The idea of the customer journey is hardly new: Getting to know each customer individually from the first contact and then accompanying them, responding to their interests and fulfilling their wishes. However, it is gaining new meaning due to the variety of data sources available to marketers today. Bernd Wagner, Regional Vice President Salesforce Marketing Cloud, explains how data-driven marketing works and how companies can gain a 360-degree view of their customers.

1. How is marketing being changed by the concept of the “customer journey”?

Everyone is talking about the “customer journey”, but there is no established definition of the term. Put simply, the customer journey consists of numerous experiences that (potential) customers have at various touch points with a company. This idea is actually nothing new. Marketing has been working for a long time now to address each customer personally, know their interests and meet their needs. In the best case scenario, this is all carried out in an automated way and in real-time.

Customers interact through various channels with companies – be it via Twitter, Facebook, email, app or web page. All these sources can be used to collect valuable information and create comprehensive customer profiles including their preferences, purchase histories and personal details such as birthdays and anniversary dates. If customer data is used to personalize each interaction, it is the beginning of a relationship. It shows the customers that the company understands their needs and interests. Depending on what level of networking the customer wants, they can be more or less intensively accompanied and provided with offers over time. Based on the ever-growing knowledge gained in each interaction, future contacts can be even better planned and personalized.

2. How do companies gain a 360-degree view of their customers?

By using platforms that allow for communication from various company departments with customers, while combining marketing tools with solutions for sales, service, community, analyses, apps, e-commerce and IoT. This is the only way for companies prepare themselves to network with their customers in new ways and control their business from anywhere. Marketing managers can use their laptops, desktops, tablets and smartphones to access current information and a comprehensive customer profile including information about all the touch points including information entered by the sales department or the call center. They can therefore serve each customer individually according to their history, needs and expectations. The Internet of Things also allows for the integration of information from beacons, machines and products. The intelligent combination of this collected data with forecast technologies enables companies to gain a quicker and better understanding of customer needs. Therefore they can respond faster to changes and adapt their business models to changing customer expectations. This is of enormous importance, because speed is the most important currency in the digital age.

4. How is the digital transformation changing the customer journey?

 Companies have to adapt to accommodate for the changes that digitalisation is bringing with it and meet the higher expectations of their customers. Therefore, companies of all sizes have to offer their customers an optimized and consistent experience at every touch point. Conventional solutions for individual tasks or departments such as pure marketing or CRM systems are not appropriate for this, because they create silos and prevent obtaining a comprehensive view of customers across all touch points and channels.

 5. What does “1:1 customer journey” mean? And which technologies can companies use to accompany the digital customer journey?

 Let me answer with an example. Our customer Commerzbank has the goal of substantially increasing its number of private and business customers and significantly increasing their market share. Using the Salesforce platform, Commerzbank is entirely revising its lead management system and designing an innovative customer journey that is unique in the industry, which takes potential customers on an individual journey. At the center of this new strategy is a content marketing concept that includes the first bank app for non-customers. Thus it is possible to individually address potential customers at a very early stage using relevant content. As a mobile financial compass for all issues related to saving, investing, financing or retirement planning, users are provided a compendium of useful and comprehensive information aligned with life events such as marriage, the birth of a child, building a house or retirement. News and gamification incentives such as quizzes and sweepstakes round off this special way of addressing potential customers.

More information on the methodologies of the Customer Journey approach can be found in our Blog Special or in a further contribution of Salesforce.