Digital Customer Experience in Logistics Platforms

Digital platforms are becoming a more and more powerful tool for both companies and users. Such technological instruments' capabilities are shaping the way of doing business. This new digital era will particularly benefit the customers.

Victoria Mendoza

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Digital Customer Experience in Logistics Platforms.

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Carlos' Opinion
Digital Customer Experience.

In content marketing, defining the Buyer Persona is one of the first steps done before starting a content marketing plan.

The buyer persona is expected to follow different paths under their buying decision.

The objectives in content marketing is to attract the potential leads, that eventually would be nurtured and converted to customers.

Overall, this concept is called the customer journey.

One relevant concept that is mentioned in the following thesis written by Victoria Mendoza is the empathy journey.

Key concept that I think it takes importance to also have into consideration while analysing the customer journey, since it also adds what the user might be thinking and feeling on his journey. 

I met Victoria at Hochschule Heilbronn. She started the Master in International Business & Intercultural Management two years after me.

Personal traits I could say about Victoria are that she is self-determined, charismatic and creative.

Victoria has gained international experiences as exchange student at Guangdong University of Foreign Studies in China, as  ambassador at World Business Dialogue, and with her recent enrollment at Hochschule Heilbronn, where she wrote her thesis about Digital Customer Journey in Logistics Platform.

Here I share with you some parts of her thesis work. 

Introduction to - Digital Customer Experiences in Logistics Platforms.

The introduction of modern digital technologies in the supply chain and transportation has made the process of delivering goods more accessible and faster.

Nevertheless, such new developments have forced companies to adapt and look for innovative options to attract new customers and keep old ones.

Therefore, transport and logistics companies have reinvented themselves by using autonomous cars, automatic warehouses, among others.

The list of new technological solutions can go on and on.

Digitalization is changing the way of doing logistics and more specifically, the way of how the companies are interacting with customers and vice versa.

Clients nowadays have digital tools such as platforms that enable them to buy a product or service within just a couple of clicks. In this manner, they have streamlined customer experience in many ways.

The capabilities of those tools go from getting a quotation to book a shipment. Any of these possibilities can be done by the client himself, without contacting any real agent.

Nevertheless, the challenges of transport companies on implementing such tools are not easy as well as it is not less complicated for customers to use them.

Through this study, it will be investigated how the customer interacts with such platforms meaning that the digital customer journey will be tracked. In the end, the research will cast how satisfied is the client with the digital experience.

Antecedents.

Modern economies would not have been possible without the existence of transportations systems.

It has become an important part of daily lives since ancient times. Since then, transport systems have been developed and became more complex in all its sorts; road, air, and sea.

Nowadays, it is a fundamental sector that embraces 1.2 million public and private companies in the European Union and employs 11 million people (European Commission 2019, p.3).

Together with the storage sector it accounts for more than 5% of total employment and almost 5% of the European Union´s GDP (European Commission 2019, p.5).

Transport industry not only provides good and services for citizens and trading partners but also contributes to the free movement of people. (European Commission, 2019, p.3).

Currently, unprecedentedly massive changes have not only impacted the majority of industries all over the world but especially those that are closely related with climate change and new technologies.

The transport and logistics industry are one of the primary industries that need to be adjusted to the new era.

Not only challenges but also new capabilities are reinventing the way of transportation totally and in general logistics as a whole.

This can be seen in many ways; drones and autonomous vehicles that will reduce congestions, gas emissions and even accidents (The National Academies of Sciences, 2019, p.5).

Innovations apply not just to the vehicle itself, but also to automate and digitize the entire transport industry.

Companies are relying more than ever before on new technologies in order to make a faster and more efficient process and thus to reduce costs.

Furthermore, the use of such tools has fomented a stronger attention on customer services.

Now, people can book a bus or train ticket within just a couple of clicks. They can also buy something on the internet and get it the next day.

The capabilities of digital platforms, big data and even automated warehouses have made possible this and more.

Specific technological challenges within the transport road industry.

As mentioned above, technological changes bring along a series of transformations, and they can be seen in many ways; however, the followings are the most challenging and disruptive for the transport road industry;

The main objective is to create transparency between all the involved stakeholders. Every member of the network should have access to the same data, in order to provide a single point of truth (Kersten, Blecker, Ringle, 2017, p.4). It is the essential improvement areas for logistics; nevertheless, it is hard to achieve since it requires the information release permission of all parties involved.

A driverless option of bringing goods from one point to another is and will transform even more the dependency on the human factor.

Despite the fact that many people do not rely enough on autonomous vehicles, studies show that it would be much safer to use them. According to the Eno Center for Transportation, if 90% of the vehicles in the US were driver-less, the related deaths would drop from 32,400 to 11,300 yearly (Kersten, Blecker, Ringle, 2017, p.100). For logistics companies, would be at the beginning a significant inversion to have autonomous cars; however, it will be recompensated by cutting salary costs, since drivers will not be needed anymore.

Furthermore, the deliveries might be faster, since there is no operator, and “break time” that by law a person must take when driving.

With such a tool, there is an immense potential to integrate information from transport companies, customers, and the whole network involved in the logistics processes.

Simultaneously, the data will be especially valuable for forecasting and tracking the customer’s behaviors.

The most benefited are the third-party logistics supplier who will make more efficient operations through higher utilization of assets (Graser, Krimpmann, Dehnhardt, 2017, p.5).

In this way, the technological transformations within the transport industry such as blockchain and big data analytics are a key tool for companies to meet customer expectations.

Research problem and research questions.

Although the meaningful technological advances that logistics and transportation have done, one of the necessary conditions for its functioning is to have a well-designed and efficient system that allows managing a big load of information such as customer´s orders, as well as to helping to plan, organize, monitor and control the whole process of delivering goods (Dmitriev, 2019, p.138).

The information flow will be not only anticipatory but also crucial concerning the efficiency of the delivery process (Dmitriev, 2019, p.138).

In this way, it has become more and more challenging for companies to manage that large amount of data.

On the other hand, customers have also become more demanding and expect faster responses to their enquiries such as quotations from point A to B as well as transparent and reliable data of, for example, where precisely the shipment is.

In order to meet all their expectations, digital platforms have become an important tool not only for transport companies but in general.

However, despite a significant percentage of business that has decided to provide services through platforms because the maintenance, as well as the labor costs, are cheaper, it is still a big challenge for customers to use them and hence for companies to create digital self-service platforms that require no intervention at all from real agents. In fact, according to a research conducted by Gartner, 70% of customers use digital platforms to buy a product or a service, and just 9% out of them finish their digital journey successfully without the intervention of the front desktop (DeLisi & Poole, 2019, p.9).

This is indeed a deficient percentage of customers that don’t need any help from agents, but what about the 61% left?

What was so complicated on their digital journey within the platform that stop them from continuing through it? Various logistics and transport companies are in search of optimizing their digital self-services.

Therefore, the following are the research questions:

Aims and objectives.

