TTi and the power of a virtual tool shed: Lessons in CX digital transformation

The global power tools company behind brands like Ryobi, Vax and AEG has undergone a digital transformation to completely overhaul its CX and the virtual tool shed is just one new invention

Parent company for retail power tool brands including Milwaukee, Vax, Ryobi and AEG, TTi, realised it needed to develop a single view of customer to meet the rising tide of customer expectations in the era of disruptors.

Like many businesses with data spread across different departments, there was a lack of cohesion and a rich, multi-faceted understanding of customers across its power tools, garden tools and floor care tools portfolio. According to head of customer experience, TTi, Jason Perera, the definition of a customer across the business was very different.

“Customer service would see the customer as the retailer, the sales team would see the customer who busy the tools, some in the sales team would see the person who buys the tool for the end user," he told CMO.

An additional challenge is that TTi, as a manufacturer, is once removed from the customer in the retail environment. Yet it still needs to know the customer as a retailer does to understand their purchasing journey.

“We need to know the end-user; while we don’t sell directly to the customer, we need to understand the customer better to drive them into the retail shops to buy our products,” Perera continued.

To help, the company devised three different customer profiles as part of its overall customer picture, with different relationships to its tools. There’s the end-user or DIY B2C customer; the B2B customer who buys the tools for the end-user such as builders or large construction business; and a new segment of retail partners TTi calls B2R such as hardware chains like Bunnings.

“The whole CX program has been built around that and then how we’re understanding customer journeys for each of those areas,” Perera said.

Getting to one customer view

Getting to one cross-functional customer view has been a multi-phased journey. The first six months was spent on understanding each customer segment and their touchpoints. The aim was to build a cross-functional approach to develop a customer profile, and to help, TTi adopted the Salesforce platform, integrating the cloud tools as part of its digital transformation program. 

Becoming CX-led required operations to be divided into four distinct streams. The first is 'Process', which works with sales, service and marketing teams to understand strategy for each area. 'Delivery' works with all of TTi’s Salesforce platforms, while 'support' covers CRM across the business. The fourth stream is a voice of customer (VOC) program. 

While the new structure doesn’t include retail-focused marketing or operations, unlike many other CX teams, Perera said the company does need to understand the customer journey through all brands across its B2B and B2C streams and needed technology to map those out. 

The next step was to focus on the B2C customer, with retail brands mapping out the customer experience for all of TTi's main brands. Alongside this, all disparate customer data was entered into its Salesforce platform and a “join the dots” process matched different bits all together.

Work started with the Ryobi brand tools. Over time, the team could understand if someone signed up to a newsletter, went to an event and signed up to a session, then went and bought a tool, registered that tool and called customer service and then finally later had a tool serviced, Perera explained. 

“That whole customer journey, from the awareness stage all the way through to consideration and to purchase and post-purchase - we can tie it together,” he said.

In terms of its business-to-retail side, the shift to using the Salesforce platform has given TTi a go-to database for sales reps going out to retail stores such as Bunnings or Total Tools to track what they’ve done and the sales.

The B2B element, meanwhile, predominantly focused on industrial brands like Milwaukee and improving TTi's understanding and management of large customers on job sites such as industrial or public works projects. The Salesforce platform lets the company’s reps pool all relevant information on procurement managers on these sites to understand larger-scale customers and their battery of tools.

“We’re capturing that information and then tying it back into marketing to target procurement managers for deals and offers and then trying to give a different experience of service off the back of that,” Perera said. “The next evolution we’re trying to focus on what is service, and how we build relationships with those large end-users.”

The result: Powering personalisation and expectations

Thankfully, TTi wasn't contending with much legacy technology. "We wanted a software system that would connect all the dots, from awareness all the way to post-purchase," Perera said.

"The reason we invested in all Salesforce Clouds is that with one platform we’ve got a better chance of fully understanding that customer, whether it’s B2C, B2B or B2R.” 

For TTi, the driving force wasn’t just about sales. It was more about the need to understand its customer, according to whichever segment it belonged, though a single platform that could capture information from multiple strands.

“We can understand the whole journey and all the touchpoints they’re having and it’s a lot easier in one system than managing five system that do all those things.”

Some existing data system needed to migrate into the new Saleforce platform, which presented challenges with washing and moving data, although Perera explained each time TTi did this process for each brand, it became a bit easier. 

“We started with one brand and then replicated it each time with other brands. It’s not too painful as a business from the integration side of things,” he said.

Having now built a complete view of customers across its three core customer groups, TTi is looking to optimise engagement activities. In particular, for its Ryobi B2C customers, it’s created a virtual tool shed for customers and their different tools. This is the basis for marketing to make the most of the “power of personalisation”.

“We’re building a connection with that customer and own the experience of the brand and understand who is using our tools,” Perera said.

In terms of B2B, TTi has gained a full understanding of its large customers and their needs. And for B2R, it can provide full product information, for example, to help in-store retail staff communicate the value of its brand and educate, making them brand partners in retail sites.

“We’re not just moving a box anymore, we’re trying to understand the brand experience, service, store and tool experience and tying them all in together,” Perera commented.

Customer expectations, whatever the product or service, are changing and compelling businesses to transform to meet their rising expectations from traditional products like tools and banking to newer innovations in meal delivery or taxis services, Perera said.

“Every brand has always talked about the customer, and trying to understand the customer, and that’s not really changed. What’s changed is that our customers are comparing us to other brands outside of our industry, not just tools brands, and customers expect a certain way of dealing with all brands these days,” he added.

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