After reading chapter 6 and viewing this week’s video lecture, respond to the following questions in accordance to the criteria below.
- How has the internet grown and changed since its commercial development in the 1990s? How do you expect it to change during the remainder of this decade?
- Think about your own internet use habits. How much do you use traditional media print and broadcast media? Why or why not? How do your own habits fit the internet media use attitudes and patterns described in this chapter?
- Do you believe that CX is the future of marketing? Why or why not?
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After reading chapter 6 and viewing this week’s video lecture, respond to the following questions in accordance to the criteria below. How has the internet grown and changed since its commercial de
Chapter 6 Experiencing the Digital Customer Journey Learning Objectives Discuss the growth of the internet through its various stages and in different parts of the world. Explain the purposes for which consumers and B2B customers use the internet. Describe how media use is changing in terms of both communications channels and groups of users. Discuss the concept of a resilient brand. Identify key things marketers must do to be effective in the digital age. Explain what the customer journey means and how the digital age has changed it. Provide an in-depth explanation of what CX (customer experience) is. Explain why CX is important. Discuss what marketers must do to provide seamlessly excellent CX. Chapter Perspective The previous edition contained a chapter on branding and video marketing (Chapter 5). In this edition video has been integrated into discussions of various subjects throughout the book as befits its importance and impact in the digital world. This chapter also differs from its predecessor in that it assumes that digital marketing is one aspect of branding. That no longer seems arguable. So the chapter includes the content on branding in the context of the digital customer journey and customer experience. That makes it the closest chapter in this text to one on “buyer behavior,” but buyer behavior is discussed in almost every chapter in the context of that specific topic. The term “customer journey” is used instead of buyer behavior or the customer purchase process since that is the concept adopted by digital practitioners. Truly, the buyer behavior process has never been rigidly linear, but the concept of a flexible journey with starts, stops and loops backward and even forward is well suited to the digital environment. One reason the journey concept is so well suited to digital is the overriding importance of customer experience in the digital journey—and to the digital brand. We used to talk about the importance of customer satisfaction which is a related but narrower concept. The focus now is on the totality of the customer experience with customer satisfaction being one useful metric. There is no evidence to suggest that marketers who say that customer experience is the competitive battlefield are incorrect and increasing evidence to suggest that customer experience outweighs any single thing a brand can be or do. Like customer service (Chapter 16), another related but narrower concept, satisfying customer experience takes time to develop and therefore can be a sustainable competitive advantage. Unfortunate customer experiences, especially those noteworthy enough to go viral, can also do great harm to a brand, harm that is difficult to repair. The current focus on customer experience seems entirely warranted and its importance is stressed in many chapters of the book. In this chapter we lay the conceptual foundations for customer experience itself. Profile of the Internet and Its Users Figure 6.1 is primarily to make the point that the growth of the internet has accelerated over time. It is still growing at a fast clip with about 3.6 billion in early 2017 compared to the 3.2 billion shown in Figure 6.2. An easy update is to show the internet user clock at internet live stats. The interactive timeline in Interactive Exercise 6.1 makes essentially the same points with a lot of detail. The important statistics for this chapter are those about media use. Students already know from Chapter 5 that social and mobile are both drivers of growth. Virtually every day there is a new factoid; today it is that mobile now has the majority share of advertising revenue. That’s the sort of thing I hope students remember; maybe not the actual numbers but the impact of changes in media patterns. That leads to the concept of the resilient brand where belief is developed by interactive communications and the brand is agile enough to deal with continuing disruption. Netflix is a good example because it keeps being disrupted. Adhering to its brand promise of “movie enjoyment made easy” provides guidance in how to deal with changes in the digital environment. Although I wonder if it should now be “video made easy.” It also means that marketers have to change the way they allocate their advertising dollars. Figure 6.5 is from the Duke CMO study which is updated every quarter. It often makes the point, as does the Marketing Charts advertising revenue article linked above, that marketers are changing but not as fast as consumers. They aren’t keeping up with the changes in where the eyeballs are! It’s difficult. This section ends with a chart on drivers of customer satisfaction. Value, customers and—only at third—prices are pretty typical of these studies. This is intended as a proxy for consumer experience. Consumers know a good experience when they see it, but CX is not as easy to articulate as CS. Still, “CX is the future of marketing.” The Customer Journey in the Digital Age A purchase funnel (Figure 6.7a) is a good way to show how many potential customers must be made aware then moved through the remaining stages to purchase for a particular brand or in a particular industry. However, just as other marketing issues like the supply chain are no longer linear in the digital age, neither is the customer purchase process a simple linear process through a series of predetermined steps—if it ever was. The boxes in Figure 6.7b present steps that are essentially the same as the traditional purchase process. However, they are presented in a circle, not a linear progression. The key touchpoints that are highlighted—search, retail visits, visits to sites and apps (brand including Amazon, manufacturer, and review)—are all more or less easy to repeat in a variety of sequences. The prospective buyer has a lot of options. Specific actions for a business trip purchase are shown in Figure 6.8. Thinking about a purchase for a family vacation makes it obvious that the journey can become very complex very quickly. Google’s tool (Interactive Exercise 6.1) can provide a great deal of insight into the process, either as an assignment or as a live demo in the classroom. The customer journey, this time for a B2B purchase, is revealed in Figure 6.9 in all its complexity. It show both paths and information sources. Students would benefit from spending some time with this example. In the end the concept of the customer journey has little practical value if the marketer cannot track individual customers through the journey. We all know attempts are being made; retargeting is discussed in Chapter 7 but students probably are already aware that marketers follow them around the web based on their browsing activity. The example from the Jewlr site shows Facebook targeting in action. It’s worth asking whether students are blasé about this type of targeting or whether that level of knowledge about their activities creeps them out. Creating Satisfying CX in the Digital Age That’s an interesting lead-in to the subject of CX. How can customers have satisfying experiences if they do not trust the brand? It is important to distinguish the broad concept of CX from the marketer activity of experiential marketing as illustrated in the Nike basketball event. These can create wonderful customer experiences, but remember they are a single touchpoint in a larger picture. The Target smart house exhibition is a great example of creative use of event marketing. To me it feels like one big video-taped focus group. Temkin’s experience concept of emotional, functional and accessible is straightforward and useful. His website, Experience Matters, features a study each year of the best and worst-performing brands in terms of customer experience. Amazon scores high for reasons indicated in the text and the usual suspects like the airlines and telecoms score low. Using a table or two from the current study usually stimulates a lively discussion. In the end, it is all about people. Do your students shop at Wegmans? How do they feel about it? The Joshie odyssey from the Ritz-Carleton is a heart-warming example and it’s the kind of situation that can make good customer experience go viral. The Overriding Importance of CX in the Digital Age The importance of excellent customer experience does not seem to be decreasing in terms of either marketing strategy or the perspectives of customers. Is the gap widening between the brands that consistently offer excellent experience and those who do not? Think the United Airlines passenger being dragged off the plane. As some brands get very good at CX and others seemingly ignore it, the difference could indeed be getting greater. The SilverPop criteria listed in this section are good ones—and none of them are really easy to execute. Note that they are also a mix of people-based and technology-based capabilities. Discussion Questions How has the internet grown and changed since its commercial development in the 1990s? How do you expect it to change during the remainder of this decade? Starting with the first chapter we’ve described an evolution from a small network with a limited audience to one with global reach that impacts the lives of a majority of the world’s inhabitants. That, of course, includes mobile which gives many people access who would not otherwise have it. Think about your own internet use habits. How much do you use traditional media print and broadcast media? Why or why not? How do your own habits fit the internet media use attitudes and patterns described in this chapter? The answers are usually, “Yes,” “Convenience,” and “Pretty Closely.” Most of our students watch little TV, although there may be some that watch no traditional TV. Few read newspapers in-depth; do they get most of their news from Facebook? How much of their media consumption is on the go? What mobile apps do they use most? They may also admit to multitasking when it comes to media. It’s interesting also to ask if some of them do things like read blogs, contribute content to one or more sites besides Facebook? Are there some who don’t use Facebook? Why they do and don’t use certain media makes for a lively discussion. Why are brands important? In particular, why is it important to have a resilient brand? Brands represent the promises we make to our customers. Another way of thinking about it is that they tell the story of how our products deliver value to customers. It takes time to create a strong brand that is trusted by its customers. It is easy to damage the value of the brand and hard to rebuild trust once it is damaged. If the resilient brand is a concept that helps businesses react to a rapidly-changing environment where everyone has a video camera in their pocket and is eager to take videos that might be sold to a news organization, then embracing customer interactivity and an agile organization seems necessary. What is the importance of customer satisfaction in brand development? Without customer satisfaction and trust in the brand, is a brand likely to survive for long? The answer should be a resounding no, but students may point out that there are industries in which none of the major competitors is well-loved—airlines and cable television services are often given as examples. Even there, lack of customer satisfaction and loyalty can result in opportunities for smaller, innovative firms to make inroads into the industry. Are products or service more satisfying to customers? A lot of products are simply parity products these days. That makes service paramount. Better said, it makes customer experience the deciding factor in how favorably a brand is regarded. How does CX differ from customer satisfaction? Customer satisfaction comes from what customers experience in their dealings with the brand, but as indicated in several places, it is a narrower concept. HBR has a good explanation of why. It’s a big picture/little picture issue. McKinsey consultants point out that managing satisfaction, even at every touchpoint, may leave customers with an overall feeling of dissatisfaction. They use as an example a pay TV provider who had customers whose overall satisfaction level was not high. They found that while “Most service encounters were positive in a narrow sense—employees resolved the issues at hand—but the underlying problems were avoidable, the fundamental causes went unaddressed, and the cumulative effect on the customer was decidedly negative.” It is about managing the customer journey and not letting problems arise, not just about solving problems. Students, of course, are unlikely to have read the article but the basic argument of catching potential problems before they arise, not just solving problems when they occur should resonate. I earlier called customer satisfaction a metric. Customer experience is the root cause of satisfaction, but the discussion of Figure 6.6 indicates that customers can react to