Canadian Red Cross’ Andrew George sat down with Pointillist’s Steve Offsey to talk about their recent success at the Loyalty360 Customer Awards, their adoption of customer journey analytics and the road ahead.


Andrew George is the Associate Director, National Customer Experience Marketing for the Canadian Red Cross. He is responsible for the development and execution of organization-wide customer experience and customer retention strategies. Steve Offsey is Vice President, Marketing at Pointillist.


Steve: Congratulations on winning three Loyalty360 Customer Awards. What makes the Canadian Red Cross’s ‘loyalty and retention’ team so successful?

Andrew: Thanks, Steve. A lot of our success is because we are open to innovation. We have the buy-in from our leadership to really push the envelope. We don’t just compare ourselves to the non-profit space, we compare ourselves to for-profit leaders—the Cokes, Pepsis, and Bank of Americas of the world.

There are nuances and variances to giving a charitable donation as compared to buying a product, but there are a lot of similarities too.

Steve: You’ve been a strong advocate of customer journey analytics. What business challenges led you to consider using a customer journey analytics platform in the first place?

Andrew: Our biggest need was to integrate data and eliminate silos. We have four databases across the country. So if you wanted to run a query, you had to run it four different times in each of the databases and then consolidate the results. By using a customer journey analytics platform like Pointillist, we now easily query all our data from one central place.

Besides overcoming data silos, we also wanted to analyze attribution and understand the influence of campaigns on multi-channel customer journeys. We had no way of measuring these multi-channel journeys. We wanted to see the effect of one customer touchpoint on the other, for example how email affected call center, which was previously really hard to do.

Steve: How has the process of journey visualization changed for you?

Andrew: One of our priority segments is face-to-face monthly donors, which are donors that we acquire on the street or by canvassers. It’s a great way of acquiring donors, but the attrition or churn is also high.

We started by designing a donor journey for face-to-face monthly donors. When somebody signed up, we sent them a welcome email, followed by a report on how the money was being used. It wasn’t badly constructed and it had a positive impact on retention, but it was created mostly from educated guesses.

Using journey analytics software, we are now seeing the unique journeys that people are actually taking. So, we don’t need to create processes or documents based on what we think we should send from an internal perspective, but we are discovering how people are actually interacting with us across time and channels.

Steve: Tell us about your experience of the Pointillist implementation. How long did the data integration take? What was the process like for you?

Andrew: The process was really quick. We started with our online customer data and looking at trends in that data. More valuable, though, was integrating our CRM data. Pointillist did all the heavy lifting there. We really didn’t have to do much work.

The ease of integration surprised me. They began by asking basic organizational questions and building it from there. Pointillist’s Agile Data Fusion™ approach worked great because it meant we could start using the tool right away.

Steve: What were some of the early use cases or journeys you discovered using Pointillist?

Andrew: One of the earliest use cases we identified involved the influence of email engagement on donor churn. We compared the journeys of donors with a high level of email engagement vs. donors at a low level. It turned out that the difference was pretty stark.

We discovered that donors who received a high level of engagement stayed engaged for 13 months before they quit. In contrast, those who did not receive it only stayed engaged for two months before they quit.

The difference is 11 months of lost giving, which has a huge impact. If you monetize this, even with a conservative estimate of 5000 donors at an average giving amount of $20 a month, it’s a lot of lost revenue.

Steve: What are some of the other key journeys you’ve discovered using Pointillist?

Andrew: We were able to easily visualize donor journeys, so we could answer questions such as:

  • What is driving cancellations?
  • What are the best acquisition channels?
  • Which channels have really good retention and which don’t?

The insights we gained from these journeys helped us identify a problem with our online monthly retention, which we had always assumed was fine. Since we weren’t actively asking them to sign up, we assumed anybody taking it upon themselves to sign up was very committed. The total number of online memberships also kept going up year-to-year, adding to our belief that there was no problem.

After analyzing those journeys within Pointillist, what we actually found was that the new donors were taking the place of old donors and the churn was considerably worse than we thought it was.

Now we are in the process of redesigning donor journeys using Pointillist insights. We have also done more research with this group of donors and we are in the process of putting in place better experiences for these donors.

Steve: How important are up-sell and cross-sell and have you looked at any of these use cases?

Andrew: They are very important and we have spent some time looking at these journeys. Using Pointillist, we explored the journeys of donors who started out as one-time donors but converted into long-term donors.

Based on the results, we launched a new campaign and got over a 10% conversion rate. We are confident that we will see a 400%+ ROI on this campaign and a 20% lift in lifetime value based on these results.

Powers customer experience with Pointillist

Steve: Do you have any other examples of the impact of customer journey analytics on customer experience?

Andrew: Yes. We discovered through Pointillist that donors who were giving gifts internationally had considerably better retention than those who were giving domestically to programs and disasters in Canada.

Based on the insights we gained from Pointillist, we ran a small test. We called 1000 domestic donors, thanked them for their generosity and then introduced our International programs. We asked if they would consider switching their gift over to international programs. We got over a 10% conversion rate on that campaign and are presuming we will find a 20% lift in Lifetime Value if those donors who switched follow similar pathways to those giving internationally already do.

In terms of actual customer experience, we got a chance to listen in to some of the calls and donors were really complimentary. We heard qualitative feedback such as, “I’ve never had a charity call me before and explain specific priorities to me”.

Steve: Can you share any insights on how you’ve been using customer journey analytics to drive focus on donors’ needs and bring about an outside-in view?

Andrew: I’ll often discover and visualize journeys in front of colleagues in real time to show them that doing it using Pointillist is much easier than they think it is. It’s powerful to show them what donors are actually doing—not what I think they do, not what donors say they are going to do, but what they are really doing.

Showing people what has happened and what is happening in real time, is the way to convince people that customer journey analytics is powerful and it is the way forward.

Steve: What projects do you have planned for 2019 that you’re excited about?

Andrew: We want to figure out who is the kind of donor who will become a long-term, committed Red Cross donor, as opposed to a “One-Time Disaster Appeal Donor.” I’m confident that in 2019 we will get insights from Pointillist that will help us crack that code.

I’m looking forward to conducting segmentation on that group of committed donors. When donors come in, finding better ways to be predictive and prescriptive of those different kinds of journeys. Essentially, doing a Lifetime Value analysis to figure out who are our highest LTV customers and focusing our attention on them and on acquiring more customers with that profile.

We want to break down even more silos and further share insights with all our functional teams, so everyone can work together to optimize donor journeys.

Steve: Andrew, lastly, we’ve heard that you are a master at producing podcasts and you are even building a recording studio at your home for that purpose. Tell us how that’s coming along.

Andrew: Thanks, the recording studio is coming along well. I’m a big soccer fan, particularly of the English Premier League. For over a year now I have been doing podcasts on that subject. It’s just a hobby but it’s a lot of fun to do.