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During the 2018 Teleperformance Leader Insights Forum in Dubai and Amsterdam, I shared the foresight that customers are taking life (and commercial) matters into their own hands. Literally and metaphorically. This empowerment fundamentally calls for a re-design of your brand’s customer journey, and a re-assessment of the strategic and tactical roles of your marketing, customer experience and sales professionals. Yesterday your customer changed. Now it must be your turn.

Or if you are not ready to re-design yet, imagine for a moment the compound effect of your competitors adopting new exponential technologies and strategies, while you don’t. What is the cumulative, compounded impact of that inertia by 2020 or even 2025? 

Let us take a look at the lay of the land for a moment. The old division between B2B and B2C is becoming meaningless. B2B is becoming consumerised as we realise that (for now) business is H2H, or human to human. We are not yet selling to robots, no matter what your contact centre folk tell you. Despite the convergence of B2C and B2B customer journeys, let us look at some insightful scenarios and research forecasts. 74% of business to business buyers will conduct a majority of their due diligence digitally before ever speaking to one of your sales reps.1 Does this sound familiar in your own business? According to Forrester, up to 1 million B2B salesmen and women will become redundant by 2020 because of B2B buyers shifting from human faces to B2B eCommerce interfaces.2 What is essentially happening is that clients’ information-focused minds are digitizing and mobilizing, and many brands are losing the battle for those customer’s rational cognition. What is even worse is that some brands are also failing to connect with the enduringly analogue, emotional hearts of those same clients.

Our analysis illustrates that there are 3 strategic – interrelated - pivots in the customer journey, which deeply impact your customer experience design, and ensuing customer loyalty (and revenue).

1. We are moving from information asymmetry to information symmetry. Any piece of information is just a Google click away, and over night your customer’s seem to have become experts in your own solutions and products. The effect of this is that your marketing, customer experience and sales professionals are no longer the sole fonts of product / service wisdom, and they have to stop behaving as if they were. Because of this democratisation of information we all behave as if we are in procurement, which shifts the power game - from seller to buyer. Increasingly, through digitization and by virtue of having procurement platforms in our palms, we are mobilizing and as consumer can make different decisions in real-time, and based on data patterns and visualisations. This means we can compare apples with oranges so to speak, and places your customer facing professionals into unknown territory. 

2. The sales and marketing funnel looks like an erratic slinky spiral. The customer journey which used to be neatly and linearly designed by brands to broadcast their messages in line with the idea of a logical marketing and sales funnel now looks more like an 80s slinky spiral. As customers, we constantly shift around, seemingly erratically, between analogue and digital touchpoints and different types of media as we research the solutions to our challenges. While the customer journey phases of a. awareness, b. engagement, c. evaluation, d. decision, and e. usage / loyalty / advocacy cannot be digitally discarded (yet), it is imperative that brands design human-centric journeys with engaging, educating and thought-leading content that appeals both to digital minds and enduringly analogue, emotional hearts – in a Seamless, omnichannel fashion. No matter where in the customer journey your clients and prospects might be you need to create and serve up a smorgasbord of media (eg. blogs, articles, video, webinars, buyer’s guides) that contextually connects with the unique needs of the psychographics of your buyer.

Seamless strategy map

3. We are entering a Pre-World. A world that is preparatory, predictive, precognitive, preemptive, and preactive. This enables us to solve our clients’ issues even before they disappear. In a world of digital sharing and the constant creation of digital breadcrumbs via social media, we are moving from a yesteryear of generic, bland demographic messaging, to a world of psychographic Smarketing. In this world, any sales or marketing message which appears out of context or impersonal runs the risk of being quickly digitally discarded. Via channels like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or psychographic forms on your website – the consumer has created a digital twin – a buyer persona - which means you have a duty and responsibility to create and connect them with finely segmented messages – relevant to them. It’s never been easier to narrowcast a message at scale, and in a world of recommendation engines – from Netflix to Spotify – we have become accustomed to exchange data for relevance, which has re-set our expectations on the consumer brands we interface with. This drives a convergence of your sales and marketing functions into a fusion of Smarketing, where contextual content and social selling blend to build trust and loyalty with consumers. In an era where it’s never been easier to opt in or opt out of Anything-as-a-Service options, we have all become incredibly results-oriented, and if your smarketing seems as though it is not dynamically data-driven, it is easy to assume that your product or service may not be fit for purpose either. In this data-driven world, it is impossible to claim that you are customer-centric without being data-centric. 

This begs a few important questions of consumer brands:

Are you changing at least as quickly as your most demanding client?

Are you training your marketing and sales professionals in professional skills which won’t be required tomorrow?

Is your brand making enough investments into re-designing and upgrading the customer journey while connecting your clients and prospects with seamless content that moves the sales and loyalty needle?

We all want to deal with brands who illustrate smart, intelligent and responsive behaviours. The way you design tomorrow’s customer journey in a human-centric, seamless fashion, while connecting with digital minds and analogue hearts is a great way to showcase that your brand stands for smart, intelligent and responsive results and outcomes in everything you do. 

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