Customers will decide whether your company succeeds.

It doesn’t matter whether you have one of the world’s most recognized logos or you’re a spunky new startup. Today’s customers expect brands to take them on a journey that caters to their every need. Your ability to create this journey will make or break your future.

A cohesive customer journey isn’t wishful thinking. It’s possible today. Consider these guiding principles that illustrate how companies can deliver extraordinary, relevant brand experiences that keep their customers coming back for more.

Disrupt Your Business Before Someone Else Does

In this hyper-mobile and inherently social world, any brand can become the industry leader. Look at Uber, which created a new category in transportation. But beyond the literal journeys that Uber passengers take, the company also designs individualized digital journeys through email, mobile and social. Every customer receives a personalized email receipt and a map of the route, along with a shareable code that earns free rides. It’s a smart way of extending the customer journey.

Or consider Taco Bell, which replies to thousands of individual tweets from @tacobell each week. Taco Bell has massive brand recognition and advertising budget, yet they take the time to send personalized tweets, not stock replies. These memorable moments help the company stay competitive with newcomers to its space. And the social data from these interactions – like real-time feedback on new products — is priceless.

Create a B2C Experience for B2B Products

We’re increasingly seeing B2B journeys that feel just as comfortable and personalized as any B2C journey.

While B2B marketing has traditionally been viewed as more impersonal than its B2C counterpart, the fact is that trust and emotion play a big role in B2B buying decisions — customers of B2B products tend to be making larger monetary investments in one go, and are more likely to be making a purchase they will use daily.

Far from ignoring this emotional aspect, B2B marketers should tap into it and build trust with customers by creating helpful, relevant content focused on their pain points. Lead nurturing campaigns can simplify this process by automatically “dripping” content to leads based on their past activities.

Sales and Marketing Can't Afford to Be Separate

Sales and marketing departments tend to be too siloed and focused on their own goals. If companies want to truly revolutionize their customer data and journeys, this segmentation must stop. In order to truly engage the end-user in a targeted, relevant way, companies need to break down the barriers between marketing and sales and start treating them as an integrated team.

Stanley Black & Decker is putting this into practice. Today, its marketing and sales teams win more business by working together. The company collects behavioral data about users and prospects, which translates into personalized emails and landing pages. Marketing tailors content to each buyer, and by the time sales engages, prospects are already well informed. This collaborative approach has a measurable impact on the bottom line.

Customer Service Is an Integral Part of the Customer Journey

Don't neglect it. Customer service is the follow-through that will keep customers on your journey forever. It’s always cheaper to keep an existing customer than to acquire a new one, so focus on integrating all departments with service, for satisfied customers and faster resolution of issues.

The insight and data gained from these customer service conversations will in turn inform your next interactions, allowing you to constantly deliver an improved brand experience — something customers will definitely notice.

From social listening to lead nurturing, it’s clear that every moment matters in the customer journey. You can start delivering a better customer experience starting today with these four steps:

  • Uncover usable data. What do you know about your customers and what can you do with that? Alternately, what data would help you drive better interactions?
  • Move from a campaign focus to a customer journey focus. The days of the funnel are gone. Customers are no longer passive recipients of information that marketers decide to send, so think about what your customers need before you create content.
  • Deliver personalized content across channels. Factor in every channel, because most purchases take place on a multi-channel, multi-event journey.
  • Analyze and adjust in real-time. Analyze the success of campaigns instantly, and always be willing to pivot.

The customer journey is an ever-changing path forged on the customer's terms. Listen to your customers, and remember that your marketing is about their needs, not your goals.

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Title image by Jaskirat Singh Bawa