The Customer Experience Management Guide [Chapter 3]
Customer experience. It’s the latest marketing buzzword. But what does it mean for your business?
In Chapter 3, we’ll dive into clear strategies to help you achieve buy-in, so you can address the broken journey with the support of your marketing organization. Or jump back to beginning and hear leading analyst perspectives and research on CX now and in the future—starting in Chapter 1.
Looking into the Customer Experience Map
Using multiple experiences of your customer, a marketing-driven customer experience map (MDCX) emerges that contrasts the one-message-per-stage buyer’s journey map. In this map, the awareness stage would include the various experiences we’ve outlined above (and presumably more):
This pattern of multiple experiences per stage continues as we go through the entire customer life cycle.
This updated model, the marketing-driven customer experience map, accounts for the need to have multiple experiences across the customer life cycle.
A company like Securita, for instance, would have one customer experience map for each of its personas. Using these customer experience maps, marketers would be able to visualize and manage all content assets, and see how they fit into the customer life cycle.
In the common depiction of the funnel, the width of each stage reflects the number of prospective buyers with the volume decreasing at every progressive stage. However, when going through the exercise of mapping your content to multiple experiences, don’t constrict your strategy to a funnel.
In fact, the customer experience map often takes the shape of an hourglass, reflecting the number of experiences, or sets of content assets and touch points with a similar purpose, at each stage.
Why might more experiences be required during the awareness and advocacy of the customer journey?
Early and post-sale stages of the buyer’s journey are the most customer-centric portions of the customer life cycle: vendors must offer more experiences, content, and touch points in these customer-centric zones.
To fuel a customer-centric marketing organization, marketers can create many different top-of-the-funnel experiences to correspond to the varied interests and concerns of the buyer at this stage.
As buyers proceed through the buyer’s journey, however, their focus shifts from their concerns to the product they are considering. As there are fewer product topics than customer-concern topics, the number of experiences thins out as the customer approaches a purchase.
Once the customer does purchase, the number of experiences must expand again.
Experiences start to become more customer-centric again, with, for example, case studies of how other customers achieve great business results through use of the product, inspiring greater adoption, advocacy, and even upsell. As we get to advocacy and upsell, the process cycles around again, starting at the beginning.
The next step to successfully strategizing the customer experience is to connect these experiences together, so the buyer transitions from one to the next seamlessly.
Experience Interlock: The Solution to a Disconnected Customer Journey
If we were to map out existing customer experiences—and the connections between experiences—for most companies today, they would look something like this:
This is what Forrester refers to when discussing how “hard handoff points [between siloed functions] create jarring customer experiences as staff tosses buyers from one department to another.”
This is what happened in the Securita story. The corporate communications team created outstanding top-of-funnel content and experiences around cloud, big data, and mobile, but the demand gen team created an entirely different set of experiences around on-premise security, resulting in a disjointed and ineffective journey.
In order to fully fix this disjointed customer experience, another element must be added to the model: interconnections between experiences. This is called experience interlock.
Experience interlock is the connection between the conclusions of one experience and the questions of a subsequent experience.
For example, Securita’s cloud security awareness experience for the CIO included the following set of questions and conclusions:
If we look at Securita’s “on-premise security consideration experience,” the disconnect is clear:
The attempted handoff from one experience to the next failed: there wasn’t a fluid transition, and each experience focused on completely different topics.
To create better coherence in the customer experience—and thus, better conversions and growth—organizations must establish interlock between experiences by ensuring that the conclusions of one experience align with the questions of the experiences that follow.
Here are two new experiences in Securita’s consideration stage that would provide interlock:
Putting the “cloud security consideration experience” conclusions right before the “modern security examples experience” questions, you can see the interlock:
Looking back to our Securita customer experience map, where there was a block or gap in the customer experience, there is now a connection.
When customers encounter a coherent transition from one experience to the next, their understanding—of the company and the value it provides—strengthens.
This same process of mapping experience interlock applies to all the experience nodes on the customer experience map.
This doesn’t happen overnight, but it’s important to build a strong foundation by mapping the customer experience with interlock in mind. Once marketing organizations visualize and manage the customer experience, they can steadily deploy content to improve interlock. Thus, a disjointed customer experience map will develop into a series of connected experiences:
How the Actual Customer Journey Looks
The customer experience map is a tidy visualization of how customers interact with vendors. It looks something like this:
It’s very organized, and it might give the impression that the actual path the customer takes through the experience is similarly tidy and linear.
Marketers know this is rarely the case.
In the Age of the Customer, the buyer is in control and has access to multiple experiences. Thus, the actual customer journey usually looks more like this:
Defying the step-by-step logic of the theoretical customer experience map, this customer zigs and zags across stages and experiences.
When the actual path taken by the buyer is so disorderly, should we be discouraged from using the customer experience map model? Is the model less useful if the customer doesn’t take a sequential, orderly route across its pathways?
No. Even as the customer zigs and zags, they still make progress, albeit in a two-steps-forward, one-step-back cadence.
Marketers can’t expect to fully anticipate the interests and reactions of every customer, but if the underlying logic of the customer experience map—and experience interlock—directs the customer forward, then the buyer will steadily get there, even if they take a few unforeseen turns.