Orchestrating the customer journey: What do those words really mean?

From ordering dinner to buying a house, how customers interact with brands is changing rapidly. With so many different brands, channels, and platforms to interact with a brand while customers are feeling empowered, they’re also feeling overwhelmed and experiencing frustrations like never before. With more touchpoints customers are frustrated by the need to repeat basic information, confused by inconsistent pricing, and overwhelmed by multiple offers to entice them into making a purchase. At the same time, customer empowerment is creating some anxiety among businesses. Not only is their ability to orchestrate the customer journey more diffuse, but they are still held accountable for customer retention and improving customer lifetime value.

But according to Alex Thompson, Product Director for Real-Time CX at Alterian, marketers don’t need to feel this anxiety. With the smart application of real-time customer experience technologies, CX Professionals can orchestrate this customer journey and help their customers move from consideration to purchase without frustration and confusion. “The customer journey is the path that the customer finds themselves on trying to get to an end goal,” shared Thompson. “Whether they’re buying dinner or a house, they’re on a decision-making journey and the job of a CX Professional is to get them to their end goal with a positive experience. The idea of orchestrating that customer journey is simply the opportunity to improve the customer’s path to desired outcome.”

While the goal of journey orchestration might appear simple, it requires some adept actions by CX Professionals behind the scenes. “Customers expect immediacy and personalization from their interactions with brands these days,” said Thompson. “Not only do CX Professionals have to contend with that, but if the experience is less than satisfactory, they have to mitigate the impact of negative online reviews, loss of revenue, and customer churn. A customer who’s had an exceptional experience with a brand, on the other hand is an invaluable opportunity for a business to retain them and grow their lifetime value.”

What lies at the heart of success in journey orchestration is data and a CX platform that can analyze and apply the information generated by the data in real-time. “Data helps us to understand customer goals and helps the marketer to understand what journey they are on and adapts to deliver them the best possible experience across all channels and platforms,” explained Thompson. “However, it’s the ability of the brand to adapt in real-time with relevancy that becomes a differentiator and is the best expression of customer journey orchestration.”

So, what do brands need to begin orchestrating the customer journey?

From Thompson’s perspective developing a clear understanding of the CX goals and how they align with overall business goals is the foundation to a successful program. “The CX goal might be to improve the bill payment process, which will reduce customer frustration and increase customer retention. In turn, this CX goal aligns to a business goal of improving the bottom line,” he said. “Not being able to connect CX goals to the rest of the organization is the most frequent cause of failure in my experience.”

Once the goal, or goals, have been established, the second step is to understand where the disconnect for the customer is happening. “Ask the question – ‘where does the customer get stuck?’ – and then follow the data and put it to work to map the current journey to the point of failure and then rebuild the journey to achieve success,’ said Thompson. “What helps here is visualization software rather than relying on manual processes. Not only does it reduce errors, but it can manage far more data inputs than a human can, leading to a much richer understanding of the situation at hand and how to orchestrate the customer journey to deliver success.”

As the retail and services sectors continue through this period of disruption and reimagining the ability to respond to customer, adapt in real-time, and differentiate yourself from the competition has never been more important. While many brands will focus in on customer experience as that differentiator, the only way to deliver on that end goal is to be attuned to the customer’s pain points, frustrations, and needs and that is what journey orchestration is really all about. Thankfully, however, with all the data that consumers generate each and every day, it just takes a good data visualization and a CX platform that can orchestrate journeys to achieve success.

Written by Jenna Sindle – Modern Marketing Today

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