By Reuben Nguyo
In an increasingly omnichannel world in which recent events have accelerated digitalization and adoption of new distribution channels, brands need to ensure their channel strategies are being implemented consistently and maximized across markets.
Whether growing an existing product or service in a new area, or launching something completely new, understanding which channels offer the greatest growth potential, and how competitors stack up, is thus essential.
This makes channel performance measurement a key activity especially to organizations that employ different types of channels or more complex multi-channel structures where many people, processes and roles are involved. It helps to reveal the effectiveness, efficiency, productivity, equity, and profitability of the various channels used by an organization.
Organizations have a lot of data – financial, operational, customer, market, and so on. However, synthesizing this data from multiple sources and across multiple channels can be an overwhelming task.
Whether an organization is seeking to organize and make use of the data it already has, or gathering new data to act, there are three essential considerations to consider when measuring and managing your channel performance. These are the size of channel opportunity; the measure of brand delivery in terms of promise and compliance and the activities or interactions that drive sales.
To begin with, sizing channels effectively enables your organization to set clear targets and establish indicators of success along the way. To understand the size of the prize there are several key factors to consider depending on where you are in the offer life cycle. These are competitive landscape in an existing market, category/brand/product share, and relevant customer segmentation and profiles.
Channel sizing measurement is a complex endeavor, especially in developing markets where desired datasets on which to base calculations are not always readily available. Customized programs may be called upon to drive high levels of accuracy to inform investment-heavy decision making, channel entry, and growth strategies.
The measure of brand delivery on the other hand helps organizations recognize success factors and improvement needs to deliver against brand promise and compliance. The key factors to consider here are Customer Experience and Service Performance.
A customer’s experience of a brand encompasses all the interactions they have, within and across channels – physical, contact center, and digital – as well as the experience of the actual product or service offer, brand communications they see, and beyond. We know that brand messaging matters, but if that brand messaging is not consistently carried through to the experience and delivery of a brand’s offer, the so-called ‘promise delivery gap results in unhappy customers, low customer experience, increased complaints and churn, and a downturn in sales.
Understanding what it is like for a customer to interact with your brand across the end-to-end will ensure you have the right frontline staff, equipped with appropriate training to deliver on your value proposition, act in alignment with brand guidelines, and comply with regulatory demands. When deployed correctly, the right measurement tools can act as an early warning system, helping you address issues before they translate into poor business results.
Measuring the human connection between frontline staff and customers should be included in your organizational metrics. Face-to-face interactions are more important than ever, as they may be less common for some customers who are choosing other channels to interact with your brand.
At the same time, customers moving to ‘new to them’ channels; perhaps live chat, online shopping, contact center calls, etc. present opportunities to connect with customers, but also new places for things to go awry. Furthermore, the handoff between channels, or the expectations and communications set within each, present additional touchpoints, and opportunities to ‘wow’ a customer.
Finally, identifying the customer interactions and environments that drive and maximize sales conversions is also key. Each customer entering the shopping space is an opportunity to grow business, so long as the right offer is in front of them, at the right moment, and in a way that will keep them coming back to meet their needs.
Knowing the volume of customers ‘through the door’ is good but does not get you through the final mile. Customer traffic, conversation rate of traffic, staff levels aligned with store traffic and good store/site layout important when identifying the activities/interactions that drive sales conversions. One also need to consider customers navigating to all parts of store, irrelevant of whether ‘bricks or clicks’, good placement of offer and products/services that are easy to locate and access.
Customer counting tools can be used to measure where and how customers are engaging with areas of the store, products, or employees, to support decisions on staffing levels, training, and even store layout and merchandising.
Tools like Ipsos’ Iris5 can be used to measure similar activity in digital storefronts online, helping retailers understand when and how prospective customers are visiting their sites, and which competitors they have been compared against.
A range of customer counting techniques, to measure footfall, conversion rates, transaction size, and customer in-location behavior and movement, should be employed to manage physical and digital estate strategy and optimize staff utilization, improving sales performance.
Once the three fundamentals – size of channel, measure of brand delivery and activities/interactions that drive sales – are considered, an organization can focus efforts to improve; maximizing the channels it is operating in, delivering on product, service, and regulatory demands at the frontline, and understanding fulfilment of the products or services it offers – ultimately improving the experiences of your customers and your business results.
At Ipsos Kenya, we support those charged with measuring and managing the performance of the channels in their organization – physical, contact center, and digital – to understand the fundamental questions that need to be answered, and where to act.
By using well designed tools – including channel sizing, mystery shopping, execution measurement, customer counting, as well as Voice of Customer (VoC) programs – we assist organisations to make the most of the data at hand.
(The writer is the Channel Performance Director at Ipsos in Kenya).