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Dreamforce 2021 - Canyon Bicycles on a ride to customer personalization with Salesforce

Derek du Preez Profile picture for user ddpreez September 24, 2021
Canyon Bicycles has adopted a number of Salesforce products to better help it understand its data, in order to maintain lifelong relationships with its customers.

An image of someone biking up a mountain
(Image by suju-foto from Pixabay )

German bike manufacturer, Canyon Bicycle, is adopting a service-oriented approach to customer service and is using a number of Salesforce products to better understand its data - in a bid to move towards greater personalization.

John Keiller, Global Director of Digital Strategy at Canyon Bicycles, speaking this week at Dreamforce 2021, explained how the organization, which brings in over $400 million in revenue annually, has re-architected its platform onto The company has adopted Salesforce Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud and Commerce Cloud. 

Keiller said it had been a "wild ride" re-platforming onto Salesforce, but that it has helped Canyon better understand its customers, as it thinks through data collection, personalization and automation features. 

Canyon operates a direct to consumer model, which is allowing it to better ‘own' the relationship with its customers over a number of years. Keiller said that online direct to consumer is a huge opportunity for retailers to better understand their customers. He said: 

The difference [between in-store and online] in the models and the data that you get behind them is obviously quite stark. You can have a huge network of retailers, but that customer walks in the store, has a conversation with your sales agent, leaves, and in essence you kind of learn nothing about that person. We have two showrooms and it's hard there, you know, to kind of understand who those customers were and where they go to next.

But obviously being online and having that direct relationship, we can see everything - where you came from, how many days before you bought, how often you visit the site, what you viewed, how long you spend on the page, whether you sign up for the newsletter. And then obviously, when you do buy, we generate that account. That's really when kind of the magic starts to happen in terms of building that relationship.

The importance of NPS

Keiller said that Canyon began using NPS - net promoter scores - three years ago, to really understand the dynamics of the entire customer experience. Given that Canyon is in control of design, engineering, shipment, logistics, delivery, and customer support, understanding its impact on the customer across that entire journey can significantly guide future changes to the business. Keiller said: 

I think NPS has been this amazing tool to just understand the entire process that a customer goes through, and to strategically hone in on how we improve each and every step.

And then ultimately, how do we automate around that? How do we automate some of that user journey to help the customer? To guide the customer. It's been a really dynamic, really interesting way of engaging with customers. And we connect with customers a lot. We run a lot of surveys on the site. 

Obviously we also have our service centres across the world and they're deeply connected, they get a lot of almost immediate feedback from customers that filters throughout the business. Our call centres and service units, they really give us the live feedback and interpretations, and we use all of that just to design a really amazing customer journey and constantly learn.

There is no single source of truth

Whilst many people working in digital and marketing often discuss trying to achieve a single source of truth with their data, Keiller said that this is a misguided strategy when it comes to direct to consumer retail. Canyon has multiple sources and flows of data, he said, and it's the business' job to interpret these and build a narrative around what the customer needs. Keiller said: 

I think people expect in a business like ours that it's perfect and there's this single source and whole truth. I think it's actually very different and the data is in lots of different places. Not to say that they're siloed, but it's the way that the team brings them together. The amazing data analysts, the amazing designers that we have, the merchandisers, they pulled together different aspects of data to build a picture and a narrative. Data is data, it's just numbers, it's binary. But it's the insight and the narrative behind it that's really powerful.

We look at all sorts of data - from our traffic data, our engagement data, our inventory level,  search volume (both organic and through paid), and then we'll look at Google Trends data, to try and build this picture of what's happening at a macro level in the market. What's happening with consumers on a day to day basis. How are they engaging with the site? Are they coming back to the site? And if they're not, why not? 

And what's the correlation between all of the aspects in the business? From brand and marketing, to product, to service, to sales, to channels. It kind of feeds and informs absolutely everything. It's lots and lots of different sources and the hard work and the people in the team that are much smarter than me, is pulling that together. And then really finding the insights.

Automating growth

Two years ago, Canyon Bicycles realised that it needed to automate more of the customer journey in order to achieve its growth targets. It looked at the forecast going forward and the level of investments it would need to get there - and it realized that without automating core elements of the customer journey, the targets would not be met. One target area for this automation was the customer welcome journey. Keiller said: 

So the welcome journey, in its simplest form, is when somebody signs up for a newsletter and we say: ‘Welcome to Canyon'. What we developed in terms of a data strategy that then drove personalization was: we know that email address, so we know that somebody is engaged with us. What if, based on every click and interaction with that 158 Point welcome journey, we changed the content that you get, changed the narrative of the products, and we take you further and further down the rabbit hole. But that rabbit hole becomes much more interesting and informative because it's all based on your interactions. And we launched that with great success.

For example, if you come onto the site, you sign up, and you then press ‘road', we'll take you down the road and we'll describe the different worlds to you. Then you'll say, okay I'm interested in racing, and then we'll take you through all the different race bikes we've got, whether it's road racing, or cyclocross racing, or triathlon racing. And then we'll take you into the product. And then that carries through into the site. So why after engaging with that would the site remain the same when we have all this data about what you've engaged with and what you're what you're interested in? 

Canyon Bicycles is also working on a project at the moment for what it calls ‘implied cohorts'. Keiller said that three or four years ago there was an idea that segmentation would be achieved by customers self-segmenting. He argues that this was never realistic. 

Anybody that has worked with data has realised they don't [self-segment]. We are moving much more towards what I would compare to the Instagram algorithm. So the more you engage with things, the more you're shown more of that type of content. That's how we're working with segmentation, which then drives personalization. It's understanding from multiple different touch points, multiple different engagement points, what is no more relevant to you? Or what is less relevant to you? 

We've had a lot of success with the really simple stuff. For example, recently viewed. I know Amazon has been doing it for ages, but we know the average time between visiting the site and buying is 30 days, so on average it's a month. And people will do, on average, six to seven visits and spend five minutes on site. So, if you keep coming back and you have to keep going through the site to find that product, that's a little bit annoying. So why don't we just personalise that experience by showing you your recently viewed, so you can get back to that super quick. It's going from the very complicated to the very simple.

However, the key to all of this is adopting a service-focused approach to customer service. Why? Because if Canyon can keep hold of a customer for a number of years once it makes a sale, that's a much more sustainable business model for the long term. Keiller said: 

We have really worked hard with the rest of the business to move more into service. To help the consume, build the product, maintain the product, and then fix the product. So we've almost thought through all of the challenges that you have, from researching, all the way through to using, fixing, repairing, and then even bringing back in and trading in and trading up the product. I think that's really important for us, maintaining a relationship that's 10 years long, that's not year by year.

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