How digital channels really add value to the customer experience

By News, Technology

An exceptionally good customer experience leads to demonstrably better business results. Research shows that customer satisfaction increases, brand reputation optimizes and turnover increases as well. How do you improve the customer experience by using digital developments such as personalized websites, IoT devices and voice assistants? Jules Hoppenbrouwers, Manager Digital Customer Experience, explains.

If you want to increase the customer satisfaction of your company, you have to meet the expectations of the consumer and take an extra step at key moments in the customer journey. Companies are therefore expected to create a strong and consistent customer experience during all touchpoints in this process. The customer experience is as good as the weakest link in the entire customer journey.

The difference between an online and offline consumer is fading. Customers are constantly changing from one channel to another. For example, after someone doesn’t feel like they are assisted online, they can decide to call customer service. Unfortunately, there is a possibility that a consumer will have to tell his entire story again.

Many companies are not yet responding to the numerous channels on which a consumer is active. For example, the call center employee does not know about the previous online journey of a consumer. This can give them the feeling of being given the runaround. If a few days later, the customer subsequently receives a general newsletter that does not meet his needs, he will most likely unsubscribe.

One customer view 

To prevent this problem, companies need to work from a single customer view, available for all different channels. A customer profile includes information about the (online) behaviour of the consumer, which can be enriched with data from other systems, such as demographic data and purchase history.

First map out which systems contain information about your customer. If you, as a company, carefully bring this data together, one relevant customer view emerges. If all goes well, it is already known where this information is due to the General Data Protection Regulation (AVG) (or GDPR) regulations.

Visualize the customer journey

We live in a time where the customer communicates with the brand of your organisation via personalized websites, mobile apps, or smart thermostats. If the customer journey is carefully mapped out, you can easily respond to these new developments. Figure out where you can renew and optimize your customer journey by using new technologies.

The extra data insights that arise from the use of these digital innovations can help you to discover patterns in the behaviour of your customers through Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML). You can act on this by, for example, responding to possible new purchases; the ‘next best action’.

It is also possible to optimize online sales funnels and service channels through online platforms. This gives employees real-time access to relevant information about their customers. By means of A/B-testing it is possible to observe which statements convert best.

Digital Experience platform

A Digital Experience Platform (DXP) plays a key role in operating all these digital touch points. It brings an omni-channel customer view together with a content management system, allowing you to automatically send relevant information to the right customer over the right channel in real-time. This allows a customer to continue his journey seamlessly from, for example, a physical contact moment to a digital interaction via the ‘my-environment’.

Each channel specific type of service

Incidentally, this does not mean that the customer receives the same service on every channel. When visiting a ‘Brick and mortar’ store, the consumer may want personal advice, while the digital channel is more suitable for offering services efficiently and effortlessly. Give the customer the experience that suits the channel and connects to the integrated customer service.

IG&H has a unique combination of sector expertise and the different competence teams of Technology, Analytics and Organization Transformation. This is why we are positioned to connect the many individual initiatives from an integrated customer view and to turn them into a valuable and memorable customer experience. Want to know more? Contact us.

Are we in the Dutch healthcare market looking forward to Amazon?

By Health, Healthcare, News

Last year, Amazon entered into a partnership with Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase & Co. The company also bought Pillpack, an online pharmacy. Both initiatives aim to offer good care at a low price. This step arouses unrest: the share prices of several companies in the med tech and pharmaceutical industries fell. Has a new disruptive healthcare player emerged? And what will the effect be on the Netherlands?

By entering into a partnership with Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase, Amazon is circumventing the health insurer. The purchase of Pillpack and the plans to open clinics indicate that the ambitions of the web giant go beyond just financing care. If Amazon interferes with technological developments in the healthcare market, the impact will be vast. It fits in with the strength and motivation with which the company has also entered the supermarket sector, for example.

Opportunities for digital platforms in the Netherlands

In other markets, we see tech parties that bring supply and demand together on a single digital platform emerge. This excludes intermediaries, as Airbnb and Netflix are already doing.

Does Amazon have this healthcare role in mind and is their plan to take it outside the US? There are many intermediaries active in the Dutch healthcare sector, for example in health insurance, pharmacy or medical devices. For Amazon and other online disruptive players, there are plenty of opportunities to integrate and digitise the role of these intermediaries.

Exciting, because they will significantly increase the competitive pressure in the healthcare market. A platform offers many advantages in terms of ease of use and experience. It also makes the offer transparent, which lowers prices. And that is the – so far only – goal communicated by Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase.

