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designing the customer journey

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to do a joint webinar with Dom Goodrum, VP Design and Employee Experience, at Percolate.  The topic was “Beyond Branding: Designing Brilliant Customer Experiences.”  I ended up learning quite a bit from Dom as we prepared for and delivered the webinar and wanted to highlight a few points he shared about designing the customer journey for Percolate’s customers because they seem relevant and useful to all organizations.percolate customer journey

It’s relatively easy for us to understand the customer journey of retail, restaurant, or other consumer goods brands.  After all, we experience these kinds of products and services every day.  But most of us are probably not buyers of business technology like Percolate’s marketing software (Percolate’s clients include the marketing organizations of global brands like Unilever, GE and MasterCard as well as high-growth companies including Chobani, Pandora, and Shinola.)  The customer journey is different for these buyers — it’s more complex, longer, and more involved.

But I was actually surprised to learn that the basic framework Percolate uses to plan its tactics is based on the same building blocks as the customer journeys in most other sectors.  In fact, the framework provides a great universal starting point for any company wanting to design brilliant customer journeys.  There are five steps:

  1. Awareness — Dom explained that, at Percolate, this involves figuring out how to capture its prospects’ imagination.  Percolate uses brand campaigns, direct advertising, and events to generate this kind of productive awareness.
  2. Consideration — Then Percolate develops deep materials to convert awareness into purchase consideration. Its product education and in-bound editorial efforts including its blog comprise this step of the journey.
  3. Purchase — For Percolate, this involves interactive software demos to walk customers through the benefits it offers.
  4. Adoption — This next step is a focal point for Percolate as its goal is to set customers up to be successful with its platform. The company’s service teams spend a lot of time with clients to understand how they work and then to map the software to their needs.
  5. Advocacy — Finally Percolate wants its clients to let others know about Percolate and how it’s helped them, since this fuels the customer journey into a virtuous, continuing cycle.

While these steps in the customer journey seem quite straightforward, the actual experience for any customer and for any customer is less linear and more multi-dimensional.  And delivering on them usually involves multiple people and groups within the organization. So companies need to provide the infrastructure and support that ensures the steps are executed appropriately.  Percolate does this through:

  • culture — The company is committed to constantly training and sharing best practices.  It holds a weekly business meeting to connect its offices around the world and align everyone on the customer journey.
  • process — Percolate uses its own platform to create, centralize, organize, and distribute its marketing assets — not only collateral but also branded templates — and gives every employee access to them.
  • technology — By coding brand guidelines into the content creation workflow, Percolate helps ensure every piece of its content reflects the brand voice and look.  It uses what it calls “brand prompts,” or checklists, which include questions like “Do the images convey a optimistic, positive attitude?” and “Are we presenting progressive issues?” to guide people’s decision-making.  It’s easy to see how helpful this level of specificity would be.

While the webinar was intended to teach the participants about creating remarkable customer experiences in general, I appreciated the opportunity to peek behind the curtain at Percolate and hear about its approach to designing the customer journey for its clients.  I’ve been following the company ever since Noah Brier and his co-founder James Gross started it in 2011.  Given their bold vision to help define the future of marketing, it’s significant that their company’s approach is rooted in the basic fundamentals that should drive all customer experiences.

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