Don’t settle for the best customer experience in your industry, deliver the best one—period. Carmax

Jim Lyski Oct 2017

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In an environment of rapidly changing customer expectations, if your team isn’t testing and learning daily to improve the customer experience, then you’re likely already behind. Change is no longer happening over months or even years—it’s happening now. Customers expect to be “wowed” from the moment they start shopping on their mobile device to when they step foot in your stores.

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The auto industry, like most other verticals, has seen a drastic change in shopper behavior. Ten years ago, the average used-car buyer visited five to seven dealerships before selecting a car. Now, with online research, the average buyer doesn’t even make it to two. While nine out of 10 CarMax customers start their experience online, almost all of them finish in store.

As an omnichannel retailer, we are focused on interacting with customers whenever and however they want to shop.

Held to new standards

People don’t evaluate their experiences by vertical anymore. It used to be, “I’ll compare CarMax against all other used car dealers,” or “I’ll compare Nordstrom against all other clothing retailers.” Now customers are taking the best experiences from one industry and demanding a similar or better experience in others.

At CarMax, this means we’re not competing against the best experience consumers have ever had buying a car, we’re competing against the best experience they’ve ever had—period. A customer can order a very personalized cup of coffee every morning. Why can’t she have an experience that’s customized for her when she buys a car?

That means everything must be personalized, from the mobile marketing messages to the in-store experience. For us, that requires anticipating customer needs. Is her priority researching the best car for her needs? Is it speed or convenience? Is financing the first step in her car buying process?

Use search to identify needs

Search and user data are great identifiers to discover unique needs. Based on their behavior on CarMax.com, we can use anonymized visitor-level data to determine whether a customer will be more suited for standard messaging related to CarMax’s customer offers, or messaging related to financing. Then we can personalize accordingly.

Connect the online and in-store experience

Customers expect a seamless shopping experience, and we see the mobile device as the bridge between the digital and physical. Synchronized browsing will be an important part of the CarMax shopping experience of the future.

Let’s say a customer is coming into the store to check out a Toyota Camry, but we also know that she did a lot of searching for other Japanese sedans. With that in mind, the Toyota Camry would be ready at her appointment, but the Nissan Altima and a Honda Accord would also be available and ready for test drives. By knowing more about the customer and her pre-purchase research, we believe it’s possible to develop a better informed and seamless car buying experience.

Another way synchronized browsing could come to life is through pairing mobile devices with iBeacon solutions on our lots. If a customer has her mobile device in hand as she’s walking and browsing, it can become her guide to inventory as mobile alerts pop up with guidance.

Test for better results

Providing stellar experiences requires testing and constant iteration.

We conduct experiments incessantly, with discovery and delivery going on concurrently. Having a constant cadence of little discoveries is not only a faster way to deliver new experiences to the consumer, but it’s actually a much lower-risk way to deliver innovation to market.

A few years ago, we realized that we weren’t meeting rising customer expectations for car photos. Google Analytics data showed that fewer than half of the photos for individual cars were being viewed. Our employees often took many photographs of the vehicle, but not necessarily the photographs customers cared most about. To solve this issue, we surveyed customers and began tagging photo types to learn more, then tested and refined a new photo-capture process to improve the images for a consistent experience.

Analytics also help us see which photos customers clicked, in what order, and for how long of a duration. This allows us to tell which pictures are most engaging for the consumer. For example, when people are buying an SUV, they want to look at a photo of the trunk of the vehicle so they can see how much storage space there is. Now we can make sure that SUV listings have clear photos of the storage areas.

As a result of our improvements to our photo capture and display process, 20% more customers now look at a dozen or more photos in a series, making them better informed and more likely to purchase.

Empower your teams

Whatever vertical you’re in, the more you can anticipate customers’ needs every step of the way, the happier they’ll be. To achieve this, it’s critical to empower your teams to analyze and learn as well as test and fail.

At the core of each of our product teams is a product manager, a lead UX designer, a business analyst/data scientist, and a lead developer. We never tell these teams how to solve a particular problem—just what to solve, providing them KPIs to work toward and empowering them to solve for customer needs. The teams develop a hypothesis, run an experiment, analyze the results, and identify if their solution will improve the customer experience while delivering business results. They are constantly iterating as they work toward their goal.

We’re willing to try almost anything. If it improves the experience, we’ll implement it, and if it doesn’t improve it, then we move on to the next experiment.

Who cares if you tried and failed? As long as you’ve learned something, then you’re always getting smarter about your customers and how to meet their needs.

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Buyer Personas 101: How to Build the Perfect Profile

Buyer Personas 101: How to Build the Perfect Profile

Got Customer Experience Strategy? ….Got Right Team?

The Who, What, Where, And Why Of Marketing Technology Groups

Posted by Anjali Yakkundi on May 30, 2013
This post originally appeared on destinationCRM.

