As technology advances, customers are becoming increasingly demanding, with higher expectations of products and service levels. As a result, the power in the marketplace has tilted towards the consumer, with companies having to fight hard to retain existing customers and find new ones.
However, technology developments work both ways. Businesses are now harnessing technology and data to follow their customers around physical and virtual locations. They are capturing their behaviours and preferences by mapping these customer journeys as they move from consideration through to purchase and then on to engagement with the brand.
According to research firm, Forrester, 63 percent of marketers currently use journey mapping to research the various segments of their target group and view their products and services from their customers’ perspective. This is allowing them to anticipate buying patterns and preferences, and tailor personalised communications for each step of the journey.
Why journey mapping is important
Customer journey mapping firmly places the focus on each unique client. It’s all about delivering a ‘surprise and delight’ experience at every individual touchpoint that a customer has with a business. It’s essential to remember that even if a business operates in the B2B space, they are still dealing with people within their client’s companies.
The Harvard Business Review says companies across retail, banking, travel, home services and other industries are designing and refining journeys to attract shoppers and keep them. The aim is to create customised experiences so finely tuned that once consumers get on the path, they are irresistibly and permanently engaged. That is a compelling customer value proposition.
The end game of customer journey mapping is an improvement in customer experience and satisfaction. In a recent McKinsey survey of senior executives, 90 percent of respondents confirmed that CX is one of the CEO’s top three priorities. Their research indicates that for every 10-percentage-point uptick in customer satisfaction, a company can increase revenue 2 to 3 percent.
Journey mapping has validated what businesses have observed and instinctively felt for several years. Traditional channels like print, TV, phone and email are delivering a steadily decreasing ROI, while future-focused digital technologies are ramping up exponentially. Information technology commentator Dion Hinchliffe describes the new digital customer journey as cross-channel, mobile, social, self-service and engaged.
Because there are so many new digital channels opening up all the time (think social networks, mobile devices, apps, blogs and communities) it is essential for any business to ensure they are operating across all the channels their customer journey map identifies. Because we live online these days – primarily through mobile devices – there isn’t a single industry that can afford to neglect to harness the power of mobile technologies.
Personalised 1-to-1 communication
This includes a shameless self-plug for SMS. We consistently see open rates that exceed 95 percent – unmatched by any other medium or customer communication channel. That’s because mobile is a way of life, and it lies at the heart of the customer journey. It’s a marketer’s job to understand this journey, and then send personalised 1-to-1 communications that resonate directly with the individual.
In a recent personal example, I was sent an email from a sales rep that grabbed my attention, by mentioning a competitor. He succeeded because he tailored the message for our business. It was one of the few sales emails I’ve read start to finish.
Mobile marketing blogger Amber Tiffany describes how people reach for their phones 150 times per day, saying they may as well be surgically attached to our bodies. We are making phone calls, thumbing text messages, snapping pictures, marking calendars, checking social media and the list goes on and on… and on. So much of modern life is supported by our phones.
She explains how this translates to the customer journey. Whether our goal is exploration, education, or action, we use mobile. It’s these moments that marketers must anticipate and be sure their brand is present for. Mobile is not a stop on the path to purchase. It’s used in the early stages of the customer journey. 91 percent of smartphone users turn to their phones for ideas in the middle of a task according to Google. And it’s used in the late stages. 70 percent of people have called a business directly from a mobile search ad.
Deeper connection offered through mobile
Mobile has ushered in a new era of personalisation and convenience, giving marketers the chance to connect with their audience on a deeper level than ever before. Through automation, marketers can now serve targeted ads and messages based on the time, location, previous engagement, and a myriad of other personal factors.
SaaS offerings such as HubSpot make it simple for even small businesses to start taking advantage of the leaps in technology. The race is on. We are already seeing large competitors being disrupted by the little guys, who are quicker to figure out the customer journey and implement agile communication strategies that are truly 1-to-1 and B2P.
Engaged customers generate more revenue and stay more involved with companies that respond in kind. They will remain loyal to businesses that solve their problems, make life simpler and engage with them by responding to their messages and participating in conversations.
Creating harmony between business and customer
Customer expectations are becoming increasingly demanding, but savvy marketers are using the power of data and technology to deliver effective customer-centric communications across multiple channels. These personalised messages are delivered at the right place and at the right time, allowing businesses to engage with their audience at a deeper level – particularly on mobile platforms. It is essential to get every communication channel operating in harmony, and customer journey mapping provides the ability to do this.