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PHOTO: Chang Hsien

Customer experience leaders believe a lack of personalization has the greatest negative impact on CX. However, a recent survey my company conducted of more than a thousand CX pros found that less than one-third of organizations believe they are effective at engaging customers with the right experiences at the right times through their preferred channels. So how can organizations improve personalization decisions across channels, enhance CX and achieve their business goals?

Today, customer-centric organizations use journeys to align the organization around the customer and the company’s business goals. Yet, they still don’t achieve their desired results.

Noted CX expert Ian Golding recently explained that “a huge mistake that businesses are making around the world is that they are not thinking about the journey as a customer journey. They are thinking about it as a channel journey or a product journey. They're not thinking about the journey from the customer perspective.”

Does Everyone in Your Organization Define ‘Customer Journey’ the Same Way?

The term customer journey is used so frequently these days that it’s difficult to remember what it really means. But it’s crucial to make sure everyone in your organization has the same definition. I define customer journey as: "A customer journey is the sequence of steps a customer takes to achieve a goal that delivers value to themselves and (hopefully) the business.”

For instance, a journey to upgrade a cell phone plan looks a lot different than a journey to resolve a technical issue. And for each journey, the channels a customer uses and the order in which they use them are not the same for every customer. Customers use a variety of channels to accomplish the same goal.

Despite the best efforts of hundreds of software vendors and consultants, it’s important to educate your organization that customer journeys are NOT:

  • Marketing campaign flows.
  • Business process workflows.
  • Web or mobile clickstreams.
  • Confined to a channel or touchpoint.

Related Article: Customer Journey Mapping: Navigating a Course to Better Customer Relations

Why Journeys Are the Key to Personalization

Customers do not treat each touchpoint as a new experience; each channel is a continuation of their overall experience with your business. As a result, organizations that fail to define and manage customer journeys are basing their personalization decisions on only a fraction of the data that defines each customer’s unique experience.

Understanding your customer’s entire experience with your organization from their viewpoint is critical to improving personalization. Meaningful personalization needs to account not only for the customer’s current, or even most recent, interaction, but also for every step of the customer’s journey that led them to the current touchpoint, whether it be a service call, mobile payment or transaction.

Only by managing customer journeys will your organization be able to use each customer’s complete experience to determine how to interact with them as they move across channels to achieve their goals.

Related Article: One Reason Personalization Fails? Customer Journey Mismanagement

Orchestrate Journeys to Improve Omnichannel Personalization

Here are three ways to get your organization on track to use customer journeys to to improve personalization:

1. Identify journeys that matter based on customer goals and align them with business outcomes

Increasing click-through rates on an email helps marketing achieve its objectives, but it doesn’t guarantee your customer has achieved her goal. First, identify those customer journeys that your customers take to reach their most important goals, like upgrading a service or getting a refund.

Next, align these customer goals with business outcomes, such as revenue growth, customer retention or cost savings. This will enable your entire company to identify the high-value journeys that impact your customers and business the most.

Renewal and service upgrade journeys, for instance, are critical to the success of a telecom provider striving to retain customers. Initiating automatic loan payments may be a crucial journey for a bank attempting to reduce the cost of collecting overdue payments.

Related Article: Why Most Companies Haven't Cracked the Customer Journey Code – Yet

2. Monitor signals that measure and predict journey success

Measuring in-journey signals and end-of-journey success scores will enable you to identify causes of friction or obstacles that stand in the way of customers reaching their goals. Monitoring performance over time makes it easy to prioritize initiatives to redesign and optimize journeys.

3. Use customer journey data to deliver meaningful personalization

Personalizing customer experiences is a lot like conducting an orchestra. Each instrument within your organization — CX, marketing, the contact center, operations and more — play a part within the context of the entire experience.

Effectively managing and measuring journeys allows personalization decisions to be based on the customer’s full experience with your organization — not just their current or most recent interaction. Viewing a current interaction within the context of a customer journey makes it possible for all of your customer-facing teams to play in harmony.

In this way, you can find out, for example, what actions an inbound caller has already taken and route them directly to a specific support team, rather than sending them back to the automated voice response system for the third time.

Now, It’s Your Turn

While shifting your approach to customer experience is not an overnight transformation, it will keep your organization focused on what matters most: your customer. By looking at customers through the lens of the journeys they are on, rather than the campaign or touchpoint they are interacting with at the moment, you can create truly personal experiences that deliver value to both your customers and your organization.