RS Components: Audience research and customer experience mapping

Understanding the complex engineering audience and mapping their experience with RS components

Full story

By looking at the real life project lifecycle of an electronics design engineer, we helped RS Components, a global distributor of electronics equipment, transform the way they understood and approached their target audience. Until now, RS had focussed their efforts on a single stage of the customer lifecycle – the purchase stage. Highly transactional messages mixed with tactical campaigns were failing to truly engage their engineering audience.

We introduced experience mapping early on in our relationship with RS, an approach to help businesses put their customers back at the centre of their operations. By understanding how their customers behave across the full customer lifecycle, and overlaying pain points and moments of truth, we are able to develop innovations that not only engage an audience but actually disrupt the industry.

Our research covered both internal and external sources, including stakeholder workshops, customer interviews, user surveys and data insight. We produced two distinct experience maps covering the research undertaken. The first was a visual representation of the project lifecycle across all the engineering roles, detailing the stages, key details and software use. The second map we produced detailed the marketing journey that engineers take when looking for, installing and using the software packages provided, and how this impacts on the purchase of RS Components products.


Stakeholder workshops

Using our innovation space at Freestyle we ran three stakeholder workshops, involving key representatives from across RS. During these workshops we outlined who the engineering audience is, what they want and what a typical engineering project might look like. We mapped their mindsets, key actions and most importantly the channels they’re using.

Customer interviews

To validate the information gathered we travelled the length and breadth of the UK meeting and interviewing engineers who represented our personas, interrogating their day-to-day routines. Our insight not only influenced our mapping work, but also began to yield information that would fundamentally change marketing behaviour at RS.

Producing visual maps

From this we developed persona sheets and generated experience maps to illustrate in detail, the end-to-end lifecycle of a typical engineering project. We made sure to capture every detail from the previous sessions, including the interviews. Our maps were four meters long and one meter high, allowing the RS team to put several up on walls around their office to help influence behaviour and understanding.

Disruption day

Joining forces with SAP, the global CRM specialist, we ran a two-day disruption workshop including 40 people from across each team at RS. Firstly we re-mapped each project lifecycle, overlaid pleaser and pain points, and added moments of truth.

Armed with our maps and the insight gained from our interviews, we were able to generate over 200 ideas to tackle every customer pain point identified on the maps. More than 10 of which are now being deployed as part the long-term marketing strategy, this includes a radically different email strategy, an end-to-end parts manager app and an overhaul of the use of customer data.