Building a More Sophisticated Customer Journey to Improve Customer Experience

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Recently our Director of Ecommerce Antony McGregor Dey spoke at B2B Online in Chicago. B2B Online is a conference for Manufacturers and Distributors looking to expand their online presence. Antony was on a panel of Ecommerce leaders including Anne Vranicic of Valin Corporation, Tim Bauer of Eaton Vehicle Group, and Matthew Conrad of Ingersoll Rand, TRANE Group. They discussed “Building a More Sophisticated Customer Journey to Improve CX”.

Anne Vranicic  0:05 

My name Anne and I’m the Vice President marketing at Valin Corporation. Valin is a distributor for process control and automation products to the semiconductor industry and the energy markets. What I’m focused on I guess this year is all of I have ecommerce, Marcom digital strategies, business analytics and pricing that roll up under my realm.

Tim Bauer 0:34

Good morning, Tim Bauer, the Vice President of aftermarket for North America for Eatons vehicle group. So we sell and service products for truck and car products first, OEM then certainly in the aftermarket. And we’re using e commerce as a method to accelerate our growth in the aftermarket.

Antony McGregor Dey 0:53 

Hey, everyone, Antony Blue Fish group, we’re a systems integrator, and bit of a full service agency for to be we have a big focus on customer experience. And so the buyer journey sales enablement, those kinds of things.

Matt Connor 1:09 

Morning, Matt Connor, director of product and segment marketing for train commercial division of Ingersoll Rand. And we’re really comprehensive building solutions provider, likely the the equipment provider for the HPC, building automation energy services provider for a hotel like this.

Mihir Kittur 1:26 

It’s great to have you all. So before we start, this panel discussion probably will start with the audience question and probably request each of you to probably open your b2b online app, go to the activity stream and help answer the question, which is around, where do you think you are on your cx journey? And while you kind of do that, let me start with the panel. Maybe and if you want to kind of go first in terms of help us understand how you’re defining the customer experience from a b2b perspective?

Anne Vranicic 1:55 

Sure. So you know, I look at customer experience being a distributor. You know, most distributors, and most manufacturers in the b2b world have always had customer experience. So this is not really anything new. It’s just how we’re doing it is differently. I know, for us personally, and for most of probably the other distributors in this room, our businesses have been built up over the last 40 5060, sometimes 100 plus years, on customer relationships on supplier relationships. And so it’s looking at those now and saying, Okay, now our challenges is how are we augmenting those relationships that have mostly been consumed are built by our sales organization, and digitizing them bringing them into the rest of the organization. So now, it’s not just the inside sales or outside sales person, that’s that forefront with the relationship owning that relationship, but it’s the organization owning a relationship. So we look at experiences, like you’ve been hearing omni channel, saying, how are we going to market? How are we going to our customers, and providing an experience whether it’s offline, or online. So that’s how we view it. And so that’s how we build our business objectives and problems statements to be able to address, customer experience improvements and digitization.

Tim Bauer 3:23 

Do you want to add to that? Sure, I can certainly add to it. So it eaten a couple of things that we’re doing as it relates to customer experience, we’ve really got a two fold approach. First one is providing tools to the indirect fleet customers to decide which of our products is the right product for them with the competitors, as well as some of the competitive information. And then on the back end side, it’s really about being diligent, as Jill said, to the Amazon experience. So how can we create a similar experience for aftermarket vehicle group customers similar to what they get, or we each get as we purchase on Amazon?

Antony McGregor Dey 4:01 

For us working with a lot of b2b brands, we noticed when they talk about customer experience, a lot of the time it’s focused on bringing in new customers. And so we have a bit more of a holistic approach on the customer experience being the life cycle the relationship with the customer, both, as they’re discovering you, for the first time all the way through to what is the customer support experience as well. So from our perspective, the customer experience is any touchpoint the customer has with you from sales, marketing to support and fulfillment, these are all part of the the customer journey, if you will, and how do you look at the customer experience at each of those stages?