The objective of the current investigation is to have a deeper understanding of what features makes a logistics platform easy to use from the customer´s perspective.

Respectively, research questions one and two have the purpose of analyzing the client´s journey within a logistics platform.

Lastly, although there has been a considerable increment in the use of logistics platforms in the last years, it is still challenging for some clients to adopt such technological tools.

Hence, research question four intents to discover the main customer´s hurdles to adopt them.

Research methods.

The approach of this investigation is sustained by several sources and previous investigations that have been conducted in recent years in regards to digital customer experience.

Studies made by organizations such as McKinsey, Oracle, Qualtrics, among others are presented as the basis of this thesis.

Digital Customer Experiences
Theoretical background

The experience that a customer has when buying a product is made out of different components.

However, one that has the most impact is the service that the client gets through the pre, during and post buying process.

Therefore in order to have a deeper understanding, this chapter aims to present an overview of the concepts of digitalization, digital customer service, relevance and future trends of digitalization in customer service.

Digitalization.

According to The Gartner, glossary digitalization is defined as the use of digital technologies to change a business model and provide new revenue and value-producing opportunities; it is the process of moving from traditional to digital business (Gartner, n.d.).

It is imperative to point out the difference between digitalization and digitization; the last one refers to the process of changing from analogue to digital form (Gartner, n.d.).

To make the difference more clearly in an enterprise context, paper-based information could be the analogue form, while using a computer or laptop would be the digital form.

Therefore it is crucial to consider that is the information that is digitized, not the process (Bloomberg, 2018).

On the other hand, businesses use technology to engage with people in order to address their specific needs; that’s exactly what digitalization is. (Prause, 2016).

Digitalization can be applied to all types of industries; food industry, healthcare, hotel and hospitality, mobility and much more.

This paper will be a focus on digitalization within the transport branch, more specifically to the digitalization of the customer service.

Digital customer service.

Digital customer service is about using digital technologies to support and please a client.

It has indeed gaining more strength in recent years.

Many of the key moments of truth or touchpoints are happening online, in fact, according to Qualtrics, 65% of customers would say that their experience within the app or website is at least a “very important” factor to recommend a brand (Qualtrics, n.d.).

Furthermore, another report from Forrester says that in average 37% of generation Z consumers (18-22 years old) and generation X and Y (consumers ages 23 -45) prefer to use digital customer services rather speak with a real person per telephone (Nasir,2015, p. 114).

The use of customer service channels can vary; it depends on the complexity of the inquiry, the more complex, the more likely a customer would prefer to have assistance with a person over phone (Nasir,2015, p. 115).

There are specific characteristics from the customers perspective that digital platforms should have (Nasir,2015, p. 120): 

1. Accessibility and availability: The platform or app should be easy to use.
2. Findability: Easiness to find information, it should not generate many possible answers, because it can lead to confusions or doubts from the customer side.
3. Relevancy: Just relevant information.
4. Escalation: when customer requires further information or help from a real person.
5. Feedback: Rating customer service performance.

Nonetheless, not only customers benefit for having a friendly-user platform but also companies can see the payoffs of such tools; One of the advantages is that, platforms benefits to lower the costs of the traditional helpdesk.

It also contributes to the reduction of emails and calls to the contact center. Furthermore, gathered data from the platform or app help enterprises to understand better to their customers.

In return to these advantages, customer experience will be outstanding, leading to an increment of customer satisfaction and resulting in more loyal customers (Nasir,2015, p. 116).

Future trends in digital customer experience.

Within the next 5-year, digital customer services will have significant developments; this will be achieved thanks to technological advances.

According to SAP report (2018) embracing AI will be on top of the trends; With AI systems capable of gathering and analyzing lots of data, the customer will become more and more comfortable with the idea that AI bots can interpret their personal preferences and make choices on behalf of them (SAP, 2018, p.6).

Furthermore, the use of AI tools will mediate customers interactions with frontline employees.

Therefore, workers will have more insights and communications suggestions of what to say to the customer at the right moment in order to give a better and more personalized service (SAP, 2018, p.6).

According to Forrester (2019), this information will be taken out from a sophisticated emotion analysis. The use of machine learning and deep learning algorithms will allow more effective detection of self- reported, social – expressive and neurophysiological emotions signals at scale.

Since AI can handle very complex data, analysts will be able to create models that help identify emotion patterns and hence apply them while calls are happening (Forrester, 2019, p. 10).

As it is well known, the feedback has become an essential part of the customer experience. The ways of providing feedback nowadays, will be different as in the future. Customer will be able to send feedback via audio comments, images or video. AI advances will analyze the information in real-time and allow companies to engage in the solution and follow up the problem giving further explanations of what to do to the client (Forrester, 2019, p. 11).

In the end, one of the most important outcomes of digitalizing customer service is creating meaningful experiences—the art of understanding what matters to the customer and what not.

Customer Journey

When a company is looking to improve customer experience it is vital to think like clients; understanding their point of view and how they feel and think while they navigate across different channels to get to the purchase and even post-purchase part, it is such an essential task as it is the invention of the service or product itself.

In order to do so, is needed the help of a powerful tool called “Customer Journey Mapping”.

It is a design instrument that gives an overview of the end-to-end experience of the customers.

It is a manner to visually illustrate the processes, needs and perceptions of a customer during their interaction and relationship with the company (Qualtrics, 2018, p.20).

It is crucial to outline that the customer journey starts earlier than companies think.

At the moment when a person has a need, the customer journey starts.

After a need then comes the awareness of brands, where clients can find more than one option that suits their needs.

How the customer is attracted to and informed about the brand or product, is entirely a marketing task (McKinsey,2009, p.3).

After choosing a brand comes adoption, which is mainly how the customer interacts throughout the entire experience (Qualtrics, 2018, p.23)2.

These digital moments across platforms are shaping important KPI´s that at the end will influence the path of the purchase.

Now more than ever, understanding the customer´s digital interactions is a vital part of any customer experience program (Qualtrics, n.d., p.3).

The benefits of mapping out customer journey can be seen in many ways;

It has been proved in recent research conducted by McKinsey (2016)2 that a company performing the best in customer journeys have a competitive advantage over those firms who are just exceling touchpoints (Mckinsey, 2016, p.6).

Moreover, and most importantly, better performance in customer journeys correlates with faster revenue growth. A one-point improvement on a ten-point scale leads to a three percentage-point increase in the revenue rate (Mckinsey, 2016, p.6).

Customer Journey Model.

There are several models of how the customer journey should look like.

Most of them have the same features or characteristics that musst be included during the customer mapping.

Nevertheless, almost all of them look like the traditional funnel.

traditional-funnel-model
Figure 1: Traditional funnel model, (Source: Mckinsey, 2009, p.2)1.

Nowadays, the traditional funnel fails to give complete pictures of the real customer journey; it lacks on the capture of all the touchpoints and the key buying factors (Mckinsey, 2009, p.2).

