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One of the challenges in creating impactful customer connection, is the use of tools and frameworks, that are convenient but may mislead our perception of real customer realities. Exhibit A: The customer journey.

We have all seen and created one. It could be a circle, a funnel, a snake chart, a colorful gantt chart, but the message is all the same - what is the ideal pathway to move a consumer from prospect to advocate.
And while that is helpful in the planning of marketing tactics, it is also misleading, and it conditions us as marketers to not think passively.

Three things to consider:

1. Let’s be honest, the customer is not on Journey – WE are.

The average customer in all likelihood isn’t very concerned about their brand relationship. They just want whatever product, service or good that is being provided at a decent price.

2. If the customer was on a journey it wouldn’t be a linear path.
No one personal relationship is linear, and no customer to brand engagement is linear.  Customer’s move dynamically through brand interactions as and when it meets theirneeds.  As we want to move closer to them, we need to be opportunistic about building connection around their needs.

3. The end point of every customer journey doesn’t benefits the customer.  
Oddly, it benefits us, the brand or business. Honesty would compel us to admit, the customer journey isn’t in any real way customer centric, but it also doesn’t push or promote…brand accountability.  It is a brand centric framework that defers accountability and a sense of mission to the consumer.

So why do we focus on the customer journey? Why do we believe customers are or should be working their way towards us? Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Shouldn’t we be working our way towards them?

Words matter.

If we redefined our tools in a way that put the customer at the center and placed the burden on ourselves, it would lead to greater focus and effectiveness.

Imagine how we might approach designing customer engagement programs differently if:

• Instead of “ Onboarding Journeys” / we had a “Trusted Brand Journey” to convince new buyers that we should be a trusted brand;
• Instead of a “Retention Program” / we had a “Respect Program” – to demonstrate how much we value our customers;
• Instead of a “Repurchase Journey” – we had a “Re-sell Journey” – were we took the responsibility to convince the customer to buy again;
• Instead of a “Customer Winback” Program – we had a “Please take us back” Program.

Today we place the onus of brand to consumer engagement on the consumer. I think if we did it the other way, we’d have a lot more advocates.

Cairo Marsh Managing Partner
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