Make Convergent Ends Meet for a Compelling Customer Journey

Businesses “convergent” with digital technologies may soon be catapulted ahead of their competitors. At least this is a sort of convention wisdom most experts expound on via a multitude of pulpits worldwide. Focusing on business opportunities we now see emerging, it appears the wisdom from the edge is wise after all.

There’s a lot of changes in how the communications industry (all of it) is being so impacted by emerging theories and practices are indicated. The meetups recently involving Atimeter Group’s Brian Solis, were fraught with opportunities and even new revelations of B2C and B2B possibility. With Solis’ Generation C in mind (highly connected customers of any age), social media gurus such as Chris Abraham, the GSMA’s Director General Anne Bouverot, and some recent study done with world renown PR constituents, an ever more clear picture of future business surfaces.

The aforementioned experts are not alone in their quest to impart the advantages of social media for driving the customer experiences that will drive the competitive machinery of verticals in the years to come. What’s the Future of Business (Solis’ latest book) proclaims something called the “UMOT” (ultimate moment of truth) where a full circular business cycle drives a the purchasing moment and all other increments of any business’ marketing cycle. The best way to envision this is via a rehashing of the so-called “four moments of truth” below:

Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT). Introduced by Google, it’s what people search for and find after encountering the stimulus that directs their next steps. As Google itself puts it, this is “that moment when you grab your laptop, mobile phone or some other wired device and start learning about a product or service you’re thinking about trying or buying.”

First Moment of Truth (FMOT). This phase of the cycle was first introduce by Proctor & Gamble (P&G) to describe the ways in which people begin making decisions about products. The FMOT is when they first see a product, and make impressions after reading the words describing it. This is where experts believe marketers must focus the most attention for conversions.

Second Moment of Truth (SMOT). This moment actually refers to the impressions customers form from actually touching, seeing, tasting, and “experiencing” products over time. These “impressions” are also formed via how a company supports their products. Essentially, this moment is all about value and the extension of the business’ relationship with customers.

Ultimate Moment of Truth (UMOT). This crucial state is one Solis introduces to define the importance of shared experiences. This is why organizations must “design” experiences rather than just hoping or allowing them to happen. A proactive approach to new age marketing is fostered here. Here the UMOT completes the circular model for each customer to be introduced again to the ZMOT.

ZMOT to UMOT

Brian Solis’ Four Moments of Truth

Cutting to the chase of fast emerging business technologies, no convergent industry is of more interest than mobile tech at this moment in time. I offer in support of the theoretical this report (PDF) from the GSM Association of mobile operators. Quoting from the forward by GSMA Director General Anne Bouverot with regard to the consumer experience:

“Ultimately, mobile commerce will evolve to support the entire consumer experience, which involves far more than a visit to a single store. Consumers are looking for versatile and wide ranging services that help them with research, travel directions, parking, vouchers, loyalty, dining, entertainment and many other aspects of an outing to a town centre or a destination retailer.”

What’s interesting here is the fact this GSMA research was derived wholly independently from the world Solis and his contemporaries forged. Within the executive summary Ms. Bouverot presents the author makes special note of mobile operators and stakeholders in commerce defining the transaction “journey” for mobile users. Basically, banks and retailers, anyone within the transaction loop is advised to be “proactive” – and the GSMA is not alone either. Significantly, the “holistic” approaches suggested by all the experts are exhibited academically via GSMA’s report section entitled “Creating a compelling consumer journey” as you can see in the figure below from the report.

The consumer journey. Source: GSMA

The consumer journey. Source: GSMA

This invaluable research goes on to outline in detail the various components of a designed customer journey, as well as the technical components and hurdles of a fully mobile collaborative for mobile operators. What is significant for you the interested reader, should be the evidence reveals by the nature of these disparate experts’ conclusions. In short, half a world away your business’ future is being laid out not only by your newest consumers, but by the industry gurus serving as consumer and business advocates. Take a look at something Chris Abraham said on the Huffington Post just the other day, and see how this aligns withe Solis and the GSMA conclusions:

“…In short, when you do things in real life, in the basement kitchen of a church, and they’re feeding men and women off the street, they can become ephemeral art … unless it’s recorded for posterity. The colorful powders and grains that Buddhist Monks use to construct their elaborate artworks return to chaos at the end, spread and dispersed — just like the experiences, too, of people making POS purchases in stores, stays in hotels, dinners in restaurants, attendance of events…”

It should also be pointed out, the “customer experience” motif is not a new one. Another expert in the field, Chris Brogan discussed what he termed “A Healthy Obsession” in 2012 on his blog. The beginning of this insightful post should peak your interest. Speaking of the importance of the customer experience Brogan states:

“I believe there’s one obsession all companies should breed in every employee: an obsession with the customer experience. This isn’t window dressing. This isn’t “nice to have.” To me, it should be fundamental.”

Finally, if we think back into our own experiences the inherent truth of these strategies illuminate the greater truth. Value, I mean really valuable experiences, brand into our psyches such marvelous and timeless things as Coca Cola or Pepsi, General Electric, Chevrolet, Elvis, Summer vacation #12 and every-person-place-and-thing burned into our personal neurons from those times. Sarasota, Florida for me will always instill feelings, emote images, forever representing fun in the sun and youthful exuberance. And most importantly, an ingrained desired to return there. In the video below shot during an event in Paris we were part of WIHP Hotels’ Martin Soler and Brian Solis discuss the basics of “experience” as part of a hospitality business’ strategy. The end result, according to Solis, is making the customer fall in love with the experience over and over again without leaving things to chance.

Likewise, that five star hotel that failed to deliver, cared less for my progressive technical expertise or jargon, the one that classified my along with every other PR BS artist in the world – that hotel failed miserably to embolden their Ultimate Moment of Truth UMOT. Rather than be treated that way, I’d gladly stay for free on a park bench across the street. Now imagine I tell you and 14,000 Twitter followers about that business!

Let me sum up with a quote from PR Week’s Reputation Institute study (PDF), Going Global in the Reputation Economy:

“Stakeholders are more empowered than ever before. Consumers are making better-informed decisions and deciding to deal with your company—or not—based on new rules and criteria that surely don’t originate from your internal defi nitions of what success used to look like around the corner.”

Lucky for you the businessperson, people from Fleishman Hillard, Porter Novelli and Edelman, AdAge, and even to the hotel blogger we just interviewed, these entities and more are all setting course for a better experience all around.

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