the elements of satisfaction like value, service and price, but reacting to questions about customer experience per se may be difficult. That’s why some companies use the Net Promoter Score and why I like focus groups. Do you believe that CX is the future of marketing? Why or why not? By this time it would be great if students had been convinced of the truth of that statement. It’s not necessarily the product itself, it’s not satisfaction with individual encounters, it’s the totality of what the brand delivers, what it means. Products have lost much of their meaning; meaning comes from experience. Could something else supersede customer experience as all-important? Perhaps, but it’s hard to see what. Is the customer journey the same thing as the consumer decision process? Why or why not? Yes, it is and no it’s not—depending on the reasoning. The elements are the same; they are just arranged in a different manner in the digital age. I keep going back to Figure 6.9 as a wonderful illustration of the complexity. Assigning students to map a customer journey of some kind–with careful attention to what media were consulted, how often and in what order–would be a useful learning experience. How has the customer journey changed in the digital age? It is not linear. It starts, stops, goes forward and sometimes goes back a step or two. It can be accomplished quickly or it can take a considerable length of time. What has really changed is the number of information channels and consumer ease of access to them. True or False. The B2C and B2B customer journeys are completely different because one set of products is for consumer use and the other is for business use. Some marketers believe that the gap between the way consumers buy and the way business purchasers buy has narrowed as a result of the choices made available by the digital environment. Business buyers are people too. They not only have emotions, they have all the digital purchasing skills acquired in their experience as consumers. True or False. CX is a practical issue with little room for emotion or personal contacts. Isn’t it just the reverse? There are the tangible aspects of each brand encounter, the ones that can be documented and reported. But in the end isn’t the most important thing the way it makes us feel? What are some of the things a marketer must do to create satisfying CX? Give some examples from your own experience. The text lists: Deep understanding of what customers want Knowing just when to deliver Adding sentiment Using data, analytics and predictive models to create personalized, individualized communications Being able to react at any time, at any touchpoint, to customer requirements. It always seems to work to ask students for a really good (or really bad) experience and then probe to find out why they think it happened. Are they just happy when the technology works? Did someone do something really nice? Something quite unexpected? What is the mix of attributions between technology and people? Internet Exercises Choose a website or a mobile site that you are familiar with. Describe the brand building efforts you see on the site. Do you think it is meeting the requirements for a resilient brand? Give one specific example of what they are doing well or what you believe they could be doing better. ANS: This should be a thought-provoking exercise both because some of the activities are not easily visible and because some, maybe most, activities take place over time. One of the main theses of Chapter 6 is that CX is a cumulative experience. Belief could be a quantitative measure of the trust in the brand that students may find in the various ‘best brand’ studies as they do their research. Otherwise it is a matter of judgment but it tends to be one of those things that people know when they see it. Strategy may be the hardest to ferret out although students should look for interviews with brand executives. When found, they can be very revealing. The text calls strategy in the digital age “a narrative that builds over time” and that is what students should be looking for. Whether it is Red Bull and extreme sports or Dove and real beauty, good brands have a story line they stick to over time, executing it in a variety of ways. Customer Experience again may be found in annual studies. Some of them, like Bruce Tempkin’s are called customer satisfaction, which for our purposes can be considered synonymous. Encourage students to look at reviews on the website or review sites as well as to consider their own experiences with the brand. Just don’t let them assume that their individual experience is the overriding factor. Identify a website that you judge to have major experience components. Spend some time on the site and be prepared to discuss your experience. Pay special attention to whether or not you feel the experience components contribute in a meaningful way to achievement of site objectives and whether the experiences provided are in line with the needs of the target market. ANS: The emphasis on experience began in Chapter 1 with the North Face exercise and there are many other examples like the L’Oreal virtual reality makeup video. My personal opinion is that it is much more bonding to actually do something than to just look at content. If students are having trouble selecting something, suggest car sites; they all seem to have ‘build your own car’ these days. CX expert Bruce Tempkin conducts a customer experience poll each year and publishes the results. This page [http://temkinratings.com/temkin-ratings/temkin-customer-service-ratings-2016/] shows both the current year and the industries for which scores have been collected, along with the top 10 firms overall. For the most recent study, choose one of the top ten firms with which you are familiar and, using the concepts in the chapter, discuss why you believe it scored so well. Then choose one of the industries listed, preferably one with which you have considerable personal experience, and look at the top 10 experience winners for that industry. Choose one firm and explain why you believe it scored so well. ANS: You could scale this one down by having them do either a brand (better because it is more specific) or an industry, not both. Tempkin’s 3 components of experience—functional, emotional and assessable (Figure 6.12)–will give students structure as they carry out this assignment. Keywords CX (customer experience) – cumulative experiences across multiple touchpoints and in multiple channels over time. event marketing – a themed activity that promotes a product, business, or cause. experiential marketing – promotional activity that helps consumers understand a product by having direct contact with it. pixel/pixel tag – a one-pixel transparent GIF that is added to the pages of a website allowing sites to track visitor activity.