Why Understanding the Customer Journey Matters

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In my last post, I wrote about how today’s customers have become incredibly cross-channel in their interactions with companies as they follow non-linear courses across physical and digital touchpoints on their paths to purchase. While it’s important for decision-makers to be able to follow the customer journey to identify and remove any points of friction encountered and to be able to deliver seamless experiences, it’s critical for marketing, sales, and customer care leaders to grasp why understanding the customer journey matters so much.
For starters, understanding and responding to the customer journey makes good business sense. Customers prefer to do business with companies that make it easy for them to be a customer. Think about the companies that you like best. Why is that? More than likely, these companies design customer experiences that make it as effortless as possible to interact with them. They demonstrate that they understand what it’s like to be a customer.
This doesn’t occur by accident. Companies such as Amazon, Apple, and The Ritz-Carlton take the time and effort to understand their customers, taking steps to remove any obstacles that may impinge on the customer journey.
Research has shown that companies delivering consistent customer experiences tend to have higher levels of loyalty and long-term customer lifetime value. This helps to explain why customer experience leaders have outperformed the broader market, with stock portfolios generating 35 percent higher returns over the past eight years than the S&P 500 Index, according to Watermark Consulting’s 2015 Customer Experience ROI Study
Making the customer experience more convenient
Customers value their time and appreciate brands that recognize this. They expect convenient experiences, and they loathe being forced to take extra or unnecessary steps such as having to re-identify themselves to a customer care associate or other superfluous actions in order to complete an online checkout.
Customer journey mapping enables organizational leaders to identify the step-by-step actions taken by customers in their interactions which can then be used to streamline and simplify the customer experience. A customer journey mapping tool aids in blending historical and real-time data to provide insights to make customer interactions more efficient while delivering a consistent face to each customer experience, regardless of the channel used.
For instance, an automotive customer who is visiting a dealer’s website to find out about oil change services can immediately be provided a pop-up offer to schedule an appointment. This type of proactive gesture can simplify the appointment process for the customer.
Meanwhile, the unification of real-time and historical data can also be used to smooth the customer journey in other ways. By identifying a customer’s current digital behaviors (web pages they’re visiting, sentiments they’re sharing in support interactions, etc.) coupled with the customer’s historical transaction, demographic, and psychographic data, customer experience practitioners can be better positioned to anticipate and act on a customer’s needs.
An electronics retailer using an analytics-led customer journey mapping tool can see that a loyal customer is visiting its website to view laptops, including pages that are created for college-bound students. The tool can then help to identify the best response to provide the customer, including a customized offer that draws from the customer’s purchase history along with an offer for a particular laptop that customers with similar traits have purchased.
By drawing on a complete range of historical and real-time customer information, representatives can deliver personalized and meaningful interactions that will be viewed by each customer as a logical element of their journey and not as a “one-and-done” transaction. Demonstrating to customers that your organization knows who they are along with their needs and preferences throughout their journeys will help to inspire customer confidence and strengthen loyalty.
Interested in learning more about the benefits of customer journey mapping? Check out our eBook on the topic to discover five best practices for optimizing the omnichannel customer experience.

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