Getting a foothold is difficult

Before a digital player like Amazon gets a foothold in the Netherlands, it will have to overcome many hurdles. Our complex financing structure leaves little space for new business models. The patient is not or hardly willing to pay extra for new services, on top of the premium. This is a major entry barrier for new initiatives.

Health care systems across the globe vary considerably, making it more difficult for platforms to scale up across borders. Crucial to the success of digital platforms is the low cost of an additional user. With different systems, this success factor does not seem to work. Truly successful digital players need a minimum scale that is larger than the Dutch market alone.

To be successful, digital disruptive parties use data and algorithms. In Dutch healthcare, mass data and especially medical data are well protected by laws and regulations. Previously, the national EPD had already failed in the Senate for privacy reasons. Technological innovations in data exchange offer a solution, but are still in pilot phase and not widely implemented.

Finally, healthcare is a service par excellence for which human contact is essential. There is a relationship of trust between doctors, pharmacists and their patients. This can be supported, but it is difficult to replace it entirely by a digital platform of an American tech giant.

Pressure on these barriers is increasing: breakthroughs are imminent

However, we cannot assume that a party like Amazon will be held back by this. Health insurers are increasingly looking for innovative ways to reduce healthcare costs. This may change the payment culture among patients, making them more sensitive to the supply of new parties. Progress is also being made on digital data exchange. This will hopefully be further accelerated by the obligation to share patient data digitally, recently announced by Minister Bruins.

As a result of these developments, the aforementioned stumbling blocks for tech players are becoming less threatening. The current healthcare market can see this as an opportunity for further development. Tech players are successful because in their business operations, they put their customers first. They offer more convenience and excellent service. Ask yourself whether your organisation still meets the needs of the patient or customer to the maximum. Identify the steps you can take to match this level, perhaps in collaboration with successful tech players.

Wondering how (digital) disruptions can take your organization to the next level? At IG&H we are happy to think along with you.

By: Roos Blankena (r.blankena@igh.nl) and Linda de Jong (l.dejong@igh.nl).

How platforms can accelerate the Digital Transformation

By News, Technology

Digitalisation is taking off unprecedentedly, but by no means every organisation is equipped to respond to it. Because companies spend a lot of money on maintaining expensive and inflexible systems, this is ultimately at the expense of customer satisfaction and competitiveness. How can your organisation become effective again?

Digitising is no longer a choice for companies, but a necessity. Consumers want to be helped faster than before. Companies that make effective moves within the market increase their competitive position.The problem is that many companies have little insight into the number of applications. In addition, it is often not known how high the current and future costs are for maintaining all this software. The vast majority of the budget is therefore not spent on innovation, but on maintaining (outdated) IT systems.

As strong as the weakest link

The speed of an organisation is ultimately determined by the weakest link in the chain. This is the (standard) package to which only complexity and therefore time and money is added. Everyone knows that if you add complexity to complexity, problems just get bigger.

In order to maintain a good market position in the future, each organisation will therefore have to spend its IT budget and resources significantly differently. A well-designed IT platform offers a solution and creates more overview, quality, development speed and opportunities for exponential growth. This is how technology helps to control costs and to transform the organisation into a digital organisation.

Unlike monolithic software, which does not facilitate “continuous delivery”, orchestrated software does. Platforms facilitate reuse and compliance so that simple components can be converted into new products. Maintenance is also relatively easy because individual components can be replaced.

Slimming and strengthening

In order to make the IT in an organisation agile and to keep it that way, it is important that the complexity is drastically reduced. The number of applications must be reduced as well. At the same time, knowledge and skills must be gained to build and integrate platforms into the existing infrastructure. The big challenge for IT departments is to carry out this transition while the regular operation continues.

Building a necessary lean and agile organisation does not only require good IT platforms. It is equally important that the management takes real ownership and shows leadership to reduce the existing complexity. A digital business requires a strategic focus on quality, cost control, speed and exponential growth in demand.

Companies wanting to maintain their competitive position will have to develop a culture that can cope with a constantly changing world.

Organisational form under the microscope

Therefore, building up the necessary cultural competences and integrating the software go hand in hand. The organisational form, leadership, mindset and skillset of the employees should be placed under the microscope. This means an existential transformation in which the focus is on subscribing, buying, building and integrating software.

This completely changes the speed and way of working, speaking in terms of weeks instead of years and days instead of weeks, no hierarchy involved. Continuous customer value is created and products are created and only driven by “outcome”. In short, a real agile organisation.

This article is based on the story Andy Kyte told Gartner during the OutSystems Nextstep of October 8, 2018 in Amsterdam.

