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The Key to CX Success? Planning the Entire Customer Journey

6 minute read
Nathan Eddy avatar
If your customer journey maps end at purchase or delivery, you might want to rethink your strategy. A successful approach requires a holistic view.

A customer experience (CX) strategy must look beyond standard journey maps to uncover deeper insights.

According to a recent survey from Gartner, nearly a third of marketing departments end journey maps with purchase, lead acquisition, initial transaction or delivery of the product or service.

By crafting an incomplete CX journey map, they fail to uncover the opportunities influencing customer satisfaction, loyalty and long-term advocacy, explained Augie Ray, VP analyst at Gartner.

“In fact,” he added, “key driver analysis of our study data found that CX programs that exceed management expectations are 2.3 times more likely to have CX efforts in marketing not primarily focused on the path to purchase but on the journey after acquisition.”

The easy answer for how organizations can extend their CX strategy to the portions of the journey after acquisition is to develop personas for customers and not just prospects, said Ray.

“Focus on understanding what drives satisfaction and loyalty — not just why and how they buy — and map the customers’ desired journeys that lead from acquisition to a state of significant satisfaction, strong loyalty and vocal brand advocacy.”

CMOs Must Take Lead in Redefining CX

The more complex answer, however, has more to do with “why” than “how,” Ray noted.

In other words, why do marketing teams seeking to improve customer experience so often fail to focus on the customer’s end-to-end journey?

“For CMOs to take the lead in improving their brands’ end-to-end customer experience, it starts with evaluating the goals of the marketing department and the expectations for marketing employees,” Ray said.

If the marketing organization focuses entirely or mostly on measures oriented to the marketing funnel — metrics like unaided awareness, consideration, inbound traffic and conversion rate — then it will be difficult for a marketing-led CX program to place emphasis on the customer journey after acquisition.

“In marketing organizations that get CX right, they balance those acquisition-oriented measures with customer-centric ones, such as measures of customer satisfaction, retention rate, organic growth, referral value, likelihood to recommend and customer lifetime value,” Ray explained.

Related Article: What Is Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)?

Redefining Conversion to Build Customer Journey Momentum

Kerri Drozd, senior vice president of Strategy at Hero Digital, explained that restricting the focus only on path to purchase limits an organization’s perspective.

“It presumes the transaction is all that matters, not repeat purchase, or engagement, other value creating moments,” she said. “This thinking is short-sighted and undifferentiated.”

Focusing only on the path to purchase takes away from crucial moments to create a holistic 1:1 experience with customers that spurs them to become lifelong advocates.

Drozd explained a strong CX relationship has many entry points, routes within and worthwhile destinations.

“Even from the purchase point, your customer may also become a brand advocate, frequent purchaser, customer testing the waters at first before bigger investment, a member of your future team or any number of potential scenarios,” she said. “Any one of these is worth expanding your view to have broader goals along an ongoing journey.”

Drozd added that organizations can extend their CX strategies after the acquisition by redefining conversion as moments along a journey that builds momentum.

“By avoiding termination point thinking, your experience can expand dramatically with relative ease,” she said. “When you deliver on the value people find in you and celebrate the gift of their time, effort and money, you extend the impact of the investment you’re making in the relationship.”

To put this into action, create traction leading up to and around the purchase moment. This could be any number of messages, but keep the focus on the relationship, not just the transaction.

“With these, keep a memorable cadence to draw the customer in and reinforce the relationship,” said Drozd. “When you have rapport with your customer it's easier to extend the relationship beyond the first acquisition.”

NPS and Other Metrics Boost CX Investment Buy-In

Ray said Gartner’s research indicates that CMOs who can demonstrate the financial value associated with more satisfied, loyal customers are more likely to secure the buy-in and budget to improve the brand’s CX.

Learning Opportunities

By merging customer scores such as Net Promoter Score (NPS) and customer satisfaction gathered through VoC programs with transactional data, CMOs can demonstrate the improved growth, margin and advocacy delivered by their most satisfied customers.

Gartner’s survey found that organizations that can demonstrate how customer satisfaction is associated with better financial outcomes were 29% more likely to report CX budget increases in 2021, compared with companies that have not yet calculated this relationship.

Ray said one thing that is missed in CX success is the role of time, patience, experience and iteration in developing personas and journey maps.

“These processes and tools are like muscles that must be exercised and developed,” he said. “I tell clients they may not get their personas or journey maps exactly right the first time, and that’s okay — over time, with new data, additional attention and more experience, they will improve.”

Ray pointed out that the data from Gartner’s study demonstrates this: CX programs that exceeded management’s expectations were nearly twice as likely to have customer persona development initiatives in place for more than three years.

They were also twice as likely to have end-to-end customer journey mapping in place for more than three years.

Related Article: What Is the Net Promoter Score?

CMOs, Data Ownership and Analytics Insights

Drozd agreed that owning data is crucial for CMOs to better understand the journey mapping processes.

“Understanding where customers are in the buying cycle, and what messaging is important to them, can help define the journey,” she said.

Conversational AI tools, advanced data and analytics are also crucial for understanding and personalizing the customer experience.

Drozd added that personalization after purchase can extend the overall customer experience — by providing moments that matter post-acquisition, your customers will be more inclined to come back for the white-glove service.

“CX is well designed when the receiver of your efforts, the individual customer, feels they have value,” she said. “See them as a partner in creating the future you both want to live in.”

This approach, according to Drozd, elevates advertising and marketing efforts to be a joy that is given, not a task that is assigned.

“It transforms the sales process from extracting the most to equipping the best,” she said. “Take your CX and amplify the connection you have and stay true to your values to give real value.”