In order to have a better understanding of how the customer journey looks, Mckinsey developed a model by testing the purchase path of 20.000 consumers across five industries and three continents. The outcome was the consumer decision model;

Consumer-decision-journey-model
Figure 2: Consumer decision journey model (Source: Mckinsey, 2009, p.3)1.

The most important feature of the model is that customer journeys are circular rather than linear.

It embraces the whole customer journey; passing by the initial consideration of brands, where customers have a niche of options.

This step is a crucial one for both; customers and companies.

At this stage, customer can compare brands, products or services.

Marketing is an essential task here, where traditional marketing is not that important as it was before.

Instead, nowadays, the customer is pulling out information from reviews on the internet and worth-of-mouth recommendations from family and friends, this is a kind of marketing called “Consumer-Driven” (Mckinsey, 2009, p.5).

The information customers get, leads to an addition or subtraction of brands that were at the first stage.

Stage 3 (Moment of purchase) could be the final step in traditional funnels. But not in this model. This step is half of the way of the journey.

What happens next can lead to a reconsideration of buying once more the logistics service, which at the same time can lead to a loyal customer.

It is, as the model shows; a cycle.

There is the possibility, of course, that the client does not even get to the reconsideration phase. In that case, something went wrong between step 3 (Moment of purchase) and 4 (Post-purchase experience).

The aim of this investigation is precisely that one; to find out how the customer experience between phases 3 and 4 is.

At the same time, this will give features of why the consumer is becoming loyal or churn.

Mapping the Digital Customer Journey.

It is vital to understand that, nowadays, in the digital era, many critical moments of truth are happening via online which means that consumers, attitudes and brand perceptions will be based on mostly digital interactions (Qualtrics, n.d., p.3).

Hence, for this study, omnichannel journeys will be taken out from the mapping, focusing only on the digital journey that a customer goes within the logistics platform.

Before boarding to the customer journey, it is necessary to mention that there are two categories of digital portals; The first one is the horizontal portal which caters to a variety of industries and organizations.

They gather information from various enterprises applications (Shivakumar, 2016, p.6). One of the most famous horizontal portals is Amazon. It sells books, software, furniture and a lot more. It does not focus on only one segment.

On the other hand, the second category is the vertical platforms; These are specialized portals that cater to a specific industry and are mainly designed to fulfil specific business function (Shivakumar, 2016, p.6).

The number of journeys that a customer can do within a horizontal platform is infinite because the customer has the opportunity to jump from one product to another one, and so on.

In the case of vertical platforms, and more specifically in the case of logistics ones, the journeys are reduced considerably; however, it does not mean that there is just one journey.

This will also depend on the type of the customer and what he is exactly searching. For example, the pickup and delivery days, cargo details, fix options, etc. All of the information that the customer provides will eventually generate different paths.

User persona.

The very first step of mapping a customer journey is to uncover who are the primary users that are going through the platform.

These users are defined as “personas” in marketing terms.

User persona can be defined as “a fictional character that communicates the primary characteristics of a group of users, identified and selected as a key target through the use of segmentation data, across the company in a usable and effective manner“ (Smart Insights, 2017).

In order to crack the shopper genome, companies should have a whole picture of how the customer looks and what are its primary set of characteristics (Mckinsey, 2015, p.2).

These set of characteristics should also include hints such as attitudes, feelings and goals that motivate the customer during the whole journey (IBM, 2016, p.4).

It is also important to emphasize, that for B2B platforms, information from the company such as industry, size and location are also essential to complement the whole picture of the buyer persona (Smart Insights, 2017).

To build the persona up, information grounded in data, facts, and actual interviews with recent buyers will be needed (IBM, 2016, p.4).

The most important in building a “persona” is to collect as much information as possible of the user.

In this way, the company could offer a more personalized product and service to its customers.

Digital journey.

Once the persona is defined, the task of mapping the digital journey starts.

Before starting with the journey, it is essential to mention that a customer journey, whether this is digital or not is full of interactions. These, known as touchpoints, are the things customers interact with during their experience with a brand (Clinehens, 2018, p.33).

The customer’s touchpoints must address critical moments during their journey. These are moments of truth, they represent the points on a customer journey when a key event occurs, and an opinion of a brand or product is formed (Vedenin, 2018).

The importance of these moments of truth is crucial since they have majority of influence on the overall journey and shape the impression about the brand or product (Vedenin, 2018).

These moments can be either positive or negative; the first ones are called moments of glory, and they can pop up when the expectations from the customer are exceeded and lead to positive impressions about the brand or product (Vedenin, 2018).

The second ones are called moments of pain, and as the name indicates it is when the customer passes through a painful situation that is stopping them from keeping on track on the journey (Vedenin, 2018).

There are, of course, touchpoints that do not cause either a positive or negative reaction. They are neutral points that although lack reaction are still part of the purchase path.

Empathy journey

Empathy journey is a powerful tool that complements the overall mapping.

It contains not only what the customer is saying and doing but also, what are they thinking and feeling during the journey (Qualtrics, 2018, p.8).

Let us do not forget that customers are humans, and as humans, they sometimes tend to be emotional-driven (Clinehens, 2018, p.37).

Emotions are essential not only to know how the client feels in the moment but also how they make decisions and remember experiences in upcoming times (Clinehens, 2018, p.37).

Therefore, the empathy journey gives a complete picture of the customers and what actions they are taken according to their beliefs, emotions, and behaviors (Qualtrics, 2018, p.8).

Figure 5 is an example from Qualtrics of how the empathy journey should look like.

Empathy-journey
Figure 3: Empathy journey (Source: Qualtrics, 2018, p.8).

Hardly companies can guess how the customers feel and what do they think.

One method to get more hints about customer´s feelings is conducting interviews.

However, even with this approach, it can still be difficult to interpret them.

Therefore, to get a more accurate picture, companies can rely on the big potential that artificial intelligence offers.

As mentioned in the previous chapters, the capabilities of new technologies can now make possible to decode face and voice recognition and translate them into the user´s feelings (Forrester, 2019, p. 10).

This information is helping businesses to interact more successfully with the user.

Measuring the digital journey.

The next step is essential; Identify the appropriate metrics to measure the customer journey.

Without such analytic metrics, the business-critical transactions would be left out (Shivakumar, 2016, p.338).

Besides, KPI’s give information about where the platform is standing and what can be improved in order to make a truly User Experience Platform.

However, how to establish the right metrics? KPI’s should be based on the company’s long-term objectives (Shivakumar, 2016, p.338).

Wherever the company’s objectives are set, that’s where the measuring bar should be.

Once the objectives have been identified, the KPI’s will come up parallel, which will be the markers for them. In regards to this investigation, it should be worth also to look at the customer satisfaction KPI’s.

Business Revenue Impact KPI´s.

Business revenue or financial KPI´s are the most common and used metrics.

They represent the heartbeat of any business.

They provide information to owners or stakeholders whether the company is making money or not, how much the business is spending and how much of the revenue is profit (Marr, 2015 p.189).

