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  • Subject area(s): Marketing
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  • Published on: 14th September 2019
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  • Number of pages: 2

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Part A – Businesses and Customer Experience

By the year 2020, customer experience is expected to overtake other competitive factors, such as price and product, as the key differentiator. Therefore, in order to remain competitive in a saturated market, businesses must adapt to this change.

In order to adapt to these changes in consumer demand, businesses may execute a personalised experience, which is individual to the customer. (Watkinson 2012) states personalisation and customisation are becoming the norm, raising customer expectations. For instance, by removing the stages required in the purchasing process or fixing complaints, customer experience can be improved.

(American Express 2017) states more than half of Americans have stopped a planned purchase because of bad service, and 33 percent say they'll consider switching companies after just a single instance of poor service.  When companies do not offer a positive customer experience it can affect brand image and reputation, which can subsequently impact sales and contribution, and therefore profitability. For instance, the budget airline Ryanair has recently made headlines for poorly managing a customer's complaint of racial abuse and have therefore faced backlash online from many consumers in the UK, therefore decreasing shareholder confidence and impacting share price, as well as reducing the number of returning customers for Ryanair.

Part B – Customer Journey Mapping

Customer Journey mapping is defined by (Harvard Business Review 2018) as a diagram that demonstrates the steps customers go through in engaging with a company, whether it be a product, an online experience, retail experience, or a service, or any combination. The more touchpoints you have, the more complicated, but necessary, the map becomes. The customer journey always starts with a need and is what the business provides.

The ideal customer journey is not linear but circular; ending with a repeat purchase, thus creating brand loyalty and a regular customer. This is also known as the loyalty loop and, when a company achieves this customer journey, it is much more likely to be competitive in the market they are operating in. (Daffy 2011) refers to this theory and states how many satisfied customers you keep is more important than how satisfied you keep your customers. Additionally, (Gratton and Scott 2016) write about the 100-year life and, as the average living age increases, more people are living over 100, it is even more important to create loyalty for a specific business and create life-long customers.

A business can utilise numerous methods to plot their journey maps, although some may be more effective than others. Customer journey analysis should understand and map the journey from the customer perspective and, therefore, requires customer input.  One example could be for a company to use pen portraits or personas of different types of customers who use their products within their targeted demographic, which allows employees to think in their customers shoes, thus making decisions that will impact them specifically. Alternatively, an independent auditor could be brought into the company to inform the business the best way they should run their journey map. The point of this is that they are unbiased, which could help the business to prevent interdepartmental conflict when decisions are made.

It is also important there is some kind of external influence on creating their journey map, due to the fact it is based on the customers experience and not from the employee's perspective. (Daffy 2011) says one of the most common perception gaps is the gap between what the business thinks the customer wants and what they actually want. Some examples of this type of planning could be if a single employee works out the customer map or even if the different functions collaborate together.

It is imperative for a business to choose a demographic to segment and target as, although this may involve some generalisation e.g. through age or socio-economic status, it allows the company to choose which channels to use and also the propensity to penetrate within this demographic, through total sales and then further within the country or world where applicable. This is something to consider if a business plans to bring in customers to plan their own journey map. For example, if five customers are brought in representing 5 segments, but 1 segment represents 50% of sales, should they put more focus on their map?

Part C – Ocado TO BE Customer Journey Map

Ocado was established in the UK over 16 years ago and listed on the London Stock Exchange in July 2010. With over 580,000 active customers, they are the world's largest dedicated online grocery retailer. According to their website (Ocado 2018), their objective is to provide customers with the best shopping experience in terms of service, range and price, which builds a strong business and delivers long term value for shareholders.

