If you think a business based on building electric components is boring and static, think again! The executive team at Schneider Electric is transforming the 25 billion euro company into one that is key player in building smart cities, smart factories and smart homes. And under the leadership of CMO Chris Hummel and EVP of Digital Customer Experiences Chris Leong the company has become a leader in modern marketing. I recently spoke with Leong about Schneider’s transformation journey and the innovative approach it is taking in delivering personalized digital experiences.
Leong: If you think about Schneider, we’re very, very diverse, from selling smart city solutions, which we do in Boston and a few other cities, all the way to industrial automation in mining, marine, oil and gas, to utilities, to datacenters, to hospitals, to hotels, to airports and to your home.
We’re going through a major transformation journey and moving from being a company that was historically focused on our roots in R&D, engineering, quality and passion for innovation. All this is still there. Now, in addition, we’re extending these to the next level in terms of customer engagement.
Ellett: I believe that a key part of modern marketing is a focus on more personalized experiences. How have you taken the concept of personalization and extended it into the way you’re delivering the ideal experiences?
Leong: I’m glad you asked this question because we’re in the middle of rolling out the new website that we’ve executed thanks to SDL. We’ve implemented five simple principles to deliver our experience on the Web. The first thing we do is to remember all the diverse customers that we have. We want to welcome our customers to a simplified landing page where if you are a home consumer, if you’re at work or if you’re a partner with us, you have a window into the portal.
Then if you click through that (let’s say you are a consumer) you will go to an area where the navigation is based on your journey. A consumer could say, “I want to build a new home or I want to renovate and I want to get some inspiration from how other people do it.” We then have a tool for you to upload your floor plan or we have a pre-fabricated plan for you to design your ideal solutions with Schneider products. We have easy-to-use product selectors and then we connect you to an installer near your ZIP code who we have trained and certified. We are in the middle of piloting applications where our installer will connect back with you within 24 hours to make an appointment. All this is thanks to digitization that allows us to do that in a closed-loop fashion.
For some segments we’re implementing personalized environments and personalized navigation paths within the Web itself. If you are a datacenter customer, your navigation path will be fairly different. If you are a design architect who is going to build, it would be much more about white papers, the latest technologies, design tools and calculation tools. Then it will link you to the next group of partners in the value chain.
But if you are a C-level customer, we are building the navigation path based on that persona.
Ellett: To deliver a much more personalized experience you have the right kind of content for the customer’s journey based on his or her interest. How have you changed your perspective on content development for more customized experiences?
Leong: I always say that the three most important things in the whole experience are content, content and content. You can have the most flashy looking website but if your content sucks, then nothing else matters! Visitors aren’t going to come back again.
Content depends on what kind of customers you have and we have a lot of customers, especially partners who are very technically savvy. For them, the critical thing is having the right software tools to help them do their business and it’s about a social environment that connects them to their peer groups to be able to solve the technical challenges. For a CFO who is looking for energy efficiency, we would have simulators to do savings calculations.
So the content comes in many forms. It’s not just about advertising messaging. It goes down to who you are as a customer and what’s most important to you and which part of the journey you are in. We’re able to cater to that specific need.
Ellett: The development of this personalized approach is more complex than just standard and generic messaging. I would imagine the cost to produce content for this more individualized journey is higher than the old world. How did you justify the investment and what kind of return are you beginning to see with this approach versus your previous approach?
Leong: To all intents and purposes, even in our previous approach, I would say that we delivered fairly rich experiences to our different customers. We’ve always served very diverse customers. The difference is within the website environment, SDL gives us an opportunity to organize content in such a way that you don’t walk into a big supermarket and try to look for something. Now content is organized by persona and served up to you that way. Where it also helps is in localization, in translation automation — because of the volume that we’re dealing with and, of course, with it being a responsive design. If our experience is not cloud and mobile, then we’re going to have a limited shelf life.