Eighty percent of business managers still believe that their company provides excellent customer experiences, even when only eight percent of their customers would agree.
What might explain this? Why is there such a big difference between assumptions and reality, even though customer experience is a widely discussed topic and information is readily available?
This is heavily impacted by brands’ inability to understand customer journeys and the customer experiences formed along the way. While companies invest significant effort into collecting a wealth of data, they fail to combine and understand the collected information without making assumptions.
Thanks to the internet, customers now have access to the same information as sellers. Excellent customer experiences are becoming increasingly important when choosing service providers and partners. The impact is more pronounced with more and more fields moving towards a service-based business model, in other words, moving away from one-off sales in favour of value creation based on monthly billing.
The customer experience is formed across a growing number of smaller touchpoints: a marketing message received, a meeting with a salesperson, a reclamation situation, the supply chain of a product/service and an invoice sent to a customer are all touchpoints generating experiences that are either consistent and mutually supportive or conflicting and mutually weakening.
By making smart investmentsin the customer experience as a whole, one can both identify the touchpoints that are meaningful to customers and build customer journeys based on them. All in real-time.
A correctly orchestrated customer journey helps your customer find the easiest path to their target, even when they happen to stray from their path for one reason or another.
By making it easy for customers to reach their respective targets, one will automatically make it easier for themselves to reach their own business targets.
Typical challenges in defining customer journeys
With a growing number of customer interactions, a more proactive approach is required from the organisation in order to manage and improve all activities for a better customer experience.
The responsibility for improving customer journeys and customer understanding is normally given to marketing, while customer service and sales operate in their own teams. Especially from the customer’s perspective, this creates three problems:
The customer cannot easily find a consistent path to follow,
The information generated from customer journeys does not reach the implementing functions, and
When information does reach frontline operations, it does not lead to any relevant action.
Why can’t customers find their path?
When customer journeys are seen as something fun for marketing to tinker with, defining and implementing those journeys will only involve nice marketing people.
For the customer to be able to find their own path, and the shortest way back on the path when necessary, the path should be reachable from all touchpoints. While preparing for a meeting with the customer, do sales know we still haven’t been able to resolve their latest service ticket in a satisfactory manner?
Or, do the maintenance service staff have access to information on the customer’s history and significance, so that they can offer the customer relevant ideas on how to avoid the problem in the future?
What about how well a website visitor can be guided towards the desired action or method of contact?
Why won’t customer information spread wide enough within the company?
A uniform understanding of the customer cannot be formed when different departments do not share information with each other.
The silo effect, hierarchy, different operating models and processes and a lack of communication prevent information flow within companies. Remote working has also played a part in making it more difficult for tacit knowledge to move between different functions, since sharing knowledge always requires a separate meeting or message.
Also bringing the detachment of function-specific systems into the equation, it is understandable how information barely moves anywhere even through official processes.The CDP of marketing, CRM of sales, ERP of support processes and HRIS of human resources all include relevant information for managing the customer experience.
For all this information to reach customer interactions, effort is required from the entire company to both improve the usability of the information and harmonise the processes using the information.
Why won’t information sharing lead to goal-oriented action?
Paralysis by analysis refers to a situation where analyses are performed and reporting is followed for the sake of analysis and reporting itself, in which case the measures essential to the core business are not taken.
In practice: even if customer journeys generated extensive and high-quality data, but the responsibility for interpreting the dashboard built is left to the person meeting with the customer, information overload will make the interaction even more awkward than before. Eventually, the offered information is left unused “because we have work to do here”.
When customer journeys and the customer understanding extracted from them are correctly implemented, the next best action can be offered to, and utilized by, the customer and the employee of the company (depending on how responsibilities are divided at each touchpoint). Only in this case can it be assumed that the information relevant to the user leads to the best course of action in terms of advancing the customer’s goals.
For your customer journeys to genuinely support your business goals, it pays to make sure of three things:
All functions that are in any way connected with the customer are taken into account, and engaged as necessary, in the planning of customer journeys
Data is connected or orchestrated through function-specific system silos
When customer understanding is brought in to support daily activities, the information is presented as recommended actions instead of, or in addition to, reports and dashboards.
Orchestrating customer journeys: A brilliant opportunity
Ultimately, customer journey orchestration is about increasing compatibility and harmony in terms of both information and practical processes.
To determine the realities of implementation, effort is required from the owners of both business and data processes: First, the biggest risk factors for losing the customer’s interest on their path are identified (business need). Then, based on these, an idea can be formed of the necessary data elements, their locations and the sources of any potentially needed supplementary data.
For example, in the banking world, a successfully orchestrated customer journey may look like this from the customer’s perspective:
A new customer takes a look at the credit card options and possibly other services offered by the bank.
When the customer accesses the bank’s website again from the same device, the generic front page banner now includes an incentive supporting the decision to apply for a credit card, as well as an easily found button to get closer to that goal.
After clicking on the banner to get to the credit card application page, the customer is met with a one-page form asking for the necessary information to comply with the Know Your Customer requirement. After filling in the form, the customer clicks the send button and lands on the second page of the application, equal in length to the first page.
Like many others before them, the customer gets tired of filling in the application and closes the page when halfway through.
Immediately after leaving the application page, the customer receives an email from the bank at the address they provided on the first page of the application. By clicking a button in the email, they can continue filling in the form where they left off instead of having to start from the beginning.
If the customer completes the application, no more ads related to the topic will be shown, regardless of whether the application is accepted or not.
If the application is accepted and an actual customer agreement is concluded, the customer always sees messages relevant to their behaviour:
A recommendation to start using the mobile app?
An offer to upgrade the credit card tier based on monthly use?
A suggestion to fill in a mortgage application based on browsing history?
An insurance offer based on the granted and withdrawn loan balance?
A loan- or insurance-related service offer from a partner?
Contact from a financial adviser based on financial assets?
Always show messages through the customer’s preferred channel?
Orchestration is always based on the assumption of up-to-date management of cookie permissions, and we must operate within the limits of given permissions even in fields that deal with less critical information. Once that is in order, our customers should be met with messages that correspond to their needs and goals significantly better than before, through channels best suited to them.
While the right message in the right channel at the right time does not guarantee a positive customer experience, it is a prerequisite for building one.
Do the following!
Almost regardless of business field, companies now have the chance to grow their market share by listening to their customers and using their feedback more actively in the planning of customer experiences and journeys.
If you aim to join these pioneers, we offer you two choices:
Read more on the Edita Prima approach to customer journey orchestration here.
Book an appointment for a 15-minute conversation.