30 June 2020

Beyond Digital: Connecting customer journeys to product strategies

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The 2nd edition of Beyond Digital, the knowledge-sharing discussion club was hosted by our managing director Jeroen Geleyn and business manager Eloy Castro. As always, the goal was informal conversational learning, with experienced digital marketing professionals representing different sectors sharing their views and outlooks on a specific digital topic.

On the agenda: Connecting new customer journeys to new product strategies. Around our virtual table we welcomed managers from brands at the forefront of digital innovation such as Carrefour, ICI Paris xl, AXA, Mediamarkt, FCR Media, Bayer, ZEB, Spadel, Belfius and NMBS. Nicolaas Bijvoet, Head Of Customer Experience Digital at Belfius, gave this week’s introduction as field expert, kicking off what promised to be a very insightful Beyond Digital.

What drives the customer?

“First let’s get the obvious out of the way. Connecting customer journeys to new product strategies starts with talking to your user base,” started Nicolaas. “But more specifically, it’s all about the ‘why’.”

The key to matching customer journeys to product strategies is finding out the basic needs that drive the consumer. But also, pinpointing competitors. By doing so during his time at lingerie brand Van de Velde, Nicolaas discovered that consumers are not necessarily after a certain product but after the experience of buying that product. “Research showed that our consumers bought from our premium lingerie brand because they were out to treat themselves. So we learned that rather than other lingerie brands, our competitors are businesses that provide a sense of comfort, luxury and service, such as restaurants for example. Like dining, it’s all about the experience of going out and being catered for. This led us to change our value proposition. Before you flesh out customer journeys, talk to your consumers and find out the underlying mechanisms that drive their customer behaviour. Not the other way around.”

What are the challenges?

Rethinking and leveraging insight data with innovation

After the wisdom shared by Nicolaas, the attendees along with Jeroen and Eloy were divided into smaller groups to discuss the biggest challenges in terms of connecting new or existing product strategies with new customer journeys. According to Pedro Antunes, Head of Market Research & User experience at AXA, it’s time to rethink the way in which we adapt ourselves in order to answer customers’ needs and improve the customer experience. The challenge is to be creative with the numerous insights we can collect from end users and to dare develop solutions that take us beyond our historical core business and out of our comfort zone.

Unexpected changes in consumer experience

A second challenge is coping with sudden changes in the customer experience, caused for example by major events such as the COVID-19 pandemic. In many stores people can no longer try on clothing, while elsewhere supermarkets experience peaks in online orders. How can these businesses accommodate for these changes? It’s all about speed and the courage to act on customer insights immediately.

Ensuring timely feedback

Getting the feedback from the customer to the product owners and people responsible for the customer experience is a third challenge. Customer input is often trapped in departments. Larger organisations especially struggle with a lack of transparency. During meetings, courageous attempts to make changes to customer journeys are often met with: “It’s not in my hands, this would need to go up the ladder.” A shift towards flatter company structures as well as reconnecting employees to the impact their work has on the customer experience, might be possible solutions.

Next up?

To sum up this session of Beyond Digital: Connecting new customer journeys to new product strategies is not easy in the slightest, but customer centricity will bring you a long way. And what might hit you as a challenge along the way can also be perceived as an opportunity to shape the customer journeys of the future.

Want to join in on the discussion? Ariad’s digital professionals knowledge sharing club Beyond Digital brings together future-forward individuals working across industries in the largest brands in Belgium. No member fees, just a community of ambitious minds! Apply here for more information about this monthly event.