A recent Mint business column on customer journeys got me interestedArun Pereira, the affable professor at the Indian School of Business, was rightly making a case for businesses to focus on customer journeys than just transactions. The idea was to differentiate and sustain in a hyper-competitive environment.I am glad the Professor wrote on this subject. Inbound marketing has always focused on customer journeys, with the sole objective of helping customers make the right 'buy' decisions. Using relevant content assets, inbound marketing hand holds customers through the awareness-consideration-decision journey. But, is the customer journey a given? In Inbound Mantra's experience, the answer is equivocal. Only Considered PurchasesAgreed that all customer purchases would have some degree of 'journey', but not all are oriented to it. A purchase could either be an 'event' or a 'process'. An 'event' purchase could entail a journey, may not be a logical one though. Finding a pattern in the customer journey is expected to be challenging.Whereas a 'process' is a logical feature of all considered purchases. This happens in the case of a high-value product, a difficult-to-understand service, or a complex purchase (B2B). A pattern usually emerges. Inbound marketing campaigns thrive on these patterns.Businesses would do well to study the digital footprint of their customers and prospects, to scientifically arrive at the relevance of customer journeys, corresponding to their offering.
The Extra Mile
By virtue of executing numerous inbound marketing campaigns, Inbound Mantra understands the tough exercise of mapping customer journeys. But, after a point, it does appear that this exercise is being undertaken solely with the purpose of consummating a 'customer transaction'. The focus on the customer journey isn't selfless. There is an expectation, an implicit one. It that fair? Will such an approach create sustainable value? Will it help businesses differentiate from competition?Today's digital milieu empowers businesses to combine creativity and analytics, while delivering value to customers. Will businesses, in turn, empower the customer, and allow her to run and lead 'The Extra Mile'.The choices, if any, are limited.