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Customer experience is a top priority for enterprises seeking to retain and attract customers. Moving from a transactional view of the customer to a rich, contextual perspective demands cross-organizational collaboration and inter-channel orchestration that allow the customer to complete whatever journey they are on with ease.

The customer, not the enterprise, must be in charge of the journey

Customer journey mapping is a popular way to try to anticipate how customers might choose to interact with a firm or its brands. The assumption is that, once mapped out, digital journeys can be designed to make life easier for the customer. This practice can form the basis of omnichannel design, but at best it serves as a proxy or starting point because humans are far less predictable than many planners would like. It is crucial that enterprises recognize that customers prefer to manage their own journeys and do not appreciate being corralled along prescriptive pathways.

Moving from multichannel siloes to a more seamless, integrated omnichannel capability will usually involve investment in new processes and supporting technology, often with CRM at the hub, to pool customer data and create a more orchestrated and interactive channel environment. Enterprises might need to invest in social listening capabilities to capture customer sentiment and to trigger timely and contextually relevant offers or support for customers. They will usually need integration with back-office fulfilment systems so that customers can be kept informed of impending deliveries. Customer data might be augmented with partner or third-party data so that marketing campaigns become more personalized and relevant. Machine learning is evolving rapidly to drive more contextually relevant interactions with customers that add value rather than annoy.

However, this investment in technology may be wasted if the customer is not enabled or allowed to orchestrate their interaction journeys. It is necessary to recognize that the customer is in charge of their relationship with the enterprise and to let them take the lead in orchestrating their own journeys.


Further reading

2016 Trends to Watch: CRM, IT0020-000168 (December 2015)

CRM Comes of Age in an Omnichannel Guise, IT0020-000134 (June 2015)

How to Develop an Omnichannel Customer Engagement Capability, IT0020-000108 (April 2015)


Jeremy Cox, Principal Analyst, Customer Engagement

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