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There’s a growing trend in business toward organizing and evaluating decisions based not on products and sales, but on the customer experience. Some companies have gone so far as to create new C-suite positions — Chief Customer Officer, Chief Client Officer. While others have revamped their processes across divisions and disciplines to help bust organizational siloes and ensure a positive customer experience.

This shift presents an interesting opportunity for marketers. Customer-centricity has always been at the heart of marketing. So as other parts of the organization come around to this way of thinking, marketers increasingly find themselves part of strategic discussions that affect the very substance of a business. Instead of kicking into high gear only after a product was developed, marketing is increasingly recognized as a critical voice in determining which products, features and services the company should target next.

Cracking the Customer Code

At the core of this newfound clout is a deep understanding of the customer mindset: their needs, desires, expectations and pain points. When these insights are mapped against the customer’s decision journey, it becomes a very powerful decision tool indeed. Suddenly it’s a lot easier to spot gaps in your offerings or quickly identify your next differentiating opportunity.

From an internal perspective, having a well-documented customer journey can help align different parts of the organization around a common understanding. This paves the way for more integrated and consistent customer experiences throughout the journey.

How to Use Your New Seat at the Table

Many marketers are already leading the way for the rest of their organizations. But for those who are just beginning the shift to a customer-centric mode of decision-making, here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Choose your lens. Each journey is specific to the audience, even the action you want your audience to take. Are you trying to win new customers from a competitor? To increase loyalty or frequency amongst existing customers? Think carefully about what you’re trying to achieve, and with whom. If you have multiple audience segments, map out multiple customer journeys. Think about it: The way you shop for a new camera (for example) is probably quite different from how your grandmother does it. So don’t target people like you with the same approach you’d use for your grandma (and vice versa).
  • The journey is not always the same. Maybe your customers go through phases akin to a traditional marketing funnel: awareness, interest, evaluation, action, loyalty, referral. But then again, maybe not. Take some time to think through the stages and touchpoints your audiences actually go through on their path toward becoming your customer.
  • Use multiple data sources. The more data you put in, the more confident you can be in the recommendations that come out. Draw on the expertise of those who work directly with customers, such as folks in sales or customer service. But also go right to the source and observe or talk directly with your customers and prospective customers if you can.
  • Get personal. While it’s helpful to understand the actions your audience takes at each stage of their journey, it’s also important to understand the emotional part of the journey. What does your audience think and feel at each stage? By digging deeper into your customer’s mindset, you’ll be better equipped to identify true points of friction and opportunity along the journey.

About

Cindy Yee leads Weber Shandwick Seattle’s strategic planning discipline, driving creative strategy and integrated planning across teams and practices.

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