What is a customer journey? The jury is out


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Recently we won an award for our work with Jo Malone London. One of the categories we entered was Best Customer Journey – but what soon became apparent is that there are differences in opinion when it comes to defining exactly what we all mean. So what is a customer journey?

Let’s take two definitions:

Forrester tell us that a Customer Journey is: a series of interactions between a customer and a company that occur as the customer pursues a specific goal (The journey may not conform to the company’s intentions).

Whilst according to Lyons Consulting, a Customer Journey is the traditional path to purchase.

Judging by the many lacklustre marketing communications I have received over the past few months there are a number of marketers that subscribe to the Lyons definition, placing value on transaction, not engagement. In this respect customer journey marketing becomes a ‘paint-by-numbers’ exercise.
The customer journey is mapped out longitudinally and communications are sent out at these various intervals designed to ‘enhance’ the customer experience and move the consumer further down the funnel towards the desired goal, whether this might be first time purchase, repeat purchase or even just increased engagement.

For instance an extremely simplified customer journey map for a holiday company might be: Research, Prepare and Return.

At the research phase perhaps the company sends out a raft of communications suggesting various locations. Assuming someone goes on to book perhaps they then receive an email guide to their destination and finally on their return from their holiday they receive a communication suggesting they book another holiday to counteract the homecoming blues.

This all seems very logical – right? Wrong.

Whilst, simplified it is too prescriptive. There is no responsive element to anything real people actually do outside of these three actions. True customer journey marketing should be reactive to individual customers and how they interact with the brand.

For instance returning to our Jo Malone London campaign, we flexed the customer journey using next-best-action and real time decisioning technologies to make the content of every touchpoint relevant to the individual – combining their transactions, browsing behaviour in the moment, historical engagement and likes.

Content was served on the opening of the email, rather than when it was sent. This meant that the messages were more likely to be relevant to the recipient in the moment – no matter when the email was opened as it would be based on what they had JUST done.

So, if an email was sent on a Tuesday evening, but the person was away for a few days and didn’t open the email until the following Wednesday the content could flex to reflect individual intent, in the moment and browsing behaviour over the last eight days.

We supported the email campaign with complementary Facebook ads which were triggered by engagement with email. As a result we created a holistic, hyper-personal brand experience across Jo Malone London’s key touchpoints, rather than the bland, homogenised experience that a non-responsive campaign delivers.

So, what is a customer journey?

For modern, technology driven marketers it’s the opportunity to engage personally with individual customers in the moment that both enhance the brand experience and bolster ROI.

For everyone else its box ticking.

Richard Calvert
Richard is the co-founder of The Thread Team and Marketing Strategist. The Thread Team is a data-driven agency with a difference. It is founded on the modern working practices and the latest technology. The Thread Team has no physical headquarters, instead its global team members connect daily with each other and clients using various web enabled comms platforms. This flexible structure means that The Thread team is able to offer clients the very best talent – no matter where they live, their personal circumstances or their stage of life.


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