand before, during, and after the purchase process. This includes elements such as their shopping cart, wishlist, payment and shipping information, order history, loyalty program membership, preferred brick-and-mortar store, and even their favorite brands and sizes. It is also your customer’s first stop for customer service.

Why is your customer account experience so crucial?

According to Forrester, it costs five times more to acquire a new customer than to retain and enrich a returning one, so providing your customers with a positive, smooth experience during and after purchase will increase your revenue in the long run. Your brand marketing efforts have gotten the customer through the front door, but now it’s time for your relationship marketing to keep them around and engaged.
Once a customer clicks “place order,” they expect you to follow through with an efficient and transparent fulfillment experience and, if necessary, a smooth returns process. Your account portal is key here. Once you’ve delivered on the initial purchase, you can use what you now know about them and the products they’re interested in to nurture the relationship with personalized messaging and offers within your account portal and through email. Your My Account portal also gives customers the opportunity to take charge of their experience by customizing their preferences and settings.

Zappos: Backing self-service with real people

Zappos is a retailer that has been winning at the customer experience game for a while now. The online-only footwear and apparel retailer has established a world-renowned reputation for going above and beyond in its online customer service. How? By not only providing a user-friendly web experience, but also displaying its customer service number prominently and providing its representatives with the resources and authority needed to really connect with and help the customers who call in.
Zappos’ CEO, Tony Hseih, explained that the telephone is a key differentiator in the way the company handles its customers’ needs. “I don’t think the difference [between the appeal of Zappos and the Amazon brand] is in the UI [the website user interface],” Hseih said. “It’s in how we build a personal connection, primarily on the phone. We’re actually experimenting with ways to get more people to call because it’s such a valuable marketing and brand builder for us.” (Forbes)
After sharing an account of how he had flowers sent to a customer who had called to return a pair of boots for her recently deceased father, a Zappos customer service representative reaffirmed the importance of the telephone to the company’s customer experience “The flowers aren’t what mattered here most,” he explained. “The phone is. It lets us have these in-depth, textured conversations with our customers. It’s the key to how we build customers for life.”

How can you improve your customer account experience?

Try changing the way you think about customer loyalty and retention. Remember that convenient, personalized services and offers will go a lot farther than complicated and arbitrary points and rewards systems. Also, go ahead and take a leaf out of Zappos’ book by making sure your customers can easily talk to a real person if they need to.
With the current climate of corporate mistrust and concerns about privacy, you’ll also want to be very aware of how you contact your customers and handle their information. Make sure you’re complying with the email standards set by legislation like GDPR, or you’ll risk fines and damaging negative social media attention.

What’s next in online customer service?

Many companies are utilizing chatbot technology and automated messaging to communicate with their customers. These technologies can be time-saving additions to your processes, as long as they are being used in a way that rings authentic to customers and adds value and efficiency. Again, make sure they can still reach a real person if they need to. Arguing with robots leaves very few people feeling loyal.
If you’re satisfied that you’re providing a smooth online self-service experience for your customers, take a look at how your brick-and-mortar customer service stacks up. Making sure your in-store team has access to information such as customer transaction history and customer service tickets will help create a seamless end-to-end experience that your customers will notice.
To learn more about the experiences your customers are looking for, download our free guide, The 5 Essential Retail Experiences.

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Creating an Immersive Product Experience https://blogs.perficient.com/2018/07/13/creating-an-immersive-product-experience/ https://blogs.perficient.com/2018/07/13/creating-an-immersive-product-experience/#respond Fri, 13 Jul 2018 14:30:15 +0000 https://blogs.perficient.com/perficientdigital/?p=15721

The product experience encompasses all aspects of the product itself: what it does, detailed product specifications, images, video, sizing and color options, complementary product recommendations, and customer-provided content like ratings, reviews, and images of the product in use.

Why is your product experience so essential?

As more and more retail purchases are made online rather than in brick-and-mortar stores, customers are expecting more from the e-commerce product experience than just the basic product specifications. They want a story. They want to know the product’s background so they can decide whether it fits their needs and wants. They want an immersive product experience.
If you’re a B2B retailer, don’t think these expectations don’t apply to you as well. Your customers want information about your product’s materials, manufacturing, and sourcing, as well as how those factors contribute to cost efficiency.
Whether you’re selling to consumers or other businesses, your online product experience is essentially filling the role that a knowledgeable, helpful sales associate or customer service rep would fill in a brick-and-mortar store. It will often be a key factor in whether a customer purchases your product or navigates away from it.

Who is rocking at product experience?

