Monday, August 29, 2016

Six Reasons Customer Journey Mapping Fails (And What To Do About It)

Natalie Fox,
Customer journey maps are a strong tool for marketers seeking to improve their brands' customer experience. Unfortunately, many marketers report that their customer journey mapping initiatives fail to drive the value expected and desired.

Because producing a customer journey map requires a considerable investment of time and money, and because each failed journey mapping exercise represents an enormous lost opportunity, we recently published the report "How to Manage Effective Customer Journey Mapping Processes" for subscribers to Gartner for Marketing Leaders' research.

We found there are six primary reasons customer journey mapping exercises fail to live up to expectations, and you can solve each with careful preparation and an orderly process:
  • The journey mapping team is too narrow: Developing a cohesive customer journey that addresses the issues caused by organizational silos, disconnected systems, and uncollaborative processes cannot be achieved by a siloed, disconnected, and uncollaborative team. Solution: Select your team carefully to include representatives of all parts of the organization that affect the customer's entire journey.
  • The customer journey map fails to focus on key segments and personas: You cannot create a journey map that is all things to all people. Different segments with different attributes and goals will have different needs, expectations, journeys, and sentiment. Solution: Start by defining the who and developing a thorough persona (free blog post).
  • The scope of the customer journey map is insufficient: Journey maps routinely fail to start early enough--when the prospect has a need--and rarely extend far enough--not just to the stage when the customer uses the product or service but into the vital portions of the journey where the brand cultivates loyalty and word of mouth. Solution: Utilize a process that identifies the complete journey from Buy to Own to Advocate (free blog post).
If I have whetted your appetite to learn more, please continue reading on my Gartner blog. You'll learn the last three reasons customer journey mapping initiatives fail and how data, perspective, and goals set the stage for success.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Voice of Customer (VoC) Platforms Become Customer Experience Platforms

This post was originally published on my Gartner blog for marketing leaders

Ten years ago, "voice of the customer" (VoC) platforms were thought of as systems that sent surveys to collect feedback about customer satisfaction so that the data could be exported and distributed, typically via an Excel spreadsheet. As the demand for customer experience data, knowledge and action has grown, so has VoC. Today, these platforms are becoming robust tools to combine customer feedback with other indirect and inferred data so as to catalog customer journeys, understand customer sentiment and experiences, identify customer experience issues, resolve outstanding customer needs, and measure improvement in satisfaction, loyalty, brand advocacy and business outcomes.

In our new report, "Market Guide for Marketers' Voice-of-the-Customer Solutions," we surveyed the marketplace and found that as surveys are becoming table stakes, VoC platforms seek to differentiate themselves in other ways, including:
  • Ingesting and analyzing data from other systems, such as CRM, call center and web analytics platforms. 
  • Providing ways to close the loop with customers using alerts and workflow management.
  • Parsing unstructured data, not merely text answers to open-ended survey questions, but customer care emails, social media posts, and voice calls, as well.
  • Democratizing customer feedback within the organization with a broad range of dashboards to serve the needs of employees and leaders.
  • Furnishing interactive and rich-media methods for customers to supply feedback and improve upon the information collected.
  • Gathering and interpreting the voice of the employee (VoE).
  • Offering powerful analyses to identify trends and discover insights to guide CX efforts and investments.

VoC vendors that traditionally served the needs of customer care or operational leaders are seeing growing demand from marketers with responsibility for customer experience management. If you are a marketing leader and Gartner subscriber interested in VoC and customer experience, please read our new "Market Guide for Marketers' Voice-of-the-Customer Solutions." It provides summaries of more than a dozen vendors offering solutions for direct customer feedback, text and sentiment analytics, speech and interaction analytics, market research communities, customer journey monitoring and VoE.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Introducing the Buy/Own/Advocate Customer Experience Journey

Even though we all recognize the role of word of mouth (WOM) in building brands and delivering marketing results, customer journey models routinely omit any consideration for the impact of brand advocacy. Many of the journey frameworks used today to guide customer experience (CX) initiatives fail to account for the ways happy customers champion the brands they love and how others value WOM as they discover, evaluate and select products and services.

In the era of always-on, personalized information and trusted WOM at scale, it is time to update our customer journey models to recognize how great customer experience drives WOM, and great WOM drives business outcomes. Marketers need a new and better framework--one that considers the entire virtuous circle from buy to own to advocate and back to buy, again.

