We feel it and hear it all around us. Something is changing in how buyers are choosing to interact with firms, and firms are responding. Using Google’s very nice trends tool and we can look for the trends in searches for “customer experience” and narrow the results to specific years, you see this steady increase in searches.

Then you look at the trends over the same period for searches for “marketing operations” and the graphs look very similar:

And then, just to really geek out, you use Google’s correlate tool and find there is a 0.8 correlation (that is 0.8 out of a possible 1) between these two searched phrases.

The conclusion is that firms are figuring out how to offer better customer experience and marketing operations is central to their solution.

Okay, I admit it, not terribly scientific here, I haven’t proven a causal relationship, but these results are actually somewhat intuitive. The fundamental question we must answer is: How can firms operationalize the customer experience? It is all very well to talk about it, make it a company-wide initiative, pound our fists on the boardroom table and commit to becoming customer centric, but what are the actual steps marketing operations can take to operationalize the customer experience?

Step 1: Evolve your existing sales funnel/waterfall lead management model and the associated reporting. It is seller centric, and probably ends with “closed won” or “closed lost”. That is not “customer centric” and certainly not focused improving the customer experience. Don’t panic, you don’t have to toss it all out, you simply need to expand it to recognize that in addition to customer acquisition you also have customer expansion to think about.

TPG ONE - Customer Journey Map™

Operationalizing the customer experience starts with acknowledging where your customer is in their buying journey at all times, especially after they have become a customer. By improving your CRM and Marketing Automation Platform (MAP) to track where customers are in their journey you can adapt how you engage them with sales, marketing and support. You can start to give your customers a better experience across all your functions. The old model shown on the left is frequently referred to as a funnel or waterfall. The replacement representation on the right, which recognizes the full extent of customer engagement your business and how customers may grow their lifetime spend with you, we refer to as TPG ONE – Customer Journey Map™. It also acknowledges that individual buyers can be simultaneously in different stages, in different customer journey maps each tied to a unique set of products or services.

This customer-centric model offers:

  • One view of the customer on their journey that is common to the entire organization
  • Multiple functions in an organization engaging with customers as One, leveraging a complementary set of messages.
  • A path towards automated one-to-one marketing wherein messages and offers can be precisely tailored based on location in the customer journey map for a given product.

Step 2: If your previous lead management process dead-ended with closed won or lost, then you will need to engage with sales and support to plan out marketing’s role in communications during the customer engagement stages (onboarding, adoption, value realization, product loyalty and advocacy). Given the amount of revenue that comes from repeat customers, this is likely to be a very worthy, and welcomed, investment of marketing resources.

Step 3: Adapt and expand your funnel/waterfall reporting and conversion rates to the TPG ONE – Customer Journey Map. This will provide tremendous insight to marketing and sales about how they are doing in growing sales from current customers in addition to new customer acquisition.

TPG ONE - Customer Journey Map™

Evolving your reporting to include the customer journey map will probably mean adapting your data model in CRM, MAP and CDP. The changes don’t have to be radical, and they will result in a truer picture of your customer and prospect database, and the strength of your pipeline.

Step 4: If you have defined buying journeys adapt them to the TPG ONE – Customer Journey Map so they represent your customers entire lifetime of engagement with your firm. Leveraging the same customer journey map for lead management, content planning, program and campaign planning, and reporting will be much easier for your organization to accept, adopt and hold themselves accountable for getting results.

Step 5: Modify your content planning calendar to organize and plan content based on customer location in your new customer journey map and also on their role in a buying center.

Step 6: Start the program planning for 2018 with the customer, not the product, at the center. Use the customer journey map to lay out what programs, campaigns and content are needed to move prospects forward in their journey.

Step 7: Analyze your MarTech stack in terms of support and usage for each of the 10 stages of the customer journey map. Identify areas where your technology support for a stage is weak, or the existing technologies are underused. Put a 2018 plan in place to get the technologies and the adoption thereof to where it needs to be to support entire customer journeys.

TPG ONE - Martech Landscape © 2017 The Pedowitz Group LLC., all rights reserved.

TPG ONE – Martech Landscape © 2017 The Pedowitz Group LLC., all rights reserved.

Step 8: Define 2018 KPIs for your teams that are tied to forward movement in your customer journey maps for each product area. You might even assign customer success in certain stages to individuals or teams.

Better customer experience will not just happen because the website UI is improved, or web chat is available 7×24. Better customer experience arises from learning where the customer is in their engagement and adapting your firm’s behavior to align with their current state. The TPG ONE – Customer Journey Map should be the touchstone for all customer-facing organizations to optimize their customer engagement and customer experience.

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