Matt Connor 4:35 

Yeah, I’d say for us, we’ve approached it two different ways in our first foray into really, customer journey mapping and exploring the customer journey deeply by persona was through product development, our digital platforms, we that’s where we really dug in first understand, very specifically the role of a facility managers in our case or an Energy Manager, and how are they were interacting with our products. So that’s, that’s where we started in our kind of foray into advanced customer experience and customer journey mapping now and very much how you’ve described the Antony we’ve backed up and said, okay, what’s we need to map the entire lifecycle of our customer? lifecycle, some of our products is 50 plus years. So how do we how do we really explore that, evaluate that, over that, that long period of time, presale during sales, post sale, lot of touch points there to map. And that’s anything Lewis than,

Antony McGregor Dey 5:29 

as we were talking earlier, about, you know, the customer, calling sales and having one experience, and then going support and having a different experience altogether, can be very frustrating and jarring for customers?

Matt Connor 5:40 


Mihir Kittur 5:41 

It’s great to see that move from product to the experience. And I think just to kind of spend a minute on the poll response, I think it’s quite interesting to see a lot of the audience actually half of them active, and about 40 odd percent have already started on the CX journey. So seems like a very relevant topic. That kind of leads me to you, Tim, in terms of who within the organization, in your case or otherwise, is involved in this whole customer journey, as well as owning this space of managing this customer journey?

Tim Bauer 6:13 

Yeah, it’s a good question. So inside of our organization, it really started with as I came into the organization, looking at how we were managing the digital customer experience, but as we look at how do we make it a success, it’s really about being as cross functional as you can afford to be. So we brought people in from our call center. So what our customers calling us about how can we address that online, so the customers 20 473 65 can have access to the information they need to make their buying decisions? We brought in our sales team, we frankly brought customers in, what information are you looking for? Or do you call us looking for that we can help you find and then we brought in our pricing teams, because we had to understand that the pricing models that we have had to translate into the online world. So we’ve got bulk prices, we’ve got prices if you bundle certain products, and we had to be able to build a model that emulated them calling in and getting the same response to talking to our customer service team. So we built a very broad team to try and make sure we were touching every point of the customer experience.

Mihir Kittur 7:19 

Antony would you like to add to that you’ve seen a couple of organizations?

Antony McGregor Dey 7:23 

Yeah, we we work with a lot of different organizations of different sizes, you know, our clients typically doing between 50 to 500 million year in revenue. And, and when it comes down to who’s going to own the customer experience internally, it really depends on the organization, sales could own and marketing could owner, support good owner. So it’s difficult, it depends on your company and who’s frankly, driven the most by that oftentimes, we’ve found that once we start to work with a company, there’s going to be one team who actually wants to who wants to own the customer experience. And so then it’s our job to help those teams facilitate conversations with the other teams. As Tim said, you know, it’s critical that every department who’s touching the customer, and who’s even not touching the customer has some say in the conversation. But the team that owns it, or the department head that owns it, to me, often more than not is the one that really wants to own it. Because a lot of people kind of want to step back from the customer experience, say, look, you know, we do our thing, and that’s where our relationship with the customer ends, the customer journey is going to be a bit more holistic. So there’s no right or wrong answer to who should own it. Frankly, it’s it’s oftentimes who wants to own it, and then facilitating the conversations between the different departments to make sure that they’re getting the right information and the right insight,

Tim Bauer 8:35 

I think the important important point that you made, is that you have to have an owner, right? You can’t do this by committee, because you’ll get hung up in what do you want to provide? What will you provide in terms of information, so you have to have an owner so that there’s a way to address and resolve conflict as you go through it?

Mihir Kittur 8:53 

And I think, an important question for me, since about 40% of the poll results showed that lot of them are embarking such programs or researching on this, maybe and if you could talk about something that can help them understand how should they define success, as they’re kind of beginning these journeys? Sure.

