Channel Shift Strategy: Are you trying to sell Pepsi to Coke lovers?

Trying to sell coke to Pepsi lovers?

A LinkedIn discussion highlighted by the “Public Sector Customer Services Forum” in their blog post “Why would we want to incentivise channel shift?” has really struck a chord with us. The picture above sums up the blog post quite nicely.

The author, John Hacket (ex Local Authority Customer Services & Business Improvement Management) questions why local authorities are pushing customers to adopt new digital channels and incentivising people to use them. He argues that local authorities should be ‘pushing’ towards a specific channel if that is not where they want to be. And we do agree with John on this. It’s like asking a life long Coke drinker to switch to Pepsi!

So how do you design a channel shift that doesn’t ‘push’ customers to use a certain channel but instead ‘pull’ them through the channels they want to use?

We recommend local authorities to take these 5 steps to ensure they are not ‘pushing’ customers to the wrong channel

1. Discover and prioritise – First and foremost, it’s vital to focus on determining how best to engage with customers at an affordable level and build the data and competencies needed for it to work for your organisation. Putting both internal engagement and customer insight in place will help your organisation to scale up more effectively and efficiently.

2. Define a digital strategy – It’s also important to acknowledge and understand that channel shift will cause changes to the business model and organisation as a whole. There will also be shifts in the culture of the business and the need to being in new capabilities. Getting it right within your organisation is vital because as Stan Slap (President of Slap Company) would say, "You can't sell it outside if you can't sell it inside."

3. Develop a user experience – This is where you will personalise your customer’s experience and really understand what devices they use, what payment services do they prefer, how to manage the data captured from the customers front end interaction with your website, design the user journey and consider how social media will fit within the whole strategy.

4. Review, Research and re-design processes - This step, coupled with step 3 can really help bring the channel shift's end-to-end journey to a more robust, reliable and satisfying the customers journey by actually addressing those existing poor customer experiences. Some examples include the planning systems and payments of a local authority. See more examples here. The process of re-designing and reviewing can be managed through a series of workshops, using card-sorting, brainstorming, Kaizen and other interactive workshop techniques. The outcome is a series of high-level user stories that can be used to developer features, project sprints and development plans for transforming individual services.

5. Measure and iterate - In this final step, the data set for measurement will be put in place to calculate overall return on investment (ROI), year on year for Channel Shift activity. As Peter Drucker would say, "What gets measured, gets managed." Going through a methodical process of measuring and iteration will feedback into the decision making process in the previous four steps towards shifting all transaction and services online. Whilst continuously learning and establishing leaner and more agile ways to deliver at much lower costs. Learn how to apply to agile, iterative approach by example.

Delivering inclusive services in the UK Public Sector

An iGov survey of over 400 public sector decision makers across 328 organisations uncovered that failure to fill in these gaps can impede the ability to deliver responsive and inclusive citizen services for the long term.

Other findings are quite telling of the state of channel shift in local government, for example: -

  • While cost-reduction and efficiencies are the most significant drivers for digital transformation amongst survey respondents, public sector entities don’t currently have a complete and accurate view of citizen interactions or experiences across touchpoints. For instance, 82% are unable to track citizen journeys from start to finish, making it difficult to recognise discontinuities across touchpoints and reduce abandonment.
  • The findings also highlight a need for long-term planning for digital transformation: 64% of organisations surveyed do not have a channel shift strategy in place today and only 16% have assessed potential take-up of new service delivery methods through digital touchpoints.
  • The complete range of citizen needs such as inclusive services as well as the responsiveness of service has not yet been fully considered.
These findings highlight a very important need to put your customers first.

Put your customers first!

Local government need to stop trying to manage customers. They can manage themselves! If we manipulate customers, they will behave the way you want to behave and not how they would naturally behave. By doing this, you might lose some customers along the way because they refuse to change their ways.

Don’t start with the big bang approach. Start smaller and from the bottom up. You will learn and do over and over again. Through the learning and iterations, you will fill in those gaps and bridge the distance between you and your customer.

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There is one response to “Channel Shift Strategy: Are you trying to sell Pepsi to Coke lovers?”

  1. Stephen Fraser Says:

    People have got hung up on channel shift being only providing one way for people to get help.
    Given the nature of local authorities, that's not right for us. Channel shift should be about providing options that are right for the customer and for the organisation. How do you find out what's right for the customer? Ask them, maybe? We're putting in a face to face mini-hub in one area where we get lots of calls in the hope that we achieve channel shift towards face to face - not towards digital. How do we know that's the right thing (more expensive) to do? I wrote our customer profile, extracted data from our CRM and website analytics, and checked free data on social geodemographics to understand people in that area further. This helps us weight the dice in our favour when it comes to achieving a better service for those people and cutting down calls from that area. We've got a group of around 15% of our population who need our help in lots of ways and that's fine, that's our social mission. Think of us as the equalisers, if you will. To fund this focussed support, we need to take savings by improving processes for the 85% of our residents who would rather use the web to access our services anyway. Hopefully in most cases we're pushing at open doors if we make it much easier for customers to contact us in ways and routes than suit them, not us. If we get that right, and support the 15%, then we will be able to effectively withdraw choice in future and people will be OK with that.
    Thinking about the analogy kicking off this post (Pepsi vs Coke), this might mean if we do things right both could be withdrawn from the market because there's no demand for them as folk are so happy with the alternative which meets their specific need!

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