Improve the Customer Experience by Knowing the (New) Customer Journey

Embrace the Buy-Own-Advocate model to influence and lead the customer journey.

Turtlewax, the car care products company, amassed a trove of positive customer reviews on their website only to realize these same reviews were trapped on their site and didn’t support retail store sales. The company pivoted and aggregated these reviews to share with retail stores to extend their utility across all stages of a retail customer journey. As a result, the company lifted sales 50% at the retail level.

Marketers need, and are uniquely positioned, to deepen relationships and move customers beyond just being purchasers and into the domain of Loyads, those loyal advocates who will amplify both messages and marketing spend, according Augie Ray, research director, Gartner for Marketing Leaders at the Gartner Digital Marketing Conference 2016.

The new buyer’s journey encompasses three simple, but intimately related, parts: Buy, Own, and Advocate.

The new customer journey

Today’s customer buying journey spans buying, owning and advocating. It is progressive so that if brands do the right thing in the buy and own stage, they earn customer advocacy. This is important because when marketers improve the entire customer experience across all three phases, their marketing results amplify and improve.

Augie Ray explains the power of brand love.
Augie Ray explains the power of brand love.

Yet too often brands define success by stopping at the buy phase after a customer has purchased. This hinders the amplification opportunities in later stages of the journey. In a hyper-competitive marketplace, it’s no longer enough to drive traffic to a purchase decision. Success and customer experience maturity encompass the entire journey, well into advocacy where ratings and recommendations influence the next generation of purchasers and where loyal customers step in to advocate and even defend a brand.

A consumer who loves a brand will deepen the relationship and buy more, all without returning to the buy stage to consider alternatives.

Defense of a brand signals something new and something special. It signals loyalty at a level on par with love.

What’s love got to do with it?

“It can be said that love is a strong word for describing a consumer-brand relationship,” noted Mr. Ray. In the context of customer experience, however, it is perfectly apt. Love is more than usage and more than satisfaction. It is active. It is passionate. It signals belief in the brand and a willingness to invest one’s identity in promoting or defending a brand and what that brand stands for. Love produces two important outcomes. A consumer who loves a brand will deepen the relationship and buy more, all without returning to the buy stage to consider alternatives.

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Marketing conducts the symphony

The marketing organization is in the driver’s seat to marshal the organization’s focus and resources to create that deep relationship between brand and customer. To do that, marketing must actively collaborate across the enterprise. Marketing also must implement governance mechanisms to unify disparate customer experience efforts, tools, policies and metrics. And marketing must promote an integrated view of the customer’s experience across corporate functions.

While too many customer experience programs start without an adequate understanding of their target audience, marketing can use its intimate knowledge of the customer to lead the enterprise-wide customer experience charge.

“No matter where a customer is on their journey” Ray noted, “We, as marketers, need to support them at that stage.”

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