Customer journey insights are vastly under-utilized. Companies that are reaping full value are using customer experience insights to align their whole business to customers’ expectations. Thoughtful planning can spell the difference between limited value and transformational value from customer journey mapping. Hootsuite’s Vice President of Customers, Kirsty Traill, recently presented1 how her team’s holistic approach is reaping transformational value, starting with increasing Marketing impact.
Building a Customer-Focused Mindset. In Hewlett-Packard’s Marketing department at the start of her career, Kirsty’s outlook was influenced by a mandatory six-month job in the field to develop an understanding of customers as the prerequisite to her Marketing role. Since her current role reports to Hootsuite’s CMO, her team has applied a thorough understanding of customers to the whole Marketing department, to increase strategic impact. They’re using customer journey insights to help the whole company align with customers, as described in my last article, Marketing’s Role in Employee & Customer Experience Journeys.
Generating & Using Customer Insights. Marketing impact is greatest when every group is guided by customer experience insights in daily decision-making. Here are some examples of how Hootsuite’s whole Marketing department is generating and applying customer journey insights to increase Marketing impact:
- Field Marketing: This is a two-way street where Field Marketing and Corporate Marketing inform one another. Customer insights from CRM and the Sales team inform the rest of Marketing about what customers want to know and learn about. In turn, processes are in place to make sure field events deliver this, tailored by customer persona. The cycle continues by using Field Marketing events to learn about customers — their pain points and their business overall and how they’re measuring success. These insights inform other marketing touch-points.
- Communications: In customer journey mapping, interviews with customers explain their pain points at each stage in their journey. Marketing Communications uses this to present the right content, in the right format, at the right time, to ensure customers are moving successfully through each stage in their journey.
- Brand & Content: To tailor content to each of 4 core customer personas, research is conducted about each persona’s information needs. This informs the messaging hierarchy and high-level content. Accordingly, branding research is conducted to understand how brand attributes are perceived by each customer segment.
- Product Marketing: Voice-of-the-customer data from new and existing customers guide innovation with product and development teams.
- Partner Marketing: Put processes in place to ensure partners have full visibility into core personas needs and motivations. Educate partners on how the company is speaking to customers. The intent is consistent and aligned content across Hootsuite’s ecosystem.
- Sales Enablement: Information from journey and persona research helps Sales to put themselves in customers’ shoes and understand what customers need. Marketing creates content and training for Sales and Customer Success teams to use with customers in sales calls and in quarterly business reviews.
- Demand Generation: Demand is generated through messaging that resonates with customers’ needs at each stage in the customer journey, in the right format. This is empowered through deep understanding of customers’ pain points and goals.
- Website & Blog: Analytics provide a deep understanding of why different customer personas are visiting the website, what type of information they’re seeking from the website versus the type of information they’re seeking from review sites or from Sales, and the language and content that best resonates with customers at that stage in their journey. Dynamic content is changing the way information is presented to web visitors, based on rich customer insights.
- Omnichannel: Seamless customer experience is empowered through close partnership between Marketing Operations and the IT team conducting reviews of the marketing technology stack and working on integrations, with a roadmap for future optimization. Their work is guided by unified customer profiles, at aggregate and individual customer levels.
Analyzing Customer Insights. Hootsuite combines qualitative and quantitative insights about how customers engage and experience the company. In addition to studying these customer insight sources singularly, patterns are researched in how the customer insight sources correlate to one another. For example, do churn customers have a low NPS or high customer effort score? And how is the qualitative data explaining the reasons behind that? Have high NPS customers contacted Customer Support or do they have an amazing relationship with their Customer Success manager? These insights paint a richer picture across the end-to-end customer experience journey, and this information provides deeper understanding for all of Marketing.
- Customer Effort Score: how easy is it for customers to get started with the company.
- NPS (Net Promoter Score): how likely customers are to recommend the company.
- Support Tickets: deep-dives into top reasons customers contact the company and how to improve the customer experience and reduce costs.
- Win/Loss Analysis: reasons for net new customers’ purchase decisions and existing customers’ renewal decisions.
- Website Analytics: insights on what customers are trying to do online.
- Social Media Analytics: insights on what customers are saying to/about the company.
Customer journey maps and personas at Hootsuite incorporate customer insights from all of these sources. The Marketing organization continues to refine its understanding and alignment with customers, as described above.
Customer-Aligned Branding. Hootsuite monitors their brand mentions and customer sentiment via social media using their own platform, engaging with customers both reactively and proactively to drive positive sentiment. Vernacular training is an essential onboarding experience for Marketing staff and anyone else involved in content strategy and customer-facing teams. There’s an “Is This On-Brand?” group that makes sure anybody interacting with customers (internal/partner/etc.) is using material and content in alignment with defined tone of voice and customer needs per customer journey insights.
Best Practices. What I like about the way Hootsuite is using customer journey mapping is their holistic approach. Customer journey mapping is popular to a great extent because pictures are worth a thousand words, graphics pique managers’ interest, and creating a map in a workshop is fun. Yet journey mapping in general is too often piece-meal, focusing on specific transactions of a single customer segment or generalized to all customers. Journey maps are too often generated by internal views, sometimes validated by customers. And insights are too often used by only a one or a few groups. These approaches are pervasive due to budget constraints, limited managerial scope, and bandwagon practices (i.e. adopting a practice because everyone is doing it).
The examples provided in this article and its predecessor, Marketing’s Role in Employee & Customer Experience Journeys, are refreshing best practices:
- End-to-end customer experience spanning pre-company contact through relationship end.
- Customers’ verbatim language is invited and preserved.
- Multiple sources of customer insights inform, refine and reinforce the customer journey maps and personas.
- A manageable number of customer segments: each segment has its own map and persona.
- Combined data sources are analyzed to further deepen journey map and persona insights.
- Every group in Marketing is continually contributing to customer journey and persona insights.
- Every Marketing group is using customer journey and persona insights in daily decisions.
- Customer journey insights are used to improve and to guide the employee experience.
- Employee experience is designed to improve customer experience.
- Customer journey insights can be used across the enterprise by all functional areas.
Impact of Customer Insights. The ultimate purpose of customer experience insights is to manage business more wisely than competitors do. To do this, a concerted effort like the one described in this case study is essential: maintaining an insatiable curiosity about customers and embedding the use of customer insights within processes to guide everyone’s daily decision-making. Common sense underscores the necessity of business alignment with customers, to earn trust, minimize waste, and yield transformational value. Marketing departments that adopt a similar holistic approach will increase their strategic impact.
1Note: Kirsty Traill is a member of the ClearAction Value Exchange‘s Executive Leadership Board. She presented this case study in one of the Exchange’s Webcast ConversationsTM, a guided opportunity for Exchange members to rapidly personalize new perspectives to their work situations for same-day actionability.
This article is fourth of a six-part series as an exclusive CustomerThink Advisors column: How Customer-Centered Marketing Steps Up Your Performance & Influence.