We’ve heard a lot in the past year about the future role of marketing technologists as solvers of the “IT/marketing clash of the titans” (as one Forrester client put it to me recently). These technologists are more than just your basic webmasters. Instead, they are professionals with deep knowledge of how technology can deliver on marketing strategies in order to bring about better digital customer experiences. At Forrester, we’ve started to see an emerging trend of shared services groups whose goal is to bridge the marketing technology divide. Our latest research found that organizations have turned to this model — which we call the marketing technology group — to foster tighter integration between IT and marketing and between strategy/design professionals and technologists. Defining characteristics include:

Who? These groups tend to be made up of a diverse lot of professionals, but in general are staffed by a combination of marketing strategists, creative design professionals, and technologists with design and business savvy. We found some of the most sought-after technologists were mobile- and data-literate developers and higher-ranking IT leaders, like enterprise architects, who can coordinate an ever-growing number of digital experience technologies (e.g. CRM, Web content management, commerce platforms, analytics, etc.). The key is to give these groups direct tie-in to C-level executives. As a vice president of strategy at a digital agency told us, “The problem with shared services is that too often it’s staffed by only powerless workers.”
What? A digital experience leader at a multinational organization using this model described it as a “digital innovation team.” Others we interviewed described these shared services groups as “internal digital agencies.” Much like an agency, these groups are responsible for providing various business units with a host of services to improve marketing and digital customer experience initiatives. This includes (among other things) strategic support, design and creative services, and technology support.
Where? These groups are still emerging, and most organizations we speak to prefer to play it safe with a central or decentralized IT approach. We’ve seen the most innovation coming from retail and consumer packaged goods organizations, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t seen it from others as well. We interviewed a few key decision makers from financial services and healthcare organizations who are looking to move to this shared services approach.
Why? This approach has many benefits, including the tight integration between creative professionals and technologists, allowing the gap to close between design and the delivery of that design. Firms also achieve agile processes more easily with marketing and IT professionals working under one umbrella. The downside? This approach can be slow. A vice president of digital marketing at a financial services organization said: “In my shared service model, someone ends up waiting.” Organizations with multiple brands also worry that a shared service approach limits the brand differences and makes each one look too similar; better governance and brand guidelines can mitigate this risk.

So what’s the future of marketing technology groups? We expect that this trend will continue to grow as more organizations see the appeal of the “internal digital agency.” This doesn’t mean it will take over central IT groups; instead, we expect many organizations to use shared services groups to supplement existing IT groups.

Our recent reports dive into roles and organizational structures, as well as data around this emerging group. Do you have a shared marketing technology group or have you begun to move to this model? Tell us about your case studies in the comments area below.

The State of Customer Experience CX

‘Digital marketing is dead’ proclaims Procter & Gamble’s global brand building officer Marc Pritchard

 18 September 2013 – 6:38pm Updated
Originally posted by Stephen Lepitak
Pricepoints! concurs without reservation.

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Pricepoints! CMO’s know that the key success factors begin and end with customers (behavior, attitudes, etc etc). The velocity of digital technology innovation (growth of devices, explosion of touch points, and engagements) has added complex layers of new customer data (opportunities). The key success factor for brands is in the knowledge of their customer, it all starts and ends strategic insights.

Customer experience management begins with the customer experinece (CX) journey map. Many brands have already begun this process in order to gain competitive advantage (i.e. “first to learn, first to earn”). These “walk a mile in your customers shoes as customers” SWOT audits that define the CX key drivers are priceless.6072ce77-590a-4df5-b3d9-3f3c167bd5ae

Ok, back to the quote. It certainly gets your attention and makes you step back and get grounded in the customer insights that drive the marketing mix strategies first. I will step back and let the thought leader speak for himself.
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Speaking at Dmexco, the chief marketer from the world’s largest advertiser, asked; “Try and resist thinking about digital in terms of the tools, the platforms, the QR Codes and all of the technology coming next. We [Procter & Gamble] try and see it for what it is, which is a tool for engaging people with fresh, creative campaigns…the era of digital marketing is over. It’s almost dead. It’s now just brand building. It’s what we do.”

He made this statement after running a video advertisement for a Braun electric shaver that initially ran online only, ignoring all traditional marketing, driving sales before running through traditional media.

“It wasn’t the digital component. It was the campaign,” he declared, explaining that it prove to the company what could be achieved in the digital world.

“This is a mindset that we are trying to infuse in our company and it’s creating a tremendous shift [within P&G.] It’s freeing up our minds on building creative ideas that come to life through the mediums that we engage with every single day – search, social, mobile, PR, and yes, even TV.”

He continued to describe the strategy as ‘Digital Back’, explaining; “start in the digital world and build your way back to the rest of the marketing mix. Our best agencies do that right now…it’s an approach that is building our brand equities, our sales and our profits.”

He said that digital technology was a “means to reach people” through brands and capture consumer imaginations in a way that had been impossible before.

“But we can only do that if we have this one component that has been a constant since the beginning of brand building – an idea. Fresh creative ideas that are powered by insights, that are powered by the way people think and feel and are inspired by creativity, always have and always will create great campaigns. Digital tools just give us a new way to spread those ideas in ways that we’ve never imagined before…great ideas matter more now than they ever have before, because with these digital tools at our disposal we have the chance to be successful widely beyond whatever we had imagined.”

