Marketers need to deepen relationships and move customers from purchasers to loyal advocates. That was the message from according Augie Ray, a research director at Gartner who focuses on the customer experience (CX) for marketing leaders. 

At the Gartner Digital Marketing Conference in San Diego last week, Ray discussed the new customer journey, which he said now encompasses three simple, but intimately related, parts.

"Today’s customer buying journey spans buying, owning and advocating. It is progressive so that if brands do the right thing in the buy and own stage, they earn customer advocacy. This is important because when marketers improve the entire customer experience across all three phases, their marketing results amplify and improve," he noted.

Understanding — and having the tools to map — the customer journey is an important task for marketers. According to Gartner, in the next three years, 60 percent of digital commerce analytics investments will be spent on customer journey analytics.

Customer journey mapping is a visual representation from the customer’s point of view and how they interact with your brand. It's a way to create consolidated views of the customer, identify gaps in such things as voice of the customer measurements and ultimately create more personalized offerings and ultimately drive higher conversions.

So what's the problem?

The Question

What do companies get wrong about customer journey mapping?

The Answers

Jason Chang, Manager, Liferay

jason chang headshot

Chang is the senior marketing operations manager for Liferay, where he works on marketing metrics, improving business process within marketing and across departments, orchestrating product launches, and managing projects such as the open source CMS's improvement initiative. He has 15 years in the B2B software industry at Liferay, Dell and Quest Software, with roles in sales operations and marketing operations. Connect with Jason Chang on LinkedIn.

A successful customer journey map is one that begins and ends with the customer. By measuring all you do against whether you’re centered around your customers, mapping out their journeys should accomplish two things: a greater understanding of their true experiences with your brand and actionable insights to improve the customer experience.

However, too often, the customer journey maps fail to enact real and valuable change to businesses. One reason for this is teams in charge of the mapping view the customer journey as ending at the purchase stage.

They may be operating from a limited view of the customer based on their job functions and responsibilities around getting to the sale. But this leads to companies missing out on valuable opportunities after the sale to engage customers, make them happy and keep them coming back. In other words, organizations fail to map out the customer experience post purchase, such as customer support and onboarding, that lead to a lasting relationship with the buyer and greater retention.

Related to this point, journey maps also often fail to encompass the journey across cross-functional teams throughout the organization. Every team involved in the customer experience should be a part of the customer journey map, not only marketing or customer experience. This includes teams in sales, products, support, accounts and design, among others. Companies may be organized in silos by function but from the customer’s view, you are a single brand experience, a reality that should be captured in the journey map.

Lastly, customer journey mapping shouldn’t be based on information only coming from internal teams, but from the customers themselves. There is no getting around the incredible value organizations can gain from implicit data through simply observing customers. This can be achieved through mining the great volume of unfiltered customer feedback given to support or observing customer actions in real settings, such as an airline observing customer’s emotions and behaviors at the baggage claim in order to improve the end-to-end customer experience.

Companies who sweat and do the grunt work to incorporate real customer data into their journey maps will gain that much more value and actionable insights and, ultimately, be able to make strides in improving their customers’ experiences.

James Norwood, EVP and CMO, Episerver

James Norwood
With more than 25 years of experience within enterprise business software, Norwood has a track record in product strategy, sales and marketing, mergers and acquisitions, brand creation and development. He was SVP and CMO at KANA Software from 2011 until its acquisition by Verint Systems in 2014. Before that he was SVP of Worldwide Product Strategy and Marketing at Epicor Software. Tweet to James Norwood.

The biggest mistake companies make when embarking on customer journey mapping exercises to improve the customer experience is not including the customer as part of the process.

Typically, they build out the various omnichannel scenarios as they see them, but from the company’s perspective — not the perspective of the customers. If the intent is to create a more seamless and engaging experience for the customer, then begin by speaking with customers about their experiences with your company across all available channels.

Mark Moore, CMO, Segmint

mark moore headshot

As CMO at Segmint, a provider of data driven marketing technologies, Moore is focused on global business development, brand strategy and marketing strategy. He is a senior strategy and marketing executive with 23 years of experience in the financial services, healthcare and technology industries. He joined Segmint from FIS, where he was SVP of Global Solution Marketing, developing the strategy and marketing execution of programs for the company’s solution portfolio worldwide. Connect with Mark Moore on LinkedIn.

Today, customer experience journey mapping is absolutely critical in helping organizations forge the deepest levels of customer engagement, to lock in lasting relationships from the moment a customer is acquired and continue to drive relevancy and, ultimately, profitability. Mapping out the end-to-end journey and, more importantly, the path to “getting there” is imperative.

Yet, too often organizations overlook a few critical steps in that path — ones that are essential to creating a highly personalized, truly tailored customer experience that adapts in real-time to life events. This is in direct response to the macro shift from a product-driven, to channel-driven and now a life-event driven society. Truly, customers just want an experience that makes their life better at precisely the right moment.

Advancements in analytics and data-driven marketing technology make this possible. Technology is now emerging that leverages meta data tags attached to an individual customer that can trigger a truly unique, compelling experience the moment a change occurs in that person's life, whether it's in the form of delivering one-to-one targeted messages or delivering a dynamic user experience tied 100 percent to a customer's preferences and desires.

It's all about anticipating needs and delivering this highly personalized experience in real time. Ultimately, this simplifies and enriches lives. For many organizations this is the ultimate goal. To this end, we've seen some clients, particularly in the banking industry, increase engagement by 4.5 times by staying true to these principals.