What is Aspire? (and why you need it)

Making the best-uary, of your estuary

“I have a dream…and that dream evolves based on new data and learnings”

Just to clarify in case my attempt at creating a clever headline has confused anyone. Much like rivers flowing into a single point, I’m referring to aligning multiple workstreams and projects into a single vision.

As businesses increasingly compete and challenge each other to reach the top of their respective markets, one of the challenges faced is throwing things at the fan and seeing what sticks. This type of action can have great results but ultimately results in a completely disjointed experience on their website.

These are some of the reasons why, at Eclipse, we offer a programme we call Aspire.

 

What is Aspire?

We all love to dream. We all have our own interpretations of what ‘great’ or ‘next-level’ looks like. This ultimately creates extensive discussions and debates on who is right and who is wrong (hint: neither answer is correct until proven).

The cause of debate is generally around where time, effort and budget should be spent. But let’s wait a moment…let’s take a step back – what is the objective? Is this aimed at a short-term gain or long-term sustainability of the business? Whatever the answer may be, projects often head off in different directions and create a disjointed experience.

Think about it. I’m sure you can remember multiple times when you’ve been on a website and one part of the site feels significantly better/different than the other. “Meh” you may be thinking…as long as it works. This view, I can absolutely tell you, is short-term thinking and can seriously damage your long-term objectives.

This can lead to a stage when you feel you really need to invest heavily in an unplanned redesign of the whole website, or you turn users away as the journey no longer makes sense. You may not even realise it till late on as visitor numbers have gradually (or sharply) declined and you’re not sure why.

Our Aspire programme is about going beyond the short-term. Aspire is about removing all the barriers of today, be that technology, process, budget or limitations to create the best experience you can envisage for your customers.

Aspire is about making you stand out in the market as being the “best of the best”…the “Top Gun!” (apologies Tony Scott). Most importantly, Aspire is about aligning all experiments, changes or parallel workstreams within teams or organisations to ensure everything and everyone is driving towards achieving the same vision.

Whether you’re a single team running multiple channels of experimentation, or multiple teams operating individually, Aspire is here to help you align your workstreams to create consistency from both a UX (User Experience), UI (User Interface) and CX (Customer Experience) perspective.

 

How often should you run Aspire programme?

This is a really important question to ask. Aspire creates this long-term vision, but this is a constantly evolving thing.

As you learn more about how your customers are interacting with your website, and you as a business, this vision will evolve. This can be due to new technology hitting the market, change of circumstance or even changes in the political and public landscape (particularly relevant over the last year).

We monitor this through behavioural analysis using data and predictive patterns. “X has just been announced – how can we mitigate the impact now, so it doesn’t affect us going forward” is just one example of how that may emerge.

 

Cheesy analogy time…

A post like this wouldn’t be the same without a cheesy analogy, so here we go. Think carefully about how you align business objectives. I’ll compare Aspire to rockets and fireworks.

The short-term way of thinking can be seen as a firework. All these channels shooting off in all directions. All are exciting, all are great and can end up providing a beautiful array of colour and success, however, ultimately fade away and come floating down to earth as ash.

Aspire on the other hand is comparable to a rocket. Aspire is your launchpad, that looks beyond the initial excitement of colour and wonderment, to a longer-term future that shoots you into orbit and allows you to stay there.

The Aspire approach can be run as an individual programme, but we aim to use this thinking in everything we do. We consider the pros and cons based on your individual business objectives and goals.

So, if you’d like to have a chat about how this can work for you, give us a call and we’d be more than happy to see how we can help.


Lessons on Customer Experience from Giant Brands

We talk about customer experience a bunch at Eclipse and it is with good reason. It is the thing that makes you stand out from your competitors, and it is the thing that makes the biggest difference to consumers.

To be clear, we’re not talking about customer service. That is a different thing that plays into the customer experience. We talked about this more in a previous blog 'Are you confusing Customer Experience with Customer Service?'. What we’re talking about is the end-to-end customer journey and all the things that you and your brand do that make you stand out, build loyalty, and make people come back time and time again.

 

Learning from Others

We’ve covered customer experience from the angle of what the customer wants but today we’re taking a slightly different angle. One of the best ways to get better at what you do is to look at what others are doing for inspiration.

