Traditional customer journey has been 'blown up', says Philips global marketing chief

Philips is adjusting to a world where it needs to be "everywhere and anywhere the customer is" rather than trying to encourage them through a linear journey, according to the electronics brand's global head of digital and social marketing Blake Cahill.

Blake Cahill: global head of digital and social marketing at Philips
Blake Cahill: global head of digital and social marketing at Philips
You need to be in all these places and that’s not the way most of our marketing is designed today

"We used to think the customer decision journey was very linear, like a funnel," Cahill told the audience at the Guardian Changing Media Summit yesterday (23 March).

"I think what’s happened because of connectivity and the digital media ecosystem, we say it’s been blown up and the way to think about the customer experience is we need to be everywhere and anywhere a customer could potentially be.

"That’s a really big shift for everybody who used to, at least at our company, think of the development from the top of the funnel and you convert ‘here’. What we’re saying is the customer can start at Amazon and then go to a user review and then go to search and then go back to the shopping cart and then check something on their phone.

"You need to be in all these places and that’s not the way most of our marketing is designed today and that’s the challenge that we’re facing, we’re trying to transform."

Cahill was speaking as part of a panel titled ‘How to put the customer at the heart of your business’, alongside Daniel Murray, chief marketing officer of fashion trends business Grabble, Jen Heazlewood, associate creative director at creative agency R/GA, and Dave Hendricks, president of email advertising business LiveIntent UK.

Platforms and profit
A member of the audience asked Cahill whether a company had to be on lots of platforms and how that could be balanced with making a profit.

He responded: "You have to be where the majority of your customers are but also create a culture where you’re constantly experimenting with new platforms and you need to be able to quickly pivot if everybody decides to leave Facebook tomorrow and go to another platform."

The question also drew an answer from Grabble’s Murray, who said: "Over the last five years one of the hardest things to do as a retailer is to keep up with the technological change. The problem is that consumers today take the quality of your experience on mobile as a sign of your quality as a brand.

"The way we see the future on mobile is there’s a lot of people that interact with Grabble on Facebook, on Instagram and that’s where the commerce will probably happen. So it’s about opening up that influence around where the user is going to be."

We tested and if we send a notification that an item is on its way and we use a truck emoji it means the customer is a lot more happy

Murray earlier touched on some of the customer service developments at Grabble, including the appeal of a chat function within its app and its use of emoji to lighten tone.

"We decided to throw chat into the app, and our team receive messages [from customers] in the way they receive Whatsapp. Email feels very formal, normally you’re angry when you write an email to a company. We measured the tone of the emails against the tone of the chats and the tone of the chat is always more uplifting.

"We tested and if we send a notification that an item is on its way and we use a truck emoji it means the customer is a lot more happy. If you feel like you’re dealing with another human you’re always a little bit more forgiving."

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