4 Steps Towards Improved Customer Journey
The old adage, “The customer is king,” still applies in today’s digital world. While the objective of obtaining and maintaining customers remains the primary goal, the rules of engagement have changed.

Technology has certainly made it easier to connect with customers, but managing engagement throughout the customer journey has become more challenging as they have better access to content and brand knowledge than ever before.

What fascinates me most about this topic is how organizations are mobilizing internally to accommodate the ever-changing customer journey. As you can imagine, supporting the complexity of today’s customer journey involves multiple functions within a business including marketing, IT and support, since the journey begins when a customer touches a brand and, in an ideal world, never ends.

At this point, hopefully you've started to identify the needs of your customers at various stages of their journey as they interact with your organization. Based on my 20-plus years of experience as a marketer, here are four tips on how to improve your customer journey:

1. Present relevant and diverse content fragments at each stage of your online customer journey

This seems simple enough, but many organizations still present the same experience to every customer that comes to their site. With all of the information available today, this is unacceptable as organizations have access to data such as buying history, device, location, gender and even in-the-moment action like real-time click-throughs.

Use this data to determine where your visitor is in the customer journey and then assemble, package and deliver relevant “snackable” content to create a more personalized interaction. With all of the privacy concerns that have surfaced because of the NSA scandal, be sure to use customer data carefully and only in a way that benefits them (i.e., a better customer journey).

2. Identify and integrate technologies for content delivery

Once an organization identifies both the stages of the journey and the relevant content, it must figure out what technologies they will be able to leverage to support it. A few areas that come to mind include CRM, analytics and personalization platforms. Develop a technology strategy that closely aligns with your customer experience objectives.

I know that I’m preaching to the choir when I say that Web content management (WCM) systems should be at the hub of your customer journey. When researching a WCM platform, ensure it can integrate well with other technologies, assemble content from across multiple sources and publish content seamlessly across all devices.

3. Integrate marketing and IT

Today, a better understanding of the value of technology is ensuring that business users like marketers are closely involved in areas that have previously been reserved for IT. Looking specifically at WCM, previously IT was largely responsible for publishing and managing all website content. As customers have become increasingly accustomed to unique experiences at every touchpoint, marketers have become more involved with this process to the point where marketing is making some technology buying decisions without IT.

While this autonomy can be viewed as liberating, remember that the IT department is filled with technology experts and that it’s important for marketing to partner with IT in order to create and support compelling customer journeys. Marketing and IT must work together from the beginning of projects and align teams under common goals. This will lead to the continual improvement of the customer experience and help your organization support your customers’ journey, which is the ultimate goal.

4. Manage life beyond the purchase

There is a huge cost associated with acquiring new customers, so turning existing customers into advocates should be another focal point in supporting the customer journey. Your organization should have excellent customer service in place for those who have already made purchases in order to cultivate repeat customers.

While customer service often brings to mind huge call centers, in today’s do-it-yourself world, customers like to discover answers to any support or use issues and interact with other customers. This can be in the form of do-it-yourself blog posts, online educational videos, discussion forums or FAQs. Zappos, an online retail company specializing in footwear, uses customer service as a key differentiator, often going above and beyond what is required. For example, the company sent flowers to a woman who ordered six different pairs of shoes because her feet were damaged by harsh medical treatments. This type of service creates life-long customers.

For any organization with customer-facing initiatives, providing the best possible experience throughout the customer journey has to be top of mind each and every day. Your customers need care, and paying attention to their journey is paramount for growing and retaining business. These five tips will not solve all your customer challenges, but it will set you on a path to engaging your customers in a more meaningful way at every touchpoint.

Title image courtesy of photobank.kiev.ua (Shutterstock)

Editor's Note: To read more from Glenn, see his WEM: Corporate and Mobile Websites Still Falling Short of Consumer Expectations