The home furnishings retailer, Joybird, the women’s intimates retailer, ThirdLove, and the mattress manufacturer, Casper, are three examples of brands that are breaking the mold with the experience that accompanies their products.
As an online-only brand, Joybird understands that home furnishings shoppers want to know as much as possible about the pieces they are considering, including how they will fit and look in their homes. With extensive pages dedicated to each product, Joybird provides customers with numerous photos taken from every angle and in every available color, detailed specifications and care instructions, photos and videos of the product being made, straightforward customization options, well-lit and staged customer photos, reviews, and the option to request a free swatch kit.
ThirdLove has taken it upon itself to demystify the brassiere-buying process and help women find bras that fit correctly. Backed by its trademarked half-cup sizing, ThirdLove is establishing itself as a go-to resource for women to educate themselves on topics such as shape, problems with fit, and lingerie care. The company’s website also features a FitFinder tool to that takes visitors through several rounds of questions to determine their correct size, as well as articles like “3 Bra Mistakes You Might Be Making” and “10 Bra Tips We Wish Mom Told Us.” With this emphasis on finding the correct fit continuing in each product page, ThirdLove is showing customers that it takes their comfort seriously.
Mattresses have traditionally been viewed as a product that you have to test out in person, but that isn’t stopping Casper from providing a dynamic, informative web experience for its shoppers. Each product page includes detailed information, photos, videos, and animated graphics that illustrate the considerable research and engineering that went into developing the product, and even the packaging. Casper also provides a 100-night trial period with each product, guaranteeing satisfaction or a full refund.

What can you do about it?

Start by taking a good hard look at your product content. Are you telling your product’s story in a way that resonates with your customers? Does the content answer their questions and give them an immersive product experience prior to purchase?
Next, examine the social proof surrounding your products. Whether they realize it or not, consumers are often heavily influenced by the opinions of others, so the ratings and reviews on both your site and third-party sites can go a long way in setting their expectations, giving them a comparison party to weigh themselves against, reinforcing your messaging, and substantiating your claims. It’s not just about whether or not you have ratings and reviews. You also have to understand where they come from, how recent they are, and whether they tend to lean one way or another to ensure that you are providing potential buyers with product feedback they can trust.
Also, don’t underestimate the value of sophisticated, personalized product education and recommendations. Take advantage of the purchase history data you have to identify similar customers and provide useful recommendations. You are the foremost expert on your product portfolio. By sharing what you know about your industry, your products, and your customers’ buying journey, you can help your customers learn how to choose the products that are right for them.

Up next in product trends…

The latest headline-making technologies are also creating exciting opportunities for retailers. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are making it possible for retailers to uncover new insights and help customers find the exact products they want faster. Virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and technology for capturing 3D imagery are also becoming more accessible and mainstream – Facebook now supports 3D posts, for example. Through these visual technologies, retailers can provide more immersive and detailed product imagery and help customers see exactly what they’re getting.
If you think your brand and customers could benefit from any of these technologies, make sure to work with a partner or agency that understands their intricacies and best practices for implementing them strategically.
To learn more about the product experiences your customers are looking for, download our free guide, The 5 Essential Retail Experiences.

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How Lids Created the #1 Omnichannel Experience https://blogs.perficient.com/2018/04/18/how-lids-created-the-1-omni-channel-experience/ https://blogs.perficient.com/2018/04/18/how-lids-created-the-1-omni-channel-experience/#respond Wed, 18 Apr 2018 15:49:57 +0000 https://blogs.perficient.com/perficientdigital/?p=15386

Total Retail recently released its annual ranking of the top 100 publicly traded retailers, and athletic wear company Lids Sports Group found themselves in the #1 position.
We are thrilled for our client Lids on this recognition, and for its commitment to continuously transforming itself to compete, win, and differentiate in an increasingly sophisticated omnichannel retail economy.
What can other retailers learn from Lids’ success and customer-obsessed strategy? What are the keys to providing a best-in-class omnichannel experience?

Be Experience-Centered

With the elusive consumer in control, each experience across the shopping lifecycle is an opportunity to acquire, engage, and retain them. Customer experience is the new brand currency, and taking a deliberate position on how each of the experiences you are providing or enabling should be foundational to managing this program. Understanding your customer segments, personas, and journeys ensures that the features you deploy on the back end support the experiences that your customers need on the front end. And it doesn’t end with the features and technology, it means carrying your brand message across all channels as well. Companies who blend a great customer experience with their brand values on every touchpoint will fulfill a complete omnichannel promise.
Lids has worked to create a unified experience that allows customers to engage with the brand however, whenever, and wherever they want. But truly understanding and improving the customer journey requires a deep understanding of who the customer is, how they shop, and what motivates them. Lids started with a strategy that was customer-first, consistent, simple, flexible, and technology enabled.