So, we’ve looked at some of the giant brands out there that people praise for their customer experience and brought you the best of what they’re doing to help inspire you when it comes to creating your customer experience strategy.

 

Tesla

These guys have built a customer base of fans and they have an incredible reputation. Their NPS is 96 and if you’ve ever talked to anyone who owns one, they have very probably tried to convince you to buy one yourself.

So, what have they done that we can learn from? The very first thing they did was start a movement for their brand. It was something that people could believe in and as I have often quoted in the past ‘People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe’

They set their mission to ‘accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.’ It underpins what they do and how they talk about themselves and if you share that as a value, you’re drawn to get involved.

You might be thinking that this isn’t an ‘experience’ but the reason it is important is that it talks to the brand. Brand and customer experience are intrinsically linked. Most often the first time someone engages with you is through brand discovery, which is the very start of the customer journey. And as we mentioned before, customer experience is about the entire journey end-to-end.

This was a big move that drew in a lot of love from people but the biggest impact they’ve had on customer experience is around how they’re selling the cars to start with. They totally removed friction and turned the way that cars are sold on its head.

Had you told someone 15 years ago that you’d be buying your car online without having to go anywhere near a dealership you’d have been told you’re dreaming but guess what, that is exactly what Tesla did.

The “traditional” sales experience is one of the biggest frictions or annoyances in the car buying journey for customers, so they removed it. You can apply the same lesson to almost any other industry– if you want to differentiate your offering, look for the typical frictions that customers face in your industry and find a way to solve them.

 

Ralph Lauren

If you’ve ever had any exposure to their brand, you know that it creates a lifestyle for their customer base and much like Tesla, their customers are strong advocates for them.

The lessons we can learn here is around what they’ve done to shift and create a digital evolution of their customer experience. Much like everyone else in the fashion industry, the pandemic changed what they did and forced them to have to step up and step up they did.

They have done such a great job with this that Gartner Digital IQ Index recently recognised Ralph Lauren as the No. 5 luxury brand in digital, citing its robust mobile features and connected retail programs.

One of the driving principles of their reinvention was the willingness to learn and evolve. For anyone who wants to step up their customer experience game and genuinely build something that people are going to gravitate to, they need to be open to doing the same.

Ralph Lauren evaluated the brand’s digital presence to identify potential friction points in the customer journey and to find new ways to improve the experience.

Those insights inspired several performance-boosting user experience (UX) enhancements. They included more detailed category filters, a simplified checkout flow and important app updates, including improved navigation and clearer presentation of product details. These changes, which put more focus on product discovery, helped the company grow mobile orders by 34%.

It might sound obvious but if you really want to build that customer experience that customers are going to love, you should probably ask them what they want.

Another thing we can take from them is how they’ve adapted the way they tell their story.

For a brand that has prioritised cinematic lifestyle storytelling across every aspect of commerce and marketing, beginning with in-store experiences and print advertising, they have been faced with the challenge of how can you do the same thing in a way that the new consumer cares about?

In the age of digital, they quickly adapted and expanded this vision to its online experiences. This approach guided Ralph Lauren to build an elevated mobile storefront that mirrors how the company tells its story on other channels.

Because the customer experience covers the buyers’ journey, beginning to end, you must make sure you’re covering all the bases. You need to be where the customers are, offering that seamless experience, to the same level, whatever the delivery method.

 

Amazon

Surely, it’s no surprise that Amazon is being talked about when it comes to customer experience. The shopping experience they offer is pretty much unrivalled and is central to their enormous success.

One of the biggest customer experience levers they’ve firmly got in their grasp is convenience but that isn’t what we’re going to be talking about here.

The lesson we’re taking from them is a surprisingly simple one: Amazon excels at making it crystal clear what will happen when you click that button.

One of the biggest inhibitors to driving conversion is leaving customers with doubts or questions. Any chance to stop and think or creation of the need to go on the hunt for information is the opportunity for a change of mind or a quick duck out of the process.

As a result, you can go about cutting down friction in a consumer’s decision-making process by giving them all the information they need, at a glance, easing them towards conversion.

When you fail to explain things like delivery times, cost of shipping, how to track orders and what to do if you need to return something, you are putting blockers in the way of conversion.

