‘For most, not today’: experts on whether fully joined-up customer journeys are possible
At a recent roundtable discussion with strategists, experience experts and creatives about the industry’s dream of a fully joined-up customer journey, we couldn’t help asking: is that dream even possible?
Are customer journeys helped by the dream of joining them up across every touchpoint? / Ankush Minda via Unsplash
Avery Hennings, lead experience specialist, The Marketing Practice
It’s possible but it takes vulnerability, and an openness to accept and analyze your own limitations and adapt to them accordingly. It should be followed with a joyful willingness to adapt to the needs of the most important people: your consumers. And it's about knowing that you're in for the long haul. It’s a process, not something that you do once. You're going to keep doing it over and over.
James Calvert, chief data strategy officer, M&C Saatchi London
No, for 90%, you can't achieve a ‘fully joined-up customer experience’. It’s not that it's not technically possible. But there's a question of practical possibility for many organizations. It can absolutely be an ambition, but fully joining everything up is incredibly difficult because of challenges around time and sequence, and all sorts of things.
Until brands have a consistent set of distinctive assets and creative; until they've done the hard yards to align internally (product people, salespeople, production people, retail people) so that they can all talk about things in the same way, it will be really hard. And that's before you even think about technology and data. For newer brands that will be possible, but for most, not today.
Hallane Hill, content lead, Optimizon
I agree that it's impossible for most brands at the moment. There are four fundamentals: a holistic approach; leveraging all digital channels; and creating personalized elements. The fourth is key: maintaining cohesive price and promotion strategies across all channels. Businesses don't do that. Consumers do research online for new products, and they jump between multiple channels. Everything has to be cohesive, but brands aren't being cohesive across all marketplace channels.
Jonny Longden, conversion director, Journey Further
It is possible, but it needs strategy and planning. People tend to approach things like this from the point of view of ‘what's the tech that we need in order to be able to make it happen?’ That's the wrong way around. We should start with: what's the strategy? What's the customer experience we’re trying to deliver? And how do we enable that customer experience? With that thinking, we’ll find a way to make it happen.
Michael Crewe, strategy director, Ogilvy Experience
It's absolutely possible. The challenge varies from organization to organization, depending on scale and maturity, but there are only three fundamentals to get right. The first is being customer-first: having a rich understanding of your customer in their world.
Second is getting sorted on the business side: how are your teams collaborating? Do you recognize that you're not going to have the same person responsible for the whole end-to-end journey? How do you get all those people working together? It's about creating processes that work, and creating documentation that everyone can refer to: service blueprints; personas; journey maps; experience principles.
Third is the fact that this is always changing. Everything's in flux. You can't do this once; you have to constantly be looking at your customer, constantly looking at the role your brand is playing, and evaluating what that means for this connected journey and being prepared to evolve it.
Jacob Harris, partner, Known
It all relies on culture. Being ready, willing and able to do this is easier in younger, smaller, less complex organizations with a strong brand (and where there is already internal alignment). Where we see strong culture, we’ll see strong, connected customer experience. Everyone else will see those examples as case studies and want the same thing. You'll want that tech, that creative understanding, that mapping. You'll want to invest in culture in a way that will move the entire marketplace toward joined-up customer experience being table-stakes, especially as that level of organizational development becomes commonplace.
Michael Vromans, chief creative officer, DPDK
Company leadership will have to wake up or prepare to go extinct. If they're not, their competitors are. If your competitor manages to create a seamless user journey before you do, then you're extinct. It’s easier for smaller and newer companies to adjust the ship than for bigger companies with a lot of heritage. But the bigger companies still need to; it's a matter of survival.
You need to adapt to your customers. Internally, you need to have the mindset of looking holistically as well as being topic experts.
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Kristie Naha-Biswas, head of strategy, Assembly
From a vision and planning standpoint, it’s possible. We can map an audience, their connections, and how to connect with them. In most cases, we can use tech and data signals to connect to the customer journey. But it’s not fully possible. If we want to get as close as possible, the most important thing is changing the metric of success.
We all come from different backgrounds and we all have different metrics that we're working towards, rather than their overall growth or overall sales. The more we can get our clients to understand how one affects the other, and not work in silos, the better. As agencies, we should be our clients’ partners, demonstrating the value and benefit of connecting a more seamless experience for our customers.
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M&C Saatchi Group
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