Be Data-Driven

Successful retailers must greatly improve the operations needed to keep up with customer demands and cost and efficiency pressures. Amazon and others have upped the ante in the ability to scale the supply chain and build in the agility to flex with tightly coupled order management, merchandising, promotion and other systems into a loosely coupled but highly interdependent data loop. Relying on data-driven decisions and frictionless systems also requires elevating your data and integration architecture, including ESB and API technologies, microservice and SOA architectures, and reporting, BI, and big data strategies.
Lids is leveraging technology and data for fulfillment and order management, in order to meet customers’ expectations. That includes real-time inventory and real-time orders and updates, whenever and wherever the customer needs it. Order management systems help to modernize these critical elements of the retail infrastructure, scale it for growth, and give Lids the tools to meet its goal of letting customers engage with the brand however they want.

Be Enterprise Aligned

To deliver an omnichannel experience to customers, you have to strategically align your customer experience, business and retail operations, and the technologies that enable them both. Omitting one of these or failing to connect these layers together through deliberate process engineering, requirements definition, design, and change management will likely result in suboptimal performance, rework, delays, and dissatisfied customers.
Lids took top-down leadership approach in their omnichannel commitment, ensuring a seamless coordination of marketing, operations, merchandising, and IT. They recognized that a tightly coupled relationship between technology and the business is a predecessor to any technology solution.
We’ve worked with more than 25 of the Top 100 retailers from the Total Retail report (Vitamin Shoppe (#2), Zumiez (#3), Bass Pro (#5), and Urban Outfitters (#5) to name a few), and we know that to be a top retailer, you must be continuously adapting to reach today’s always-on shopper. They are ever-more knowledgeable about your products, your competitors, and what their friends are thinking. They are firmly in control of their paths to purchase.
That means being even more relevant with your brand, more personalized with your offers, and become more convenient – above and beyond simply being the best value.
Read more about the omnichannel work we’ve done for Lids.

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What’s In Store for In-Store Tech? https://blogs.perficient.com/2017/09/29/whats-in-store-for-in-store-tech/ https://blogs.perficient.com/2017/09/29/whats-in-store-for-in-store-tech/#respond Fri, 29 Sep 2017 13:00:29 +0000 http://blogs.perficient.com/perficientdigital/?p=14127

We wanted to close out a great week at Shop.org with another topic we found threaded throughout the conference and among brands and retailers: How technology is transforming – not replacing – the physical retail experience. I think we’ve firmly settled into the fact that omni-channel business is just business as usual. But is it possible to make that experience even more seamless?  Customers seem to think so and we think that small-tech is inching towards a new retail singularity.

NRF found that consumers are most satisfied with technologies that streamline the store experience.
68%  Buy online, pick up in store
66%  In-app store navigation
65%  Mobile payment

We had a lot of fun building and sharing one of our in-store augmented reality concepts this week. In this Everyday Carry concept, shoppers select new items in a store and virtually unite them with the EDC they own, whenever and wherever they want. Concepts like this are clever disruptions but also fun idea starters, and our Shop.org turned into an idea lab for a couple of days as we shared this with the retail community.

AR is getting a lot of buzz, and for good reason. But the consumer data is telling us that this is still a new frontier and somewhat on the periphery. If the glass is half-empty, then it’s risky territory. If the glass is half-full, it’s ripe for growth and differentiation.

NRF asked consumers “Which technologies have you heard of?”
68%    Mobile Payment
65%    Buy online, pick up in store
52%    3D printing
45%    Tablet/Mobile-powered associates
35%    In-app store navigation
31%    Messaging apps/chat
30%    In-store digital displays
27%    Visual search
21%    Voice search
20%    Augmented reality
18%    Virtual reality
13%    Smart dressing rooms

Our glass is half full! Look for a lot more from us on these technologies and more as we gear up for 2018.

Data sources: Source: NRF Fall 2017 Consumer Review
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Why End-to-End is Just the Beginning https://blogs.perficient.com/2017/09/28/why-end-to-end-is-just-the-beginning/ https://blogs.perficient.com/2017/09/28/why-end-to-end-is-just-the-beginning/#respond Thu, 28 Sep 2017 13:00:29 +0000 http://blogs.perficient.com/perficientdigital/?p=14101

