Ray Gerber, Chief Solutions Officer at Thunderhead, has over 30 years’ experience in building innovative technologies for enterprise.
As we navigate a different landscape as a result of Covid-19, journey orchestration has never been more important. The lightning-quick change in consumer behavior means that brands and marketers need to ditch the old rules to stay one step ahead.
The pandemic has also accelerated digitization strategies for brands, even those way behind on digital transformation, as consumers have turned online in droves while under lockdown. Combine that with one thing that hasn’t changed — the expectation to deliver a seamless experience — and there is even more pressure on brands to build trust and maximize advocacy and retention beyond a single transaction, bringing customer relationships to the forefront.
So, what can marketers and brands do to deliver in today’s environment? Over the past decade, technology has revolutionized the way brands interact with customers, providing incredible amounts of insight and the means to analyze it to inform how we engage and put the customer front and center. And thanks to a new wave of technology, customer-centricity is now a genuine reality, enabling brands to truly orchestrate customer journeys at scale.
Journey orchestration is a fast-growing market that’s becoming more established. Having worked in this market for more than 30 years, I’ve seen firsthand how paramount it is that brands focus on this now because it will enable them to innovate at a rapid pace and, in turn, power loyalty, profitability and brand affinity.
Orchestrating business value
Marketers and business leaders who don’t put customer-centricity and experience at the center of their strategy will get left behind. Successful, high-performing brands have placed it at the top of their agenda, building a relationship that extends far beyond an initial sale, using a service or a website visit. There’s an incredibly small opportunity to get it right before customers jump ship — two in five consumers would consider switching to another brand after two bad experiences with a retailer so there is no “third time lucky” for brands failing at customer experience.
The customer journey comes to the forefront as the means to understand the flow of customer experiences over time. Businesses that transform the customer journey through orchestration can reap significant rewards. A recent BCG study shows that companies realize a 20%-40% improvement in customer advocacy and see revenue increases of between 10%-20%.
Journey orchestration delivers a breadth of value to businesses while enhancing the journey for each and every customer. It can be used to help reduce inefficiency and become an inbuilt tool for continuous improvement, enabling even the largest businesses to become more agile and benefit from greater control and faster decisions with both short- and long-term benefits. Efficiency gains could result in 15% to 25% lower costs as productivity and automation are increased and cycle times, IT and operating expenses are reduced.
Start now and integrate data quickly
We have never had access to so much data. Customers use multiple platforms, there are multiple touch points, businesses use multiple systems, there are qualitative and quantitative insights and, of course, there are multiple stakeholders. But lots of data isn’t the point — it’s getting the right data when it matters that counts. However, we need to stop looking at each interaction in a silo and instead harness data to look at all journeys, spanning all touch points and, most importantly, all the time to understand true intent in an instant.
True intent-driven journeys must perpetually listen for and respond to “motivation change” in an instant and at great scale. Journeys need to be discovered, tested and optimized. It’s only normal for customers to change their minds instantaneously, so if you aren’t able to react to that change when it happens, you risk creating a poor experience for the customer and damaging your relationship.
Brands must also consider all recent experiences, from recent purchases, renewals, returns and interactions to negative experiences, such as failed deliveries or long call center wait times. But while it can seem overwhelming to collect, understand and translate data into insight and customer intent, technological innovation, such as journey-based AI, has made it so this information can be leveraged at scale, analyzed quickly and implemented for real-time insights.
Tapping into technology
AI enables businesses to orchestrate and automate actions across the entire customer lifecycle and across multiple platforms, making use of real-time behavior, parallel journeys and historical data to predict next steps and nudge customers in a way that feels natural. It can also alert internal stakeholders to relevant journey insights and use predictive models to trigger real-time next best experiences across multiple platforms. Not only does technology make for a better, bespoke customer experience, but it also makes things easier and better for business.
It is important that businesses do their research to ensure their journey orchestration partners are agile and deliver value. Our thinking and strategy are closely aligned to Forrester VP and Principal Analyst Joana de Quintanilha. Her advice is to look out for four core capabilities:
- Data fusion
- Journey discovery
- Journey testing and optimization
- Journey automation and orchestration
Beyond that, it’s critical that brands and marketers set up and establish journey measurement. By making a clear link between journey improvements and business KPIs (e.g., repeat purchases, attrition or renewals), brands can quickly prove the value of journey orchestration.
The time to tap into journey orchestration is now, as brands and marketers reset everything. Doing this will not only enable you to deliver exceptional engagement during every customer’s journey, but it can also drive growth, increase customer happiness and build customer lifetime value.
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