Shepherding our customers along their journeys

Developing customer relationships was the official theme of the September 2014 meeting of the Cranfield Customer Management Forum. The unofficial theme was the role we play in supporting our customers along their journeys. Whether they’re on a new journey, or one of multiple journeys, our communications need to be timely and relevant.

Guide our customers as they step across the stages of their journey

When we take the time to understand the journey that our customers are taking, we may identify why we lose some along the way. Garry Lace of Three Little Things spoke about how English National Opera has been spending time with first time opera goers to understand the barriers to return visits. As a result they have introduced a number of activities, such as Naked Opera, which have helped to make ENO accessible and to retain a younger and more diverse fan base.

Maximise relevance across their multiple journeys

Not only should we recognise our customers are on a ‘journey’ with us, we should recognise their multiple journeys. Take the example of banking customer with a mortgage, an investment account and a current account. Too often banks treat each of these journeys as separate, sending out multiple irrelevant, sometimes conflicting messages to the same customer. Tim Crick of Decblue demonstrated how he is helping the banking sector implement well-integrated decisioning systems (on an industrial scale) so that they maximise the relevance of each and every communication.

We need to keep listening to our customers

Paul Ryan from DHL ‘the world’s logistics provider’ talked about Customer4Life, an initiative he heads up. Customer4Life is changing the culture at DHL, bringing the organisation much closer to its customers. The ‘Friday call’ has become an institution reminding account managers to get on the phone to their customer if they haven’t yet spoken that week. Additional to keeping the conversation going, the implementation of joint business planning is improving customer relationships as well as margins.

Next CCMF meeting

Having talked about customer journeys in September, the November CCMF workshop will focus on developing a customer-centric culture. For information about becoming a member contact

Posted by: Dr Emma Macdonald.    Follow me on Twitter:  @DrEmmaMacdonald

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Digital alignment: Anticipating and responding to a digital future

Several trends are coalescing to offer transformational possibilities for customer management. The maturing of the internet, mobile device penetration and the opportunity represented by “big data” mean that organising our response isn’t easy.  Predicting, prioritising, planning, piloting, and embedding our response may require new competencies.

At the May 2014 CCMF meeting we are pleased to be joined by guest-host Rod Street, author of The Multichannel Challenge. Rod will be leading the first part of the day where he will be helping our members to explore how they can work with digital customers.  Participants will be encouraged to envision what digital and virtual might look like in the not too distant future and then discuss the challenges for their business.

As usual we will have some fantastic case study presentations including from the pharmaceuticals industry, from the world of ‘big data’, and from the media industry talking about a shift from channel silos to multichannel journey.  (We will post more about these cases in due course.)

About Rod Street: Rod is a Cambridge economist by background who joined Unilever in marketing and new products before moving into consulting. Rod was also previously a partner with PwC, an Executive Partner at IBM Global Business Services and International Consulting Leader at IRI.

Workshop aims: We’re looking forward to learning from Rod, our guest speakers and our members about how to bring structure to the strategic challenge of digital alignment. And about how to enable a cohesive team response to important issues facing organisations – especially those involving customers and channels.

Interested in joining CCMF: The next Cranfield Customer Management Forum meeting will be held on the 22nd May. If you are interested in membership please contact:

Posted by: Dr Emma K. Macdonald, CCMF Research Director

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Nudging our customers and providing winning experiences

CCMF had a busy February with not one, but two practitioner events.  On 12th Feb CCMF jointly hosted a world class line up alongside Cranfield’s Doughty Centre on the theme of Nudging our customers on the sustainability journey.

