The Customer Defines the Journey
Marketers are hearing a lot about customer experience these days, and there is good reason to pay attention. Gartner’s finding that 89 percent of companies will compete on the basis of customer experience has been widely reported. Recent Adobe/Econsultancy reports validate this conclusion from another perspective. In “The CX Challenge,“ it was reported that about half of responding companies have become “quite“ or “very“ advanced in their customer experience maturity, while in “2016 Digital Trends,“ the top opportunity for responding companies was “optimising the customer experience.”
Recently Adobe released a report “Reinventing the Customer Experience,” which reviews six ways a company can meet these challenges. Although all of these strategies are important, three stand out and deserve extra attention.
Experience matters more than brand
Some brands have been out for years and they may be known for their brand more than for their experience. Today however, even these established brands are shifting their attention to customer experience with features such as multidevice access and interactive rich media. Newer brands must start by concentrating on experience. Customer experience is rapidly becoming the key competitive advantage for all businesses, from start-ups to brands that have been around for decades.
The key takeaway from the report is “customers are loyal to the experience, not the brand.” This is the essence of what all the recent studies are finding with their surveys and statistics. Everything a business does to personalise and unify the experience across all touchpoints will help it to stand out from the competition.
The customer defines the journey. Design must follow
We’ve all been to a park where there is a beautiful walkway, but people have worn a path through the grass because the walkway doesn’t go where they want to go. In landscape design this is called a desire line. This is the best way to illustrate “Let the customer define the journey.” That might have been an award-winning path design by a master landscaper, but it was simply in the wrong place. People desired to follow a different path.
The job can be easier for marketers than for park designers. Start by embracing the reality that customers are entering your brand’s journey from a variety of points and are interacting in unforeseeable ways. This may sound intimidating, but the good news is that with the right technology you can capture each interaction from any touchpoint and build an understanding of the context of what they are doing at the time. Analytics and testing allow you to see what is working and what isn’t, so you can see where the customer path does not follow the designed path. Since your customers’ experience, unlike the walkway, is not set in stone, you can take action to realign the experience to match their journey. This will create an experience they will remember and revisit many times.
It takes a company to create an experience
This is the marketer’s version of “it takes a village to raise a child.” In “The CX Challenge” report, about twice as many companies mature in customer experience place responsibility for customer experience across the whole organisation, compared to immature companies. It takes an integrated, holistic approach to ensure that there is no disconnect between what the customer is promised by marketing and what is ultimately delivered. Top-performing companies have embraced this by making changes in their operating processes. We see this trend among our top customers at Adobe. An integrated approach gets better results. When you get everyone in the organisation on the same page, the customers will follow.
You can see more in our full report, Reinventing the Customer Experience.