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2018 – The Year of the Customer Journey

Last year we saw a lot of discussion about the customer journey and why brands should be focusing on that journey to improve business results. As we enter 2018, we have seen our clients begin to understand the importance of a customer journey. We’re seeing them move away from just capturing emails and blasting messages, and starting to set up targeted lifecycle communications. We are seeing companies start to understand that everything ties together. It’s not just a one-off email, or an in-store visit, but an entire multi-channel interaction with the brand. Marketers are starting to understand this, but no one is really doing it in full yet.

I like to think of a marketer’s knowledge of their customer’s journey is at a toddler stage. They are definitely learning to walk, but they’re walking before they’re running. This is a good thing, because there is a fair bit of falling and learning at this stage. They do get frustrated with hurdles, but they understand that the customer journey is a constantly-evolving learning process.

One thing we have learned is that tracking and optimizing a multi-channel customer journey isn’t possible without technology. There are too many customers and too many variables for humans to process at one time. As we have seen, this technology has grown a lot in the past few years. So where should you focus your energy in 2018 to create a better customer journey? Here are a couple of recommendations:

  1. Upgrading POS systems – Your POS system should make it easy to see someone in the store, pull up their entire multi-channel profile, and deliver any updated information back to that customer profile. It may sound basic, but the ability to have customer lookup is huge.
    1. Remember to have the same POS system across all stores. For small-medium businesses, this may seem like a no-brainer. But when you get into larger stores, or franchised stores, it’s important to remember that the POS experience should be the same no matter which store you go into.
  2. Any channels you haven’t gone after – Look into channels that you can tie into the whole customer experience. Channels like web personalization, SMS, and push notifications are all different channels that can enhance your customer journey and experience.
    1. Easy wins: Pixels for web personalization are easy and “cheap” to drop on your website to gather information. Text or push notifications are also as simple as asking IT to turn on the capability.

We understand that especially this time of year, it’s important to focus and be smart about your budget and IT requests. If the IT department gets 2 requests from marketing all year instead of 30 requests, they will be more willing to help. We suggest that you go through the customer experience yourselves, and figure out where upgrades are needed. To learn more about conducting a Customer Experience Audit, check out this blog post.

The next phase of life for the customer journey will be similar to a school-aged child. We will see marketers have a little more voice and understand what they want, when they want it. Most marketers are looking for technology based on budgets, and marketing needs, and they are looking for something they can get in place quickly. Most importantly, marketers will be more confident in themselves and their abilities to craft a great customer journey that produces an incremental change in revenue and business goals.