Tuesday, December 06, 2022

Clorox: How the CPG Company Gets Closer to the Customer

SmarterCX Team
September 27, 2017

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Doug Milliken, Vice President of Digital Customer Experience at The Clorox Company, shares insight on the CPG company’s journey to more targeted, more personalized, and more real-time customer experiences.

Doug Milliken is interviewed by CX Factor host and CEO of Fanatics Media, Mark Fidelman, with additional questions from CX influencers Ron Kaufman, author of The New York Times bestselling title, “Uplifting Service,” and Shep Hyken, bestselling author of four customer service-centric books.

Mark Fidelman: Welcome to CX Factor, the Oracle sponsored series that features executives from top brands delivering insights on creating the most engaging, effective customer experiences.

I’m Mark Fidelman, host of CX Factor. On this week’s CX Factor, I travel to The Clorox Company headquarters to meet with Doug Milliken, Vice President of Digital Consumer Experience to discuss how Clorox has forged new ways to interact with their fans and create innovative customer experiences that have resulted in enviable trust and loyalty. Joining me from The Clorox Company is Doug Milliken, VP of Digital Consumer Experience where you oversee, Doug, a cross discipline of marketers, technologists, data strategists, data scientists, and consumer insight professionals. Welcome to the show, Doug.

Doug Milliken: Great. Thanks for having me.

Mark Fidelman: How does Clorox define the customer experience? What is your definition of it?

Doug Milliken: We define it right now as how we take the product experience and try to extend that to more interactions with the consumer. This is really a new idea in consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies because traditionally we didn’t really have to think in terms of experiences; we didn’t have a lot of opportunities to create experiences with consumers. We sent people ads.

Mark Fidelman: There’s a third party in between you and the consumer.

Doug Milliken: Well, there’s also a third party, but just in terms of your interaction with the brand, mainly you’re interacting with the product so that was an experience. Now with digital technology and digital products, we can take the experience and extend it to all sorts of other interactions.

Mark Fidelman: How would you describe your customer experience strategy in 200 words or less?

Doug Milliken: The way I would describe our strategy is we are trying to become more targeted, more personal, and more real-time.

Mark Fidelman: What tools and technologies are you using to put this in place? I know Facebook has got to be one of them.

Doug Milliken: Yeah, so there’s a lot. Something that’s in the core for us might be systems or technologies that are used by many functions or businesses. They have to pipe to a lot of places. There are things you don’t want to change out very often like a CRM system or a data management platform. On those, we partner very heavily with our IT organization. They really run those. They really run finding those and setting them up.

Mark Fidelman: When you look at some of the customer experience challenges you’ve had in the past, has anything gone terribly wrong and if so, how did you fix it?

Doug Milliken: Well, I think the thing that can go wrong is over-investing in this area. Despite everything that I’ve been describing, it’s possible, we think, to go too far. This is an area that’s very interesting, very exciting. It’s pretty sexy. You can get very targeted, you can get very personalized. Just because you can, though, doesn’t mean you should. And the main reason for that is as you get more targeted, more personalized, it’s just more expensive.

Mark Fidelman: I know we’ve talked a lot about technologies, how you’re using them, and how you’re leveraging them, but what specific KPIs does Clorox use to measure success with your programs?

Doug Milliken: Well, we use what we call early performance indicator. We’re trying to understand what kind of performance indicators are going to link ultimately to a business outcome like sales or share growth. So we focus on these EPIs, and the EPIs are generally things around engagement from what we’re doing online.

Mark Fidelman: Let’s also move into some of the hot technologies today. One would be virtual reality, augmented reality (AR), one of my favorites – chatbots – and then finally artificial intelligence (AI). Are you exploring any of these areas now? If so, can you tell us about what you’re doing?

Doug Milliken: We are exploring all of them fairly low-level. A number of those – VR, AR – we’re thinking about how we do storytelling in those. Personally, I believe the thing that has the most short term interest is more in the artificial intelligence area. That’s a place over the next year I think we’ll be trying to experiment more with because if you think about using all these data to do something even just as simple as targeting, and be able to optimize targets as opposed to have people try to look up the interactions that we’re getting and the data that we’re getting back, artificial intelligence probably can be used to do that even faster and quicker. It can be used to identify the patterns of what’s working. So, I think AI is the area, personally, that I’m the most interested in.

Ron Kaufman: My name is Ron Kaufman. I’m the author of The New York Times bestselling book Uplifting Service. The question I have for you, Doug, is this: The Clorox Company makes many of the world’s most trusted products to support healthy living in our communities, in our homes, and in our personal lives. In your effort to be even more responsive to consumers with more targeted and personal interactions in real time, how do you navigate between knowing such intimate details and your customers’ legitimate concern for privacy and data security?

Doug Milliken: That’s incredibly relevant. The first thing I would say is we, and all of the partners that we work with, take the issues around privacy and data security at the highest levels of importance. What we’re really interested in understanding are the patterns of behavior of smaller groups of people who we can then give content that is more relevant and interesting to them within all of the boundaries of people’s privacy.

Shep Hyken: Clorox is a product. Now you want to create a customer experience. Beyond just having a good product, what’s your best way to engage and turn an average customer into a loyal customer?

Doug Milliken: The best way to turn an average consumer into a loyal consumer is to meet their need. What’s interesting about this and interesting about the question is, yes, Clorox is a product company historically and we sell a product, but really today we are, as I think all companies are, a consumer experience company because that’s what we deliver – more than just a product. We deliver a product and a need – for instance, if you buy Fresh Step Cat Litter, you have a need to have a cat box that isn’t stinky and we deliver that. But you also have information needs. You may be wondering about what kind of litter to buy. You have a utility need and we need to deliver, and can deliver, on that.

There are other times when you have an entertainment need. You’re in line at the bank, you want to watch cat videos. We can have, and do have, cat videos on our Instagram page. So, we aren’t in a way just a product company anymore. We could create an experience that extends the product experience to information, to entertainment, to actual delivery of a functional need that you have. Meeting those needs – any of those needs or all of those needs – is how we create an average to a loyal consumer.


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This transcript may be edited for readability.

SmarterCX Team
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