Rick O'Toole By Rick O'Toole • September 19, 2017

Why Optimizing for the Customer Journey Leads to More Customers

Successful business practices are often derived from viewing the business from the customer’s perspective. However, per McKinsey and Company, many companies struggle with this concept because of the overwhelming focus on individual touchpoints, rather than the beginning-to-end customer journey. This is understandable, as most companies aren’t naturally wired to think about the journey, or don’t have the resources or the time to sufficiently tackle it, so they may prioritize improvements to individual touchpoints, such as a customer service phone call over addressing the entire thing.

But how can companies improve the customer journey before understanding what it is? A customer journey includes many things before and after using a product or service. Resolving a technical issue or moving a service to a new location are typical examples, but these experiences involve multiple interactions with the business.

Moreover, while individual communications might be positive, the entire experience may not be: companies who do not provide the cross-functional, end-to-end experience are often faced with customer defection, lost sales, lowered employee morale, and other negative consequences. With customers having many more points of interactions with businesses than before, managing the journey is incredibly important to maintain consistency of service and experience.

At the heart of the issue is the isolated nature of service delivery caused by the cultures, behaviors, and policies inside the functional groups. Replacing touchpoint management isn’t the answer—the better alternative is to start by viewing the customer’s journey through the customer’s eyes, and trying to understand how to better connect the touchpoints for a seamless, end-to-end experience. In doing so, companies learn how to better anticipate customer’s needs, expectations, and desires during each part of the journey and prioritize improvements on the biggest gaps. How long this process lasts depends on whether the issues can truly be fixed, or if the entire customer experience must be rebuilt from scratch.

How does this pay off in hard-dollar outcomes? Companies that deliver successful journeys tend to perform better in the market: companies in the TV and insurance industries had an increase in the revenue growth rate and customer satisfaction. Positive experiences on customer journeys give companies a distinctive competitive advantage, as customer journeys account for 25% of total customer satisfaction and are a lot more correlated with business outcomes than touchpoints are. Delivering a successful journey makes it a lot more likely that customers repeat a purchase, spend more, and stay with your company.

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