If you’re reading this blog, I hope you’re also following our social media feeds, downloading our guides, and browsing our website. Maybe you’ve sat in on a presentation or a webinar from us. Better yet, maybe we’ve had a chance to do business together. If so you may have picked up on a Perficient Digital’s tagline: End-to-End is Just the Beginning. A clever juxtaposition of opposing concepts? The mystery of some infinite loop that has neither, yet both a beginning and an end? A thought experiment to get you thinking about the meaning of life itself? A client recently asked me what it means, and I was happy to share that it’s much, much more than a tagline.
It’s the Customer: From Awareness Through Advocacy (and Back Again)
Your customers now decide themselves how, when, and where they shop you, work with you, and tell stories about you. Their journey is broad — from awareness and consideration, to the buying process, and throughout the relationship and how they decide to advocate for you – or warn others. Their journey is full of touchpoints, interactions, and moments that matter. It’s nonlinear, it can change overnight, and it’s threatened on all sides by your competitors, high expectations, and thousands of other distractions fighting for their attention. Customer empathy is everything, whether you’re imagining a screen, mining for data, or writing a test script.
It’s the Technology: Front-End to Back-End
The gap between an amazing customer experience and a gnarly computer science problem is narrower than ever. As digital experiences become more immersive, seamless, and elegant, they rely on increasingly complicated and difficult technologies being orchestrated in data centers and on devices throughout the world. It’s not enough to simply be ultra-creative or wicked clever: We have to be both. Creative ideas that can’t scale don’t see the light of day. Clever hacks and faster downloads that don’t solve customer problems don’t help anyone. Great solutions wire left brain and right brain together to see around corners and six moves ahead in a digital rush hour.
It’s the Process: From What-If? to What’s Next?
Every great idea starts somewhere: an apple falls on your head, a lightbulb goes off over your head, hours of heuristic data analysis inside your head. Peter Drucker once said: “Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work,” and we couldn’t agree more. Getting s#!t done entails research and discovery, imagining and innovating, planning and designing, building and testing, going live, learning, scaling, growing, and making it better. It takes smart people and hard work, but making it real means keeping it real throughout your delivery cycle. Our favorite teams are lean, pragmatic, and inclusive – a little bit hipster, a little bit hacker, and a little bit hustler.
It’s the Organization: From Top to Bottom
Cool tech, you know your customers, and follow the latest methodologies. Sorry, it still may not be enough. The entire organization also matters, from the board, the CxOs, VPs, middle managers, rank and file, interns, even the mail room (do mail rooms still exist?) It’s the human capital in the organization that gets work done. It’s individuals who listen, discuss, think, decide, and do. The best organizations we’ve worked with are fiercely aligned and terminally restless. We like to ask: If not me who? If not now, when?  We value communication, collaboration, creativity, transparency, and responsibility in our teams and our client relationships.
It’s the end of this blog post, but hopefully the beginning of something more.

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Shopping for Values…with Values https://blogs.perficient.com/2017/09/27/shopping-for-values-with-values/ https://blogs.perficient.com/2017/09/27/shopping-for-values-with-values/#respond Wed, 27 Sep 2017 23:54:57 +0000 http://blogs.perficient.com/perficientdigital/?p=14118

At the NRF’s Shop.org conference this week, we’re seeing a renewed emphasis on personal values in the marketing mix. The retail industry continues to be disrupted in new and interesting ways, but brands are finding success taking personalization to a much more personal level.
Anna Cole, Director of eCommerce at Carhartt, talked  about their experiences with user-generated content. In our business we don’t typically need a rugged, weather resistant jacket to survive the interior elements of the office space, but as an award-winning partner of Carhartt, we’re obviously huge fans. But what struck me in the Carhartt story was how they’ve been listening to and connecting with their customers throughout their 125-year history:

Starting with only two sewing machines and five employees, Hamilton Carhartt established Hamilton Carhartt & Company. At first, he failed. But after asking railroad workers what exactly they needed, he succeeded.

Of course, a hundred-odd-years later customers are posting ratings and reviews, sharing photos and hashtags, sharing checkout comments, and supporting each other in community Q&As. But it’s not the content, it’s the intent to help other owners that has permeated the Carhartt community.
I was also excited to hear Gunnar Lovelace from Thrive Market – one of very few retailers I’ve heard admit that they are “not trying to out-Amazon Amazon.” Instead they are trying to speak “specifically and authentically” to their customers. In the Thrive model, instead of a 100 options for a category, only 2 highly curated options might be available. By highly curated, we mean very focused on ingredients, methods, and values that match up to those of the Thrive community that is hyper focused on personal health and social responsibility. As Gunnar tells it, their success is defined by their ability to sell a healthier alternative to a mainstream product at the same price.
Brian Tilzer of CVS Health also weighed in on their commitment to making their customers’ lives easier. Rather than mining data and using AI to find ways to bring customers into the pharmacy more often (for those valuable impulse buys), they want to find ways to make their customers’ lives easier, save their time, and live a healthier life. That may mean fewer store visits. That’s a big commitment for a chain with over 9,000 stores, and Brian reiterated that’s their individual commitments to healthy values as something they simply have to live every day to make it work.
I think we’re going to see a lot more brands and retailers bringing their own values and their customers’ values to the forefront. As Gunnar put it: The social mission and the success of the business will be the same mission.

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