customer journey management

Customer Journey Management: More Than Just Touchpoints

When I talk with marketing experts about  customer journey management, I often get to hear that it is nothing more than just another word for CRM (customer relationship management). They couldn’t be more wrong.

CRM is dependent on the touch points between the company and the customer. At the touch points, the customer needs to feel taken care of, so companies seek to optimize them. For a long time, marketers did not only talk about great moments but also about Customer Excellence. Fly high with your polished touch points.

The problem is that in recent years, more and more companies realized that the positive feedback they get for the touch points is often in sharp contrast to general customer satisfaction. Despite great touch point experiences companies are losing customers. Why?

My Personal Holiday Experience

Recently, I stayed in a 4-star hotel with a lovely sea view. The rooms were great, reception staff very friendly as well as the waiter in the restaurant. Food was great too. However, I would not come back to this hotel because, despite the moments that are said to be so relevant were all excellent, there were other moments that were rather unpleasant: in the corridor, a cleaning lady complained about the working conditions. The staircase featured the shining brilliance of the ex-GDR and did not lead up to the terrace café but to a door barricaded with chairs. And, after there was no water running for an hour, we were called by four different employees telling us the water was running again.

Strictly speaking, the moments I just described are no touch points. Marketing, sales and service would never call the wish of a guest to take the stairs a touch point. Likewise, nobody refers to the hotel atmosphere as touch point.

Customer Journey Management: End-to-End Satisfaction

Unlike Customer Relationship Management, Customer Journey Management goes beyond defining individual touch points. Instead, the customer experience is seen as a whole from the first through to the last moment, where not only individual crucial moments exist but also (invisible) moments in between.

This does not only include dealing with the real customer journeys but also refining customer feedback. The question if a call center agent was friendly may serve the specific purpose of evaluating the agent’s behavior. Rarely, the question if the customer found the waiting time acceptable, is examined, even though this has a direct impact on the customer’s experience.

In their Customer Experience compendium (PDF), the consulting company McKinsey gives several case examples where feedback on touch points was merely positive, while customers were still leaving. In nearly all the cases, this was due to hidden touch points that were not directly identified as such. Waiting times, to many calls needed (even if positive) and communication insecurities result in general dissatisfaction even if the customers were treated in friendly way at any time and the right information were provided.

What is excellent Customer Journey Management about?

Don’t worry, you don’t have to completely give up your touchpoint management. Instead, it will help you close the gaps by:

  • Synchronizing the information base of business units in contact with customers. When marketing, sales and service have the same customer data (and feedback), you can make the customer experience more fluent.
  • By mapping the customer journeys of your customers in an integrated way. Do not only mark the touch points but identify the things in between that may go wrong or be may be improved (waiting times, offering communication options, transparency).
  • Listening to your customers. Not every criticism is justified or even productive. Often, however, feedback from different channels is not integrated, let alone analyzed. Develop a system that gathers and analyzes customer feedback to identify pain points that you may have missed.
  • Using your customer data (customer analytics), to get an idea how leads and customers use your website, where they are leaving it, where processes are delayed and where problems occur.

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