Taking into consideration that the main objective of companies (of course if they are nonprofit) is to make money and over the years increase its profit, then is easy to understand why financial KPI´s are so important.

Besides its importance, financial KPI´s are more accessible to measure because of their quantitative nature; typically, they are represented by a number, a percentage or a ratio (Marr, 2015 p.189).

Although companies will always look at the revenue, profit etc. it is important to understand that those KPI´s are made of or influenced by others KPI´s that the company might consider the second level or not relevant metrics.

ROI (Return on investment).

One can find dozens of definitions out there; all of them might use different words, but at the end, the idea behind it is the same “Return on investment (ROI) is a financial ratio used to calculate the benefit an investor will receive concerning their investment cost” (Corporate Finance Institute, n.d.).

It is most commonly measured as the ratio between the profit after a period of time and the total cost of the investment (Siemens, 2020, p. 5).

The higher the ratio, the higher the benefit. It sounds quite apparent; easy to understand and to calculate.

However, when it comes to measuring the ROI of a platform, then it is, in fact, quite challenging. According to a survey conducted by Siemens, 80% to 90% of the respondents cannot precisely measure ROI´s of their internet of things (IoT) initiatives (Siemens, 2020, p. 2).

In order to calculate the total investment of an IoT initiative, it should also not only consider the investment for the whole technology stack such as infrastructure for data, license fees or cybersecurity costs.

It should also consider the transition costs that include process and tools, skill development and change management (Siemens, 2020, p. 6).

The below model created by Siemens shows the features that should be taken into consideration to calculate the total investment of an IoT initiative.

The-A-to-Z-to-determine-the-invest-for-an-IoT-initiative
1. Process and tools: Refers to the new ways of working that must be adapted when there is a digital transformation. Thus, as well as installation and customization tools must be considered in the total investment.
2. Skill development: Digital transformation requires personal with specific skills. The importance of training existing personal is as paramount as hiring new staff with specific digital skills.
3. Change management: This includes working in cross-functional teams and shifting into a more entrepreneurial culture.
4. Applications: Refers to the advanced data analytics that offers value to IoT applications.
5. IoT platform: Embraces the data processing and storage infrastructure.
6. Communication networks: It refers to all the ways of transmission of the data.
7. Devices and assets: Edge devices that enable the processing power.

Once the total investment is calculated involving all the points above then is time to calculate the profit.

The expected revenue stream determines the profit in this approach. This revenue stream is the service fees, scaled by the number of customers, multiplied by the profit margin (Siemens, 2020, p. 12).

Companies should also consider uncertainty when calculating ROI. Thus, lead to a bias information in regards of ROI.

However, experts agree that just a single number should not determine ROI. Instead, there should be a range where ROI can move forward and backwards within it (Siemens, 2020, p. 15).

ROI-Range
Figure 5: ROI Range (Source: Siemens, 2020, p.15).
Revenue per visit and per order.

Revenue per visitor or RPV is defined by the amount of revenue made on average per visitor to the website (Croxen, n.d.).

It gives information about the value of each of the visitors as an average.

The formula to calculate it is as follows; The revenue of a specific period for example; weekly, monthly, etc. divided into the total visitors of the same period of time (Croxen, n.d.).

It is imperative to track this metric since it gives another point of view different than the conversion rate.

Once the RPV is calculated, the information can be compared to the cost per visit (CPV).

Of course, the higher the RPV compare to the CPV, the higher the profit. Furthermore, this metric also give hints if the marketing strategy is working or not (Dominguez, Muñoz, 2010, p.220).

At the same time, revenue per order, better known as Average Order Value (AOV), is an indicator that helps business to understand their customer´s purchasing habits.

It is calculated as follows; Revenue of a period, whether weekly, monthly etc. divided into the number of orders of the same period.

The information given by the AOV helps to evaluate the marketing efforts and pricing strategy of the companies.

Besides, while the majority of marketers focus on increasing website traffic, which cost more effort and money, increasing AOV will not cost that much (Optimizely, n.d.).

Of course, one can calculate the two metrics manually, but platforms such as Google Analytics and Adobe Analytics, among others, can do it automatically.

Conversion ratio.

It is defined as the percentage of visits that result in a purchase (Niu, Li, Yu, 2017, p.1).

One can calculate it dividing the number of conversions of a period into the visitors of the same period of time.

It is indeed, one of the most important KPI´s when it comes to e-commerce.

However, despite the tremendous growth in e-commerce, the conversion ratio across industries is still meagre; Hardly exceed 5% (Niu, Li, Yu, 2017, p.1).

Even less in Europe, according to Wolfgang Digital, the average of the conversion rate is 1.51%. Specifically, Germany´s average is 1.4% (Wolfgang Digital, 2019).

The low conversion rate explains that most of the traffic is represented by casual visitors as opposed to serious buyers (Niu, Li, Yu, 2017, p.1).
Hence, businesses are struggling in finding a way to increase the conversion ratio.

However, despite the low ratios, companies still have a point in their favor. One of the advantages of an online platform is that the data of the customers can be tracked with the assistance of new technologies.

These technologies are mostly applied to horizontal portals such as Amazon, Alibaba etc. In the specific case of a vertical platform, the focus is more in the so-called conversion path or conversion funnel, which is the path that takes to get from landing page to purchase the product or the service.

In order to optimize the conversion funnel, there are certain features that at the end helps to boost the conversion ratio.

The first is that the more details are included in the sales funnel, the better (Ferenzi, n.d.).

This also helps to improve the customer journey through the funnel.

In order to avoid any confusion while choosing the service that the customer wants, enough information should be provided.

The use of videos to explain how-to is a powerful method as well.

Furthermore, for those customers who have been through the entire conversion path but leave the product or the service in the abandonment cart, an email reminding them to finish the conversion would be a good idea.

According to Big Commerce report, cart abandonment lies between 60% and 80%. Decreasing abandonment carts should be a priority for an online platform since the customers have demonstrated interested in the company (Big Commerce, n.d.).

New visitors.

As the name says, it refers to the new visitors that come for the first time to the webpage.

Companies are always interested in acquiring more visitors to their platform since they can be prospective purchasers.

However, to calculate this metric could be a little bit tricky since new users or visits are generally tracked with the use of cookies.

Hence, it can happen that the visitor does not accept the cookie and if this customer comes once more to the webpage, this would be recorded as a new user when it is not the case (Adobe, 2020).

Another misinterpretation that can occur is that even if this person accepted the cookie but after a period of time clears the cache and returns to the website, this would also be counted as a new visit.

The same happens when a person uses different devices to access the same webpage. All of those visits will be recorded as a new visit, even though it is the same person (Adobe, 2020).

In order to avoid this, Adobe offers cross-device analytics. It has transformed analytics from a device-centric view to a person-centric view (Adobe, 2020).

However, when having the number of new visitors, it should be a good idea to always considerate bias within this number.

Nevertheless, even if a new visitor’s metric cannot be 100% accurate, there is still a trend, and trends are always friends.

