3 Steps to Kick Off Your Customer Journey Initiative

Though “customer journey” has solidified its status as an industry buzz-term, many marketers are still daunted at the thought of starting a customer journey project. Given the complexity of the current marketing landscape, it’s easy to understand the reluctance—starting any new tactical initiative probably means a lot of work upfront, not to mention significant investments in technology and, likely, new personnel.

Fortunately, customer journeys are as much a framework and way of approaching marketing as they are any specific tool or technology. This makes it easier to get started than you’d think.

If you’ve been thinking about trying out customer journeys but aren’t sure where to start, we’ve outlined three steps that your organization can make quickly and easily—without any major upfront costs or time- and energy-consuming integrations. By following these three steps, your organization will be well positioned to launch an effective customer journey initiative.

Step 1: Connect customer journeys to customer experience.

The first step is changing how you think about customer experience (CX) and understanding the integral role that customer journeys play in shaping CX. Research shows that customer experience is the No. 1 differentiator between modern consumer-facing businesses. As a result, many companies are investing tremendous amounts of capital and energy into improving CX.

Take Amazon Prime as an example. Amazon Prime, despite its tremendous popularity, does not always offer the best price on a given item—better deals can typically be found with a bit of searching. Prime does, however, provide an unparalleled experience that is so seamlessly integrated into consumers’ lifestyles that many will make purchases from Prime without ever considering another option. That is the power of customer experience.

These powerful customer experiences are composed of customer journeys, which consist of the many touch points that consumers make on their way to a purchase. Customer journeys, then, are not simply a marketing tactic but rather an integral part of improving a business’s No. 1 competitive differentiator. Without a strong understanding of customer journeys and the underlying touch points, it’s virtually impossible to have a cohesive and proactive customer experience. It is critical to adopt this mind-set and to understand the role of journeys in shaping CX as a first step in any journey project.

Step 2: Assign a leader to identify use cases.

Before launching any customer journeys, it’s necessary to assign someone from the marketing team to be the point person in charge of the initiative. This person will be tasked with identifying valuable use cases where customer journeys could be used to create a better customer experience. This step is essential because a customer journey strategy cannot be deployed across an entire business in one fell swoop. As journeys are more commonly deployed case by case following an agile test, learn, and improve process, a business must identify initial areas where deploying customer journeys would be most valuable to the business.

How to identify those use cases? Start by looking for customer experience pain points. Where are the biggest hang-ups when it comes to your organization’s customer experience? Are, for example, email and the website connected? Is customer service personalized and based on customers’ past behavior? Think about which channels could be integrated in order to create a more seamless and personalized experience that would lead to tangible business benefits. The use cases that will most benefit the business are a great place to start to ensure the program is successful, of course, but also to ensure buy-in from key stakeholders.

Step 3: Determine the key metrics.

Once you’ve identified use cases, the last step to getting started with customer journeys is to determine the key metrics or KPIs that your customer journey initiative needs to hit in order to be successful. While there are loads of possible metrics that you could analyze, choosing the right ones is critical to ensuring that your customer journey initiative winds up being framed in a positive light.

Some potential metrics include gauges of customer satisfaction, ROI, leads generated, number of products sold, or web traffic. There’s no set list of metrics to use or not to use—it’s just critical that the metrics you select align with your goals as a company. For example, if you want to improve the process for buying from mobile devices, track the number of mobile conversions against desktop and look for upward progress. Once the important metrics have been selected, you’ll be ready to move forward with deploying customer journeys.

Next Steps

Once you’ve assigned a customer journey leader and identified key use cases and metrics, you’ll be in a great position to begin mapping and deploying actual journeys across your business. No matter where you are in this process, always follow the principle of test, learn, and improve, and avoid making major new investments in exotic tools. The whole point of customer journeys is to optimize and improve your existing tech stack, as well as your overall CX, so keep investments to a minimum while constantly testing and measuring. You’ll soon be well on your way to success.

Sophie Slowe is vice president of strategy at Kitewheel, heading up the journey strategy team and working collaboratively with partners to map out rules-powered, consumer journeys. An New York–based Brit with 10 years of integrated marketing experience on both sides of the pond; she has a deep understanding of consumer behavior and specializes in communications planning, CRM, media strategy, user experience, interactive design (Web, social, email, mobile, video, and IoT), AdTech, and MarTech.

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