Brits are known for being a bit different. And at Thunderhead especially we embrace the contrary life. We love to do things a little bit differently. Easter seems to bring out some of the best bonkers British traditions: Egg Rolling, Hot Cross Buns, Bog Racing and Morris Dancing. This Easter we are celebrating All Things Different and discussing ‘Different-Think’ for customer journeys.

When it comes to being truly customer-centric we believe we all have to think differently. At Thunderhead we don’t talk about customer journey management or customer journey mapping, instead we talk about customer-managed journeys. Real-time actionable journey insights enable you to listen to your customers differently, so you really get to know who they are from their behaviour.

A wonderfully different British tradition is The Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling Festival in Gloucestershire. This is where a group of people gather together to throw a large, round cheese down a very steep hillside and then chase after it. The first runner to catch the cheese wins. The Cheese-Chasers standing at the top of the hill must feel a bit nervous when they’re about to throw themselves down a slope they can’t completely see all the way to the bottom. Who knows what mishaps they might meet on their way? Brands often struggle to get a comprehensive view of end-to-end customer journeys and as a result fail to see critical issues in their customers’ experience that may result in poor customer satisfaction, inefficient processes and ineffective marketing, sales and service. It’s all a bit crash-bang-wallop, with a few ambulance-cases.

To help you navigate the pitfalls here are some tips on using actionable customer journey insights and how thinking differently about customer journeys, and listening differently, can help your brand.

  1. Unknown anonymous visitors are not strangers.

Morris_DancersEven the fantastically different Morris dancers aren’t all the same. For the uninitiated, Morris Dancers are English traditional country dancers whose dances and costumes date back hundreds of years. The different types of Morris Dancers include ‘The Cotswold’, ‘The North West’, ‘Border’, ‘Longsword’, ‘Rapper’, ‘Molly’ and ‘Ploughstots’, to name just a few. They all tend to wear flowers and bright colours but their dances and costumes all differ. Some groups look more military, some wear make-up, some carry long metal swords, others short sticks, some wear dresses, others wave flags, some rattle bones where others shake bells. It’s only by carefully looking and listening that you spot the clues and really get to know them.

Morris_ManJust like the different Morris Dance troupes, each of your customers have each got a different story to tell. Just because you don’t yet know the names and faces of new visitors to your website or shop doesn’t mean they’re not real people, with their own personal needs, reasons for visiting you and characteristics. You can use customer journey insights from what your unknown anonymous visitors do to understand more about who they are, their preferences, intentions and needs. Actionable customer journey insights can add a great deal of three dimensional colour to your ‘anonymous’ visitor profiles. Actionable customer journey insights can help you to immediately start to get to know your customers before they’ve even said ‘hello’.

  1. Drop-offs and backwards steps are a good thing

Are you having significant backwards / regression steps in customer journeys and drop-offs? Are customers being forced to move back or drop off their journey because of poor touchpoint design, unclear or flawed processes, or missing information?

Morris_DancerDon’t dismay. Instead celebrate like you’re a Morris Dancer: place some flowers in your hat, shake some bells on your legs, whack a few sticks, and flourish your handkerchiefs – these are all opportunities to celebrate. Using customer journey insights to listen means you can find out where you need to fix problems your customers are having, and resolve where you’re wasting marketing budget and effort. Spotting the drop-offs and backwards steps in a timely way is your first clue to making customer engagement more effortless. They are good when you can see them and then use actionable data fast enough (in real-time) to fix them before you’ve lost customers altogether.

Like spotting a good egg from a bad egg, your customers will notice the difference. They will notice when they’re feeling frustrated, having to repeat themselves, have to do something twice or are being ignored. They will also notice when something feels easy-peasy, when they are being listened to and when a brand recognises who they really are and what they prefer. Either way they’ll vote with their feet. Actionable customer journey insights will help you to make sure that’s not away from your brand.

