Customer experience directly affects both the top and bottom lines of business. 

CMOs know this and now compete to deliver the most compelling, contextually relevant experiences. 

CMOs until recently focused on improving the customer experience at particular touch points — the call center, in-store point of sale, the website — and invested heavily in an ever-growing number of systems to support their efforts. 

The Sum is Greater Than the Parts

But it's the cumulative customer experience across many touch points — not just one individual touchpoint — that drives loyalty and long-term value. 

According to a recent McKinsey study, “Performance on journeys is more predictive of business outcomes than performance on touch points.” It found that across different industries, performance on journeys is 30 to 40 percent more correlated with customer satisfaction than performance on touch points, and 20 to 30 percent more strongly correlated with business outcomes, such as higher revenue, repeat purchase, lower customer churn and positive word of mouth. 

While most CMOs understand that to meaningfully impact the customer experience they need to manage the customer’s journey — many simply don’t know where to start. 

Brands and their agencies are often paralyzed by the sheer volume of customer touch point data as well as the systems that were designed to support them. To further complicate things, marketing logic and business rules, like data, have grown exponentially and live buried in silos across the business — leaving the orchestration of true customer journeys, and intelligent ones at that, well out of arms reach.

Adopting a more intelligent form of marketing orchestration — where different systems work together to enable brands to manage the customer's journey across channels and over time — will help brands overcome these barriers.  

From my experience, these are the best practices for getting started:

Unify Business Logic

Intelligent customer journeys require that brands unify the business rules and logic that sit in different marketing systems. These rules act as the foundation for responding correctly to customer actions, needs and wants. 

Rather than spending time and money centralizing data or swapping out channel technologies, customer experiences can be drastically improved using current channels and systems, and brands can start to see a greater return on their investments. In the past, brands may have attempted to build out this type of centralized logic between systems manually, but an emerging market of solutions have been designed to do just that — greatly simplifying the orchestration, management and monitoring of the customer journey. 

Define the Opportunity

Beyond understanding their business and the larger marketing ecosystem of which they’re a part, brands need to understand the current journeys their consumers are on. The discovery process must cross channels and touch points to provide an integrated view of the current customer journeys. 

This will enable brands to identify current conversion pathways and barriers to conversion — a great starting point for then mapping out winning ways to nudge or encourage behavior that will improve the customer experience.

Start with Quick Wins

Channels and touch points are often "owned" by different individuals and departments, which often creates a significant organizational component to coordinating these customer journeys. For this, and other reasons, it makes sense to start small. 

Brands should brainstorm potential journeys, rules and logic that could resolve immediate valuable issues at hand, using the data and channels that present the lowest barrier to entry — including organizational barriers — while having the greatest potential impact. 

Brands can test journeys by conducting small-scale A/B tests and selecting specific KPIs to measure against. Use early results as justification for larger initiatives with coordinated incentives for cross-department and channel programs. 

At the recent Gartner Customer Strategies and Technologies Summit, it introduced a prediction that by 2018, 30 percent of all consumer companies will have started to deploy new technology to analyze and guide the customer journey. More importantly it also predicted that those businesses who take it on, will see sales increase by 30 percent over those that do not.

Embracing these types of strategies and technologies in support of the customer journey should be, if it isn’t already, the new imperative for every CMO.

Title image Benjamin Child