The Customer Journey: Identify Technological Opportunities
If like many other people, you believe that the Customer Journey is limited only to marketing, the B2C sector and to optimizing the customer experience, you may not be seeing the full picture.
It is true that the Customer Journey is often used for marketing purposes, to better understand the customer experience in store or online. But what we often forget is that the Customer Journey also applies to technology. As is the case with marketing, the Customer Journey allows businesses to identify what is missing with the customer experience and to determine how technology may help to bridge these gaps.
Today, the digital transformation of the customer experience has become a relevant means for businesses to adapt and personalize their offering. Customers are becoming increasingly demanding, which means that businesses must improve their digital practices and place the customer experience at the heart of their concerns. By better pinpointing customers and the actions they take during their experience, the Customer Journey allows for needs to be born and to be met with the optimization and effectiveness gained through technology. The goal is to better understand the customer experience and to identify where and how to act.
Digital transformation constitutes a decision-making centre for businesses that concerns three main themes:
Internal business needs: what functional needs of the business must be met to improve its performance and/or the customer experience?
Monitoring technology: what are the important technological trends that will have an impact on my business and that I should identify how to benefit from?
The Customer Journey: what relation does the customer have with my business? Across the various points of contact with my business, how can this relation be influenced?
When a business is in the mindset of undergoing digital transformation, it evaluates its current state to progress to a future target state through the use of technologies. To arrive at this destination, the Customer Journey constitutes one of the key steps of digital transformation. By mapping out the present state of points of contact with clients and their satisfaction, businesses can identify the future needs and to observe in parallel the market’s latest technological trends to stand out.
The Customer Journey follows the following three guiding principles:
- Always consider the customer’s point of view
It is by viewing the customer’s experience through his or her own eyes – throughout his or her journey – that you will be able to begin understanding how to significantly improve the experience.
- Eliminate silos
Businesses often have their stakeholders function in an isolated manner and make decisions with respect to only one department at a time. In this respect, the customer’s point of view and the exercise of documenting it together allows for the elimination of silos to improve the global experience.
- Assist in decision-making and the prioritization of investment
The Customer Journey allows for a certain number of needs to emerge that originate from points of contact and that will allow the business to establish a list of investment priorities.
It allows for the business to see where the use of technology could fill gaps and to guide the business towards the type of technological solution that it should choose to offer the desired customer experience.
The Components of a Customer Journey
A Customer Journey is drawn out on a visual map that describes the potential journey of a customer and his or her interactions with the brand through different points of contact. The customer cannot pass through every point of contact – that is why the journey of each customer is unique.
To complete such a visual map, begin by defining the broad phases of the Customer Journey. For example, retail businesses are generally associated with the following phases: Discovery, Learning, Receipt, After-Purchase Sale, and Return (see example below).
The number of phases may vary from one business to the next. Once these are determined, we are ready to complete the visual map according to the following aspects, always keeping in mind the customer’s point of view:
POINTS OF CONTACT: Observe concretely the points of contact with the customer, then represent them in a visual journey. Certain points will be controlled by the business (e.g. website) whereas others will not (e.g. posts made by third parties on social media).
THOUGHTS: What is the customer thinking, in particular as regards the product or service provided?
To maintain the greatest degree of objectivity with the information collected, it is essential to maintain the customer’s point of view rather than that of the business.
EMOTIONS: How does the customer feel at each stage? Is he or she stressed out by the receipt of his or her package? Is he or she frustrated about having to create a user account to complete a purchase?
Whether the emotions are positive or negative, it is essential to consider all of the customer’s thoughts to obtain the true point of view of the customer. The customer’s emotions will allow you to identify how he or she feels with respect to the technological tools of your business.
EXPERIENCE: The final aspect is to the type of experience the customer desires (amusing, inspiring, educational, etc.) and the desired evolution of this experience throughout the customer’s journey.
Next, you must define the moments of truth. A moment of truth corresponds to a sensitive point in the interaction between the customer and the business, namely a moment when the customer shows a strong reaction towards the business. These points are critical because they are when the customer will form an impression of not only your brand but also of your use of technology.
Select and Prioritize Projects
Once the Customer Journey is put together, the next step is to identify the initiatives that will meet the opportunities identified and that will fill the missing gaps. Improving the customer experience is an important factor in the prioritization of these initiatives, especially when the funds you are investing are limited. By taking account of the improvement of the experience, particularly in moments of truth, you will be able to ensure that your investments align with concrete advantages: customer satisfaction, sales and customer retention, but also a reduction of end-to-end service costs and a reinforcement of employee satisfaction.
By following the above steps, you will be able to anticipate future opportunities and thus be able to innovate and distinguish yourself from your competitors!