In Analytics the new visitors can be seen in the option of first-time visits, while in Google Analytics the option can be found in the audience option, and then overview, which will display the information of new users.

Return visitors.

This are the users that come more than once to the webpage.

Neither Adobe Analytics nor Google Analytics have a report that explicitly compares new visitors to return visitors (Adobe, 2020).

However, one can calculate this information by calculations or segmentation.

In Adobe Analytics can be calculated as follows; Taking the number of unique visitors of a period this can be daily, weekly monthly etc. minus the number of first time-visits of the same period of time (Adobe, 2020).

This metric is positively correlated with the number of sessions per user. The more return visitors, the more sessions per user.

Companies sometimes undervalue the importance of these two metrics since most of them tend to focus more on acquiring new visitors than paying attention to the ones that are continually coming back to their webpage.

Several studies have proved that companies should focus more on return visitors. One of them is Wolfgang Digital report which is based on the analysis of over 250 million website sessions and over €500 million in online revenue over a yearly period. The data is from European and US customers.

This investigation has found that the websites that have the highest revenue volume had the highest sessions per user or visits. (Wolfgang Digital, 2019).

In other words, the number of sessions or visits per user correlates with revenue (Wolfgang Digital, 2019).

The more a company can engage a customer to come back to their website, the more revenue the company is likely to generate (Wolfgang Digital, 2019).

In fact, it has been proved that sessions per user have a more prominent correlation in volume revenue than conversion rates (Wolfgang Digital, 2019).

Revenue-Volume-Correlations
Figure 6: Revenue Volume Correlations (Source: Wolfgang Digital, 2019).

It is indeed essential for companies to always have an eye on this KPI, which influences the most to the platform’s revenue.

Even if this metric seems to lack importance at the end of the day, it is the one that will contribute to a higher cash income.

Nevertheless, the number of sessions per user can be more reliable when customers often come to the website.

Self Service Effectiveness KPI´s.

Self-service rate.

One of the main objectives of the companies when implementing a digital tool is, first of all, to reduce costs.

This can be reflected in the number of employees that the company needs after the implementation of the self-service platform.

Of course, the fewer employees, the more savings.

Moreover, another objective is to reduce the workload of the front desk.

Therefore, when implementing such digital tools, the payoffs should be seen in the success of the self-service platform without the intervention of human contact.

Nevertheless, according to the SSPA Benchmark data, the industry success rate in self-service lies a bit under 50% (DB Kay, n.d. p.4).

For calculating the success of such platforms, a metric called self-service rate will be computed.

This rate is calculated as follows: The number of customers interactions that were successful with the self-service, this means without any help from agents, divided into the total number of interactions handled by the organization through all channels. The result is the self-service rate (Oracle, 2015, p.12).

The higher the rate, the higher the success of the platform.

There also reports offered by Oracle Solutions CX, that gives relevant information of where exactly the customer is having issues during the digital journey that leads to an escalation to a real agent.

Average process and transaction completion time.

This is the average time it takes to go through the entire digital customer journey within the platform; from the initial request to the conversion.

It is also well known as fulfilment speed. This should always be faster than the time a customer takes to go within the same path but with a human agent (Mort, 2019).

However, if after the implementation of the self-service platform the time to complete the path remains the same as with the human agent or even had increased, then the platform cannot be considered as successful (Mort, 2019).

The calculation can be a bit complicated since tools such as Google Analytics and Adobe Analytics have the option of the average time on site.

However, it is unknown whether all those users complete the transactions with a purchase.

To have an idea of how much time the user spent to finish the transaction, one can take the time given in every page that went through until the conversion page.

The sum of the time spent on every page will give insight into how long the entire, complete transaction takes.

Customer Satisfaction Impact KPI´s.

Customer satisfaction index.

Customer satisfaction is an extensive and subjective topic. Every person sees satisfaction in their way.

However, customer satisfaction may be better understood in terms of customer experience.

It is defined as the sum of the client´s interactions, thoughts and perceptions about a company and its product or service (Qualtrics, n.d.).

If the customer had a positive experience, they could be considered as a satisfied customer (Qualtrics, n.d.).

So, it can be defined that customer satisfaction is a composition of not only one aspect bur rather many different ones.

Since the base of satisfaction is every experience, even the same customer can have different experiences within the same product or service.

Some may be satisfactory, or some may fail to be so.

Customer satisfaction index can be calculated with an existing approach, which is the widely- used American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI).

The score of ACSI is calculated with the average of three survey questions on a different 10- point scale that measure other features of customer satisfaction (Marr, 2015, p.127).

The aspects that measure the ACSI within these three questions are customer expectations, perceived quality, perceived value, customer complaints, customer retention, customer loyalty and price tolerance (Marr, 2015, p.127).

1. What is the overall satisfaction with our (product or service)?

2. To what extent has our (product or service) meet your expectations?

3. How well did our (product or service) compare with the ideal (type of offering)?

Average customer feedback rating.

Feedback from the customer is and will always be very welcome, even when it is a negative one, it can give insight into what the customers do not like about the service. As Bill Gates once said, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning”.

Customers feel important when they have the opportunity to give their point of view about a product or service they are consuming. Even more important when their feedback is taken into improving actions by the company.

Hence, many companies have implemented feedback options within their services or products.

However, to receive feedback from customers and then approach the problem can be a challenging task that generally might take weeks, months or even years to implement a solution.

The Ask, Categorize, Act, Follow-up (ACAF) Customer Feedback Loop, is a business strategy that focuses on the satisfaction of the customer and how to use their feedback to grow their business (Leitner,2018).

It is based in fourth stages as figure 10 shows below

Customer-Feedback-Loop
Figure 7: The A.C.A.F. Customer Feedback Loop (Source: HubSpot, n.d.).

1. At the first stage, there are three categories of questions that could be asked; The first category is the overall trend. Within this category, companies can ask questions like customer satisfaction (CSAT), net promote score (NPE) or customer effort score. The second category is service issues. It focus on analyzing how the team or the service is performing overall. The third category is product issues. This category is helpful to know whether the product is helping the customers to reach their goal (HubSpot, n.d.).

2. After the questions have been asked, it is time to categorize the answers that customers gave. They are mostly divided by the following categories; product feedback, service feedback and marketing and sales feedback. At the same time, these categories can be divided into subcategories, in order to have a more organized data (HubSpot, n.d.).

3. Most of the times, companies do not get to this point, they do ask for feedback, but after they receive it, they do not know what to do with the data. The first and most important thing to do is share this feedback with the teams that are involved with the product or the service. For instance, the product team, customer support team, marketing and sale team etc. The key is to share the data with the relevant teams and periodically. It can be real-time by using email or Slack, weekly, monthly etc. (HubSpot, n.d.).

