Customer Journey Management; is it the right approach?

David Jodoin, Co-Founder, CTO & SVP of Engineering, CafeX Communications
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David Jodoin, Co-Founder, CTO & SVP of Engineering, CafeX Communications

David Jodoin, Co-Founder, CTO & SVP of Engineering, CafeX Communications

One of the hottest trends today among the marketing and sales organizations of many companies is the adoption of Customer Journey Management (CJM) solutions. Simply put, CMOs and CIOs are being challenged to understand the behavior of their customers throughout the lifecycle of their buying process and brand experience.

The promise of customer journey mapping is to shed light on ways a company can improve the customer experience in hopes to increase the number of positive outcomes that occur as a result of their customer interactions. What this translates into is how to get more customers to buy my products and how do I get my existing customers to buy more of my products.

Over the years, the way we interact with our customers has shifted from a highly personal touch to one where the customer is treated en-mass. The number of ways consumers are able to engage with vendors across various channels of communications has increased. And the expectation of those consumers in how we communicate with them differs whether it is through an automated web transaction like a shopping cart or other methods like email, SMS, live chat, IVR, voice, and video. This is further complicated by the consumer, adopting social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, and even LinkedIn as a means to voice their opinions about the products they buy and the companies they buy from. The customer relationship, and thus their experience, has become one where the most you can hope for is giving the appearance of personalized care. This is driven by the fact that as you navigate across these communication channels, the cost of those communications increases. Most if not all companies realize that personal care—the live person you can talk with—is both expensive and difficult to manage.

  The key to understanding the customer journey begins with considering and accepting the reality—different customers have different behaviors 

Let’s face it. The state of the industry today is that, most companies manage customer dissatisfaction, not satisfaction. It’s a mitigation strategy, and the technology providers that promote Customer Journey Management solutions are few and far between. Most merely present the façade of personalization. If you want to improve your customer’s experience, look inward at the journey your processes impose upon them. Because most companies need specialization to support a customer, they are not able to have every agent solve every problem. The issue is not that a consumer has to communicate with multiple people, but rather how effortless it is to navigate across those people and how well those people are able to collaborate to solve your problem.

The key to understanding the customer journey begins with considering and accepting the reality—different customers have different behaviors. Consumer behavior is predictable only in certain and very limited circumstances. It’s not as simple as saying “if I proactively do A with the customer, then I can expect behavior B in n percent of the cases.” Of course, Big Data analytics companies will tell you differently—as you would expect from a company that wants behavior B from you. Consumers behave differently depending on the product or service they are buying and will have different expectations of what they consider an acceptable experience and one that would prevent them from buying again. The behavior of the company selling its goods will also be different depending on the type of customer, product or value of transaction.

For the CMO or CIO this complexity creates a significant challenge. For any CJM initiative to be successful, you first have to understand what the perception of the customer is of the processes you impose upon them based on who they are and what they are buying and determine what changes you are willing to make to generate more positive outcomes. In fact,having helped many of the enterprise organizations with their CJM and CEM initiatives, I have observed that most are ill equipped to undergo the internal changes necessary to address the results of a journey-mapping project. Also, they have yet to improve the already broken customer experience they provide to their customers today.

For most companies, a great start would be to simply consolidate the journey from a multi-touch experience into a single experience. Present to your customer a common view and treat your various channels as one fluid conversation with the customer. Transitioning from chat to voice to video and co-browsing enables the agent to ask less questions and quickly satisfy the customer. It creates a more collaborative journey and turns what most consumers feel are multiple conversations into one single event. This requires systems that allow you to transition—with context—from one person within your company to another, effortlessly and seamlessly while imposing less upon the customer and reducing the efforts needed to pick up where the previous coworker left off. And I am sure most of you have experienced these yourselves.

When a customer has to call back, or talk to someone new, they are left feeling tired, frustrated, and confused as to why the process wasn’t easier. It’s a journey that you took the customer that will impact your brand and influence how they talk about you to their friends.

So be wary of how you approach CJM. Treat your Customer Journey Management initiatives as two separate projects. The first being how the customer behaves throughout their lifecycle in how they want to interact with you and the second is to ask yourself what journey you are forcing upon them and what effect that has on positive outcomes. You will be surprised at your findings. The introspective view of the journey you present is the easier problem to solve and the one that will bear the most fruit.