Modern consumers have an array of choices of how they interact with a brand and where they choose to get information before making a purchase. As a result, customer journeys are no longer linear or sequential; they do not function as a funnel. Brands should recognize customers control their own journey and therefore avoid the temptation to overly-script the buying process. 

Transcript

Real customer journeys are very different from the journeys that companies would like the journey to be. Historically, customer journeys were like a funnel where, like sheep, you had customers, herding them through a funnel, creating some awareness, and then, in the end, they were converted and would buy your stuff.

That’s not how the journey works anymore because customers have multiple devices, they go through multiple touch points. They will ask their friends for advice. They will probably look at your competitors.

So it’s not linear at all. Forget about sequential customer journeys. The customer journey is only moderately in control by the company, as it should be because it’s not the company’s journey, it’s the customer’s journey.

So a metaphor that I like for this is almost like playing a pinball machine. It’s like keeping the ball in play, going for the high score, creating customer value but it’s not scripted. You can’t script for playing a pinball machine. You have to play by the seat of your pants. Look at the context, nudge customers, maybe towards undecided behavior. Don’t script it. You can’t force a customer journey on customers because it’s their journey, not the company’s.

Traditional customer journeys are like the funnel of the 1980s, so that kind of thinking is probably a journey to nowhere. But on the other hand, understanding customer journeys and analyzing them and looking backwards, there’s a lot of value in that. You want to see if whether there’s friction in the customer journey, where you can improve your touch points, or your experiences, and that is very critical. But don’t confuse that with customer obedience. Don’t confuse that with scripting a journey that is really not yours to script.

Real customer journeys are very different from the journeys that companies would like the journey to be. Historically, customer journeys were like a funnel where, like sheep, you had customers, herding them through a funnel, creating some awareness, and then, in the end, they were converted and would buy your stuff.

That’s not how the journey works anymore because customers have multiple devices, they go through multiple touch points. They will ask their friends for advice. They will probably look at your competitors.

So it’s not linear at all. Forget about sequential customer journeys. The customer journey is only moderately in control by the company, as it should be because it’s not the company’s journey, it’s the customer’s journey.

So a metaphor that I like for this is almost like playing a pinball machine. It’s like keeping the ball in play, going for the high score, creating customer value but it’s not scripted. You can’t script for playing a pinball machine. You have to play by the seat of your pants. Look at the context, nudge customers, maybe towards undecided behavior. Don’t script it. You can’t force a customer journey on customers because it’s their journey, not the company’s.

Traditional customer journeys are like the funnel of the 1980s, so that kind of thinking is probably a journey to nowhere. But on the other hand, understanding customer journeys and analyzing them and looking backwards, there’s a lot of value in that. You want to see if whether there’s friction in the customer journey, where you can improve your touch points, or your experiences, and that is very critical. But don’t confuse that with customer obedience. Don’t confuse that with scripting a journey that is really not yours to script.