Recently, the discussion of customer experience and experience design has been omnipresent, with marketers hyper-focused on creating the best experience for customers, thus competing not only within their industry but across industries.
Never before has an auto brand experience compared to a QSR (quick-service restaurant) experience, for example, but that has changed, and it has changed rapidly. The ease at which you can order a sandwich on your phone, expecting all customizations to be made and timing to be exact, are also expected with complex, high-dollar items like a new SUV. Customers now expect zero disconnects between their ordering process and the delivery, no matter what the cost of the purchase they are making.
In the drive to acquire and retain customers and create brand loyalists, communication is no longer enough, and many companies are utilizing customer journey mapping to identify opportunities and deliver better customer experiences at scale. Journey mapping details the steps and multiple touchpoints at which customers engage with a brand, whether it be for a service, product or experience. Brands must think about the inception of the relationship, the drive toward purchase and how to nurture the relationship in the long-term with scaled personalization. By creating a journey map, a company can then align their martech and their team structure to optimize data and create seamless experiences for customers.
In recent research we conducted with Ascend2, it was apparent that this strategy is table stakes for brands to compete for customer loyalty, with 39% of enterprise companies currently mapping and another 41% building and testing or planning to create journey maps in the future. The research also uncovered barriers marketers have found in implementing journey mapping in their organizations, what some best practices are, and how strategies are not “one size fits all.”
Barriers to Success
As with any shifts in strategy or new implementations in an organization, there can be some growing pains that need to be addressed. At 41%, the research clearly showed that a lack of resources is a common challenge that is inclusive of time, staff and resources to execute. However, the lack of quality data and decentralized data also topped the list. Effective customer journeys use a mix of qualitative and quantitative data, which allows a brand to analyze and create a strategy. Without this data, the marketing and technology cannot understand or act on journey pathing.
Other barriers to success that emerged in the research actually show how some barriers can impact others. For example, attribution of ROI (22%) can continue to impact the lack of budget (30%) if the success of the program can’t be measured. To truly get your customer journey mapping off the ground, executive buy-in is essential to allow for the reallocation of funds and resources, as well as time to implement so you have a full view of the results.
Among the many touchpoints a customer has with a brand between the first encounter through purchase is email, which is near and dear to me, but also arguably the most actionable of the touchpoints. Successful email strategies hinge on being current, complimentary, personalized and relevant in terms of timing and message. The research found that 64% of companies update emails on a regular basis, reinforcing the importance of a dynamic email strategy.
Number of Journey Maps
How long a company has been implementing journey mapping, the complexity of their customer communication plan and barriers yet to be unblocked help determine how they use mapping. Organizations have the opportunity to create a journey map that can support planning at a high level, or it can become intricate with multiple maps to address several variables. Of marketers surveyed, 55% said they have three to five journeys in place, while 24% have more than six in place. What these results emphasize is the necessity of companies to apply the journey mapping strategy that is right for them at their stage of implementation, for their organizational structure and for their goals.
The right stakeholders are essential for the journey mapping process. Research shows that the top three departments for critical involvement include marketing (60%), customer service (56%) and sales (48%), with an additional call-out for executive buy-in. These departments, while accountable for engaging and keeping customers, can benefit from these valuable insights from consumer-brand interactions in real-time and drive real success for the company’s bottom line.
As customers continue to demand a better experience, companies must look to strategize to meet them where they are and communicate with them on a personalized level. Gone are the days of blanket offers and generic coupons. Today’s customers are sophisticated, and companies must rise to their level to continue to compete. Customer journey mapping gives brands the roadmap to personalize at scale and remain relevant.