Taming the Chaos of the Customer Journey with CXM

BrandPost By Amanda Sanchez
Jun 17, 2019
IT Leadership

Meet rising customer expectations with a new approach and the right technology.

taming chaos
Credit: Adobe Stock

It’s the ultimate marketing challenge: The “what” is crystal clear, but the “how” seems borderline impossible.

In this case, the “what” is customer experiences — that you need to be customer experience- and customer journey-focused to drive success. The “how,” though, is tougher. How exactly do you map your marketing activities to the journeys, and ensure you’re delivering highly engaging, highly personalized customer experiences at scale. This is called customer experience management (CXM) and it entails a new approach and the right technology.

It’s never too chaotic to be mapped

The first step: customer journey mapping. Do this and you’ll be better positioned to understand how customers view your brand, how you can eliminate friction as they interact with you, and how you can ensure they are getting value from you. Sounds like a no-brainer, but the truth is less than 40% of companies have established processes for mapping their customer journeys.

The reason? The increasingly chaotic, messy nature of the modern customer journey. “As brands face this chaos, there is no lack of effort to impose some kind of order,” says Kristin Naragon, director of product marketing for Adobe Campaign. “Brands want to make the best experience for their customers.” However, a handful of powerful factors are standing in the way.

For example, recent shifts in customers’ desire to be anonymous makes it difficult for companies to get close enough to understand them and where they are in their journeys. “Customers are trying to stay anonymous and do their research ahead of time before talking to anyone,” says Lizzy Ragno, Adobe’s manager of enterprise campaigns. “That takes the customer journey further out of the control of the marketer.”

Adding to the chaos, Lizzy notes, is customers’ demand for relevant experiences along with their wanting to be anonymous. “Customers still want the experience to be more personalized than ever,” Lizzy explains. “Even though they are not telling you who they are, what their interests are, or what their needs and wants are, they still expect a personalized journey before they even think about engaging with a product.”

The problem may be simple enough, but here’s no simple solution to combat this challenge. “There’s data coming from every which way,” says Lizzy. “It’s hard to connect it to a single person and ensure that the information is providing the right story for that person, or giving you the right content recommendations for them.” Done manually, this process is too resource intensive and slow to keep up with the demands of customers — and creating a system from the ground up is incredibly complex.

Creating a true unified profile — one that holds up

Another imperative to taming the customer journey: Creating a truly unified and actionable customer profile. While you can easily collect customer data, unifying that data around a specific person’s profile can be challenging. Accomplish that goal and it’s still just the beginning. Next you need to deliver relevant recommendations, content, creative, and experiences wherever, whenever, and however that customer chooses to engage.

Getting to the stage where you have a unified customer profile requires breaking down silos, capturing real-time and historical data, and stitching it all together into always-available, living and breathing profiles — then pushing it out to the technologies that serve the content to customers.

“Many companies still have silos, typically by channels, technology, and role, and that’s just within marketing,” Kristin says. “The same thing happens within other departments that interact with customers — like customer service or product teams. It makes it very difficult to unite all of these organizational building blocks around a cohesive customer experience management strategy.”

According to Kristin, the fact that various teams within an organization are each using a different set of technologies also adds to the chaos. “Technology, in particular, can be a big driver of these silos,” Kristin points out. “The analytics team might have its own solution based on certain channels or parts of the journey. The mobile team might have its own technology. Same with the email team. These fractured teams and technologies make for fractured mapping.”

Customer journey mapping via a dynamic, real-time overlay

For many brands, successful journey mapping begins with a crucial mindshift — and having the right technology in place.

“Just having journey maps isn’t enough,” Kristin explains. “The truth is, there is no single customer journey or even just 10 different journeys. Different customers will make different decisions even when given the same experience. These journeys need to be operationalized in ways that make your customers’ lives better, and your operations more efficient and more profitable. The only way to do this is through a dynamic, real-time overlay.”

Creating these overlays means understanding how and where the data is collected. “People collect a lot of data,” says Lizzy, “but it has to be the right data, and it must be put into a single unified space to ensure actionable customer profiles and dynamic customer mapping.”

The second step is to curate and prepare the brand’s existing content for personalization. “This involves making slightly different versions of your content for different personas or different industries to make it much more personalized,” Lizzy explains. The goal here is to prepare the content to be personalized to the needs, wants, and problems of each customer.

Third, the brand must be equipped to track each step. “Make sure you have the right systems in place to see, ‘Is this working?’” Lizzy recommends. “If it’s not working, where is it dropping off? Where can you optimize?”   

Taming the chaos with CXM technology

Granted, the process needs to come together seamlessly to “work” — trying to cobble together a customer journey mapping system can present more pitfalls than benefits. Getting the right CXM technology in place is critical.

Adobe Experience Cloud, running on Adobe Experience Platform, lets companies pull in and unify data from tools that are already in use across the CXM ecosystem. It also provides tools to translate all incoming data into one uniform format, so the data can be easily combined and analyzed together as it comes in.

Adobe’s recent addition of Marketo Engage (LINK) to its offerings plays a big role in solving the anonymity puzzle. It is capable of tracking all engagement–even when the customer is anonymous — and providing a cross-channel, personalized experience for them.

“We’re hyper-focused on ensuring that the technology we develop breaks down silos and helps teams and organizations align with one another to put customers at the heart of their business,” says Kristin.

Supporting and advancing this process, she notes, is Adobe Sensei — Adobe’s AI and machine learning framework. Adobe Sensei can spot and learn from patterns across all customer journeys and then, acting on real-time behavioral input from the customer, serve up personalized content to match the customer’s unique preferences and place in their journey.

“On-demand personalization cannot be done without AI,” explains Lizzy. “Marketers can’t do it on their own. They need technology to help them figure this out. And they can’t figure it out on their own with just a spreadsheet.”

“We’re better at building smaller segments and dynamic content and integrating AI and machine learning,” says Kristin. “Adobe does that fantastically well. We can plan, orchestrate, deliver, and analyze really finite experiences for customers.”

These technologies are already able to deliver a seamless customer journey to each one of a brand’s millions of customers — and it’s just getting started. As more and more organizations in the enterprise get involved in the customer journey, this technology will only become more critical to success and survival.

Those brands willing to invest in CXM technology to bring order to the chaos of the customer journey will enjoy increased revenue, customer satisfaction, and customer loyalty.

Learn more about CXM here.