Pritchard continued to explore some of his company’s brands and how they had utilised new technology, powered by ideas to be a global success, including Old Spice, Vella Koleston and Oral B work.

Discussing the ‘The Man Your Man Could Smell Like’ Old Spice online campaign led to Pritchard offering the insight that “brand insight shouldn’t be something you change with every new campaign.”

He continued: “You should find that insight and invest in it to the best if your brand’s ability,” before running several stages of the campaign to explore its evolution.

Pritchard concluded the talk by imploring the room to “build brands with campaigns that matter, make people think and feel and laugh. We have the chance to do all of those things now in a way that is so much more exciting than we did before. So let’s celebrate the end, the death of digital marketing and let’s focus on celebrating the great idea of these brands and let’s leverage the platforms and technologies that allow us to engage with people like we never have before. I’m certain that our brand building teams, our agencies and the people who see our stuff all around the world will thank us for it.”

Pritchard’s views on the importance of the need for creativity echoed those of Keith Weed, CMO for Unilever earlier in the day, who spoke about the need to use mobile, social and data to help develop more engaging campaigns.

Read more at http://www.thedrum.com/news/2013/09/18/dmexco-digital-marketing-dead-proclaims-procter-gambles-global-brand-building#wgy49OMQM7IF8jd0.99

Tell Me How You Really Feel! Digital Experience Measurement Tools

Measuring the usability of your digital properties — be they native mobile applications or websites (responsive or not) — can be a challenge, even for the savviest experts.

Solutions to help Internet professionals measure the experiences they offer abound, from analytics to survey solutions (wsm.co/5digitalsurveytools), and new offerings are emerging every digital day. Google, for example, just released Google Consumer Survey, a solution that enables website owners to create customer satisfaction surveys and collect responses from their site visitors. Google’s product offers the first 500 responses free (though its limited to four questions) and will run until the site has collected the full amount of replies, starting over again each month, making it possible to monitor user satisfaction over time.

Surveys are certainly one reliable path toward understanding more about what users are experiencing and how they really “feel” about your digital presence, but they’re far from the only ones. To improve the user experience, what it really takes is starting out with the right measures to manage. As any digital maven will report, numerous measurements already exist that can be used by Internet professionals who have made developing optimal user experiences a priority.

For example, Jeff Sauro, founding principal of quantitative research firm Measuring Usability and author of “Quantifying the User Experience: Practical Statistics for User Research”, suggests the use of SUPR-Q, a rating scale to measure perceptions of usability, trust, credibility, appearance and loyalty for websites. SUPR-Q scores are based on a database of hundreds of websites from tens of thousands of users across dozens of industries. It is undoubtedly a means to measure user experience effectively, but there are others to consider.

Net Promoter Score (NPS) benchmarks are a common method to measure and manage the user experience. NPS focuses primarily on how likely people are to spread a positive message about your product or business. In its simplest form, improving a NPS is achieved by reducing the number of detractors and fostering a positive, ongoing relationship with promoters, those loyal enthusiasts of your brand who will keep buying and referring others. Learn more about Net Promoter Score with Website Magazine’s guide for this important benchmarking model at wsm.co/npsguide.

Both SUPR-Q and Net Promoter Score are useful, which is why they’re used so frequently. The reality is, whether you’re using these benchmarks or not, you’re likely still measuring the digital experience of users. For example, in a general sense, completion rates (e.g. product sales or subscriber sign-ups) are a reliable approach to understanding if the experience developed is the optimal one. In many ways, completion rates are the fundamental usability metric. They are easy to understand and can be collected and analyzed at any stage in the user lifecycle. Keep in mind, however, it is essential to know what actions must occur to consider a task completed (and thus successful), focusing on the barriers in the users’ paths that may negatively affect their experiences and lead to damaged perceptions.

Despite the commonly held belief that a positive digital experience is not something that can be planned, that’s not stopping some Internet professionals from trying (and succeeding). There might be a little bit of luck involved, but generally, in order to create an experience that encourages users to become brand advocates, and more importantly complete the tasks set before them, you simply have to create great products that people want to use.

The Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) developed by Fred Davis in the early 1990s is one method to predict how much people will use a new product by predicting how they are using an existing product. The survey essentially asks participants to rate the usefulness of items and their ease of use by scoring them as follows: Using this product improves the quality of the work I do; The product enables me to accomplish tasks more quickly; and overall, I find this product useful in my job. By understanding users’ experiences with other products, the idea is that brands can build better ones by exploiting competitors’ weaknesses.

Measuring the digital experience isn’t easy, but it is rewarding if you set the right benchmarks, commit to making continual improvements, and dedicate your company and its staff to putting users first. – See more at: http://www.websitemagazine.com/content/blogs/posts/pages/digital-experience-measurement.aspx#sthash.aNtaDFCk.dpuf

Agile Just in Time Marketing