Benefits of customer journey insights to solve drop-offs and backwards steps:

  • See where in the journeys drop-off or regression occurs.
  • See if the behaviour is more prominent in certain channels or touchpoints.
  • Know what personalisation is being injected into the touchpoints where regression or drop-offs are occurring and drive personalisation to re-engage people who have gone away.
  • Connect cross-channel interaction data into meaningful end-to-end journeys and enables organisations to understand the entire, cumulative experience of their customers. This allows brands to quickly spot potential issues and take action to understand causes and implement solutions.
  • Review the journey across all channels (online and offline) and departments, and marry that with existing customer data such as their previous purchase history, to ensure the journey intent is fully supported.
  • Inject the next best conversations and optimisations into the affected touchpoints to address the identified issues, whether online, offline or in the call centre.
  1. Channel hopping is a good thing

Are your customers leaving your app to go to your website half way through a journey? Are they phoning you when they’re looking at your website?

Don’t fret. Instead hard-boil your eggs and decorate them as elaborately as you can, find a grassy hill, roll your eggs down and race them to the bottom with your friends, and see who wins.

Listening to where your customers hop channels means you know where to drive both experiential and operational efficiencies based on an understanding of how customers move between different channels at different points in their journeys. This is another clue to making customer engagement more effortless.

Your customers will notice if they are getting the relevant information when they need it in the place where they want to be, they’ll feel more relaxed and find your brand easy to get along with. Your customers will also notice if they don’t. Being forced to go somewhere they don’t want to have to go to is going to make them feel grumpy, enough to make them give up and go away altogether.

Benefits of customer journey insights to make the most of the channel hopping opportunity:

  • See where exactly in their journey are customers crossing channels and why.
  • Understand if some journey steps are harder to complete or unmapped in some channels.
  • Review the journey across all channels and departments to ensure that the journey intent is fully supported
  • Harness Next Best Conversations across all channels, including online, offline and the call centre, to help key segments self-serve
  • Drive migration to alternative and more cost-effective channels as and when appropriate to assist the customer progression and drive down cost to serve.
  1. Skipping steps in the journey is a good thing

Can you see where customers are skipping steps in their journey? Then find your inner Morris-Dancer and dance a little jig. Bonkers?

You can’t make an omelette without cracking some eggs. Seeing where your customers skip steps means you can see if the customer journey can be simplified by removing irrelevant content and confusing signposts or instructions. Using actionable customer journey insights to listen to customers who are skipping steps means they will tell you by their behaviour where you can make customer engagement more effortless, and where they can be happier. Skipped steps are an opportunity flag to you.

Benefits of customer journey insights to help you make the most of skipped journey steps:

  • Know if some journey steps are redundant.
  • See if you can promote behaviours that shorten journey duration and take customers to completion with less effort.
  • Understand if some missed steps are valuable and a key piece in driving journey completion.
  • Review the journey across all channels to ensure that all calls to action and content is appropriate and clear and staff are empowered with a true view of the customer.
  • Drive outbound personalization to ensure key skipped content is not detrimental to the journey success.

Overall thinking about customer journeys means using insights to honestly understand what your customers are doing, their actions are speaking volumes to you, you just need to listen, and you will really get to know who they are and reap the rewards of effortless customer engagement and happier customers:

  • Create competitive differentiation with effortless customer journeys.
  • Increased operational efficiency due to smoother processes and lower cost to serve (improved self-service success rates, fewer calls to live resources)
  • Higher customer satisfaction driven by better, more consistent experiences everywhere.
  • Higher revenue due to more coordinated and relevant marketing action
  • Higher customer satisfaction (CSAT / NPS)

In summary, you can create competitive points of difference for your brand by using actionable journey insights to listen to what your customers are telling you. You can improve marketing effectiveness to drive relevant offers to where your customers are and when they need them most. You can also empower your staff to be able to have more effective conversations in-store, over the phone from a call-centre, or online, whether they’re having sales or service conversations. To do that you’re going to need to think about customer journeys and journey analytics a bit differently. You are going to have to get to know your customers and listen to what they’re telling you by what they’re doing.

As surely as a 9lb round of Double Gloucester cheese rolling down a hill, gravity will take its toll and when your competitors start racing down the hill after it you’re going to need something different to catch that cheese. You’re far more likely to win the cheese if you start to think about customer journeys differently, if you use actionable real-time customer journey insights to enable customer-managed journeys.

After all, it’s the customer’s journey, not yours. Different, but true.

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