 

The Lessons Learnt

So, to summarise the key learnings from those giant brands:

  • Create something that people can believe in and want to be a part of
  • Look for friction in the ‘normal’ way of doing things and remove it
  • Open yourself up and be willing to learn and evolve
  • Adapt the way you tell your story for a new audience
  • Give consumers the information they need and want in the easiest way possible
  • Remove doubt and make the customer experience seamless

 

Putting these Lessons into Action

Now that you’ve got some inspiration, you’ve got to decide how important these things are to you and how you can work them into your strategy.

That is where we come in. At Eclipse we’ve got an incredibly talented, multi-award-winning bunch of people ready to help you and your business. Our Experience team are experts at this stuff and can guide you or offer advice and answer questions that you might have. All you need to do is reach out and talk to us.

There’s not much that can’t be solved with a few cups of tea, some bright people and a (currently virtual) whiteboard.


6 Ways to Find Out What Your Customers Think About You

We all want to know what our customers are really thinking about us but sometimes it can feel like an impossible task. To help with this we’ve got a few ways that you can put into action that’ll get you the information you need to make sure they’re having a great time and that you’re delivering on your brand promise to them.

You can absolutely use these one at a time or pick and choose the one that appeals to you most, but the real power comes when you combine them. The real power and insights exist in data and the more of it you have, the better equipped you’ll be.

 

Wait, What Do You Mean by Brand Promise?

Good question. Before we move into the ways you collect the insights let’s talk about why they’re important. Customer Experience!

Ultimately everything we’re doing is to ensure that we offer the best possible customer experience to our customers. In a previous blog, we talked about the difference between customer experience and customer service but here we’re going to touch on the difference between brand and customer experience and how they feed each other.

The first thing to note is that you own the management of the brand and the customer experience, but every customer owns the perception of those things. One of the reasons you want the customer insight is to understand if what you think the brand and customer experience should be, is.

The way to look at these two things are:

Brand – This is the promise you’re making to the world. It is the pillars by which your business operates. It is the things you stand for, the values you bring to the market, the way you talk about and visualise yourself. It is how you’re known.

Customer Experience – This is the delivery of the brand. When you’re putting the brand out into the world, you’re making several promises that people are buying into. Customer Experience is where the rubber hits the road, and the promise is delivered.

As Simon Sinek puts it, ‘People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe.’

Your task is to make sure that customer experience is supporting what the brand is saying and the way to do it is by asking the people who own the perception.

 

Getting the Insights, You Need to Make a Change

There are a bunch of ways of doing this and the key is that not all research is equal. You must decide what it is you need to know and pick the best medium to achieve that.

Some of this should be what we call ‘always on’ and others can be more ad-hoc and used when you’re looking for specific information.

Here’s the list, in no real order, for you to consider.

Surveys

If done right, these just work. The real trick to getting them right is to keep them short and make them easy to complete.

Nobody wants to be spending an hour filling in a survey, but they might give you 5 or 10 minutes, 3 or 4 times over an extended period.

NPS or Net Promoter Score is a great survey that can go out every 6 months or so and asks essentially two questions. The first is what is the likelihood that someone is happy to recommend your business or product (on a scale of 1-10) and the second question is why is that your answer.

When done over time, it works as a temperature check to prove that what you’re doing is being well received and is driving sentiment up. We’ll come back to sentiment but just know that the higher it is, the more people care about your brand or products.

Another survey that works well is a post-project / post-purchase / post-delivery survey. It is a way to check that what was promised at the beginning became a reality for the customer. Again, keep them short and easy to complete. Tools like Typeform are easy to use and create great-looking surveys that can be completed on multiple device formats. Getting the results out the other side is easy too.

For the most part, surveys can be used for gathering just about any kind of information you want but keep them specific to an outcome you’re looking for. If they’re too vague you’ll not get the kinds of information out of them, you need.

 

Pro Tip:

Look closer at the text entry fields in the survey. The language people use and the way they write has a lot to say. Are they using CAPITALS in certain places or are they throwing around exclamation marks! These things in some cases are just as important as what it is they’re saying.

 

 

Customer Interviews / Market Research Panels

For all intents and purposes, this is a much more detailed in person or via webcam survey.

People are far more likely to give more detailed answers and it gives you the ability to apply clarification to answers, in the moment. They require more effort on your part and should ideally not be done regularly with the same people. But if you’re really needing to get to the bottom of something, this is a great way to do it.

