Why the Customer Journey is Replacing Traditional Sales Funnels

Customer Experience

A clever ad cam­paign is no longer enough. Nor is one chan­nel enough to deliv­er a great cus­tomer expe­ri­ence. You have to deliv­er that expe­ri­ence across all chan­nels.

That means it’s up to your com­pa­ny to deliv­er an engag­ing cus­tomer jour­ney across every device, every touch­point, and every screen your cus­tomers choose to use, in a con­sis­tent way. At each stage of that jour­ney, you’ll be deal­ing with dif­fer­ent types and sources of data, dif­fer­ent screens, and dif­fer­ent mes­sages.

Cus­tomers increas­ing­ly expect—and demand—to engage with your brand where they want, when they want, and how they want. If you can’t give that to them, your com­peti­tors will. And while a per­fect cus­tomer jour­ney can secure one loy­al cus­tomer, a sin­gle bad jour­ney can cost you thou­sands of them.

In this first of a series of arti­cles on the cus­tomer jour­ney, I’ll explain why that jour­ney is so impor­tant; and how it dif­fers, on a prac­ti­cal lev­el, from the old sales fun­nel mod­el. Let’s start by talk­ing about why it mat­ters.

Why the cus­tomer jour­ney?

Cus­tomer expe­ri­ence is becom­ing more and more important—not only in the finan­cial ser­vices indus­try (FSI), but in every field of busi­ness. Accord­ing to our research , 31 per­cent of FSI exec­u­tives believe that cus­tomer expe­ri­ence pro­vides their top oppor­tu­ni­ty to dri­ve cus­tomer engage­ment, reten­tion, and acqui­si­tion in 2016.

Why do these exec­u­tives think that? Because they’ve realised they’re play­ing catch-up.

In the past, cus­tomers had a dif­fi­cult time switch­ing banks or bank accounts; it involved a moun­tain of paper­work and a whole series of approvals. But new reg­u­la­tions have enabled con­sumers to move their accounts from one bank to anoth­er in a much more user-friend­ly way. The emer­gence of dig­i­tal dis­rup­tors (fin­tech) have also allowed new, more nim­ble com­peti­tors to enter the land­scape. These com­pa­nies, like Nut­meg and Atom Bank, have dis­rupt­ed the old play­ing field from the ground up.

These new com­pa­nies aren’t the depend­able finan­cial titans that cus­tomers trust­ed in decades past—they’re fast, agile ser­vice providers. Instead of hun­dreds of years of tra­di­tion and lega­cy sys­tems, they have cut­ting-edge ana­lyt­ics and dig­i­tal at the heart of their busi­ness­es.

And they’ve forced the old finan­cial insti­tu­tions to com­pete on their terms.

From fun­nel to jour­ney

This sea change isn’t just hap­pen­ing in FSI, of course—it’s already famous­ly trans­formed the fields of trans­porta­tion, hos­pi­tal­i­ty, shop­ping, film and TV, and many oth­er indus­tries in which cus­tomers now set the terms, and com­pa­nies scram­ble to deliv­er per­son­alised expe­ri­ences.

In all these indus­tries, the old mod­el of the sales fun­nel is being replaced by the mod­el of the cus­tomer jour­ney.

The old sales fun­nel mod­el was fair­ly rigid – and it was chan­nel-cen­tric. It was only opti­mized around one sin­gle chan­nel. The com­pa­ny chose where and when a cus­tomer would see each adver­tis­ing mes­sage, and then used those mes­sages to move the cus­tomer toward a final sale.

In the cus­tomer jour­ney mod­el, on the oth­er hand, cus­tomers choose each touch­point. They might first meet the brand on their mobile device, then per­form a search about it on their lap­top; or they might see it on TV, then come vis­it a local branch to find out more.

The cus­tomer doesn’t care about mar­ket­ing bud­gets, or about the medi­um. All they’re inter­est­ed in is a con­sis­tent jour­ney across all chan­nels. They expect the pref­er­ences they enter on one chan­nel to be auto­mat­i­cal­ly avail­able on all oth­er chan­nels, in real time. They don’t care about the com­plex­i­ty it takes to achieve this. They expect us to con­nect the dots.

If you can find ways to lever­age all that infor­ma­tion into a sequen­tial and con­se­quen­tial, per­son­alised sto­ry, in which each stage of the nar­ra­tive fol­lows log­i­cal­ly from the one before, you’ll be reward­ed with a last­ing rela­tion­ship with the cus­tomer – who will take delight in your brand, and become an advo­cate on your behalf. Make a mis­step or strike a false note, and you’ll lose that cus­tomer – along with thou­sands more, poten­tial­ly, through word-of-mouth – to a com­peti­tor who offers a bet­ter jour­ney.

Let’s take the jour­ney

More than ever, today’s cus­tomers are mov­ing targets—which is why it’s cru­cial to under­stand not only the con­cept of the cus­tomer jour­ney, but also how it unfolds at every step, from start to fin­ish. That’s why this arti­cle is the first of a series in which we’ll be exam­in­ing each stage of the cus­tomer jour­ney in detail—digging into how each stage works, why it mat­ters, and how it leads to the next.

Here are the five stages we’re going to cov­er in this series:

  1. Aware­ness & Con­sid­er­a­tion
  2. Acqui­si­tion
  3. Mul­ti Chan­nel Account Enrol­ment
  4. Onboard­ing & Next Best Offer
  5. Res­o­lu­tion, Advo­ca­cy & Reten­tion

Fol­low this series of arti­cles, and you’ll learn how to fit those expe­ri­ences togeth­er in ways that grab your cus­tomers’ inter­est, keep them mov­ing toward a pur­chase, and secure their long-term loy­al­ty to your brand.

Orig­i­nal­ly pub­lished on mycustomer.com

Customer Experience
Michael Plimsoll

Posted on 01-16-2017

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