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a compass surrounded by question marks - what's possible with customer journey optimization?
Category: Digital Experience

Know What’s Possible with Customer Journey Optimization

March 24, 2022

The frontline for gaining the competitive advantage lies with the experience that brands provide to their customers. Success on this front is primarily determined by an organization’s ability to meet their customers’ needs and expectations across their customer journey. Therefore, it’s no surprise that teams are prioritizing their customer journey optimization efforts.

At Blast, we define customer journey optimization as the process in which engagement with your customers is optimized by accounting for their entire journey, leading to a seamless, relevant and impactful end-to-end customer experience. For some teams, when they hear customer journey optimization, they immediately think of customer journey mapping. While customer journey mapping can be an effective method for understanding the customer journey, we see it as just one solution a brand can leverage under the customer journey optimization umbrella.

Below, we’ll highlight a few of the different ways brands take meaningful action with their customer journey optimization efforts.

Customer Journey Strategic Roadmaps

customer journey optimization process - customer journey strategic roadmap

A common pain point we hear from stakeholders regarding the customer journey is that they know where they want to go, but they do not know how to get there. For example, stakeholders understand that they need to improve the digital experience and meet the needs of their customers at the right moment and with the right messaging along their journey, but they do not know how to achieve this given their current state (e.g., siloed data, misaligned teams, lacking a culture of experimentation, etc…).

A good customer journey strategic roadmap lays out a solid path to execution with prioritized next steps that align with both short- and long-term objectives.

For these types of situations, a brand can benefit most by working to create a strategic roadmap. Building such a roadmap is not a simple task and requires collaboration across teams. It can be beneficial to work with an unbiased strategic partner, who works to gain internal alignment on business objectives, assesses the data maturity of the organization, and collaborates with your teams to identify the key customer journeys and KPIs. The resulting customer journey strategic roadmap lays out a solid path to execution with prioritized next steps that align with both short- and long-term objectives. In essence, this type of roadmap answers the question “How do we get there?”.

Customer Journey Analytics

customer journey optimization process - customer journey strategic analytics

A diagram showing different user paths through the ordering process

a diagram showing order revenue for different order sizes

An essential part of being able to drive meaningful business impact with customer journey optimization is the ability to turn your valuable customer data into actionable insights. For many brands, this is easier said than done. In fact, a common request we hear from stakeholders highlights how complex this can be: “Understanding the paths visitors take on a site is a large task to organize all of that data, but I want to see what it tells us.”

With third-party cookies going away, it’s even more important for brands to ensure they have a solid approach in place to establish a unified first-party data foundation. Customer journey analytics is focused on creating this necessary foundation. But teams shouldn’t stop here!

Once this foundation is in place, it’s important for brands to take the next step in analyzing their customer data for valuable insights. This, too, can present challenges, especially since there are many ways to slice and dice data. In these cases, it’s important for teams to have the right expertise and skill set to know how best to approach this type of customer journey analysis, one where data and insights can easily be visualized and communicated across teams.

Customer Journey Mapping

customer journey optimization process - customer journey mapping

As mentioned earlier, most people are familiar with the concept of customer journey mapping. What makes customer journey mapping more complicated is that most customer journeys do not follow a linear path, but involve diverse journeys across channels and devices.

a hand places pins on a map; the pins are networked together with string

Customer journey mapping can be effective in helping teams visualize the most valuable customer paths. However, in creating these paths, it’s important to leverage Voice of Customer to get into the customers’ mind to understand (and not make assumptions about) their expectations and emotions as they navigate their journey.

Similar to customer journey analytics, one key takeaway with doing customer journey mapping is knowing the importance of including insights. Previous studies have shown that the effectiveness of customer journey mapping can be undermined when insights are not incorporated. Another key takeaway is understanding that customer journey mapping cannot be treated as a one and done exercise for the organization. For example, customer journey maps created in early 2020 (pre-Covid) are very likely not relevant to what the current customer journey is post-Covid. The customer journey is constantly evolving and to keep pace, this really requires teams to view customer journey mapping as an ongoing effort for customer journey optimization.

Customer Journey Orchestration

customer journey optimization process - customer journey orchestration

Customer journey orchestration is the pinnacle for customer journey optimization. It speaks to a brand’s ability to act on their data and insights in real-time, and deliver a relevant experience to customers, by presenting the right message at the right time in their journey. The value of customer journey orchestration is that it enables brands to evolve from optimizing individual touchpoints to personalizing the entire customer journey.

Customer journey orchestration speaks to a brand’s ability to deliver a relevant experience to customers by presenting the right message at the right time in their journey.

Being able to execute customer journey orchestration successfully requires a significant investment in time, resources, and technology. An organization needs to have an optimized martech stack in place, a strong foundation with unified data and as well as a solid strategy for execution. That’s why brands do not typically start out of the gate with customer journey orchestration as part of their initial customer journey optimization efforts. Customer journey orchestration is oftentimes the goal they work towards by first, leveraging some of the other solutions highlighted above.

See the Journey Through Your Customer’s Eyes

customer journey optimization process - customer journey strategic roadmap, customer journey analytics, customer journey mapping, and customer journey orchestration

Whether it’s starting with a strategic roadmap or upleveling your customer journey analytics, what’s really at the heart of customer journey optimization is the ability to step into the customer’s shoes and view the journey as a whole instead of focusing on individual touchpoints. When brands are able to embrace this mindset, they are more likely to see a real positive business impact for their efforts and ultimately, maintain that competitive advantage.

We hope this helps you along your journey to deliver better experiences to your customers. Still have questions? We’d love to hear from you! Request a consultation to discuss your customer journey optimization needs.

Roopa Carpenter
About the Author

Roopa Carpenter is Vice President of Digital Experience (DX) at Blast. She leads a team of talented, DX consultants responsible for helping brands to better understand, optimize and measurably impact their digital experience. With many years of experience, Roopa offers a high level of knowledge and guidance to clients across a variety of industries regarding testing and personalization strategy and execution, user experience research and closing the empathy gap through Voice of Customer. Her data-driven approach focuses on impacting customer conversion and driving desired business outcomes.

Connect with Roopa on LinkedIn. Roopa Carpenter has written on the Blast Digital Customer Experience and Analytics Blog.

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