Every industry depends extensively on sales and keeping its customers happy. Whether you are selling technology, insurance, machinery, or beauty products, a company’s success hinges on ensuring the best customer experiences. It is important never to underestimate the importance of the customer journey. Executed in the right way, it can help your marketing and sales departments create long-lasting customer relationships with your brand.
The expectation from consumers today is simple – a seamless, highly individualized experience across every conceivable channel and device. Being able to ensure a customer this at every stage will result in the creation of a strong bond. However, for a company to do this, advanced data and an insightful understanding of the customer journey across multiple touchpoints is essential. Analyzing the journey will reveal potential roadblocks and uncover opportunities. With this, a brand will be able to create guidelines for better investment in their product line and services.
Analyzing customer journeys enables better decision-making. Here is what you can find out:
- Your customers’ journey before they came to you
- Needs that they are looking to fulfill
- The path they took to arrive at your channel
- The campaigns that work for your company
- The different ways that your customers are using your offerings
- A typical customer profile and its characteristics
Stages of a Customer Journey
Selling something requires the coming together of several departments, each of which plays a vital role in the process. Your customer, however, is going to experience every touchpoint as a single, unified flow. This is why every interaction point must be trouble-free. Customer journey mapping typically has six phases to it.
- Awareness: The first stage is when a customer initially becomes aware of your brand as a potential solution to what they may be looking for. This could be through word-of-mouth, social media, a billboard, or even a newspaper advertisement.
- Acquisition: A customer’s first interaction with your brand becomes the second step of the journey. This interaction may take place by clicking a link on your website, downloading your brand’s app, opting for a free trial, or choosing to subscribe to your monthly newsletter.
- Onboarding: At this stage, your customer has purchased from you for the first time. This is when you will want to begin working on a long-term relationship with them. The key at this stage is not to be intrusive, but to remain relevant and display your ability to have useful solutions to potential needs.
- Engagement: This is the stage that lasts the longest and is often the most difficult to sustain. Ensuring your customers remain loyal can be done in many ways – from keeping them abreast of new releases on their regular purchases, offering them exclusive customized experiences, and also specific content to keep them engaged.
- Retention: Stage 5 is when you feel your customers are planning to move on. This is where you have to understand why they may be leaving, what are you missing in your offerings, and what is the easiest way to win them back. Data you collect will show you when engagement tapers off. Exit surveys are great tools to reach out and retain customers.
- Advocacy: Nothing is more powerful for a brand than when a customer speaks for it. Making ample space for a customer to share feedback and reviews is a great way to boost a brand’s image in the customer journey.
Brands need to remember that even if they no longer retain a customer, the customer will continue to share their impressions of the brand in some way or the other. Curating the right experiences will ensure a good customer journey, even if, in the long run, you do not retain them.
What Makes Salesforce Ideal to Optimize Customer Journeys?
Optimizing customer journeys is serious business and Salesforce can help you do this. Here is why:
- It offers your representatives several tools – from a wide range of templates, customized keyboard shortcuts, and more to get a complete view of every customer you deal with.
- It helps streamline processes to ensure quick resolution of cases, by providing all necessary details of the customer – from the first interaction, to purchase, to post-sales inquiries and more.
- It enhances agent productivity by offering relevant articles and a smart article search to ensure quick resolution of cases.
- Service or approval procedures can easily be customized or automated with the Lightning Flow option.
- It offers smart services through omnichannel routing, matching a case to a specifically skilled representative. This ensures quicker resolutions.
- It helps a team work smart with comprehensive dashboards and user-friendly apps. It also provides insights and predictions that are powered by artificial intelligence.
- Instant call logging and integration with computer telephony integration (CTI) systems ensure representatives can handle calls within the console.
- Automation of macros or repetitive steps frees up the agent to better address customer issues, making them more available and attentive.
- A single view of all customer history from assets to orders and everything related helps in better tracking of the customer journey.
How to Use Salesforce Marketing Cloud to Optimize Customer Journeys
With the Salesforce marketing cloud you are provided with automation created around email, messages, social media, advertisements, push notifications, and cyberspace technology. There are multiple tools on the platform focused on optimizing every step of the customer journey. Here is a look at the functions that help keep your customer in the spotlight.
Journey Builder Application: This is a drag and drop interface that provides you with a visual depiction of your customer’s journey. It comes with several activities that can be implemented during the execution of campaigns, across platforms. With Journey Builder, measurement metrics on offer enable easy tracking and optimizing of customer journeys as they unfold. Salesforce Marketing Cloud offers several journey templates that provide guidance.
Email Studio: With email being key to every stage of the customer journey, Salesforce has ensured that it has the most advanced email technology incorporated into its marketing suite. It is an automated option and comes with an intuitive interface, with a drag and drop option. It is flexible enough to allow for easy integration into any data source or department, ensuring consistency. Content can easily be personalized with this option. Einstein AI helps marketers observe and make predictions on consumer behavior to push the right product at the ideal moment. It makes way for an omnichannel experience right from the get-go.
Salesforce Audience Studio: The key function here is to collect all your data into a single source and make the most of it. It connects to the various departments of sales, services, and your communities, along with any secondary sources of information you work with. With inbuilt Einstein AI, the rich data available can be used to analyze a wide range of combinations to create campaigns based on customer patterns that you observe across multiple channels.
Salesforce Data Studio: With this data-sharing platform your business will be able to sell or buy data within a safe environment. It is part of your data management platform and provides an edge in the optimization of customer journeys. As a third-party source of data, it helps in refining your target audience profile, creating a better brand profile, and finding more leads.
