November 10, 2014

You cannot provide the best customer experience unless you first identify your customer’s journey

Kia Haring

Head of Global Communications, Tieto

Identifying the customer’s purchase journey is an interesting trip. At best, it will also clarify the different functions between the roles of customer relationship management and influencing the purchase decision.

Consider this: you would like to spend your holidays in Asia, but choosing the destination is tricky. There seem to be too many options. So, you ask your virtual assistant to collect information about which items would suit you best, using the criteria that you have set.

The assistant is looking for information about possible beach resorts from TripAdvisor and other travel-related sites. In the end, you choose Railay Beach resort in Thailand, which was recommended by the assistant. You buy the trip and book the hotel recommended for you. The trip exceeds your expectations and you share your great experiences on your travel blog.

This story is the purchase journey of my friend’s most recent holiday trip. The ‘Customer Journey’ refers to all the encounters and decisions that customers make when they are searching for, examining, evaluating and using your product or service.

Each customer has their own decision-making criteria. Buying decisions are related not only to conscious criteria, but also to attitudes, values and life situations.

Digital technology changes the purchase journey

The role of information retrieval in the purchasing process is emphasised in the digital world. Up to 60-70% of the selection of B2B suppliers takes place before the sales organisation is contacted. This creates completely new requirements for creating attractive and relevant content, as well as for planning, customer encounters and implementation.

Sales and marketing managers are responsible for ensuring that the brand shines through in every customer encounter, whether online, via mobile, in the physical world or via marketing communications.

We worked with Marketvisio to research Nordic leaders’ views on Customer Experience Management (CEM), i.e. customer experience management in the banking and retail sectors.

About 80% of respondents considered ensuring customer loyalty as the main reason to invest in the region. The second most important investment driver (10% of respondents) was increasing customer-specific sales.

Even in the U.S., only about 17% of digital leaders say they focus on mapping the customer journey.

Modern marketing analytics makes it possible to glean an understanding of how customers make decisions.

In Finland, Vaisala is a good example of a B2B organisation that has invested in digital technology and in understanding customers. The company's Marketing Director Riina Kirmanen writes on her blog about how Vaisala sees going digital as an opportunity, and how the company has invested in this.

Identifying a purchase journey brings the following benefits:

  • When we look at customership as a complete picture, we can make different functions of the organisation work together seamlessly for the customer. At the same time, we ensure that the customer experience is consistent between encounters.
  • We can begin to lead the customer experience holistically. When customers’ most critical encounters have been identified, they can become the focus for monitoring and developing the customer experience. At the same time, we honour our brand promise in practice.
  • We can develop our services and create added value for the customer relationship at different stages of the life cycle, as well as identify new and additional sales opportunities.
  • We are able to focus marketing efforts and content production as part of this integrated approach.

The model is tailor-made for the long-term development of the customer experience, where sales cycles are long and decision-makers come into contact with a number of functions and roles.

Staff commitment grows when a customer is genuinely brought into the centre of organisational development and everyone can see how their own efforts play a role in their journey.

After all, the equation is pretty simple: loyal customers + additional sales + recommendations = competitive advantage. Do you know what is actually going on in your customer’s head when he/she considers using your company’s services?

Kia Haring is Tieto’s Marketing Director, who is excited about the technology enabled by a new kind of marketing and, above all, the business benefits it brings. You can find her on Twitter.

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