Kevin Krifter, Multichannel Consultant at foryouandyourcustomers Amsterdam
‘If you start with what the customer really wants, you’ll find out what your company really needs to do,’ says Kevin Krifter, Multichannel Consultant at foryouandyourcustomers Amsterdam. ‘By talking to customers, and observing their behaviour, you find the starting point to examine your entire organisation. Your channels, processes, tools, systems and data. Then, you can build a roadmap to get from where you are to where you want to be.’
‘When I started, many clients were unsure if ‘multichannel’ was a real phenomenon, or just another marketing buzzword. Just a short time later, clients now realise that multichannel is very much a reality, and actually the essential key to effective e-commerce.’
Since starting at the company two and a half years ago, optimising the customer journey has been Kevin’s primary focus. After a year of intense teaching from foryouandyourcustomers’ Founder Jonathan Möller and Uster CEO Peter Zwyssig, Kevin came to Amsterdam to support the team there in executing ChannelOPERA for a large client. ‘I went from absorbing all of Jonathan and Peter’s expertise to sharing that knowledge with others,’ he laughs. ‘And I felt supported and encouraged at every stage.’
Stimulating the conversation
Now the company’s ChannelOPERA expert, Kevin uses it to help clients examine their company from the customer’s perspective. And according to Kevin, it’s unlike any other methodology out there. Internal teams – from IT to Communications, from leadership to Customer Service – sit together with customers to talk about the customer journey – both the parts that work well, and the parts that need attention. ‘The insights that come out of a ChannelOPERA session are simple, but loaded with truth. You get people in the room that have never talked to each other before. You build awareness at every level of the company. And you use the insights to examine every aspect of the business,’ Kevin explains.
According to Sandra Pellaupessy, (formerly) Business Consultant Online Campaigning at foryouandyourcustomers, the ‘simple truths’ that Kevin extracts from the ChannelOPERA sessions are crucial for the company’s methodology. ‘ChannelOPERA is at the core of everything we do in multichannel in the Netherlands,’ she says. ‘Kevin interprets the data and creates the foundation for everything we do for our clients.’
Composing the solution
And that’s where the real work begins. The results of the sessions, together with insight into the company’s processes, allows foryouandyourcustomers to dive deeper into the client’s company and closely examine their processes and services. Any channels that aren’t operating optimally, or are of particular importance to customers, get close attention. OPERA results – and Kevin’s insight – allows foryouandyourcustomers to target the areas in priority order. Solutions can range from technical improvements to staff training. ‘When we present our analysis, we use an A0-poster-sized visualisation of the entire customer journey, and all of the data and insights we’ve collected. We show both the ‘low-hanging fruit’ – quick fixes that can have a big impact – and a longer term prioritised list of action points for improvement,’ Kevin says. ‘This makes the entire process clear for everyone involved.’
Kevin says that the best thing about ChannelOPERA is that it is endlessly flexible and adaptable. ‘Whatever the current customer situation, or the area to improve, or the people in the room, we can adjust the workshop to fit the objectives,’ he says. ‘The workshop is fun and engaging, almost playful. But the results we gather are no joke.’ ChannelOPERA is a way to stay in touch with ever-changing customer needs, and make sure that your company changes along with them. It helps bring adaptability and scalability into business processes.
‘Channel OPERA is a way to stay in touch with ever-changing customer needs, and make sure that your company changes along with them.’
Kevin says he’s never given the same workshop more than twice. ‘Every client, every business, every situation is unique. And since we can tailor ChannelOPERA to specifically address each situation, we are constantly fine-tuning and altering to get the best results for our clients.’
Living the the promise
The team at foryouandyourcustomers makes all the difference, Kevin continues. It’s a relatively small team, packed with expertise and drive. ‘There isn’t a single colleague at foryouandyourcustomers that hides or sits back.’
‘There isn’t a single colleague at foryouandyourcustomers that hides or sits back. Everyone wants to contribute. If you want to work at foryouandyourcustomers, you have to be interested, eager to learn, and totally proactive,’ he says. Instead of a forced hierarchy based on titles, the team creates a natural hierarchy based on experience, expertise and enthusiasm. ‘We always strive for the highest possible quality, and to achieve that, we need everyone’s input. When someone asks, ‘Who wants to help me with this?’, you’ll see everyone raise their hands, ready to go.’
Kevin was eager to show that kind of proactivity and motivation from his first encounter with Jonathan and Peter. He was studying Business Communication and writing his Bachelor’s Thesis on multichannel for leading Swiss fashion retail company, Schild. His thesis research led him to Jonathan. ‘Jonathan was clearly an expert in multichannel, so I went to the Uster office to do an interview with him and Peter. That’s when my interest in multichannel really kicked into high gear. I couldn’t get enough of Jonathan and Peter’s passion for the topic. At the end of the talk, they said, ‘If you’re ever interested in working in multichannel, give us a call.’ The very next day, I quit my job and called Jonathan. I’ve been working for foryouandyourcustomers ever since.’
Multichannel is not just a buzzword
And just in the two and a half years he’s been in the field, Kevin has already seen some remarkable change. When he started, many clients were unsure if ‘multichannel’ was a real phenomenon, or just another marketing buzzword. Just a short time later, he says,‘clients now realise that multichannel is very much a reality, and actually the essential key to effective e-commerce.’
Customer needs and behaviour have also changed during his tenure. ‘For example, just think about how you use your smartphone today, as opposed to how you used it two years ago: new apps and mobile services, mobile sites are the standard, shopping through mobile is the norm, and so on. So much has changed in such a short amount of time, and companies that don’t keep up, will get left behind.’
