Customer Carousel™ is one of the outcomes of a 4-year discovery process by Edwin Korver and it turned out to be an amazing panorama, not just to help optimize the performance of the frontline operation but as a lens, through which to observe and engage mission-critical aspects of the business enterprise. In this post, we’ll cover the basics of the Customer Carousel.
Most firms consider customer creation to be a prime process ─ and they should. After all, management consultant and bestselling author Peter Drucker stated: “The purpose of business is to create a customer”. While the role of marketing was to identify a customer and initiate the value creation process, sales had to convince the customer to buy the product. High commissions were paid to salesmen who met their sales targets. Customer service was often regarded as a necessary evil, like paying taxes ─ a cost burden that needed to be contained as much as possible.
Then social media emerged and while customers discovered the power of peer-to-peer recommendations, businesses experienced the aggravation of public scrutiny. Customer satisfaction became a key performance indicator (KPI).
Shortly thereafter, the surge of software-as-a-service offerings drove suppliers to introduce pro-active customer service agents, now called customer success agents, to reduce churn. Their role is to assist
the customer to get as many benefits from the purchase as soon as possible, to increase the significance of the value delivered to them, which in turn drives customer loyalty.
This new ‘normal’ made us describe the customer development process as follows (notice that we replaced ‘service’ by the wider concept of ‘delivery’:
While the majority of businesses still don’t see the urgency of having a customer retention strategy next to having a customer acquisition strategy, we believe they soon will ─ venture capitalists won’t even invest in a firm if it can’t demonstrate a solid customer retention strategy.
Now add a color-coding to it. We use the colors blue, green, yellow, and red, following the dispersion of white light as it passes through a prism. Blue is ‘cold’ (distant), while ‘red’ is warm (intimate).
So there you have it: the modern foundation of the frontline operation. However, this representation still lacks detail ─ we’ll need to dive in a bit deeper.
CUSTOMER DEVELOPMENT PROCESS
To get a grip on the entire customer development process:
- We’ll need to consider all the steps involved, not just those related to customer acquisition.
- The process should now be regarded as cyclical, rather than linear (forget about 1-D funnels).
- Modern communications became a two-way process ─ their are two-sides to each story.
FIVE STEPS TO CLARITY
Ok, we’re ready to reveal how we got to the arrangement of the Customer Carousel.
First, we placed the four departments of the modern foundation of the frontline operation on top of four corners ─ in a circular arrangement (clockwise, starting with marketing).
Regardless of the business strategy, we’ll need to identify a target group of customers to point our activities at. This is the startingpoint of the Customer Carousel: one common target.
While each department has its own role to play and therefore received its own color-coding, we wanted to emphasize that it is crucial ─ with regards to the commercial performance ─ that these departments perform as one interconnected frontline.
We did so by representing each department as a piece of a puzzle. To prevent operational barriers we need to appoint cross-functional liaisons and implement cross-functional systems.
The job-to-be-done of the sum of these four departments is to develop-a-customer, however, we need to break down the customer development process into four stages:
- Customer Acquisition
- Customer Creation
- Customer Retention
- Customer Extension (coined by us)
While most firms use hand-over moments (f.i. marketing to sales), we would advise against it: a handover implies that someone needs to let go. If we truly want customers to experience the value they expect, anticipate, and deserve, we’ll need to keep everyone involved in-the-loop.
Now let’s take a close look at the customer’s journey. We added four known acquisition-steps, taken from the AIDA-model, and added four new retention-steps to complete the cycle:
We call these steps the Moments of Reflection™ or MoRe. To understand how customers react to our touchpoints we should observe their behavior ─ as long as we understand that what we are seeing is a mirror reflection of what they might be thinking.
Easy to remember by: AIDA-AHHA
As mentioned before, the customer’s journey is just one aspect of the modern, bilateral communication between brand and customer. So we added another eight steps to represent the Moments of Engagement (MoE), the so-called brand-initiated touchpoints:
These touchpoints can be seen as the eight stages of a play the brand performs in front of the customer. In the ROUNDMAP™ system, we use arches to explain how the Moments of Engagement and the Moments of Reflection are seamlessly linked.
Easy to remember by: AACCEESS or double aces.
When we perceive our touchpoints as the stages of a play, we need a prompter ─ someone who tells us what part to play on what stage. We’ve defined eight prompts:
There is a whole story behind each step, however, we’ll explain that in more detail in our upcoming book. Some minor levels of detail can be found in the ROUNDMAP system. which by now ─ giving this blueprint ─ may seem less intimidating than it may have looked before.
By removing the colors of the four departments we’re left with a schematic of the Customer Carousel, as it is currently incorporated in the ROUNDMAP system.
You’ll need to understand that while touchpoints are often intentionally created to influence customer behavior, we can’t actually see what happens in a customer’s brain. However, we can observe their behavior, which will provide some suggestion of what it is they are thinking.
The challenge today, especially due to dark social ─ the effect referring to the social sharing of content that occurs outside of what can be measured by web/mobile analytics programs ─ and a growing number of tracking blockers, is to attribute customer behavior to a specific touchpoint.
Therefore, the idea of ‘planning the customer journey’, as a series of logical steps, should be regarded as unrealistic. Instead, brands need to create touchpoints with three simple trajectories:
- Inside-out Trajectory ─ solution doesn’t fit a need anytime soon; say goodbye.
- Outside-in Trajectory ─ solution fits a need, however, the customer may need to be persuaded.
- On-target Trajectory ─ customer is ready to buy; so make it happen.
The job-to-be-done is to allocate valuable resources at trajectories 2 and 3 while respectfully dismissing the 1’s as soon as possible.