Process and Pitfalls of Launching Intelligent Guided Sales for Consumer Buying Journeys

My colleague, Chief Customer Officer Brad Christian, has written about what Intelligent Guided Sales (IGS) actually is, however in my role as Customer Engagement Manager, I wanted to write about what we need to consider to ensure that we get the consumer buying journey just right.  Sometimes there are some difficulties in getting a customer journey live but being aware of potential barriers early helps overcome them quickly.

Questions, and More Questions

When engaging with a client who is looking for us to build and deploy an IGS journey, it’s vital that we understand what their need is; what exactly are they looking to achieve? If we don’t understand exactly why a brand wants to use IGS, the chances are the solution will not be aligned with the client’s desired outcomes and the reasons they want to deploy this solution. Examples why IGS might be deployed to enhance the consumer buying journey are as follows:

  • Create a more personal experience for their customers
  • Gain more information about their customers
  • Provide educational support to their customers
  • Increase basket size through upsell and cross sell
  • Increase conversion rate for those customers who take the journey
  • Increase the quality of service or optimize the service journey
  • Increase the number of leads generated from the website

It could be the case that a client wants to implement IGS for a few or even all of the above reasons, but the key to delivering a successful solution is to ask the right questions in advance and design the journey with the end in mind. 

Questions in a Journey

Once we understand what a client is looking to use IGS for, we engage our consumer psychology experts to collaborate with the brand. It’s important to understand both the end goal of our client while also taking into consideration consumer mindset. Where primary drivers for IGS builds will differ, it is critical that the right questions to ask are identified early in the process.

If the primary driver for building an IGS journey is understanding a customer, for example, we will want to baseline what information needs to be understood about that customer and craft the questions accordingly. Think about the primary drivers for creating a gift finder journey – you wouldn’t want to use a template from a traditional consumer buying journey as you don’t need to ask the consumer about themselves (like most journeys) if the intent is to purchase for someone else. 

If we look at the LEGO gift finder journey that we deployed, the primary driver is to help the user buy for someone else and provide confidence that they’ve bought the right toy that will hit the mark with the recipient and not be returned. 

By comparison, if you look at one of our journeys for McCabes Pharmacy, the questions are built to make a medicine recommendation for the consumer.  They’re a different target audience so have different types of questions with different verbiage to support them. 

Garbage In, Garbage Out

So how do we recommend the right product every time? It’s all in the data. 

We’re only ever as good as the data we have. We collate the product and pricing information into either single or multiple data files and display the information within the data file for the necessary recommendation and/or product detail pages. 

Again, working collaboratively with clients and their e-commerce partners, we define what information is needed to feed our solution. For example, if an image is to be displayed, we need to have a link to the image in the data file. If we want to display a description for a product, we need the description in the data file. If we don’t have the right data, we can’t use it! 

We work closely with our clients to ensure that the source files that they provide contain all of the necessary information and that they feed seamlessly into our solution. Bad data results in delays in launch and, worse yet, incorrect or incomplete recommendations.

Hubble is not just a Telescope

Once we baseline what information we’re using in the data file, we can move onto recommendation rules and logic.

Thinking about our various journeys on the McCabes Pharmacy website, it’s a real problem if the solution recommends the wrong products. Our proprietary recommendation engine, called Hubble,  defines rules around which products can and cannot be recommended and why. For example, if a product isn’t suitable for someone who is pregnant, the last thing we want to do is recommend that product to an expecting mother. For this example, we will tag those products as suitable/unsuitable for pregnant women. We then write a rule in the Hubble engine to determine that the product should never be recommended in this circumstance.

The Journey Never Ends

So, we’ve defined what a customer wants to get out of IGS, we’ve built a journey asking the right questions and we’ve got the data to support a successful implementation. Once we’ve gone live, how do we optimize the solution to ensure no other pitfalls or problems? We study the results and evolve the solution as data feeds back to us to compel us to make changes. The consumer buying journey never really ends. 

Around 30 days after going live, we conduct reviews on the solution and capture answers to the questions within a journey to determine key information like common trends, the number of people who are actually reaching the recommendation screen, where consumers are typically leaving the journey, the products that are being added to consumers’ basket and average basket value. 

Once we have collated the information at the time of review, we can again work with our client to determine where we can make improvements rather than settling for the status quo.

It’s a never-ending process, but with the right strategic partner, these problems and pitfalls can be side stepped; the consumer buying journeys can be optimized for the intended purpose and audience, so they continue to deliver value, month after month. When done right, they really do boost conversion rates, increase session durations, and provide tremendously strategic insight for the brands that implement them.

Get in touch with the team at to find out how IGS can transform your business.