The more individual experiences a customer has at the various brand contact points, the more important it is to coordinate these experiences with one another and to orchestrate them. The interplay of these individual touchpoints can be systematically summarised and reconstructed in the form of a customer journey. For the first time ever it’s now possible to map the entire buying process thanks to the new digital opportunities provided by online marketing and e-commerce. This ranges from contact with an ad banner on a news site to typing search words into Google and retrieving information on a product in an online shop to the actual purchase – and possibly even beyond this. Does the customer stay loyal in the long term? Does he or she buy from you again? Does he or she make use of other services or submit a review of the purchased product? The analysis of this and other data shows you how people use the Internet to make their purchases in our day and age. But it also makes it clear where the critical points are where a purchase can fail. Two classic examples are an extremely complex registration process just before reaching the checkout or too few payment options. The customer’s journey through the various touchpoints is very subtly influenced by emotions, desires and sensitivities. Marketing can’t precisely predict or control this journey. It can, however, sometimes nudge people in the right direction – provided the company is familiar with its customers’ needs.
Neither sales trip nor odyssey
Another important lesson learned is that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to discern clear patterns, meaning that each journey can be different. The influence of marketing measures on a customer journey varies from participant to participant and from day to day. In order to take the right action here, it’s not enough to rely on the collection of data. Only the combination of targeted research and the discovery of hidden motives offers added value. For the interested party the customer journey is then neither a ripoff sales trip nor an odyssey but instead a pleasant excursion where all arrive at their destination happy and satisfied.
The big advantage of the customer journey approach is that it gives us a holistic view of things. It enables the brand experience to be reconstructed in detail and helps to create suitable touchpoints along the way. In doing so various individual activities can be integrated with one another at higher levels. To this end, the recognised customer needs and wishes must be met – or ideally even exceeded – at the moment of contact.
Useful, interesting content on your website and in your newsletter, exciting posts and discounts on social media, personalised offers in your online shop or a mailing, round-the-clock customer service by phone and on Messenger: this is how brands can not only satisfy their customers and interested parties but also fill them with enthusiasm. However, in creating an optimum, holistic customer experience it’s important that all of these measures are coordinated with one another – because every single moment counts.
Marketing funnels can lead you astray
However, most big brands still continue to rely on what are known as brand or marketing funnels. Using a multistage model with few indicators – such as brand recognition and loyalty – this concept describes the respective current status of the customer’s relationship with the brand. This allows us to see whether something’s wrong or not. If so, it’s not usually possible to fathom the causes thereof, however. A funnel considers the overall process from the perspective of the brand – but not of the customer. This is why this can quickly lead us astray or result in a dead end. The traditional funnel concept also only treats marketing as a supplier of leads for sales and ignores the fact that complex customer decisionmaking processes are often a cycle – without a fixed start and end.
Holistic view, no silo mentality
In the customer journey approach the focus is on the customer; all processes and departments dovetail around him or her. The journey can only really succeed, however, when employees work together across all departments and levels of hierarchy. Not just marketing and sales must be on board but also IT and customer support. The widespread silo mentality only hampers success in this respect.
Let’s compare customer journey design to building a house. What would happen if each tradesperson was only given his or her own assignment? The carpenter would make the stairs and the roof, the mason would lay the foundations and erect the walls while the electrician would do the wiring and so on and so forth – all at the same time. Nobody knows, however, what the house is to look like when it’s finished or which instructions the other parties have been issued with. A process like this is probably hardly going to produce a habitable home.
The bricklayer, for instance, doesn’t make any ducts for the wires because he or she doesn’t know how and where these are to be laid. The electrician doesn’t put enough plugs in the kitchen because he or she doesn’t know where it’s to be in the house. If there’s no architect or overall picture, there’s an increased risk of the final result of this activity not living up to expectations. The motivation of the various construction teams, who don’t know what they’re actually doing, is also greatly diminished.
When managing a customer journey, everybody has to work as one, too. The aim is to give the customer as positive an experience as possible and if he or she is satisfied, then the staff is usually satisfied too.
Stop customers getting lost en route
Let’s make one thing clear: digital brand experience design is not about you or your company but always about the individual customer. His or her needs and objectives must be met by the digital brand experience on all levels, from initial contact to the test version of a product to the purchase thereof. With the help of the customer journey approach we can analyse precisely where and when in this complex process a future client may have been lost and which action must be taken to prevent this in the future.