Mapping the multichannel customer

As Retail evolves to become more customer centered and holistic, Service Design in Retail focusses on the importance of “knowing your customer” as a source of inspiration to improve the Customer Experience.  However, knowing your customer has become increasingly complex as the customer is rapidly transforming into a multichannel user who communicates with a Retail Brand through various channels or touch points. The entire Retail experience encompasses the use of applications on smart phones, e commerce websites, human interactions on the telephone and of course in store. In addition to these modes of interaction, Brands have further variance between the user experience in their own dedicated Retail channels versus other multibrand Retail partners that also carry their goods online or in their department stores.  Each unique user could be surfing through some or all of these channels at some point. Capturing, analyzing and interpreting this mountain of information has become a necessary challenge for Brands that want to increase personalization in the customer experience. A post on the HBR Blog “Know Your Customers Wherever They Are” by Josh Leibowitz, Kelly Ungerman and Maher Masri, highlights the importance of using this data in a meaningful way to enhance the user journey. They suggest four practical and relevant ways to build a holistic understanding of the channel surfing customer’s user journey. 1. Be systematic: Even though brands today assign unique IDs to Customer’s across channels or track activity through credit cards, they still lack a systematic approach to extracting the data. Segment and prioritise customers (big spenders, loyal spenders, future spenders, and so on), when tracking customer journeys through touch points. 2. Focus on the important data: It’s impossible to sift through all data for insights and more efficient to process data points that could potentially answer a specific question or meet a marketing objective. Sometimes the data required is across functions such as marketing, sales, in-store operations, IT ect so it helps to pull together a multifunction team to collate and synthesis information. 3. Fill in the data holes:  It is not always possible for Brands to have 100% complete data points when studying their own users. To counter this, information gaps can be filled by purchasing readily available census research, e commerce studies, or ‘travelling cookie’ online footprints that are tracked by companies like Datalogix.  Retailers can also extend their reach by collaborating with vendors like credit card companies and multi brand Retail partners to tap information that could track their actual customers or mimic similar users. 4. Match the data with your Customer:  The most powerful way of organizing this data is to match data points with unique Customer IDs to create a single customer view across channels and touchpoints. Advanced algorithms and IT systems can connect, validate and update these data streams on an ongoing basis. Jessica Davies from the Drum also validates this point by stressing how important it is for Retailers to use a mixture of methods of analytics to completely map the end to end multichannel consumer journey. Brands should combine their own data with databanks of agencies like Adobe, Webtrends, Qubit and Google to build complete as well as personalized user journeys.  In fact piecing together web analytics with CRM data allows Retailers to build a single viewpoint of the end to end Customer journey across channels in the most meaningful way.  Davies also quotes Matthew Ridout, head of SEO at luxury clothes brand, who confirms that by building a single customer view Brands can design a more rewarding customer experience and marketing can customise strategies towards specific channels by understanding cross platform attribution. From a Service Designer’s perspective having access to a wealth of streamlined information and coherent user journeys in a complex multichannel environment can be a tremendous advantage. Designers can leverage the availability of organised data but also work closely with Retailers to define the segments and objective for analysis, that can lead to deeper exploration, improvements and innovation of the customer journey. Sources: Text:, Image: