Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Counting the cost of Public Sector Channel Shift

A lot of Public Sector organisations are now getting serious (or at least semi-serious) about Channel Shift. Most have by now realised that the potential savings are real and significant.
So coupled with a central Government agenda of cost-cutting, whatever the Administration in place, the digitisation of public services looks set to continue. In fact a recent survey by Goss Interactive highlighted that on average public sector organisations plan to save £1.75m each through Channel Shift in 2015.

But how much does it actually save your organisation to shift customers to online channels?

Back in 2009 Socitm (The Society of IT Managers) worked out the cost to serve for each of the channels being provided by a UK public Sector organisation (in this case a Council). The benchmarking work they carried out showed that the costs per visitor were:

  • £7.40 for face-to-face
  • £2.90 for the telephone
  • £0.32 for web enquiries
However, the direct costs of channel shift can also be supplemented by additional benefits such as:
  • Increase customer service and satisfaction
  • Building engagement and loyalty
  • Meeting customer expectations
  • Freeing staff to be re-deployed on more "low tech / high touch" activities
It is still worth pointing out that providing digital content and self-service functionality only helps a percentage of the population you are trying to help. For example there are 10.8 million people in the U.K. who do not use the Internet and therefore any 'digital first' self-service options for businesses and citizens should not be 'digital only'. 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Serious About Channel Shift?

The whole topic of Channel Shift is something that is being discussed in most businesses. Yet very few organisations I speak with actually have a documented strategy of how this shift will be realised.

Firstly, what do I mean by the term?
In my opinion... Channel Shift is the managed process of migrating customers to self-service channels (typically digital ones) to reduce cost and increase availability of service.

Reduced cost:
Back a few decades, it was humans that were cheap and computers that were expensive. Now, computers (or more specifically: computing power) is cheap compared to the cost of a person. Using self-service functionality via websites and mobile applications has a much lower cost-to-serve than a trained person, even a lower paid one in an off-shore outsourced contact center.

Increased availability:
The web never sleeps and your customers expect that they can now access your site at a time that suits them, not your company. Whereas a decade or so ago you may have had a telephone line staffed to deal with purchases, amends and refunds... not most of this functionality has now moved to a 24/7 online presence. In fact, as far as seasonal eCommerce goes, some of the most high volume times are public holidays (e.g. Black Friday and Christmas & Boxing Day) - days when most staff are either on holiday or otherwise unavailable.

So if your organisation is serious about Channel Shift, what should it do?

The first thing, as I mentioned in my opening paragraph is to have a written strategy. This needs to clearly document:
  1. Who are your user & customers?
    Think you know who your customers are? Think you know what motivates them to engage with your organisation and purchase from it? Think all your customers are the same and have the same needs? Think again! 
  2. What are the user tasks your want to move to lower cost channels?
    It may be easy to say "all of them", but in reality this may be either too much to do at once, or there may be business rules & restrictions that stop you from doing this. It may therefore by better to prioritise and understand the dependencies between these tasks first.
  3. What channels do your customers use?
    This may not be as simple as you think. Different customers may use a specific mix of channels to: build awareness, inform & educate themselves, transact and then carry out subsequent self-service tasks. 
  4. What are your actual current cost-to-serve figures?
    For example, what does it actually cost to serve your customers via each of your channels
This is the easy part... once you have this, the hard part is then working out what you want these customers to do in the future and what channels you actually can manage them to.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The O2 shop is busy - come back soon

What message do you give your online eCommerce customers when your site gets too busy?

Here's an example from mobile phone provider O2.

Oh, it should be noted that this wasn't midday during a sale / promotion or part-way through a new product launch, but around 11pm at night on a normal trading day...

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Guest blogging on a new site - why do it?

My guest blog post for went live today.
How to Get 6800% ROI from a Single E-commerce Marketing Campaign

It is already getting quite a few mentions on Twitter and the post has had one positive comment so far.  This is my first post for this site and it will be interesting to see if this builds followers or traffic to my site.

One question I have mostly asked myself recently is why I decided to write this post for SEMRush rather than: my own blog (this one), my column on The Drum or even as a direct post on Linkedin (which I have yet to do yet, but for some reason I am apprehensive about doing).

In short.. I wanted to try something different and in a slightly vain way I wanted to be read by a different audience.

Let's see if this actually happens

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Using a Press Release to get the message across

Yes, I have used a good old fashioned Press Release to announce that we had recently won some work:

I'm still trying to find out the entire value generated by spending this $89 - but already the story has been picked up by different online news sources, including:



and a bunch of other sites

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Are you really a digital strategist?

It's quite funny to me to see the term 'Digital Strategy' appear in job descriptions for roles across the online world, including those I now help clients fill.
Note: it's even funnier to see what some candidates actually think constitutes the creation and delivery of a Digital Strategy and in-turn make them a Digital Strategist.

I therefore thought it would be useful to highlight those activities and approaches that I believe a digital strategist might use in their role.
(Of course, it would be easy to start listing out all the things they are not, but then that list might turn out to be quite long.)

So here's my list:
  • Think strategic
    Always keep the vision of what digital technologies, processes and marketing can do for your organisation and how this change applies to the company aims and objectives. This means that you have to understand the end game, but also how you are going to close the gap between that and whatever you have now.
  • Align the digital strategy to the business strategy
    No strategy exists in a vacuum and yours can add the most value when it aligned with the other competing needs of the business.
  • Champion the digital strategy
    The best person in your organisation to be the digital champion is you (and your team, if you have one). Your managerial peers will need a central senior person they can consult with who 'gets this digital stuff' and can help them. This doesn't mean you suddenly need to exhibit youthful enthusiasm or a stoic 'all knowing' air - you just have to be approachable and communicative to all level. It also means you are the senior stakeholder who works with the different business units to help them contribute to the digital strategy.
  • Own the digital roadmap
    Having the vision and strategy is one thing, having a plan of how this will be achieved (including the key milestones, dependencies and other influencing initiatives across your organisation) is something else. The creation and management of this plan is a key artefact in the communication of how your end game is going to be delivered.
  • Grow internal digital capabilities
    You are not going to achieve your goals by yourself and you therefore need to build the required expertise within your company to take digital forward. Growing individuals and digital teams doesn't necessarily come naturally to everyone, but you can also help across different functions by outlining what skills and experience are needed in both the short and longer term

Monday, January 26, 2015

Probably the best placed online advert

Back in 2010, there was a viral video going around from on-board a cruise ship during a bad storm. The clip gave various shots, including a passenger area, where people are flung about.

However, it wasn't the online video that gave me to biggest laugh, but the advert posted alongside it. Advertising the services of EuroTunnel, which runs under the English Channel and avoids the stormy waters above it.

If this was done on purpose... it was brilliant placement.