Digital Customer Experience: From the Funnel to the Flywheel

Posted 12/16/2019 by Sana Kamalmaz

If you’re a marketer, chances are there’s not a day that goes by without a mention of the funnel. We love the funnel. It’s like that one friend who won’t lie to you just to make you feel better, but will tell you the truth (even when it hurts) so you can do better. Do we love that one friend? Yes. Are they always right? No. The same goes for the funnel.

The reason why the funnel model works so well is its simplicity that has enabled it to shape the views on marketing and sales strategies for over 100 years and remain relevant. But that’s also the very source of its flaws. The way people shop and buy has changed. Customers are always connected. They start and stop their buying journey in different channels and stages. And they reserve the biggest portion of their trust to word-of-mouth from their peers. So, if you’re relying solely on the funnel as a model to grow your business, you’re missing a couple of facts:

  • The model views customers as an output and ignores their role as an accelerant/deterrent to your growth
  • It leaves out of the equation the momentum you’ve built acquiring customers

What’s a marketer to do then? Embrace the flywheel.

Funnel vs Flywheel

The flywheel, which is a heavy disk that rotates around an axis and is highly efficient at storing energy, was introduced into the business context by Jim Collins in his book, Good to Great; and has since been a topic of interest to many marketing and business leaders.

The flywheel is a great metaphor because it helps marketers focus on the areas that have the highest leverage in growth: outstanding customer experiences that attract, engage and delight customers so they become a driving force of growth. To apply that on the digital experience, we have some great tips.

For an actual flywheel to spin at a high energy level, three things are required: it has to be balanced on its symmetry axis, force must be applied where it has the highest leverage, and friction must be reduced, or better, eliminated. So, if you’re looking to grow your business at a high energy level using your digital customer experience, make sure you do the following:

Put the customer at the heart of the experience

  • Make it your goal to understand your customers. Do it religiously, and then use this understanding to serve up delightful, differentiated experiences that they love. Everything you do should revolve around them.
  • Always offer them something they value before taking something you value (their time), so they know that you’ve earned their attention and did not steal it.
  • Make their success your goal. They’ve come to you looking for a solution, don’t pass any of your problems to them.
  • Whenever applicable, make your pricing open, clear and fair. Oftentimes, customers don’t mind paying, but they do mind getting played.
  • Don’t block the exit. If it comes to it, and a customer wants to leave you, make the experience positive. After all, you’ve made it super easy to get in. It’s only fair to make it so to leave. Some of these customers might recommend your product and service to others. Give them one more good reason to.

Apply force in areas where it has the biggest impact

  • Be diligent at mapping the customer journey, identify the areas that have the biggest impact on growth, and optimize.
  • Personalize, personalize, personalize. Identify customer intent, tailor and serve up relevant recommendations, and personalised offers.
  • Make the technology work for you (more on this later)

Eliminate friction

We live in a time where a few taps on your phone are all you need to do to have a person you’ve never met before show up at your door, welcome you into their car, take you to your favourite coffeeshop drive-through to pick up a cup of coffee with your name on it, and then drop you off at work. If this doesn’t shout “frictionless”, I don’t know what does. And we’ve gotten used to it. So much actually, we’re almost allergic to friction. 

The good news is, friction is easy to spot. It is anything that slows the customer down, causes them to hesitate, or makes them wait while they are interacting with your brand. It comes in different shapes and sizes, but it does one thing: kill the customer experience. Here’s how to prevent that:

  • Review the design of your digital touchpoints. Is the layout simple and clean? Does it make it easy to move around? Do critical elements stand out? Make sure pre-established UX and UI standards are followed. The less learning your customers have to go through during their digital interactions with your brand, the better. Simple is the new smart.
  • Use navigation best practices. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to navigation, but there’s a sure-fire way to find out what works for your customers: your customers. User testing is the gold standard.
  • Monitor load speed constantly. Customers expect pages to load in two seconds or less. Make sure you don’t disappoint them.
  • Reduce the steps needed to take action to the absolute minimum. Ensure each step is as effortless as possible. Consolidate steps if needed. Test to see what works.
  • Serve up seamless experiences and consistent messaging across channels. Remember that customers don't see channels; they simply interact with your brand. It’s up to you to make that interaction seamless no matter how and where the customer reaches out. Otherwise, you’re losing momentum.

Make the technology work for you

Embrace intelligent technologies that make offering digital experiences that attract, engage and delight customers possible. A digital experience platform (DXP) is an investment that pays off. DXPs sit at the center of digital ecosystems and orchestrate data to show customers the right experience every time they interact with your brand. They track customer behavior across all touchpoints to create a 360-degree view of your customers. The best of breed, like Sitecore, spare you the grunt work and use artificial intelligence (AI) to discover the hidden insights within your data and deliver seamless, personalized experiences as well as optimize the entire interaction to engage and delight.

The takeaways:

Is it about time we throw the funnel a nice retirement party? Not really. But we should definitely give it a sidekick, the flywheel, to help us focus on what matters most: attractive, engaging and delightful customer experiences.

 

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