Customer journeys: The new differentiation battlefield

Damian Kernahan

Damian is the founder and CEO of Proto Partners, one of Australia’s leading customer experience consultancies.

Improving customer experience is rapidly moving from a feel-good initiative to an urgent business priority, as many organisations realise they are under attack from their competitors to provide the optimal experience to customers.

According to the 2016 Adobe Digital Trends Survey, optimising the customer experience remains the “most exciting opportunity” for organisations surveyed. Furthermore, a recent Gartner survey reports that in 2016, 89 per cent of companies expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience, versus 36 per cent four years ago.

However, a survey released by eConsultancy looking at CX maturity in Australia/New Zealand states more than half of companies surveyed are “not very advanced” when it comes to customer experience management, with many reporting that they “haven’t even started on the customer experience improvement journey”.

So in Australia, it seems the desire to become customer centric is there, but for some organisations, the execution is lagging.The common questions we hear from leaders is: Where do we start?

While improving customer experience may seem complicated, the first step is actually simple: Develop a thorough understanding of the journey your customers take with your brand or organisation.

The customer journey mapping process uncovers interactions your customers have with your product or service and provides you with deep insights into their total brand experience.It uncovers not only your customers’ needs, but their hesitations, pain points, desires and disappointments.

The insights from the customer journey help develop an ideal customer journey that not only meets your customers’ needs, but creates an experience at every touchpoint that builds differentiation and competitive edge for your brand.

Why focus on the customer journey? Because the customer journey itself can create value for the customer. It is a key source of differentiation between competing products and services. Brands such as Virgin have used customers’ journeys to disrupt markets for many years, while others are just catching up.

Getting the customer journey right also pays financial dividends. According to global consulting firm, McKinsey & Company, maximising satisfaction with customer journeys has the potential not only to increase customer satisfaction by 20 per cent, but also to lift revenue by up to 15 per cent while lowering the cost of serving customers by as much as 20 per cent.

Gumtree Australia is an example of a local brand quick to use its customer journey to gain competitive edge. With the goal being ‘to create a multiple-channel experience so successful that it becomes Australia’s first choice to buy and sell just about anything’, Gumtree immersed itself in the journeys of both its buyers and sellers.

The insights uncovered allow Gumtree to continuously evolve an easy and enjoyable experience for its users. Gumtree.com.au is now the 12th most visited site in Australia, attracting a unique audience of 7.4 million each month.

To be in the race to compete on customer experience, start with a thorough examination of your customers’ journeys with your brand or organisation.As your competitors move from reactively responding to customer needs to proactively managing them, you can’t afford to be left behind.

Tags: customer engagement, customer experience management, marketing strategy

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