4. The last stage is not less important. A customer should feel that his voice is being heard. In fact, a research made in the UK, found that 43% of the customers do not leave any feedback because they think the companies will not do anything about it (HubSpot, n.d.). The question here is what companies should do to let their customer know that their voice is being heard?. Another research found that 81% of the respondents would leave feedback if they would get back a fast response (HubSpot, n.d.). This way, it would be a starting point of what the companies can do—fast responses at the first place; mailing the customers to thank them for their feedback. Moreover, publishing a report with their feedback and the implementations that the company has done to upgrade the experience would be an excellent way to let the customers know that their opinion is taking into considerations for further improvements (HubSpot, n.d.).

To conclude this chapter, it is important to know what KPI´s are and understand their relevance when it comes to an online platform.

However, identifying those that are meaningful and useful is indeed essential, especially if those will be the indicators to look at when it comes to making decisions and improvements.

It should be mentioned that financial KPI´s which are the most important for companies are at the same time made of other KPI´s.

No company will make a profit just because.

The profit comes when a series of optimal characteristics are combined.

The most common are excellent service, quality of the product, price, among others.

Therefore, companies should pay especially attention to those KPI´s that are driving to higher profit.

Categories Platform KPI´s

Through this chapter, we have seen that the most critical KPI´s specifically for platforms are self-service rate.

If the platform is easy to use, and the customer does not need to escalate his issue with a real agent, then this would lead to a satisfied customer.

As a result, the customer might do several sessions in the future, which at the same time will be translated into purchases and thus will lead to higher revenue for the company.

Loyal customers.

Defining who are loyal customers is a complicated task. As a basis, they can be defined as those who consistently purchase the same product or service from the same company (Goodman, 2009, p.22).

However, this is not always the case. Those customers that repurchase a product or a service are not necessarily loyal, as well as those who are satisfied.

Customer loyalty is divided into two different categories: behavioral and attitudinal (Kumar & Reinartz, 2018, p.181).

Behavioral loyalty refers to the actions that customers demonstrate towards a particular product or service. This type of loyalty can be induced by marketing campaigns (Kumar & Reinartz, 2018, p.181).

An excellent example of this could be the cumulated miles that airlines offer. A customer might keep purchasing flight tickets with a company just because of the miles instead of changing to a better-quality-service airline.

On the other hand, attitudinal loyalty refers to customer perceptions and attitudes towards a particular product or service (Kumar & Reinartz, 2018, p.182). It is, however, more difficult to figure who are those attitudinal customers out.

Each of the perceptions that a client might have could be strongly related to beliefs, thoughts and even cultural aspects.

There should be a high correlation in behavioral and attitudinal loyalty, though in some cases client´s behavior may differ from their attitudinal perceptions (Kumar & Reinartz, 2018, p.182). In other words, attitudinal loyalty leads to behavioral loyalty, but in some cases, this last one could also be driven by other factors such as before mention marketing campaigns (Kumar & Reinartz, 2018, p.182)

In order for customers to become loyal, companies should delight them. Delight occurs when a company surprises a customer by exceeding his or her expectations (Goodman, 2009, p.22).

Companies should take into consideration that the customer already sets a set of minimum requirements.

Among these requirements could be speed, courtesy from the staff etc.

When a company accomplishes these minimum requirements, the client can be satisfied, and when those requirements are surpassed by, for instance, extremely fast responses or excellent service, then satisfaction can turn into delight.

Professor Noriaki Kano developed in 1980 a model that classifies customer preferences into three categories; delighter or exciters, satisfiers and dissatisfiers (Goodman, 2009, p.176).

Kano-Model
Figure 9: Kano Model (Source: Goodman, 2009, p.176).

If a delighter is not delivered, then this does not cause dissatisfaction, but its delivery can cause a pleasant surprise and therefore, delight (Goodman, 2009, p.176).

There are, of course, strategic, competitive and financial reasons for creating delight and the most important is to increase loyalty, which at the same time will increase revenue. Delight experiences usually increase loyalty by 10% or 30% (Goodman, 2009, p.177).

According to previous researches, the following are the delight experiences and the average percentage increment in loyalty.

Kano-Model;-Average-lift-to-repurchase

As well as defining loyalty can be complex to define, it is not much easier to measure it.

Usually, customer loyalty could be measured in a combination of three KPI´s; Customer Satisfaction Index, Intentions to Repurchase, and Net Promote Score (Qualtrics, n.d.).

Nevertheless, the strongest correlation to loyalty is the Net Promote Score (NPS).

Delight experiences might cause highly positive word of mouth.

In other words, positive experiences generate positive emotions.

Those emotions will motivate clients to tell their friends and colleges how fantastic is a particular product or service (Goodman, 2009, p.178).

Also, delight could dissolve price resistance.

When customers are delighted, they would think that every penny spent on the service or product is worth it (Goodman, 2009, p.178).

In order to increase loyal customers, the key is to delight them.

However, if a company fails to do that, and the client has problems or issues, the company must address the problem right away and fix it.

Previous research has shown that those customers who had a bad experience and the company took care of it are more loyal than those who never experience any problem (Qualtrics, n.d.).

Having loyal customers is less expensive than acquiring new ones. Besides every loyal customer, a company can acquire a new customer because of the word of mouth marketing that the previous loyal fellow did.

In this sense, it would be worth it that companies focus more on those customers who see value in the product and service besides purchasing. Those that will create a stronger relationship where trust will be the primary basis of it.

Customer Churn.

Customer churn, known as customer attrition, occurs when a customer stops buying products or services from a particular company (Qualtrics, n.d.). 

It is indeed a metric that companies should always track since it can be very harmful to a firm´s image and profitability when it goes unnoticed (Kumar & Petersen, 2012, p.17).

According to previous research, 4% of customers in the churning stage will raise their voice and share their opinions, while the rest 96% of customers will leave without sharing their discontent.

From those lost customers, 91% will not be won back (Kumar & Petersen, 2012, p.17).

That is why the importance of monitoring those customers that are likely to churn. This is possible by tracking the purchase´s attitudes of customers; fewer purchases, longer time between purchases, and so could be symptoms of a likely-to-leave customer (Kumar & Petersen, 2012, p.17).

Another hint is the NPS. If customers reply with seven or less, then this client is about to churn.

What is the importance of detecting customers at risk of leaving? The importance lies in understanding that retaining customers will always be cheaper than acquiring new ones. 

Furthermore, knowing which customers are likely to leave gives the company an advantage to put hands-on action and create campaigns, content or special offers that discourage them from churning, especially to those customers who have done significant expenditures and are likely to contribute with higher profits in the future (Kumar & Petersen, 2012, p.17).

There are many ways to calculate current and predictive customer churn. The simplest for calculating the current one is the Customer Turnover Rate (CTR).

The information should be taken out from customer’s record that companies are supposed to have.

CTR is calculated by dividing lost customers over a period into the total number of the customer at the end of the same period of time.

The result is multiplied by 100 (Kumar & Petersen, 2012, p.17).

If the CTR tendency is upwards, that means that something is not going well, and it should be worth looking at what is happening that leads customers to stop purchasing those products or services.

