Ambient communication

Ambient communication is of special interest to marketers who need to make decisions about the most effective communication mix. It derives conceptually from outdoor advertising, the oldest form of advertising, but it is still under-researched by academics (except for billboards and some non-traditional out-of-home media). Moreover, outdoor advertising, along with Internet advertising, is the medium that has undergone the most significant changes in recent years. These changes have enhanced ambient communication’s ability to elicit consumer brand engagement, 7 focusing the attention on “engagement” as the new effectiveness parameter for innovative brand communication.

8. It is necessary to approach ambient communication with a holistic perspective in order to recognize and emphasize common elements (e.g., experiential nature, engagement capacity, and emotional appeal).

Application Area ROI-oriented management aims to augment and optimize the impact and cost-benefit ratio of internal and external processes. As of 2011 a single communication channel seldom provides high-impact reach to all

target-persons. This includes customer relationship management, buying and selling channels, distribution, service, internal and external communication, human resource management, and process-optimisation programmes. Transactions take place across multiple divisions and touch-points that span the whole value chain of a company. For example, transactions may be made through classic advertising, intranet, or call centres, or through sales staff at the point of sale. Precise measurements taken at all touch-points, accompanied by a systematic management of them, leads to an impact-oriented performance improvement of a brand's management.

Touch-Point Analysis The benefit of touch point analysis is that, while comprehending all relevant media and departments, it filters and measures all the relevant contact points from the target customer’s view. Touch point management allows companies to optimise all the interactions with the existing and potential customers, the internal communications and process management.

Example: touch-points of a bank A customer has vast possibilities to get in contact with a bank. Touch-points in banking can include client service advisors, receipts, events, offerings, financial expert reports, website, intranet, IT-systems, research reports, sponsoring, Word of mouth, e-banking, regional office or contacts by phone with the client service advisors, etc.

Which touch-points are relevant for success? With bigger companies, during the inventory phase, often over a hundred touch-points can be identified. This circumstance brings one specific question into focus: Which of these are relevant for the company’s success? The meanings of several touch-points and the resulting consequences for the brand management must be specifically analyzed and assessed. The contact points, which are relevant for the company’s success, depend considerably on the industry, the product, the service and the target segment. From the whole interface universe, the central touch-points can be identified and assessed regarding their meaning and impact. With the help of touch point analysis companies should be able to evaluate their processes, measures and

engagements holistically. Future assets and budgets can be ideally employed and therefore should accomplish a sustainable contribution to the success of the company.

PROCESS A long-term patient goes to a doctor for an annual physical, completes the required paperwork and checks out. Months later, the patient receives a bill indicating the health insurance company denied part of the service. The doctor's office can't explain why— they use a third party billing service and don't know anything about the bill. The billing service won't help—they just do the paperwork. After numerous calls to the doctor's office and insurance company, the patient gives up and pays the bill. But, but when asked by a new neighbour for a doctor in the area, the patient recommends they look elsewhere. By measuring each touch point independently you can determine its contribution to the overall effectiveness as well as more effectively measure the total customer experience.

Customer experience and engagement have evolved from table stakes to points of differentiation, as indicated by the flurry of customer experience/relationship scores now being published. More and more evidence strongly suggests that there is a link between customer experience/engagement and the financial success of the company. So, how can your company improve customer experience and engagement? We have found that successful companies identify all the key customer touch-points, measure their effectiveness and use them to create a map of the customer experience.

Step 1: Take stock of your touch-points.

Now using a process map methodology, write all the touch-points your customer can encounter throughout their entire life cycle. Your touch-points need to include every encounter in the attraction process, such as your website, blog, email, newsletter, press coverage, articles, industry events, webinars, brochure, product literature, advertisements, etc to samples, white papers, product demos, initial calls, sales presentations and meetings, to your contract, product deployment or delivery process to your customer service, invoice, trouble ticket, to a loyalty card or referral program in your retention process. As you can see for most companies this is going to fairly long list.

Step 2: Create the chain. Organize all of these post-it notes on a wall in the order they most likely experienced grouped into the various life cycle phases. Then take each touch point and list it in its order in the first column on your table. You now have a map of your touch-points and a list. Step 3: There is a time for each pouch point.

We can think of the customer life cycle in terms of attraction/awareness; interaction/consideration; cultivation, buyer, user, repeat customer, and advocate/recommender. Complete the fourth column of the table by indicating where the touch point is typically encountered in the customer life cycle. Your map should help you identify which part of the life cycle a touch point belongs to. If something appears out of sync, revise it on your map and in the first column. Step 4: Every touch point has a purpose.

Each customer touch point serves an operational purpose. On the operational side a touch point may be designed to identify a prospect, resolve a problem, accelerate conversion or support executing a transaction. For each touch point, indicate its operational purpose in the second column. The touch point should also have a role in the customer experience such as influencing perception, building preference, or creating loyalty. For each touch point indicate its role in the customer experience in the third column. Step 5: Identify ownership.

Lastly, each touch point is primarily owned by some part of the organization. For example, appointment scheduling may be owned by pre-sales, invoicing by accounting, and the website by marketing. In the final column, indicate the primary owner for each touch point. Step 6: Rate the touch point's impact.

While all touch-points matter, they are not equal. A bad experience on one touch point may be enough to make a customer leave you but a bad experience on another while irritating and potentially damaging if fixed in time can be overlooked. On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being doesn't have high impact on the experience and 10 being has very high impact on the experience, score each touch-points impact on the experience. This step may require you to do some customer research.

Step 7: Complete the map.

Draw a line across your map. For each touch point on your map indicate it rating of 1-10 and which quadrant it is in. For those touch-points that have an importance rating of 8 or higher move them above the line (keep them in the order), just move them up. For those that are a 6-7 on importance move them onto the line. And those touch-points that are 5 or lower on importance move them below the line.

Assess Each Touch Point's Effectiveness

Now that you have a complete inventory of all of your touch-points, and you understand the impact of each touch point in the experience as well as operational purpose and customer experience role for each touch point, you can assess the effectiveness of each touch point in terms of achieving its intended purpose against both operational and customer experience objectives.

Step 8: Score your effectiveness.

Add two more columns to your table, one column labelled operational effectiveness and the other labelled customer experience effectiveness. Again, using a scale such as 1-10, with one being extremely ineffective and 10 being extremely effective score each touch point and indicate the score in the appropriate column. Assessing the effectiveness of impact on the customer experience may require soliciting customer feedback.

Step 9: Analyze what is and isn't working.

Create a 2X2 grid with one axis labelled operational effectiveness and the other labelled customer experience effectiveness and map each touch point onto the grid. Each touch point will fall into one of four quadrants on the grid—high/high effectiveness, low/low effectiveness, high operational/low customer role effectiveness, low operational/high customer role effectiveness. The mapping will allow you visualize whether and where there are weak links in the overall experience. Indicate the quadrant for each touch point back on your map.

Step 10: Action plan.

For each touch point you now have three pieces of data: an impact/importance score, an effectiveness score, and a point on the grid. For those touch-points that were in low/low quadrant of the grid that have a rating of 8 or higher for importance (they are above the line), develop, publish and implement a corrective action plan.