Customer journeys or spiders webs

There’s a lot of talk nowadays about the customer journey, with brands wanting to map the touchpoints that impact throughout the journey that we all take when we go from consumer to shopper to buyer. By mapping out these touchpoints, the argument goes, it is then possible to target key touchpoints to nudge the customer further down the route to a purchase:

• If we know the factors and influences that convert consumers to shoppers to buyers we can identify the opportunities to improve conversion to the benefit of our business
• If we know what influences where, we can use the right levers to drive conversion
• We can avoid wasting money on the wrong activation

What these features tell us, is that the real benefit of a customer journey is that age old phrase: right message in the right place at the right time. Sounds great doesn’t it, no wonder it’s such a popular theme at the moment. Sadly, however, in today’s highly connected 24/7 shopping world it is less of a journey, and more a spiders web of sharp turns, u-turns, and emergency stops! And of course, every journey is different, specific to the individual involved and their mindset and specific needs.

I’m not for a minute suggesting that just because it’s difficult, we don’t need the insight that a customer journey can provide. But all too often we become fixated on a construct, to the extent that we lose sight of the business issues that need to be resolved. When someone asks for a customer journey, the immediate question back should be: why, which business decisions will a customer journey enable you to take? The answer to this question will give a clear view of:

1. What consumer/shopper behaviour do you want or need to change
2. How much of the journey needs to be understood
3. Which parts of the journey need most attention
… Or the answer might even tell you that the person asking needs to go away and have a bit more of think about why they want a customer journey!

We also need to recognize that a customer journey is not the holy grail of shopper marketing or activation. It is an understanding of existing behaviours and opportunities that needs to work within the context of trade relationships, brand ambitions and business pressures.

Understanding the customer journey can be hugely beneficial to a business, helping to tailor communication, target activation and prioritise spending. But it can only deliver these benefits if it is constructed with a clear focus on the decisions it needs to inform. Without that focus it becomes unwieldy and confusing, which means it’s unlikely to engage the very people who need to turn the insights into business action.

It’s good to be able to see the wood for the trees!

By Danielle Pinnington @Shoppercentric