Speakers included:

  • Miguel Pestana, VP Global External Affairs and Media Relations at Unilever
  • Chris Coulter, Co-CEO at leading global research consultancy GlobeScan
  • Daniel Vennard, Global Sustainability Director for Brands at Mars
  • Mark Earls, best-selling author of the books “Herd” and “I’ll have what she’s having”
  • Jon Alexander, Founder of the New Citizenship Project and former brand strategy consultant at the National Trust
  • Colin Strong, Managing Director, GfK NOP, on brands and social good

The event was a wonderful opportunity to bring together practitioners and researchers from a variety of perspectives including sustainability, marketing and innovation many of whom do not often get together in the same room.  Several interesting conversations resulted.  The conference schedule was put together by recent Cranfield doctoral graduate, Dr Guy Champniss, Associate Professor at Henley Business School.

Then on the 27th February, CCMF hosted another conference on the theme of “Winning through Customer Experience”.  Speakers included a selection of the winners from the 2013 UK Customer Experience Awards who spoke about their diverse strategies for optimising the customer experience.

  • Mark Hill, Managing Director from ResponseTek talked about five levers for developing a successful customer experience programme and how these have helped Three with their award winning customer insight programme.
  • Jack May, Marketing Director at CurrencyIndex gave an inspring talk on how despite being a small player in a highly regulated industry, energy and proactivity has allowed them to build relationships and gain trust by utilising great social media strategy.
  • Michael Conway, Managing Director talked about how Clothes2Order, an online pureplay manufacturer is transforming the digital customer experience in a business-to-business context by providing flexibility and responsiveness.
  • And finally overall winners KC Communications’ Customer Experience Manager, Amanda Woodard and CEx Exec, Katie Cobb demonstrated how ‘customer spectacles’ have helped to improve customer experience and drive satisfaction at KC.

The UK Customer Experience Awards was set up by Cranfield EMBA Alumnus, Neil Skehel.  CCMF wasn’t involved as a judge however, we sponsored the event by writing the white paper based on lessons from all of the 25 winning entries.  The report on Experience Co-creation was co-authored by doctoral student, Farah Arkadan and three MSc Strategic Marketing students (Marisa Brandt, Gladys and Linghui Ge, Yingxue Gong) who analysed the entries as part of their thesis project.

Also at the 27 Feb event, final year doctoral student, Emanuel (Manny) Said presented findings from his research on ‘insight into action’.  Participants were invited to apply and comment on his framework of enablers and blockers to insight flow in organisations, generating some valuable observations and vigorous discussion!

If you are interested in becoming a member of CCMF contact Sue Gregory or Pippa Highfield at

Posted by : Dr Emma Macdonald, CCMF Research Director

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Conversations with Thinkers: Radio interview on RET

A key objective of the Cranfield Customer Management Forum (CCMF) is leading edge research.  CCMF members benefit by being the first to hear about this research and sometimes through participating in it.

A topic we’ve returned to a few times over the past couple of years has been the work Hugh and I have been doing with MESH Planning.  MESH developed a unique Real Time Experience Tracking (RET) method which enables companies to get closer to their customers.  For more about our work with RET, listen to this recent radio interview I gave on New York radio show, The John Batchelor Show, which can now be played on the “Conversations with Thinkers” blog.

The interview was related to our recent HBR article:  “Better Customer Insight – in Real Time”, Harvard Business Review article, Sept 2012.

The interviewer was journalist, author and blogger, Chris Riback.

The interviewee was myself, CCMF’s research director, Dr Emma Macdonald.

For more about MESH Planning go to:

Posted by: Dr Emma Macdonald, Cranfield Customer Management Forum – Research Director

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Conference, 12 February 2014 at Cranfield School of Management

Sustainability and ‘social good’ are increasingly pressing topics for management. Resource scarcity is fast becoming the ‘new normal’, and stronger demands for transparency and demonstrable responsibility mean all businesses need to re-evaluate how they engage with those around them.

But whilst supply-side operations work hard to adapt their supply chains accordingly, changing the way things happen inside the organisation can only go so far. For a full-scale transition to sustainable consumption models, consumers and business customers need also to change the way they behave.

The hidden treasures of the green consumer have long been touted as the next best thing, and marketers continue to segment and target, with increasing granularity, to unlock this potential. Yet the socially engaged consumer seems to remain tantalizingly out of reach.