Besides, while using CTR formula, one must pay attention to defining lost customers; are they defined lost because they have not purchased anything in six months?

Maybe one year? Once the time framework is defined, it should be a rule in the business so the calculations can be compared over time (Marr, 2015, p.129).

On the other hand, if companies require calculating the predictive customer churn, several statistical models are used.

One of the most used models is logistics regression since it is a binary decision; customer will churn or not.

Binomial-Logit-Model
Figure 11: Binomial Logit Model (Source: Kumar & Petersen, 2012, p.152).

Where Pjn is the probability that one user will switch from one carrier to another. F denotes the cumulative distribution function.

The explanatory variables could include service characteristics such as call quality, price level and demographic features, such as income, age and sex (Kumar & Petersen, 2012, p.152).

However, if companies want to skip the step of a detailed analysis of statistical models, Qualtrics created the Predict iQ that helps to understand the customer churn drivers.

It also identifies customers at risk and immediately creates tickets for closed-loop follow-up (Qualtrics, 2020).

Stimulate customer adoption of digital platforms.

As it has been mentioned in previous chapters, it takes for companies a high amount of investment, changes in the organization management among others to turn digital. One of the main objectives of digitalization is to save costs.

However, companies still face some challenges in the stimulation of digital customer services.

Digital self-services grew in use a decade ago, and most of the companies expected that these tools would improve the customer experience at a lower cost (DeLisi, Poole, 2019, p.9).

According to Gartner, those costs lie around $8.01 per contact for live channels such as phone, live chat, and email cost.

On the other hand, self-service has a cost of just $0.10 per contact (DeLisi & Poole, 2019, p.9).

Nevertheless, even with low self-service costs, customers are still calling for live support.

As mentioned in previous chapters, from 8,000 customer journeys that Gartner examined, 70% of the customers use self-service channels during their journey.

However, just 9% out of them successfully finished their transaction in that self-service without the help of any live agent (DeLisi & Poole, 2019, p.9).

Furthermore, according to service leaders, for those customers requiring help from a live agent, nearly 20% to 40% of the inquiries would have been resolved in self-services channels (DeLisi & Poole, 2019, p.9).

When it comes to customer service technologies, researchers found that users fall into three categories; those that are willing to use it, those who will use it just when it makes sense to them and those who will not even try it (Goodman, 2009, p. 136).

This last group has three powerful reasons why not using digital platforms. The first one is that they can not do easily what they want to do if they have a problem they will have to call anyways to the live agent, and last but not least, it is not as personal as interacting with a human (Goodman, 2009, p. 136).

Effective customer education towards digital solutions is key to defuse the product that is being offered.

Companies should demonstrate to the customers the range of possibilities the user can do within the digital solutions.

The interviewee´s opinion strongly backs up this information.

During the interview, it was mentioned that two critical factors could lead the user to work more with logistics platforms: First of all, they consider they should be aware of the digital solutions that a company offers.

Sometimes they do not use it just because they do not know it exists. The task of diffusion is mere of the companies. Once the customers are aware, they should be taught how to use them.

Turning websites into a user experience platform.

User experience platforms (UXP), also known as customer experience platforms (CXP), is the next step in the evolution of user-centric platforms (Kumar, 2015, p.267).

UXP is a user-centric platform that delivers outstanding customer experience at all user touchpoints.

At the core of the UXP is seamless digital customer experience and active engagement, all other characteristics and technology facilitators turn around this central theme (Kumar, 2015, p.267).

The results of implementing a UXP can be seen in benefits such as the increment of the number of conversions and through the long-term user relationship that at the same time leads to customer retention and increment of loyalty (Kumar, 2015, p.267).

The core features of a UXP are the followings (Kumar, 2015, p.267);

Data analytics, web analytics among others can be used to provide insights about customer preferences. It contributes to offer more personalized and engaging customer experience.

This point refers to the user design elements that make it more appealing and interactive to the user. Companies can use those elements such as gadgets, web 2.0 components, HTML 5/ CSS 3, interactive widgets, responsive web design, among others to provide an immersive user experience.

These components provide content management characteristics like content authoring, content services etc. The information contained within the platform should be as easy and understandable as possible. Avoiding bureaucratic language and instead of using personal style phrases will give a more familiar touch that will allow customers to feel more comfortable. Furthermore, when companies have policies and requirements that might be unusual for customers, it will be needed an explanation for it. A good idea could be a link with a video explaining why is that policy or requirement there. It has been proved that giving further explanations of those regulations leads to a 20% to 30% increase in loyalty (Goodman, 2009, p. 137).

This feature has been gaining more and more strength during the last years. It has been implemented in various digital platforms such as Amazon, Shein, Booking, among others. The purpose of social collaborations is to maintain a close relationship with both the company and with other customers. In order to do so, businesses have implemented communities within the platforms. This allows customers to ask about a product or service and receive feedback from any other person that has bought it. At the same time, customers can leave a comment on the product without necessarily answer a previous question. The information given in those blogs is valuable for other customers and the companies as well since it gives data on what the customers look for, what they like, and what they do not.
Collaboration components also include the so-called chatbots, that are a form of conversational AI designed to simplify human interactions with computers (Alison Bolen, n.d.). Chatbots can be programmed to answer specific questions or even to have complex conversations. They are widely used across many industries and are very helpful when live agents are not there to provide further information to customers. At the end of the day is a way of social interaction even if this is sometimes with a bot.

A seamless user experience should be consistent on all channels and all devices. Sometimes a digital platform might work with Google Chrome but not with Mozilla. Sometimes might work with a laptop but not with a tablet. Companies must ensure a smooth customer experience across all devices and browsers.

This is what differentiates UXP from a standard platform. Having pre-built accelerators components like user registration forms, reporting components, dashboards etc. The main objective of the pre-built integrators is to enhance the usability for the user through easier-friendly characteristics. They provide an optimized content strategy to show relevant and organized information to make the platform more usable.

The core characteristics of a UXP are continually evolving as digitalization and customer requirements are as well.

It might be a bit complex to distinguish the differences between web applications and UXP.

Nevertheless, it can be mainly seen in the primary purposes and usability; One of the most important dissimilarities and core strength between UXP and web applications is the out-of-box practices.

These practices embrace the user experience’s continuous improvement through real-time analytics and user interface (UI) testing features (Kumar, 2015, p.271).

The UI focuses on aesthetics characteristics such as color schemes and typography, and most important, maximizes the responsiveness, efficiency, and accessibility of a website (Hannah, 2019).

Regular web applications focus more on transactional-based services, while the UXP enhance relationships through services (Kumar, 2015, p.271).

All in all, the characteristics mentioned above are vital to turning from a simple web application to a real user experience platform.

Conclusion.

Digital platforms are becoming a more and more powerful tool for both companies and users.

Such technological instruments’ capabilities are shaping the way of doing business; This new digital era will particularly benefit the customers.

As time goes by, they will have more offers and options of services and products, and the key decision point will be how the experience before, during, and after the buying process was through the investigation, it has been shown how the digital platforms works, what are the “best practices”, among other data.