The customer journey model we use on the Gartner for Marketing Leaders team--the Buy/Own/Advocate framework--recognizes that strong brands aren't merely better at acquiring customers; they are better at keeping them and motivating them to tell others. This is why improving CX isn't just the right thing to do for your customers; it is also the right thing to do for your organization and its stakeholders.

For example, in 2011, Starbucks was honored as one of the top five brands for customer experience. That same year, the brand moved up two spots to become the third largest restaurant chain based on sales. It did this despite “being outspent on advertising anywhere from two to eight times by rivals.” This company and its success demonstrate how great marketing results come from the combination of smart outbound marketing and compelling, differentiated customer experience.

To learn about other brands activating their Buy/Own/Advocate customer journeys, the importance of driving customers not just to use but love and the power of advocacy and loyalty, please read the complete blog post on my Gartner blog. 

Friday, August 5, 2016

You Don't Own the Customer; She or He Owns You

"Who owns the customer?"

This is a question I have heard from a wide variety of organizations. Insurance firms wonder if the agent or the company "owns" the customer. B2B firms struggle with sales and account teams that seek to "protect" their clients. CPG brands wish to have more direct customer relations while retailers work to control the customer relationship. And companies with many competing or complementary products and services strive to balance the contradictory needs of different brands and departments.

Author Ursula K. Le Guin once said, "There are no right answers to wrong questions." "Who owns the customer?" is the wrong question. The terrible connotation of asking who owns a human being should be the first hint we're on thin ice. Moreover, it should be easily apparent to everyone that brands don't own or control anything; it is the customer who chooses us, pays for us, and abandons us if we fail to provide the right value or experience vis-a-vis the competition. If you consider this question from the perspective of the customer and not the organization, there is no question that you don't own the customer; he or she owns you.

Thus, the right question is not "Who owns the customer?" but "How best can we serve the customer?" This servitude approach is not simply philosophical but can have a profound effect on the actions of your firm and your employees. To see how important it is to start with the right question and learn the ways it drives better process and outcomes, please visit my Gartner blog for the complete post. Thank you.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Marketers’ Questions about Customer Experience and the New Customer Journey

Last week I provided a free webinar about customer experience. I presented a new customer journey, one that is based not upon mass media era processes and behaviors but on the ways brands are built and sustained in the age of always-on, personalized information and trusted word of mouth. The presentation touched on the importance of authentic loyalty and advocacy, ways to measure efficiency and effectiveness in your customer journey and outside-in processes for creating customer journey maps. If this piques your interest, you can stream the customer experience webinar for free. (Well, not entirely free-it'll cost you your contact information.)

We received many questions during the webinar and could not get to them all, so I hoped to continue the dialog and furnish some details on my blog:

For B2B brands that may have multiple categories of customers, where would you recommend we start customer journey mapping?
The first step in any journey mapping effort is to answer "Who?" This involves selecting your important audience segments and building personas for each. Most customer journey mapping efforts identify a handful of key customer segments for which journey maps will be developed.

Also, a quick word on firmographic versus role-based journey maps for B2B firms: Too many B2B brands approach customer journey maps as if everyone employed within the companies in their target market shares a single mind that experiences the entire journey simultaneously and identically. Of course, that is not true, so B2B brands must start by first identifying the attributes of target firms and then classifying the key roles within those firms, understanding the professional and personal needs of individuals in each role and recognizing the ways they interact with the brand.

Do you have to put the customers into different segments and take into account things like B2B, B2C, region/country, etc.?
For customer experience purposes, select only those attributes that drive substantive differences in customer needs, expectations or experiences with your brand. If you find there are profound differences between customers in different regions and countries, then this may be an important attribute; if not, then do not consider geography as you define your key segments. Let data be your guide, gathering and analyzing the data necessary to uncover what makes your audience segments unique.

There is an art and science to defining segments. If you define your segments too broadly, the behaviors, needs, preferences and experiences of those in each segment will vary too much to provide a sound basis for mapping their journey. Conversely, if you define your segments too narrowly, you can end up with a restricted focus that fails to improve the journey for a sufficient portion of your customers.

There isn't a single answer for every firm in every category, but as a best practice, it is more important to identify your key customer segments and improve their journeys than it is to slot every existing customer into a category. By focusing on a handful of your most important segments, you can best prioritize your CX efforts for the prospects and customers who matter most to your firm. If you are a Gartner client, you can learn more in our report, "Use Personas to Drive Exceptional Customer Experiences."

For more questions and answers, covering topics of voice of customer, ratings and reviews, and employee engagement, please visit my Gartner blog.