APM Customer journey

It’s all about the journey – customer journey management

Marketing has evolved with technology – now, managing and optimising your customers’ experience is a vital part of the business…

Times have moved on – and so has the role of marketing within a business. In the past, your marketing might have been carried out by someone skilled in communications, getting the message out there to would-be customers – and by someone who knows your product inside and out and can convey their knowledge in order to bring customers to your door.

These might have been the only two roles within your marketing department, or consultant, if your organisation outsources its marketing skillset.

But as technology continues to enhance our lives, the marketer’s skillset needs to develop as well. This specialism concerns the customer journey – and your marketer needs to be able to combine an expertise in technology with the ability to manage the customer’s journey, from its start right through to acquisition and retention.

Why is it important?

Bloomberg Businessweek produced a survey that concluded that “delivering a great customer experience” is one of the top strategic goals for US companies.

Our world is becoming increasingly digital. Think back maybe 10 years ago and your phone would not have been half as important to you as it is now. Now, it is used to make purchases, find our way around using Google Maps, keep track on bank accounts, tax payments and how we use our time, all using apps in a way we never dreamt of before.

In the same way, marketing and managing the customer journey and experience has moved on, and we can now gain so much insight into our customers thoughts and experience – with social media posts, product reviews and live survey results. We have more data at our fingertips than ever before. And it can all be put to good use – if you know how.

We can use digital consumer intelligence to help us analyse our own industry or market, and track changes in the size of the market and the way the market is changing. Not only does that mean that we can alter our products and customer journey to work with the changes in the market, it also allows us to spot new opportunities and niches as they occur.

We can track consumer feedback on reviews sites, social media, forums – and discover why our customers are spending money, and why they want to buy our product or service – or not.

We can also keep up with trends and even follow real-time seasonal changes.

It’s all about the journey

Global tech giant Panasonic sets a great example as a company that has taken on board the changes in marketing and recognised that the customer journey is now a vital tool in the marketing tool kit.

The company employs a quarter of a million people around the world, so ensuring that customers don’t get lost in the sheer scale of the company is vital. Yours might be a smaller organisation, but this ideal still holds true.

Panasonic’s aim is that, despite the sheer number of people, production lines, sales and teams and so on, as far as the customer is concerned, dealing with Panasonic is kept simple. They do not get lost in the vast realms of this huge organisation.

The secret? Panasonic uses a customer relationship management (CRM) system. The CRM is used by everyone from sales and marketing through to customer support – it stops a customer having to explain their story or situation over and over again – it makes them feel that the company knows them and understand their needs. It allows the personalisation of a service from a global company.

Enabling this is a solid infrastructure behind a web offering that remains constant wherever Panasonic’s customers are. The language may change from country to country, but the experience is the same.

Panasonic’s Product Information Management System (PIMS) is a database of every product that Panasonic uses – and the website is constantly updated to ensure that it offers the customer the most up-to-date information it possibly can.

Online, customers log into one portal with one interface, which allows for total ease of access – products can even be monitored remotely so that any maintenance or service can be predicted.

A new era

So, marketing has taken a new turn. And companies must follow suit if they want to survive and succeed and not be left behind.

This new way of marketing combines the traditional skills of product marketing and communications, with the 21st-century ability to harness technology to offer customers a seamless experience with a company – where interactions feel like they are not with multiple departments, but with one single entity.

These changes will not be cost-free – and the organisation needs to be on board with the culture change that will make it all happen.

But once everyone sees the benefits – improved sales and retention performance, the enhanced customer approvals – it will make it all worthwhile.

Five steps to improving the customer experience

  1. Produce a clear customer experience vision
    Use the principles of your organisation to drive the behaviour of your company and how you want your customers to view it.
  1. Know your customers
    Use your knowledge of customers from social media, forums and so on, to create a number of customer personas – for instance, Kate, a 40-year-old woman, who is reasonably tech-savvy, but time poor. This will help colour how you build your customer experience and help to guide anyone who deals with your customers to visualise them as real people.
  1. Get customer feedback
    Technology allows us to get feedback in real-time, from online surveys, follow-up emails, automated phone surveys and more. And remember to act on that feedback too!
  1. Act on employee feedback
    Remember to get feedback from your staff too – again technology allows this to be done on a rolling basis, using project management software or social media tools.
  1. Get personal
    Personalised offers and products that relate to the activity your customer carries out online, make the customer feel that you understand them and their needs. Make sure your customer experience offers these targeted opportunities.

If you would like to have a chat about your marketing requirements, please call Alison Page on tel: 07963 002065 or email: hello@alisonpagemarketing.co.uk. You can of course browse our website to see what our existing clients have to say about our work.