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Understanding the Customer Journey and What’s Next

Cultivating and managing the customer journey isn’t for the faint of heart. It takes strategic planning and steely focus to deal with all the starts-and-stops and ups-and-downs along the way. Customer touchpoints have evolved across platforms, channels, and devices. From a marketer’s perspective, more touchpoints present a tremendous opportunity to build greater loyalty with customers and to improve retention and customer stickiness. On the flip side, the stakes are much higher! Customers are more discerning and less forgiving. Omnichannel strategies that fail to deliver experiences that are relevant, timely and personalized across the customer journey can generate a disconnect that can be nearly impossible to bridge.

To avoid these pitfalls, a highly dynamic and evolved marketing strategy is needed that focuses on developing meaningful customer interactions. Targeted marketing efforts that establish emotional connections with customers, as well as those that build links into larger ecosystems of co-collaborators and innovators, can deliver more profitable customer relationships. Let’s look at what’s next in the customer journey and review how the right approaches can help companies develop strong customer bonds while also improving customer success at the same time.

  1. Focus on customer experiences that build emotional connections- There is substantial evidence to support that the customer experience is linked tightly to organizational success. Forming the customer experience are interactions between a customer and an organization along the customer journey as well as their experiences with outside influencers, like partners or collaborators. When building a customer experience strategy, don’t underestimate the importance of connecting with customers on an emotional level. According to Harvard Business Review, emotionally engaged customers are at least 3X more likely to recommend a company’s product or service. HBR’s research showed that zeroing in on customers’ ‘emotional motivators’ is critical. By better understanding their motivations− anything from ‘wanting to protect the environment’ to ‘wanting to feel a sense of freedom’− can tell marketers a lot about what drives their customers. With this insight, organizations can develop targeted messages that are congruent with these motivations, and in doing so deliver personalized experiences that connect with the company’s best customers.  (Source: Harvard Business Review).
  2. Consolidated customer intelligence for building a 360-degree view of the customer- While identifying emotional motivators can be challenging, applying big data analytics to customer data sets can help guide the process.  Internally collected data about customers interactions, through CRM, surveys and other data, married with data from external sources, can provide much sharper insight into customer motivations and the customer journey.  Not only that, predictive capabilities can shed more light on what products customers are most likely to buy and what marketing content is most beneficial in the decision-making process.
  3. Delivering products and services across a wider ecosystem- Today’s savvy customers expect much more than a siloed delivery of their favorite products or services. Best-of-breed solutions are rarely enough to keep customers engaged and spending for the long haul. Industry experts today believe that those companies that can move beyond partnerships, and even beyond a singular industry focus, have the best chance of connecting with customers and compounding their success. In fact, in a recent Accenture survey, ‘81% of respondents believe that industry boundaries will dramatically disappear as platforms reshape industries into interconnected ecosystems’. (Source: Accenture). By thinking bigger and tieing into more expansive digital ecosystems, companies have more potential not just to develop new products and services, but to also build new business models that can reach broader audiences and deliver continuous innovation.

Today, understanding the customer journey is more than an exercise of mapping communication and internal processes that impact the customer. It’s about identifying all related solutions, services, partners and other key players that shape customer motivations, experiences and their level of engagement. When companies can think beyond their own ‘walls’ and better understand the larger ecosystem they support, they’ll be well-equipped to collaborate or otherwise partner with these groups to create more value for customers. If you’d like to learn more about thinking big and delivering experiences that drive customers’ most profitable behaviors, email us!