Optimization glossary

Customer journey management

What is customer journey management?

Customer journey management is the process of optimizing the experience your customers have with your brand. It uses technology and behavioral science to create interactions that your customers find irresistible as they move through your sales funnel.

You'll sometimes see customer journey management referred to as experience optimization or journey mapping. However, that's not quite accurate. These steps are important in your business, but journey management is much more encompassing than what they include.

The benefits of customer journey management

Want customers to stick around? Make sure you're offering the experience they expect.

Research by Accenture shows that some 64 percent of customers will switch from one brand to another if they feel they'll get a better experience, product, or service. In most cases, they're attracted to a more effortless interaction.

Such interactions don't happen by chance. They must be engineered. As a result, understanding and optimizing the way your customers interact with your brand has become indispensable. According to the Aberdeen Group, brands that do enjoy:

  • Increased marketing ROI. A well-managed customer journey can improve your marketing ROI overall by up to 10 percent.

  • More revenue via customer referrals. Your customers become 10 percent more likely to refer your product or service to others.

  • Greater effectiveness at cross-selling and upselling. There's a 5 percent lift in cross-selling and upselling, as people like and trust what you can offer.

  • A boost in employee engagement. A surprising 25 percent increase in employee engagement has been observed in brands that manage their customer journeys.

Anatomy of the customer journey management framework

Customer journey management involves all aspects of the customer journey -- from mapping to optimization. Here are the five parts that your customer journey management framework should have.

1. Mapping

Most people think of journey mapping when they hear the phrase customer journey management. That's because it's an effective and widely used tool.

Sometimes called user journey mapping, your journey map outlines the route in which your customers take from the point of first contact through the final sale (and beyond). Each point at which your customer interacts with your brand is called a touchpoint. 

Mapping touchpoints can help you understand your customers' behaviors. It can also help you identify pain points, bottlenecks, or where the customer journey goes off the rails and loses people.

2. Analytics

Psychology can get you far, but data is your friend when it comes to the customer journey. Customers interact with your brand on a daily basis, and each interaction can yield insights into what they want, expect, need, like, or dislike.

We strongly recommend that you invest in a solid digital experience platform to harvest all of that data. With it, you'll be able to see at a glance how customers interact with your brand, and why.

3. Design

Once you have a journey map and the data to support it, you can begin to orchestrate the experience you create for your customers. 

But what does a well-engineered customer experience look like?

Today's customers expect seamless, omnichannel, personalized experiences that speak to emotions. According to Deloitte, 95 percent of all purchasing decisions are driven by emotion. Therefore, when you begin to design your customer journey, pay attention to opportunities to create and nurture emotional attachments.

4. Optimization

Your customer journey is not a set-it-and-forget-it asset. You'll need to continue monitoring and adjusting it to keep pace with evolving markets or changing customer expectations.

That digital experience platform that you acquired to get a handle on your data will come in handy here. We recommend that you have a plan in place to:

  • Proactively identify and solve pain points

  • Routinely audit your customer experience

  • Identify opportunities for expansion

  • Collect and analyze customer feedback

Best practices in customer journey management

Forrester found that 27 percent of companies increased the quality of their customer experience in 2020 -- and that was only the beginning of the decade. They estimate that an increased emphasis on the customer journey will become a defining factor to brand success in the 2020s.

If you've found your customer journey management strategy lacking and want to shore it up, you're in good company. To maximize your success in customer journey management, make sure that you:

1. Adopt a holistic point of view

When you first get started, it might be tempting to focus on only the marketing aspects of the customer journey. However, plenty of companies make this mistake, and it results in a lopsided map that doesn't tell the full story.

A successful customer journey will traverse every business function. Make sure to include:

  • Peripheral touchpoints. These include points of first contact, such as viewing an ad in public, or indirect contact, such as learning about your product or service through a referral.

  • External touchpoints. These are the direct interactions that your customer has with external assets -- social media, websites, the physical store, and the like.

  • Internal touchpoints. Any interactions your customer has with members or processes within your business -- such as customer service -- comprise internal touchpoints.

2. Set clear objectives

Why are you mapping and evolving your customer journey?

Your actions should have specific goals -- simply doing so because "everyone does it" is not enough. 

Some common goals or objectives that brands have in mind when they manage their customer journey include:

  • Solving pain points or bottlenecks

  • Improving customer engagement

  • Increasing revenue or average order value

3. Know your customer

Knowing the path your customer will take as they interact with your brand is only half the challenge. The other half involves knowing your customer.

It's a good idea to conduct market research prior to building your journey map. Make sure you have a solid handle on your target audience and ideal buyer. Consider creating buyer personas to help visualize who it is that will be taking your customer journey.

4. Involve your entire company

It's well-known that silos are dangerous. When information gets stuck in one part of the company, it forces other parts to do without or develop their own ideas. Over time, the result is a disconnect between different parts of a company. We see this a lot with departments.

In the 2020s, the customer experience is no longer solely in the realm of marketing. Involve everyone, from your sales team to your developers. Each of them will have a unique perspective on the customer journey that you can use to your advantage.