Marketing panel: Linear customer journey is dead, unpredictability is the new normal

Marketers from Suncorp, Greencross and Latitude share views on customer experience, personalisation outcomes and value, and data in customer engagement

Leaders in customer experience (CX) gathered at the Oracle Modern Cloud event this week to discuss customer journeys, good CX, and how best to achieve it. 

Executive manager of marketing automation activation at Suncorp group, Brooke Charlton; senior digital and experimentation manager at Latitude, Danielle Furini; and chief customer officer at Greencross, Jane Power, talked everything CX at an Oracle customer panel. 

Power, who has only been at Greencross for a few months, started by discussing how important good CX is and how she plans on transforming it at the veterinary services and retail organisation. 

“At the moment we are trying to get a handle on what the job is we are trying to do for our customers. I find that is just a really simple way to think about it. Because as much as I'm sure we all love the trends around design thinking and the methodology this brings with it, I think the downside of this is it can become really quite complicated,” Power told attendees. 

“So we need to get clear around our focus. In the context of fur babies, it’s simple – customer want to know how to feed them the right food, how to take care of them. So our job is how we help the customer with that job. The task is bringing it down to how we prioritise, and creating a really amazing CX around it. 

“We've defined what that journey is for our customers, end-to-end. What we're doing now is trying to line up the experience within that journey. But I found this is a really helpful way to get some real anchoring around the moments that matter across the lifecycle.” 

High churn rates are something every panellist has to keep an eye out, and as Furini pointed out, it's not just a bad experience that causes customers to abandon brands. 

“There's so many competitors coming to the market. We're being threatened from every avenue basically in terms of preventing churn. It's really about what the customer needs and how can we go about it as an organisation fulfilling that need,” she said.   

“Latitude’s demographic is being taken over by a lot of fintechs who are coming along with new products, especially in the buy now pay later space, and Afterpay is a verb now. How can we compete with things like that? 

“It's really taking a step back, holistically understanding what our customer is looking for, starting to build constructs around this, and then offering them the opportunity to graduate through our program of offerings so we keep them. It's all down to the experience, and in each step of the funnel how we can reduce friction along the way, so that we don't actually lose them. 

“Loyalty, as we all know, is not the leading driver anymore. You have to be in the moment and deliver what the customer wants.” 

With insurance always a grudge purchase, Suncorp has also done a lot to understand the triggers of churn. 

“We’ve worked with our data science team on understanding the triggers for churn, so it's picking up on those signals, and then being proactive with contacting customers before it's actually come to that moment where they've decided to switch. And that's been really effective for us,” Charlton said. 

“It’s important to get alignment with teams to centralise decision making, automate as much as possible and orchestrate across channels. We need to know what customers need without crossing a line of creepiness.”

Personalisation pros and cons

The panel also discussed personalisation, and where it is and is not appropriate in the customer journey to personalise, particularly given privacy considerations. Charlton saw a lot more understanding  of how targeting works in terms of data, but saw more of a need to have a genuine value exchange. 

“Customers are happy to give you data so long as they’re getting something back in return that's valuable. We want to protect customers’ privacy. So that's a good thing," she said. "But it also makes it challenging for us to try to stitch it all together.” 

Furini said Latitude works to string qualitative and quantitative data together to get the richest experience. One example when she first arrived was with the homepage of its websites, which was only tailored to one audience segment. There was also only awareness of one product offering.

Read more: From digital to customer-led transformation: Latitude's journey

“We also have credit card insurance and by now pay, later offerings which just weren’t viewable or accessible by our audience," she pointed out. "What we had to do is take step back and apply human-centred design. We spoke to consumers to understand what their needs would be for our actual website offering. 

“Most of them told us they use the homepage like a trampoline. They literally hit the website and want to press a button and go off the area that makes sense to them. So that was one of the first things that we started to iterate and build upon." 

Yet there are other steps in the funnel customers go through in that journey of learning. This saw Latitude introduce things such as a Product Selector, which enabled customers to do it themselves.

"Customers really got excited by that and it's now actually the second biggest conversion point of our website," Furini explained. 

Latitude has also worked with Oracle to help set analytics up in the background to better understand numerous points of entry and exit. The result was an uplift of between 10 to 180 per cent on different points of the funnel, and a 50 per cent uplift on completed applications for car loans.

The panel conversation then switched to data, and insights and unifying all this into a single view of customer. 

“A big change for us is the relationship between second and third-party providers,” Charlton said. “Previously, it was hard for us to understand the value of the data, and some of the definitions of segments were quite loose. So we've had to do a lot of testing, but it was pretty hit and miss. 

“It's become a lot more sophisticated now and we are much clearer around commercially what we're willing to pay for data, what we look for in terms of intent, and we want it to be as easy as possible to integrate with our DMP [data management platform]." 

Just a few years ago, however, Charlton had started thinking the group was pushing things a little far in terms of personalisation. "I feel like there's more awareness of how far we can go now. And it's still obviously really important to make sure we're personalising," she said.

"But just because we have the data, it doesn't mean that we should use it. I think you go to think about things from the customer’s perspective… and it's just understanding that creepiness factor."

Another big change for Latitude's marketers has been working closely with the data science team, an effective initiative, Charlton said. "A few years back, we were creating things in isolation. So this theoretical model would be created," she said.

“What we're doing now is all of the models we operationalise through our channels. The next step will be to actually use real-time data. For instance, we're using a next-best action model that's across digital media, and our websites where people have been authenticated. But the next stage is actually trying to put that in the cloud and then get real time signal so we can enrich that even further." 

Another outcome of hyperpersonalisation was that it was more expensive. "It took us a really long time to get efficiency, so often we didn't get the financial benefits. So it's just finding that sweet spot," Charlton said. 

“For example, we were personalising just on one keyword and we were creating variations of pages, which sounds great in theory as true hyperpersonalisation. But it's really hard to set up and we didn't get the confidence around results. 

“What has been more effective is using things like location-based where you've got more people that will fall into the category. No, it's not as personalised, but you get confidence and you get the financial results.”

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