The Evolution of Customer Journey Management, For Marketing and Beyond

By Michael Harrison, Managing Partner at Winterberry Group

The market challenge remains for brands to continue to better understand and serve their customers, when and where they are along the customer journey. Today, few brands are built to effectively engage with consumers on the consumer’s terms. Instead, they are built around products, lines-of-business and organized by divisions or functions.  To add to the problem, marketing and communication teams are often organized by channel or company-oriented distinctions such as digital, CRM and offline.

Meanwhile, each of these groups wants to interact with the customer on their own – and not the customer’s – terms. The result for customers is that interactions with the brand can feel disjointed, dissatisfying and frustrating.

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Enter Customer Journey Management

It is rare to find a brand that understands the journeys a customer takes when interacting with the brand; understands the customer need during any given interaction; and has the resources and capability to solve those needs as quickly and efficiently as possible. It is this problem that customer journey management seeks to solve.

Today, the rapidly changing market is driven by a mixture of technological innovation, promotional and purchase channel transformation and cross-channel data quality.

What is Customer Journey Management?

Through our research, we define the practice of Customer Journey Management as “a strategic approach to understanding an individual’s need in the moment, in order to meet that need as quickly as possible, and in the most convenient and relevant manner for that individual.”

Customer journey management requires organizational alignment underpinned by strategy, key objectives, and processes. Data, technology, and analytics are critical to understanding the need to decision and orchestrate omnichannel engagement and deliver exceptional customer experiences, which is the manifestation of customer journey management.

Where are Brands at with Customer Journey Management?

Based on our research, which set out to identify the prevalence and maturity of the approach to customer journey management, the majority of brands are struggling. Based on interviews with practitioners, and industry experts, as well as a survey of more than 150 senior brand marketers and marketing decision-makers focused on the customer experience, more than three-quarters (77 percent) of brands are leveraging a combination of people, process and technology to manage customer journeys.

More than half – 58 percent – however, are not only challenged by the opportunity, but remain too focused at the campaign level. Meanwhile, only 17 percent are looking holistically at the entirety of the customer journey.

The Components of Customer Journey Management

Customer journey management comprises five key capabilities, according to our findings, and often leverages and combines them across the organization:

  1. Customer Data Management: Requires the integration and standardization of relevant data, resolving customer identity, and creating customer profiles to understand the customer. Today, nearly half (49 percent) still manage customer data in individual applications.
  2. Journey Analytics: Allows the understanding of the actions a customer has taken and predicts the actions that they, and similar customers and prospects, are likely to take in the future. Analyzing and managing journeys at scale requires automation. Encouragingly, 41 percent say their organization do this today, yet 37 percent still use at least some manual processes.
  3. Decisioning and Orchestration: Delivers the abilities to determine the next-best action based on the available customer insights and considering defined business objectives. Forty-six percent are using an enterprise decision management application, while 66 percent are leveraging a campaign management or marketing automation application.
  4. Engagement and Personalization: The range of applications and platforms to communicate with customer function both as source of recognition of the customer and their journey, as well as an opportunity to engage across channels with customers. The vast majority of brands – 74 percent – use, but less than one-in-five believe their efforts are believe their programs are more effective than their peers.
  5. Measurement and Reporting:  Measurement and reporting on the success of customer journey management require a fundamental shift from campaign measurement to longitudinal measurement across time and touchpoints.  Brands identified having the individuals with the right skills and the correct technology as barriers to success.  The shift will require organizational buy-in to be successful.

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Conclusion

Few if any brands have customer journey management completely nailed (and those that are furthest along are their own toughest critics). That provides an opportunity to set your organization apart from your competitors and establish a leadership position in your space well into the future.

Through customer journey management, the ability to recognize a customer’s current state and need, knowing where they are in their journey, and satisfying that need in as quick, relevant and convenient manner as possible for the customer is the gold standard moving forward.