The term Omni-Channel is defined by (Tallyfy 2018) as an integration of all platforms that includes physical and online experience across all physical locations, communications platforms, and devices. It is important for all businesses operating in the 21st Century to be available to their customers 24/7, whether that be via online or face-to-face. Ocado is an online retailer, thus meaning most of the experience is dealt online, via their website or through other sources such as email or social media channels. (Watkinson 2012) states the challenge is no longer to create a great product or service, with good customer service offering and a useful website, it is to seamlessly join up an increasing number of different touchpoints, which is vital for all businesses to focus on. Social media is such an important resource for a business to operate. If done successfully, not only can a company respond to complaints and requests within minutes, but they can also utilise it for marketing purposes. Customers may choose to shop with a competitor if the whole process before, during and after the sale does not meet their expectations, but also many customers are willing to pay up to three times more for this simplicity and customer-driven aspect of the business's operations.

Below is a TO BE customer journey map for Ocado:

A TO BE customer journey map describes what could be achieved by Ocado, and what may be possible for a customer to receive during the purchasing experience. The map has three key areas in the buying process; before, during, and after the sale. This has been designed specifically for a target audience to make the experience more customer focused and keep the customer satisfied; in this case a single woman living and working in London, with a busy and changeable work schedule, working long days and with limited spare time in the working week. Therefore, this has been designed to make her life easier, saving time and hassle.

For instance, once onto the website Ocado asks the customer to gain access to their location, therefore finding out not only the address they can deliver to, but also how many people live there, as well as if any past food deliveries from any business have occurred, which can then be brought forward to recommend products during the ordering process. Furthermore, Ocado automatically links to the customers diary on the device they are using to purchase the food, thus finding out when the best time to receive a delivery in the upcoming week would be.

Additionally, on particularly busy days it can suggest a lunchtime delivery of a prepared meal to the office she will be working at that day. This addition would change the current journey, due to the fact the minimum order level is £40 and only one delivery per day is currently permitted.  If this were to be adapted to create a more flexible journey, then it would create a strong relationship with the customer, creating brand loyalty and increasing the likelihood of a repeat purchase.

(Pennington 2016) says the challenge is to understand where the inflection points are; that is, where the customer has a high expectation and the business fails to meet those expectations during the customer journey. In order to compete, Ocado must meet the increasingly high consumer expectations and become more flexible in their services; whether that be with 15-minute interval delivery slots, lower order levels, or anything else outlined in the TO BE journey map.

Increasingly we are becoming a subscription economy, whereby consumers prefer to pay installments.

Part D – Presenting the TO BE Journey Map

The way in which this TO BE journey map should be implemented in regard to Ocado is highly important. Involving the CEO in the decision-making process, especially in a dramatic shift in operations and the overall running of the business, is crucial. Sometimes they can become removed from every-day running of the business, thus may not know what their customers actually perceive the company's brand to be.

Below I have created a SWOT analysis of Ocado Group Plc, outlining the internal (strengths and weaknesses) and external (opportunities and threats) strategic factors, which will help present the TO BE customer journey map.

The different channels a business uses can also depend on their consumers personality type. (Marston 1928) suggests there are four quadrants of behaviour; Dominance, Inducement, Submission, and Compliance. This theory could be applied within the customer journey mapping process; customers could be segmented and targeted through specific channeling and customer service, thereby creating a personalised customer experience and could help to improve their customer journey. For instance, those customers who fall under the Dominance quadrant may prefer to have complaints solved quickly via email or social-media outlets. The axis of active and passive, task or people focused should be leaning towards people, making each experience personalised.

I would recommend looking at (Goleman 1996), who defines Emotional Intelligence as the ability to not only recognise, understand and manage our own emotions, but also the ability to recognise, understand and influence the emotions of others. If employees utilise effectively Emotional Intelligence it will enable them to deal with customers, especially when under pressure or dealing with complaints, identifying strengths of different employees and customers alike. This can not only aid development of employees but could also be applied to customers for the different touchpoints they wish to use.

After completing Part A of this assignment, I have learned to create a meeting agenda for the members of the board, describing the events of this meeting and the timings in which the topics will be discussed. For an example of this please see Appendix A. In a meeting agenda it should describe the participants, along with the main topics that are planning to be discussed. Planning the course of any meeting is crucial in order to make an effective use of all employee's time, making sure nobody is there for longer than necessary in order to come to a conclusion of the best actions to take moving forward.

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