Improve inventory management Wehkamp

By Casestudys, Retail

What did the customer want:

wehkamp.nl encountered challenges in reducing working capital and stock levels while the availability of products remained unchanged. The aim was to improve internal processes and prevent unnecessary investments in distribution networks.

We took into account the following context:

  • Availability on the following day is extremely important for the business model.
  • Mixed procurement NW Europe versus Eurasia.
  • Physical limitations in the network, demanding non-profitable investments if they were not averted.

What was our approach?

  • Short quick scan and design phase to determine approach and improvement potential.
  • Agile, hands-on approach that is result oriented, and in collaboration with management and employees.
  • Weekly stand-ups with direct feedback on improving the results.
  • Focus on the largest suppliers to provide (short-term) evidence for this way of working.
  • We supported teams with data analysis to improve decision making.
  • Multiple preconditions for improving the sustainability of the solution (KPIs and incentives, organisation design, management style, supplier management, etc.)

What have we achieved?

  • In just 3 months, time stocks and working capital were reduced to 25%, the stock turns improved to 60%. The lost sales and operating costs remained unchanged.
  • The incoming receiving capacity in the distribution center improved by 35%.
  • Development of supplier performance monitor.
  • Improved collaboration between sales and operations.

What did the customer think:

“Refreshing, practical approach, with clear results. An advisor who does not only do what the client organisation wants to achieve, and thereby finds a whole new angle of approach.”

Step change in product availability Intertoys

By Casestudys, Retail

What did the customer want:

Intertoys had to contend with poor product availability, which led to a significant loss of sales. The aim was to increase the availability of DC stock from around 50% to over 80%. The company wanted to achieve this before the start of the high season in the autumn, without increasing the total inventory levels.

What was our approach?

  • Intertoys’ assortment, together with the category management team, validated and sorted in order to identify a regularly refillable assortment.
  • Along two tracks – data quality and merchandise planning – we developed quick wins and a sustainable improvement of tools and processes to complement the right assortment with the right stock levels.
  • Development of a commercial approach to sell surplus stocks at minimum price discounts.
  • Merchandising planners trained in their new roles.

What have we achieved?

  • Availability of the DC stock rose from around 50% to over 80% over a period of about three months.
  • Increased data quality to enable a more streamlined operation.

What did the customer think:

“In a dynamic retail context, we wanted to improve the availability of the DC stock and to develop a reliable replenishment process. The IG&H approach helped us to combine quick wins with sustainable improvements in product availability and stock levels. IG&H provided the right structure and transparency for our activities through the implementation of every step of the project “

Optimalisation of a distribution centre for a large Dutch retailer

By Casestudys, Retail

What did the customer want?

For a large Dutch retailer, the DC (distribution center) is essential. Keeping logistics costs manageable guarantees competitive prices, happy customers, and a competitive position. Our customer’s current DC is no longer sufficient, but which products will we put in the new DC, and how, and why? For the best results, we will make these decisions based on hard facts and data so that we can optimally focus on the DC.

What was our approach?

A dynamic model that determines the optimal allocation in real time, for every situation. We have built an advanced Linear Program that optimally allocates all SKUs within the DC. This optimum is determined on the basis of costs (hourly wages & productivity, return percentages, turnover rate, etc.) but also, for example, capacity and the characteristics of the SKUs. All input is fully customisable so that infinite scenarios can be compared.

What have we achieved?

On the basis of the most recent data and desired adjustments, S & OP can optimally set up the DC. S & OP not only has the tools to optimise the current situation, but can also use it for future changes. Capacity problems are already clear in advance because predictions, in combination with the tool, can determine the ideal DC of the future.

What did the customer think?

Practical logistics experts. Good balance between concepts and practical applications.

Strategic frameworks for structural renewal of the product range for non-food retailer Blokker

By Casestudys, Retail

What were the client’s needs:

Clear strategic framework for a structural implementation of a new product range:

  • Addressing the customers’ needs by a structural review of the current product ranges and by adding products that are lacking.
  • Improving the price perception of the customers by rolling out a clear price strategy based on dynamic prices.
  • Expansion of the own brand product range for an attractive margin, realising the quality promise, and giving a price signal to the market.

What was our approach?

  • Design and execution of a category briefing process for a structural review of product ranges based on reviewed category roles and a uniform structure of the customer decision tree.
  • Setting up a process for the identification, assessment, and execution of product ranges that are lacking.
  • Creating a clear and dynamic price strategy which has been further developed into price guidelines that can be implemented for every established price category.
  • Optimising the own brand policy, established at product group level with clear guidelines for the implementation of the private label product range.

What did we achieve?

