The golden highway: Orchestrating the perfect customer journey

Customer journeys are invaluable. These golden pathways that weave in and amidst your brand and business drop nuggets of customer insight,  build personalized communications, engage with people in real-time, and meet consumers at critical touchpoints. A well-designed and defined customer journey is a strategic investment into the business that will deliver measurable results.

According to McKinsey research, the business can increase its revenue by up to 7% and its profitability by up to 2% with transformed customer experiences.  The firm also found that customer satisfaction was directly connected to the customer journey, especially if the marketing team looks along the entire golden pathway to ensure that every step taken by a customer is smooth and seamless.

It is a sentiment echoed by Gartner, however, from the other side of the customer journey coin – orchestration. For Gartner, this is a mission-critical approach that ensures marketing teams fully realize the potential of their data. Here, in the depths of technology and data lie insights that can refine the touchpoints and pain points of the customer journey, ensuring that every step along the route is shaped according to customer expectations and feedback.

As a recent piece in B2B International highlights, customers are a critical asset; without them, companies are nothing more than ideas. It is the positive customer experience that drive sales, and it is the orchestration and management of the journey that keeps the customers coming back for more.

There is a difference between the management of a customer journey and the orchestration of the customer journey.

Orchestrating the customer journey is defined as: keeping customers consistently engaged with the brand by creating real-time positive experiences throughout the journey. It’s the connection of touchpoints, data points, data sources, and systems in a methodical way that allows the brand to map out actions and create intelligent customer interactions.

Managing the customer journey is defined as: taking customer information from different parts of the customer journey and mapping out how specific audience segments may behave within certain environments. This approach is more about how customers and audiences react within their groupings and markets and doesn’t usually flow in real-time.

Wrapped around the journey, be it orchestration or management, is the customer journey map. This is a definitive breakdown of how the customer undertakes their journey within the brand and maps out (literally) every touchpoint or route that the customer could potentially take. The customer journey map can be focused on a particular part of the customer experience, or it can be used to target a specific element of the sales funnel or sales cycle. This is an invaluable tool that helps the organization to learn more about the customer.

The Customer Journey Map

Right. You’ve decided that you would like to create this golden highway through your business that captures and holds the attention of your customers. Wonderful. Now you need to pick the customer journey map that best suits your brand and the type of customer experience you want to create.

As this is essentially your customer journey GPS, you need to know what touchpoints it has to, well, touch, along with:

  • A flowchart or a visual representation of your golden pathway, your customer journey
  • Every touchpoint that your customer will potentially interact with that can be used to create stickiness
  • The pain points that could possibly cause friction and inhibit customer engagement

Then, once you’ve invested time into collating this essential data, you need to consider three different types of customer journey map. Their flavors are broken down into:

  • The Typical B2B Customer Journey Map offers you a strategic overview of the steps your customer will take throughout their journey and integrates the touchpoints and pain points you’ve already established.
  • The Tactical B2B Customer Journey Map drills down into specific areas of the business to refine a certain touchpoint or address the issues inherent within a certain pain point. This type of map is essential if you want to smooth out the edges of your customer interactions and highlight specific areas of the customer journey.
  • The Performance and Improvement Customer Journey Map takes the tactical map a step further, pulling the marketing team deeper into the customer’s journey and experiences. This type of map is essential if you want to find the pain points causing the most damage to your customer relationships and if you want to unpack those areas of the business that are having the most significant impact on customer perceptions and engagement.

Make sure your investment in journey orchestration is effective and profitable

Now that you’ve unpacked the data, focused on the journey map, and gained a rich understanding of your customer’s golden pathway, you need to test your approaches to ensure that they resolve problems or enhance experiences. You don’t want to create a map and then orchestrate a complex journey only to discover that it added more issues than it resolved.

Your first step is to test your processes with a smaller customer segment to see how well they work and then slowly expand these as they prove successful. Monitor everything and tweak what works or doesn’t work in a constant process of optimization and transformation. This ensures that you’re using the data you’re collating effectively and that every part of your process is aligned to your map, customer, and strategy.

The value of customer journey mapping

This entire process, from orchestration to management to map development, is focused on creating a customer-centric organization and marketing strategy. This is the inherent value of the process and the work that has to go into every part of this process. Using this process, you can sidestep the silos and the traditional limitations of departments and segmentation to create a holistic view that can transform your customer connections.

However, in the B2B market, it is worth remembering that customer experiences and the routes to purchase can be complex and twisty. There are multiple requirements, touchpoints, compliance expectations, and supplier processes that have to be taken into consideration. These are challenging for marketing teams to map and orchestrate and can result in intensely convoluted maps or maps that are too brief to offer much value. You can refine your mapping processes more effectively if you’re aware of these limitations.

Engaged customers on a golden pathway drive long-term strategic growth

Your customers are your greatest admirers. They are your best salespeople. Their engagement and satisfaction will echo down the line to every new customer and recommendation you get. If you can use these tools to create an engaging customer journey mapped to success across multiple funnels, touchpoints, and objectives, you can drive long-term strategic growth.

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