Travel on the customer journey

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Marchal Bruchey, CMO, Thunderhead
Marchal Bruchey, CMO, Thunderhead

We've heard it a million times: Life is a journey, not a destination. The same can be said about being a customer. For years, as direct marketers, we've focused our efforts on getting prospects and customers to a destination; in many cases a website, contact center, or retail store. We've used segmentation, demographics, and campaigns that reduced the time it took for customers and prospects to reach our desired destination—not theirs.

But in this age of the customer, we should be more focused on the journey than the destination. After all, don't we want to engage with customers for a lifetime, not just a moment in time? As marketers, we need to understand that it's no longer about what journey we want to take customers on; it's about meeting them where they are in their journey and making ourselves adaptable along the way.

There are changes to the core areas of people, process, and technology that need to take place in the marketing organization to deliver on the customer's journey.

People (i.e., the marketing organization): While the core disciplines of marketing remain, everyone in the organization must shift their focus from “inside out” thinking to “outside in” thinking. We've always looked at ways to reach the customer using traditional channels to do so; that's “inside out” thinking. But today's customer demands a more personalized approach. So, it isn't about knowing how a specific demographic will respond, it's about knowing how a specific buyer will respond. That's an “outside in” approach.

Process: In a customer-centric world, an organization must design its processes to align with customer behavior and thinking. Marketers have built internal processes that are based on “if, then” thinking. We need to design our processes not just with the customer in mind, but with the customer. We need to build flexible processes that take advantage of customer knowledge that we gather along the journey.

Technology: As marketers, we've invested in many different systems to support our business initiatives. We have campaign, resource, and email management systems; Web analytics; social listening platforms—the list goes on. All of this technology is useful to parts of the customer journey, but we still have a disconnected view of the customer. There has to be a better way to respond to a customer with a more personalized, contextual approach.

Ultimately, it's not only about the technology, it's about the customer. If we stay focused on the journey and not the destination, we'll deliver to our prospects and customers a superior experience. Organizations must determine how to effectively manage the customer's journey; in other words, leverage their current investments to better serve the customer.

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