Mapping your ideal customer experience is a great start, but it’s not even half of one battle you’ll need to fight to win the greater war for your customers’ engagement and delight. The customer journey map is the industry-standard framework for defining the stages of your customer’s lifecycle. Smart organizations use the journey framework to identify key customer touch-points, pain points and opportunities, prioritize product or marketing improvements, and manage customer experience across teams. Smarter organizations use the map to identify opportunities to automate processes and gather behavioral data.
We all recognize the need for a defined, structured view of the customer journey (and there’s a ton of great content about how to map it and effective types of maps), but mapping is only the first step in the process of orchestrating a personalized, relevant, value-driven customer experience. Putting the map into action across team operations is hard work. Then actually getting your hands on the data to analyze and optimize those processes? It’s an outrageously difficult job that spans disparate functions, teams, and apps.
There’s no one-size-fits-all blueprint for what makes a good customer experience. Mapping the customer journey takes cross-functional input from your marketing, sales, product, customer success, ops, and other teams. It takes a deep understanding of your customer and buyer personas — and insight into how they interact with your content, marketing, and sales processes. It takes an honest assessment of where you’re currently providing value for customers, and where you’re missing opportunities. Most importantly, it takes research. It takes actual customer data, behavior, and usage metrics to validate your marketing and product teams’ assumptions and instincts about these personas.
Optimizing the journey takes a smooth handoff of this complex data between teams (and often a lot of people’s combined analysis) to answer questions like, “What worked?” or, “What can we do to improve this?” and, “At what stage?”
Journeys break down team silos.
Teams are laser-focused; journeys are not. On our respective teams, we have limited views into complex processes, limited data from our single-function apps, and sometimes limited contextual information about actions customers have taken at other phases in the journey. Marketing is pushing leads through, sales is hitting numbers, product is scoping features, customer success is helping solve customer problems. A clearly defined customer journey unites these processes and gives a clear narrative on how a customer enters each new phase of their interaction with your brand and products. Most importantly, it keeps your entire organization focused on the customer’s point of view and committed to providing an optimal customer experience.
Journeys help you stay relevant.
Journeys are nonlinear — and in B2B, your customer journey doesn’t just span multiple channels, it can also span multiple people and teams. When you have a fully developed, cross-functional journey, it’s easier to craft a relevant, personalized experience throughout every customer phase and across multiple teams’ preferred channels. You can start automating touch-points and proactively building more effective processes to meet your customers’ needs. More importantly, you can start using data from different teams to provide value before your customers ever have to ask for it (aka delight).
Journeys help you optimize your business operations.
When you have a blueprint of all the workflows and touch-points that get a customer to engage with your brand or products — and to progress to the next phase of the journey — you can start pulling the appropriate levers to optimize each process.
This is where most teams fail: operationalizing the journey they’ve planned. They’re not orchestrating the complex processes and facilitating the data handoffs that will facilitate an ideal customer experience.
If your customer journey map exists solely in a document owned by your marketing team, you’re doing it wrong. Mapping just isn’t enough; you have to implement cross-channel processes and gather the analytics you need to continually improve the customer experience.
The customer journey should be managed on a cross-functional level, and members from every team should be directly involved in operationalizing, analyzing, and improving the journey.
1. Integrated Apps
Your journey needs to work seamlessly across all your applications — whatever they might be. It’s not about shoehorning all your processes into one CRM. You want your teams to be able to work in the best-in-class apps for their individual roles, and take actions in those native apps. You want your coworkers to enjoy their jobs, and to reach customers in the most efficient way. Most importantly, you want the customer experience to be seamless as they interact with different apps. But without cross-functional journey implementation, your apps end up just as siloed as your teams. Even with point-to-point integration spanning the apps of your funnel, teams can still get too focused on individual metrics (like pushing more leads to sales or logging a number of call tasks) that are hard to directly tie to business outcomes. Unless the apps your team uses come with out-of-the-box connections, it’s difficult to map data about a customer’s experience from one stage of the journey to the next. In an ideal scenario, all those apps would not only fully share their data, but would also be able to trigger actions in any other available app throughout the phases of the journey.
2. Contextual Data
When you pass data from team to team (and from app to app), you lose critical context. To be successful, you need to connect complex processes and deliver insight across the platforms each team needs to do their respective jobs. Theoretically, we already have all the information we need to guide customers through the journeys we’ve laid out for them. How we fail as marketers and salespeople, product managers and customer success managers, is by not applying the customer’s context (Where are they in their journey? Who are they? What have they already told us about themselves? Where do they need something they can’t get from our existing journey?) to the appropriate steps across teams and apps. A salesperson should have a window into how a prospect has interacted with content on the website; a customer success rep shouldn’t have to ask questions that a customer has already answered for a sales rep. We succeed — both as teams focused on individual metrics and as organizations focused on the business goal — when we can surface and implement this data.
3. Orchestrated Operations
Once your teams are unified and focused on the various touch-points you’ve mapped, you have to make sure that the necessary actions to engage with customers are actually being performed — and are preferably being automated and tracked by software. Wherever customers interact with your website, product, or service, you should be providing them with value. That value can come in the form of suggested content, a human touch, or a delightful email — and with the right apps and contextual data, those points of contact can be personalized, relevant, and tailored to the actions a customer is taking. You can deliver even more value when these processes are automated: relevant context is gathered, important conditions are detected, then the right personalized actions are triggered, and data is collected about the outcomes of those actions. If you can orchestrate and track all those automated touch-points of the customer journey, then your organization’s focus can shift from managing individual actions to optimizing their impact.
4. Actionable Analytics
It’s important to deliver this meaningful behavioral data across teams (e.g., tying attribution and usage metrics to sales outcome), and to make sure that you have systems in place that actually measure the outcomes of these actions. “Does an email help? Does a tutorial site help? Should a customer success rep give them a call?” Your gut isn’t enough to answer these questions anymore. You should be able to test in real-time and directly tie sales outcomes to actions, campaigns, and experiments — and then take direct action across teams to continuously improve your automation. When you have cross-functionally orchestrated operations, you should be able to use the data you’ve gathered to start manipulating scenarios to increase engagement and conversion (better targeting for relevance, more meaningful personalization, providing value before the customer has to ask for it). With the right processes and analytics in place, answering questions like “What worked?” or “Where are people dropping out of the purchase process?” shouldn’t be difficult. Proactively finding answers to questions like, “What can we give the customer to make them love our product?” or “When exactly does a human touch turn a free trial into a conversion?” is even better.
Once you’ve taken the time to map the customer journey, it’s vital that you implement and automate the processes that will allow you to continually optimize your customer experience. A truly delightful customer experience is highly personalized (with the context-rich data you’ve gathered), relevant (targeted by granular details, usage analytics, and behavior; delivered from the right apps), and value-driven (giving your customer the solutions and answers they want at each phase of the journey; never prematurely asking for a sale).
So after you have implemented a beautifully orchestrated, operationalized journey across your entire organization’s efforts, the hard work is done, right? Nope! The better you get at doing these things — the more robust and context-rich your customer experience is, the smarter your team gets, the better your automation, the more omnipresent your brand is — then the more data you should be collecting, the more conclusions you should be drawing from testing, the more processes you should be optimizing, and the more scenarios you’ll need to support.
The journey is never over — and with the right automation, analytics, and processes in place, you can continually improve your customer experience. In today’s digital landscape, you should be more connected to your customers than ever before. Mapping the journey is just the first step. Implementing it is only the second. Automation should be the third. Continual journey optimization is they key to providing a seamless, integrated, intuitive, value-driven customer experience.
Interested in automating the customer journey across your entire organization?
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