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We’ve heard it all before: thanks to digital disruption, traditional brand marketing is losing its luster and the customer is now in charge. To wit, Gartner predicts this is the year companies will compete primarily on the customer experiences they deliver. But if businesses are no longer able to compete on price, and the customer experience truly is the new battle ground, what can be done to meet this sea change?

At the SAP Hybris Summit held this week in Munich, a fascinating session called “Mapping the Customer Journey To Your Business” provided tangible steps any business can take if they want to remain competitive in today’s digital economy.

“At the end of the day it all starts and ends with the customer journey,” said Damir Saracevic, Rivet CX Group (pictured). “If it doesn’t, customers will simply go somewhere else.”

Recent Gartner research suggests CMO’s are to lead this cross functional charge. But it’s not that easy to achieve because the customer journey doesn’t end after buying cycle is done.

It’s the area where CMOs have made least amount of progress,” said Saracevic. “Customers are demanding a good omni-channel experience but this is hard to do when companies are siloed.”

Other facets that complicate this omni-channel challenge include:

  • 90% of people move between devices to accomplish a goal
  • 45% of in-store consumers turn to social platforms on their mobile device to influence buying decisions
  • 54% of marketers cite not having consolidated customer view across channels as the biggest roadblock to a successful cross-channel experience

Customer Journey Map to the rescue

A customer journey map presents your customers POV to include the customer journey across all channels, the highs and lows people feel while interacting with your business, and identifies potential opportunities. Here are a few of the major components to help build a customer journey map:

Online Focus Groups - When it comes to eliciting customer feedback, it’s ok to pull comments from social media and conduct customer surveys but neither are a substitute for qualitative research, according to Sarasevic.

“Try to observe and interview customers in their own environment,” he suggests. “You’ll learn of other processes they are using that you aren’t fulfilling.”

And while traditional focus groups can often produce mixed results, Sarasevic recommends online focus groups instead, to gain additional customer feedback.

“It gives you a good balance of storytelling and interviewing and you can reach tons of customers at once and in different geographies,” he said. “It’s also easier for customers to participate and remain anonymous.”

Stakeholder Workshops – Can include internal participants from multiple departments with the goal of gaining customer empathy. Reviewing and analyzing customer feedback can be a very humbling process.

Since we’re often so removed from the customer’s day-to-day, once you start reading comments it grounds you,” said Sarasevic. “We might not be fulfilling what customers expect of us.”

Sarasevic also shared “Guiding Principles” that came out of a customer journey map he created for a banking client. These principles include: “Know Me” (get better connected to customers), “Remember Me” (stay connected with more relevant touches), “Make Me Feel Special” (proactively optimize accounts and make tailored suggestions) “Help Me Succeed” (continue to improve online tools and technology) and “Always Be There For Me” (Be there: whenever/wherever/however).

Will you always be there for your customers?

More SAP Hybris Summit content:

SAP Hybris Sweetens Customer Engagement with Bullseye Demo

SAP Hybris Summit 2016: 5 Can’t-Miss Experiences