The Customer Experience Revolution: Don't Get Left Behind

If you build it (without a journey map) they won't come.

In my last blog post about Customer Journey Mapping, I focused on how to fix a hurdle your customers experience by taking 5 steps to dissect the situation. I want to focus this week on the internal side of the customer journey, and how to navigate in and around it within your business.

The customer experience, in this day and age, is delivered through multiple channels, devices, applications, and interfaces. Not only do all of these points of contact have to resonate with customers, they have to echo and build off of each other. That sounds like a lot of spinning plates, right? Well, it’s much easier when you have a customer journey map to drill down into each customer action, emotion, and thought process from every interaction scenario. If you don’t have this done for your customers yet, download this white paper from my colleagues.

In short, you have to understand the customer experience and the customer journey in order to build for it. So, internally, who needs The Map? Several key players do.

  • The CIO of your company needs to understand, endorse, and be familiar with your customer journey map. As Jake Sorofman of Gartner so clearly puts it in his blog, “CX programs require senior-most executive ownership. Initiatives that lack executive ownership will likely wither on the vine.” I agree with Jake; unless customer experience (CX) is a priority initiative from the very top, it won’t get the attention, time, and budgeting it deserves and will become a side note in your organization. That would be a grave mistake. Don’t make your marketing team fight an uphill battle trying to implement it from below the C-level. With executive enthusiasm, understanding, and support, dynamic and effective change can actually occur for your company.
  • Your engineers, the ones creating the digital landscape your customers traverse, (also currently being called the ‘customer ecosystem’ by Forbes and Forrester- talk about imagery!) also NEED to have and understand your customer journey map. Why? Because your tech leaders are best prepared to create a slick, inviting customer experience when they know what the overall concept and plan is for the customer. When they know your personas, they can craft better pathways for them. Just as important as engineers knowing how the customer will work through the site is your engineers knowing how your marketing team and authors are going to use the tools they build. When developers have the full picture of the ecosystem, they can fully visualize the components, analytics, and social applications that they need to configure to capture and analyze all the data your customers will give you. When you think about it, the engineers building your site are the people creating the direct connection between your company and your customers, working to improve experiences with your business from inside and out, so how could they not be given this crucial document?
  • Your marketers, of course, also need your customer journey map. They’re probably the team that worked to create it, but it should be as integral to their daily work as their daily vitamin. Your marketers should have a timeline for updating, validating, analyzing, and revising the customer journey map, and then share those updates with everyone listed above. They all need to work together. Why? Because the landscape is changing.

Digital Identity is Changing

McKinsey has found that the total number of digital identities across the web is declining. This is happening because a small set of global platforms, like Google or Facebook, has become the access point through which people (potential customers) access content, services, and make purchases. Because of this, the gateway to customers has constricted. Amending your customer experience to include direct links or log in with these platforms is a way to keep easy access to your company for customers. Integrating with these platforms is also a way to mitigate the ‘gatekeeper’ effect that these single sign on platforms are now creating.

The Internet of Things is Taking Hold

You’ve probably heard about the Internet of Things (IoT), but maybe you don’t know about the projected impact it’s going to have on business and the economy. Further McKinsey research forecasts, “Our bottom-up analysis for the applications we size estimates that the IoT has a total potential economic impact of $3.9 trillion to $11.1 trillion a year by 2025.” (Emphasis mine.) Trillions. Per year. The possibilities associated with IoT are staggering, but they also change many fundamental ways marketers, engineers, CIOs, and customers interact with technology and brands.

Business already using these IoT sensors and applications are collecting so much data that they can currently only analyze a fraction of it, and for a limited scope. In time, and with more resources devoted to it, they’ll develop better ways to explore and use that data to not just maintain internal systems, but to optimize customer interactions and deliver better value.

What's Next?

The influx of IoT players into the market will change it irrevocably. Right now, wearable technology is at the forefront, but markets like manufacturing and retail stand to gain as much if not more share of the IoT space. The IoT will blur the distinction of businesses that provide products or services; with interconnected machinery and constant, deliverable data, their products can become services and vice versa. This will create entirely new business models and methods of customer engagement. Marketers and everyone who touches the customer journey are going to have to pivot, in sync, to keep up. It’s going to be a brave new world.