Where the research panels help too is that generally once someone opens up about something, others will feel more open to sharing. People by their very nature will keep some things to themselves but when in the company of others that are happy to tell it like it is, they’re more likely to come to the party.

 

Pro Tip:

Some companies specialise in this type of research and if it is the first time, you’re doing it or you don’t have the time to dedicate to getting it done well, source it out. Just like any other customer experience, you want these to feel seamless and well done and asking for help is not a bad thing to do. If you need help with this, come talk to us and we can point you in the right direction.

 

 

Social Listening

This option, for whatever reason, still seems to be one that a lot of businesses are not using.

Essentially it is the act of keeping an ear to the ground when it comes to what people are saying about you all over the internet but more specifically on social media.

We mentioned sentiment before, and this is really where it comes into play. By measuring sentiment, you’re keeping track of how people feel about you, your brand, customer experience and products. Your customers are likely to share how they’re feeling on social platforms with their friends and family – be that good or bad - and social listening allows you to keep up to date with what they’re saying and act accordingly.

It is near on impossible to do this well without the use of a tool but if you get a good one it takes the hard work out of it for you and drops the insights into your lap.

The team at Social Baker have a great social listening tool that will listen to your audience across the entire customer journey and allow you to use the data instantly from every touchpoint. And when you link it up with the rest of the platform, you’re empowered to make truly insight-driven decisions that will shift sentiment towards being positive.

 

Pro Tip:

Even if you’re not using social listening but you’re active on social media, you need to respond to people that are talking about you or are asking for help. Don’t just use it as a channel to blast people with your message. The clue is in the name. Be social and interact with your audience. Be it good, bad or indifferent, you need to thank them or solve their problems. It’s an unwritten agreement between brands and customers who use social media, and you want to hold up your end of the deal.

 

 

User Testing

We’ve written an entire blog on this subject but wanted to bring it up again here.

What we’re talking about for the most part is digital user testing. Be that a website or a sass platform, you’re gathering insight from the users and the way they interact with your site or product.

This is incredibly useful as you’re getting feedback that relates directly to an interaction that is taking place.

You can do it with physical products too but for it to really work well, it needs to be done in person.

The data that you can gather from doing this is highly valuable and can really drive the changes around design, form, function and in some cases the entire way that you’re presenting yourself to the world.

Head over and read the complete blog to find out a little more but just know it is a great way to gather real insights from real users in real-time.

 

Pro Tip:

Much like with market research, you want to do this right the first time and getting the professionals in to take care of it for you is where the smart return on the investment is. At Eclipse we’ve got years of experience doing this with some of the biggest brands in the UK. Come talk to us and we can get you set up with user testing sessions in no time.

 

 

Analytics

You should already have these running in the background across your website and any other tools that you’ve got running that your customers are interacting with.

They are packed with incredibly valuable information. They are telling you what people are interacting with most, how they got there and on the other side of the spectrum, what is sending them running away from you.

Use this information to realign the customer journey, create more of the content people want to see and take the highest performing content and promote it to the world.

It seems like an obvious thing to do but you’ll be surprised how many people forget to consider it when they’re trying to figure out what their customers really think. Don’t let it be one of those things that sit collecting data, for it never to see the light of day.

 

Pro Tip:

If you’re using google analytics but have no idea where to start, go and look at Google Academy. They have helpful information on all aspects of analytics, and it’ll point you in the right direction, answer some of your questions and get you gathering awesome insights in virtually no time at all.

 

 

Front Line Staff

This again seems like an obvious thing to do but it is almost always the most obvious that gets forgotten about.

By talking to the people that talk to your customers the most, you’ll be getting information that you can link back to purchase or interaction and use it to understand how it went.

The people at the coal face will be able to tell you about trends they’re seeing and highlight things that people are asking for without having to trawl through hundreds of surveys or data files.

 

Pro Tip:

If you’ve got a CRM that links customer purchases both in-store and online and through customer service support, you able to make this process even slicker. The more you can keep together the more insight you’ll have but it’ll also turbocharge your ability to offer personalisation to your customers.

 

The ultimate takeaway here is that gathering this information is super important not only for your business but your customers too. It gives you what you need to ensure that the customer experience is always delivering on your brand promise. And remember, if you don’t ask, you don’t get.