Anne Vranicic 9:12 

You know, the way we look at it is with customer experiences that you have your internal customers. And you know, that can include anyone from sales, inside sales, customer service accounting, anybody that has any sort of touch point with a customer, then we look externally, and we look at our customers and our suppliers. And so when we’re going through this we we define what’s our business objective? And it’s essentially how do I make your job easier, whether you’re on the phone, or the customers coming into our website and searching? Or we’re working up our supply chain and trying to expedite? So what are the different touch points? And what’s the business objective to make your job easier? Well, once we start understanding that we can start defining, okay, what are the problem statements? Where are where the friction, and those really become then what we want to fix to improve customer experience? From there, it’s much easier to define Okay, what are the KPIs that will help measure whether or not our improvements are being successful? So anywhere from like call logs? Are we improving customer satisfaction scores? Are people taking our surveys and giving? You know, are we answering their questions on the first try? So the excuse me, so there’s a whole bunch of different KPIs. But you have to be able to say, what’s my problem statement? What am I trying to solve? What are the actions that are going in there? And then saying, what are the measurements associated with that specific problem statement to be able to measure improvement in customer experience? So that’s the way we approach it. And I look at customer experience, also, there’s so many different element of the customer experiences. And so if you look at it in this world, my goodness, this is huge and huge project. And that’s why we go through and we say, All right, let’s break this down. Let’s break it down into digestible pieces. And one of the first things that we did internally is we took the outside sales group, and we identified all of the different things that they do when interacting with a customer. Externally, so from not they didn’t really take orders, but from making customer visits to account management. So we we’ve mapped out, I think, like 35 different tasks, and we’re like, this is ridiculous, how are we going to scale? If we’re relying that much for them to do all these different tasks? And from there, then we start saying, how do we start spreading this out? In digitizing and augmenting, you know, part of this these processes across the rest of the organization? And that really gave us a good starting point on understanding how do we take the offline to online and really create a better omni channel experience for people that want to work with us. So that’s the way we’ve started. And that’s how we were, you know, I can’t say success is measured by reducing the amount of phone calls or something that’s one element, and it applies specifically to a specific problem statement. So that’s my recommendation, define your problem statement, and then the KPIs and then you’ll be able to determine if it’s

Antony McGregor Dey 12:34 

Ann I’ve just got a quick question, or that you said that you documented a lot of the asset sales process, what what method did you use to document some of those processes? Was there any particular tools or strategies you use to go out and get some of those?

Anne Vranicic 12:47 

Well, we have a pretty, we have about 60, outside sales people. And literally, we went through and interviewed all of them. The VP of sales is very involved with it, our VP of operations was very involved with it. And then we just we use a lot of data analytics, also, to kind of see the types of accounts these outside sales people were focused on, because the key accounts, you have growth accounts, and then you have ones that you’re just trying to build a moat around to retain them. So there’s different elements on different types of customers. And so we just went through, and we just started interviewing all of our outside people. And then what we did from there was, we started actually live interviewing customers and saying, okay, for, for these type of activities, what are what are your expectations? What do you expect to get? What type of service Do you expect to get? And then we could start ranking experience. And so that was one actually good index that we use when we surveyed customers after doing a live interview and coming up with what are those requirements? We did a survey on to index What is your actual experience? TechStars. And so that was a formula we use? And I believe, Mary, you put a formula, or was it Neil that put the formula? I was like, No, I know that formula, because we actually utilize that. And then we can actually base it about quarterly to see our is our experienced expectation index rising or falling within specific problem statements?

