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Busting Marketing Myths: It's The Customer’s Journey, Not Yours

Before they can succeed in delivering insight-driven customer experience, marketers need to overcome some deep-rooted practices. What’s holding them back?

There has never been more at stake in the battle for happy customers. Disgruntled consumers will share their negative experience with an average of 18 people, increasing to 29 people for 18 to 24-year-olds. Over one-third (41%) will discuss a bad experience online, on the phone, or in person.

With this knowledge, why are companies still prepared to risk turning customers off with irrelevant and irritating communications, which are—at best—based on static “journey mapping” and are usually an internal view of the customer journey?

The answer is mythology. Not the kind that pertains to legend and fairy tales, but myths of marketing practice. Firmly rooted yet misguided beliefs—such as the concept that a customer journey can be “mapped” at all—are creating inflexible experiences that do not resonate with today’s omni-channel and multi-device audience. That said, journey mapping can have value, but it is short-lived, as it cannot handle change and, therefore, becomes irrelevant almost immediately.

This represents a huge issue. Only 5% of marketers say they have mastered the ability to adapt and predict the customer journey—according to the CMO Council’s Predicting Routes to Revenue Report—meaning many customers are still receiving ill-timed, inappropriate communications that leave them feeling unvalued.

It’s time to bust the myths that are holding marketers back and reveal the truths to allow the continuous delivery of insight-driven, relevant, and personalised experiences for customers, wherever and whenever they interact with a brand.

Myth One: Customer Journeys Are Fixed
Organisations assume customers follow a known path to purchase and move through each stage in an orderly fashion. This just isn’t true. Customer journeys are not static. They are in constant flux because customers are not generic; they have individual needs and behaviours that change over time and cannot be funnelled to suit an internal process. Indeed, trying to do so will mean marketers are constantly caught out by the unexpected.

Instead, brands must continually assess and listen to customer interactions, then adjust to accommodate them. U.K. heritage travel brand Saga found its customer conversations were disjointed across the business and did not reflect the needs of their increasingly tech-savvy customer base. By creating a tailored, omni-channel programme that joined previously disconnected digital, call centre, and outbound communications, they were able to deliver a more personalised, engaging, and joined-up conversation. The results speak for themselves—in just six weeks Saga’s incremental sales grew by an impressive 59%.

Myth Two: Managing The Journey Is In Your Control
Advancements in technology and social media have transformed the way brands communicate with customers. Previously, brands dictated methods of communication and customers had no choice but to follow. Now, however, easy access to vast stores of information across multiple channels means customers can conduct their own research, identify products of interest, and choose how and when they interact with brands—publicly or privately. In other words—it’s not your journey; it’s theirs. The customer is in control and journeys should serve to consistently meet their needs.

In the age of the customer, brands must respond quickly to the customer-managed journey by understanding each individual’s unique context. Marston’s, the largest brewer of cask ale in the world, found that by matching anonymous and identified Web and email interactions with customer records, communications could be tailored with unprecedented personalisation—an approach that resulted in an increase in response rate six times greater than before.

Myth Three: Current Journey Analytics Is Actionable
Although current analytics may offer a view of the customer journey—and even present historical data in graphical format—many of these tools fail to provide actionable insight that is reflective of the omni-channel customer journey.

By bringing together analytics insight with personalisation across all channels, brands can inform and deliver next-best conversations for customer-facing staff, and ultimately build context-driven, real-time engagement. This cannot be achieved if brands continue to review historic data in isolation.

Harnessing actionable insights in real time allows for adjustments to be made at each interaction, delivering richer engagement for customers while building valuable and mutually beneficial relationships founded on trust. With the insights obtained from customer interactions, Marston’s was able to provide dynamic, relevant experiences for each and every individual. They were able to deliver truly personalised suggestions and offers that made a significant impact on customer happiness—and subsequently rate of conversions—such as serving family menu promotions to customers with children.  

Myth Four: There Is One Customer Journey
Customers are always on their own journey, which does not conform to any rules or regulations and cannot be forced down a certain path. Additionally, a myriad of individual motivators can set customers off on multiple journeys, often simultaneously, which can change at any time. They decide when they are ready and what form interactions should take, and in which channels; brands just need to be prepared for when the moment—or moments—present themselves and add value at every step.

Marketers must enhance their understanding of cross-journey behaviour and respond with effortless agility if they want to effectively engage their customers. Brands that have embraced this concept will discover that facilitating interactions across a variety of channels yields strong results with happier, more engaged customers. By optimising and joining up conversations over the phone and the Web, they can create more choices for customers, and thereby improve overall engagement.

Gone are the days when brands could control the dialogue with customers via channels such as direct mail, in-store, or call centres. Today’s customers don’t think about how they communicate with brands; they talk to them how, when, and wherever they need to—and they don’t view channels in silos.

Only by exploding the biggest myth of all—that brands can manage or orchestrate customer journeys—will marketers be able to truly connect with their audience. By providing experiences that offer greater freedom and flexibility, marketers can create value-driven, lasting relationships resulting in happy, engaged, and loyal customers.

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