So what next for marketing? How can the discipline best use its considerable resources and capabilities to engage customers in more sustainable behaviours? Do we need to get better at ethical appeals? Or do we need explore other ways to engage? As all businesses embark on this long and complicated journey towards sustainability, which should we market – the moral crusade, or the trip of a lifetime?

The Conference

The Cranfield Customer Management Forum and The Doughty Centre for Corporate Responsibility are joining forces for one day, to host a conference and workshop to explore this question.

As a unique blend of academic research and practitioner best practice, the conference will host fresh global polling data, reveal innovative consumer behaviour insights, and explore rich case studies and insights from some of the world’s most successful brands.


Book now at:

CCMF members are eligible for two free spaces. To register for your two free spaces, contact your company contact or

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First time around, CRM promised the earth…..

Next CCMF club members meeting (28 Feb 2013) reflects on CRM: The next generation…

First time round, CRM promised the earth but delivered little more than integrated customer databases and crude cross-selling that all too often felt like hard selling. But CRM is back. This time, it’s real-time, as relationships are built on conversations, and they work best when they’re two-way. It’s customer centric, which implies listening to customer needs via perceptual sources and not just crunching transactional data. And it’s social, reflecting the need to talk wherever the customer wants – and often, they’re in company. This workshop explores how all this can add up.

Speakers will include:

Lisa Shattock, Senior Marketing Manager at BT and Andy Scott, Director, GfK Business & Technology. They will be speaking together on Underpinning CRM with insight fusion at BT.
Transactional data might tell you where there are opportunities to up-sell, but you need perceptual data to triangulate this with opportunities to add value in the customer’s eyes. BT report on the benefits of their innovative fusion of insight sources to create actionable segmentation, across both B2B and B2C sides of the business.

Guy Shone, Head of Customer Insight at Money Advice Service and Tim Crick, Decisioning Blueprints on Experience personalisation at Money Advice Service.
Money Advice Service is a public service offering financial advice. Its strategy director and Tim Crick, until recently head of CRM at RBS, discuss how it is leveraging the power of predictive analytics to improve customer experience and value.

Debi Bester, Founder of FMLY on SuperSavvyMe: P&G, social CRM, and the next generation.
Debi launched P&G’s SuperSavvyMe community, with a million members, among numerous other projects. She will reflect on how social and CRM are merging and what to do about it.

Helen Crowley, CEO of Alchemy Social on Social CRM: the next generation
The leading edge is combining social media advertising with analytics that bring social media into the firm’s CRM processes. Helen will draw on multiple client projects in telecoms, hotels, financial services and fashion to outline what’s working now and what’s next.

  • “CRM: The next generation”, 28th Feb 2013, Cranfield School of Management: 
    – Already a CCMF member? Book your place with your company contact or get in touch with Lynne Wood at 
    – Interested in membership? Contact Pippa Highfield at

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Improving marketing effectiveness

We’ve had some great speakers at the Forum this year.  Two recent speakers on the theme of improving marketing effectivness were:

Aly Richards, Chief Experience Officer at idioplatform, on implementing a “Next Best Content” approach for client, Guinness.  This was really fascinating stuff and an early indication of how brands are developing a personalised conversation with customers which extends beyond the products and services that we deliver.  Amongst other things, Aly talks about the role of the marketer as a “curator” of content.
CCMF video:

Becky McQuade, Commercial Research Manager at Sky presented on improving online engagement.  She talked about the use Sky has been making of a tool developed by Cranfield doctoral researcher, Anne Mollen, for profiling the engaged consumer.  This has been helping to make online advertising more effective.  Becky and Anne recently won an award for Best Research & Insight Project at the Association
of Online Publishers Digital Publishing Awards 2012

CCMF video:

Posted in Campaign, CRM, Customer centricity, Customer experience, Customer insight, digital marketing, Marketing communications, marketing effectiveness | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment