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How to navigate the complex road system of today's customer journey

The customer journey is quickly becoming one of the most commonly used phrases in marketing today. With the potential to revolutionise consumer marketing as we know it, businesses are eager to jump into customer journey orchestration. Yet there is much ambiguity surrounding the term. What does it really mean and how can brands get there?

The new rules of the road
The first thing to keep in mind is that the customer journey is really about your customer, not your company or your products. In fact, there is a new type of ‘driver’ out there — the type of customer that forges their own paths and obtains instant gratification on their own.

With this new type of customer, there are a few things brands need to understand so they don’t end up stranded at the starting line:

  • Remember that is not about campaigns. Campaigns are the equivalent of a 100-yard sprint, while the new world is more akin to a marathon. Make sure you’re focusing upon the right finish line.
  • The journey begins before you are involved or aware of it, and will continue long after your last interaction.
  • The customer journey is not on rails – it isn’t one set path. Instead, it can be best compared to an interstate or roadway system with on-ramps and off-ramps. Individuals are free to move at their own speed and at a time/direction of their own choosing.

Prepare for the unpredictable
Just like a good road trip, you need to be prepared for anything. While packing the car, brands should understand the maps for this journey. These maps will typically vary by persona and life stage. Similarly, brands need to understand traffic times and flows, not just on a daily basis, but seasonally and even annually.

Brands must plan ahead. How do these paths differ when the consumer’s goals or objectives vary? Importantly, these are maps – not triptiks with a strictly defined path from end to end (remember those?). To be most effective, brands should look into tapping into all the rich data types that are now becoming available. This can include customer profile data, interaction data, location data and other context data – in real-time.

5 guiding principles of the customer journey “roadway system”

1. Track traffic
Constantly assess the data that’s collected to tune your strategy. Focus upon the hot spots first, then extend.

2. Remove roadblocks
Assess your touch points. Are there unnecessary steps or processes?

3. Give free directions
Advise on best path forward depending upon the individuals’ journey and personal goals.

4. Advise of traffic jams
Be transparent, be proactive to help customers avoid issues before they happen.

5. Tear down toll booths
Where checks and balances are required, deploy automation.

If your brand is just getting started keep these 5 guiding principles in mind to get a head start. Perhaps your brand is already far along the path to customer journey success like those who have entered the Best customer journey category in this year’s DMA Awards.

By DMA guest blogger, Jeff Nicholson, VP of Marketing at Kitewheel, sponsors of the Best customer journey category at the DMA Awards. Kitewheel powers the real-time revolution for the world’s largest automotive, airline, retail, travel and consumer packaged goods brands, from its offices in Boston and London.

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