Mihir Kittur 14:28 

What about you, Matt, from a manufacturer perspective? You know, what are some of the things that you think you were looking at when you were trying to define success of the sound of this? And

Matt Connor 14:37 

yeah, I think for us, and as we mapped out our are very complex is just like everybody’s right customer journey map, or customer experience was, was really to start small, we realized that, okay, we’ve got all these touch points, 3050, different touch points, very large sales force, we’re not going to be able to tackle it all at once. So how do we go through that map it all out and identify which ones were going to tackle, try to prioritize them, I was listened to a great presenter last week, Drew Davis, and he, he kind of called them moments of inspiration, right? When your customers customer journey isn’t necessarily linear, right? They’re going to jump in and out of an experience with them. And, and I saw, you know, we kind of talked as a team and kind of came up with this adage of how do we make sure we turn those moments of inspiration for the customer that they’re, they’re not moments of like perspiration for us, right? That they’re, there are the things that are rare, they get really excited, they want to reach out to you and contact you and that we don’t fall apart there. So for us, it’s really identifying which ones we’re going to tackle. We know from a budget standpoint, we’re not going to tackle all 30 at once. So which ones are we going to tackle? We pinpointed this last year that our call provider or call source situation in our offices was was pretty disparate, and was a really bad experience, we were able to map over the past 18 months $65 million worth of business that came into a phone call. So we’ve got a very relationship based business. So if they’re calling the office, they don’t have a contact this is this is somebody new, right? This is somebody new coming in. And so $65 million worth of revenue, you know, nothing to sneeze at. But at the same time, we had up to 20, some of our offices up to 20% of calls that were being abandoned not being passed through. And so that’s real money that we’re we’re leaving on the table. So for that one, we’ve got a tight metric we’re tracking to and we can have an ROI and kind of a return on that one. Similarly, as we go through web, we were kind of chatting, we’re going through a big web project right now. We know it’s a painful experience. So we’re kind of taking it in bite sized chunks and pieces and making sure we’ve got the the KPI identify for each one of those and tracking through to that not to make it too big of a project, because I think it would be overwhelming for our leadership to go with the size price target would be to solve everything all at once. Right.

Mihir Kittur 17:04 

So the Antony, if you could talk to this, I think he spoke about ROI. And as a service provider, I’m sure a lot of probably clients, you know, ask you for an ROI or a keen to track success. So, you know, what are you seeing from tracking success standpoint?

Antony McGregor Dey 17:20 

Yeah, that’s it’s a really, really hard question to answer. What is what is success? How do you define success, it’s going to be independent of for every organization, some of the early metrics we encourage everyone to monitor is just customer engagement. You know, anybody in this room these days doesn’t have an excuse to not have customer behavior tracking on your website, you know, being able to identify this is a particular customer on my site right now. And these are the actions they’re taking, there’s tons of different software platforms out there that can help you from something that’s a bit more premium, like Salesforce Marketing Cloud all the way through to really simple stuff like dotmailer, right? Any of these platforms will track an individual customer on your website. And so KPIs you look at is just saying your customers are spending more time on our site, or maybe you’ve developed content, they’re engaging more with your content. But starting to look at repeat purchases as well. How often are my customers buying from me, all the way through to your customer surveys, looking at chat logs on your website, and having some sort of sentiment analysis in there. These days tools like Amazon, transcribe is a very cost effective tool to actually take your call center records and transcribe those very simply into plain text and be able to search through those. But success to finding success. Ultimately, it’s either going to be an increase in sales, or an increase customer satisfaction, those are going to be hopefully they go hand in hand as well. But really, you’re looking at saying that, yeah, our customers are having the shopping with us more often. They’re happy when they shop with us. And it’s looking at how do you improve that, that customers relationship with you? But also looking at the sales team? When they start conversations with people? Have they got enough data to have a good conversation with the customer? Yeah, successes is hard to define. But yeah, sales or customer satisfaction.

Mihir Kittur 19:10 

And I know, I’m just going to try and keep a tab on time. So we have about five minutes and make sure to give the audience some questions. So this one, see if anyone has questions at this point.

Unknown Speaker 19:23 

Just raise your hands will come around with the mic.

Unknown Speaker 19:31 

Naming company, please.

Unknown Speaker 19:34 

Banana from garden food service. For the customer journey mapping? Do you use any tools to keep those maps up to date over time? Or is it like a one time event? And then you do it periodically?

