The average customer now engages on six touchpoints before they make a purchase. How do you manage that experience so that it feels personalized at scale? Through customer journey management — the process of researching, measuring, optimizing and orchestrating the customer journey. This ongoing process often requires cross-functional collaboration, with the goal of delivering consistent, relevant experiences across customer touchpoints.
When executed well, the results can be significant. Bharat Poddar, Managing Director & Senior Partner at Boston Consulting Group, hammers the importance home: “Companies that use customer journey programs to realign their organization around their customer can realize improvements of 20 to 40 points in customer advocacy scores, cost reductions of 15% to 25%, and revenue increases of 10% to 20%.”
In this article we’ll dive deep into customer journey management: What it is, why it’s important, and how to get started.
Stages of Customer Journey Management
There are four basic pillars of customer journey management.
- Data unification: Have data from separate channels and customer touchpoints available in one system
- Customer segmentation: Segment your users into different buckets to engage with the right customers at the right stage of the journey
- Customer engagement: Engage those customer segments in real-time (or something near it) and in their preferred channels
- Analysis: Understand how customers are engaging with each step of the journey
Challenges with Delivering Unified Customer Journeys
The challenges companies most commonly face when managing customer journeys are frequently organizational. Specifically, information silos between teams, processes and systems prevent brands from personalizing the customer journey across touchpoints.
In many organizations, marketing, product management and customer service teams all manage separate slices of the customer experience. In the past, this was enough. But now that consumers are interacting with brands on multiple touchpoints throughout the buying process, this ownership model can lead to a fragmented customer experience. For example, the experience a user has in a marketing email isn’t reflected in the product, which isn’t then delivered to the customer success team.
Three Tips for Customer Journey Management
Now that we've established what customer journey management is and the major pitfalls to avoid, it's time to explore the keys to success. These focus on shifting your organizational processes, focusing on the customer, and looking at the bigger picture.
Embrace a Cross-Functional Test-Learn-Repeat Cycle
To put your company on a path to consistently delivering personalized customer journeys across all touchpoints, the first step is to improve the workflows you execute and the technologies you leverage to activate your data.
Often, individual teams within a company will embrace some form of this planning. But that planning will take place in standalone tools or a physical whiteboard, in isolation from other teams that are simultaneously designing their own distinct journeys. This workflow lacks the data-driven context that organizations need to succeed at customer journey management long-term.
Specifically, most teams lack the ability to see at a glance how a customer’s experience on one touchpoint has trickle down effects on how they engage on other touchpoints. For example, a marketer can see the engagement rate on an email they sent and a product manager can see the impact a push notification had on an app user, but it’s really hard to see the impact that the email and the push notification had together on the same user. Organizations should strive for journey management that can follow the customer journey in its entirety.
Build the Journey Around the Customer
In a recent survey, 65% of respondents said that they don’t have cross-channel data integrated into a 360 customer view. Worse still, 29% not only didn’t have that single view, but were also lacking visibility of entire channels in the customer journey. When looking at both technology and organizational solutions, solving these issues should be at the top of your priority list.In a recent survey, 65% of respondents said that they don’t have cross-channel data integrated into a 360 customer view. Worse still, 29% not only didn’t have that single view, but were also lacking visibility of entire channels in the customer journey. When looking at both technology and organizational solutions, solving these issues should be at the top of your priority list.
First, remember that the customer journey isn’t linear and there isn’t one perfect journey. Therefore, it’s critical to collect the right data, perform effective segmentation and adopt the cross-channel engagement tools at your disposal.First, remember that the customer journey isn’t linear and there isn’t one perfect journey. Therefore, it’s critical to collect the right data, perform effective segmentation and adopt the cross-channel engagement tools at your disposal.
Depending on the complexity of your business, many customers may even be on multiple journeys at the same time. For example, they might be interested in a new product while also trying to get a refund for a previous purchase, looking for help on financing, or attempting to buy accessories for a previously purchased product. It can feel convenient to simplify your customer journeys, but true personalization needs to support the reality of the customer experience without compromise.
The Journey Never Ends, so Enjoy the Ride
Customer journey management is not a project that ends. There will never be a point where you will be able to dust off your hands and say “Ooh, that customer journey is done. Don’t need to iterate on it or build any more of them.” Your customers’ interests will always be evolving, and the platforms and touchpoints on which they interact with your brand will always be shifting.
A longer version of this article previously appeared on mparticle.com.