  • Demonstrated and structural category briefing process in which strategy, format, category, management, and shop experience are all combined to develop a clear renewal of the product range.
  • Clear price strategy that can be implemented, structured up to SKU level
    Optimised private label policy which gives direction for the implementation of the own brand product range.

Omnichannel distribution network design Blokker

By Casestudys, Retail

What were the client’s needs:

Due to crucial organisational changes, increasing online sales volumes, and continuous developments in the commercial propositions and product range, there was an apparent need to restructure the distribution network in order to:

  • Accelerate the desired commercial proposition.
  • Support the omnichannel fulfilment ambition (for example with entirely interchangeable online/offline distribution channels, shop pick-up, shops storage).
  • Improve the efficiency, costs, and capacity of the distribution centre.

What was our approach?

  • In collaboration with the management, we established the scale of the commercial proposition in order to facilitate it by deploying the new distribution network (e.g. the number of SKUs, channel mix, product features).
  • Development of a growth model for logistic volumes
    Assessment of the current distribution structure, identification of problems/bottlenecks, and the execution of a fit-gap analysis with the growth model.
  • Development of future warehouse layout, automation options, detailed processes, and IT/WMS requirements.
  • Development of the business cases for every scenario, including the required investments and reduction of costs.
  • Facilitating boardroom decisions.

What did we achieve?

  • We developed a solid omnichannel concept for the distribution centre where inbound, storage, and picking activities for online and offline flows are integrated and supported by automated processes.
  • Substantial cost reduction of 18-20% on the total distribution costs.
  • The distribution centre has been structured in such a way that it will not just facilitate the current commercial ambitions but also those in the future.

What was the client’s experience:

“IG&H pools thorough logistic expertise and combines this with a pragmatic approach for an effective decision forming process based on facts.”

Acquiring own Data Science competencies

By Analytics, Casestudys

What were the client’s needs?​

Over the past few years, our client, a leading logistic service provider with 30,000 customers, has centralised its BI function and taken major steps in Data Management. With a view on the increasing speed of technological developments, the need to innovate, and the utilisation of its data assets, we received the request to assist the client with the structure of a Data Science Team. IG&H already demonstrated the added value and potential of Data Science in previous projects.​

What was our approach?​

Data Science is a team effort. A Data Science team includes a range of competencies and areas of expertise and thus various functions such as a Data Scientist or Data Engineer. The team interacts with other teams within a company, such as BI, IT, Marketing, or Sales. Building up and integrating a new team within an existing organisation has a significant impact and faces many challenges. ​

IG&H has its own experience in this regard during the implementation of our Analytics practice. Supported by the best practices that we developed during this process, we were able to assist the client in compiling their own Data Science team.​ In addition to structuring the team, we also focused heavily on the collaboration with other teams and on the management of the new team.

What did we achieve? ​

In a period of 3 months, we have laid the foundation for a new competency that adds value to the organisation right from the word go. This enables the client to lift its provision of services to a higher level and, even more importantly, to remain competitive and relevant in a rapidly changing market.​

Mismatch leads to visible decline in the business claims market

By Insurance, News

More and more occupational groups are (temporarily) uninsurable. The business claims market is going through major developments and is looking for a new balance. Due to a sharply reduced supply and increasingly complex needs, a mismatch is increasingly arising. One that will not be solved for the time being. This is shown by the IG&H Performance and Distribution Monitor.

Since the big blow in the sector ten years ago, insurers in the business claims market have been struggling with their positioning. Which target group do they want to serve and, for example, do they work with authorised agents or not? Until there is clarity about the price, the supply side is strongly standardized to limit risks. As a result, our monitor shows, the sector is effectively standing still in its development.

Conflicting developments

The sector is faced with a mismatch between supply and demand. On the one hand, the complexity of customer demands increases. What used to be a simple risk is changing into a complex risk due to demographic, ecological and technological developments.

At the same time, the range of products offered by insurers is shrinking and even more standardized, among other things through new data solutions which should exclude risks. Although these can have a positive impact on financial performance, they also increase the number of uninsurable groups. This resulted, among other things, in reports in the news about taxi drivers and waste processors. The monitor also shows that, for the first time in a long period of time, independent advisers are not as good at assessing the services provided by insurers in the commercial property-casualty market.

Finding balance is not possible without a fight

Insurers will have to break this trend. In the future, the market will have to move back to a new balance in which customer and insurers share the risks. IG&H sees three different options; hyper focus on niche specialisation, an increase in scale or expansion of the service. Finding a new balance will be gradual, but it will be tricky, since certain professional groups are (temporarily) difficult to insure.