Customer Experience is arguably one of the hottest topics in marketing at present. The marketing playing field has changed substantially and the marketing ecosystem is now exceptionally vast due to changes in digital and generational shifts. Competition for the hearts and minds of customers is fierce. The competitive landscape has changed dramatically in the last decade and it is considerably more complex.
Tom Knighton, EVP at Conversant sums up this new business reality:
“Customers are getting smarter. And because customers have so much choice, they’re starting to distinguish the companies that they will do business with, not just based on service, but based on the entire experience. Customer experience is the next competitive battleground. It’s where business is going to be won or lost.”
Customers have a multitude of options and if they are let down, they will go elsewhere. It has never been easier for customers to explore the competition.
THE REWARDS FOR EVOLVING THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
Companies that understand and skillfully evolve the Customer Experience to win, keep, surprise and delight customers reap enormous rewards such as:
THE CUSTOMER JOURNEY AS A PROXY FOR THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
Customer Experience does not just occur at the physical level, it also includes interaction between the brand and customer at the rational, emotional, sensory, or spiritual levels. While understanding the Customer Experience is a much more complex exercise than describing the customer’s path through the touchpoints with a brand, Customer Journey development has emerged as a key way to provide a framework to understanding the Customer Experience.
Mapping the Customer Journey typically includes defining the major and minor touchpoints between the brand, product or service and its customers, and the environments in which the touchpoints occur. For each touchpoint, actionable Customer Journeys also describe one or more of the following with a focus on both the emotional and rational attributes of each:
Some also develop a touchpoint effectiveness score to assist in evaluating the Customer Journey. Customer Journeys can also be considered in the context of the competitive environment. Typically, the Customer Journey is diagrammed to ensure mutual appreciation of the steps in the journey.
Customer Journeys can be cyclical, meaning that once a customer completes their journey, they can begin again at the beginning. Others can be linear. Some companies focus on the Customer Journey in its entirety while others may focus solely on pre-purchase and/or onboarding of the customer.
DO IT YOURSELF CUSTOMER JOURNEY DEVELOPMENT
Some companies create the Customer Journey themselves and attempt to do so from the customers’ perspective. However, this approach has pitfalls as self-created Customer Journeys lead companies to:
DATA-DRIVEN CUSTOMER JOURNEY DEVELOPMENT
Data-driven Customer Journey development is based on observation and participation by the researcher, and customer interviews. To ensure a comprehensive Customer Journey description, data sourcing should be as comprehensive as possible, ranging from secondary research (reviewing internal and external sources) to primary data collection using quantitative and qualitative methodologies.
The recommended methodologies for gathering data in support of Customer Journey development include:
Use of multiple methodologies will ensure that no steps are overlooked and the Customer Journey is comprehensive. This said, it is possible to develop Customer Journeys using only an Ethnographic Qualitative approach or some combination of two or three of the aforementioned methodologies.
USING SEGMENTATION FOR TARGETED CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE ENHANCEMENT
Mapping the Customer Journey can be the first step in understanding the Customer Experience. For even greater depth of understanding, an advanced approach is to undertake a segmentation study and develop Customer Journeys for each customer segment. The segmentation study will divide your customer base “pie” into clearly differentiated “pie slices.” Typically, each Customer Journey for each customer segment is different, and each are actionable for Customer Experience improvement. Focus can be placed on improving the Customer Experience of the most valuable segments to the business first.
THE ROLE OF KEY BUSINESS SUCCESS MEASURES IN CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
Some practitioners of Customer Experience enhancement argue that the key measures of the Customer Experience are customer satisfaction, customer advocacy and the Net Promoter Score (NPS). In a successful Customer Experience enhancement program, these measures work in tandem with understanding and acting on Customer Journey development. They do not replace it.
EXPLOITING THE CUSTOMER JOURNEY TO ENHANCE THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
It is not enough to simply map the Customer Journey. To counteract the fierce competition business faces these days in this significantly different marketing ecosystem, brands must commit significant resources to improving the Customer Experience at every touchpoint in the Customer Journey. Furthermore, a cycle of continuous improvement should be implemented.
Kirsty Nunez is the President and Chief Research Strategist at Q2 Insights, Inc., a research and innovation consulting firm with offices in San Diego and New Orleans. She can be reached at (760) 230-2950 ext. 1 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This entry was posted in Trends and tagged on January 20, 2017 by Q2 Insights