The Connected Customer Journey: Rediscovering Customer-Centricity

A customer-centric and integrated marketing view, based upon the customer journey and lifecycle, in correlation with touchpoints, customer experience optimization and persuasion/conversion architectures is not new. But apparently it’s rather new in social media marketing and other marketing techniques. The fact marketers – at last – start to connect the integrated marketing dots, in social as well, is among the main reasons why the connected customer journey and customer-centricity takes center stage.

Social media and business has been siloed rather fast and it will be the same with other ‘new ways of doing marketing’. I see it happening in content marketing as well, for instance. It’s even the main reason we started a blog on the topic (and before on social, email etc.): to reconnect what always gets disconnected in ‘new’ marketing views. Anyway, I’m glad the increased attention is there as it seems to indicate a growing maturity among social media and business practitioners and experts. Let’s hope that what they start to learn is picked up in other recent views on marketing as well so we can stop repeating the same errors.

Social media has become part of the customer journey in most cases and depending on demographics, context, etc. We can’t ignore social, social conversions (some call it engagement) and the massive impact of social on overall business and marketing. That goes for touchpoints, the connected customer experience and customer lifecycles too.

Unfortunately, the siloed view still often reigns. You can’t disconnect the stages of the social customer journey from other touchpoints across that journey. You can’t ignore the fact that not everyone uses social across the journey. In some cases, for instance, you can use social to try and become part of the influential voices in the inner circles of trust of customers (such as many C-level execs) that don’t use social (yet). You can’t overlook the fact that search matters a lot. And word-of-mouth. But all these ways of finding information and connecting in a social space are also connected and impacted by eachother, sometimes visibly, sometimes not. It takes a very holistic view to realize that. And it requires you to look far beyond individual channels and certainly “best practices”. Look at everything in context and beware of general advise that doesn’t take into account your business and customers.

Many changes in the information gathering and buying behavior of people – social, connected – have been happening under our nose since several years now. However, despite all changes, despite the increasing importance of personalized and even personal experiences in a connected world, in the end the rules for an optimized digital customer experience haven’t changed – that much.

Putting the social customer journey in an integrated marketing context

Marketing revolves around customer priorities, preferences, questions, emotions, needs, and how to detect these and turn them into mutual benefits, across all stages of an increasingly dynamic customer journey. Marketing is still about psychology, purpose, perception, pertinence and more. How much has it changed in a social world?

Optimizing the customer experience and journey means putting the customer at the center and aligning your goals with the windows of opportunity when customers are ready to be approached, touched and persuaded. These social points of conversion all have their value and it’s important to prioritize them in an integrated and connected touchpoint perspective to connect the dots right and attribute the right value to the right touchpoint for the right customer and business goal. Nowadays this also goes the other way around: customers approach, touch and even persuade us. In a sense that’s what inbound marketing and a large part of social media and content marketing strategies and tactics are all about. The customer journey is always a connected one and includes peers and trusted advisors. We are not the center of the marketing universe, nor are our businesses or brands. The customer is as are all touchpoints where we meet them, including the social ones. In fact, all touchpoints really are social.

This is not a major discovery but it’s an imperative most organizations don’t fully grasp yet as it’s so all-encompassing and even stretches far beyond just marketing. It affects the very ways we do business. And for many it’s a true Copernican revolution, when compared to the one-way approach they heralded for so long. Social has not changed this but it certainly speeded up the must of other models than one-to-many in a reality where many-to-many has become one of the social models of interaction. And it made the need for a more customer-centric and integrated approach more ‘visible’ and ‘urgent’. Finally, it strengthened this great dimension of community and social circles in several – interacting – degrees.

 

We are rediscovering customer-centricity in a connected context. But we still don’t go far enough yet and limit ourselves to the marketing view and worse, siloed social or other approaches, all too often.

It’s time to connect. In marketing. And far beyond.

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