Social Studio: This is a platform that completely deals with the power of social media. With the help of Einstein AI, it can track any references to your brand on individual customer handles, even where hashtags are not applied. It goes a long way in providing insights on customer preferences based on their social media activity.
Advertising Studio: This is a singular platform through which your business can create advertisements meant for release on search engines, social media, and other platforms. It focuses on the stages of customer acquisition and re-engaging with them. It also helps in finding and approaching similar customers. Using this feature along with Journey Builder enables coordination of campaigns across channels, increasing return on investment (ROI).
Interaction Studio: Real-time interactions of customers with your brand are recorded with this feature, irrespective of channels. It allows you to listen to your customers and understand their views on your brand. It can connect the offline activity with online interactions. This helps in building a customer engagement profile that is tailored to their specific needs, at an appropriate time and through a customer-preferred channel.
Mobile Studio: Using geo-fencing and beacons, Mobile Studio helps you send out messages, chats, and/or push notifications and improve customer engagements. When combined with Journey Builder it ensures personalization across channels. Templates help with the creation of appropriate messages at the right time, which encourages fruitful customer engagement.
These are ways in which Salesforce Marketing Cloud features can help with the optimization of customer journeys.
How to Leverage Salesforce CRM Tools to Optimize Customer Journeys
Salesforce’s flagship product, the customer relationship management (CRM) tool, offers companies a robust way in which to transform the data they collect into curated customer experiences that help them convert and retain customers for the long term. Here is how you can use Salesforce CRM tools to optimize customer journeys.
Mobility, for Reduced Response Times: Sales representatives have to keep up with evolving customer demands. This means they need to be able to reach customers and their data even when on the move. Updating of files should happen in real-time and mobile CRM solutions ensure that this takes place. Salesforce has a high-end mobile interface that allows agents to do just about everything from their technology devices. Reports can be drawn up, dashboards can be analysed – which in turn helps in enhancing customer journeys.
Creation of Self-Service Portals: Today, customers are more tech-savvier than they have ever been. If there is a solution to be found online to a problem, they would prefer it. Having a good quality, easy-to-navigate self-service portal is an ideal way of improving a customer’s journey. This portal must have a range of FAQs, well answered simple-to-follow videos, and be a collaborative space where customers can interact with other resources. This self-service segment needs to be added to your website right at the beginning and should answer every possible question that may arise at any stage of the customer’s journey. Providing functions for scheduling appointments, paying bills and any other related function will improve customer satisfaction.
With Salesforce, you can create mobile-centric self-service portals. The platform can also easily be incorporated into your site, streamlining customer grievance issues and ensuring quick resolution. Service costs are reduced and agents can be made available for complex customer needs.
Comprehensive Insights: Creating the best customer experiences is based on data. Unless a brand has a clear understanding of its consumers and their purchase patterns, any attempt at streamlining customer journeys can be in vain. CRM systems enable the storage of data at every point in the customer journey. All of the data collected can be converted into usable insights. Reports created can be used for the automation of workflows, the personalization of a customer’s journey, and creating and delivering customized services.
The creation and analysis of data has taken several steps forward with digital innovations like AI, Einstein AI being a key example. These help in extracting the maximum value of data collected. Patterns can be discerned and predictions can be made. The sales team can base their initiatives not on guesswork but strong data. This helps them prioritize opportunities that have better potential in converting.
World over, companies will not be able to forge ahead unless their business processes are centered around their customers. Salesforce provides companies a comprehensive platform with unique features that puts them in a great position to make the most of customer data. The dominance of Salesforce in the CRM market remains undisputed because of its ability to constantly introduce innovative tools that enable a customer-forward business set-up.
Best Practices for Creating the Ideal Customer Journey with Salesforce
Salesforce sets the base for the many ways in which a company can work on optimizing its customer journeys. As with any process, best practices when implementing Salesforce to improve customer journeys are important. Here is what you need to know to make the best of Salesforce:
Begin with Clear Cut Objective: Every customer journey should have a single objective. This could be re-engaging a lost customer or reducing the number of cart abandonments. Working on customer journeys with several objectives can end up lacking focus and reducing the opportunities for customization.
Work with Your Content Pillars: As a business, you will work with several content pillars – these can be emails, messages, or social media posts and have to be essentially aligned to a specific objective. It is important to have this ready well before you begin building a personalized customer journey.
Work with Data: It is important to get the most out of your data. Salesforce helps your data across the various departments and shares it as well. Use this to better understand the way your customers interact with your business at various touchpoints.
Begin Small, Aim Big: Work on journeys with small objectives that are easily achievable and gauge their efficacy. Use the insights that you get to better optimize your customer journeys. Begin with just one objective, perfect it, and then expand it to include all the touchpoints that your customer goes through.
Never Stop Optimizing: The task of optimizing customer journeys should be an ongoing process. Constantly monitor your analytics to see where customers may be dropping off their journey with your brand and find ways to work on improving engagement.
There is no doubt that creating a well-optimized customer journey is critical to the success of a business. It is a sure-fire path to providing a high-quality experience at every step of the customer journey. What is important is customer journey mapping to set a clear path to improvement. The more complex or detailed you want your customer journey to be, the more product expertise and experience are needed to do this. Salesforce has been crucial to several organizations enhancing their customer journeys and in the process enjoying better customer retention, increased conversions, and better revenues.