Most people understand that in the digital age, the relationship with the customer needs a radical re-think. Trouble is, this re-think can take months and even years at the strategic, conceptual level. But, we need to think more immediately about what that means in practical, logistical terms.

What we are seeing among our most successful customers is the breaking down of silo barriers between Sales, Marketing and Customer Service. That’s because the smart brands - big or small - understand that for the customer, there are no silos, only The Journey.

For instance, research shows that "62% of Millennial shoppers already know what they want to buy through prior online research."This means that your marketing content could be doing the job of Sales. Conversely, we are all familiar with the phrase “customer service is the new marketing.” As customer service happens on social media, consumers can make a judgement about what that experience looks like. Customer service teams are marketing the brand with every interaction - the lines are blurring.

I have always been very impressed with Burberry. I remember once buying myself a Burberry trench coat - for an Englishman, an essential item of clothing! But, the sales experience didn’t end with the purchase. I got email from them in the months afterwards introducing me to the people that made the coat, telling me how many stitches it had, and even where the materials came from. It gave me a real sense of personal ownership. Along the way I have become bonded to the brand. The Journey continued well after the sale, in subsequent marketing interactions and in the after-sales service.

The brands that deliver the best customer experiences today have learned that they must execute on that complete experience regardless of which channel and irrespective of the department. As these brands set that expectation for a customer experience journey, we all must meet it or expect to get disrupted.

I once heard it put this way: “...the customer is already on a journey with you - you can either chose to be on that journey with them, or not.”

It is this transcendence of the fragmented experience through departmental silos that has led us to break down the same  barriers in technology . CRM isn’t just for Sales, it is for Marketing too. Our Service Cloud must be just as accessible to Sales and Marketing as the Contact Centre. 

The data these platforms create must be open to harvesting by everyone in the company so they can understand the customer, and predict what they will need next.

That is why we created the Marketing Cloud Connector, a technology that connects the Marketing, Sales and Service Clouds so that the data within each cloud is equally available to craft the perfect customer journey. For instance, should a customer’s interactions with marketing content begin to decline or stop, a trigger can be sent to suggest to the Customer Service team that perhaps this customer is unhappy. It can sense that the brand experience is less compelling and suggests possible actions that can renew that experience. Equally, if a customer begins to interact with a certain kind of product content, it can trigger a prompt to Sales that they might be ready for an approach.

But there is more, Marketing Cloud Predictive Journeys goes one step further by triggering intelligent interactions with the customer at every stage of their journey, with relevance to their historical behaviour AND the actions they are most likely to take next. Therefore creating thousands of micro interactions with your customers at the exact moment that matters through learning and predicting what content they will want to see and when.

And this isn’t just a tool for large brands. This technology gives smaller organisations the opportunity to level the playing field, and even disrupt the bigger brands by being more nimble.

“The Customer Journey” may have begun as a Marketing term, but it isn’t just about Marketing anymore. It is about staying in business! Unless organisations of all sizes break down those silos of Sales, Marketing and Service they will be disrupted by those that do. That isn’t just about the teams collaborating more effectively, it is about the different systems they use integrating seamlessly. Because customers don’t see silos, they only see the brand.

Are you ready to learn from your customers to the point you can accurately predict their needs? Imagine what that could do for your customer relationships!?

To learn more about how the best brands build customer journeys, download the Dawn of the Digital Marketer e-book:

1 Bazaarvoice Social Trends Report 2013