In the age of individualization, we are on the cusp of something revolutionary - Customer Journey Orchestration (CJO). But this story begins with the emergence of an omnichannel customer service strategy designed to empower consumers. It transformed how customers interact with businesses by facilitating service delivery through multiple contact mediums. In essence, it enabled companies to be “always present” for the customer at every touchpoint while improving operational inefficiencies. But there is so much more that is possible beyond that.
In my previous blog, I advocated making personalized investments into different customer segments to create customized CX experiences for each segment. Today, I want to dive deep into how Customer Journey Orchestration tools can help businesses discover “the holy grail” of creating unique experiences for each customer.
Supercharging Omnichannel Interactions with Customer Journey Orchestration
Having maximized the availability of channels of contact with the customers, it is now incumbent upon businesses to start thinking about using the available swathes of consumer information to “personalize” customer journeys. To honestly treat them as individuals rather than a segment or a faceless cohort is the story of customer journey orchestration. And it portends well for businesses that these journeys are designed to be dynamic by nature, not static, and should be leveraged to maximum effect.
Businesses should be prepared to accentuate omnichannel strategy with CJO tools to adapt and evolve - across the customers’ moment of truth events. Enacting this approach begins with a concerted effort on studying end-users’ experiences as their preferences directly impact the outcome of their interaction activities. This is where future-proof organizational systems, built on the right technology, people and processes, can further drive growth by internalizing these inputs and responding to them.
By developing this capability, businesses can gain valuable foresight into requirements for a broad-scale mindset overhaul. But achieving this requires organizations to elevate their understanding of customers’ moments of truth in real time and take the lead in orchestrating consumer interactions with businesses.
What is “New” About Customer Journey Orchestration?
It’s worth repeating that Customer Journey Orchestration calls for an overall change in the mindset of how you plan to create an experience for your customers. The customer-journey-led model for transformation is never reactive. Instead of adding the customer service imperative to a long list of business functions and running multiple uncoordinated initiatives to address customer needs, organizations must take a proactive stance and anticipate customers’ needs as they evolve in their moments of truth. It boils down to projecting a path based on gathered customer data. Underpinning this is a strong customer data-centric focus that can advance and unleash the strategic outcomes from customer centricity.
The organization no longer “dictates” journeys through pre-determined channels and templates of engagement. Instead, it enables customers to get where they need to go by customizing their interactions on an individual level. The best example of such a leap is to envision a scenario where customers would traditionally enter an organization and start their journey through one door or “channel.” But in the digital world, there are numerous channels or avenues for entry, and they all need to relate, connect, and communicate with each other.
The customer may have interacted with channel number one a month ago on Twitter or channel seven several months ago over emails. Enabled by the cloud, all this data is now accessible for every channel. It has already been collected and synthesized to offer insights about the customer. Alongside, with a time gap between the two interactions, there is every chance the moment of truth for the customer has changed. This necessitates a new conversation that must be identified and addressed in the contemporary context. And building the right tools and processes for this is where customer journey orchestration becomes critical.
How to adopt Customer Journey based transformation?
The best way to embrace your transformative journey is to dive in head-on. Organizations must reconsider whether the traditional approach of discreet, incremental improvements aligns with their ambitions. It’s advisable for companies to let go of all baggage and start from scratch. In organizational parlance, this is the “zero-based design” approach. Instead of choosing a few journeys and “personalizing” them to align with your company goals, the transformation exercise needs a holistic approach.
Previously, products and services aligned with business goals were created for various segments and promoted through marketing. With all else being equal among the competitors, the focus has shifted to streamlining and contextualizing the interaction experience. In a recent article, EY Consulting talks about the characteristics of truly “digital native” organizations and what differentiates them from those just “doing digital.”
One of the significant characteristics of a “digital native” organization is that in it, “Everyone is in customer service.” This automatically means every division of business partakes in serving “customer journeys”, not just the marketing, customer service or sales teams. Delighting customers is an obligation shared by all departments. To paraphrase the late and great Tony Hsieh, former CEO of Zappos USA - Customer service shouldn't just be a department but the entire company.
Orchestrating novel customer journeys depends on real-time or near real-time data to deliver contextually-relevant experiences to customers at their preferred touchpoints. Therefore, a strong customer data foundation is a fundamental requirement. The deployment of advanced technologies like AI automation, Customer Journey Analytics and leveraging insights from CRM and process mining tools enable the creation of contextual customer journeys. Integrating frontend marketing, AI-enabled chatbots and the backend support of call centers can overcome a siloed segregation of functions to unveil the new frontier of customer engagement. Embedding business processes and personnel with cross-functional roles and responsibilities will ensure that all the stakeholders remain aligned.
Mapping customer behavior and preferences enable better tracking and proactive closing to ensure that the customer feels that they are attended to in a personalized manner. Organizations can also influence customer behavior once they realize that their queries can be satisfied through digital communication channels without needing a phone call, thereby ensuring a shorter path to query resolutions for repeat customers. Human-centered service delivery designs focus on understanding customers’ moments of truth in real-time and channelizing the organization’s resources to facilitate straightforward realization of their needs without beating around the bush.
Realizing new business benefits with CJO and hyper-personalization
Any exercise that brings the customer to the center of organizational planning and execution ultimately leads to higher customer satisfaction and an increase in promotors of the business. However, keeping aside these apparent benefits, the customer-centric approach also facilitates greater collaboration among employees of siloed business units, increases employee engagement and ensures the efficient use of resources.
This finally results in a reduction of “cost to serve” and identifies “friction hotspots” in the customer journey that could spoil the customer experience. Furthermore, with customer journey orchestration, businesses can transform their traditional KPIs, which are “assumed” to correlate well with overall business endeavors.
In practice, CJO initiatives can become the glue that can help uncover new business opportunities by aligning marketing with sales, HR, customer service and operations efforts to truly transform the customers’ experience with the business, resulting in exponential business growth. We can expect to see the impact of the change in customer expectations in the coming year as more and more customers begin to expect, and demand individualized service.
Enterprises that begin adopting customer journey orchestrations today will have the advantage tomorrow. Customers are loyal to businesses that are receptive to their individual needs and won’t shy away from abandoning loyalties if they are denied attention. For businesses, keeping up with the times is not just an innovation essential but a growth imperative.
In a poll with Marketing Week, around 500 marketing and CX were surveyed, 85% of these respondents reported that customer-led journeys were either “essential” or “very important for brands”, with over half stating that they believe the benefits would be “transformative for their business.” Similarly, in another report, Forrester describes how “A new breed of journey management tools has emerged to help firms fuse data across channels, touchpoints, and systems to understand better and orchestrate customer experiences.”
Therefore, it would not be an exaggeration to say that the emergence of customer journey orchestration capabilities will fundamentally change how businesses operate. And since the wave is nearly here, it’s time for every business leader to either dive in and ride or risk being swept away in the sea change facing them – the choice is entirely theirs. What’s yours?
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