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.

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