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    In light of the recent focus on customer experience (CX) and customer journey mapping, enterprise leaders in sales and marketing have to refocus their strategies around multiple customer journeys and across all the channels they engage in. Trying to dictate a generic or static journey map for customers is doomed to fail and could paint your brand and company as out of touch. The point to always remember is that it's the customer’s journey and the customer’s experience. You don’t own it!

    When thinking of customer journey maps, the individual user has to be positioned at the center. Customer behavior changes unpredictably, so organizations have to be consistently adaptable to that fact. Generic or static customer journey map templates are not sufficient for the constantly moving and shifting behaviors of customers. They are on multiple journeys that will break your template and make it obsolete. From a CX perspective, we are in an omni-channel and multi-device world. Current journey maps are too often based on skewed internal data, which yields perceptions of the customer that do not represent reality. These perceptions are heavily influenced by internal culture, rather than insights from real external data.

    Each customer interaction is part of a continuum that spans across many channels and devices, which, in itself, requires customers to feel valued throughout all parts of their journey. That should be the responsibility and the goal of every brand. So, any journey mapping has to intimately and consistently serve and meet the needs of the customer.

    Due to the increasing advancement and accessibility of technology, customers have easier access to brands and can interact with them on their own terms and across multiple channels. Companies have to understand the unique needs of each person and the context of their journey in order to deliver personalized communications and interactions.


    In the same way that customers have easier access to brands via digital technology, companies now have the ability to harness a vast amount of data and insights about customers and their behaviors to accurately personalize and create conversational experiences. The emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) and AI-empowered chatbots present tremendous benefits as an additional customer service channel, which essentially never sleeps and can handle a myriad of customer support tasks. AI will also be critical in orchestrating customer interactions and engagement across channels, as I discussed last time.

    In the above scenario, real-time, intelligent insights from data will empower customer-facing employees to provide contextual and relevant customer communications,which will lead to richer interactions and, ultimately, better engagement. What we essentially have here is a continuum and an endless feedback loop that leads to better insights, which feeds better customer engagement and builds trust.

    The bottom line is that it requires deliberate investments in technology, systems, and methods to harness customer data and insights gained to facilitate richer interactions across all channels and journeys. Technology investments across platforms, such as customer relationship management (CRM), marketing, contact center, AI, chatbots, communications, and collaboration, have to be in an orchestrated symphony with the ultimate goal of supporting the customer journey.

    David Mario Smith is Founder and Principal Analyst at InFlow Analysis. Dave is a Gartner veteran of over 16 years and an IT industry professional with 20 years of experience in the collaboration and workplace technology markets. For more information, visit http://inflowanalysis.com or follow him on Twitter @DaveMario.