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.