A matter of trust
To help clients navigate the rough waters of changing customer needs and behaviour, Kevin says that trust is the key. ‘In everything we do, foryouandyourcustomers focuses on building relationships. We’re not interested in only working on one project. We want to become a long-term partner that our customers can rely on at every stage in their development. We want them to trust us to provide the services and support they need, when they need it. That’s why we teach our clients to conduct ChannelOPERA on their own. We give them the tools to enable their own development. Then, when the next wave of development happens, they call us. Because they know we have their best interest at heart.’
‘And since we can tailor ChannelOPERA to specifically address each situation, we are constantly fine-tuning and altering to get the best results for our clients.’
Sandra says that Kevin has all the tools he needs to instil trust in his clients. ‘You’ve got people who claim to be experts, and people who really are experts. And Kevin is the real deal,’ she says. ‘He not only has the knowledge to help our clients achieve their goals, but he also has a personality our clients really respond to. He’s open, friendly, and truly puts the client first. He’s very modest about his expertise, but Kevin has all the skills to quickly and efficiently turn client data into meaningful insights. We couldn’t do what we do without him.’
An open door
Building relationships with clients starts from Day One. ‘Communication with the client is essential. At the beginning of the relationship, I make sure that I communicate everything that is important for the client to know, at every moment. I’m all about full disclosure and detailed explanation. Usually, after a time they tell me that that level of detail is no longer necessary. But I’m always available to answer any questions they might have, or address any issues that might arise.’
Alexander Oppel, (formerly) CEO of foryouandyourcustomers Amsterdam, says this client interaction is one of Kevin’s specialties. ‘Kevin is a truly skilled communicator,’ Alexander says. ‘Not only does he clearly communicate during the workshops themselves, but he makes it easy for our clients to explain the content to others. He also has a knack for making people enthusiastic about the work, and the impact it will have on a company’s performance. He helps our clients to really embrace the process.’ Communication has been part of Kevin’s make-up since the very beginning. ‘I’m very comfortable standing up in front of a crowd. I definitely don’t need to be the centre of attention, but I’ve always felt very at home in situations where I’m asked to speak or lead a discussion.’ As a young boy, he was fascinated with the idea that it was someone’s job to think up the cool, clever, impactful taglines used in advertising. He imagined that it would be a great way to make a living. That led him to study Business Communication.
‘But early in my education, I got a taste of what the advertising world was really like, and I realised it wasn’t for me. It just wasn’t my style.’ When his professor connected him with Schild to write his thesis, the company expressed a need for more insight into multichannel. The rest, as they say, is history.
‘I believe that everything that is meant to happen, will happen. I feel like it is as if the universe dances with you. You simply have to trust it and give in to it. Then the universe will lead you to where you need to be, and getting there is fun…just like dancing is.’
Both in life and his career, Kevin says it’s been important to him to recognise opportunities when they arise, and to grab onto them with both hands. He grew up in Wil, Switzerland, about 45km northeast of Zurich. Although he didn’t have a strong desire to leave his home country, he was eager to embrace life outside of his hometown. ‘I’ll always love my country. It’s where my history is, and where my family and close friends are. I studied in Zurich, and made life-long friends there. But I want to stay open to the opportunities that come my way. I’ll always consider Switzerland to be my home, and I fully intend to return there someday. But now is the time for me to explore. I’ve got nothing tying me down, and I’m enjoying the freedom and independence of a life full of new adventures.’
The Dutch detour
When the Dutch team asked Kevin to assist them in a ChannelOPERA workshop, Kevin saw it as an opportunity to visit a city he had always liked and enjoyed. But during that trip, Fabio Zuccato asked Kevin if he’d ever consider moving to the Amsterdam team for a longer period of time. ‘After that, everything happened pretty quickly. I returned to Zurich and mentioned to Jonathan that I might be interested in working for the Amsterdam team. He and Peter not only encouraged my interest, they actively facilitated it. Within just a couple of months, I was moving to Amsterdam to start my new role.’
Life in Amsterdam seems to suit the 27-year-old. ‘I love exploring new places and learning new things, so the expat experience is so much fun. I’ve made great friends, I met my amazing girlfriend Jessica, and I’m really enjoying my time here,’ he says, flashing the bright smile for which he’s best known.
And, since life for Kevin can’t be all about work, he makes sure to make time for his favourite activities, including martial arts. He began training in judo around the age of eleven, and, in addition to other martial arts, also studied Hung Gar Kung Fu. In Amsterdam, he’s training in the gym of professional Mixed Martial Artist Robby Nelson. ‘Robby is a fantastic trainer. He’s very serious about the trainings, but he always makes them fun and diverse, too.’ When he’s not working the bags, Kevin gets lost in music as he explores his new city or attends music festivals. ‘I like a lot of different kinds of music, but I’m really into hip hop and soul. Those are the sounds I grew up with, and there’s just something about them that really speaks to me.’
The next open door
True to his nature, Kevin says he’s not sure where life will take him next, but he’s open to all the possibilities. ‘I believe that everything that is meant to happen, will happen. I feel like it is as if the universe dances with you. You simply have to trust it and give in to it. Then the universe will lead you to where you need to be, and getting there is fun… just like dancing is.’
But until the dance leads him to his next adventure, Kevin will continue to put his communication skills and expertise to work at foryouandyourcustomers. And his colleagues and clients are happy that he does.