The customer journey is a mantra among marketers. Its origin story is simple: Marketing publishes loads of material across the internet, email, etc., and an ability to track all these touchpoints to entice, coax, and comfort prospects through the process of parting with their money provides a myriad of benefits. Yet, where mantra meets execution lies an incredible amount of confusion and frustration.
Marketing automation technology put in place for campaigns is now antiquated, as many businesses have other legacy systems holding captive data that is the lifeblood of understanding the customer journey. Rip and replace is out of the question with such core systems. So, how can marketers deliver the dream?
While it is possible to reconcile data silos across existing martech and adtech through significant custom development, there is quite a lot that companies can do without these services to still have an impact. Marketing automation, content management, analytics workbenches, and CRM systems all have one thing in common: the people who use them. So, what can you do with a slim budget to deliver a 21st century customer journey?
Here are three tips for you to act on right now and get closer to this objective, laying the foundation for adding orchestration tools later.
Create a workflow and stop infighting
Just about every company today is a data-driven organization, where metrics are the guiding force behind employees and departments. Fine, in theory; problematic in practice. Each department pushes to exceed their quotas (emails opened, white papers downloaded, calls made, etc.) with little incentive toward meeting the ultimate goal of a good customer experience and thus new business. For example, let’s look at the push and pull a credit card business deals with between its marketing and customer risk teams. Marketing is tasked with generating card applications, and the risk team is tasked with approving low-risk lines of credit. Without workflow alignment, these two departments can easily be at odds with each other. Marketing does everything it can to drive applications, regardless of risk, to make its numbers. The risk team, now flooded with lots of applications to screen, spends more time reducing these to the least risky customers and possibly missing their numbers. Now, the credit card company has friction built into its business, reducing the effectiveness of marketing budgets and overtaxing the risk team.
This misalignment is more common than you might think. A good first step toward improving the customer journey is to understand where similar conflicts exist across the company. The fix could be as simple as management alignment, or it could be more complicated, such as redoing whole department metrics.
Build your connective tissue
Silos across an organization are never the objective of the management team, yet they almost always develop for one reason or another. This is a problem for a customer-centric company. Take a good look at how a customer interacts with your company to get a better sense of why connective tissue is needed and breaking down the silos is important. For example, a customer might register for a webinar you’re hosting. Prior to the webinar, a customer get calls from the outbound sales team informing them of a great webinar to should attend and how the company can help solve his problem. (He’s already a customer.) The webinar comes and goes, and the customer wants to download the companion white paper for more detail. When he arrives at the landing page, he’s asked to register again to receive the paper. He’s already a customer and given the information to register for the webinar. Now extrapolate this opaque view of the customer’s journey as it relates to the services, product, support, finance, and marketing parts of your company. It’s easy to see how silos can leave a customer frustrated. Break these silos to improve the customer journey.
Put the customer first
Providing products to buyers does not make a company customer-centric. Putting a customer first means examining all the touchpoints between a customer and your business, then designing a flow that builds and engages a customer. Personalized outreach supported by martech and adtech orchestration that makes the customer feel like he is having a single conversation with a company, rather than being marketed to, is the goal.
In addition, the 21st century customer-centric business creates an end-to-end picture of how it is delivering value through its services and makes customers feel they can trust the brand. By creating tight orchestration between touchpoints and understanding how a customer is being cultivated, a company can get a better return on marketing spend and activity.
With these three tips, any company can start to leverage existing martech or adtech investments to gain a better handle of the customer journey. Process, incentives, and alignment are key, and the only way to get a handle on these is to jump in and start taking a critical look at how your company operates. Once this foundation has been created, orchestration tools can be added to streamline things.
James Allum is the European partner director at Kitewheel (www.kitewheel.com).
Edited by Erik Linask