Features leading to a transaction in a digital journey.

With the purpose of answering research question number one, which is as follows – What are the features to make the digital customer’s journey go smoothly and lead to a transaction? – one can conclude that one of the main features of creating a smooth customer journey through the platforms is that this should have enough and precise information.

At the same it will help to avoid any confusion while choosing the service that the user is looking for.

Besides sufficient information, the digital journey should be straightforward.

The steps to get to the objective, which is to book a shipment in the case of logistics platforms, must be sequential.

Yet, the user should have the possibility to go back if needed to edit information and come back to the same point where he was before.

The journey could be even smoother if there is a default information option; sometimes, the user has to repeatedly fill out the same data fields.

By clicking the information that once was written is faster than typing it again

This will save time to the user, making the experience flusher.

Finally, when it comes to making the payments, even when the data has been filled out, some customers do not do it.

This might be because of the lack of payment methods.

All in all, the platform should be as easy as possible to follow.

Customers should feel comfortable when using it, and not as an impossible mission for them.

Digital platform´s KPI´s.

The second research question -What and how to measure the digital customer journey?- has been broadly explained within chapter three.

The investigation shows that such measurements should be computed with KPI´s that are set according to the long-term objectives.

According to their scope, every goal could belong to a different category; business revenue impact, self-service effectiveness, and customer satisfaction impact.

Each group contains essential KPI´s that should be measured by the company in order to achieve its long-term goals.

However, according to the investigation, three metrics are especially highlighted, because of its impact in the business:

This key performance indicator appears to be the most highly correlated with increasing money inflows.

The more a company can engage a customer to come back to their website, the more revenue the company is likely to generate (Wolfgang Digital, 2019). It was proved that sessions per user which is the same as return visitors have a more significant correlation in volume revenue than conversion rates (Wolfgang Digital, 2019).

As mentioned before, tracking the return visitors can be a challenge since neither Adobe Analytics nor Google Analytics have the option to do it.

Nevertheless, one can calculate this information by calculations or segmentation.

In Adobe Analytics, it can be calculated as follows; Taking the number of unique visitors of a period, this can be daily, weekly, monthly, Etc. Minus the number of first time-visits of the same period of time.

This metric should be tracked at least once per month, so the company has an idea of how many users are returning to the platform.

Even when they are not doing the conversion yet, they are still interested in the services. Otherwise, they would not come back to the site.

This is a metric that often is left behind by the companies.

The purpose of creating a platform where the user can book and track a shipment by him or herself is because it is cheaper for the company.

The fewer employees, the more savings.

Moreover, another objective is to reduce the workload of the front desk.

Therefore, when implementing such digital tools, the payoffs should be seen in the success of the self-service platform without the intervention of human contact.

There are two ways to compute how well is the self-service effectiveness: The number of customers interactions that were successful with the self-service, this means without any help from agents, divided into the total number of interactions handled by the organization through all channels. (Oracle, 2015, p.12).

The higher the rate, the higher the success of the platform.

The second way to calculate the effectiveness is the escalation percentage to assisted channels.

This is defined as the percentage of visitors who started to use self-service platforms but had to escalate their question or problem with a real agent.

To measure this metric is needed to take out the conversion rate from 1.

In other words, 1 – conversion rate (Oracle, 2015, p.13).

This key performance indicator, as well as the return visitors, should be tracked every month.

The score gives insight into what extent the customer is willing to recommend a product or a service (Marr, 2015, p.124).

Moreover, investigations have found that NPS correlates to the growth rate of organizations.

With this, companies with a higher score of NPS grow faster than those with a lower score (Marr, 2015, p.124).

Another hint that NPS gives is how many detractors a company has.

Having this information and if possible, having who those detractors are can be very helpful as long as the company fixes those issues the detractors could easily become into promoters.

 

One can conclude that these KPI´s give essential information where the platform is standing; without them, companies could lose their way.

The above mentioned; return visitors, self-service effectiveness and net promote score will mainly give extra information about how the platform is performing.

At the same time they are positively correlated to revenue.

Therefore, companies should track them at least once per month.

Customer´s challenges for adopting digital platforms.

Businesses are becoming more digital than ever before; however, not all customers can follow rapidly technological trends.

Therefore, the third and last question -What are the main challenges for a customer to adopt digital platforms?- intends to overview why the client does not turn to the digital transformation.

Therefore, according to the interviews and theory several factors hold back the customer for using digital platforms.

Yet, there are two that are more strongly correlated; The user does not know about the digital solution nor how to use it.

The company should provide information in both cases; First of all, the firm should demonstrate to the customers the range of possibilities the user can do within the digital solutions; booking and tracking a shipment as well as getting a quotation.

Nevertheless, even when some customers already know how a logistics platform works, some are brand new in using digital solutions.

For those users, a proper explanation of how the platform works should be given. In this manner, it could be as the current Kolbenschmidt employee said, capacitation directly from the front desk, but that might be too time-consuming.

Therefore, a video showing the booking process step by step within the platform could encourage more users to use it. At the same time, it might reduce contact to the front desk.

The capabilities of logistics platforms are immense. As we have seen throughout this investigation, there are specific characteristics that they might have in order to be a true user experience platform.

However, this sort of platform is relatively new for transport and logistics companies, so there is still a long way to go for them.

The digital solutions in the logistics and transport branch are just at the beginning of their maximum capacity.

As a result, they will set the bar of services at the highest, helping companies to provide excellent customer experience.

Some References.

Adobe (2020)1: Adobe Analytics Components Guide: Unique Visitors. Available at: https://docs.adobe.com/content/help/en/analytics/components/metrics/unique-visitors.html , accessed: 15th June 2020.

Aleksandr Dmitriev (2019): Saint Petersburg State University: Integrated Digital Platforms for Development of Transport and Logistics Services. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/336306675_Integrated_digital_platforms_for_development_of_transport_and_logistics_services , accessed: 22nd August 2020.

Dan Croxen (n.d.): How to Effectively Drive Revenue Per Visitor to Boost Online Performance. Available at: https://www.awa-digital.com/blog/effectively-drive-revenue-per-visitor-to-boost-online-performance/ accessed: 5th June 2020.

Deloitte (2013): The digital transformation of customer services: Our point of view. Available at: https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/nl/Documents/consumer-business/deloitte-nl-the-digital-transformation-of-customer-services.pdf, accessed: 5th May 5 2020.

Jason Bloomberg (2018): Forbes: Digitalization and digital transformation: Confuse them at your peril. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/jasonbloomberg/2018/04/29/digitization-digitalization-and-digital-transformation-confuse-them-at-your-peril/#382e34ca2f2c , accessed: 1st April 2020.

McKinsey (2016)2: From touchpoints to journeys: Seeing the world as customers do. Available at: https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/marketing-and-sales/our-insights/from-touchpoints-to-journeys-seeing-the-world-as-customers-do , accessed: 1st May 2020.

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