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Customer Journey: The Key to Long-Term Customer Relationships

Customer Journey: The Key to Long-Term Customer Relationships

“Being on par in terms of price and quality only gets you in the game. Service wins the game.” That’s how Tony Alessandra, consultant and motivational speaker, summarizes the following insight. Extraordinary customer service across all possible points of contact is one of the most important unique selling points that any company can have, and the key to a long-term customer relationship. But how do you design positive customer experiences that respond to the needs and preferences of consumers – and how do you find out what those needs and preferences are?

The customer journey spans a large number of touchpoints with a brand, product or service. At each of these points of contact, the customer is not some abstract consumer but a person with distinct preferences, motivations, obligations and abilities. Companies should therefore look at their own processes from the customer’s perspective and evaluate them with reference to emotional and subjective experiences. The method of “customer journey mapping” is helpful for this. Its purpose is to identify potential for improvement and innovation within the customer experience and support the development of solutions.

Four steps to the customer journey map

At which points does a consumer interact with the company; which departments or products are involved at those times – and what do consumers need or feel at the individual stages of their customer journey? The customer journey mapping provides answers to these questions. Four steps will help you to see a company through the eyes of customers:

1) Definition of a customer persona based on relevant data. This involves describing as precisely as possible a typical customer who represents a relevant customer segment: demographic features, professional situation, problems, values, etc. Naturally, it can be useful to define a variety of personas and create a customer journey map for each one.

2) Description of the individual touchpoints including the communication channels in each instance. For example: where and how do customers become aware of a product or service? Where and how do they look for more information? Where and how do they buy the product or service etc.?

3) Identification of the things and persons that customers interact with during their journey. That could be a customer support representative at the service center, a sales brochure they are given at a branch store, or a product animation on a website.

4) Description of the feelings of customers at the touchpoints. Does a product description online excite them because it seems directed at their exact needs? Or are they frustrated by a call to the service center because their issue isn’t handled the way they wanted?

The finished map not only conveys an impression of the requirements and needs of customers. It also shows gaps and seams as well as moments of truth – particularly positive or negative experiences.

Customer journey mapping – the customer as the focus

For the best possible customer experience, the right communication channels must be selected and seamlessly linked to provide consumers with contact options that are easy to understand and use. As the basis for personalized service models, Arvato CRM Solutions uses an analysis of existing structures. Then, application-independent platforms are coordinated, including clear routing/engagement rules and context-related information.

Throughout this process, the focus is always on the customers of the company and their experiences, not on the company’s processes or structures. If a customer sees the individual departments of a company – service, sales, marketing, etc. – then the customer journey is not well  , because the objective should be to convey a consistent image of the company at every stage.

For specific scenarios, the solution design consultants of Arvato work together closely with the customer managers and the service team. The result is a seamless service architecture that puts an emphasis on the channels that create the most value for the company and give customers the best possible service.

Customer journey mapping is, however, only one aspect – albeit an essential aspect – of customer experience management (CEM), an organization-wide approach to adopting a customer-focused perspective. Other areas include, for example, data collection and analysis and the definition of relevant performance indicators like the Net Promoter Score.

Author: Editorial staff Future. Customer.
Image: envfx – Fotolia/Adobe Stock

Tags for this article CRM (104) Customer Experience (78) Customer Service (91)

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