Restarting the Customer Journey
By now, you’re all too familiar with the idea that your business is going to change in significant ways due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether it’s your workforce, your supply chain, or your revenue stream, the pandemic has brought the global economy to its knees, with virtually no one spared. You know things are going to be different, and you may even be finalizing a strong transition plan to put into place. For true success, part of this transition plan must include a specific plan for resetting the journey with your customers.
And what exactly is a “customer journey”? At first glance it sounds like another industry buzzword, but it’s one that deserves your attention and careful consideration. As defined by Forrester researchers, a customer journey is “the series of interactions between a customer and a company that occur as the customer pursues a specific goal,” but customer journeys today are rarely so simple. Because of the wealth of information available, gone are the days when B2C buyers would just walk into a physical retail location and write a check on their first visit. On the other side, B2B buyers also don’t issue purchase orders without performing a reasonable amount of due diligence. The information age has given buyers the upper hand, which is why your company needs to join them on their journey—rather than trying to circumvent it.
In a post-COVID-19 world, the customer journey becomes more important than ever before, because nearly every customer’s journey has changed in one way or another. It’s helpful to think of this as a mini-reset, and it’s a good time to reexamine the foundation of the journey for each of your customers.
All Together Now
First things first: If your sales and marketing teams aren’t aligned on everything from terminology to software, now is the time to make it so. Unfortunately, it’s common for sales and marketing teams to work in siloed teams, hindering collaboration to produce best-in-class results. When data is spread across inboxes, spreadsheets, and various shared documents, your teams cannot perform at peak efficiency. This will have a negative impact on a company’s capacity to service current clients well and convert leads into new customers. Many companies struggle with this, but one of the easiest ways to do that is to implement a CRM solution that can integrate with marketing automation software. The right CRM can truly transform how you pull together a comprehensive customer journey.
Paint a New Picture
Once everyone is on the same page, it’s important to pull together a high-def picture of your customers by asking some essential questions. How has your client’s broader industry been affected by the pandemic? Have they been financially burdened themselves? What was the tone of your relationship before the crisis? How do you anticipate that might change? When and how do your customers currently interact with your company? Go back and do a thorough scrub through all of the data you have on interactions and any additional research that might need to be done outside of your internally available information. Find the new data about your customers in this new world. If you aren’t armed with enough information at the onset of your reset, it can make for an uphill battle the whole way through.
Go Forward Together
By this point you know that pushing a hard sell right now comes off as horribly tone-deaf and will do nothing but damage to your existing customers, let alone your new business pipeline. Once you have all the data in place and a new road map for your customer journey, make the first step of that journey to show your customers that you care about them as people and are listening to their wants and needs—in other words, humanize their experience with you. Now may even be a great time to do an incentivized survey with them: Offer them a slight discount on their next contract, or whatever makes sense for your organization, in exchange for sharing their thoughts on how the pandemic is affecting their business and how it may affect their relationship with you.
The rules of business engagement have changed as we all adjust to this new normal. Cultivating a sound customer journey is a must-do best practice, and now is the time to do a reset so your journeys can be smooth in the post-COVID world.
Tony Kavanagh is chief marketing officer of Insightly, which provides scalable CRM software for companies to go beyond transactions and grow lasting customer relationships. Kavanagh is responsible for the company’s go to market strategy and execution, focusing on small, midsize, and enterprise businesses. Prior to Insightly, Kavanagh held CMO roles at Actian, DataStax, and Desk, a Salesforce company. He holds a bachelor’s degree from University College, Dublin; a Master’s of Business Studies from the Smurfit Graduate School of Business; and is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accounts.