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January 27, 2017

Businesses are investing in omni-channel transformation with the objective to interact with customers wherever they are and whenever they are ready to engage. But is it taking into account the journeys that customers actually take? Omnichannel transformation need to be much beyond access it needs to take the context of real journeys that customers take in order to deliver relevant, consistent experiences that build lifelong relationships.

In the last post, we discussed the need for adaptive digital personas, which are far more dynamic and agile in nature than traditional mass segmentation. Segmentation of the target market based on popular customer labels (millennials, baby boomers) is increasingly becoming obsolete, as companies have realized the need for real-time customer data for personalization, contextual targeting and other marketing efforts.

Targeting the right customers based on persona research must be followed by an impeccable understanding of their course of interaction with brands. Customer journey discovery and mapping is a powerful method organizations can use to conceptualize and understand how customers engage, buy and experience products and services across channels, touch points and interactions. So far journey mapping had been a research based activity, but discovering and mapping real customer journeys as they happen can be a powerful tool to build an adaptive and collaborative enterprise that can respond much faster to deliver experiences that matter for the changing customer preferences. It helps companies walk in their customers shoes, see how they think and get a perspective of a day in their lives. Customer journey discovery helps understand the micro-moments at which the customer interacts with a business. Micro-moments are critical touch points within a customers journey which when added together determine the end-to-end journeywhere it starts and where it ends. Customerjourney maps comprise of a lot of events that may take place prior to, during, or after an interaction at a customer touch point, across different channels. With the help of customer journey mapping companies can identify moments of truth and ensure impeccable customer experience at each such moment.

Most importantly, the map is generated through discovery of micromoments as exhibited by real customer journeys, not the organizations. And unsurprisingly, this is where many stumble as a lack of customer knowledge results in a biased customer journey decisions based on internal and inside-out definitions. Hence, an effective journey map must be based on profound understanding of customers experience across touchpoints, needs and expectations.

Take for instance a persona, Vibrant Veronica, an exercise enthusiast looking for a new treadmill for her home. As she begins her shopping journey from the research stage, searching for brands over internet and narrowing them down to a list that she is willing to consider, a treadmill brand could identify her as she traverses across the research, consideration and decision stages. The identification of Veronicas needs enables the treadmill brand to not just provide her with contextual product information at each stage of the shopping journey but also respond to her broader need-context of fitness and provide a more engaging experience to Veronica by connecting her to a community of the treadmill users with similar needs as well as provide associated products like nutrition supplements, wearables, etc. through an ecosystem of partner products

Customer journey maps or models need to be executed differently for each persona taking into account their distinctive attributes such as consumer purchasing behavior, preferred method of engagement, etc. Models will also differ based on the type of products. For example, customer journey maps for a purchase requiring a big financial commitment (i.e. a house, car, or investment plan) will be linear, while a subscription based product, or service (phone, or internet connection) will have a cyclical map.

Companies that are serious about achieving customer centricity need to adopt customer journey discovery and mapping as the backbone of omni-channel transformation to drive improved customer engagement and experience management. This will enable them to cater to the customer needs at each touchpoint, adding to the cumulative customer experience without losing sight of the big picture, i.e. the end-to-end customer journey. A state of the art, futuristic customer experience is designed for the entire customer journey not merely a single interaction.

In the next post we will discuss how to drive contextual customer engagement.

Learn more about customer journey mapping and targeting across end-to-end customer journey.

Suman Mahalanabis is the Director, Product Management at TCS Digital Software & Solutions Group and is passionate in bringing science to the art of business decisions through analytics and new age data infrastructure. Suman is leading change through creating next generation analytics platform for enterprises as they are pursuing their strategies in experience based differentiation, wallet share growth and improving operational efficiencies. With over 13 years in various roles of consulting, solution development and program delivery across clients from Telecom, Manufacturing and Banking, Suman brings deep range of experience in architecting technology and process solutions to complex business problems. He is also a member of tele-management forum, speaker at TMW, B/OSS conference and Gartner CRM summits. Suman has a Masters of Business Administration from Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management and Master of Technology from University of Calcutta.


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