Mihir Kittur 19:47

Anne you want to take that sure.

Anne Vranicic 19:49 

With us? You know, I wouldn’t say it’s a one time event. But I wouldn’t say we’re using a we have a tool that we’ve we built out ourselves and then we’ve put it into our CRM. So then we’re able to start tagging customers in their profiles. So one of the things that we originally did was literally we just took an Excel spreadsheet and built out, you know, what are our typical personas, you know, whether it’s what industry they’re in, what their job title is, you know, are they an engineer, buyer? accounting? So, we started very simply, with just doing that and saying, okay, generally, what does the profile for this industry in this title look like? And then what we’ve done over time, as we’ve started, we’ve put them all into our CRM system. And so then what we’ve been doing is we were building the profile on the actual customer contact record, we can start saying, okay, does this really match what we mapped out in our original program? And how do we adjust it? You know, are they still tech savvy? Are they not tech savvy? You know, what, what do they look like? How do they like to interact with us call or through our e commerce portal? So that’s how we’ve adjusted it over time. But we started pretty basic, just using an Excel spreadsheet knife. You know, what the whole marketing, simple, stupid, you know, we hear all this glorious, beautiful technology, and it’s all going to solve the problems we’re going to world peace and five years. So you know, I mean, you hear all about this a bit, is really just going back to basics first, and then building tech using technology later to, you know, make it better

Antony McGregor Dey 21:42 

and no Yeah, I agree with and because everybody’s business is so different. When we start to do some modeling for customer journey, it is typically SAS the spreadsheet just because, or we look at their marketing automation software as well, because that’s that’s some good touch points as well. But the model is going to be defined in a spreadsheet, how you report the model will be a little bit different for business as well. But yeah, spreadsheets are great for tracking the customer journey.

Tim Bauer 22:05 

Yeah, we’re, we went down, how did the customers buy? What information do they need to make a buying decision? And then we augmented that with benchmarking some of our key competitors, and what their online presence look like, what information were they providing that maybe we weren’t, or that we were that they weren’t, so that we could then continually refresh it every year, as we build out our roadmap, because this isn’t a one time journey, you’re never finished. So we’ve got a three to five year roadmap, just like we’ve got a product roadmap, we’ve got an e commerce roadmap of functionality and content that we need to address the marketplace,

Antony McGregor Dey 22:38

a really simple place you can start if you’re just looking at how do I improve my customer journeys? Maybe how many touch points does it take for a customer to complete a sale with you, I know, we talked about the customer journey being post sale. But if you can say, if you can analyze to say our customer needs to talk to us five or six times on average, before they complete their purchase, is there a way to for you maybe reduce that ticket down to two or three times? If you analyze just at one point first and then say what is it to have to phone us because they couldn’t find what they wanted on the website? Or when they do phone? So they asking too many questions? And could our website help? You know, reduce some of those questions? These are some simple steps you can start to do to to map the customer journey.

Mihir Kittur 23:17 

question on that. So did you have the expertise in house? Or did you have to kind of go out and get that expertise? Yeah,

Anne Vranicic 23:23

I was just gonna say, after we built a lot of those profiles, a lot of it was kind of educated guesses, utilizing our subject matter experts. And one of the cool things that we what we have done since building it into our CRM, is that now we can apply the analytics like, Oh, well, we thought it took an engineer coming to our site, maybe four times before they would give us a call or you know, move to a former etc. And we found that it was we were able to start tracking and say, Oh, well, they’re coming to us actually, three times before they make their next move. So that helped us define, well, what else do we need to do to engage with them or provide more content on the first time they come to our site, or call us or whatever it may be, to be able to, I guess, quick in their research and make it again, easier for them to find what they’re looking for and complete their task. So that was something that you know, we didn’t use all science at the beginning. Some of it was just kind of educated guesses. And then we were able to start building it in and start taking different analytics from different sources to try to validate what we were saying.

Unknown Speaker 24:37 

That’s all we have time for right now. Thank you so much, everyone.


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