With the rise of Amazon and other successful e-commerce platforms, customers have more choices than ever when it comes to their shopping experiences. Shoppers have made it clear that they will defect from a brand if they have a bad experience. Keeping these details in mind for retailers today, competing on price alone is no longer a viable option—you have to invest in customer journeys. Anything else results in a race to the financial bottom of the retail market. In this post, we’ll be discussing how delivering a great experience is required to maintain a competitive edge in the brick and mortar as well as the digital marketplace. Not only that, we’ll share how a customer journey tool can revolutionize the way you communicate with customers.
Now more than ever, competing on the quality of your customer’s experiences with your brand is crucial. Otherwise, customers will pay more at one of your competitor’s stores, simply for a better experience while shopping. To compete on experience, retailers need to learn about how to better serve their audiences throughout the purchase lifecycle and beyond. The best way for retailers to learn is to discover and analyze the customer journey and then put those findings into action.
What is a Customer Journey Tool?
The world of customer journeys has grown steadily over the past few years, with Forrester releasing new wave reports on Journey Orchestration and Visioning. Many verticals are on the lookout for powerful capabilities in this space, but it’s become increasingly difficult for businesses trying to understand the options available to them.
Simply put, a customer journey is the sum of every interaction that a customer has with a brand, from the first time they hear of it, to long after the purchase has been made. What’s different between just getting this data in one place and using a customer journey tool is the ability to actually influence shopper’s customer journeys, rather than just looking at what they’ve done in the past.
Ultimately a good customer journey tool should have 4 key capabilities. These are the ability to see all customer data in one place, to design and map journeys, to test and discover which journey paths are working, and to automate activities as customers go through the journey. When using a customer journey tool with each of these capabilities, retailers are able to deliver great experiences every time.
For more detail on this topic, check out our recent blog on What You Need To Know About Customer Journey Orchestration Software for 2019.
Leveraging a Customer Journey Tool to increase retail profits
Since the advent of customer experience as a practice, we’ve seen that as cx improves, so does revenue growth. But what is the best way to deliver a great retail experience? From Kitewheel’s experience, understanding how the customer interacts with a brand and how they experience those interactions across channels are the two major drivers. Many businesses have great CRM tools, great email tools, and great websites. The quickest way to level up your customer experience is to invest in technology that lets your team better leverage the tools they already have in-house.
When Brighthouse, a major electronics retailer in the UK, started using a customer journey tool to deliver great experiences to their customers, they saw an almost immediate impact on revenue and ease of securing loans for their customers. Their background systems didn’t change – but the way the systems worked together did. This customer journey tool connected customers with financing for their purchases, all while also synching the onboarding process and making it easier for in-store staff to access the information they needed to close sales and provided service.
Other retailers have quickly noticed impacts to their bottom line when they adopted journey-centric approaches. Because people are willing to pay more for better experiences companies investing in customer journey tools are seeing a return on journey investments. With increased competition on price from forces like Amazon, the best way to compete is not to race-to-the-bottom but rather to lead the way to the top notch experiences customers deserve.
How a Customer Journey Tool helps retailers stand out
Delivering great customer experiences does help the bottom line. But what many brands don’t consider is the dramatic impact that investing in journey orchestration can have for their public image and ability to influence their customer’s lives. Consider how Gerber transformed from a baby food company to a brand that not only served jars of ground peas in the baby food aisle, but also served wholesome online content to new parents. It’s one of our favorite success stories to share. Gerber continues to dominate the baby food market, but just as importantly, it makes life easier for new families during the trying first few years of a child’s life.
Gerber’s success is powered by a well-orchestrated customer journey that builds value through personalized online experiences. Retail marketers can learn from Gerber’s efforts by connecting their online and offline channels as well. For example, electronics retailers can use the wealth of customer data at their fingertips to synch in-store communications from associates with online activity, making it clear that they are knowledgeable not just about products, but also their customers. Other retailers can have a similar impact and make themselves not just market presences, but also shape the conversation.
Why investing in Journey Orchestration is more than just a smart investment
Consumers and marketers today are overwhelmed with how much media and data they have to sift through to get to real results. With how much data is generated and collected by brands, not to mention data mining and ad agencies, we know how important it is for businesses to be responsible with consumer data.
As GDPR expands in Europe and the potential grows for similar data protection regulations elsewhere, it’s worth considering if the way you use data helps the customer experience. From a compliance perspective, having connected systems and data also makes it easier to respond to legally mandated data requests, deletions, and more. With 73% of customers believing that companies have too much data about them, your best path forward is to show that you’re respecting their privacy and only using data that both helps you target better and provide a better experience.
This is easiest when you use a customer journey tool to orchestrate a cohesive journey. With a journey-centric approach, the customer chooses their level of interaction, indicating through social queues, explicit selections, and inferred actions what their desires are. A powerful customer journey tool can listen to those interactions, and then cut and custom fit the experience they have with your brand to match their expectations. This avoids most data privacy concerns – customers know how you got their data and why you’re using it.
Despite everything we’ve said above, a customer journey tool is not a magic bullet that can fix your marketing or customer experience. It takes significant investments in people, practices, and technology to deliver great customer interactions. If you’re not sure where to start, consider checking out the Kitewheel Maturity Model, chock full of great insights and strategies to get your business from just starting your journey with customer journeys to delivering world-class customer experiences.