Digital Dialogues: How looking beyond data helps shape your customer journey

This article is a summary of Episode 3 of the Dutch-language podcast, Digital Dialogues, made in partnership with Adformatie. Reynder Bruyns is head of digital strategy for the full-service online marketing agency iProspect.

I heard something recently that got me thinking: “When it comes to the customer journey, the customer doesn’t realise that they’re on one.”

As the head of digital strategy for the marketing agency iProspect, I’m interested in ways the customer journey can be shaped and that quote reminds me of waiting at a train station in Schiphol. When you travel down the escalator, there’s a digital sign that tells you where the train stops and where you can wait; the Dutch railways now script roles for commuters, giving them prompts designed to influence their behaviour.

But just as commuters don’t always do what you expect them to do, even with clear signage, the same is true for customers. When a consumer has a want or a need, you can prompt them to act in a way that helps them attain that, but they may never consider they’re on any kind of journey.

So, how can you shape your customer journey so it’s seamless, efficient, and—most importantly—effective?

Don’t ignore what you can’t measure

We all know how being able to see the actions people take from one stage of the customer journey to the next is vital for delivering a better experience, and better results. But while we have access to more data than ever, we must still try to understand what the consumer does offline, too.

Diederik den Dekker, manager of the growth team for online supermarket Picnic, says direct communication is still key. “The available data is very interesting for validating a number of things,” explains den Dekker. “But the real insights come from contact with the customer — an online and offline mix.”

“When we ask customers about their offline journey, they are mainly talking about events that we run. So we do very simple things, like events where we rent a bouncy castle or host a small barbecue; these kind of events are much more interesting to customers than the advertisements that we optimise.”

This is something we shouldn’t forget when thinking about digitalisation: at the end of the day, those offline interactions are invaluable when it comes to shaping, and reshaping, the customer journey.

Google Analytics provides insights into actual behavior, and with social listening—analysing the digital conversations being held about your brand—you can garner priceless information. You’ll get the emotion behind decisions and only learn if people are talking about your brand, but what their pain and pleasure points are.

Weave the journey into your culture and DNA

Kantar recently carried out a study on customer experiences with banking service providers. It revealed a clear difference between brand promise and the customer experience.

This can be applied to any industry: what you promise and what the consumer experiences must converge. You can promise everything, but once expectations aren’t met, it’s difficult to get a consumer back on side. To make sure you don’t overpromise, try to weave the customer journey into your company’s DNA.

As Mirella Kleijnen, Professor of Customer Experience Management at VU University Amsterdam, explains: “What we really focus on in our research is the architecture of customer experience management, in which you see that if you have a clear picture of it, the entire company has to participate.

“We talk a lot about the customer, but you also need to talk to your own organisation. And certainly with digitisation, introducing new technology for customers, what does that mean for your people and organisation?”

And how does digitisation inform the customer journey? Aligning the journey with brand strategy—and values—will make for a richer and more satisfying experience for the consumer, and will only reflect positively on the business. To do so, organisations need to facilitate several storylines—or brand messages—to be able to create relevancy and added value.

Once a company understands its audience, they will also realise the importance of creating value for them.

iProspect's digital maturity

As with previous episodes, the Digital Maturity Benchmark tool determines how digitally mature companies are. I’m very happy to say that iProspect scored 3.4 out of 4, making us multi-moment on the maturity scale

It’s very important for us in our role towards customers that we try as much as possible for ourselves to be at the forefront, and also that we go along with the latest innovations. As the score suggests, we’re doing well when it comes to digital maturity.

Digital Dialogues is a six-part Dutch-language podcast series from Adformatie and Google about digital marketing maturity. The podcast explores how companies can become truly progressive with their marketing, and features insights and discussion with industry and science specialists. Listen to the full series on Spotify, Google Podcasts or iTunes.

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