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Marketers’ Questions about Customer Experience and the New Customer Journey

By Augie Ray | August 02, 2016 | 0 Comments

MarketingCustomer Experience

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.”

Is there a tool that can measure/monitor the CX experience across all stages?

Many customer experience and voice of customer (VoC) platforms provide a basis for measuring and monitoring CX across all stages. Many are designed to execute and manage a breadth of surveys so that brands can gather feedback after every relevant customer interaction. And many VoC/CX platforms today provide a basis to collect and analyze a broad range of data used to measure the customer journey.  This data can include things like advertising responsiveness, contact center call recordings, customer service data, web and mobile analytics, CRM data and Voice of Employee feedback.  For more information, watch for our new Gartner Voice of Customer Market Guide, which we plan to publish this month.

What’s your take on user reviews as an alternative to traditional surveys?

Both user reviews and traditional surveys have their place. I have not seen evidence of clients considering one an alternative for the other. Today, VoC programs capture a wider variety of direct, indirect and inferred data than in the past, but surveys remain a VoC staple at most large firms, and I would anticipate that will continue. The reason is that survey recipients are identifiable in a way those providing online ratings typically are not. This provides several benefits, including:

  • Survey data can be correlated with other business data:  Since you know who is completing your survey, you can associate their responses with demographics, psychographics, transactional behaviors, products and other data.  This helps to improve your analysis and identification of customer experience problems.
  • Survey data is actionable on an individual basis:  Knowing who completes your surveys helps to make them actionable. Churn analysis can help a brand to recognize customers likely to abandon so that counter-actions can be initiated to prevent that from occurring. Customers who are unhappy can be escalated with particular processes for service recovery. And not only can surveys provide a means to close the loop with individual respondents, but it can also be used to reward or identify training needs for individual employees.
  • Survey data helps to understand your key segments:  As with any online population, those who complete online reviews can have attributes that differ from a brands’ key audience segments. Surveys allow a brand to control and adjust for any demographic, psychographic or other biases that could cause feedback to be misinterpreted.
  • Surveys provide more thorough information: VoC platforms are improving their ability to ingest text (such as online ratings and customer emails) and convert it into data; nevertheless, the capacity to tailor survey questions for a given audience or to alter survey questions based on respondents’ answers produces richer and more specific data than is generally available from online reviews.

Although we see a trend with more brands analyzing online reviews to inform customer experience efforts, this is done in addition to and not as a replacement for more traditional VoC surveys.

Should the company be involving all staff with mapping the customer journey? Or would you recommend keeping it within the marketing team? Also, what would be a good way to roll out the journey map to staff for training purposes? Would you recommend it be rolled out as a “training” tool or more of an “awareness” tool?

While the marketing department can take the lead in journey mapping efforts, the most successful journey mapping exercises involve representatives from all of a brand’s front-facing departments and teams. That does not, however, mean every employee must directly participate in the process.

While encouraging customer centricity and changing culture is an essential element of customer experience maturity, there is a big difference between engaging every employee and involving them in the journey mapping process. We have seen a number of different approaches to employee engagement that do not involve journey mapping, including training, call listening, empathy exercises, survey coding and job rotation. And, of course, some of the best ways to encourage a shift in employee behavior is to change how team and individual performance is measured and rewarded.

For journey maps to drive change, it is vital to do more than just share the attractive diagrams. CX leaders must gather data about those journeys and identify existing customer experience problems and solutions. While seeing the personas and journeys may be helpful to employees, it is more important they are involved in fixing the problems uncovered and in efforts to foster a more customer-centric culture.

I hope you found the webinar and the Q&A interesting. If you have further questions or any feedback, please feel free to offer it in the comments below.

The Gartner Blog Network provides an opportunity for Gartner analysts to test ideas and move research forward. Because the content posted by Gartner analysts on this site does not undergo our standard editorial review, all comments or opinions expressed hereunder are those of the individual contributors and do not represent the views of Gartner, Inc. or its management.

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