The pandemic-infused market drove various customer behaviour changes, directly or indirectly affecting customers’ relationships with organisations. As a result, 77% of CEOs said their company would fundamentally change its way of interacting with its customers.
The customer journey, which was already extensively non-linear, is now expected to maintain its digital-first momentum — driving new customer experience priorities for companies.
At the same time, rapid digitalisation offered customers a growing number of interaction points with companies. However, as companies face new customer demands, they still have to ensure sustainable growth.
The ever-expanding facets of the non-linear customer journey nudge companies to ask a critical question – when does it become counter-productive for the company to add new paths to purchase?
Why restricting the non-linear customer journey is necessary
Today consumers use an average of almost six touchpoints, with nearly 50% regularly using more than four.
On the offset of Covid-19, customers are becoming increasingly confident transacting online, embracing new engagement channels as we speak. New social media networks are swiftly moving into the mainstream, while seamless omnichannel experience is the norm.
These circumstances make companies anxious to implement new channels to engage customers and provide a more convenient path to purchase. Still, many companies don’t have the technical foundation nor financial backing to provide quality and personalisation on every possible touchpoint out there.
Often, the pressure of ‘being everywhere at all times’ overshadows the company strategy, and therefore, brings counter-productive results.
Yet, while keeping the customer journey seamless and maintaining the omnichannel aspect is paramount, according to comprehensive research done by Harvard Business Review – customers enjoy simple customer journeys.
To give an example, Apple’s policy of intentionally limiting the number of products and models the company offers has positively affected its stock performance and customer loyalty.
Maintaining the non-linear customer journey contextually relevant, personalised, and cost-effective will be directly related to finding the customer journeys that yield the best results and customer behaviour patterns worthy of our attention.
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How to effectively cap the customer journey non-linearity
Analyse to simplify
The optimisation starts from the most common journeys. To evaluate your customer journeys, use performance analytics to reveal how they are affecting operational costs. For instance, adding a chatbot as a customer service channel is impactful if customer service calls drain your resources.
Additionally, identify hotspots that drive immediate revenue, whether it’s Instagram influencer marketing or an effective sales rep. This way, you can uncover whether you are spending resources on touchpoints that have little impact on the customer journey or ignoring the ones that drive results.
Embrace new channels or not
It’s tempting to hop on the latest trending channel to expand your presence, but often organisations disregard the alignment between the channel and company strategy. This is not to say that embracing new channels is useless. For instance, social media network TikTok has shown to work wonders for organic reach, and many companies have done a wise job embracing it. But, this will not be the case for all types of companies.
Every channel has its unique purpose, audience and patterns of interaction. Rather than improvising your omnichannel presence, try adopting a broader perspective. Each channel requires tactical understanding, otherwise, you may end up going down the rabbit hole with little or no positive impact on your company’s progress. Questions such as: “What is this channel designed to achieve, and how does it align with the overall company strategy?” and “Are our current or future customers looking to engage on this channel?” are critical to answer before adopting a new channel.
Identify your high-value customers
Dig into the customer analytics to find the high-value buyers or customers so you can identify behaviours that impact cost and revenue. Once determined, look for the most common ways these customers have engaged with your company. The list doesn’t have to be too long, but once it’s done, focus your resources to prioritise their interaction points and provide multiple journey directions for these high-value journeys. For example, in the B2B world, you might want to look for the highest paying account with long-term potential, while in the B2C scenario, you could search for customers who had the largest basket size.
Focus on first-party data collection
Design first-party data collection practices such as post-purchase customer surveys, customer satisfaction inquiries after a field agent’s home visit, or leverage technology that keeps an eye out for the customer sentiment. Ensure the feedback loop is efficient and directly linked to operational execution. Quality customer data is the foundation for building a customer-centric, compliant and memorable journey, so it’s a crucial ingredient for optimisation.
The non-linear customer journey is here to stay, the same as the customer-centric future. Yet, ensuring that non-linear customer journeys work in a consensus with the overall company strategy should be the ultimate goal.
How do you approach the pressure of new channels and staying on top of the non-linear customer journey? We would love to hear your thoughts.
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