The customer journey is a series of steps a consumer takes when engaging with your company. This journey consists of, and begins and end with, different interactions and experiences that occur at different touchpoints: a call with a sales rep, an in-store visit, a conversation on social media or online review site, an inbound call, an advertisement, or a website visit.
In order for your company to deliver a quality customer experience, you must be able to understand and map out the customer journey, as well as effectively manage the interactions that take place along this journey.
Thanks to the modern consumer’s access to seemingly unlimited sources of data and technology, the customer journey today does not develop in the same way that it did five or ten years ago. And while it’s not easy to know exactly what the future of the customer journey will look like, some experts argue that the future is already here, and companies need to adapt.
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“Customer Experiences Will Become Extremely Personalized”
Linda Passante, CEO of the marketing and branding organization The HALO Group, says the future of the customer journey will be all about personalization and understanding Millennials and Generation Z. (Must-read: insights on Generation Z and their path to purchase.)
“The future of the customer journey will be filled with data on these consumer groups that will enable brands and marketers to better speak to their audiences,” Passante says.
“With this data, customer experiences will become extremely personalized, which will meet customers’ needs, preferences, and expectations. Consumers are constantly being met with more options and the marketplace is becoming extremely competitive. The brands that will become the ‘customers’ choice’ will be those that truly get to know the consumer and offer personalized experiences.”
“It’s Not Just Throwing Marketing at Customers”
Rich Herbst, managing director of Ascend Marketing, says that right now, companies have trouble adapting to managing – and making sense of – the massive amounts of available customer data. But if companies want to succeed in the future, they must have this process in place in order to truly engage with the customer.
“To put in the database infrastructure, the automation tools, and the digital delivery environment is hard work,” he says. “Most companies just aren’t there. And most companies get stuck because it’s such hard work. It’s a learning process.”
What Ascend Marketing does – and what successful customer engagement along the customer journey requires – is help companies create a process for engaging with customers over time using a variety of channels and tools.
“It’s not just throwing marketing to customers,” Herbst says.
There are a series of steps that his team takes when designing or mapping a customer journey for clients. First, one needs to understand the customer: their wants, needs, and expectations, their thoughts and opinions and feedback and expectations. They then design a “journey experience” and bring the interactions a customer has with a company to the surface, mapping the customer’s engagements in a creative form.
“Very importantly – we read, monitor, and track what is working and what’s not,” Herbst says. “Then we come back to the journey and adjust and adapt the journey experience.”
You’ll also like this beginner’s guide to Customer Experience Management.